This is Just a Test

February 15th, 2018

My life the last year has oftentime felt like a big ole test. Some of the days, I zinged right through the questions…other days, I sat dumb-founded looking over every section of the test (my life) begging God for some multiple choice questions just to have a 1 in 4 chance to pass that sucker!

Truth is, we usually earn exactly what we deserve.

Today, my hubby is back in the cubby hole lockdown of a testing center across town for the 2nd time in the last 2 weeks. On purpose!

He’s taking one of the hardest tests an IT nerd can take, the PMP or Project Management Professionals test. This test only has a 50% pass rate, it’s that difficult. Just to qualify to take the test, a candidate has to acquire countless hours of actual experience and attain difficult educational credits as well and a few other time consuming qualifications. They do not just hand out this certification. The qualified or certified PMP’s are a very small gaggle of people.

He’s good enough to join that group. I know it.

But, that test.

Whew, it is a killer!

What I know about Jesus in times like these is that HE IS ABLE to open up any mind and pull out any lost info from whatever brain cell it takes. All the studying can begin to run together and the mind can just go numb with knowledge….but, Jesus. He can spark a flame where dustbunnies have taken up residence! 50% pass rate shmash shmate!

He can do it. With God’s help, he can pass!

Lord,
I know every good & perfect thing comes directly from you. It is an honor to make it this far in the PMP process. I pray over my very smart and willing husband that you will work through him as he sits for hours today taking this test. You know exactly what he needs and you even know the final outcome. I implore you….help him pass! Either way, I trust You. I believe You. I love you.
Amen

I’m So Sorry That Happened To You

February 13th, 2018

Confession:

The #metoo movement makes me sick.

In any church, 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males have experienced some sort of sexual assault, abuse or molestation. Step outside those walls and that number grows exponentially. Why? Why is our world so depraved? So sick? And why does it just continue?

I don’t have the answer, other than to point directly to sin and its grip on the world.

I know that sin. I’ve been a victim of another’s sick twisted thirst for pleasure. I could scream to the world my own #metoo story. It’s ugly and filled with pain but I do not live trapped there as a victim. For years, I struggled with shame and guilt for a crime I didn’t ask for. God didn’t leave me there — He filled me with grace and opened my heart to forgiveness. Still, I’m a #metoo person.

Confession:

The #metoo movement makes me angry.

Everywhere you look, celebrities are crying out and some of them in the ugliest forms regarding sexual criminality. The message has gotten garbled in many of their cries. By saying that I am not in any way dismissing their voices. I’m sorry for each misuse of power over any victim; woman, child …whomever! Abuse is abuse and it should be brought to light. No matter the victim.

The USA gymnastic doctor whose long list of victims horrifies me. Like many, I’ve wondered WHY? Why didn’t anyone speak up? The things he did with parents right under his nose wrecks my heart! Dear Lord, why? He deserves the punishment he receives and as a believer of Jesus Christ – I pray for his soul. He, no different than me….needs God and the forgiveness of his sins.

The Harvey W’s of the world seem to be everywhere too. Power exudes greed in too many that believe the lie that they’re entitled to abuse and use women and others for their satisfaction. The vulnerable fall victim too often to the hungry wolves of this stature. No one deserves to be used, exploited or treated as an object by these perverted evil people. Yet, the list of victims goes for miles.

For all of history, sexual crimes have been hidden or covered and not addressed as they deserve. Ask in any group of people if they or someone they know have been a victim or affected by sexual misconduct at some point in their life. I would almost bet there would be some raised hands. Today, we see a movement of people standing up and saying NO MORE.

Confession:

I can’t stand some of the methods of delivery being issued by the #metoo speakers.

The #metoo movement isn’t the only grossly negligent sexual horror going on in our world. Let’s not forget the sex trafficking business! Children are bought and sold as if they weren’t even human beings. Little tiny children. Many of these young & vulnerable children are oftentimes sold by their own parents!! Who’s fighting for them? Who is beating down society’s doors with pleas of help for them? Who is plastering the covers of Sports Illustrated and other magazines to scream justice for them? Crickets. Rarely do I hear a word about sex trafficking crimes and that disgusts me to the core.

Last Sunday, a member of my church spoke about a series of articles that he’s spent the last year or more researching to write to oust the child sex trafficking nightmare going on all around us. Tim Swarens has been in the dump and more learning everything he could to shed light on this crime of horror. His stories are heart-wrenching and filled with the reality that this crime is bigger than we like to imagine it is.

I’m linking up the articles published by USA Today so far and I challenge you to read them and forget what is the reality for so many. Next time you catch a magazine cover with a young woman wearing nothing but a word written on her body claiming #metoo…. think about the little girl who rides a bike with training wheels that’s used for sexual gratification by a grown man.

I’ll let you decipher the two. Both are victims.

So, my message to the #metoo movement: I’m sorry for what happened to you. I’m angry that someone would misuse you. I’m sick that anyone would think of you as a tool or a piece of property to be used and tossed aside. But, you are powerful. You are not held to a victim stake to burn and die there. You have strength, people who believe you and the hope to fight back any person who thinks otherwise. You can also stick up and fight for the little voices that are held prisoner in a world you cannot imagine. Please rise up and fight for others, those who cannot do it for themselves.

Child sex trafficking is real. Just as real as every casting couch sleaze ball making the moves on a young beautiful woman. Fight for them too!

CLICK ON THESE LINKS TO READ TIM’S ARTICLES

Who buys a trafficked child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men

The sex trafficking victim who needs training wheels

Boys — the silent victims of sex trafficking

It lights up the brain like crack: why men buy sex?

I’ll wrap up my post with this, the church has a responsibility to do something. We cannot look the other way. What exactly does that look like? I don’t know. For me, I refuse to cover up sexual sin for anyone. Whether it be for a wealthy young celeb or an orphan being sold for drugs. God loves both and He cares about what happens to them. My challenge is for each of us to figure out what exactly it is that we can do to stop the evil dangled in our face.

If you are someone who has experienced such evil…I’m so sorry that happened to you. God loves you and values you even though you’ve been treated otherwise.

Lord Jesus,

Make it known, every ugly sin hidden in darkness by every perpetrator of sexual deviance. Light up every dark corner of our world. Open every heart that hurts for the ones who cannot fight for themselves. Let us stop what the enemy parades as secret! Here, now and everywhere!

Amen

F O C U S

February 12th, 2018

As we get closer to the move date from our cute house, I catch myself getting all waah waah nostalgic! Silly, I know. Considering Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Focus.

This weekend, I splurged and got a long needed pedicure! Probably, TMI but it was important that I did it before all my shoes ate the dust! Scraggly toenails are dangerous and can jack up your shoes! On my drive home, I looked across the field to my neighborhood and instead of admiring my beautiful house … I felt thankful for an opportunity to move and someday buy the house I’m really dreaming of. One without a sea of siding and neighbors right on top of you. Girl, bye!

Focus.

Fast forward to more of my weekend opining about what I’ll miss not living in this area and cue the newest next-door neighbors BARKING DOG right outside my sunroom windows. Oh ya, he’s a barker! Now, I have 2 sweet little punkin dogs and they like to communicate as well. But, I DO NOT ever let my dogs out to run wherever all over the neighborhood for hours at a time nor do I TIE them up outside and let them hold a barkaroo fest for the entire day.

Focus.

It isn’t cool to whine and complain, I know. People tell me all the time. Still, when your life gets topsy turvy….you see everything differently. I appreciate little things. I recognize blessings and cling to them for all I’ve got.

I feel blessed to have lived in the house I’m leaving. It was a great home for us. Perfect fit for my hubby and me. We loved well here and enjoyed every bit of it while we were its owners. That doesn’t have anything to do with what’s ahead though. The future is really bright in spite of the last year or so. What has been does not dictate what will be.

Focus.

I read a cool story about billionaire Warren Buffet, he’s worth around 85 billion dollhairs! Wowzer! Every morning, he tells his wife the exact dollar amount of his McDonald’s breakfast — $2.61, $2.95 or $3.17 and she puts one of those amounts in the cupholder for him to pay.

Once he was having dinner at Bill Gates home and Bill’s father asked both men to write down on a piece of paper the one word to describe their success. Each of them wrote down, focus!

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to make it. After everything, I will come out with some bumps and bruises but I will be stronger, smarter and still cared for by God.

Yesterday after church, our pastor (whom we adore) stopped by to talk with us before we left. In all of our time hurting and hanging in there waiting for God to work, we sat under Pastor Eric and listened to God speak through him. Many times, we would leave church and in the car we would burst out laughing at just how directly the message preached felt aimed at us. We KNEW God was ministering to us through Pastor Eric. We felt it and week after week, it would hold us together!

Focus.

During our talk with him we put words to our hopes for the future. He listened, he encouraged and he directed us right back to scripture that aligned up with where we are in life at 51 years of age! He agreed with us on the things we convinced ourselves sounded crazy. We laughed again after getting in the car because we can’t believe what God has led us to do. It sounds too good. Too irresponsible. Too special. After all the waiting, shouldn’t we do something responsible?

In less than a month, we’ll be long gone from where I’m sitting right now. I don’t know exactly where we’re going or where we’ll land but all I know is that we are free to go.

What do you need to focus on? Is it a big life change? Something small that seems insignificant? Or is it your here & now? Whatever it is, just focus on that. Don’t let life trick you into believing you have to do anything like someone else. Be you. Do you.

Just Keep Going

February 8th, 2018

Isn’t it funny how I can see things one way and you see them another? This morning my Bible study was focused on the strange ways God calls us to obey. Sometimes, what we see as a solution to an issue…God has a completely different plan of working out.

Naaman was a valiant and highly regarded commander. People respected him and found him very worthy of honor. Only problem? He had leprosy! Not a good thing in this day & time. People shunned you and sent you off to die all alone. He was desperate for a miracle. So, he went to see the prophet Elisha. The method of the miracle confounded Naaman. Wash 7 times in the dirty Jordan? What? No? Really?

The Bible tells us that he couldn’t believe that THAT was really God’s instructions. He, in his mind (much like you and I do when we have a solution to our problems and we let God know) thought, surely not. I felt certain that this could be done in a much simpler way.

Nope. God gave instructions and He meant them.

Fast forward, Naaman obeys. He’s miraculously cured of leprosy and off he goes on his way.

Only, that’s not the end of the story.

Elisha’s right hand man, Gehazi decides that Naaman should pay something towards this miracle service. So, he chases him down and weasels 2 pieces of silver from Naaman. Elisha was clear that he did not want payment for the miracle. Gehazi decides to sneak back into Elisha’s presence while trying to hide the silver coins.

Ahhh but that’s not how to live, people. Trickery or sneaky moves never go unpunished. Elisha figures out what Gehazi has done and confronts him. God requires obedience! Even when it sounds weird or strange. We can try and try to take matters into our own hands but ultimately God will have the last say. For Gehazi, he found himself riddled with leprosy for his disobedience!

You and me, we may never be afflicted with a horrible disease like leprosy. However, that doesn’t exclude us from trouble. Our issue may come in the form of a broken marriage, wayward child or even a preventable accident. All because of our blatant disregard for doing what we know God wants us to do.

Right now, my hubby and I are struggling with closing the deal on our house. Little issues are threatening to cause us the loss of more money. Issues that we know are gigantic WHAT IFS on the buyer side but unnecessary worry on the reality side. NOTE: To counter the worry for the buyer, we are paying for a home warranty that covers any possible issues with our house effective on the day of purchase. If one ever arises!

Still, we go back & forth with demands.

Like Naaman, my hubby has doubts. He’s anxious to close the deal and move forward. Every day that questions or demands show up, he feels more and more out of control. In his human strength, he wants to just cave in and give to all the requests. I get it.

So, I challenged him to pray about it. The path to obedience doesn’t always make sense. Washing in a dirty river? Really? All I know is that we must seek out what it is God wants for us. Even when it’s weird or uncomfortable.

There’s a reason. I don’t need to know it and neither do you. We just need to do it and keep going!

Don’t Hate Change

February 7th, 2018

I hate change! I admit it. There’s nothing scarier or more disconcerting than totally shaking up your life and letting the chips fall wherever! That’s just hard! Thinking of all the change I’ve experienced this last year makes my knees wobbly.

Yet, here I am. All changed up and heading for even more in the next few months.

I ran across some photos of me from “before all heck broke loose” that stopped me in my tracks. I look completely different. In defense of all the unemployment garbage, more stuff happened to me all in and around the same time frame.

— I turned 50, then 51.
— I started menopause.
— I was battling a painful disease that was undiagnosed.
— I had 2 daughters get engaged and 1 actually get married with a real wedding.
— My boy joined the Army, then left for Basic and then to AIT training.
— I finally got diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
— I snipped some mama strings as one of my girls moved a thousand miles away for a job.
— I started my forever life on the drugs that would help fight the progression of my disease.
— I aged, fell apart and really started to look like an old hag.

Who am I?

I’m 51 so I realize that beauty is fleeting. All that youth stuff fades and in order to be alive we all have to just keep going & living. The changes that take place physically are all part of that process. But, add in other sources that attack and mess up your metabolism, destroy your hair & skin and age your mind and what you end up with is big change.

I’ve beat myself up too much through this changing process. Why can’t you just take better care of yourself? Doing that only makes me feel worse. I love how God reminds me that I am able to pull up my own pants again thanks to that awful medicine! So, losing your hair…ain’t so bad!

If you think change is hard…. call me.

Look, all I know is that when you think change is going to kill you dead….keep going.

God
will
use
change

to
change
you
and
me

I don’t want to stay the same. I wanna be better. I wanna be stronger. I wanna be more like HIM. I wanna be exactly who HE designed me to be. Even if I look older, chubbier….haggier!

God,
Thank you that you don’t leave me {as is} but that you change me! You know me better than anyone and you love me even more. I am grateful for every hard thing! All of it sends me right back to you, which is right where I belong!
Amen

Noisy Days

February 6th, 2018

I can only describe what I know about my own experience with God and how He works in my life, I could never say what He will do in yours or anyone else’s. What I’ve noticed lately is that there are quiet days and noisy ones.

Truthfully, the quiet days seem to far outweigh all the noisy ones.

Quiet days are the ones where I feel not much is happening. I sit, I listen and I wait.

Noisy days are the ones that God bangs the gong of my life loudly, not just for me to hear…but anyone whose within a world of me can probably hear as well.

Yesterday, was so noisy!

I had a big medical situation to take care of and BOOOOOOM!!! God opened the door (a big squeaky noisy door) and I walked right through as he held it open.

I checked the mail and in it were 2 (NOT 1 but 2!!!) envelopes from 2 very godly praying women that love my family so much that they allowed God to work through them with a BANGING LOUD financial gift.

What? I hear you, Jesus!

A potential issue with negotiations in our house sell tormented us yesterday. Even with all my assurance that it was not a big deal, my hubby stressed. This morning I opened the door and a lady said, “I want your house!”. “If your sale doesn’t go through, my husband and I want to buy it!”

Lord,
Your noise is like a choir of angels to my tiny crumbly heart! Thank you for the quiet simple days that you just love on me and let me be. But, also thank you for the loud noisy days where I know there is no other reason for something to go right – except that it is YOU!
Amen

PS – Just to be clear. My house has sold. No one is backing out of the deal. If you’ve ever sold a home then you know…..it is hard work and lots of back & forth. We’re just back & forth’n right now and all of our raw 18 month nerves tend to be uber sensitive to any questioning or whathaveyou.

Thank you reader friends! For loving, praying and encouraging! Over & over!