(Don’t Click Post)

March 30th, 2018

After getting into a little fender-bender with a friend on Facebook this last week…I got a little taste of what people mean when they announce on social media they are cleaning up their friend list or taking a leave of absence from Facebook/Twitter/Whatever.

I couldn’t stand the icky feeling I had all over me (inside & out) after going back & forth with another believer over a stupid video. All I could think of is how can I wash this crap off? My heart felt dirty and the truth is that social media just isn’t for everyone.

I admit, I like having access to friends and family. I love reconnecting with people I’ve not seen in a coon’s age. I try to be a healthy user of social media but I haven’t always made it with a clean heart or mind. It’s full of clutter, meanness and bonkers opinions (mine included, I’m sure).

I read an article today about how unhealthy the habit is to get hooked on social media. Duh. Not shocking. Over the years, I’ve noticed more and more kids have social media accounts. The writer encourages parents to put the kabosh on their kids having a Facebook or whatever page as long as possible. Really, no middle schooler or below at all should have social media at their fingertips.

After my own grown up experiences there I realize that handling such a tool takes wise discernment and serious maturity. If I can get lost in a rabbit hole for hours, imagine what our kids who don’t have jobs or responsibilities can do. Also, if I can get in a tiff with another GOD LOVING adult…think of all the troubles a kid can get into.

Facebook isn’t evil, persay…but it isn’t a holy place nor is it set up to be a reality that you and I truthfully have thousands of close friends. So, just think for a minute some of the things you’ve shared or confessed on Facebook. Would you do that at the grocery store? Or the doctors office? Because that’s pretty much the same thing. People who mean zero to you or even strangers can see what you’ve said. Ewww.

Look, the truth is….we not only treat our kids as if they are self-employed and can manage themselves, we forget to manage our own lives.

We need managers. Our kids, need managers. Our role is to help train them to protect themselves, their hearts, minds and reputations. Also, if we haven’t learned that responsibility ourselves for our own lives….we are in trouble!

I’ve written my own reasons to pump the brakes on Facebook:

1. It robs you.

If you have FB on your phone, you probably peruse through the posts every chance you get. That sucks time from you and the ones you should be investing in. It steals hours of your free time. Stop letting it do that. Use it sparingly!

2. It opens your heart to sin.

Whether it be you get angry with someone who’s posted something ridiculous or you lust over the many vacation posts, shopping trips, new something or another’s or even someone sporting their bikini bod. You and I are made of flesh. We get jealous, we wish we had what someone else is showing off and we also have cruddy thoughts because of what we are exposed to on FB.

3. It dumbs us down.

Believe it or not, social media plays a giant role in molding us. It triggers impulses to follow whatever hot topic is on the books for that time. It also tricks us into believing something someone posted was true. We see it, it looks legit and we mark it down as so. Pretty foolish of us, but we do it. Look up what you see online before you share it or post it yourself.

4. It wrecks relationships.

I got into a rumble with a friend. Seriously. It’s not worth it. I have also been contacted by people who were trying to make the smooze on me. Nutballs are on there for not so nice reasons. Don’t get yourself in a situation that threatens your real relationships. How many kids have you seen on the news in trouble for an online relationship?

5. It does nothing for your soul.

You will more than likely never become a better you because of Facebook. The goal of social media has nothing to do with your eternal well being. It’s all about information and sharing it to further their agenda. Just last week it was revealed that Facebook sold yours and mine information for money. All the time you thought you were just making a good old connection with friends….Mark Z was cashing in on you! Beware!

6. It’s addictive.

I can think of a lot better things to be addicted to and social media isn’t on the list. Don’t do drugs either! It sucks you in for hours and in the meantime, your house is dirty, you haven’t exercised and everyone’s hungry. Don’t fall for the trap!

7. It jacks up your real social activity.

You and I need people. We need interaction, face-to-face! Relationships help us grow and mature. Iron sharpens iron. Social media can help but it can also stunt our growth. If all we do is hide behind a screen…we aren’t getting out there and mingling with the world. Go love someone and get loved back. Go talk with a friend in real life. Don’t just message and make promises.

8. It opens us up for temptations.

I’ve experienced my own moments of wishing I had what someone else was posting. Sounds stupid but that’s a form of temptation. I’m not looking for love or anything like that online but many others aren’t either and end up destroying marriages and families because of something they found online.

9. It can leave us looking foolish.

Just scroll back through some of your comments or posts. Yikes. I want to run screaming from the FB room just thinking of it.

10. It doesn’t give you real life friends.

If you ever made it out of middle school alive then you know NOT EVERY ONE IS YOUR FRIEND! People will chummy up with you simply to get the juice of your life and they don’t always have good intentions. Why open yourself up to such a risky thing. Go make real friends. Do actual things with people who want real relationships.

I’m not giving up my Facebook page. But I am changing a lot of my habits and ways. As with anything in this world, caution is a must. I have wasted too much time on social media. Time that I cannot get back and I regret it. Especially when I find myself all upset over something I saw or read there. Why would I do that to myself on purpose?

I NEED A MANAGER!!

Lord, Take the Snarky Out of Me!

March 28th, 2018

I’m willing to bear it all here and I’ll tell you, it isn’t always pretty! I’m talking about myself, me…inside & out. I’m flawed. I’m quick to judge and slow to listen. I’m hard to handle and sometimes rough around the edges. In case you aren’t getting what I’m saying, the bottom line is that I am a sinner!

I need Jesus.

On my own, I’m a wild animal running loose on the world. Over 37 years ago, someone (my peers) pressured me to do the best dang thing I could’ve ever done for myself and that’s GO TO CHURCH!

I know many people think of church as some place holy roly’n Bible-bangin’ hypocrites go. It’s just a club for haters! People who hate anyone that’s not like them. And to be truthful, there are some ugly churches in our world. For the most part, I’ve been loved by some great people in some wonderful churches. I’ve met a few turds along the way, but God even used them to make good changes in my life and so, I THANK THEM!

Back to me.

I have lived 51 years on this earth. I’m getting “older” and a lot wiser. Trust me, it takes time to learn a lot of hard lessons. I’ve put in some time, I’ve fallen hard and I’ve gotten back up. All because of the love of Jesus Christ. I’m not worthy, He says I am. I owe every good and perfect thing in my life to God. He saved me in more ways than one.

What I do with this life God has given me is very important. I am and will be held accountable for every unrepentant sin I allow in my life. God isn’t up in heaven wielding a magic wand to zap you or me when we goof but OUR VERY RELATIONSHIP with Him is at stake when we live just any old way.

So, here I am just a lady with some junk inside. I’m not going to lie, I can be snarky! Just cross me, I can turn into a hot-headed fighting machine. Not at all what God encourages me to be. But, is there a time for speaking up or out? I only ask because there are instances when God is not glorified by what is written or said from believers who profess God’s love.

Tell me I am not alone in this.

It hurts to see what friends or acquaintances say or believe and the agendas that come out when our country is in heightened times of hysteria. I almost want to avoid all tv, media and social scenes because of all the noisy opinions and ridicule from both sides. For the most part, I do avoid it but every once in a while I find myself looking and for that — I regret it!

Here’s all I know, I am called to love and glorify Christ with my life, my words and my actions. I don’t want to hurt or mistreat anyone because I disagree with them. Ever. The world is a great big beautiful place where ugly things happen. My life here matters, my legacy does too.

I don’t want to talk out of both sides of my mouth or heart, ever.

God,
I am a rotten mess. Help me be more like you! Tame my tongue, convict my spirit and mold me to your likeness. Lord, make me BETTER!
Amen

Camp Where There’s NO SIDE OF THE ROAD

March 23rd, 2018

So, we took our new camper out for a “trial run” camping trip this week. As usual, I scoured the news for weather just to make sure what we were up against should we have a rain or snow event. According to the news, snow was heading smack for us on Wednesday. I raced with my phone evidence to show my hubby and I laid down the law:

I’m not going anywhere pulling that big camper in a snow storm! If we don’t leave on Tuesday to beat the pounding snow, I ain’t going!

He agreed. We planned our trip for Tuesday, right after our dog Ms Lizzy finished up at the doggy parlor. We got up early and started a few important ‘get ready’ chores and dropped Ms L off at the dog salon. Hubby had ordered parts and whatever to change the brake fluid on our car. Great idea, only it took a bit of time to get the job complete.

The whole morning was dark, wettish and very coooooold.

Tick-tock, still waiting for the dog to get finished and the new brake fluid job. I ran around packing up, thinking of everything we might need for a short cold camping trip. I hauled stuff out to the camper, looked for ways to make us comfortable and not to weigh us down too much. We still have no idea how heavy our full load will be when we take off to cross America on our HEALING TOUR! That’s what we’re calling our journey out west. After all these months of what felt like the biggest struggle of our lives, we need some healing & restoration.

So, I loaded….lightly. A few pairs of pants, undies, socks and the minimum bath items we might need. I chose our down jackets and filled the fridge with good meal choices. Pillows, blankets and the last thing I grabbed was a snow shovel.

I really had no idea if we would even use it – so, I asked hubby….DO WE NEED THIS SHOVEL? He moved his head around and I yelled it again. Finally, I could see he was shaking his head YES! By this time, snow flakes are swirling all around us and we are still at home. Not even hooked up to go yet.

It’s so cold out, the dog is still at the salon and we are looking at late afternoon leaving. We don’t have dishes for the camper and need to stop at Target in town to pick up a set that I found online. I’m not really nervous but I am getting a little concerned.

Have I mentioned all my fears of pulling the camper yet?

Well, I’m a big chicken. Blame it on the last year plus of experiences. If it can go wrong (Murphy’s law)….

I’ve imagined us slipping and sliding all over the highway. Crashing, twisting and wrecking our home on wheels over the slightest roadway incident. I mean, come on. Pulling a heavy camper is dangerous! And I have a degree in WORRYING!

Finally, brakes are done, Lizzy is ready and we are hooked to go! It’s snowing. It’s freezing cold, darkish out and off we go!

Imogene pulls like a sweetheart. Everything feels good and safe. I’m riding high feeling good! Hubby’s driving us along as if we’ve been pulling this baby all year. In the busyness of the day, I had not eaten a thing. My stomach was starting to growl and I knew if we stopped we’d be pulling into the campground in the dark.

So, I kept quiet and rode along all the way into Brown County knowing I could cook in just a bit if I sat tight!

Within the 30 minutes it took us to arrive at the state park, the snow was falling hard and fast. As we pulled into the park the winding roads were covered, the trees along the side of the roads were blanketed down with heavy snow. We made it to the campground area and it was solid white. Nothing looked like a camping spot. We could see a few campers here and there but otherwise it was desolate.

My heart started to race, my mind went to work playing an imaginary trip over one of the many hills and us crashing our IMOGENE to her death and my hubby just kept going.

Once we reached a high point….we started sliding down the hill which of course made a sharp left turn at the bottom and we skidded to a very ugly stop. P A N I C time for me! I did everything to keep myself in check but inside I was riding on over the edge with the camper twisted in a horrible mess behind me.

Because HE’S NOT LIKE ME (thank you Jesus), he braked hard and thought it out.

I prayed to Jesus for help.

There was no one there to help us but God. No big trucks. The few campers we had passed didn’t even seem to be at their sites. Then, hubby remembered the snow shovel. There was no way we were going to get up the big hill without some serious shoveling. He tried and Imogene just slithered all over the place and back down the hill.

I admit, I cried a little. Mainly because I had woken up sick that morning with a sinus cold and my right eye running like a faucet. So, it was primed for the tears really.

He jumped back in and hit the gas…. up the hill we went. Slippy slidey!

Then, we see THE BIGGEST HILL OF ALL!

Again, we slide hard to the right and nothing could push us up that hill. The snow is falling so hard we can barely see what the heck we are doing. More shoveling. Just as fast as he throws snow it falls right back down on this untreated drive. I can’t take it anymore and jump out too.

Standing there in the silent snowfall, I cry out to God for help. I recognize how powerless my hubby must feel and how he doesn’t want to wreck our new rig either. So, I pray for him too.

He shovels and shovels and hops back in and pushes that girl on up the biggest hill in all of Brown County state park.

By the time he makes it to the T O P…. I run after them and hope in too. We still cannot tell where or what are the camp sites. The snow is falling so hard it’s blinding us. He pulls forward to the flattest area he can find and just stops. He gets out and begins shoveling a place to pull into. I get out and start videoing the area and as I turn to the left, I see the road makes a turn there right in front of another camp site.

I say, “Hey….why not pull into this spot (beside the one he just shoveled)?” All he had to do was turn right into the lane and back straight back up into the camp site. He looked it over and agreed, it was perfect!

So, I grabbed the shovel and started clearing the spot for him to back her in!

It worked like a charm! We were backed in, hooked up and settling in — in minutes.

By the time I started dinner, we were in full snow storm mode. It fell hard and heavy but we were warm and safe. Not a scratch on Imogene and not a tow truck call to be had!

We lived to tell. Imogene was warm & cozy. Two good nights of a trial run and I feel much better about the future trekking across America!

We snapped a WE DID IT shot before leaving BC state park…

Because, guys!!!! WE DID IT!!

Be Faithful

March 19th, 2018

The world is a beautifully ugly place sometimes. It’s full of wonderful people, places and things but also runs rampant with a darkness that only Christ can light back up!

I don’t expect everyone to understand because each of us walk a different path on this earth. For the believer, I suppose they have a better understanding of the difference between a dark heart and one filled with the love & mercy of Christ.

This morning, I felt the strong pull to clear out my heart of smushed down hidden sin. That’s how the Holy Spirit works. Sadly, many of us are professional stuffers. We learn how to compartmentalize “junk” that doesn’t belong into cubbies of our heart and therefore….stack up unconfessed sin and yuck. For me, I had smoothed over a few things and tried really hard to move forward.

Not happening, folks.

God doesn’t let sin slide by. He holds it in high regard (not that He wants to punish us – but that He wants a RIGHT relationship with us!) and just like every sinner on this earth….He expects us to repent and receive the grace He longs to lavish upon us when we turn over what threatens to hold us hostage!

I confess:

I’m not okay. I’m broken. Ugly. Mean-spirited. UNFORGIVING. Full of jealousy. Resentful. Cruel. Vengeful. A jerk. Sad. Untrusting. Blind to my own sin. Gifted at pretending.

And I could go on.

Let me tell you what God says about me.

I am redeemed and forgiven by God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

I am a child of God. (John 1:12)

I am greatly loved. (Romans 5:8)

I am called to be light. (Matthew 5:14a)

I am an over-comer. (Revelation 12:11)

I am rooted. (Colossians 2:7)

I am not my own. (1 Cor. 6:19)

I am a child of the MOST HIGH GOD and He loves me even when I fall short. How grateful I am that He doesn’t leave me as I am (or can be) stuck in a hole of unrepentant sin. He moves me, pierces my heart and opens my eyes to every ugly thing that doesn’t belong.

I won’t sugar-coat it though…. admitting sin is hard.

My prayer for you and for me is that the Holy Spirit would NOT leave us alone. It’s painful to say it, but I hope and pray that every ugly part of you and me would be brought right up to the surface of our lives. Giving us no choice but to RIGHT IT and right it NOW!

Repentance offers peace. Forgiveness frees us. Both giving it and asking for it.

I’ve had to face an ugly hurt with a friend today. I felt God whisper to me to get it right this morning and I did. The yuck between us was hindering my joy. Even knowing what I know about the situation, the Holy Spirit held me to a higher standard and I deserved it. I knew if I didn’t get it right (at least on my part) that I would never be at peace.

I apologized. I owned any part in the ugliness between us. Peace came over me almost instantly. Then, she responded. No grace offered, no acceptance of my apology. So, I learn a great lesson. Forgiveness isn’t for the other person (really) it’s for you/me.

God,

What a gift forgiveness is to me. Thank you for offering such grace to me over & over. Forgive me for the many ways I mishandle people and more in my life. Your mercy….is new every day.

Amen

Stinking Thinking

March 15th, 2018

My flesh is so conditioned to act and think a certain way that when I’m convicted about something big and tangible in my life….I teter on the edge of WHAT TO DO or how to hyper-focus on it! Case in point; SHAME. Shame is not all unhealthy or ugly. For most of us, it feels that way and more. No one wants to feel shame. No one wants to be burdened with hard ugly embarrassing shame. It slays us. Rocks our world….forces us down and reveals all the truth about us.

For me, I’ve felt a lot of shame in my 51 years of life. Maybe I was trained to be ashamed. If I did anything wrong or fell short, shame would swoop in and envelope me as if it were my god. Don’t get me wrong, shame is useful. It moves us to repent, to change whatever it is we’re doing wrong. But, not all shame has to do with a deep dirty sin. Sometimes, shame can be a feeling we have about something that just comes natural in our lives.

Such as, feeling shame for having a struggle.

I’ve thought about my writing for the last many months and how Debbie Downer it has to have been for anyone reading and I felt shame. Oh, what a shame my posts have centered so heavily on all my dang problems!! Such a waste of writing. But, no. No way Jose is that anything to be truly ashamed of. Every ugly moment has been useful to me and to others. My painful journey isn’t just for me. God has plans to use it for others too. My suffering has not been in vain. My pit dwelling has not just been for me to wallow in and die. God has and will continue to use it to encourage others (if I will be honest and share it).

Not everyone’s life is honky dory! And if yours is, praise Him and glorify Him because He wants to use even that to love on others! There’s nothing wrong with having an easy life or zero troubles. It’s rare, but it’s also useful to the Kingdom of God!

I have had a hard lesson in faithfulness this last year. I recognized so many of my weak spots were jam packed with faithLESSness. In spite of my calling on God to help me, deliver me or save me from whatever struggle I was dealing with….I realized just how tiny my faith in what HE WAS ACTUALLY doing with my life really turned out to be. I’m talking T I N Y!

Who puts God in such a tiny box?

Me, you…everybody! I’m studying in Hosea right now and perhaps doing a little cowarding down at the reality of a people so bent on disobeying God. I mean, who does that? Then, I face my true self and say….ME! I am no better than any of the people in Israel who turned to this or that instead of God.

My life has been turned upside down and truthfully, I feel like I’ve gone to hell and back in the last 19 months. Still, God stayed steady with me and all my brokenness. He never left me (even the times I felt absolutely all alone!) and He orchestrated some very important moments to get me where I am today.

Homeless but not hopeless.

It’s been simple to focus on all the loss. Satan has hung signs all around me many times to discourage me and wreck me for all that was seemingly going wrong in my life. I read them….pondered them and then turned right back to Christ. He has lifted me up, pushed me forward and provided a way when there really didn’t seem one to be made.

I am convinced that my moments of stinking thinking were blocked and guarded by God. He made sure I was without anyone to grumble to, except Him. He made sure that I had to turn to Him. He kept me close to Him and every time I thought I needed someone to complain to….He made sure He was there.

He wanted all my stinking thinking.

You’re welcome, world.

Lord,

Someone is hurting more than me. Life is over-whelming and difficult to the point of hopelessness for someone besides me. Let your love fall all over them and help them to see beyond the circumstance. You have a perfect plan. Let it be known.
Amen

Boldly Ask

March 10th, 2018

Confession: I withhold blessing from myself because I’m an idiot.

Let me tell you how ridiculous I can get…when life gives me lemons, I completely forget to make lemonade (which is my favorite drink, by the way). Instead, I squeeze the heck out of my lemons and then rub my own eyes with the same fingers I just used to squeeze the lemons.

I have this terrible mindset that I must suffer. Even in moments of redemption or blessing. I catch myself feeling guilty for being blessed or given another chance.

I don’t know why I’m like that, perhaps…it has something to do with the way I was raised. Everything in my life was conditional. If I did THIS then I could earn THAT! It sounds stupid, I know. But, I’m convinced that I get what I deserve and if it’s a blessing, I am sure that it must be a mistake!

Admitting this about myself really is a punch in the gut to WHO GOD IS and how He feels about us as His children. He isn’t a game playing kind of God. He has a pure love for His children that doesn’t involve any bartering or earning of His blessing. He loves us with abandon. He sees our hurts, He knows our struggles and He longs to meet us there and love on us in spite of what we convince ourselves He should do.

GOD IS GOOD, HOLY, GIVING, GRACIOUS, FORGIVING, LOVING, LIFE-CHANGING, JOY ENHANCING….and so much more than we can humanly imagine.

So, why do we get sucked up in such silliness as punishing ourselves when life goes awry?

Is it because we have a deep-seated understanding of our sin and cannot move forward through forgiving ourselves (even after asking God to forgive us)?

Is it guilt? We feel guilt for something and cannot let it go or even humble ourselves to ask for forgiveness?

Or does it even have to do with sin at all? Could it be we struggle with martyrdom syndrome and feel it’s our job to do all the punishing for God?

Maybe it’s none of those reasons at all. For me, I think I could write a whole book on how to wreck myself just by over-thinking my life and it’s challenges.

I’ve just spent a year and a half trying to figure out why my hard-working husband lost his very good job. Was it something to do with us? Have we or had we been feckless or rotten followers of God and this was some sort of deserved punishment? Had we gotten haughty, prideful or even too good for our britches?

In all these long months of searching for the answer, never….NOT ONCE did God say, “You people were so lost and off track!”. There was no shameful scolding, no go sit in the corner til you have suffered enough and certainly there was no roll over and give up, you’re done messages either.

Instead, God LAVISHED love on me, on us. He reassured me over & over that He was God and that He loved me. Month after month, I prayed for direction and the whole time….HE was directing us. Only, I didn’t see it because many times it didn’t look like the kind of directing that made any sense.

See how I think? Psycho much?!

Here’s what I’m learning:

My path to where I’m supposed to be is going to unfold exactly how God designs it. I don’t have to worry and fret to convince Him to do anything MY WAY! He is God and He has a plan.

The best part? I can live joyfully in the waiting.

I never have to punish myself or tear my clothes to be worthy of any blessing or answered prayer. God wants to bless me and I want to receive it! Why would I squander His goodness? Why would I wallow in doubt what He planted in truth?

I am b l o w n away by how He has blessed us and put us on a new path. It’s only right that I live like that and celebrate every sweet moment that leads us to the place we belong. I can BOLDLY ASK HIM to do whatever it is I need of Him. I can pray with great expectation and know that whatever the answer is, it will be right because that’s who HE IS…the God of right-ness. My faith has grown by leaps and bounds during this time in our lives. I’m not who I was in 2016 and I’m glad! I know I can trust Him and I never have to place suffering onto myself.

God,
Thank you that you are working out a plan that is like nothing I could ever imagine for myself. Every rotten moment of punishing myself had nothing to do with you and everything to do with me! Thank you for loving me so much and opening the door for me to live and to do it with an abundance straight from YOU!
Amen