When Darkness Comes

prayerLife changes after tragedy. It may be heartbreak from a personal or physical attack like mine, or it can be an attack to someone you love. Either way, heartache follows tragedy.

Our go-to move is a simple one: avoid tragedy. The concept sounds easy enough, but is grossly impractical. How can we avoid living since tragedy is ever-present? It may not lurk behind every tree, waiting to pounce, but it is there.
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every sinner has a future and every saint has a past

As we all discuss the plight of Lance Armstrong and the error of his ways, take a moment to read this article. Brokenness is everywhere and we need to remember that we carry our own share of it in the lives we lead.

http://thedailylove.com/why-we-should-forgive-lance-armstrong-right-now/

Broken Again … Or Is That Still?

What’s that lump on your neck?

Those were the words that started a new journey of questioning … searching … confirming God’s place in my life. I thought I had dealt with my share of brokenness. Not just with my early years of emotional brokenness due to living in a dysfunctional family followed by years of bad decisions, but the physical brokenness that I experienced just last year, going through brain surgery to remove a tumor the size of my fist.  I thought I had figured life out. I knew that God was with me in April 2011. I knew he loved me and had a plan for my life. I thought life from here on would be smooth sailing.

How pathetic! What arrogance filled my heart!

Here I was facing a physical crisis again. A nodule was discovered on my thyroid. I realized I needed to go through the process again; the process of accepting God’s purpose for my life. I had to once again embrace—with humility—the fact that I did not know what tomorrow held for me. I had to revisit prayers that I offered to God earlier; prayers of complete acceptance and thankfulness.  I read scripture with a new hunger. I knew Truth was the only thing that could carry me through this valley. And the most wonderful thing happened. The scriptures that I always loved took on new life; a brilliance that filled my soul. I was reminded of an important lesson: I need Christ not because I’m broken again, but because I’m broken still.

I still have the nodule on my thyroid. I am scheduled to have a fine-needle biopsy and have penciled a date for surgery … just in case I need it. But Truth is still the same; God is always there, and he has a plan just for me.

I’m totally on board for that!

I’ve Been Nominated … Go Figure, I’m Late

Looking through some old e-mails I noticed I had been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the incredible blogger Karen of A Life Less Scripted! This is such a cool award because it helps spread the word about so many incredible, thought-provoking blogs, like Karen’s. I hope I’m not too late.

Below are the blogs I consider award-winning, also. If I’ve nominated you, it’s because your blog inspired me, made me think, made me laugh or cry (likely both) and I want to celebrate you.

If you find yourself nominated, here’s how you pay it forward:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award
  • Include a link to their blog
  • Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Tell the person who nominated you seven things about yourself

Here are seven things about me:

  1. I love the breakfast in bed my husband brings me.
  2. I embarrass my kids very easily.
  3. Although I don’t watch too much television, I’m hooked on Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars.
  4. I’m diligently working on finishing my third manuscript.
  5. I like dogs as long as they live in your house and not mine.
  6. I put chocolate in my hot oatmeal.
  7. Most importantly, I’ve been given a second chance in life that I don’t want to take for granted.

Here’s an eclectic list of blogs I’ve nominated:

Shadows of Love

In My Opinion

My Broom

firestorm2012

A Miniature Clay Pot

Steven Watkins

Sober Boots

A Life Less Scripted

When My Father Wakes Up

Wendy Scheaffer Photography

Obsecrations

Katherine’s Daughter

Wordserve Water Cooler

Rachelle Gardner

Donald Miller

Take a moment and visit these blogs; you’ll hopefully agree that your time spent at these blogs is worth the visit.

And thank you, readers. I’m honored and humbled that anyone takes the time to visit here.

Robin

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

I have never re-blogged another person’s words, but Dannah Gresh’s words need to be shared.

God bless you, Dannah, and all other women who boldly stand on keeping their mind on things that are: true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

A Witness to Life

It unimposingly sat on the table . Its purpose was to make life better by offering up sweetness. In itself, it wasn’t all that attractive … in itself it was plain and unadorned.

But its value to me was greater than many of my other possessions.

I’m talking about my family’s sugar bowl. This sugar bowl sat on our family’s kitchen table for as long as I can remember. The table coverings changed from Country Check to Simple Linen. The tables even changed from chrome and flecked laminate to a much more civilize walnut. But it wasn’t the style or the material that the sugar bowl rested upon that was so special. It was the conversations that were held over that vessel of sweetness that remain with me … the memories of how life changed and how those experiences happened around that simple piece of china.

… Like the time when my dad asked me to sit in his lap on Saturday morning so he could tell me that life just wasn’t working out between him and my mom; that he was going to live somewhere else. While I sat there, summoning up my whole four years of maturity, I remember how I sobbed into his shoulder while I asked if he would ever come back to visit me. Then, through his own tears he pulled me close. I can still see how he wiped away the tears from his eyes and said he changed his mind, he wasn’t going anywhere.

… Or there were the many times I can remember moving the sugar bowl aside so I could watch Mom make dozens of fruit pies, apple dumplings, or cookies. She would expertly reach her spoon into the white sugar to sprinkle glistening crystals atop each piece of homemade heaven.

… Then there were all the times when I would sit at the table that held the sugar bowl, waiting for Dad to come home from working his job at the factory. We would share a milk-diluted cup of coffee sweetened by too many spoonsful of that sweet white stuff and talk about life as only a six-year old understood it. No topics were off limits, and many times he would tell me that life would be difficult for me, because I didn’t just see life as black and white … I saw life’s experiences in shades of gray.

… Sadly, the day came when that same bowl of sugar and a less diluted cup of coffee occupied that maple table when Dad told me that he and Mom were, in fact, splitting this time and I needed to pick who I would stay with. I remember the pain from that conversation and how no amount of sweetness offered up from that sugar bowl could console me.

Years later, when that sugar bowl sat on my own table, I experienced life’s pain that came in shades of gray. Dad was right about that in my life.

For too many years my view of Christ was just like that of my sugar bowl. While I looked the other way, turning to resentment and cynicism to help me in life, he was always there witnessing all the good as well as bad that was happening in my life. Faithfully, he offered up a sweetness for my broken spirit whenever it held bitterness; all I needed to do was accept it. He was ever-patient, offering comfort from the unpleasantness that comes with life. John 10:10 shares, “… I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”.

Now that is what I call a real sweetness.

That sugar bowl is still in my home, but now in a place of honor and safety. It represents that no matter what happens, life’s bitterness can be dealt with properly with a filling of the sweetness That comes from a relationship with Christ.

Seasons in Life

Bonnie was a girlfriend from days long gone by (not her real name). Bonnie and I were incredibly close; our lives were so in sync. We were pregnant the same times, liked the same herb teas, and even went back to college as non-traditional students during the same season in our lives. We were connected at the hip. I would have a thought and she would express it. It was a wonderful friendship; closer than family.

Unfortunately, Bonnie and I also dealt with similar compulsions in our lives at the same time. I filed for divorce to start a new life. I soon began steeping in my dysfunction, not realizing the harm I was causing myself. And as a good (and compulsive) friend, Bonnie came right along. It didn’t take long for her to follow the path I had blazed and she, too, filed for divorce.

Again, she and I were inseparable. We even scheduled our children’s visitation evenings on the same nights so we could go out and enjoy ourselves; really paint the town red. Life was our oyster and there was no limit to what was before us. We were two attractive young women looking for attention and enjoying all that we received.

But, as scripture warns, we enjoyed the “pleasures of sin for a season”.  Slowly our lives began to fall apart. Bonnie and I began spending time with people we never should have met, doing things we never should have done … going to places we never should have visited … leading us to make choices—different choices—we never should have made. In the middle of the wallowing in muck and mire that was due to these choices, Bonnie and I severed our friendship. We remained civil with each other, but too many secrets were shared between us. Secrets that once bonded our lives were now feared as potential weapons that could do great harm to the other if shared indiscriminately.

I moved from that area where Bonnie and I lived and as it always does, life moved on. Years later I found myself on my knees, asking God to take over my mismanaged life, and was thrilled that his grace was waiting for me. My walk with Christ daily fills me with wonder and awe of how he could love completely … watch me walk away … then forgive completely when I changed my course in life and wanted back under his protecting wing.

A few years ago had the opportunity to re-connect with some friends and family back home. I walked into a fast-food restaurant while visiting and saw a young man who I knew immediately had to be Bonnie’s son; his features reflected his mother’s so strikingly that I had to ask if Bonnie was his mother. Yes, he said, shyly … how did I know her?

I vaguely shared how she and I had spent some time together years ago. I gave him my cell phone number and asked him to have his mom call me. I was so excited about having the opportunity to chat with Bonnie. I had been spending lots of healing time in scripture and working The Steps. The thought of offering an amend to my friend thrilled my heart. I wanted so desperately to share my new life with her. We had always been like two peas from the same pod and I knew she would get it, too.

But her return call never came.

I thought that maybe Bonnie’s son misplaced my note, so I called her number … the same phone number from all those years earlier. I left a message—clearly the voice I recognized was Bonnie’s—asking her to give me a call because I had lots to share with her. But nothing. It then hit me …. she just wasn’t going to be returning my calls.

Those secrets from years ago … could they still be controlling her? Just because I found peace in truth didn’t necessarily mean that she found it, too. I had faced demons and shared all my ugly past with the people who mattered—my new husband as well as trusted friends—and experienced a peace that can only come from trusting a God bigger than me. I needed to realize that Bonnie had the right to not want to hear my amend; that she had the right not to accept the new and improved me. If she wanted to hang onto her memories of me … that was her right.

I am sad to think that a great friendship was destroyed by sin so many years ago, but it was. Was it my sin, her sin, our sin … who can say?

I have few regrets in my life. I have offered everything to God and it has been important that every part of my life be directed to glorify him. But if I had the chance to take anything back … if I could have a do-over … I would fix my relationship with Bonnie. I miss her and I can only hope that she has found peace in her own life as I have found in mine.

Seasons … they come and they go. I was reminded this morning that as one season closes another season begins. Driving to work today I needed to wear sun glasses for the first time in months, reminding me that the days are beginning to get longer.  Another Winter season is coming to an end and a fresh Spring season is getting ready to begin.

Just as it should be.

Like looking in a mirror …

… Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:28-29 NIV

I’ve recently been spending time in the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. This passage is filled with lesson after lesson, and each time I read it I find something new. This time when I read the story, however, I didn’t stop at verse 26 when Jesus told her that he was the promised Messiah. I decided to keep going … wanting to go beyond Jesus’ declaration. I wanted to study her reaction.

Scripture tells us she left her water jar and returned to the town. I think this is one of those times where scripture is so understated. Think of it … she just met a man who crossed a cultural barrier by talking with her and then <gasp!>, asked for a drink of water from her. He told her that knew her history as well as her present, yet didn’t judge her. Instead, he offered her life everlasting and, along with that, peace. If that wasn’t enough, he then chose to reveal to this broken woman … the first person who ever heard these words from his lips … that he was the promised Messiah.

Incredible! 

I was just like that Samaritan woman. I kept to myself, not giving others the opportunity to know me; afraid of their judgment. I already knew the condition of my life. I didn’t want to hear the disgust in their voices, too. I knew all the terrible decisions I had made; I thought if they knew the state of my life they would recoil from me from revulsion. Furthermore, I judged myself even more harshly than others ever could. It only made sense to me to hide my sins and not talk about them; just as the Samaritan woman tried to hide from others.

I believe that when Jesus asked her about her life and she answered him honestly, she gave him the opportunity that he had been waiting for. She shared a glimpse of her brokenness and he, in turn, offered her salvation and peace.

I believe it’s the same for you and me.

Just as this woman’s life (I believe) was changed forever, so was mine. I have never tired of sharing what Christ’s love, grace and mercy has done for this poor Samaritan-like woman.

We can be so broken inside that hiding past failures and pain seems like the only safe option. But that is farthest from the truth. Sharing past hurts and sins with Christ as well as caring and safe people can be as healing to the spirit as removing a splinter from an infected and festering wound. It’s risky … and possibly painful … but it pays off in the long run.

Consider sharing some unknown hurts with Christ as well as a safe, respected friend. You may be surprised as to what it brings to you.

Early Conversations

Corcovado jesus

Image by @Doug88888 via Flickr

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

Chorus, Jesus Paid It All, Elvina M. Hall, 1865 

I love it when it all comes together …

When I woke up this morning, the chorus of Jesus Paid It All was ringing in my ears. I must admit my first thought was, Huh? But okay, I’ve learned that when God starts being all chatty so early in the morning, he has lots to say and wants my attention immediately. So I went with it.

Standing in the shower I start singing the words. Okay, I thought, that’s powerful. But I’m still waking up here, Father. I get it, I get it.

I move onto devotions. Surely, I’ll get into some deep meaning in scripture. My reading is Romans 5:8 … “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I realized then that I didn’t get it at all. I wasn’t comprehending the significance of my morning. I needed to ponder, really reach into what I was hearing.

Then it hit me. I can do all I want that’s good … I can talk the Christian talk … I can act like I know what Life’s all about. But bottom line, if it wasn’t for Jesus’ willingness to take what I deserve and offer me grace instead of judgment, it’d all be for nothing. Nada. Zero. I know that it isn’t cool to talk about messy things like “blood” and “judgment”, but that is the bottom line. I owe all my peace, sleep-filled nights, and tender heart to my Savior. Without his willingness to give himself as he did, I’d still be the pathetic wacko I started out as so many years earlier.  But now I have another option; Grace.

My day’s been filled with whistling a catchy tune today. Yes, Jesus DID pay it all. And I will forever be grateful. I’m so glad he woke me up the way he did.

When Did It All Go South?

Hustling … bustling … doesn’t feel Christ-like to me.

Before you paint me as being judgmental, please know I catch myself falling into the traps of the Christmas holiday season, too. But what’s the deal? I understand God’s greatest gift was put into motion when Jesus was born; the gift of the possibility of eternal presence with The Father. I understand that when Jesus was a small child three wise men brought him gifts fit for a king; Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

So how did we reduce all this symbolism to re-gifting last year’s fruitcake?

Take a moment out of your day. Do some deep-cleansing breathing and reflect. Reflect on what has already been given to you. Think on what you already possess that reflects on eternity. And ponder about what has been given to you that royalty also has: children (if you’re a parent), your health (it is a gift that you could lose at any moment), and the ability to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

It’s still a wonderful time of year if we take a moment and think about its true meaning.

Merry Christmas!