Am I God’s Enemy?

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. 7   Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.8  – Romans 8: 7 – 8

                “Just one small bite, what could it hurt?”  I can close my eyes and envision a tropical paradise with a gentle breeze blowing, lush vegetation and smells that tantalized the nose;  blossoms that were exceedingly gorgeous to the eye and a lush blanket of grass underfoot.  Everything unwaveringly perfect, just as God intended each blade of grass, ray of light, and morsel to taste in the Garden of Eden; a perfect paradise until that one moment in time, which changed everything.  Eve knew God’s command not to eat the fruit, and yet, her mind was so consumed by her desire to taste the forbidden, to pluck it from the tree and know for herself the joy of eating the luscious fruit.  Her mind was so fixated on her own desire that she no longer seemed to care what God’s command had been.  From that moment on, the entirety of God’s creation has succumbed to just such temptation with devastating consequences.

In verse seven we see that a mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.  As I read these verses I wanted to gain a clear picture of what that word, hostile, means.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary “hostile” means – “…relating to an enemy; openly opposed or resisting.”  Eve’s open rebellion is clearly evident as we read the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden.  We see for ourselves in God’s word that when her mind was set on the fruit that it was clearly not set on God’s will and did not submit to God’s law.  The verse goes on to say that “it [the mind] cannot”.  By all appearances it seemed impossible for Eve to let go of her obsession with the fruit, even mere moments, long enough to remember God’s law.

In Romans 8:8 we see that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”    At first glance this verse said to me that God will be unhappy with those who are focused solely on physical self.  I think that could be a part of the meaning here.  But I wanted to see if there might be more clarity of understanding so again, I went to the dictionary to get a clear picture of what the word “please” means.  “to please:  to be in the will of.” (Merriam-Webster).  Ah-ha!  Eve’s mind was so focused on her desire to satiate her appetite with the fruit that she just could not turn away from it.  Not only was it something to make God unhappy with her, it set her completely outside the will of God.

It is easy to stand in judgment.   It is easier to accept our own sin if we blame our desire to sin on the original fall from perfection, by Adam and Eve.  As I read these verses and studied them it caused me to ask myself questions about my own mindset and where I stand in seeking God’s will.  As we continue our journey through Lent towards the cross, I would like to pose them for us all to ponder and seek God’s will in the answers.

  1.  How much of my mind is consumed with troubles/cares of everyday living, ideas on how to get ahead, providing for the desires of my family, etc., rather than seeking the will of God? Philippians 4:6 -7
  2. What things in my life take up too much of my “time, talent and treasure” that make it impossible to be in the will of God. Mark 10:21
  3. Do I KNOW the laws of God to even know where I am not yielding to God’s will for my life? Psalm 119:11
  4. Is my mind so full of “stuff” that there is no room for God, making me His enemy? Rev. 3:16
  5. Am I willing to turn from the flesh and the things of this world and follow hard after Him? Psalm 42:1
  6. What are the consequences of not submitting to His will and staying firmly rooted in the flesh? Matthew 7:21
  7. With a willing heart, what steps do I need to take to set my mind on Him and not myself? Isaiah 30:21 – 22

Spending time in God’s word and seeking Him through earnest and heartfelt prayers will provide you the answer to these and any other questions the passage from Romans may have elicited in your heart.  Please seek Him.  He will meet you where you are.

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Love, Loss and Time Wasted.

I sit here tonight at my computer with a broken heart.  My mind is churning with all the things I want to share and it is a mish-mash of thoughts roiling over one another with an underlying sense of loss and urgency to change something, anything to give my life more meaning; to ease the pain that stings just under the surface of my skin.  The tears barely held in check enough to see the screen and the worried queries of my little one questioning the misery she sees and hears.

It is almost three weeks since we returned from Belize.  I can still see the children barefoot and bathing out of buckets.  Walking hand-in-hand to the green school with the paint peeling and no indoor plumbing.  Moms holding babies waiting for the clinic where it is probably the only doctor they will see all year.  The streets in the city where gang violence closed schools there for weeks a couple of months ago.  My heart hurts, but how much more must God’s?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  It will be our first without my Paw Paw.  Last year “The Amoeba” (our extended family) held the first annual Valentine’s banquet at my sister’s house.  This year my Nana will face the lover’s holiday without her almost 60 year sweetheart and my grief swallows up all reason.  Death, loneliness and separation.  God did not intend this to be our lot.

Today is Ash Wednesday. The day that marks the beginning of Lent.  As a Baptist, Lent was never observed in our home.  As I have grown older and have my own family, my faith has become a real and growing thing.  It has swallowed up the the kool-ade and cookie Bible-story time faith of a child that turned into a check-list of behaviors for the “good” Christian.  That kind of stagnant belief has been replaced by the reality of being so unworthy of God’s love that depending on His grace and mercy in a relationship with Him is all that makes life live-able and a faith worth having.  How sinful and unworthy I am becomes so clear in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday.  The fact that Jesus came to earth and died the sinners death in my place leads me to NEED to give up SOMETHING if only to remind me every day for the next six weeks that without Him, I am nothing.

The combination of my mission trip to Belize, the earthly loss of my Paw Paw and the reminder that Resurrection day is coming, has made me think about how much time I have wasted in my life.  I want my life to have meaning.  I want to reflect God’s glory.  I need to be completely His and sharing who He is with others.  God is really convicting my heart of how much of His time is wasted by me daily on things that do not have eternal value.  My sinful heart seeks diversion and distraction.   If you know me, you know that books are my escape.  When my heart hurts, I read.  When I feel overwhelmed, I read.  When I am anxious, I read.  I read a lot. To that end, I am going to enter this Lenten season by giving up reading things that are not Kingdom builders.  Instead of trying to escape from the hurt of losing a loved one, or to forget the shame of how much I have and how little the Belizean people have and the utter devastation that Jesus gave up everything so I can have eternal life, and I’m wasting it; I’m going to use that time to get quiet, listen and offer up my broken life to let Him redeem me, use me and remind me daily of how small I am and how great He is.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

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Growing in Grace Session One.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; behold the new has come.”  This is the scripture that we started out with last Sunday.  I asked everyone to take a few moments and meditate on this verse.  Please take a few minutes to do so and ask yourself what does this verse mean to you.

Can you be who you are, if you don’t know who you are?

This question really led to a lot of consternation and we struggled with the depth of this question.  My intent is simply to get us to think about what makes us who we are.  When you ask people who they are, often times you will immdiately get, “I’m a doctor, or I’m a teacher, I’m an Engineer and so on and so on.”  But really, who are we?  I wanted us to begin to think about who we are to God; not what profession we practice every day, or role in our homes, or within the relationships that we are in.  I want us to begin to think in terms of who we truly are to the only One who really matters.

I then asked a series of three questions.  I am going to list them here:
1 – What is it that makes the Christian life so difficult to live? (Anwers we threw out in class:  Perceptions of who Christians are, trying to live perfectly, following rules, supposed to be like God, trying to be someone I don’t feel like I truly am, Career choices can make you feel stuck(things that God would be pleased with but responsibilties preclude, ie. mission trips, donating to different missions, etc.)
2 - How does one really live the Christian life? ( Spend time trying to figure it out, seeking to please God rather than people, spend your free time doing things to please God rather than self, change actions/behaviors, try to stop sinning and when we do sin, correct them.)
3 – Why is my Christian life not working? (Trying to live more perfectly and failing, focusing on guilt and negative consequences.)

Out of those questions we discovered that sin often plays a huge role in whether we are struggling in our Christian walks or not.  We often have great intentions and hearts that want to follow God.  But we fall short.  We are then sometimes in great despair over the guilt of our transgressions.  This leads to falling away from the relationship with our Saviour even further until we often feel the need to kneel at the alter again and seek a way to wipe the slate clean again and start all over.  This often leads to a vicious cycle of initially becoming aware of our sinful nature, seeing a need for a savior, accepting His sacrifice for our lives, become a Christian, be tempted to sin, fall to temptation, feel guilty, seek forgiveness, try again to live the Christian life, be tempted, sin. . . the cycle seems never ending.  Paul says it best in Romans 7:15 “I don’t understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I do the very thing I hate.”  All too often this is the truth of our daily walks.  Thankfully there is a way to see God’s grace in our lives so we can get off of the guilt treadmill and learn to live fully free in God’s grace.

So what is God’s greatest purpose for His children?  There are all kinds of possible answers.  I am going to list a few and some scripture that goes with each possible purpose for our lives.  First – to serve the Lord. Acts 17: 24 – 25 “24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”  The second possible purpose is to Obey the Lord. Matthew 8:27 “The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”  The Third possible purpose for our lives is to Love the Lord. 1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” The last possible answer that I am going to list (definitely all the possible purposes) is to Glorify the Lord. Psalm 34:3  “Glorify the LORD with me;  let us exalt his name together.”  After this one I asked what does ”glorify the Lord mean?”  Things that we discussed were 1)to give God the credit for things 2) Contiued worship and praise 3) Witnessing/sharing testimonies 4) Living for Jesus 5) Giving thanks/prayer 6) Obeying God’s word.  As we began to list these things, we discussed that in the Glorifying part especially it was a list of behaviours.  I threw out the idea that “Producing right behavior does not necessarily glorify God.”  I asked the class how that could be true/false.  I am going to leave this open so that you can think about it.  If you aren’t sure what you think I would love to discuss this further. (I will also know that you’ve actually made it this far through a lengthy post. :-) )

So what is God’s greatest purpose for us?  I’m going to list scripture here:
1 – Hebrews 1:1 – 3a “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being”
2 – John 13:31 – When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.
3 – 2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
4 – Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
5 – John 8:12 -  “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

We discussed each of these and in the end the answer to “What is God’s greatest purpose for His children” is this:  It is Jesus Christ expressing His life in and through us that gives God His greatest Glory.  I love this.  I am blown away that God entrusts us to give Him glory.  He doesn’t need us.  But He loves us and He uses us despite doing sometimes the “very things we hate” that make us fall away from Him.  He continues to call us back to Him and loves us through it all.  That in a nutshell is true Grace.

So now that we’ve seen the beauty of a God who loves us and calls us according to His purposes we are forced to look at what hinders God’s purpose?  We have two choices of how we are going to live our lives as Christians. 1) Outsid- in (law/flesh): living my life centered on trying really hard to live a better Christian life, usually through self-discipline measures. (We discussed some practical ways this might look i.e., pray more, sin less, serve in the church more, etc.) or the second way to live our lives is 2) Inside-out (Grace/Spirit):  Living my life centered on my love relationship with Jeus in me and all he has done for me and to me.  If we choose to live the first choice we step in the way.  We become too important.  We want to please God through our actions, but because of our flesh we will fail.  The Flesh is what hinders the expression of Christ’s Life in our lives.  Galatians 5: 16 – 25 shows us the battle very clearly: ”

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  His Word shows so very clearly the battle that we are in.  It is time to dive into living with the Holy Spirit totally, smack-dab in the middle of who we are showing us God’s greatest purpose for us and leading us in the way to bring Him glory!

Hope to see you Sunday.  Praying God will show Himself greatly to you this week.

 

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Growing in Grace Overview

It has been so long since I blogged. I am realizing just how chaotic our lives have become and it makes me sad that we are so busy. I intentionally took a whole month away from facebook and, for most of the month, from twitter. I am pleased to say that the only time I missed it was when I wanted to share a picture or snippet about my kids!! That being said, I wanted to give a short overview for what is to come over the next 10 – 12 weeks here.

I am teaching a class at our church www.graceforall.org called Growing in Grace. It is a class designed for new believers, those who have been away from the faith for a while and are returning or just simply for believers who have questions about how to build a love relationship with the saviour totally dependent on His grace. I welcome any questions along the way and for the ones I don’t know the answer to, we will scour the Word, seek godly counsel from our knowledgeable pastors and search together for God’s truth. So if you aren’t involved anywhere and feel like this sounds like a good fit for you please come and be welcomed.

This is a class that will build on the previous week’s lessons, so I am going to be posting the material that we cover in the class here so that anyone who misses class can stay caught up. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or post comments with your questions and I will answer as soon as possible.

Gods blessings to you.

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Christmas Chaos.

Hey guys -
Don’t know if you are like me, but as the holidays approach my anxiety goes up. There is always so much I think I HAVE to do. Karen Ehman has written a book, “Untangling Christmas” to help us figure out how to simply the holidays and make it a Christ-centered time. If you have a chance, check it out.

http://www.untanglingchristmas.org/

Merry Christmas!!

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How Are You? Really.

I was asked recently to share why I blog. For me, there are many reasons. 1) God gives us all spiritual gifts for places where we can minister. Writing is one of mine. 2) I LOVE to write and LOVE to share Jesus so naturally the two seem to go hand in hand.  3) Believe it or not, I am shy. I know that people have told me that I can present myself as appearing haughty or feel like I am unapproachable. What I have discovered is that talking to people who I don’t know one-on-one scares me. I can actually talk more freely in front of a group. (I know, that is really strange. . .) so 4) Blogging gives me a chance to reach out to people in a way that I am comfortable with and share what God places on my heart. With that being said, I want to share something that has been rolling around inside for a while. Hope you receive a blessing.

 
I think that often we, as Christians, put on our masks and hide behind a facade of an image we think a “good Christian” ought to look like. When we go into church and meet someone face to face, if asked, “How are you,” our immediate response generally is, “I’m fine.” Or if we are the one asking, “How are you” we don’t really expect more than a pat answer. Often we aren’t fine.  Often we have hurts, are experiencing failure or even feel a sense of isolation that we are coping with; or we are so selfabsorbed that we don’t take the time to really see someone else’s needs. I don’t think God intends for us to live that way; on a superficial, skin-deep only level. I think God calls us to live a transparent life so that we may share each other’s burdens, rejoice with each other’s successes and
come along side one another to give support where needed.

God calls us to love one another deeply. There are many references to that in scripture. One example is found in John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We also read in John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” A third example is found in Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” In the first verse God calls us to love one another as He loves us. What does that look like?  Sacrificially? Without a doubt. Completely? Does He do any less? He is so serious about the command to love one another that He shares that, this is how EVERYONE will KNOW that we are His disciples. I don’t know about you, but as a believer I certainly want to be one of His disciples.  The last verse of these three wounds my heart deeply. We are to be humble, gentle, patient and bear one another’s burdens. I have to ask myself how often am I the embodiment of gentleness, patience and humility? Not nearly often enough. How often am I so caught up in myself that I fail to see someone else’s needs? Do I worry about what someone might think of me if I shared what was really on my mind when someone asks how I am?

Part of any love relationship is giving of oneself and serving without reservation; putting aside self to meet the needs of the one you love. This is not just intended for a romantic relationship. We are told in Galatians 5:13- 14,” . . . serve one another in love. 14) The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I don’t know about you but trying to love anyone nearly the way I love myself is a tall order. But the beauty is that it doesn’t take much to make someone feel loved. A gentle question beyond the usual, “How are you?” Taking time to stop and look the person in the eyes and really care about what’s in his/her heart. It shows. And when asked, tell the truth. I don’t mean sharing every gory detail, but enough to be real. I wonder, how do we truly love one another, if we hide our hurts and our hearts from those around us, who just might be the crutch we need to help us hobble through a tough situation.  Seriously folks, it is time to take off the masks that allow us to hide our hearts, keep us from loving each other deeply and thereby failing to love our Lord completely.

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T-ball or College? Where is Your Marriage?

This past weekend Barry and I went to our yearly Couples Retreat with our church.  I was asked to write a devotion for one of the mornings so here is the devotion that I wrote.  Hope you enjoy.

I recently had the chance to watch my 4-year old nephew play tee-ball.  If you have never watched 4 and 5 year-olds play, you don’t know what you are missing.  It’s like herding minnows.  At this age everyone goes out on the field.  There are no limits to the numbers.  When the opposing team bats, 75% of the fielding team chases the ball.  At the same time one might be running into the dugout for a drink of water, another might be chasing a butterfly that just passed his nose, a third is apt to be turned completely backward watching the train go by and excitedly trying to get everyone else to watch too.  There are no outs.  Everyone gets to bat and run the bases.  At this age the goal is to make sure each of these kids plays with no pressure, no rules and everyone gets to do exactly what he wants on the field.  What often happens though is that as 17 kids chase one ball, someone gets shoved, another trips and falls one kid triumphantly beats everyone else to the ball and then doesn’t really know what to do with it.  The hitters don’t always run the right way.  Base-runners sometimes don’t run at all or run too far and you have multiple kids on bases playing a miniature king of the hill match to see who gets to stay.   Chaos reigns and it is a toss-up as to whether the kids have a fabulous time or are completely miserable.

Marriage can often be that same sort of scenario.  We frequently go into marriage without being on the same page or even having the same rules.  The wife might come from a family that always went on a Sunday afternoon drive whereas the husband’s family watched football.  The husband’s idea of a romantic evening is to fix a picnic basket, grab the fishing poles and spend the evening by the creek on a blanket fishing with his wife, while his wife’s idea of romance is fine dining and the symphony.  The wife may come from a family where her parents are divorced and the husband’s parents are still married and the ideas about commitment are totally different.  We all come to marriage with our own baggage from our past and ideas about what we think marriage should be.  We are a lot just like those little 4 and 5 year olds who have no common goal in our marriages, we aren’t on the same page, we want our spouses to want what we want and when things don’t go the way we think they should we try different tactics to get what we want out of marriage.  We may be like the little boy who bowls everyone in his path over to get to his ball.  We might be like the little boy watching the train trying to get our spouse to stop playing the game and just come watch the train.  And sometimes we just get side-tracked in life by the little butterflies of worry, selfishness, busy-ness or any other of life’s distractions.

Eventually some of those 4 and 5 year olds will learn the rules, get good at the game and if blessed, get to play in college, the game looks nothing like it did at the tee-ball stage.  College teams have one goal:  to win.  Every player knows his position and plays it to the best of his ability.  Players share knowledge of the opposing team’s pitcher to try and help each other get a hit.  They back each other up on every play so no balls get by that let the opposing team gain an advantage.  They cheer each other on and offer support, constructive criticism and work together towards the common goal of winning.  They often sacrifice individual glory to bring great benefit to the team.

Our marriages are to be that same way.  We are told in Philippians 2:3 – 5 “3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.  4Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ.”   We aren’t supposed to push each other out of the way to get to the ball of our desires.  We aren’t to run over one another on the base-path of life.  We are supposed to support each other through encouraging words, thoughtful deeds and sacrificing our own personal wants and desires to meet the needs of our spouse.  The bottom line is that as we play the life God has blessed us with and we work with the team-mate God has chosen for us, we are to have Christ’s attitude in our daily at-bats.  What is the attitude that Jesus modeled for us?  “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20: 28.  Christ gave Himself totally as a sacrifice for each of us.  How can we do less for the loves of our lives?

 

Lord, help us to daily recognize that you gave everything up for us so that we might glorify you.  You gave your life so that we might live, love and become more like you.  Help us to do that with our spouse.  Help us to love each other just as you have loved us.  Take away our selfishness and our desires for self-fulfillment and help us to love sacrificially.  Help us have common goals and to work together to fulfill those goals, especially where we are striving as Christian couples to put You at the center of our lives and the focus of our hearts.  Help us to love you deeply and to honor each other most by glorifying you.  We love you Lord.  Amen

 

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My Paradigm Shift.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a six word story about a lady who came into the same salon I was in.  She sat beside me and changed my life completely.  I need to share this with you and hope that God will call us all to live for Him.

This has been a hard year for me, or so I thought. My husband has traveled almost every week since last August and as a Homeschooling Mom, this thrust me into the role of Mom, Dad, Teacher, Coach, etc. 24/7 and I was on overload. If you know me, you know that I am also a control-freak and so I reached a point, after trying to keep it all together perfectly, where I said, “I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!! SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE!!!” So, we put Mia back in public school. Now please don’t read something into my comments that isn’t there. The public school was doing a great job with the constraints they have to work with, and for the first couple of weeks we all were breathing a sigh of relief. But then I met Mary Ann. And God’s truth shone through so clearly that I could not deny it and to say that meeting her changed my life, is not an exaggeration.

I’m going to confess to you here some things that I’m not proud of, but until we become real and honest in this world as Christians we cannot win others to Christ. Yes we can talk a good game, but to really live it openly and honestly is another matter. When I caught my first glimpse of Mary Ann walking through the door, I was not impressed. She had on clothes that were comfortable, but she was not as my Grandmother would say, “put together.” Her hair was very long, obviously over-processed and needed cutting. I don’t know about you, but as a woman, my hair is one of those things that helps me feel like a woman, and when I get it styled it is a big deal for me. I know y’all understand that, right? So when I saw her coming over to sit by me, I was just a little curious as to what she was going to have done and thought it was long over-due.

 

She did not come into the salon seeking to add fake fingernails, or  to change the color of her hair (As I was) or have the latest facial done.  She sat down and quietly spoke with the hair-dresser.  The girl chatted with her a few minutes and then the customer began to talk about needing to have her hair cut pretty drastically.  She said she had brought in a magazine with some wigs in it that she liked and wanted one of two styles.  So, she and the hairdresser picked the one they felt like suited her face the best.  The hairdresser fastened the cape around the customer’s neck and began to section off her hair and then to wet it with a spray bottle.  At this point, I was turned facing them and could see every expression on the customer’s face.  As the scissors snipped, long blonde dried-out curly locks began to fall.  I watched her face and something inside me began to cry for her.  I thought about how much having long hair is a part of my own femininity.  As more long strands began to fall my four year old could not be quieted.  She asked why the lady was having so much cut off.  Then she asked the customer did she really want to cut that much off.  She continued to ask questions and make observations.  I think she was totally distraught, because she loves her own long hair.  More hair fell and the customer remarked that she needed to have it cut because if was falling out every where, even in her food.  As the stylist continued to work and the ladies hair became shorter and shorter I watched her face and I wondered if she felt relief that her problem hair was coming off or sorrow that she was losing so much hair.  Then I heard the word that came out of her mouth and I suddenly understood why.  Cancer.  That insidious destroyer of life.  Monster that wreaks havoc on body and soul.  Suddenly that over-processed hair, wasn’t over-processed it was destroyed by chemo.  Those comfortable clothes weren’t from a lack of wanting to be “put together” but a need for comfort.  My heart ached for her and my soul paled in shame at my own snap judgement of someone who I could only judge at face value.  What did I truly know of her or her story? Nothing.  Shame flooded my body and sorrow filled my heart.  She spoke of breast cancer that had gone in remission but was back systemically.  Hope that had been there, snatched away.  She smiled wistfully as she spoke of her four month old Grandbaby and how much she loved that baby.  I almost couldn’t hold back the sobs as I sat there overhearing her life’s struggles.  Oh how I wished I could wipe that pain away for her.  How I longed to be able to comfort her.  Suddenly everything else seemed so superfluous.  What does the color of my hair matter?  Why do I struggle to cope when my Husband is traveling.  Woe is me.  Life is hard.  Really?!?!?! Who am I kidding?  It is total self-absorption.

 

I stepped out of my chair as my stylist finished, stepped over to the lady and put my hand on her shoulder.  I almost couldn’t see her through my tears.  I said, “I’m sorry to have eavesdropped.  I really wasn’t trying to, but I couldn’t help but overhear what you are going through.  May I have your name, so I can pray for you?”  Her eyes lit up and her lips curved into a smile.  A look of incredulity filled her face and she asked, “Really?”  Really. Really is it much to pray for someone, is it much to share God’s love, is it really much to love on someone you don’t know?  It is the very least and very most that we can do.  I REALLY wanted to pray for her and she told me that her name was Mary Ann.  I asked Mary Ann what could I pray for her specifically?  Again, this woman, whom I did not know, showed me God’s love so clearly through her own suffering.  She did not ask for 5 or 10 more years, she didn’t ask for a miracle and the cancer to be gone.  She simply said, “Please pray that I would have just a little bit longer with my Grandbaby.”  I felt like my heart had been torn out of my chest.  Here I stood, selfishly feeling overwhelmed by caring for my two children that God had blessed me with.  I was choosing to let Satan’s lies of how hard my life was rob me of the joy, experienced in loving and sharing life with my kids.

 

I’ve learned so much from this “chance” meeting.  God has blessed me by allowing me to be the care-takers of my girls at this time.  Their place right now, is home with me.  We brought my eldest back home for school within two weeks of this meeting.  And I have loved every crazy minute of it.  Thank you Jesus, for your grace and mercy.

 

God is the only rightful judge.  You and I are guilty everyday of judging those around us.  We don’t know their stories.  And you can rest assured they have one.  We all do.  His word tells us “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”  Mt. 7:1  He also tells us to  love one another.  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  John 13:34.  God’s love is sacrificial and unconditional, ours must be too.  God convicted me of this in the few minutes and simple words of a grace-filled woman sitting in a hair salon.

 

My meeting with Mary Ann has radically changed my heart.  Please as you read this and anytime after when she comes to mind, lift her up to the Father.  She asked for so little and yet gave me so much and I am so grateful.

 

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Wispy locks. Chemo survivor. Weary warrior.

I sit here tonight and think back to this past week and find myself still overwhelmed by emotions from an encounter with a woman living life with terminal cancer.  It has been a while since I have blogged.  It has been a time of quiet reflection on my part; a slowing down to really focus on my family and doing a lot of introspection.  As I read the scholarship contest that is being offered by She Reads, a division of the Proverbs 31 Ministry team, I couldn’t get the image of a woman off of my heart and couldn’t resist blogging about it.  She is the inspiration for my six word story.  The contest is to write a story in six words so I am going to give you that story here tonight and then follow up tomorrow with more details.  To enter this contest or to attend She Speaks please click on this link:  http://shespeaksconference.com

Without further ado here is my entry, let me know what you think:

Wispy locks. Chemo survivor. Weary warrior.

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The Faith of a Child.

It has been so long since I blogged, I could not remember what my WordPress theme looked like. Sad, but true. I have not really felt like blogging too much and I know it is the work of Satan whispering in my ear that no one is reading what I write and it really is not worth my time. A few weeks ago, though, something happened that touched me deeply and I wanted to share here. And if no one is reading it now, someday my kids will and I know that they will enjoy it.

My youngest daughter, Selah, just turned 4. She is a character; full of laughter and joy, mischievousness and independence, love for life and she goes full speed ahead. She has always prayed the stock bed-time and dinner time memorized prayers until recently. Recently she had begun with no greeting to God, no requests, and no care how long it takes or who is listening. I LOVE that. It is always begun with – “Thank you for”. . . and the list begins. At first she would keep her eyes open and would list every food item on her plate, every person around the table and sometimes the objects that caught her eye as she looked around the room. Recently however, she showed me a glimpse into heaven. For some reason in the middle of her prayer things changed. She started with, “Thank you for the soup, thank you for the milk, thank you for Mommy and Mia, Thank you for the grilled cheese.” But then she left the room, “Thank you for my Mee Maw, thank you for Christmas, thank you for horses, thank you for snow that we can eat, thank you for snowflakes, thank you for books.” Her prayer went on for a good five minutes. I was blown away by how her heart opened up and she went to a place in her mind where she wasn’t just thanking Him for the things that she could see right at that moment, but all the things that she knew and loved. For a 4-year old to pray that long and to list so many things that were not physically present, was a bit humbling.

There were  two things that hit me as she prayed.  First,  the following verses were shown to me by my child.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 – 18 – “17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” My BABY modeled this for me in a really and deeply moving way.  I have always sort of blown these verses especially verse 17 off.  I mean, seriously, who has time to pray without ceasing.  My, Selah, showed me yesterday how sweet this time spent with Jesus can be.  Second, I know that there are people who might say that, “She’s only four.  She has no idea what she is saying or Who she is saying it to.  I absolutely do not believe that. I fully believe that God is present in our lives before we are conceived and never leaves us.  When we are children we can feel that.  We just accept it.  As we grow older, the world tears apart that innocence and we listen more and more to our own sinful nature drowning out the purity of God voice.  The longings that we have for Him are replaced with longings for the things of this world.  It makes me so sad to know that I am so guilty of this very thing.  Listening to my baby girl made me realize how close He is.  How much he loves us and wants a relationship with us.  I so long to be the child of God who is thankful with every breath I have for all that He has done for me and Who, He is.

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