Fur Babies


I love dogs with all that I am but I had a problem with this term, fur baby, when it first became vogue. I am still not thrilled about it and I am reserved when I apply it to myself but others, who are critical, must understand it is a term borne of pain. For those of us who have not been blessed to have our own children must find ways to repurpose the endless well of love we have been given from our creator. Certain things happen within our beings that require our nurturing, loving souls to find a recipient to receive all that we must give. Even those who have had the awesome privilege to love a child as their very own find that they feel a deep loss when that child becomes independent.
I will speak of my own experience in an attempt to avoid causing offense or pain to another. My “furbabies” are dogs. I love them each with every inch of my being. I am deeply grateful for each dog I have had the honor of welcoming into my heart. I know God has placed each into my life for a very specific reason and I am convinced I would not be motivated to get out of bed if my dogs did not need my attention. They provide unconditional love, put up with my crabby moods, look at me as if I am the most amazing person to ever live, and they forgive…everything. They are marvelous creatures who know only loyalty, courage, and a depth of love humans have never achieved.
Does that mean my arms have stopped burning to hold a tiny child, who stares up at me in wonder and amazement? Has my heart stopped yearning to pour my love and devotion into my child? Daily, my ears strive to hear a little voice caress my soul with a single beloved word, “Mommy”. A small, chubby hand grasping mine to find safety and security or to lead me to his or her newest discovery will only ever happen through the love I lavish upon my niece and nephews. Thousands of spilt tears and hundreds of thousands more yet to fall for children I will never have, for those who belong to the ungrateful and undeserving, and for all who have been snuffed out before they were able to draw a single breath are added to the unseen ocean of grief. Dried up, useless breasts will never nourish my child as that time has long since passed. I believe that was the hardest day in my life, when I knew the possibility of cradling my baby in a fierce embrace was no longer possible.
I filled this void by working to fix other’s broken children. I advocated and protected other’s children from the evil of this world but my home was a tomb in its deafening silence until I was able to welcome a “furbaby” into my life. Over the years, my dogs were the only things that have come close to filling the void of an empty womb. I spoil my dogs rotten, I love them endlessly, and I consider them a permanent part of my family. We, who possess furbabies, have found an outlet to pour all the unused mothering and nurturing that eagerly sought a home, a soft place to land. Dogs only want to be loved and my heart needed to love them so it is a perfect match.
Naturally, I am describing all the soft, warm fuzzy parts of being a mother to a human child in the full knowledge that much heartache exists within that same glorious miracle. There is no sharper pain or deeper agony than that of a mother’s or father’s heart as she or he watch their child suffering without the ability to help. My words would never diminish the double edge sword that is the reality of becoming a parent to a human child. Traversing my descending years, I find myself more grateful than sorrowful that my only “children” have been of the canine variety. The only sorrow of welcoming a dog into one’s heart is the day you must say good-bye. I have had to say farewell too often to both the human and canine loves in my life. Yet, that is reality. Great love will always birth greater sorrow while branding you with the refusal to deny the opportunity to have had this miracle. As for me, I am grateful for the children, who I loved, but who will forget me. And for the “furbabies”, who never forgot me and whom I have woven into the strong heart and soul they helped protect and build, gratitude is not an adequate term.


Hence, if you lavish judgment like a fool or offer condemnation like an ass then I pray you will learn compassion and a degree of understanding that will enable you to look beyond your own walk upon this Earth. Yes, look beyond your own steps and glance to the left and right to see how your brother and sister stumbles, crawls, and grasps for the strength to claw their way forward in this unforgiving world. Look through Jesus’s eyes instead of your own to see the love keeping those struggling in pain and suffering moving forward.

 

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Trees


It has finally started to cool off here for autumn. I do love autumn although each season holds its own joy and glory. God gives us so many gifts if we take the time to see them and experience them in full. I love the way the trees change in every fashion. The leaves changing from every hue of green to a spectrum bursting with every color mankind can perceive. They reach the apex of their existence, pulsating with the crescendo of their entire lives into one final display of beauty. Their final act is the graceful descent of each leaf to the forest floor where they will provide life sustaining nutrients to the next generations. But it is not only the leaves that change. If your hand caresses the trunk or branches of a tree in all four seasons you will feel a distinct difference in texture and tension in the bark. in Spring, it is velvety and supple as the water has been drawn through its roots to nourish the leaves, seeds and fruits of any given tree. The river of water is being drawn up into each vein until it reaches the canopy. That gives the tree flexibility needed for growth. The summer season solidifies it’s strength allowing it to withstand the fierce storms that serve as threshers of the weak or those whose roots have not dug down deeply enough to hold fast to the earth.

Autumn is not a prelude to it’s death or long sleep as many perceive it but it is a culmination of two seasons of growth, fruition, experience, and hardiness. It is during autumn that the tree is able to spend everything it has collected in an effort to prepare for the next generations. It is spending considerable effort to build storage wares for the long winter ahead, deny nutrients to parts of itself that have proven weak, destructive, or useless. Everything is moving at a slower pace but the strength is building. The perseverance and fortitude is at an all-time high because it does not have to prepare for the possible as there are only inevitable occurrences in its lifecycle. Of course, there are always outside forces that could interrupt, change or halt its progression in some manner but it only knows to continue. If cut down, its stump will bud. If insect or disease hit then its seeds have already carried its lineage forward to places far from harm. If drought or flood should move in then it may retreat until the environment is welcoming once again but it always moves forward, beyond the now into an uncertain and unknown future because that is what it was created to do. Even if its wood is used to create something for our use, it is then transformed and its life has more meaning than it had to begin with. Consider how many important choices are made by mankind sitting in a wooden chair at a wooden table. Life never leaves the tree regardless of what transformation it undergoes.

Yes, autumn finds the tree a bit more ridged. Its bark is rougher and the water rivers within it have slowed down. No longer will its life blood flow just beneath the surface; instead, it is retreating to a depth that will allow the nutrients to sustain the tree but make it durable against the cold that promises to come. The smell of the wood and fallen leaves is not one of rotting decay as one would encounter in a bog, marsh or swamp but a retreat of life that is simply blown by the wind. The fragrance is now mature, a rich seasoned wood odor that fills the senses with comfort and sense of security.

The branches are losing their flexibility and instead are becoming stalwarts of strength to sustain the cold to come. There is usually a lull in storms during this time so that it has opportunity to build defenses against the winter storms that will come. By the hour of the first snow fall the bark has turned to armor. It is ready to face the brutality of the winter gale keeping it’s precious lifeblood locked securely within. Branches no longer bend with the storms; instead, the tree groans against the onslaught. It’s creaking can be heard clearly as it buffets the bitter winds as you lay comfortably in your warm cozy bed made from one of it’s brothers…perhaps?

Twigs and even branches that could not hold on another moment bounce haphazardly atop your roof tapping upon your windows entreating you for respite. Nevertheless, you remain snuggled beneath piles of warm blankets awaiting the cessation of the howling winds. Once the storm has passed and you might think you would find disaster after the tempest …they remain, the trees, although battered, remain. You pull back your curtain revealing an ice laden window pane. Blowing upon it creates an oval birthed by the warmth of your breath. Your eyes are filled with the snow and ice laden landscape. The crown and glory of which is surely the grand trees holding millions upon millions of ice diamonds within their branches. God fashioned beauty created from chaos and a monument to his utter majesty and love.

There is silence. Silence so complete, so loud that it hurts your ears. The tree stands proud for it has withstood time upon time of life’s endless joys and heartaches, abundance and want, life anew and death replenished. It is a monument glistening as if from some ethereal plain in a majestic culmination of its existence. The trees have seen it, experienced it, known it and are certain of certainty. There is no tomorrow, there is only now and we must work as diligently in the today as we are not given tomorrow. The trees teach us much if we listen, if we see, if we pursue to know more beyond ourselves. They are a gift of knowledge and experience if we stop long enough to listen.
Of course, that only speaks to the tree itself and not to all the lives whose existence is dependent upon it’s survival. Some have learned to grow and change with the tree itself knowing that a symbiotic relationship with it is one that is the most beneficial to all. Others only take without giving and still others are only interested in destroying what they cannot understand or have for themselves. The saddest of all are those who are blind to the beauty, strength and majesty of these glorious gifts to creation. I am grateful for the trees and my ability to see beyond only me.

Satan’s Scourge


 

 

Crafty demon you are,

picking on God’s

children like a

schoolyard

Bully.

Tear sinew,

rip flesh from

bone.

Break my bones

if their crack

brings delight to

your fallen

Spirit.

Sear my flesh,

Oh, Beautiful One,

if my cries lighten

your burden.

 

Let your scourge

test my resolve.

Loose your

wickedness

upon this

broken

shell.

 

For, your realm

is in decay.

Hell’s

foundations are

crumbling.

You are

in

your

final

death

Throes.

 

So, break this

body if you must.

Brand my flesh, rob

me of all Earthly

Beauty, for

your end

is

Near.

 

I

Stand against

you

with God’s

Army Angels

standing as a fortress

in front,

at both flanks

and legions after

legions bringing up the

rear.

 

Take this useless frame,

twist it,

turn it,

burn it

but you will

never lay claim

to

my

Soul.

 

“Come Lord Jesus, Come.”

Revelations 22:20

Love Pledged


This work is dedicated to my Nephew and Niece’s fourth wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Bobby and Mary! Love Always.

Was it only yesterday
that I explored the depth of your
gaze? Or have a thousand
years passed since I gave
my heart away?

Loved ones seated,
quiet sniffles,
as a soft breeze cools
the nervousness upon our brows.

Gently, you brush a wayward
tendril that worked its way from
my hair ornament. I feel the heat rise
in my cheeks as your light touch
sets me aflame. My nervous smile is
reflected by one of your own.

Can it be? Can this all
be more than a dream? Are you
standing so strong and handsome
right here in front of me?

The love held firmly in your eyes tells
me that this is going to be. The words
you have pledged a thousand times before, you
will vow once more in front of
God and all the world.

Please let my legs hold me, he pleads as
he holds firmly onto his bride.
His heart is pounding so hard that he is sure it is audible
to all.

She loves me, she loves me and
I love her more than life itself. I
cannot believe she said yes, but
she did and now she is standing here
just there in front of me.
The brilliance of her beauty is
nearly blinding. I feel my
soul melting into hers as we
vow our eternal love.

Can I be…everything she needs me to be?
Can we be everything He needs us to be?
Will I be enough?
Will we be enough to stand the
tests that are sure to come?
Yes, our love will grow and
strengthen no matter
what lies in the future.

“I do”, she says confidently.
A smile broad and wide tells of her joy
as she quiets his fears with her pledge.

“I do”, he promises with his own joy-filled
countenance.

She and He are now We,
two have become one
flesh.
The very next step they take
upon their journey
will be
…as husband and wife.

An unstoppable team
regardless of strife, for
this love is pure and
comes but once in a Life.

Get UP!


 

Tears of exhaustion cleansed the

 

grime from her weary eyes.

 

The hard earth beneath her felt as

 

if bundles of clouds had been

 

fastened together giving tense limbs an

 

imagined comfort.

 

 

 

Gasping crisped air into

 

overburdened lungs sent a sear

 

throughout her torso lending

 

logic to the fact she yet lived.

 

 

 

Her spirit commanded,

 

“Get up.”

 

Her aching frame bade her

 

 “sleep.”

 

 

 

No amount of will could

 

force her eyes open and

 

the thought of sweet surrender

 

was exquisite.

 

 

 

More insistent but

 

still easily ignored,

 

“Get up, Now!”

 

 

 

Rhythmic breaths began

 

to take over allowing

 

her conscious awareness

 

slip ever closer into

 

the sweet void.

 

 

 

Slight vibrations rippled

 

beneath her.

 

Someone was walking

 

toward her…

 

 with purpose.

 

 

 

A delicate, crisp sound like

 

that of tiny ice molecules dancing

 

atop the rim of a fine crystal goblet

 

teased her ears and sent

 

shivers down her spine.

 

 

 

The sound, gentle as it was, brought

 

her to full awareness.

 

It was…irritating.

 

She wanted to rest, just

 

rest.

 

 

 

“Get up”, came the

 

command.

 

 

 

With reserves she did not

 

think she possessed, she

 

managed to raise herself

 

up to one elbow.

 

 

 

Hand raised to brow, she opened

 

her eyes just a sliver to see

 

who was cruel enough to give

 

such a command to a dying woman

 

eager for glory.

 

 

 

The enormity of light

 

burden her tired eyes

 

causing her to clinch them

 

fast again.

 

 

 

Warm hands gently cupped her face.

 

A soft, loving kiss was delivered

 

to each of her eyes.

 

 

 

“Open your eyes and…see.”

 

 

 

Slowly, she obeyed letting in just a bit

 

of light. Feeling no pain,

 

she opened them both and

 

was awestruck.

 

 

 

Feet firmly planted on

 

the ground in front of her

 

stood a glorious warrior. He

 

shone like the son wearing

 

a golden breastplate, helmet, greaves,

 

and carrying a large blazing sword. In the

 

other hand, a shield engraved with God’s

 

Holy name, Yahweh.

 

 

 

Her eyes came to rest upon his two enormous wings

 

that lay at rest upon his

 

back but whose length trailed behind him. She

 

heard the delicate ice crystal sound every time he

 

moved them.

 

 

 

“I am Michael, an Archangel

 

and I am in charge of God’s Angel Armies.

 

You need to get up and take the

 

next step,” he explained.

 

 

 

She said nothing but her

 

eyes communicated her

 

weary reluctance.

 

 

 

“Woman, look around you.”

 

 

 

Something akin to a

 

veil of fog lifted away

 

revealing mighty

 

and fierce battles being

 

fought. The wars were raging

 

both near and far no matter

 

which direction she peered.

 

 

 

Thousands upon tens of thousands of

 

warriors, like Michael, were engaged

 

in terrible battle with what looked

 

like…demons. Yet, nothing was being

 

touched on the Earth. People were going about their

 

lives without an inkling that there was more…much

 

more.

 

 

 

Her eyes darted to Michael in question.

 

“We have always been here, God sent us

 

to protect you all but you still have the choice

 

to give up or fight. We stand by your side and fight

 

what you cannot see. But, you have to choose to

 

 Get Up.”

 

“You must choose to keep moving

 

forward no matter how many

 

times you are knocked down.”

 

 

 

Her eyes pleaded with him to tell her,

 

HOW?

 

 

 

“You have the Holy Spirit inside you,

 

God’s only Son died for you! God, our

 

creator loves you. He knows how hard it is

 

to walk through this world and he never expected you

 

to do it alone. The Father

 

continues to send help to you but

 

many of you reject it…reject Him. Look

 

at the legions around you. We fight alongside you

 

but we cannot make you choose to follow Christ. We

 

cannot make you stay on the path. We cannot make you get back

 

up when you have been knocked down for the 1000th time. But,

 

I promise you this…Get Up, and we will go back into battle

 

with you. You are not alone.

 

Woman, Get Up!”

 

 

 

Standing with new fire in her

 

eyes she smirked,

 

“How about we

 

 go make the Devil nervous?”

 

 

 

GET UP!

 

A Mountain, Two Dogs and a Field of Reefer…


 

 

A fork, a crossroads…a choice upon our path is always disconcerting if we are seeking the Lord’s will in earnest. Some folks perceive every choice in their life as monumental and claim an inability to make any decisions as their default setting. This, of course, is a cop-out to avoid the responsibility or consequences of making choices.  They look toward others to make the decision either voluntarily or by default then subsequently have a scapegoat. That person can stroll through life never accepting any responsibility for their choices be they good or bad. Others will deflect self-blame by crying good or bad luck as the culprit for their life path. These are people with lost purposes and will look in any direction to see if another appears to know where they are going. These are people I liken to salmon swimming upstream. Everyone else is moving in that direction, in mass, so they feel as if the group must know where they are going. Hence, they scramble to follow the crowd only to be snatched up by the hungry bears waiting with open jaws to devour them.

Thank you, but no, I will not fling my future toward the dictation of fortune tellers, astrologers or anyone else’s opinion of what choice I should make. The only exception of this is that of the Lord’s will and purpose for my life. Christ’s divine purpose for my life is the only thing that steadies my steps.  Once you discover your purpose then very little that Satan can throw at you will knock you off your path. Sure, it won’t stop him from trying and there are times you will be barely able to crawl upon it but if you understand why you are here then nothing can ever keep you from moving forward. That is not to say that there may not occur long pauses where the pain is just too great to move forward…too intense…too soul wrenching to even breathe but you will eventually move forward IF you choose to take that next step.

I have written on different aspects of this topic before as previous life events unfolded and I was faced yet again with the opportunity to obey or disobey, to move forward or stay stuck, to be courageous or succumb to weakness. There always seems to be a critical choice of obedience occurring within my life pertaining to my health journey. My blog readers are familiar with the ups and downs of my chronic illness journey and this year does not disappoint. As in the past, insurance snafus, medical providers and overall human fallibility has given me opportunity to ponder if it is indeed time to raise that white flag of surrender.

Not speaking about heroes who sacrifice their lives to save another but about the human populace in general, it takes much more courage to live than it does to die. Death, especially if you are a Christian should not scare you in any manner. Your confidence should rest firmly in the Christ given salvation that has opened paradise for you.  All fear should be eradicated from your heart and mind, if you are saved. However, if you are not saved then I recommend you try to live forever. Seriously…don’t die if you are not saved.

Saved or not saved, living takes courage because life is hard and often painful. There is beauty, happiness, joy and some even find their soulmates allowing them to taste the best version of love we humans can experience. If you suffer chronic illness that promises to degrade your body without taking your life immediately then it becomes a battle not to embrace the sweet thought of release that death will bring. Some of you will see this as a suicidal statement because you are ignorant of true suffering or the promise of paradise. Or, you could be ignorant of both. Truthfully, I pray there are many more of you who do not understand what I am speaking of rather than the scales tipped in the opposite direction. There is only one way to truly understand the blissful thought of what I am speaking and that is to suffer…unendingly and in exponentially explosive increments throughout your entire life.

Every time one of these pitfalls appear upon my life path, my humanity clutches to the idea of rejecting all modern medicine and the hoops through which our corrupt medical system requires the ill to navigate.  I have my core peeps who patiently listen and encourage me as I “go off” on another idle threat of retreating to a remote mountain cave with my two dogs, my Lord and a healthy crop of reefer to live the rest of my life out. Now, to be utterly frank, I have never, nor will I ever indulge in drugs so they know when I threaten ‘to chuck it all and live my final days as a hermit’ that I am just letting off steam. Faith is not for wimps, just ask Daniel or his friends. Joseph, Job, Peter, Paul, Mary or Martha would all be good folks to sit down with for a while and complain about how hard it is to live the faith.

Trust and obey. Two tiny words in type but are Everest in meaning and in effort to fulfill. Love the hymn of the same name but until you have attempted to live out these two words through the path of suffering then they remain just words. Have you ever had to fight with every ounce of courage, intelligence, fortitude, attitude and perseverance for something you fervently did not want? The very idea of obtaining that for which you were striving was actually nauseating? It is sort of like needing six root canals performed and you had to fight your insurance to get them accomplished. You fight to get it while dreading the “win” because you know you need it but do not want to take the journey to get there. More accurately, you do not want to do the suffering promised as the prize for your win. Yet, doing nothing or not fighting will cause greater, progressive pain that will ruin your entire mouth full of teeth. This is the closest I can come to in explaining my sentiments about my predicament concerning my intermittent health coverage. I must fight everyone to get adequate palliative care in order to keep the diseases at bay that would quickly ravage my body if the needed medications are absent for any period of time. Well, this was my crossroads this month. Choose to find another doctor in my insurance’s network in time to provide those medications or go find that mountain. Since it is a specialist, it usually takes at least three months to get in to see one. The Lord did it in one; therefore, I will only be without the needed medications for one month instead of three to four. An undeniable blessing to be sure but the struggle to get the proper health care had me throwing up my arms in mock defeat as this is just the latest in a long series of events outlining our shoddy healthcare system. You see, it is not that I fear death in any way but I know death will not come quickly. Instead the diseases will quickly take advantage in this lapse of care and cause suffering. Suffering and I are old friends so I am not even really fearful of that but where my concern bubbles up is whether my actions, words or thoughts will strengthen my testimony or weaken it. Will I be able to walk the talk? Will I use the suffering for God’s glory? Or will I fall into my base humanity and throw in the proverbial white flag opting for my mountain side view of my reefer field?

I know with all my heart and soul this fork in the road is really a straight path, for I know what the Lord expects of me and I will forge ahead trying hard not to complain. I know many opportunities lay before me to share my testimony, experience, and knowledge with others who may just be starting their own journey of suffering with these diseases. God has shown me again and again that every single thing I have ever endured in my lifetime has proven fruitful for another’s walk on this Earth because I allowed him to use it. Brothers and Sisters in the faith…do not waste your suffering, allow your Heavenly Father to use it to bring about good where Satan meant it to be for evil. Your choice.

As has become my default setting, I look toward scripture to find a solution to my dilemmas. Now you may think that there cannot possibly be a story in the scriptures that describes my circumstance and offers any kind of solution other than condemnation for thinking about death in a positive vein. You would be wrong.

“20. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death. 21. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23. I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24. but is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25. Convinced of this, I know I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26. so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”

Philippians 1: 20-25

 

To be quite clear, I am in no way equating myself with Paul, the writer of the above passage. However, his struggle of wanting to glorify God through remaining alive on Earth and his deep longing to be with Christ in heaven mirror mine completely. Another good lesson, if you are struggling with anything in this life then turn toward God’s word to find the answers. Its all right there and his saints have lived and struggled with the same or similar problems in their lifetimes. Scripture is always applicable regardless of the era but you have to read it, study it and write in on your heart so that when trouble comes (and trouble will always come) your soul can quickly point to the solution or toward solace. If you are enduring a rough patch at the moment then try to take comfort in knowing the answer is just sitting there waiting for you to discover. Not a guaranteed solution or a way out of the problem but the manner in which you are called, as a child of God, to deal with it.

 

Be well all,

Your perfectly imperfect friend

Who did you send to Hell today?


 

                Is this world truly wicked and bursting at the seams with evil, self-serving humans bent on singular gain? Well…there is certainly enough evidence to support that argument beginning with the first murder in the garden of Eden. Millennia has passed and we humans keep inventing new and horrific ways to hurt one another and in even greater mass. We could all likely agree that mass murders, acts of war, and destruction of an entire species are bad things. However, where do these big events begin? Where did the third Reich begin? Where do events like the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima start? Where do the construction of grand barrier walls that quickly turn into unmarked tombs, such as the Berlin wall and the Great wall of China start?

                If you said political leaders, nations, villages, communities, religious sects or families then you would be in error. This is the key error that begins all the evil perpetrated in our world, the home we humans, all the animals and the flora share. If you tried to answer these questions by looking beyond your own mirror then you have already begun to contribute to the problem rather than the solution. Likewise, if you look beyond your own reflection for the answer to these problems you have again committed a grave error. Governments, religious leaders, communities and families can do nothing if your own heart is dark, cold or consumed by rage.

                Yes…the answer…the key to send evil on the path of retreat begins in your heart! Gee, doesn’t that sound so simplistic? Why then is evil growing and flourishing everywhere we turn? Why are children growing up with hate seeded deeply in their hearts? Why are there generations of humans whose hearts are stone cold before they reach their 16th birthday? America had been known as the “Christian” nation but I fear that is in name only these days. Even we who claim the banner of Christianity cannot quite get on the same page with one another. True enough, the apostles had sharp disagreements with one another causing this one to go one direction and that one another but it was not due to “cultural” matters. Today’s American Christian can be found in bulk comfortable services where, like the Pharisees, they enjoy status and respect when holding a position in the church. At the very least we may enjoy anonymity in the mega church where nothing is demanded of our faith…except money.  

                Since humans are perfectly imperfect, we must expect and even anticipate that the devil will seep in with his lies to pump up the pride of our ego driven populace. As I have harped many, many times before, do not trust any human teacher 100% because we all are fallible…We fail. Simply put…we fail often… to shine for Jesus. God tells us, commands us to pursue him with ALL our heart, mind and soul. That means we must investigate the truth on our own.  

Perhaps Worse, is the way we have ‘Popularized” our churches to attract tithe going patrons while overlooking “little sins” or bury scriptural truths in order to broaden the narrow gate of Heaven.  There is but one way to have your sins forgiven…there is only one way to be welcomed into Heaven…Jesus. You cannot do one single thing to earn your way into heaven so that “no man can boast of his salvation”. Your salvation has already been paid for by the death of Jesus Christ. We are taught in scripture that works (our good actions) without faith are meaningless. This is telling us that you can be the best person in the world but if you are not saved then you will not see Heaven. Scripture also tells us that if you claim to have great faith but do not live it out by your works (good deeds) then your faith is dead. Sure, you will still be welcomed into Heaven because you are saved with the second scenario but you will have to stand before God and explain why your faith did nothing for anyone but yourself. You will have to tell your Heavenly Father why you wasted all the gifts and talents He wove into you upon your conception. You will have to explain to him why the thousands of souls  to whom you were supposed to be ‘Christ like’ too and cause them to come to Jesus’ salvation are now suffering in Hell. You will have to look your Christ, your savior in the eye and give answer for your dead faith. For certain, accepting Jesus Christ as your savior will have granted you access to salvation but when you turn around and see the thousands of souls your inaction condemned to damnation, how will you give answer for that? No, you cannot save anybody. Only Christ’s sacrifice saves the damned but he sends you and I out into the world to shine for him so his love can draw his lost children to him. We are supposed to be those lights, if we call ourselves Christian.

                So, what about the heart of the Christian that has turned cold and hard? Are you truly saved? Only God can read your heart so I would never presume to say this person or that is or is not saved; however, it is the person claiming the title of Christian but sporting a dead faith who does so much damage in our wicked world. Yes, it is the person clinging to the banner of Christianity but refusing to walk in Christ’s footsteps who is poisoning the well of faith. Being a fence walking Christian is easy because there is no commitment necessary and there is little demand upon your heart, soul or convictions. When the heat gets turned up on the Christian then the fence walker will jump to the side of popular opinion. When faith gets too hard…they will jump ship.

                Being a former therapist, I encountered a plethora of people who I categorized as “hand holders”. They wanted to be coddled, pitied, and given justification for never taking the steps necessary to move their lives beyond the hurt and pain they had experienced. I am in no way diminishing their pain and suffering but as a Christian, who has suffered deeply on multiple levels, I know that if you choose to remain stuck in the suffering then it will consume you. Satan uses it to destroy you and consequently make you completely ineffective or worse, toxic.  

I also met many people and I am even related to many people who have been hurt or who are hurting for some reason and have chosen to harden their hearts. I get it, I have been there and my heart was as hard a Christian heart can ever get but God broke me into little pieces and then gingerly put them back together. He created a being with immovable faith, rock hard perseverance and someone with a wee bit more wisdom than she had before the pain. Faith is the hardest walk you will ever take in your entire life. It is not for the weak or the faint of heart. If you ask the Lord, he will open your eyes to the most significant tool you need to get through the pain. Ask him to reveal the blessings. Ask him to see through his eyes and recognize the good instead of just the evil, pain, and suffering. It is always, there. I guarantee it.

 Yet, many folks cannot or will not see past the pain to glimpse the blessings. Yes, the blessings. There are ALWAYS blessings in every single painful situation. The pain may be so great, so soul-wrenching, so horrific that it is simply impossible to see the blessings…in the beginning. Yet, God will always be there waiting for you to see Him.  However your refusal…as time goes on…to see him will cost you and it will cost all those who love you. God sends people into your life at very specific moments for very specific reasons. Those reasons might be to help you or the reasons might be to help them in some fashion. Usually, we are brought together to help one another. However, there are moments in our lives where the pain is so intense that the person is brought to us. They are offering us their hand, a helping hand, an obedient hand of a Christian obeying God’s command to help. If we spurn that hand, if we reject that help from that specific person then God will not give up on you and he will send another and another and another. But this is key…it may not be the same person…ever again. You may lose the opportunity to be blessed because you reject the person/people sent to you.  That person was obedient, he or she will still be blessed whether you reject them or not BUT it is not them you are truly rejecting…you are rejecting God. You are slapping God in the face and telling him you don’t need his help while you beg him in your prayers to “fix the situation”, “to heal you”, “to heal a loved one”, “to get you a job”, or “to find someone to love”.  The trouble is we Christians do not know God. We accept what we are fed by our church leaders, society, our governments, social media, and the all-wise internet but we do not know ourselves or our Savior.

                As a result, when the “refining fires” come upon us we crumple because our faith is weak or hollow. Faith is borne of suffering. Anger and hatred are hard things to conquer in this life but so they must be if your heart is to thaw. God will not bust his way into your heart but he will give you many opportunities to grow your faith and perseverance. God does not serve up wisdom, faith, perseverance and Christ driven love like vending machine options. Instead, he gives us opportunities to grow each one of these in our hearts and souls. We have far too many hollow Christians with darkened hearts and dimmed spirits. These Christians may have been very strong at one time but are battle weary but the ones I have been encountering of late are ones whose faith is barely there, for they have no idea of who God really is or what place he should have in their lives. They are empty…because choosing the darkness is easier than fighting to reach the light. Yes, fighting because each step you take to living like Christ will cost you as the world belongs to Satan and he will use all his power to bring you down. He hates you because you are a child of God and he really hates God. What better way to hurt the parent than to hurt the child?  

                If you feel you are a hollow Christian…If you have a darkened heart and dimmed spirit…if everywhere you look you pass judgment and spew toxic hate…then I beg you…DO NOT TELL PEOPLE YOU CLAIM TO BE A CHRISTIAN! You are wounding Christ with each hateful thought, word and deed. He can take it….He can take anything we dish out toward him. However, how many are you turning away from salvation? Who have you condemned to Hell today? If you are a lost child of Christ, then fall on him and see his outstretched hands of love and forgiveness. If you are his lost sheep then use your pain to get closer to him and stop pushing him further away. However, if you do not know the salvation of Christ then I plead with you to seek him out in earnest.

(Note: I have deliberately omitted the scriptural references to encourage the reader to pursue God; however, if you are unfamiliar with Scripture and would like to be pointed in the right direction then just leave a comment and I will gladly provide you with the references. God bless and keep you, always in his light and protection.)

OBEDIENCE SUCKS!


 

            The moment we fight our way into this world we begin to rebel against obedience. We cringe at the very notion of relinquishing our will and power to another regardless of the reason. Even the most flexible and submissive among us have that rebellious streak that needs to be put into submission but not by another. There is no way any of us can become obedient devoid the threat of punishment unless we first learn to bring ourselves into an obedient frame of mind. More critical is to learn how to create an internal ‘fertile ground’ that will give birth to an obedient heart.

            Obedience is hard. I do not think many would argue against that fact because it requires us to admit, whether by force or through agreement, that another knows better than we do and; therefore, must or should be obeyed. Human dictates and demands for obedience aside, looking solely at our rebellion towards God is enough to make one’s head dizzy. A simple stroll through the Biblical stories takes the reader through the gamete of human emotions.

            Jonah is a fellow I can identify with as I have wanted to run far and wide from God’s plan for my life many, many times. Although, Jonah’s flight was unique in that he was not in fear of failure rather he knew his mission would succeed…and that is an outcome he simply could not bear. He ran, he disobeyed but God brought him around with a strong arm then a few gentle object lessens. Abraham and Sarah had obedience issues before Isaac was conceived because they did not trust the Lord’s promise to deliver a late in life pregnancy. Their doubt and fear led to the birth of nation that still fights against Israel today. Yet, Abraham demonstrated the depth of obedience when he was willing to return Isaac back to God just because God told him to do it.

            The number of times the Israelites disobeyed God is obscene and the consequences were grave. But even as I shake my head at them in disbelief I must admit that I have disobeyed the Father at least as many times as that nation had, if not more. Obedience is a vital lessen to be learned but obedience to God, the Father is one that must be honed like a great battle sword. It is not mere submission to an omniscient, omnipresent Creator. No, our obedience to our Heavenly Father opens the flood gates of Heaven upon us and everyone around us. Our obedience to God wounds Satan…every…single…time.

Obedience requires choice and in every situation in which we are called to obey our Father we can walk away or we can obey. In some instances, obedience is rather easy depending on our gifts and the circumstances. For instance, if I saw a wounded animal or person laying on the side of the street then my gifts and talents would lead me to help without thinking twice about it. I wouldn’t even think of it as being obedient to the Father’s command to be good stewards over His Creation or to help our fellow mankind. I would simply act. That would be easy for me but maybe it would be more difficult for another.

However, there is an element that will always make it difficult to be obedient regardless of who you are, what you believe, or what you profit you stand to gain. That element is…PAIN. Emotional, psychological, physical and/or spiritual (the worst) will draw you quickly away from the notion of being obedient to God’s commands. We humans are a hot mess that love to be in control from start to finish with few realizing we were never really in control at all. I am as guilty as the next person in my lust for control over situations that I have had little to no control over. Many of my friends and family can attest to the fact that I was a “hard nut to crack” for the Lord as I did not to give up that façade of any modicum of control I thought I might have possessed. It took decades of pain and suffering for me to finally realize that I had to stop swimming against the torrent. Things did not get any easier once I learned to swim with the tide but they did become far more productive for Christ’s Kingdom.

Even though I know beyond all doubt that obedience is always the best choice, there are moments in my life where I want to run from the path that is being opened before me. Not because I fear an unknown element but like Jonah, I know what lies ahead. I know I cannot walk the path under my own power because I am weary and heavily battle worn but I carry full assurance that Christ will stand alongside me and strengthen, inspire, encourage and direct me towards ultimate victory. Christ knows full well the cost of obedience and all of the agony that can accompany it but he also knows the victory it brings. No other understands how much we struggle with obedience because he always had the choice of whether or not to obey his Father and he chose to obey every time. If you go back and read the accounts of when he chose to obey you see how much it irritates and infuriates Satan and simultaneously bringing an outpouring of love from God. Obedience to God is a heart submission and we must conquer our own hearts first. Making our hearts and minds submit to our will first and foremost is essential before we can expect to have the ability to submit to other authority. How do we do that? Get into scriptures and He will teach you what it takes to reshape your heart in the refiner’s fire. Submerge yourself in his word and it will permeate every fiber of your being, every inkling of thought or perception you can conjure and every feeling you dare to feel. Truthfully, you cannot conquer anything yourself. Your armor is His word. No shortcuts…no apps.

Life is pain regardless of your beliefs or worldview. How you spend that pain will determine how you make it out. Obedience to our Father in heaven allows you to tread a fruitful path. Take notice, I did not say that obedience permits you to tread a pain free path.  Christians, do not be surprised at your pain, persecution and suffering. If our teacher suffered all these things then why should his pupils be spared from the same? Obedience brings fruit…not only in our own deepening faith but in our ability to shine (without our own effort) ever brighter to all those, even enemies, who are ploughing through the darkness. Our one act of obedience in that one moment in time might be the only spark of light another sees throughout the entirety of his or her life. Pretty heavy responsibility…is it not?

Living an obedient life takes courage, perseverance and faith beyond measure. Obedience brings ultimate power over our sinful natures and over the kingdom of darkness itself. Examine your earth walk and open your eyes to the areas along your path that have been damaged by disobedience and your own efforts to skirt around God’s will in your life. No judgement from me…just a call to recognize the potholes. I have tried to “hurry God up” many times and each time it led to heartache, disaster and/or failure. I have learned to listen first, seek his will and then try in earnest to be obedient.

My writings are usually spurred on by my own life events and this one is no different as I face a path being laid before me that I really do not want to walk but I know through my obedience…good will follow. Perhaps that good is for another and not me and I am okay with that too because I want my pain and suffering to be able to cast a wide net. If walking a difficult path means I will be able to draw more of the lost to Christ then I go willingly and with a hearty ‘pep in my step’. Of course, that is after I seriously contemplate hiding in a mountain cave awaiting the moment, in all due angst, when my spirit is finally called home. Alas, my family and friends have informed me that I have not stored up the quantity of wisdom needed to be a sought-after guru! At the end of my internal battle, I will obey and forge ahead in anticipation of who God needs me to meet and exactly where he needs me to go.

In closing, contemplate this question. How has your disobedience effected your life and the lives of those you love? Maybe it is time to start walking the other way?

SUFFERING…WHO CARES?


Perceptive Perspective was the title I originally thought of but thought people
would not find it catchy enough to check out. Everyone suffers as part of the human
condition the only real difference is the amount of resources you have access too. To what extent do those resources allow one to lessen or halt the depth, length and/or extent of that suffering legally or otherwise?

Anyone who has served any significant period suffering understands that it is multifaceted, multilevel and multidimensional eradicating all boundaries of time. Physical pain leads to emotional pain leading to spiritual pain in a never-ending cycle of misery. These three components are fully interchangeable and intrinsically intertwined. They have the power to destroy everything or nothing and the person suffering is the one who holds the power of determination.

I had a friend remind me recently of how blinded the general populace is when it comes to suffering and the incredibly narrow margin of perception that exists in the status quo. After a recent accident, my friend hurt himself to the point that his daily routine and pain level increased significantly beyond that which he was generally accustomed. However, it was not the physical pain that bothered him most. It was the apparent lack of concern from his loved ones about his suffering that landed the deepest wound. My friend complained that his loved ones spent the entire 30 minute conversation complaining of their woes without ever inquiring about his injury.

I, myself, spent years being resentful and angry at the world because “no one understood or cared” what I was enduring. Everyone went on about their happy, cookie cutter lives without a thought to their fellow human but I have learned a deeper understanding after four decades of suffering. It is difficult for others, who are not in the same pain as you, to truly understand or empathize. Most often, people cannot see beyond their own misery. If you think your fellow human to be hard-hearted then pause a moment to ask yourself when was the last time you felt the pain of burying a child. Have you had a limb blown from your body? Perhaps you are confined to a wheelchair or suffer from a mental or physical malady? Do you care for a loved one who you are losing a piece at a time to Alzheimer’s? Have you lost a business lately or caught your spouse cheating on you? Maybe you have been the object of bullying your entire life? If you have ever criticized someone who is suffering in any way, shape or form then you can count yourself among the cold-hearted populace that you only notice when you become the one who is doing the suffering.

It can be hurtful and feel as if they don’t care but the truth really is they care as much as humanly possible. Humans naturally recoil from painful situations with the exceptions of those who thrive on causing such pain or those who have strong desire to help salve that pain in some manner. The only way for a person to care more is for them to feel what you are feeling. If it is the general populace or those who have been ignorant enough to make stupid comments then we may cheer such a prospect on wholeheartedly. However, if it is a loved one then we should shudder at the slightest possibility that they will ever understand on that level because the only way for them to do that is to suffer on that same level. I don’t want anyone, whom I love, to really understand my suffering…ever. So, I accept what caring others are capable of then I try to do the rest of the understanding for them. It’s not their fault. Admittedly, there are callous jerks in existence that will not get it until they are visited by the cruel hand of suffering themselves but they should be pitied more than anything.

Of course, this cannot be done without Christ. He is the only one who can provide you with the peace, understanding and wisdom only  borne through years/decades of suffering. Without Him you get bitterness, anger, spitefulness and so much resentment that you become useless to yourself and to all around you. Without His purpose and will then your suffering is wasted. Some only think about God when suffering visits their door and then it is usually to curse Him or ask Why. Whether you believe in Christ or not, my question is, “Why not you?” “Why not Me?” Why should any of us be immune to the curse upon creation? Have any one of us lived such a good and godly life that we should somehow be shielded from the curse of original sin that broke ALL of creation? If you have lived such a pure and perfect life then by all means take your case to God and prove it. We tend to scream and cry at the injustice of our sufferings pulling random scriptural promises from the text without the slightest idea of what the rest of the Bible of which we are condemning instructs us believers or even non-believers. You who reject Christ may think you are immune to the Biblical teachings but it does not depend upon your belief to be true or false. Without you…it remains.

It can be terribly lonely when gripped in the midst of suffering but that is lie told by Satan to make you fall into his pit of depression. “Laugh and the world laughs with you, Cry and you cry alone…” It sure seems like this adage is true when you are the one suffering but it is only the case if you choose to push people away and block your heart from the love so as not to feel the pain too. It is a lie.
Some hold unto suffering like an old familiar friend because it is the “devil they know” and are afraid of what might be beyond. That is not how it works in chronic suffering that has gone on for decades and promises to follow you to the grave. Nope, after four decades you either achieve wisdom, faith, understanding and boundless compassion or you have allowed yourself to be eaten up from the inside out. You become a shell of a human being that loves misery so much that moments of happiness actually bring agony. There are only two outcomes for the chronic sufferer and it all hinges on a choice. One, surrender to Christ and allow him to use your suffering to do good. Or, allow Satan to take over and use your suffering to destroy you, destroy all you love and to spread his vile poison further into God’s children and creation. There is no middle ground. There is no other choice so if you are suffering today, regardless of how long that suffering has been going on then you need to make a choice.

If you are not suffering then Praise God and thank him for his mercy upon you but do not remain ignorant, for your teacher will be experience. If you are not saved then your Earthly suffering doesn’t matter at all as your life is only a pawn in Satan’s grand scheme. Whoever you are, make a choice and stop walking the fence because you are enjoying an illusion of security that quickly fades as you expel your last breath.

You can reject these words or take heed. I made my choice and I have been richly blessed with peace, joy, compassion, understanding, wisdom and a deepening faith. I am grateful and I have need for nothing but God’s continued grace and love.

Seedling


 

A single Seed I cradle protectively in my palm.

I know the perfect place to plant it.

A rich dark patch of soil lays in anticipation

directly beside the path.

I cup my hands around it

as I gingerly transport it down the steps,

past the concrete driveway,

beyond the gravel watershed to

arrive at the rich patch of soil.

 

A mid-spring rain has saturated the

Patch allowing a familiar aroma to reach my nose.

The life of last season’s flowers, leaves, insects and grass

have created a soil overflowing with essential nutrients for

this tiny seed.

 

A year’s time has kneaded, turned, mulched and beat

this patch of ground into a luxurious bed of life-giving

Energy.

 

All I need do is take my precious cargo

 and give it back to its Creator.

 

Freeing one hand, I gently dig a small valley

In the mound of soil.

Looking at the odd little

seed I ponder it’s circumstance.

 

I know it’s full potential but

It looks like an ugly shriveled

speck of waste.

 

How many others, I wonder,

would have tossed it out

because they were

 blind to its potential?

 

If I kept it as a treasure, then I would

be just as bad as those who

would throw it out.

I would deny it the glory it

is destined to become.

If I do not trust our Creator to take over

after I give it to him then it will always be

only a seed.

 

Yet, if I let it go.

 If I give it to him

then he will transform it.

 

I tilt my palm

allowing the seed to fall,

as if a pebble, into the dark bed

I had prepared for it.

 

I move the mound of

soil atop the seed,

pat it firmly,

say a little prayer then

I walk away knowing

God will be faithful to

His promises.

The journey it must now

endure is not an easy one.

 

Transformations are never

gentle, never easy but

 they always reveal more

than we ever thought

possible.

 

Daily, I look for evidence

 that my tiny seed

has started it’s journey

 knowing full well that

time

 is the most critical element

In growth.

 

Tiny, tender, green leaves

push the surface soil away reaching

earnestly reaching toward the Sun.

 

Fragile and young,

It has taken root.

Shadows shield its future but

it is not alone on this journey.

 

I will shield it from the hail, the wind,

and the terrible storms.

 It will be protected

from the harsh sun and the invaders

who wish to take it’s life for their own.

I will protect it from all harm,

for God

has entrusted it’s care to me.

It is my job to treasure it,

to aid it on its journey

so that it can fulfill the purpose

for which God created it.

 

God put us on each other’s path

to aid one another,

to grow one another,

to shield one another,

to love one another,

to endure hardships together,

to enjoy victory together and

to reach full Glory

together.

 

I have a Seed

that

Must be

Planted.