LSOF: The Language of Love

We speak out on unfairness, We speak out on cruelty, We speak out on “freedom of speech” breached, We speak out on our beliefs, morals, values…We speak out against what we don’t agree with…

How often to do we speak of fairness, How often to we speak of kindess, How often do we remember that we are still standing on free soil, How often do we just share our beliefs, morals and values with respect to the stranger standing next to us…How often do we just let the silence speak louder than the noise around us?

We know what we should say, but how often do we? How often do we speak in the same language as the grace that redeemed us?

I know I’ve been guilty of this just as we all have.

My church statement this year is, “ Real love revolution,” — I think its time to look at what that means to my own heart, what it means to all of us.

Real love to me is about knowing where a person came from, but not seeing them like they still live there…

Real love to me is recognizing the heart of the person in front of you, and not their appearance…

Real love to me is having a conversation with someone who completely disagrees with everything you believe in, but still trying out a flavor of Starbucks they recommend, or a movie they told you they liked.

Speaking the language of love sometimes does not take as much as we claim it does….So what stops us?

I think what happens is that we get wrapped up in structuring our day from beginning to end that we forget there are other people. We forget everyone comes with a different culture and background.

When a widow only has two pennies, you can’t exactly expect her to have three…right?

I remember when I was in elementary school and I thought all families were Catholic, because I was never told otherwise.

Love is not blind, y’all…it goes beyond labels, it goes beyond new stories, it goes beyond song lyrics, television shows, and even what we think we know…Love is still love, even when we forget it exists .

You can’t force fairness, you can’t force kindness, You can’t force beliefs, morals or values to someone who doesn’t have the same, You can’t force someone to agree with you when you don’t agree with them…

And if we could do that…we would be communist socialists.

We forget that one day we might not be allowed to share religion at all, We forget that there are bigger evils that exist in the world then what we place value as important, we forget that this life we live now is a privilege given by God himself, and He can take it all away in an instant.

I think its time that we change the language of love we’ve known to be side by side by the One that created it in the first place.

Put the stone down, and write on it on how Jesus showed how much He loved you.

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LSOF: Healed, but still wounds remain

I remember when I got in my first car accident. I was 17 yrs old and it was the summer of 67 counties in Florida covered by wildfires. When it rained the visibility was only about 100 ft. It was crazy. I was leaving from my job and driving a new Mazda RX7 1983 that my dad bought me. It had more power than I knew what to do with or control.

I stopped at the sign. I looked left and right before putting my foot on the gas. I stepped on the gas hard, and immediately the car started to spin. I was scared and I could not regain control.

I saw the truck coming, and he wasn’t stopping. I felt the impact.

I felt my car door open. An old man was standing there asking if I was ok. He helped me out of my car and into his home and sat me down on the recliner. My neck felt numb, my entire body didn’t have feeling.

I knew I had been in a car accident. That is all.

The guy whose truck I hit was pacing back and forth in the kitchen, grumbling.

I asked, ” Should I call somebody?” and  taking the phone I couldn’t remember my parents number. I remembered finally a few minutes before the ambulance got there.

The old man and his wife didn’t leave my side. They stayed to make sure I was ok.

The ambulance came. I was placed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital so they could see the damage done to my neck. My neck ended up being okay, but  I had a bruise that went all the way down my leg.

I was wounded, but eventually the bruises too went away.

I’m sharing this story with you, because I realized something profound to my heart yesterday out of

Psalm 147:3. 

” He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” 

I read it over and over. It spoke volumes to me.

Think about it friends—- He HEALS the brokenhearted first, and then binds up their wounds.

I think I’ve always looked at the word ” Heal” as something that happens completely, but according to what we read in this verse, its a two step process.

The old man from my accident wanted to make sure I was ok. He stayed with me, and he and his wife calmed me down and helped me remember where I was, and my phone number so I could call my parents.

I believe that is the first part of Psalm 147:3 ” He HEALS the brokenhearted.” —– He makes sure we are okay, He stays at our side and watches how we react to the things happening around us, and He calms us down so we can remember who we are and to go about our day. But its not at this time that we are healed completely of our wounds. You can’t help someone whose unconscious with their wounds until you know they are breathing, and alive. I think God works the same way in the way He brings healing.

I also looked up ” Heal” in the Greek and it means, ” To still.”  He keeps us at peace.

The second part of Psalm 147:3 says, ” He binds up their wounds.” 

Can you think back to anything you have dealt with for a long time in your life and you woke up one day and suddenly it was no longer part of your world, it no longer had affect on your life.

That’s what I mean. Once we are at peace with what we deal with then God can work on it and repair what is truly broken.

The process is sometimes not easy for us. While He may be fixing one wound we might be dealing with needing healing from something else.

But its about how we react to everything ultimately.

Psalm 38:11

My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.

I saw this verse the other day, and I really thought about it.

I didn’t understand why with so much going on in my life how the people that were supposed to be closest to me started to dwindle away the worse things became.

But what I realized through everything. People don’t understand our wounds, because they can’t understand their own. We have to let them know the blessings, the positives that come out of what we are going through. As weird as it may sound, people look for encouragement through our pain, they look to us to respond in a way that would help them deal with their situations.

James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work to that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.

In my current season of healing it feels like things are finally changing course. Now its about getting focused again, and focused on all the things that are set above.

LSOF: Storms and the brokenhearted

I have this habit of trying to avoid storms, and I try to leave just right before one hits my area.  The other day as I pulled away from my house the lightening bolts seemed to be hitting only a few feet from my car.  But I managed to drive away and left the dark ominous sky in my rearview mirror.

In life we definitely encounter myriads of storms.  I have been caught up in one for two months now with a several different events that have tried to shake me a good few times. It has been a lot.

People have had this tendency during this time to tell me how I can be ” victorious,” and that ” He will deliver me and my family through this,” or ” Imagine the strength that is building in you right now,” and also ” Well, maybe I can just encourage you through this.”…

And while they all have been kind and meant well, that sometimes we just have to stop and think of the deeper message in all of this, and only a message that God could give…

Sometimes its not about finding victory in our times of grief, sometimes its just that we have to keep going through it in order to come out of it. Simply that.

I mean let’s face it, there is no magic that could keep a real storm from coming, and there is no magic way to make it pass any faster than it came…its just how it is.

It’s God’s timing. We just have to know that He knows the purpose.

I had a friend say to me that she is tired of sharing about what she is going through, because the people around her make her feel like she is just a “drama queen.” 

Folks, I gotta tell you sometimes we are just inundated with so much that its seems like some of it could be exaggerated. But it IS possible to have so much going on that it overwhelms people around us at the same time. And it overwhelms them…

Because only God is God.

Words will carry weight when needed but when we don’t know what to say we have to be careful what we do say. We have to be careful that if what we speak that we also believe. Don’t let your words come through empty, or just don’t speak at all.

I’ve had a lot of people love me through some real recent events, but the best were those who would tell me:

” Quit with the cliches of how you think you are suppose to be, and tell me how you really feel.” And they listened, and they were just empathetic.

We all want to love well.  We also all want to make people feel better where they are in their current situation.

But sometimes its just our place to love well, and let the people around us go through what they need to.

Sometimes we just need to watch them cry, sometimes they need to know that we see it.

It’s what Jesus would do. It’s our ultimate goal in this life to become like Him.

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives 
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor 
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, 
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

LSOF: She Smiles…:)

Sometimes I read the Bible in my dreams. Sometimes I read full passages, and sometimes simple verses.

The most recent dream I remember reading Proverbs 31.  I am going to share that I probably have never actually read that passage of scripture all the way through, but the paper on the desk in front of me actually read Proverbs 31, so there was no question.

I read aloud, ” She laughs.” —-

I have been having a rough time recently.  I would say its due to the fact that so many people around me have been experiencing several different traumas in one way or another.  The one closest being that my mother is still in the hospital with an infection that just doesn’t want to leave her system.

Several friends have had everything happen from job loss, all the way to car accidents in the past month.

When things happen to those closest to you all at once its hard to find the positive, and that is the definite reality.

Here is the verse from my dream after a night of praying and asking God to help me through it.

” She can laugh at the days to come.” (Prov. 31:25b)

And the voice bible translation is also beautiful:

” She smiles when she thinks about the future.”

God has shown my heart through a sweet simple verse that regardless of how life may be, and regardless at what is ahead….

He is our reason to smile, and to laugh at the days ahead.

” I’m Already There…”

There is this song by Lonestar, ” I’m Already There…” and it is about a man calling his family while he is away. He is sad he could not be there with them, but to comfort himself and his family he just answers:

I’m already there
Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground

I’m the whisper in the wind
I’m your imaginary friend
And I know, I’m in your prayers
Oh I’m already there

Music touches my heart so deeply when it comes to my faith, because I read lyrics not in the sense of what the song is trying to convey but what I believe God is speaking to me through it. It doesn’t have to be a Christian song at all, God speaks through everything.

I brought this particular song up, because there is a verse that has been on my heart for the past few weeks. It is interesting, because this particular verse that is found out of Deuteronomy was a concept I saw inside the verse last year. God speaks through what He knows we already know.

Before I go into this verse in Deuteronomy 31:8, I want to share a bit about the beginning of Deuteronomy 31, and give an idea as to what is happening.

Picture Moses, Joshua, and the Isrealites standing on the edge of the river. Moses is 120 years old. He has done what God had asked of him, and God was ready to raise up a leader in Joshua.
Moses knew that the people would be hesitant to leave him, but also knew he needed to prepare the people that his journey with them had come to an end.

“I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said.” (Deuteronomy 31:2-3)

I think what might be being said here is that the people would not be able to face the nations before them until an appointed time. God had to cross over first, and then he would have Joshua follow Him.

I love how it did not go like this, ” Joshua will go ahead of you, and we hope he finds God there.”

Just as Moses was preparing the Isrealites for his departure with them, I would suggest that knowing Joshua no longer had Moses for a leader, that he was handed the staff and in Moses eyes it could have been said, ” Your Lord God will cross over before YOU.” He might have wanted Joshua to know that he would not be leading the people alone or blindly. He might have said that to first and foremost comfort Joshua.

The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31: 5-6)

Moses shares that the nations would be delivered to them, which is exactly why God told them to stay put and wait. God would know exactly what the best plan would be for the people. He tells them there is no reason to be afraid. God already knows the outcome.

“Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)

There is a pattern we can see in Deuteronomy 31 that I have not seen with other scripture. Moses tells the people: ” The Lord God will crossover before you,” ” The Lord goes with you,” ” The Lord himself, goes before you, and will be with you.”

I love how God never once says he is going ahead of them without saying that He will also be with them.

I think too often we forget that God knows the plans He has for us, but that He does not leave us to take them on alone. He is there with us through the journey.

I know as someone who is preparing to be led a different direction in my life, one that means it is a journey He leads, but that I follow; that there will be people following my footsteps too.

As many times as I’ve seen this verse the last few weeks in Deuteronomy 31:8, I can’t help but hear God saying loudly to my heart, ” I got this, I have your back, if you get discouraged…I may be ahead of you, but I’m still right here.”

We are not meant to go through this life alone, regardless of how much knowledge we think we have on accomplishing something, and regardless what position we have, we need to know we have support, we need to know God is there, and that He will place people in our lives that help to mold us into what He needs us to become for His namesake.

God is going to ask us to lead. It might mean we are going to have to put something down. It might mean the things we have to let go of might be people in our life. It might mean we have to change who we are so much that it takes a toll on us. It might mean that we might have to lose our lives completely for the cost of following Christ.

Whatever it means for us. He already knows, He was already there.

We are standing in his footprint.

LSOF: Different Places, Similar Progress

My heart has really been given some wisdom lately when it comes to people.
We are truly all in different places in our walks.
It also occurred to me that different places in our walk didn’t mean necessarily further.

I tried to wear my Sketcher Shape-ups the other morning, and let me just say they live up to their name, ouch would be a total understatement. I only made it around the block before I just couldn’t take the pain in my calves anymore. I made it to the front door, only to be sure to throw them across the room, and off of my pitiful, and might I add, Out of shape, feet.

It made me upset with myself just a bit, because I have allowed myself to get to this state.

I have a job that has me sit down for 8 hrs a day, and I’ve been doing it now almost a year. It is an amazing job, but muscles wear down when they are not used for a long period of time.

It isn’t my job’s fault that I haven’t used my muscles forever.

I think it is similar when it comes to life situations. When things happen to us, we can’t always deal with it like any other time. Sometimes things are so heavy on our shoulders that we are just too worn out to take a moment to just see the purpose of where we are. There is alway a bigger picture.

When we first get back on our feet after being in a pit for a long period of time, it is hard.
This is why you see Pastor’s and other people in position take a break for awhile, its not that they did something wrong, and its not that they no longer want the position, its just that God has asked for some time to reflect and re-evaluate somethings. Sometimes personal, sometimes the view from our side of everything on the outside.

The pit makes you take a look at your life and see that you are in a place and you are to find the purpose from the place you stand now.

I think people have a tendency to look at those who have had rough times, and had the perception that the person just doesn’t have as much faith as they used to, but please if you are one of those people; know that it is in the rough time God makes us stronger.

I learned this walk really is about gaining wisdom, and within the places we feel we are too weak, God has made another area that is unexpected, stronger.

We are not meant to handle everything on our shoulders at once, We cannot be like Atlas, and I believe that is why there is always something weak God is working to make stronger.

We forget that in the situations we go through that we are indeed learning something essential, but it isn’t in anything anyone tells us, but what God shows us.

I am one who has had the opportunity to allow God to do some crazy things in my life, meet people, and visit some places that seem unbelievable to some, to which I actually sat down and asked someone,
” Am I the one doing this?” and the reply I got was,
” It’s too weird to be you, it has to be God.”

I’ve felt pretty inadequate on several occassions when it comes to people. I guess I always let my insecurities bully me into a corner, and many times I let them hold me there.
I’ve compared myself to those who seem better than me, or know better than me.

It was as if God held my face one day and said, ” LOOK CLOSER.”

I got to see for myself that those who appeared to have it all, they were missing more than I knew.
I got to see their insecurities, and sadly, I watched them fall apart.
It took them off the pedastal I had them on.

I’ve shared a lot about different places we find ourselves in, but something else to know is even though you find yourself where you are, we are all working with similar progress.

We are all working one step at a time, one day at a time, to accomplish our personal and professional goals.

We stop our progress when we let the insecurities in our lives get in the way. We have to just keep walking, fall a little, but learn from the bruises we receive.

We need to encourage one another more, and keep ourselves all in check with how far we’ve come.

Just because progress seems small in your eyes, it might mean the world to someone else.

The dynamic of who God created us to be is found in the moments we struggle in.

He knows we are going to question Him, He knows we are going to fall flat on our face at times…

He also knows that we will come out of everything victorious.

Pain truly is gain, whether you believe it or not.

I’ll leave you with a verse that smacked me clear in the face this week:

2 John 1:8 (NIV, 1984)
“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.”

LSOF: ” Coming out of the Dark…”

As I began writing this post the song, ” Coming out of the Dark.” by Gloria Estefan came to my mind.

It’s quite fitting to say the least.

I spoke last time about my experience with the pit, and now I’d like to share what it is like once I came out of the pit.

My friend and I meet every other week or so to just pray and have conversation about God, and the things He is doing in our lives. And today we focused on God’s attributes and what we know them to be.

I shared that God is merciful and shows us favor by His grace, that we so do not deserve.

I focused on the pit and how when we are obedient and just keep dealing with the thing until its over, then God rewards us by His favor in our lives.

The pit is indeed a rough place to be, but I want to give emphasis to the word PLACE for a moment, because that is really what it is, just a place in a season of our lives.

One of my dear spiritual mentors shared with me in a birthday card how God does not throw us on earth like a pieces on a chessboard, but that he strategically PLACES us where He needs us to be to fulfil His purpose.

The Pit has a Purpose.

So I write this to share with you that favor will come once the purpose of being in the pit is done, but sometimes its also good to realize that God will bless even when we are in the pit. He wants us to recognize He is there and He loves us.

It’s important to look for His fingerprints through the pit. Those little blessings that He leaves for us.

I was sharing this morning with someone that asked me what happened to living in Savannah

To which I told them that God moved me back to Florida, and I also added that I grieved it, but that

I knew He had a greater purpose than I could see at that time.

For the first time in my life I can tell you I really love my life, and I really have come to know the character of God through my time in the pit.  I learned how He was with me when I flat out cursed Him in my own way. He was merciful, He didn’t look to try to make life worse, but instead He saw how numb I had become from my own emotions, and piece by piece…He started to put me and my life around me together again.

And what is interesting in all this is I didn’t think that I would get out of the pit by God’s help alone, I really thought that others might help me who had experienced it at the same time. I was wrong, and it is why it took me so much longer to get out then it was needed.

We are all a work in progress.

Keypoint I feel I should make in all this: Don’t deny that you are in the pit, don’t deny that something isn’t going the way it should be in your life, Don’t deny that there is something inside of you that you need to re-evaluate with God.

Don’t deny you need healing.

Again, I’m just talking; its just you and I having a conversation over starbucks, and I’m telling you what I experienced.

I want to see you free, because God does.