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: The kind of post I pray I will never write…

My last post I was very transparent, and I almost second guessed a few things that I wrote, but nevertheless, I know I was meant to write it.

I was thinking the other day after writing it. I did my own personal checklist, and one thing I realized I didn’t do enough of was mention God’s Word, give scriptures and share Biblical quotes.

However, I feel like while that might have been what “ I should have done” according to maybe some, I will say God spoke something powerful to my heart:

“ Don’t write it unless you feel it.”

It’s not that I didn’t want to place scripture to that post, because I could have, but more so, its not about going through the motions and finding words to say, I said the words I was supposed to say.

I was real, and I talked about what life was like for me right now. And Jesus is in my life and going through it with me.

But the post I never want to write is one that my heart is not all about.  I never want to write words just to make the rest of the world feel like I met some sort of standard as a Christian writer.

My feeling is that there is enough in this world we try to sugarcoat to make life easier for those around us, but I’m not going to be someone who always writes, about “ Sunshine and rainbows”- and especially now, its just not where I am.

I very much believe that God is amazing and His grace is sufficient for me. I know that Jesus died for me. I know that God is a deliverer, a healer, and our Father.  I know that He sees us in our sufferings and rejoices in our victories alongside of us.

But there are times where even believing it is just not enough.

Sometimes we come to places in our lives that place us at a standstill and we say to God,

“ Didn’t we just go through this?”

Wilderness times are very real, and it is meant to strengthen us. I know that reality.

But when you are a faith-believing Christian and you know what you know, and believe as you do, and then are hit and hit with the same things…it can make someone weary, such as myself.

So at the end of the day, when I continue to watch the pain and suffering around me, I remember He is still God, and therefore there is still hope.

I’m thankful so thankful that He is still here and He is still moving.

I pray I never write a post where my reality doesn’t match up with what I’m sharing.

” 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: Heart Wisdom

There was a simulcast this weekend, with an amazing message. If you want to check it out, see earlier posts.

I always try to get an underlying message for myself to hear. One that doesn’t necessarily come through from the speaker audibly.

The message for me was that I don’t need to be a scholar to be able to share wisdom with the world about Jesus. What He has done in my life, and who I’ve come to know Him as, I personally do not think could be found in any research article. There are just somethings that cannot be studied.

And its those accounts that one experiences on their own, when the pen and paper are put away, when the cameras are gone, and when the crowd has better things to do…

I sat with a lady during the simulcast who I shared about my experience with the pit and that you can indeed be put in it due to obedience.

Her eyes got wide, and she sort of seemed to let out a breath of deep relief.

I don’t know what it was that she had gone through, but it was at that moment she needed to hear that she wasn’t alone, and that she was doing in her life what was God’s purpose.

My experiences with pain and Him restoring me, have taught me to not be ashamed what I should share with anyone. We all have darkness that has been apart of our lives. It is through knowing darkness exists that we will search to find the light.

I want to share that I have deep respect and esteem for Beth Moore. I’ve done many of her studies, but I learned we had something more in common. She got to know Jesus more through her pain. Knowing that has helped me to love on others with my story. There are still areas where pain exists in my life, but I had to learn that God’s healing overshadows it.

God loves me. God cares for me. God protects me. God delivers me. God knows where I am. God understands how I feel. God changes me. God restores me. God heals me. God will be the only one that will help me live my life victoriously.

Someone told me a few months back that I helped restore their faith in God, and without sharing much more I’ll say that now she wants nothing to do with God.

My heart has taught me that when it comes to God, you have to work at knowing Him. You have to work at loving Him, and trusting Him. There are no quick fixes.

We go through the fires in life, because we need to get burned. We need to experience that God binds up our wounds.

I’m sad for those who choose what is temporary instead of true hope.
My pain was real, but because of it, I know my faith is real.
So all those scholars out there, who think they have all the answers…
I can assure you they don’t…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”
(Proverbs 3:5)

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.

LSOF: The Perception of Self Worth

My dear friend, Cally. She left this world
on May 19, 2010.

I am dedicating this post to my friend Cally Walrath. She passed away, May 19th 2010.
These are words I wish I could sit down and tell her this moment. I know that I can’t,
but I do know that there are many other people out there who have a perception of themselves
that is such a distortion from actual reality.

You are special.

I think we have become a society that is so obsessed with appearances, and ” the name” out in the world, that we have lost sight of realizing the value of US.

What I would love to sit and tell you out there is that there is more to you right this moment then you will ever know. There is such a beautiful plan for your life. It’s a solid plan. You have oceans of hope and grace then you could ever know what to do with. You will take journeys of finding true paradise in life. You will meet the blue sky to the stars. You will have more knowledge from all you’ve been through then you realized you might ever attain.

What someone says you are. What someone says you should dress like. What someone believes about you.
None of it matters. Unless you let it matter to you.

I could definitely tell you that your self-worth is found in Jesus. And that is very true.
But at the end of the day, when all is said and done. Do you really believe that?
Do any of us really truly believe that and can stand by that belief?

The distortions of who we are start to happen when we let the outside affect who we are on the inside.

With religion its legalism. With success its perfectionism. With control its manipulation.

I could add to that forever.

I’m not saying religion will always lead to legalism. I’m saying that we often will try to ” fit the mold” so to speak, and believe in how we are “told” to about ourselves, our faith, rather than have that chance to find out for ourselves.

Success is wonderful, everyone wants it. But just like any addiction we can get caught up it being to critical of ourselves, to the point that who we truly are, and what truly motivates us doesn’t come from the heart but from what useless knowledge. We become drones to our professions. Losing ourselves, forgetting the success that is already apart of us.

Being in control of anything, or feeling out of control is also very dangerous in how we perceive ourselves.
We can easily manipulate our own way of thinking and processing through a situation, because we learned a way that ” seems” to work.

I had a friend say to me a few weeks ago that when she looks in the mirror she doesn’t recognize who she is, that so much in her life has changed that she is not sure she can recognize herself in her life.
This girl is amazing too. She is a ” dreamer” of life, so passionate about doing so much. But her life
is tiring her out. She knows that she needed to step back and get to know herself again.

Truth is, we all need to do that. We all need to get back to looking in the mirror and make sure the reflection is the one that is meant to be out in the world.

Self-worth doesn’t come from being just like everyonelse, it comes from surely knowing there are things about you that are different. And that different is good.

I just want to add I’m not asking you to follow this advice, the last thing I’d want to be is a self-help book,
but I do want you to think about your own self-worth.
I do want you to think about if you really know yourself well enough that if someone came up to you
who you don’t know that well…how would they know you?
By your name…or by your heart.

Think of the value of YOU.

LSOF: Forgiveness

As I closed my eyes to sleep last night, I had a thought go through my heart.
It was as if I was laying on the ocean shore, and a gentle wave washed over me.
My heart was being told in God’s sweet, still small voice…
” You must forgive..”

I’m not one to be all to excited when God pushes me to write on things that go beyond
what I really am feeling at the present moment.
But I can tell you this…

I woke up with the same thought on my heart.
And it was as if the thought lived with me all through the night,
God was making it clear…YOU NEED TO DO THIS.
He wouldn’t let it go.
So I knew I couldn’t.

Now to you, maybe forgiving is an easy thing to do. I’m going to guess though, like me,
it doesn’t come so easy.

It might be easier to “forget” the situation, the “forgive” the circumstances within it all.

Forgetting is not the same as Forgiving.

How many times have you heard someone say to you, ” Oh just forget about it.”
That’s basically just saying to you, ” It’s not that important, get over it.”

But let me tell you something that strongly has been brought to my heart when it comes to forgiving and forgetting…
True forgiveness does not come from just letting that person, ” off the hook”…we may feel it for a certain amount of time, but I can almost promise you somewhere down the line…you are going to remember the situation, and feel that unforgiveness rage inside of you…so much so…
that you not only don’t forgive the situation that happened with that person, but it becomes a domino effect and you end up burning so many bridges…without intention.

So this would be what happens when someone says to you, ” Forgive and forget.”
More than likely, most times, we forget, before we forgive.
Not the way to go.

I don’t think any of us really can get the concept of what it is to forgive.
And I’m writing this, because I didn’t know….until now.
And this knowledge did not come from books.
I searched my own heart.

Forgiveness in my own words is to look beyond the faults of another person,
and beauty beyond it all. Beyond the anger they might have shown you, beyond the pain
they might have caused you, beyond the control they might have put on you, beyond the manipulation,
beyond the inferiority they caused you to feel, beyond anything and anything…
Whatever it was…

You see the person instead. You see them for who they ARE.
You know in their mind they might believe they are right, that they have just caused
to treat you, or say things to you that they do…
but I think I remember very well what Jesus said when He was on the cross
and people thought they had just cause to put Him there…

” Forgive them Father, they know not of what they do.”

Forgive and forgetting is something recommended actually from a health website.

This is straight from the website:
” Many people view forgiveness as an offshoot of love — a gift given freely to those who have hurt you.

Forgiveness, however, may bring enormous benefits to the person who gives that gift, according to recent research. If you can bring yourself to forgive and forget, you are likely to enjoy lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a drop in the stress hormones circulating in your blood, studies suggest. Back pain, stomach problems, and headaches may disappear. And you’ll reduce the anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, and other negative emotions that accompany the failure to forgive. ” – Tom Valeo, via Webmd.com

Time heals pain, this is true. However, at some point (sooner then later), in that time…
we all need to look back on the situation with someone, and tell ourselves that we have to forgive.

I know there are some out there that feel like its too late, that the person has either passed or is no longer apart of your life…but its NOT too late.

It will be HARD, but I believe that our all powerful God can see it bubbling inside of you even now…
He can see your heart saying, ” If only…”
and He is going to tell you to stop regretting the past, stop wondering of how you wished things were different, and just think of that person in that situation you have been in life…
And say, ” I forgive you for…” and maybe you can’t get yourself to say, the ” Forgive you for” part,
if you can’t, its okay to just say, ” _____ , I forgive you.
Leave it at that. God knows your heart, He knows there are words you can’t get yourself to speak.

When we are hurting…we don’t want to forgive.
Plain and simple.
Believe me, I get this—
We need to get out of that frame of mind,
and work on it each day…

And like in my case, because I know that my heart is at stake and everything that I am, and what I truly believe in my character…I choose forgiveness.
I am created to be an example of Jesus, and He forgave.

And maybe like you, those who I want to say, ” I forgive you,” to…I can’t.
They are not apart of my life now…but God knows that I did.
And that’s what matters.

We need to focus on praying for good for others too…and forgiveness
helps us to pray for blessings for their lives.

We need to again realize, forgetting and not forgiving…it leaves an unintentional thorn in your side.
You will REMEMBER, and when you do…you won’t think lovingly of that person.
And its not fair to them or to you.

And all that is planned for all of you.

Forgive and don’t forget; instead- remember by how it’s shaped your life, and who God will raise u up to be through it!

I’ve probably gone on and on about this.

But I want to tell you something.

I have peace since I forgave those in my life who hurt me. They will never know it.
But it doesn’t matter.
My heart is right with God, because it is HE who needs me to forgive.
The others in my life, it wouldn’t matter….and that’s okay.

Forgiveness matters to God.
Because He doesn’t want us to have any stumbling block in the path
ahead.

And “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…”
and it starts by knowing we have no place with God,
if we have no place to forgive.

If you choose life.
Then choose forgiveness too!

(Colossians 3:12-14)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.