The Many Pieces of Life

Ray and I are going away for a much needed weekend in Atlanta. It does have a purpose beyond relaxation. We are forging a deeper relationship. Then on Sunday afternoon we pay tribute to a dear friend who has gone to be with the Lord. Ron Tenny taught me so much about serving with joy. So grateful to have a husband who shares life with me at so many levels.

Today I want to repeat an earlier post for there is still much meat on the bone. pieces of your life

Imagine receiving a 1,000 piece puzzle, but no picture of the finished product, just colorful beginnings. You are told that there are clues all around you and one book that has all of the answers. You have one lifetime to complete it.

In the beginning, you see parts of the picture in your parents and family. Then other caregivers, teachers and perhaps an abuser enter the scene. They all picture what this puzzle is going to look like.

There is happiness, success, abandonment, grief and they are all integral part. It’s just sometimes we put them in the wrong place trying to make them fit where they don’t belong.

Sometimes you feel it is just too hard so you quit  The puzzle pieces lay in a pile next to the complete sections. Then a relationship motivates you to continue on.

You can see what parts look like but don’t really get the whole picture. You tried it from a couple of view points and the pieces did not fit. Each piece was that unique as if especially designed for this one of a kind puzzle.

Then you find the key: The Bible. First Chapter.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

So the picture should look like God. It should show blessings, a fruitfulness that brings blessings to others and have authority.

To complete this picture you will have to search out the clues in the Word. If we don’t follow the guide, we don’t look like Him. He lets us do our own thing but we won’t reflect His image.

I know your picture isn’t completed yet, b.ut how’s it looking?

 

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Holiday Killer

Most of us have a pretty narrow view of what the holidays should look like. Many work themselves into a frenzy trying to make everything perfect. It is when we apply those same unrealistic standards to relationships that disaster looms. For people cannot be tweaked like that perfect dinner. Each person is wired slightly and comes with their own distinct programming.

Most are not deliberately obnoxious, but when they do not fit in our vision of what a perfect holiday should look like, we often judge them as such. It all boils down to expectations. I don’t know where we got the idea that our expectations are the best for everyone. One size fits all. That is not reality at all nor is the expectation that because we have always done it “that way” so that’s the way it will unfold again this year.

You would not expect a paraplegic to serve you a banquet. Yet we have no problem expecting a broken person, wounded by life, to meet our every expectation.

It took me most of my life to learn to release friends and family of my expectations I inflict on them (and those they place on me). I had to purpose to release myself from the ones I place on myself and others.

Expectations are generally unspoken; I hardly notice them anymore. For example, I expect that certain actions will yield specific results. Further, I expect that certain people will act in predetermined ways. I am often surprised when this isn’t always true. In my belief system and in my control issues, I hold expectations of what a good marriage looks like, a perfect family or even a good person or success. Sometimes these are too narrow and not godly.
Pain and suffering come when expectations are not met. If I finitely define what a marriage should look like, how children should behave (even adult ones), what success looks like, any other definition of it will bring disappointment. There is no room for God in the boxes that I draw. This black and white thinking often leads not only to disappointment, but hurt and anger and even depression.


Expectations are rooted in desire and fear, anxiety and stress. Often they are birthed out of fear of losing control. Anything less brings grief. If we only could see the tight box they keep us in. This box forces me to see my present experiences only as it fits in my plans for the future. When we release our expectations, we open ourselves to the possibilities of all God has for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

If I choose His expected end, even though it appears uncertain to me, I am free of the stress and the disappointment when MY life plan doesn’t work out perfectly.
Instead of keeping my eyes focused on my plan, I choose to focus on Him. He is the reason for living. Let us celebrate the gift of life even when it does unfold the way we thought it would or even should. Let’s look with anticipation to see what can happen when we let God and people out of the box of our expectations.

The Seasons of Life

In Ecclesiastes 3 Solomon wrote: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? 10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

We can be so short-sighted believing that when we are going through a rough path that it is forever. No, it for a season. Yes, it may rough and painful but it is not forever if we put our hope and trust in Him.

Philippians 2 says:13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

How we go through each season is a choice. We can understand that rough seasons are refining fires or we can whine and lose hope. Who and what we put our trust in determines our choice.

As we live our lives, we must always remember that it is our choice how we choose to respond to the challenges we face. We can accuse, blame, rant and rave or we can run to the Father and allow Him us to show us the way through.

Life isn’t always fair, but at least we have a life. His mercies are new every morning. We can be strengthen by that and knowing that the joy of the Lord is our strength. There is NOTHING we have to do in our own strength. When we do it that way, it is for naught.

Daily we get to choose to walk in His light and His love. It is sometimes to love the prickly people or the people who have hurt us. However, unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

I remember singing to my daddy as he lay dying in the hospital. Just the day before I had spoken at a women’s Cursillo about how to be free from  abuse. The only way is through forgiveness. God never meant for me to be abused, but I would be held a prisoner of my past if I had not forgiven him.

Though he was in a coma, I told him of the women set free that weekend and then I softly sang the song we had sung that weekend, In His Time. Tears ran down his face as I told him once again that I forgave him. He died the following day.

Hope this song blesses you, too, and you will live this season of your life to the fullest.

https://youtu.be/Wo-rGzx2OZk

 

Would You Tell a Lie to Help Someone Else?

As I continue to research lying, I found this article from Berkeley Haas that reported the way both  gender and social pressure drive unethical decisions. This study says “women won’t lie on their own behalf, but they are willing to do so for someone else if they feel criticized or pressured by others.

“In contrast, research by Prof. Laura Kray of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Asst. Prof. Maryam Kouchaki of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, found that men are the opposite: they do not compromise their ethical standards under social pressure regardless of whether they’re advocating for themselves or anyone else.

“We found that when women act on their own behalf, they maintain higher ethical standards than men. However, women will act less ethically, such as telling a lie, when they fear being viewed as ineffective at representing another person’s interests,” says Kray. “When women negotiate on behalf of someone else, they are willing to make compromises in order to satisfy the needs of others.”

“The study’s results may appear disturbing to women who are trying to do the right thing, but Kray contends that when considering whether to compromise one’s usual ethics, consider the particular situation. Women may be unaware that they have this tendency to lower their moral standards when trying to help others.

“Ask yourself, ‘What are the constraints and social pressures? If I was doing this for myself or someone else, how would I act differently,” says Kray.

Would you tell a lie to help someone else? A new study says women won’t lie on their own behalf, but they are willing to do so for someone else if they feel criticized or pressured by others. In contrast, the study, co-authored by Prof. Laura Kray, found that men are the opposite: they do not compromise their ethical standards under social pressure regardless of whether they’re advocating for themselves or anyone else.”

All too often  we put on our plastic smile, get out the door and go do what we gotta to. We have our outside box we operate in.

However, the word says, Christ in me, the hope of glory. What if I spoke what was on my heart. What if I spoke words of truth in love instead of being afraid of hurting someone or being politically correct. What if I shared words of life? Words of hope. What if I refused to listen to gossip which is often embellished lies.

What does Christ, the hope of glory look like in your life? In your words?

So what if you are vulnerable to someone’s lies about you, your family or even God? Would you rather have your life look like a to do list or a vibrant journey

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. Prov. 31:26
I praise God for the For My Life program at Be in Health. It helped me remove a lot of the things that were covering what God has in mind for my life. I am still in the discovery stage.
As I peel off layer upon layer of generational iniquities, self-righteousness, guilt, shame, lying, secrecy, I am finding the real me. I am finding my voice and I am learning to use it.
You are on assignment today. Will you be BRAVE, and speak words of life to someone and bring them that “Christ in you, the hope of glory”?

How Transparent Are You?

I want to continue talking about how secrets destroy your health.

One of my favorite scriptures is found in Revelations 12:3:

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

When I teach at Be in Health, I often share my testimony of how I overcame over twenty years of abuse. When I came here, I was a mess emotionally and physically. but God met me and healing, deep healing, began.  My heart’s desire is that my testimony helps others walk out of bondage.

Often people comment on my transparency.  Listen, I was programmed for secrecy. I was abused as a child and told, “You can’t tell anyone. This is OUR secret, because it would kill your mother if your mother found out. Abuse continued because of secrecy.

At 19 I became pregnant. I was single and living at home. A plan was hatched to keep it a secret. The father of this baby said it would kill his father who was dying of Huntington’s Disease. His brother was studying for the ministry. So in secret, I got a job transfer to New Orleans and at five months I was sent to a home for unwed mothers. My father, brother and sister had no idea what was going on. To tell anyone our secret would bring shame to our families.

I gave birth to a beautiful daughter that I was not allowed to see. I left New Orleans with a gaping hole in my heart, because I gave up this treasure for adoption, but I kept the secret.

By the grace of God over 20 years ago, I was re-connected to my daughter. She is a very special woman. I no longer keep the secret.

After doing research on what keeping secrets does to your brain, all of the confusion and depression of the past makes sense.

One source says, ” Researchers in the Netherlands recently found that young people aged 14-19 who kept private secrets had higher levels of rule-breaking behaviors and reported lower moods and more complaints of headaches. The study also found that secrecy was correlated with feelings of loneliness. To avoid the isolating and stressful burden of carrying a private secret on your shoulders, tell a trusted friend or adult.

“There’s a lot of truth to the childhood maxim, “Secrets don’t make friends.” The Netherlands study also determined that teens who reported keeping more secrets also confessed to having lower-quality relationships that young people who kept fewer or less significant secrets. While there’s no need to air your dirty laundry to all your friends in the interest of avoiding secrets, keeping important things from people who trust you can harm (and even ultimately ruin) your friendships. ”

5 Reasons Keeping Secrets Is Making You More Stressed

From about age 25-32 I was hospitalized three times for depression. In my early 30s, I was pronounced manic depressive. Today we call that bi-polar. I went through that season on antidepressants.

When I came here at 55, I had been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. Today I have a sound mind.

Today I openly share how the Father met me. I share my past because I want others to experience the freedom I have. I do my best to bring everything to the Light. I don’t keep secrets. I don’t care if you judge me because I don’t answer to you, I answer to Him.

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. Psalm 91:6

And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. Genesis 15:15

As I develop my relationship with the Father, not in secret, but openly, I believe I will live to a good old age.

Keeping Secrets Can Make You Sick

New neuroscience has reported that it doesn’t really matter to our brain whether we are keeping our own secret or someone else’s. The brain is put in a compromising position. Our cingulate cortex which is responsible for our emotional response is hard-wired to tell the truth. So if we are keeping a deep, dark secret or even lying about our salary, this part of our brain is trying to process the untruth instead of assisting you with learning. When you keep secrets, big  or small, or keep someone else secrets, it stress your brain and your cortisol levels are amped up keeping you in a constant state of fight or flight.

That excess cortisol contributes to fear and anxiety. Every time you think of that secret that cortisol drip is increased. Those surges in your cortisol impact your memory, blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues and even your metabolism. Often you gain weight.

“Sleep may be disturbed and could lead to emotional mood swings and a propensity to be ill-tempered or lose your coo,” says Dr. Allen Towfigh, a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell Medical Center. “You  may also have difficulty with memory and learning. And the excess release of cortisol will cause a host of other ailments, including possible increase or loss of appetite and disruption of metabolism.”

Out of control cortisol levels weaken your immune system, can lead to osteoporosis, hypertension and loss of collagen which means you get more wrinkles and your skin may look like crepe paper because it has lost its elasticity.

That is a high price to pay for being deceitful. Is anything done in secret really worth that? Remember it doesn’t matter if it is as serious as being unfaithful to your spouse or cheating on your budget, your brain is taxed when you aren’t truthful.

I used to keep secrets because I didn’t want to hurt anyone if they found out the truth.  I was a child keeping adult secrets. Enter fear of conflict and fear of man which kept me bound for decades.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

The word faults in the Greek means a lapse or deviation from truth and unrightness; a sin or misdeed.

We are  to tell the truth and pray for one another for good health. I wonder how many people are not healed because they will not confess their faults, w, He will have mercy on whom He will ill not tell the truth because of fear or simply do not take time to pray for others? Praise God He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy.

If honesty is scary, ask the Father why. Is it worth your life?

I am not suggesting that you tell your secrets to someone standing behind you in the checkout line. I am suggesting that you find someone you trust and share your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to tell you what to do next.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. Paul gives us a powerful exhortation.

My prayer for you is 3 John 1:2 says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in good health, even as thou soul prospereth.

 

From Hopelessness to Hope

Who needs to Hear fromyou todayThere have many times in my life when the thing I was hoping for simply did not happen or was very late.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Deferred simply means delayed or displaced. It doesn’t mean that the thing we are hoping for is not coming. It means we don’t set the timetable. I think this is the real issue. Who is God? Me or Him? Who am I to tell Him when it should be happening when He was getting all the ingredients together for the final project? It reminds me of the presumption of Job.

Hope displaced can set us on a never-ending roller coaster ride from hopeful to hopelessness. Double-mindedness sets in. It can even progress into anger and accusation towards God, myself and others. Sadly, we often don’t recognize this, because we shove it down.

According to Strong’s Concordance, deferred means to “delay” or “draw out”. That implies that the thing hoped for is probable and will eventually come to pass. But it is a journey, not a rocket ride. Just as it is necessary for me to gas up and pass many mile markers and even stop at rest stops as I travel, so it is necessary for our journey with God to have the same time-consuming, but oh so necessary delays. We may even breakdown on the way, but we repair what is necessary and move on.

God’s promises are true, but His timetable is rarely ours. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We can be sure of what we hope for even when it remains unseen if God, Himself, promises it to us. Hope is displaced when we assume that God will do something for us merely because He has done it for others. We can be full of anticipation and excitement one minute when it looks like our desires will be fulfilled, (things are going our way) and emotionally wrecked the next as we realize that little is changed or that the situation has gotten worse.

Too often I have gotten my eyes off the small victories, because I was so eager to get to the finish line on my timetable. Performance and drivenness push me to set unrealistic goals.

All of this takes a toll not only on our physical body, but our spirit as well.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5

I get to choose my response to circumstances or His promises. He promised me that He would never leave me nor forsake me.

[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

In the midst of our worst trials, we can hold onto God’s promise that He will always be there for us, but don’t miss the part where we are exhorted during the journey to “be content with such things as we have” – even when it looks like we missed it or that God failed us. Our circumstances can color the truth. God may seem distant, unfeeling, uncaring. Nevertheless, that promise is sure. He will never leave us nor forsake us. So who will I listen to? The voice of the circumstance or the Word of the Lord?

Hope deferred can crush my heart if I expect God to stop the trial immediately and fix the situation. My heart can leap for joy when I see a small crack in the clouds above, then sink to my gut as darker clouds move in. Again the focus is on the circumstance, not the promise.

There are directions to properly set up a non-computerized telescope. You need to align the mount with the North Star. Sounds straightforward enough. However, if the directions to do that lived south of the equator, perhaps in Australia, and you used those directions, you would never be on course, because you are looking from an opposite direction. It is the same with our lives. We can do things according to the Word or we can align our lives with the world view and totally miss the galaxy that the Lord has prepared for us.

So today I am trying to be still and choose things that bring me joy. I love writing. There are many facets of writing woven in my life from work to leisure. However, I have really fallen down in my thank you notes and notes of encouragement. My “secret” or private writing should be spirit led and full of hope, a gift to those who receive it. It should be as important as the writing I do that has a public audience.

Don’t know where this journey will take me but I am eager to begin. Won’t you join me? Who can you encourage? Who is going through a “hope deferred” season that you can come alongside?

 

Doing More Than Is Required

About 25 years ago we got an early morning call before we left for the airport to go to Africa. It was about 4:30 a.m. The caller asked us which flight we were taking and when we were leaving. He said he needed to see us before we left.
We went on to the airport and before we boarded he showed up with three small children under the age of six. He said the Lord had awakened him and told him to bring us some money. It wasn’t a huge amount, maybe $50. The thing that impressed me is he got up, dressed three children, drove an hour to the airport with those children so his wife could go on to work, to be obedient to God.
In all honestly I would have asked God if I could just drop it into the mail. 
When we had our intake interview, we were asked how much money we had with us. It was less than $100. We were then told.  “Fine, we won’t have to pay you this month.”  Our combined salary was $300 and we were not allowed to take any outside contributions.
I believe God knew what we were walking into and He provided for us through someone’s obedience.
I have a friend, Sharon, who has repeatedly come along me when I am doing something that is hard for me. Two examples immediately come to mind, Once when I opened a small shop in a shopping center, after working all day, she came to paint with me. She out painted me two to one, because she is a lot healthier. She never grumbled, she encouraged. I felt like when she opened that paint can, an alabaster jar of blessings had been opened.
Another time when we were getting my Mom’s house ready for her as a surprise, Sharon was there once again with her paint brush. She has repeatedly supported me in my ventures from gathering a trailer load of vines for me to weave to gathering treasures for my consignment shop.
That particular venture failed and when it did, I felt I had let Sharon down as well. She didn’t put that on me, but I wanted so badly to be the Diane she saw and believed in for me.
That was 20 plus years ago. I have moved away. My great venture now is a very low-key Mary Kay business. I do facials one on one, loving on women and edifying them the way Sharon did me.
About eight years ago Ray and I decided we would go to Ireland. Believe me it wasn’t in our budget. However, airfares were one half what they were two years before. Ray’s job was changing July 1st and we weren’t sure if he would have the flexibility he then had. So we went to go to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary early.
It was a scary decision to make, but it had been our dream for 30 years. So like the examples set before us, we did  a little more than is necessary to get there.
Making phone calls for Mary Kay scared me. So what. The only way to face a fear is to go through it. So that’s what I did.
We committed to doing more than is necessary to fulfill this dream. One group blessed us with$800. (I was out of town at the time. God just wanted to show me He was in control, not me.) He doesn’t just meet our needs, He gives us the desires of our hearts.
A couple of days before we left, we got a phone call from our son-in-law. He said God told him he was to give us some money for the trip. He asked me how  much we needed. I replied, “If God told you to give it to us, He will tell you the amount.”
Our daughter put $500 in our checking account. When we got to Ireland, it paid for an unexpected car insurance expense we had not planned for. I mean it was almost to the penny. Maybe there was $3.00 left over. God knew.
This is how we have learned to live our lives. When you seek His face instead of His hands, He shows up.
It is important to remember that He does show up, but He shows up in His timing and resolves the problem His way which generally isn’t the way we would have done it. His ways are higher than ours.
When we are in God’s waiting room, there will be attitude checks. How we wait impacts the outcome. He is perfecting us. Grumbling and complaining have to go. Gratitude and complete trust must come forth.
In God’s waiting room, it is important to remember how He has met us before and trust that He will do it again.
Friday will be our 38th wedding anniversary. It is amazing. We are indeed very grateful. We do face some challenges, but one thing we have learned: God is bigger than any challenges. He’s a good, good God whose plans for us are for good and not evil. Trust Him.

Are You in the Fire?

We lit the wood burning stove tonight for the first time this season. It is capable of heating the whole house. We u.se the central heat as back up. That fire reminds me of the baptism by fire. (Matthew 3:11)

 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Malachi 3:3 
How does this statement reflect the character and nature of God?
Who wants to be thrown in a fire?
To understand this you must know something about the process of refining silver.
The silversmith holds a piece of silver over the fire and lets it heat up. In refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
Has God ever held you in such a hot spot?
The silversmith must sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver is refined. He not only sits there holding the silver, but he keeps his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver is left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
So how does he know when the silver is fully refined?
Actually, that’s pretty easy. He knows it is fully refined when he can see his image in it.
If you feel the heat of the fire in your life, remember God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9
If you are in a season of the refiner’s fire, keep your eye on the Father until your image reflects His.

What Have You Built Around Your Heart?

Most probably feel it has been broken and trampled enough. So we try to protect ourselves by building filters and walls to keep abusers out. The problems is there are some people who are about as lovable as a porcupine who could bring a lot to your life if you ever got past their filters and walls.

So there is the problem. A society of great pretenders who hide behind their personal style of fabrication. Behind it they experience fear and isolation, but dare not risk interpersonal relationship.

Many divorces happen because two pretenders married and when they got real, it wasn’t pretty. To forge a true relationship, you have to go through the pain of reality.

Ray and I married from two different worlds. I had been abused a greater part of my life when we married. His past wasn’t a bed of roses either. Fortunately, his response to abuse was to try harder and try harder is what he did when he discovered he had a wounded tiger by the tail.

The more he would try to love and protect me, the more I would rage. I knew in my inner being he was going to leave me like everyone else, so I kept pushing him away. He was as tenacious as an bulldog. Bottom-line, his unconditional love won. We have been married 38 years next month.

If I had bailed at the first hurt or even the tenth (most were self-inflicted through self-sabotage), I would have never know the love, happiness and sweetness being a couple has brought me.

He taught me to give others a chance as well. He was my safety net when I let my walls down. What I learned through that is often times the person I run from is the person who genuinely has something to deposit in my life. The very thing I don’t like in them is all too often a character flaw in me. Funny how that works.

Thousands of years ago, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”

That is true today, not just in marriage, but in meaningful friendships where you share your heart and that very thing that you were trying to figure out comes spilling from your own mouth. To listen to another is to allow their genuine self to come forth.

Dare to let the walls down and be real.