When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 2


Learning to love as God loves, requires that you see yourself as God sees you, flaws and all.  It also affords you the perspective of seeing  others through God’s eyes, to some degree. It gives you an appreciation for the faulty construct of those around you and see them with love, compassion and acceptance.  Very much like the God who made us all, there is an ease in how we can take people as they are and love them unconditionally just that way.  But, in the quest for a deeper relationship with them, just like the God who made us all, we love them too much to let them stay that way.

Knowing full well that we are not the source of change, it is our desire to, at the very least, be that catalyst for the desire to change.

The ‘appearance-minded’ person doesn’t always take this well.  It is upsetting to them that they have been, ‘found out.’  At times, it will cause them to retreat from their relationship with an ‘unconditional lover’. It can cause them to reject the ‘unconditional lover’ for the safety of other ‘appearance minded’ people that won’t challenge them on the deeper things.

This puts the ‘unconditional lover’ in the untenable position of experiencing something, they have most certainly prayed for without completely understanding its depth and danger.

I have prayed, like many unconditional lovers, for God to, “Break my heart with the things that break Your heart.”  When it first comes out of your heart and mouth to pray that kind of prayer, it almost sounds romantic. It is full of passion to feel God’s heart for the lost and the dying and the displaced.  Your heart is to help anyone that God would send into your path, with a meal or a word of encouragement. You expect to build a house, work in a soup kitchen or serve in a shelter somewhere.

But what happens when you realize the things that really break God’s heart are closer to you than any of those things?

Three times I have loved and lost.  Not because I made mistakes, nor that I even lived so “perfectly.”  But because I saw my loves and loved them, flaws and all, unconditionally.  Because I saw their flaws and forgave them, even though often, they could not forgive me of my flaws or themselves of their own. Because my seeing them for their flaws without judging or condemning them defied their expectation of love. For me to not only acknowledge their mistakes and how much it hurt me but to still choose to be in relationship with them, was completely contrary to what they themselves would have done, had the tables been turned. In a couple of instances, the tables WERE turned and I was summarily condemned, over and over.

The choice to accept the forgiveness and make attempts to be restored gets rejected. Instead of taking their ‘unforgivable’ acts to the Lord together, in a willingness to make more beneficial choices that would glorify the God that made us all, they resorted to maintaining the appearance of rightness. Which meant that they resolved to surround themselves with people who would not ask the hard questions and shine a light on the darkened places.  They chose a life in the virtual shadows. They rejected that unconditional love.

Each time, in the devastation of my broken heart, I cried out to God to ask why I, who by most accounts am a pretty good woman, would be forced to endure such rejection. And, each time, in the softest, kindest, most gentle, loving voice, I heard my Father say, “Because you asked me to.”

It truly shakes one’s foundation when we realize that one of the things that breaks the heart of God like nothing else, is when His forgiveness of our sins and His offer to make us “Again Another” is rejected only for us to be satisfied in our mess and surrounded by people who are willing to keep our secret sins secret, in exchange for not being ‘found out’ themselves.

Oh, how it breaks the heart of God, that we believe it’s better to live the life we think we can get away with, because we think nobody is watching!

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When Nobody Is Watching…Pt. 1


No one is ever as good as their best day, nor are they as bad as their worst. We mostly live somewhere in the middle, on a quest to tip the scale in the positive.

There are moments in every day that add to either account and they are moments that everyone has, but nobody (that counts) really sees.

I have loved (and lost) a total of three times in my life.  While I readily admit that I was not a perfect mate, I did my best to be integral.  In the end, that’s what cost me. Each relationship ended with a few prefacing conversations. Revisions on the phrase, “It’s not you…it’s me.” When, in fact, it would have been closer to the truth to say that it was me…every single time.

I learned to love from Love Himself.  God, being Love, also being gracious (as Grace is an attribute of Love), took considerable time to teach me how He loves us.  This is a very painful and challenging thing to experience, even more master.  It compels one to be transparent; without hidden agenda, without excuse, without retreat. It demands that you take an unflinching look at yourself in order to see others clearly.

The real challenge is in seeing yourself as God sees you.  Everyone I have ever had a ‘surface’ conversation about this concept almost always assumes that means that he sees you as you will be in your glorified body; perfect, loving, kind…bearing the fruit of the spirit.  When in fact, it means that He sees you as DIRT: a filthy, plain, unholy mess with all the issues and isms that have been bred into you through the however many generations of curses that have been heaped upon you. BUT, he also sees all of the purpose and potential that all the generations of blessings have lain dormant within you. He sees all of the attempts to overcome along with all the slips and slides of your journey. AND YET, He loves ALL of you…COMPLETELY and WITHOUT CONDITION.  He loves you without reservation, just as you are, in the middle of whatever struggle you may be encountering right now.

Usually, that poses a challenge because most folk work really hard not to see their own mess. It’s really difficult to deal with the broken places and still appear to be the best dressed version of themselves.  Far too often, in my experience, it’s the people that work really hard to put their ‘best face forward,’ are the ones that are likely to judge others for their faults to deflect from the faults they believe everyone sees in them.  This is an unfortunately common occurrence in the world today.

It’s rather difficult to be friends with somebody in that particular predicament when you have spent the better part of your life digging through your own pile to sort and dispose of your own mess.  It becomes a part of your nature to identify issues and behaviors that would prove a hindrance to the future of your relationship with that friend. But, the truth is, it’s not in the nature of ‘appearance-minded’ people to appreciate when you as an ‘unconditional lover’ make note of any challenge that goes deeper than, say, spinach in their teeth, or a fly-away collar.  They might take offense.

This is where things get complicated.

If you have spent a considerable amount of time in the presence of an all knowing, all loving, all forgiving God, Who is capable of taking even the worst, most tattered fabric and making it beautiful and whole, as if it were brand new, you see yourself and everyone around you from the perspective of being the perfect candidate to be made over.  You are eager to know and understand everything about the people you wish to befriend.  You wouldn’t care about how messy or murky their deepest, darkest secrets are. As a matter of fact, after spending that quality time in God’s presence, you are able to identify certain flaws and snags in other people with some degree of ease.  Not to place blame or condemn, mind you. You recognize the shortcomings only as opportunities to see the hand of God at work in their lives.

But, remember…they are only concerned about the ‘appearance’ of perfection, not in being made perfect. It is disconcerting, to this kind of person, that you even ‘see’ the flaws they have been working so hard to mask. It is even considered tacky that you would bother to bring it up!! And, God forbid you actually offer to go through the recovery process with them and be their support system as God does for them what He’s doing for you! They will, quite often, hear nothing of it.

Which brings me back to those lost loves…
vlcsnap-2014-10-01-00h50m01s211Perfect people quote

Turn Around to Say Goodbye…


Have you ever loved someone who’s stuck in a rut?

From the outside looking in, you can see what’s going on.  You may have even told them as much.  You have prayed and cried and encouraged and listened…yet there they go, just like the Israelites. Only steps away from the promised land, but NO…one more trip around the same, dumb mountain.

Or maybe it’s YOU?  You can’t seem to figure out why you are repeating the same patterns.  You remove people from your life to avoid making the same mistakes.  But, you end up surrounded with different people tripping over the same old log.

I’ve been the friend of that one.  But, I’ve been that one, too…at least, until I began to recognize the origin of the problem.

It all goes back to an original set of choices.  Perhaps, stemming from a misplaced hope. Sometimes, the root is an internal promise that has been long suppressed. Anyway you slice it, it comes down to taking a look into your past and correcting your course to the future.

Now, this comes at a premium cost…It’s the cost of looking back.

I have heard too many (including myself) declare defiantly, “Why do you always have to go and bring up the past? I don’t even think about things from back then!”

The more ‘religious’ turn of phrase would be, “It’s under the Blood of Jesus.  I don’t see why we need to discuss it anymore.”

Yes, it’s a dead issue and yes, it’s under the blood…but just as if you’ve entered the Zombie Apocalypse, unless you take it’s head clean off, it will just keep getting up on it’s own, attempting to devour you whole.

No, your past mistakes don’t have to dictate your future…but they will do just that, if you do not take the desperately important step to turn around, face them, see them for what they are and CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR that brought you to that point. ONLY THEN will you be able to face your future and walk away from what was, into what should be.

It is vitally important to see your past to leave it. Not just see it…take a little time to pick it apart.  Find that root of unforgiveness.  Search out that original fracture in your heart that you constantly try to protect, by keeping your guard up, instead of exposing it to the healing light of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve spoken many times about my upbringing.  I’ve talked about how I continued to bring drama into my life time and time again, no matter where in the world I was.  It’s not about external geography.  This is about navigating the geography of your heartbreaks…Bridging the divides of your soul. That’s what helps you to get beyond your past into your promised land.

I had to go all the way back into the choices that were made for me that created a sense of abandonment in me.  They kept me from letting people leave my life on a good note.  And they kept me clinging to people that I knew would not leave me, even though the only reason they stayed was because I was a willing host to their parasitic behavior. They were destroying my soul and keeping me from real love, lasting peace and healthy relationships.

Once I confronted the heartbreak, I was able to make a stand against my own foul behavior.  I was able to repent to God for the messes I kept making again and again.  I apologized, when I was able, to those whom I could find.  And, I forgave myself for the time it took to get to this place of peace. (We are usually hardest on ourselves once we begin to see clearly.)

It was only then that I was able to lay all of it at the foot of the Cross of Christ, to be covered by the Blood of Jesus once and for all. And only then was I able to remove the predators and parasites from my life for good, to make room for people who could truly celebrate and encourage me and allow me to return the favor.

Now, I have to be completely honest.  This liberty is a mixed bag. I rejoice in my own freedom. But, when I see people I love that find themselves in the same predicament, it’s frustrating and painful.  It makes me really sad, because I know the cost they are about to pay.  And I can’t pay it for them.  I have to pray and stay out of the way.  When they’re ready, I can help.  Sometimes, I have to wait on the Lord to send someone who is not so close, to provide a different sense of perspective for them.  But once they’ve taken the time to say those last goodbyes, I’ll still be there when they’re finally ready to face their future and move forward.  That’s all a real friend can do.

goodbye

That’s The Thing About A Slingshot…


Tested. Tried. Picked, poked and prodded. Run through the ringer. Rode hard and put up wet.

Yep…that’d be me, right about now.

I have been struggling and striving for good things to come my way, my whole life.  I have never actually had my life so much as appear to have ‘fallen into place’ until recently.  It has felt like my life was FINALLY going in the right direction. Until the beginning of this year.

I have been marveling, in great gratitude, at the strides that have been made in my life the last two years.  While it has not been a particularly smooth dance, each step appeared to have purpose  Even the backward steps helped me to regroup and move forward.  Sometimes it feels like a slide or line dance, that kept me moving in circles until the music stops. Sometimes it’s more like a tango with a lot of back and forth, with broad, sweeping motions, full of twists and turns, with sharp dips, sudden changes and  a heart-pounding conclusion. Either way, I’m feeling pretty exhausted and wrung out.

This year has confirmed my faith and relationship with God in the worst way.  I have never felt more sure of God’s love for me and His plan working out for my best interest.  I have never been more secured in my devotion to my church family. I have never been more affirmed in my decisions to love unconditionally, forgive quickly, celebrate goodness and rejoice in ALL THINGS.

This confirmation has not come without great pain and great surrender. I have had to acknowledge how very NOT in control I am.  I can only make MY choices. I am not responsible for the choices of others.  And to be in this world, making connections for the sake of furthering the Kingdom of God, I have to accept that free will is EVERYONE’s gift from God, not just mine. To work together means we have a common goal, but we each have to do our part as we are individually lead of the Lord.

I say it all the time, “My name is NOT Holy Ghost, Junior.  Fixing you is not my job.” My ability to ‘shape’ a situation in my favor does not exist.  The heart of the king is still in the hands of the Lord. He will turn it however He pleases that He may be glorified. And, if I am going to truly be a vessel for His glory, I have to be okay with that.

And so, my job in all of this is to maintain consistency in who I know I am and what I say I believe. That consistency has to reflect in, not just my decisions, but in how I respond to the decisions of others.  How, even in my dissidence, I must maintain the grace, class and dignity befitting my royal bloodline.

Having said all of that, this year has felt like a major regression.  My feet have not slipped.  I have not deviated from the plan. I have certainly not changed my mind and my heart is still in it. But, I appear to be in a state of excessive tension, backward and sometimes circular motion that is beyond my control.

That’s the thing about a slingshot…

You remember slingshots, don’t you?  Whatever variation you have seen, held, or heard about, there are some common points of reference.

There are the kind that are made with rubber bands.  You take something and cradle it in the elastic, hold it tightly, pull it back as far as the band will stretch, to release it in a particular direction.

There are the kind made out of fabric.  You take something and cradle it securely in the fabric, swing the fabric around rapidly to be released in a particular direction.

I’m sure there are other ways to create a slingshot.  But the experience is pretty much the same.  There is force and tension applied, keeping an item in motion and in a particular state of distress and stasis, so that when it is finally directed and released the constant velocity of the item will project it a great distance to a specific goal.

In a nutshell? While it feels like stagnation; while the regression and running in circles is frustrating, aggravating and even depressing; while I may feel dizzy and nauseous and achy and strange; the accelerated progress I am about to experience at the point of my ‘release’ will be worth it all.  I will see the promises of God come to pass…SPEEDILY…if I don’t give up, turn coward and quit.

Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

I hear the sage advice of my darling buddy, Dave Brooks: Staywiddit.

The Just Thing To Do…


It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times. This last year (and then some) has been a DOOZY.

There have been a great many contributing factors: great love, great forward motion, great heartache, great frustration, great resistance. I have never been so close to the promises of what God has for me and still feel quite so far away.

AND YET…

To say that I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread is beyond an understatement! God’s faithfulness in this last season has been phenomenal!

One of the greatest challenges in this season has been trying to explain the “logic,” of what I am doing and debates on whether or not my decisions are based in “reality.” When the truth of the matter is, the logic of what I’m doing is not founded in reality.  My decisions, my responses, my intrinsic intuition has been trained to function by FAITH.

When I show kindness to someone who, by any account, has treated me unfairly, that is neither a natural, logical or emotional response.  My emotional response would be to pout or be angry. My logical response would be to reject them and no longer associate with them. My natural response may be to retaliate. But, by FAITH I know to bless those that curse me, ACTIVELY love those that hate me and pray for those who despitefully use me.

When I have almost nothing, when I’m down to my last few bucks and all my bills have come due,  I still find it necessary to put $10.00 in somebody else’s pocket.  Now, where’s the logic in that?  Emotionally, I may feel pity for their situation, but my fear for what lies ahead for my own dilemma may keep my hands in my own pockets. I might naturally conclude that $10.00 isn’t really going to help them very much and it surely isn’t going to help me to give it away.  But, by FAITH, I realize that, by being helpful to someone else in the struggle, I am lending to a God who consistently repays.  And, while that may not be a lot of money, it might just be the ray of hope they needed to hold on a little longer, until things got better.

There are a lot of things about my life that would have given someone else an excuse to give up. So many things that would imply that the whole deck was stacked against me and that I should just get out of the game.  I can’t even deny that there were times when it felt like the easiest thing would have been to take my own life. Even with my extremely high threshold for pain, I have hurt so bad that all I could think about was a way to escape and never feel that pain again.

So, what am I doing HERE? A long time ago, I read the book of Hebrews for the first time.  I found it FASCINATING and challenging.  It talked about how we received the gift of salvation the same way we will receive every good and perfect gift from God: BY FAITH. Then, it went on to remind me that everyone I’ve ever read about in the Bible has been to the same point of exhaustion I was experiencing. Despair and exhaustion are part and parcel to the real faith walkers.  But the promises of God give us hope.  His track record of faithfulness gives us peace. The victories of those who have walked this walk before us, give us courage. The joy of being able to count ourselves among those faithful gives us strength. But it’s God’s love within us that compels us to get up every time we stumble and keep walking BY FAITH.

Habakkuk 2:4 and Hebrews 10:38 both say that, “The just shall live by faith.”  According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the origin of the word JUST is based on a word that means right or law.

It is right that, whatever you did to get a thing is what you should continue to do to keep it. So, if it was by faith that you accepted the opportunity to be in relationship with God, doesn’t it make it RIGHT that your relationship be based on that same faith? And, doesn’t it make sense that all the the promises that God made to you and for you as a benefit of that relationship, would be based upon that faith? That also means that deviating from that faith would cause you to forfeit some,if not all, of those benefits.

For all of the negative things that have happened to me and all of the hardships I’ve faced, I thank God that I have kept the FAITH.  And because of that, I’ve continued to see those promises come to pass.
It doesn’t matter what it looks like.  It doesn’t matter if your faith walk doesn’t appear to make sense to people. It doesn’t matter if the crowd is moving at a breakneck pace in one direction and you are either going in the same direction at a different pace, going in the opposite direction or standing still. If you are trusting the instruction manual for your life, being lead by the Holy Spirit and walking by FAITH, you are going to see the promise of God come to pass in your life.

10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be


Kaleidoscope Perspectives:

I was going to write an, “End of the Year,” blog…I still might. BUT. I think this dude said it way better than I could have. It’s time to move forward…it’s time to move up…it’s time to move on.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Alex DramAlex Dram

1. You ascribe intent.

Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally. They don’t ascribe intent to the unintentional actions of others.

2. You’re the star of your own movie.

It is little wonder that you believe the world revolves around you. After all, you have been at the very center of every experience you have ever had.

You are the star of your own movie. You wrote the script. You know how you want it to unfold. You even know how you want it to end.

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Scars and Souvenirs


“Here’s to the twilight
here’s to the memories
these are my souvenirs
my mental pictures of everything
Here’s to the late nights
here’s to the firelight
these are my souvenirs
my souvenirs.

“I close my eyes and go back in time
I can see you’re smiling, you’re so alive
we were so young, we had no fear
we were so young, we had no idea
that life was just happening
life was just happening…

“We were so young, we had no fear
We were so young, we had no idea
That nothing lasts forever
That nothing lasts forever

“Nothing lasts, nothing lasts
You and me together
Were always now or never…”     ~  Jon Foreman, Switchfoot, “Souvenirs”

I cannot count the times I’ve heard it asked, “If you could go back in time to your best day as a child/teenager/young adult, would you?”

I have heard people say on many occasions that they would love to relive being eight, or twelve, or seventeen. They recount these lovely stories or tragic tales of a lost loved one that they wish they’d had more time with, or recount the perfect day.

“If only I could have that day/moment/season/year back.”

I think to myself, is there any measure of time I genuinely wish I could retrieve? And the answer is, inevitably, a resounding no.

My childhood essentially sucked. For every one of the wonderful, awe-inspiring and magical moments that were sprinkled throughout my youth (and I must add…there were MANY), there were whole landscapes of crud and mold and yuck that consumed my everyday, inhabited with slimy, creeping, crawling critters of the two-legged variety, far more often than the four, six, or eight-legged ones.

The memories of positive and negative experiences share the same space in my mind.  They are all very valuable to me…now.  It’s kind of like comparing scars and souvenirs.

By virtue of the length of their definitions, scars seem to carry a more significant weight, but souvenirs imply a greater sense of value. A souvenir is something that serves as a reminder; a thing that would cause to one to recall or bring to mind, usually referring to something good or worthy of recollection. While scars do the same thing – serve as a reminder – they evoke a more negative response. Scars tend to be the things we would rather forget.

A scar is indicative of something lost, removed, worn or injured.  It implies violence, aggression and, often times, some form of violation against that which has been scarred. Scars serve as a reminder of pain…until they don’t.

“Nothing lasts forever…” Even the worst days of your life eventually end.

Too often, we spend too much time with the scars.  We pick at them prematurely and cause them to aggravate us. We do that…to ourselves. We expose ourselves to the people and things that inflicted the injury before there has been ample time for healing. We let people and things that have no business interacting with those wounded places poke, prod and pick at the wounds that have not completely scarred over, creating unnecessary irritation and infection, adding time and additional pain and suffering to the recovery process.

But, when the wounds heal and the scars don’t hurt anymore…

It means that the injury has has time to be infused with strength…more strength than it had to begin with. It means that the sensitivity has lessened, so much so that we no longer feel the need to be overly protective of exposing the once-injured place. It means that we have learned how to be proactively preventative to avoid experiencing another injury like that one.  We can now, not only relate to others with similar injuries, we can help others avoid being injured in a similar way.

…Not only are we better for that injury, others around us now benefit from the experience of it.

I think about Joseph.  His childhood dreams nearly cost him his life, several times.  For a season, they cost him his freedom. He found himself in one precarious situation after another. But, when you look at it from the end of the adventure of his life, had he not paid the cost, he may have never seen his dreams fulfilled. “We were so young…we had no idea that life was just happening…”

Joseph told his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant to do good.  God’s good prevailed, not in spite of the evil, but because of it.

In the end, even the experiences that nearly killed us; the ones we thought we would never get through; the pain we thought we could never endure became something for which we could be grateful.  And in that, our scars became souvenirs.

“Can you hear me?
Can you hear me?
…I wouldn’t trade it for anything…my souvenirs.”

Openness in Communication


Kaleidoscope Perspectives:

THIS is why it is so important to have a Kaleidoscope Perspective! The closer we get to the coming of Christ, the more we are becoming ONE. The more we become ONE, the more prepared we are for His coming. We are of many, ONE.

Originally posted on PerSpectives 12 Ministries:

Holding a perspective of openness positively affects cross-cultural communication in ministry because it creates an opportunity for Christian hospitality in a diverse environment. Simply stated, biblical openness reflects characteristics of accepting (e.g., Matt 20:16; John 4; Luke 5; Rom 15:7), not passing judgment (e.g., Matt 7:1-29) and understanding (e.g., Prov 2:2-5; 18:2; Col 4:6; 1 John 2:9-11) people from various cultures.

Jan Paron/August 26, 2013

Openness supports hospitality. When believers communicate with an open demeanor–accepting, not judging, and understanding–they impart an invitational tone to a conversation. Consequently, communication welcomes nonbelievers with Jesus’ light, as well as bids their Christian brethren to reconcile in unity. Jesus modeled openness that often broke cultural boundaries. His exchange with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well exemplified cultural border crossing. When Jesus spoke to her, He ignored centuries-old animosity between Jews and Samaritans due to strong racial and religious tensions. As a result of His encounter with the woman, she went into the city and told other Samaritans of the Christ (John 4:28). Jesus then stayed in their village for two days, exposing…

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A Clean Heart is Better…


Grace is a marvelous concept!

To be given an immeasurable number of chances to get ‘it’ right.  Simply by virtue of being able to rise in the wake of a new day, to be given another SET of opportunities to get start over…again!! What a gift!

Often, we take that gift for granted.  We squander our days like a child wastes quarters on the bubble gum machine at the laundromat. As if it were simply something to do. Oh, the arrogance of man! Being given one, taking with it the expectation of another.

To those of us who have been naturally considered to be expendable or a waste of space because what appears to be our lack of potential, this ought not be so.

So much about my life is a complicated mess.  I am not the best put-together person you would ever meet – on any level – not by a long shot.  I am clumsy and uncoordinated, almost completely lacking in sophistication. I would rather walk in a room barefoot than in any pair of shoes, designer or otherwise.  I laugh too loud, cry too hard, and fall UP the stairs.  And, I’ve never been accused of keeping a perfect house.

To the untrained eye, I appear to be an unholy mess.  I, most of all, would be loathe to disagree.

(Maybe it’s my hormones – which run in the extremes – but, even as I write this, I struggle to keep my tears at bay.)

But, I love my life! I love the God Who gave me this complicated, nearly disastrous life.  I love His word and I love His people…not perfectly, but completely.

My life may be a mess, but my hands and my heart are clean. To keep them that way,  I strive to stay in God’s presence, just as He intended for all us to be from the first, in the Garden.  I live before Him continually, naked and unashamed. I expose my life, my heart, my soul to God in the hopes that He never has to come looking for me like He went looking for Adam.

At times, I just sit quietly at His feet and listen.  I wait to hear His heart, for Him to tell me what’s on His mind. It keeps my life in perspective and reminds me that His plans for me are extraordinary! It also helps me to stay in love with myself and others, because I can feel and hear how much He loves us all.

I love the scriptures that talk about God taking the foolish things to confound the wise, or how little becomes much when God is in it.  They give me hope and keep me grateful, even when I feel like I will never get ‘it’ together.

If you can use anything, Lord, you can use me…

My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by people who were determined to keep up appearances.  If it isn’t right and can’t be right, we can make it look right, so no one will ever know.  Bright smiles for the camera!  We can put together an outfit that looks designer; no one needs to know that we’re not well off.  What happens here, stays in here! And, whatever you do, DON’T TELL!!!

My entire existence flew in the face of the appearances everyone fought to keep up. And for that, I was condemned.

There are times, even to this day, that I am judged by those who claim to know me best from “way back when.” They have this semblance of having ‘it’ together: love, respect, connections – the appearance of affluence at a premium price, paid by someone else.  A price I chose not to pay for all the things I’ve learned to live without.

But they think I am the one who is lost and without hope. They question my relationship with God. But, the meaning in the dawning of each new day goes virtually unnoticed, except to mark the passing of another thing off their agenda. All that’s left for each of us is to pity and pray for one another, that God would have mercy.

As another day comes to a close, knowing another day is not necessarily a guarantee, I take another moment to assess my situation.

My bills?  Whatever’s left after tithes, they can have.  My laundry? Maybe it’s washed. Maybe it’s folded.  Maybe not. Perhaps I have my shirt hanging in the closet.  But, maybe it’s on the floor by the bed.

The mistakes of the day are placed, next to the triumphs of the day, brought humbly and gratefully to the foot of the Cross for the Lord who has asked that of me.

Of all the things that I could have
Or wish to keep together,
Rather than a tidy life,
I think, a clean heart is better.

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Love Like a Gentle Rain


True love…real love is an amazing thing.

Many people are familiar with the passage of scripture that explains and defines what real love is and is not.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Some might believe that this kind of love is rare or hard to maintain. I think that’s only true if you are trying to fake it. PRETENDING to show real love is VERY hard work. It goes against any logical response to the behavior (or misbehavior) of others. It’s kind of like being under a magnifying glass in the direct light of the sun.  The heat of the moment will cause the facade of love to either melt away or catch fire, consume and destroy you. Either way the truth will come out that what was being shown wasn’t really love.

Real love has almost nothing to do with the people around you.  It is a direct response to receiving God on a most deeply personal level. When you come to a place of intimately knowing God (not completely knowing, but intimately…there is a difference), and you recognize how truly He loves you, He somehow alters your DNA and you BECOME love as He IS love.  It is at that point that loving others is no longer predicated on the ability of others to do or be anything FOR you.  It becomes an organic extension of your nature to love, because God is in you.

I have had the tremendous fortune to see both sides of love. I have lived long enough to have people in my life that tried to love me (but did not truly know how) and people who genuinely did (and do) love me. I acknowledge that I have learned the difference in when I was merely trying to love as opposed to when I was actually loving. The effects of both have been astounding in their contrast. Using my own personal experience as a test pattern, I can say I have learned quite a bit.

The differences between attempts at love and actual loving are the difference between a pressure hose and a gentle rain. Both will get you clean, but the effects of the processes are painfully apparent. The power is in the force behind them.  One is harsh, aggressive, even abrasive. The other goes virtually unnoticed until the change is evident. Both have the power to turn a mountain into a mudslide and break rock. In the instance of the power hose, everything happens so fast that it becomes destructive. The rocks are jagged and sharp, and you can see the shape of all that was lost under the covering of mud. There is a genuine need for a time of recovery in the wake of its destructive power. With the gentle rain, the flow of things is so easy and natural, the end result appears as if it had always been that way. You don’t know which rocks were actually broken from other rocks or what was under the mudslide in the first place. This natural process enables the environment upon which the rain fell to move forward as to never miss a beat.

I am discovering this more and more in the company of this wonderful man that loves me.  Nothing about the pace of our relationship is pushed or forced…anymore, at least.  I had come from the school of, “If you know what needs to be done, just go ahead and do it…NOW.”  I was (and, at times, still am), very pushy and demanding about things I believed should have been done yesterday. His approach is, “If it’s supposed to be this way, it will happen.  Relax.  Let it happen. Stop trying to MAKE it happen.” These are the things about him that bring me to a deeper love in him and for him than I ever imagined possible.  I am overwhelmed by the gentle outpouring of his love and care on a constant basis. He daily typifies God’s love for me.

God’s love is constraining without constricting, like in 2 Corinthians 5:14; it is pure and peaceable and easily entreated like in James 3:17; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, like in 1 Corinthians 13:7.

I am learning to reflect that love to others as it is being shown to me. With God’s help, I will.

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