EGR: Extra Grace Required


I think I’m a pretty cool person.  I am smart and kind.  I am comical, but I’m not very funny, even though I laugh a lot with my friends. I’m actually quite literal…I don’t get sarcasm quickly, so smart remarks and deadpan jokes get lost on me. I don’t consider myself a classic beauty, but I am not an ugly woman, by any means. I am a faithful friend…loyal to a fault. It takes an awful lot for me to decide I’ve had enough of someone. I have been very busy these last few years, but when I am being a homebody, I love to cook.  I am an excellent cook; mac and cheese, roast beef and potatoes, turkey tacos, spaghetti, sour cream pound cake, pistachio delight, chocolate chip cookies…and my favorite cake to make is vanilla wafer cake.  And, I cook with love in every bite.

You might say I am the total package.

But what kind of package would I be if I weren’t at least vaguely acquainted with my flaws?

(Aha…betcha didn’t see THAT coming?)

There is tremendous liberty in knowing one’s own boundaries and limitations.  It is of utmost importance if you expect to witness your own greatest success. It is vital to know, not only what you are capable of, but what tendencies you possess that could trip you up or slow you down if you don’t keep them in check.

For example, I hate to disappoint people when I know they are counting on me.  As a consequence, I tend to try too hard.  I try to know what I’m supposed to know and probably everybody else is supposed to know.  I suppose it’s  in an effort to be indispensable.

And, I chase squirrels.

I cannot recall any conversation I’ve ever had, any assignment I’ve ever completed (any blog I’ve ever posted) that did not take longer than it should have for all the detours I’ve taken.

These are only some of my own frailties that I am aware of.  I have more that I know about. There are scads that about which I have no clue, I’m sure. But the nice thing about knowing what your flaws are is, it doesn’t bother you so much when people are bothered by you.  You can understand, even appreciate their irritation, frustration and angst that you produce.  You can even empathize with the emotion you provoke.

It makes it easier to apologize, too.  Which makes it easier for others to forgive you, even if you cannot completely provide for them a remedy.

But, the BEST THING about knowing the best and the worst things about myself is that I am comforted by the fact that I am JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

**JUST FOR CLARITY* Everyone is UNIQUE with a particular set of gifts and talents whose sole purpose is to build up the body of Christ, to glorify God. WITH THAT BEING SAID…**

I am just like everybody else in that I am blessed with assets and liabilities built into my personality.  Knowing that makes it easier when other people exhibit areas where extra grace is required.

The fact is this: Everybody has occasion to get an everybody else’s nerves.  This is the great flaw in humans being.  It is not at all that difficult for us to annoy each other.  We enjoy our individuality …sometimes too much.

That is what makes it so difficult when folks don’t do things the way they think it should be done.  somewhere in our selfish hearts, we complain and turn up our noses, thinking, “That isn’t the way I would have done it.”

SO WHAT????

And while you were pulling a ‘Frank Sinatra,’ doing it, “Your way,” you’re keeping someone else from discovering a gift that would make them a greater contribution to the common purpose of building up the Body for God’s glory.

But, you got the job done.

Okay, so…maybe NEXT time, before you decide that if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself, how about you give someone the space to find their place; to recognize an ounce of their potential and see, first hand, what a little extra grace given can do to remove a spot or wrinkle in the fabric of the Body?

Let’s never forget to give a little extra grace, to see others reach their potential.  We will never know when a little extra grace will be required for us.

It’s Only Well Water…


You’ve heard it said that you never miss your water until the well runs dry.

People say that all the time.  Usually, that phrase is associated with the loss of a good relationship.  And that is true.  Some people don’t seem to appreciate what they HAD until they see how much someone ELSE is enjoying it AFTER they’ve thrown it away.

But what about gifts and talents?  Everyone is given abilities and skills that just seem to come naturally to them.  They are given to us with specific design and purpose for God’s glory.  They also require honing through consistency, diligence and obedience to God’s instruction.

FOR WHO HATH DESPISED THE DAY OF SMALL BEGINNINGS!! (Zechariah 4:10a)

When God calls us to do a thing, sometimes He graciously gives us the big picture.  Then, He instructs us to start on a particular spot.  From that particular position, we can only see our spot…the big picture is no longer anything but a vague recollection. So we begin a good work.

Somewhere in the tedium of the honing process, many of us get distracted by the monotony of the never changing scenery. We begin to complain.  I mean, what does this have to do with accomplishing the big picture?

We work…but we become impatient.  We don’t work as well as we used to with the others on assignment in our little corner of the world. They begin to get irritated with us and we begin to  resent them for it. We get salty.  And then we fester.  And that festering becomes acidic. We begin a subconscious sabotage of the work you had once begun in earnest.  Then, one of two things happen: the others, still working in earnest, ask us to leave that work or we decide that “it’s time to move on,” without being asked.

We figure that there is better work out there…somewhere else.  There is still this sense of purpose in our hearts, but it’s been convoluted.  It’s been tainted and tampered with by our desire to do the will of God “our way.”

Some might say that looks like a prodigal child.  Perhaps…but, if it’s  prodigal behavior, then it’s a prodigal who has not yet “come to himself.”  The problem with that is the pigpen is visible, the way out is not. This is a very critical time of decision making. This is where a heart either becomes opened or hardened.

But, what happens when the heart gets hardened?  We make really faulty decisions.  That’s when we decide to walk away from ministry or try to branch out on our own, apart from the expressed will of God to accomplish that thing that we only have a faint recollection of the “Big Picture.”

That’s when we think God is taking too long and take matters into our own hands, like Sarah using her handmaid to produce a child.. Or, we think our plan is better, like Absalom trying to steal an entire kingdom one person at a time.  Or we just like doing things the way they’ve always done and the new way is just too foreign, like Moses when God told him to speak to a rock. Or, the servant with the one talent who hid it for the ‘greater good.’

Each one of those examples were disastrous. And each negative result could have been avoided.

“But it’s only well water.  Surely there is something better to work with.  Surely God has other resources for me to utilize! I’m sure He would reward me for doing it another way, as long as the job gets done.”

So, off you go to do it ‘another way.’  In the meantime, God has given someone else the assignment that you were meant to fulfill.  And they are FLOURISHING.  And you are getting DRY, searching for another source of water.

My pastor, Dan Willis, has said something very often over the almost 20 years that I’ve known him: “God will NEVER allow His Kingdom or the work of the Kingdom to suffer for your lack of obedience.  And the person He uses to fill in the void you left will take that position higher than anyone could have imagined.”

God honors diligence. God honors consistency. God honors WILLING OBEDIENCE. Don’t be discouraged because things don’t move at a pace that pleases YOU. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…”

God has a plan for your life, your gifts, your abilities, that will exceed even YOUR imagination. Stay at that well, my friend, and take pleasure in your assignment.  God may use you and that little well to water nations.

With Regard to Father’s Day


Kaleidoscope Perspectives:

UPDATE: I would like to take this opportunity to include my good friend and ex-husband Tracy Smith, Sr. in the number of those to whom honor is due with regard to Father’s Day. At the time of this original post, we were in the middle of an 18 month period where we had no contact whatsoever. My heart was still very injured and I did not have the wherewithal to speak about him objectively.

Today, we are amicably divorced and it has made room in our hearts to be more effective co-parents to our sons even as young adults. He has been more present for them (and me) than he had been in many, many years.

He has always done his best to support his sons, even when he did not understand their vision and because of his presence in their lives they understand work ethic and have a strong sense of honor for obligation. I honor you, Tracy for everything you have been to your sons and would not trade our friendship for anything. God bless you, old friend.

And, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to every dad, uncle, mentor, pastor…and even to the moms who have had to fill the void in some form or fashion.

Originally posted on Kaleidoscope Perspectives:

BUILD THE KINGDOMI have a pretty hard time with all the familial holidays. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day…take your son/daughter to work day… big brother/sister day…hug your second cousin day. When you come from a family as ambiguously bound together as mine, the true importance of celebrating family members gets contorted and totally lost.

This holds particularly true for Father’s Day as I come from a matriarchal family where men were relegated to either coming home from work and sitting in a chair to watch TV with no intelligible conversation, or drinking themselves into a giddy stupor only to wake up angry at the world, or just coming around to be entertained only to disappear when the real work of being a dad was required. Entertaining a relationship with the fathers in my life proved to be a masochistic exercise in futility.

And (I suppose) that is where my perception of…

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Meanwhile, Down In Pleasantville…


I love the Body of Christ!  I love the children of God in all of their many forms, fashions and facets!  I love the quiet worshipers and silent prayers. I love the loud, boisterous and demonstrative saints. I love the serious, thinking, diligent servants. I love the inconsistent, inattentive, forgetful children, who haven’t quite yet figured out where they fit in, so they hop from ministry to ministry.  I love the artisans: the painters and actors; the dancers and singers, whether they serve in secular venues or serve the church proper. I love how we are all so different and yet it is the same Love of God that saves us all and enables us to love each other and the dying world we were sent to serve.

Yet, there are whole groups of Christians who seem to have no identity of their own.  They are going through the motions of their faith, doing as they were instructed, not living up to the call of God on their lives and living in quiet desperation.  These are the sleepwalkers in the body.

You have some in almost every church.  They received salvation and want to do what pleases God, but they don’t really know what it is.  Oh, they know to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. They just don’t know what that looks like for their individual life. So, they walk out their faith like the next person…after all, it’s working for them.  But, what is working for one is not suitable for another, it just lulls you into a false sense of righteousness and basically sings you to sleep.

The problem with that is we will all be judged on whether or not we have fulfilled the call on our own lives as individuals.  We will not be rewarded for how well we fulfilled their assignment…God’s going to check us on what we did with what HE assigned us to do. For some of us, that will be a pretty scary prospect. What do you do, when you have lived your entire life for Jesus, but you felt personally unfulfilled and never took the opportunity to do the things that God placed on YOUR heart to do? Do you keep living life according to the status quo?  Maybe…if you want to get to heaven and, instead of hearing, “Well Done, good and faithful servant,”  you just end up hearing, “Well…?”

Some churches are comprised almost entirely of this kind of Christian. It’s pretty sad, really.  People going through the motions of ministry..sleepwalking for Jesus.  Greeting you at the door.  Reading the scripture. Singing the hymns. Raising the offering.  All, sound asleep. And when someone who is walking in the liberty of their assignment walks into a church like that, it takes a move of God AND Congress to keep you awake!

Makes me think of the movie, Pleasantville.  This modern-day brother and sister get sucked into the rerun marathon of a television show that was filmed in black and white, based in the 1950’s. They have to blend in and hide out until they can figure out how to get back home.  Problem is, the sister is a wild child and refuses to play along and she throws a monkey-wrench into the storyline by letting the boyfriend of one of the main characters take her to “make out point.”  That’s where the story goes totally lop-sided.  This wild child turns this boy out (we are allowed to draw our own conclusions about the fine details), and when she is finished, the boy is in color while the rest of the scenes and people remain in black and white.  You can see the snowball effect of that.  Now, some people go about doing things that deviate from the script and find themselves in color, too!  But for some reason, the modern-day siblings don’t come into color, until they become and behave like their authentic selves instead of following the storyline.

You can imagine the resistance that takes place in the movie from the people who want things to stay the same.  They want the world that is familiar.  They like the routine; they;re used to it. Why would anyone not want their lives to remain “pleasant’?

I am saddened by people, groups, churches, denominations that get stuck in a script.  They do what they know and what they are told, without finding out exactly who God meant for them to be. It’s a scary thing to question why we can only sing hymns. Or to feel the strong urge to waive your hands and say, “HALLELUJAH,” at the top of your lungs, knowing that if you do you will be frowned upon or asked to leave.  Or to want to express your worship by painting some abstract art, knowing that everyone around you will reject your worship, but feeling in your SOUL that God is pleading for you to show Him how much you love Him through the gifts that He’s given you.

WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS LIBERTY.  Isn’t it amazing how many people miss that scripture? Wouldn’t that be the best criteria to determine where you want to worship, when given the opportunity? Shouldn’t this be the standard to which everyone in the body of Christ strive to measure up?  Am I in a place where I am free to be the person God designed me to be?  Are there others around me who are, in the spirit of their authentic selves, encouraging me to discover who God is calling me to be?

There is a FEAR OF LIBERTY that has permeated the church.  So many people equate liberty with rebellion.  It does not necessarily follow that, if you give the people the freedom to be themselves, they will all be drawn away by lust, or become inconsistent, or leave the church high and dry so that the work of the Lord cannot move forward. ON THE CONTRARY…each person that serves the Kingdom in the spirit of liberty in Christ is more passionate about the services they perform in the church and more joyful about their relationship with God and with His people, which makes them a more convincing witness.  If the joy of the Lord is your strength, and walking in liberty brings you joy, then it stands to reason that those who walk in that liberty are stronger Christians whose light shines brighter and draws more attention from the world, “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven,” on a much greater level.

What is God calling you to do?  What demonstration of your love for Him have you suppressed for fear of another’s response? Have you been given some talent that other people say should not be expressed, because it is too secular?

What are you going to do…hide your light under a bushel so that you don’t attract any attention? Or are you going to walk in the Liberty of the Holy Spirit and express your gifts and talents like a drink offering, poured out before the Lord?

Maya Angelou recently passed away.  She was not the least bit diminished in her mental or spiritual health.  To her very last, she was tweeting and speaking to people and giving of herself.  Her son posted on her Facebook page that the family was, “…extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension.” I am convinced that this is a direct result of her living her life in living color, full of the Liberty of the Spirit of the Lord.  This woman poured everything out…she was finally light enough to ascend from her last earthly Glory into the fullness of the Glory of the Lord, to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant: Enter now into the joy of the Lord.”

Isn’t that what we all want to hear? Then I recommend you run the risk of feeling foolish and dance, sing, act, paint, speak, pray, love, dream and do ALL that God has placed in your heart to do. Be faithful over those few things…those gifts and talents He has trusted you with. Cause them to grow and multiply.

Meanwhile, down in Pleasantville…another one has come into full and living color. How about you?

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War of the Words, Pt. 2


Our actions add value to the words we speak.

God’s word carries the kind of weight that is does because God will ALWAYS produce an action that corresponds or agrees with His word. Worlds are framed by His simple declaration of, “Let there be…”

What gives weight to God’s word? His willingness to honor it above all else.

If God says a thing, it must be so.  It doesn’t matter if every circumstance surrounding the matter contradicts God’s word. Those circumstances must and will realign themselves to make full proof of the weight of God’s word.

It almost makes sense that so many people have such a hard time taking the Bible as the infallible, inspired  Word of God. They look at the Bible and thing, “This can’t possibly be true.  Nothing like THAT could ever happen in MY life!”

And then, there are people like ME.

It’s usually the ones who have nothing left to lose that take the chance to see that God’s word is REAL.  It’s the person who has looked like a fool their whole lives that is not afraid to take God at His impossible, unbelievable word.  And it’s that person that sees the victory of God’s word being manifest to its fullest potential.

The promise is this: His word will not return void.  It will always accomplish what pleases the Father. That promise has only one contingency; we must know the word and live it and speak it IN FAITH.

THE WORD OF GOD IS THE WILL OF GOD.  It is the language God speaks. In order to have God’s best possible outcome for our lives, we have to know His will, do His will and declare His will.  And it is the Father’s “good pleasure” to bring His will to pass, no matter how much circumstances contradict it.

Jesus came to do all that He did, so that we could have whatever God’s will is for us.  But even He could not have done that if someone had not been willing to do the will of God. It is because there were generations of people, determined to do the will of God, before the NAME could even be spoken in the earth, that gave the name of Jesus the power that it possesses.

I think it’s very telling when people will pray for things, “in Jesus’ name,” that just don’t line up with the will of God. A lot of those prayers include phrases like: “Give me,” or, “let me,” or, “fix this, or that, or them…” You get the point.  I am equally guilty of this quite often, myself. And we think that the prayer must come to pass because we have asked these things in “the name.”

“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” ~ James 4:3

Sound familiar?  What I have come to discover is that the one thing that trumps the Name of God is the Word of God. Any time we use the name of God in a way that does not line up with the Word of God; we have missed the will of God, making the name ineffective. In Psalm 138:2, David honors God for magnifying His word above His name.  In essence, David honors God for KEEPING HIS WORD.  That demands that you be a direct reflection of your Father by KEEPING YOUR WORD.  And that’s not talking just about telling the truth. Don’t waste time and energy saying things you don’t mean. Don’t say things just because it’s in your ‘nature’ to say it.  Check your old habits against the word of God. If it agrees with God’s word SAY IT. If it supports what God’s word says DO IT.

Nobody said it would be easy. And, for a while, it’s going to feel a little awkward. We live in a world that is totally contrary to God’s word in every imaginable aspect. That is the very reason it is such a challenge to take the Bible for absolute truth.  BUT IT CAN BE DONE.  It just takes practice…day by day, moment by moment practice.

And THAT is the thing that takes you from being waist deep in water to walking through a living aquarium on dry ground.  When you take God at his Word, and live like His word is true, and speak His word back to Him, He is OBLIGATED to bring it to pass.  It is upon His authority that His word MUST come to pass. And when we pray “the word,” in “the name” after living and speaking “the word” in “the name,” it makes us victorious in the war of our words and  that results in the life changing miracles that others can only read about.

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War of the Words, Pt. 1


I am in the most AMAZING place in my life!  I am beginning again.

I wonder what Moses must have felt.  Not after the 40 years on the backside of the desert, but after the waters parted…just as he was beginning the arduous, miraculous trek through the red sea.  No mud between his toes; with a crystal clear aquarium on either side, and a few million of his closest friends/greatest detractors walking alongside him.

He had, only a short while ago, shut the door on the life he once had. He let go of a family that provided him prominence at a price, to embrace a family that needed him (even if they did not always necessarily want him). With that family, came a heavy duty assignment: take a discontented, disorganized group of people out of their poverty mentality and their place of oppression, into a place of opulence and abundance.

Now, both places God did amazing, supernatural miracles to show that He was for them and that they were truly His people.  And both places required them to be strong in the face of their enemies.  But in the place of promise, they had become so accustomed to fighting as the underdog they could not accept that the tables had turned…or how they had turned. They were no longer slaves.  They were destined to be on the winning side. The balance of power shifted because one man heard, believed and acted on the Word of God.

Remember, no one had actually heard from God in a very long time. They remembered everything God said before He stopped talking, but His word had been distorted in their minds and mouths by the generations of slavery and the feelings of defeat that had come with them. When Moses came, with God’s word in his mouth, they could not handle it or even recognize it. It didn’t sound anything like what they were saying.

While Moses was truly an Israelite, he came with the credentials of royalty AND he was protected from their slavery mentality.  So he was the only one who understood what God was saying and had the sense to agree with it.  He also knew without that word from God, his kinsmen wouldn’t make it out of Egypt alive.

So here I am: having walked away from my immediate family and a slavery/provision at a price lifestyle. I’ve stood waist-deep in water, having just seen the red sea split in two, and am just beginning my trek on impossibly, and unbelievably dry ground.

How do I mean?  I have a beyond pleasant working relationship with my former husband. He has become the father his sons have desperately needed.  God has returned the sons to their father and the father to his sons.  And while God did not restore our marriage, he restored our life-long FRIENDSHIP for which I would not trade the world.  I am in a marvelously thriving relationship with a wonderful man that is more than making up for what I had long been sorely missing.  We are all in a place where we can continue to point our children to Christ.

I am in various stages of developing THREE careers in community service that are all dove-tailing together. And I love each one of them. I feel my sense of purpose being fulfilled in ways that absolutely defy my imagination.

There’s a lot that is happening between the walking away from and the walking into. I know I have only just seen the red sea part, and I still have LOTS of walking to do…but much like Moses (and I suspect, like many others), it all began with a Word from the Lord.  And, also much like Moses, I know how the story ends (especially if I don’t lose my cool at other people’s responses to what God is doing in and through me).

God really has a thing about words.  Not just His words but OUR words.

There is an element of His Sovereignty that has been imparted to us with our ability to choose.  It is the one component that God takes His hand completely out of.  Oh, He is with us before and after our choice is made, no matter whether the choice is good or bad. But, the choice is totally on us.

This is why we must be very deliberate about our choice of words.  God is very clear about the fact that our words are procreative. It is a part of who we are that is in the express image of God the Father. He says over and over in His Word that our words will either produce life or death. It is also our ability to display the actions that correspond to our words that hangs in the balance.  Our actions add value to the words we speak.

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It’s Kinda Like An Onion…


I have been spending a lot of time over at my sweetie’s house.  It was the home of his late parents and it’s filled with lots of mementos of their great love for one another and for their children. Anytime I come for a visit, I feel so peaceful and surrounded by love and I know it’s because of the way my darling makes me feel. But, it’s also because that was instilled in him deeply by the way his dad loved his mom.  I heard a lot about things like that, but I’ve never seen what the ripple effect of it looked like quite so intimately.
Lately, though, I’ve been getting this other ‘sensation.’ There was a deep melancholy that was beginning to become overwhelming.  I attributed it to the fact that we are coming upon the one year anniversary of his mother’s passing.  It made sense as James was recently re-showing me pictures of what she looked like in that last week of her life.  The late stage of her illness consumed her quickly and the evidence was dramatic.  I could sense his sadness coming over him.
Today, it was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, that there was something much deeper going on and I did not need to fear. But I did need to be aware and be an active participant in what He was doing in this family home.
Very often on Saturdays, James and his brother David will have breakfast with their childhood friend.  This particular Saturday, after breakfast, James took me on a little tour.  Having recently celebrated 9 years of being drug free, he felt comfortable showing me how far God had brought him. I had the opportunity to see some of the places he frequented in the days of his addiction.  It was very sobering, and I was grateful that he wanted to share this with me. At the same time, that melancholy began to get heavier and heavier.
By the time we got back to his house, I was so restless that I just walked around for about 5 minutes.  I found myself in the master bedroom and suddenly felt compelled to pray.  I went and announced my intentions, explained that he and David should pay no attention to ‘whatever’ they might hear in the other room and asked not to be disturbed.
So, I found myself face-first on the oatmeal colored shag carpet, in deep intercession.  You know the kind…wailing from my gut, praying in my Spirit Language, tears flowing, snot bubbling, shaking, sobbing, so-you-can’t-breathe prayer.  When I got a release from that is when it got REALLY interesting.
I began to pray for James’s ex-wife and their children.  Then I prayed for his grand-children.  I prayed for his brother David, whom I love dearly, and for his brother Jon, with whom he is estranged. I prayed for Jon’s wife and daughter. And then I prayed for James.
That’s when it hit me.  It wasn’t melancholy I was feeling.  It was TRAVAILING.  It was the mournful, faith-filled prayers of a mother who knew there was yet work to be done in seeing a miracle done in her family.
I have gotten to know Miss Jewell over the last few months. I have watched video footage of her singing and seen pictures of her with her family.  I have even read some of her writings from when she was taking Psychology classes when her kids were older.  I know I would have loved her.  I do love her.  She always wanted to put the best spin on things.  She was determined to out-live the negative words that may have been spoken over her by family members.  She sang like an angel. And she had a comical lighthearted out-look on life, but DID NOT TAKE FOOLISHNESS.
I’d like to think we might have been friends…she sounds a lot like ME.
Which is why it made sense that I would be so in-tuned to the prayers of this righteous woman that were lingering in the air like a heavenly aroma. Even after we are gone, our prayers continue to bombard Heaven.  God’s word, having been put in His face on behalf of our loved ones, will not return void.  That is God’s promise.  It is also our inheritance.
And I can see, by the love James has for David and the acrimony he has for Jon, that the work she had been praying for, for years, had not yet been accomplished.  Oh, James has been delivered from his past, but he has not yet seen the promised land.  His heart aches for a sense of purpose.  There is a restlessness about him that only someone who loves him deeply would notice.  Like a mother…or a sweetheart.
And so, I have accepted the mantle that has been placed within my spirit, by the prayers of Miss Jewell.  I will add my faith to hers to see that the will of the Lord is accomplished with her family, that I have now taken as my own.  Just like I have done with my late Grandmother Ellen and my late mother Joyce. I have combined my faith with theirs and layed them as prayers upon the lives of all of my family members.  It’s kinda like an onion.  There are so many prayers of faith wrapped around these people, they have NO CHOICE but to come to God.  The love of Christ will compell them.  His word has been spoken over and upon them…it SHALL come to pass.
I wonder…who’s been praying over YOU?  Can you feel those prayers wrapped around you like an invisible force field, driving your heart in the direction of the cross of Christ and protecting you from your own worst instincts?
Do you think that maybe it’s time you returned the favor and added a couple of layers of your own?
Well?  What are you still sitting there for?
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REST…on a GREATER Level


A couple of Saturdays ago, I had an extraordinary experience.  It was actually a miracle of sorts, though, to the untrained eye, it may have seemed quite insignificant.  While spending the afternoon at my guy’s house, I felt a little tired, so I laid down to take a nap…and I slept.

Now, before you look at me sideways, this was no ordinary nap.  As a matter of fact, this was particularly exceptional.  Not because of the the bed or the room.  Not for the friend who loves me so, watching TV in the other room.

It was a gift, as dear to me as any perfume or favorite book signed by the author on the first page. This felt to me like a piece of heaven as I laid my head down that day.

What is it that they say about Heaven?  It’s a place where there is no more fear; no worry; no confusion; no loss. There is no concern for the future or fret about the past. Only peace.  It is the eternal Sabbath.

I sat upright on the bed for a minute to soak in the sensation.  This was completely foreign to me.  Literally only weeks before my 45th birthday and I have never felt this sense of rest in the whole of my life!

Fascinating.

It felt good! Well…maybe not good.  It’s not as if there was a sense of exhilaration.  There was no over expression of any particular emotion.  The moment was, however, totally devoid of ANYTHING negative.

It actually made me think of a song from my childhood church;”Blessed quietness, Holy quietness.  What assurance in my soul…”

There was a Holy Quietness in my soul.  I wasn’t worried about anything, although there were several things I could have been justifiably worried about.  Even though I had so much to plan, strategize, think about and even ponder, there was nothing on my mind.

It was such a phenomenal sensation, I felt like crying…only…I didn’t really want to. So, I just put my head down and went to sleep.

I know, in times past, I referred to the scripture that talks about laboring to enter into God’s rest.  That’s a thing that requires discipline and laser like focus on the love and word of God, and a willingness to lay your cares down and leave them at the foot of the cross. This was different.

It made me think of the woman with the issue of blood.  She had every reason not to even have the wherewithal to crawl through the press.  And yet, there she was, head first into the fray, forcing her ‘heart and nerve and sinew to serve their turn long after they are gone.’

I can amagine everyone else – anyone who didn’t know the story – to say to themselves, “It’s just the hem of His coat, for goodness sake! What’s the big deal, really?”

That lady was in the press of her life to get something that the whole world around her took for granted. She had a clear shot at GREATER, and she took it. It paid off.  Not only did she get the healing she so desperately needed.  She was made WHOLE.  Her name; her household; her REPUTATION; her FINANCES were ALL RESTORED.  She got her “Blessed Quietness.”  That was the extra.

The rest that she labored to enter into was the healing.  The gift was the WHOLENESS.

Like that woman.  That gift is something I appreciate so much more because of all the years I have had to fight against my mind, will and emotions to bring them into alignment with God’s word. When you are born into an existence filled with so much strife, confusion and deception IN GOD’S NAME, it takes an act of God to make it right.

I was telling my sweetie about the subject of this post.  He smiled that cute, sheepish smile of his, shrugged his shoulders and said, “that happens to me all the time.  I just put my head down and fall to sleep like it’s no big deal.”

Like it’s no big deal.

Everybody has something they struggle with that seems to come easy to the people around them. Mine is…WAS rest.  I mean REAL REST.  To turn off your mind without the aid of sex, drugs OR rock & roll; no lullabyes; no all-cried-out-coma; no indigestion-laden, over-fed-itis state…just stop, drop and roll over.

Much like the woman with issues, I began this press so long ago, I cannot remember the beginning. But I do remember the beginning of the end…

It was the first time he wrapped his arms around me.  I felt totally protected and loved. All the fight just…got up and left.  I survived 45 years of piece-meal protection, and in that moment, I felt totally safe. That was my healing. Now, I am in the process of being made whole.

I had always know that feeling was possible. I could grasp the Biblical concept and attempt to employ it, but it took a lot of work to get to the hem of His garment. But, after that day…

Let’s just say after taking my clear shot at GREATER, I look forward to living in the fullness of it all. And I intend to hold onto it (him) for dear life.

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Me (more or less…)


Ok, so…I had notes saved to prepare my latest blog and I thought is was going to be a great subject.  But they got deleted.  Mysteriously vanished into the atmosphere. So I guess I’ll just tell you about what’s been going on.

As it turns out, I have been found by a really good man, whom I almost ignored for months. I honestly thought, “He’s a nice enough guy, but I can’t really see myself with him.”  And still, he gently pursued.  Not aggressive or pushy. With his friendly smile, cheerful disposition and very casual conversation, he was clear that he was interested in me.  I didn’t realize that I had become interested in him, too.  When I knew he was coming by my office, I found myself checking my mirror before I came out, and disappointed when I didn’t see him.

You need to know that, several years ago, I was working with a young lady at my church that had a bad break-up and in need of some friendly, objective counsel.  I told this darling girl to make a list of attributes that she wanted to see in a mate, then start working to develop those same attributes in her.  And on that day, we worked on that list together.

Since then, a wonderful guy found my sweet little Kenice that fit that list and only last year, they got married and moved out of state.  She couldn’t be happier.

It made so much sense, I made a more personal list for myself, in the hopes that God would begin to manifest those attributes in my, now, ex-husband.

Meanwhile, back in December, I had taken a liking to the pursuit of this gentleman, but was still missing the point. God used a dear friend to bring to my attention that this was actually what I had been believing Him for…a man that thought me worthy of pursuit. He asked me one very bottom line question, “What are you going to do if he passes you by?”

Then, the Holy Spirit gently pointed out to me some very interesting attributes that I had discovered during the course of my conversations with this fellow (also confirmed through my conversations with a mutual friend of ours).  God brought to mind 1 Corinthians 13 and superimposed his name in all the places where love was:

He suffers long and is kind;

He does not envy;

He does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 

He does not behave rudely, does not seek his own,

He is not provoked, thinks no evil; 

He does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

While it shook me up a little bit, my spirit bore witness. I could not disagree. Holy Spirit took it a step (or four) further. He used the voice of my own conscience. I had a conversation with myself.

Myself: Do you remember that list you made all those years ago?

Me: Yeah.  I remember.

Myself: I don’t think you do.  Let me show it to you…

In my mind, I saw that list. Then I saw my own hand with a pen proceeding to check off all these attributes, one at a time, until the list was completely marked off.

I could not argue. I could not speak.  I just sat there thinking. What will I do if he passes me by?

I made a request to the Lord.  I was specific. I was clear. I asked in thanksgiving and I sought God’s help to prepare myself to receive it.  When I saw this gift, this promise, come by again and again, for THREE WHOLE MONTHS, I barely gave it a second thought, because it didn’t look like I expected.

I repented that instant and called this wonderful man right away. These have been the most wonderful, revolutionary seven weeks of my life. And to think, I almost missed it all.

In the weeks since, I have discovered so very many things that were never on that list; that I had forgotten about myself and what I always had in my heart. I have become reacquainted with myself within this relationship. Isn’t that very much like God? I’d been a victim of identity theft for so long that I forgot the things about myself that made me the most ‘me.’ He sent someone to remind me who I am and he had to make more than one pass by me before I even recognized that the gift he was trying to give me is ME.

Look around you.  What gift is God trying to give to you that isn’t packaged quite like you expect? Who or what has God given you that feels familiar to the person you were born to be?  The end of 1 Corinthians 13 talks about knowing even as we are known.  I believe the first most important thing we come to know is who we are. We can never do what God is calling us to do until we know this important thing. Here, in the land of GREATER, the more of myself I give to God the more He gives ME back!

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Image

The Going Rate…


I flatter myself in believing that I am a brilliant mind. I know a little bit about turning a phrase or two. There’s a line in the movie, “Blazing Saddles,” where Slim Pickens was talking to Harvey Korman. Pickens told Korman, “You use your mouth prettier than a two dollar whore.”

YES, I know…rude, crude and socially unacceptable.  But it is a great line from a great movie classic. Any time I feel sheepish about being complimented on my oratory shills or my writing ability, that’s the line that comes to mind.  Partly because of how much I love that movie; partly because I appreciate a really cool, back-handed compliment.

Words have been my lifelong friends. It’s because of my affinity and adoration of them that they come to me and ingratiate themselves to me.  I love words…they love me back. And as much as I want to keep an humble perspective on the product of that relationship, I take great pride in what comes of it.

So, when someone reads my work, or listens to me speak and responds by saying something like, “Yeah…that was alright. But, maybe you could be more honest.  I don’t think you’re being REAL enough.”

I might say, “Oh, okay. Well, thanks for your input.” But what I REALLY want to say is, “Are you freaking KIDDING ME??? That was some of my BEST WORK!!! Those words and I had a delightful exchange and I was honored to share them with you.  Guess I won’t be doing THAT again!” I then have to decide what is true: the criticism or the work borne of a beloved relationship.

The relationship I have with words is an internal one.  When I share the fruit of that relationship with you, it is considered, ‘Intellectual Property.’ Very much like the conceptualization of a painting or a sculpture or a musical composition.  There ‘appears’ to be no actual value to it until it is shared and produces a favorable response. This transaction is usually concluded by someone being willing to attach a monetary value to the product.

There are other internal relationships upon which, if we are not careful, we will let external forces place a dollar value. There is a significant worth to the characteristics of our personality; the things that determine how we love. What about our adoration and affection? Think about the loyalty and empathy that forge our friendships? How about our wit and sense of humor? Consider what we determine to be honorable and ethical.

The God who made us made those things into us, just like the makers of a luxury car built in those leather bucket seats and that ferocious, high quality sound system. There are details in that vehicle that mean nothing to the common driver.  They are designed to excite the car aficionado. To God, those traits and characteristics that were built into you were meant to add to your ‘face value.’

What happens when you let someone who is not an aficionado of, “YOU” tell you what your worth is? What does it look like when you expose yourself to people who place their general expectations on you and then determine that you don’t fit the bill. Yet you insist that they are right and adjust yourself tot fit their expectations of what you are designed to be.  You have just let God’s highest desire and most priceless treasure go at the equivalent price of a bargain bin DVD.

Can you imagine what that does to the heart of God?  He – the King and Creator of all thins INTERNAL and ETERNAL; the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE inside you.  He valued you enough to desire to dwell in you, and share the space with all of your intellectual property.  And yet, there you set…determined to be undersold.

I have heard it said, and I am just now coming to understand the immense value of this statement: Go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated. The way that you are designed is meant to excite the people who truly know your worth. When you allow the gift of “you” to be reduced to the worth of something that is common and disposable, that means you have accepted that you are who THEY say you are.

This is not to imply your perfection; only to infer that you are EXACTLY who God made you and that the only one that is capable telling you what needs to be perfected or corrected is THE CREATOR.  He alone knows the purpose for your design. He alone would be the one to send people along your path to sharpen your corners or smooth out the rough spots.  And when God sends someone to do the correction, He will send some kind of cues to your inner man to confirm that the work being done is from Him. That’s just the kind of God He is.

Friends, NEVER forget who you are.  It’s not just who God is making you into; not just who you are becoming that’s important.  YOU are a priceless treasure JUST AS YOU ARE.  Refuse to be undersold by those who do not understand your worth. Don’t be caught selling yourself for the going rate.

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