Deuteronomy 11:18 (The Message Bible) Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder.
Disclaimer: This may be a little long, but it’s another “catch up” post and starting tomorrow, they will be shorter…. maybe….
If you’ve been friends with me or are connected to me otherwise on any social media outlet for more than a year, you may have noticed I don’t post the same junk I used to. I was looking back through some of my “Memories” the other day and discovered that it’s incredible how seeing proof of growth gives you confidence that you’re on the right path. I know I’ve changed. That should be enough, right?
But I’m no butterfly yet. This is journey, not an event, considering it took 46 years to get here, so it will be fun to see where it goes. Anywho, I was talking to a dear friend after church this past Sunday and she asked if I journaled. I told her I had this blog, but wasn’t very good at keeping up with it. She suggested I write something every day, just the little “pearls” that come up in my life, the things God is doing that show He is very much alive and working in me, because I don’t want to forget them. So part of this is that; gathering pearls. It appears that I have said some things that actually helped people when I didn’t know it so if that happens here, then I thank God!
That’s the biggest reason, you know. To thank God. I’m blogging, journaling, or whatever it’s called, so I can thank Him daily for provision, for my health, for my clearer mind these days, for friends who humor me enough to read what I have to say… Be warned though, each entry will be completely doused in typing errors! I despise wasting the time it takes to spell check and will still miss some when I do it, and besides, I can’t look at the monitor while I type- thanks to some horrible experiences in my high school typing class…. in 1986…. but I digress….
So, my goal this year is to say what I feel, in love, and when I feel it, instead of allowing anything to build up inside me. The only thing that I want to have building up inside me is the love of God and a fruitful, faithful love and trust in Jesus Christ. I have laid it all out and will continue to do so in order to continually make more room for Him.
That being said, I started reading a daily “(in) courage” calendar I bought at a Christian bookstore on Black Friday because it was cute and was only $4. I started reading it on January 1st and it occurred to me that I have a growing group of girlfriends at work that enjoyed my Countdown to Christmas posts so they might enjoy this in-courage-ment calendar with me, so voila! The blog was given meaning!
So, from here on out, through this year at least, my goal is to give you my take on the calendar, mixed in with the pearls that come up in my life and the blessings, struggles, joys, fears, tears, and chocolate that come along with them. I’m new at interpreting scripture, but that’s the beauty of the living Word- it feeds each person that reads it according to the daily needs they have. Isn’t our God so amazing like that?!
I am open to feedback, especially of the teaching kind, but won’t accept mean or judgmental “trolling.” Thought I’d share. Whatever helps us grow is considered welcome so comment away! The Bible does in fact say this in Philippians 4:8 (oh, and almost everything here is English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted) :
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
So there. I’ve started this thing. To catch you up to speed before I move on, here’s what I did:
Yesterday I gave the ladies a key chain for the Class of 2015 with Jeremiah 29:11 on them (see the first gift photo above, courtesy of Wendi, pronounced Wind- Eye, one of my favorite ladies) with a note about why 2015. I also gave them little food journals I “made” (meaning I bought them at Big Lots and wrote on them and wrote a note and stuck it inside each one of them) – to explain, we started the Hungry Games, otherwise known as The Biggest Loser, at work and it was a perfect day to start encouraging!- and I made bookmarks to keep them smiling as they marked where they are in the journals. Here’s what that looked like… and yes, that’s real glitter…
Then I wrote this in an email (slightly edited to make sense to those outside my work family):
Ok, so if you’re here and opened your presents, cool. If you’re working from home today, there is a small present on your desk. I wanted to explain them a little without giving away what they are.
The last time we started the biggest loser, I paid my $20 and proceeded to gain 30 lbs! I was down on myself and doing it for all the wrong reasons so I just quit. This time, I’m doing it so I can be healthy enough to be used. If God wants me to go somewhere and I can’t go because I can’t fit or because I can’t breathe enough to walk there, I’m not serving like I should. I want to become healthier and to learn to take better care of this temple He’s created me to be! I made the gifts so you would be encouraged to know you’re not alone and to know it’s not a race, it’s a lifestyle change.
We are worth the time and effort it takes to care for our bodies and I for one am ready to take charge and take back my temple! I bought a little calendar that, like the Christmas countdown, if you’re interested in reading it, I will send out each day with my thoughts. It’s called “(in)courage” and it was written for women to be living their lives In Courage! Here’s today’s page and I will let you all get back to work. I love y’all!
God made the world and then He came to change it. He isn’t a principal, He’s an artist. He doesn’t condemn, He creates. But sometimes we stop too soon. And when we do, things seem unjust. Perhaps they are simply unfinished. When the world tries to change you with its painful, cutting ways, instead embrace the story, receive grace, turn around, and change the world. ~ Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky
My input: Life is unfair. And the funniest part of that is that life is perfectly fair because it’s unfair for everyone! When rough patches hit us, what would happen if instead of griping or fussing (or like I used to do, cussing!) at the situation, we chose instead to look at it as part of the story God wrote so very long before He even created the world? What would happen if we literally just made the decision to accept whatever it is as a lesson He wants us to learn from? Are you willing to say, “Lord, I have no clue what You’re up to, but I’m in” and mean it? I’d just about bet that if you tried it, He’d respond to it and would blow your mind with the outcome He has in mind instead of what we think we deserve. Like I said on Facebook in my New Years’ post, I’m tired of picking out Pintos when God wants me in a Mercedes. I’ll wait on Him and believe Romans 8:28:
Romans 8:28 English Standard Version (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.
I hope you all have an amazing day!
That’s where it ended. I sent that out to my girlfriends email group at 10:30 am. Then, at about 1:20 pm, we were notified that one of our co-workers had passed away. We have (almost all) worked together for 5 or 6 years and she was here before any of us and had been fighting cancer in several forms for a few years. My coworkers know that, before I accepted Christ, I was not her friend. I was not kind to her. I took her witnessing to me as her trying to be in my business all the time. I took correction from her, when she was in a leadership role in a department where I used to be the trainer, to be sarcastic self-righteousness. I said that’s how I was to her BEFORE I accepted Christ. March 28, 2015, I did everything I could to lay that Judi down at the cross and walk away from her forever. That’s the day I accepted Christ.
Her name was Darlene and she was one of the first people on my list of those I needed to make things right with. I mean, I walked by her every day and never said a word, and that’s after I had spent two years working directly with her! When I needed info from her group in my work, I dreaded having to ask her because the guilt and shame I felt knowing she knew I was now in Christ and was still not acting like what I thought a Christian should act like to her.
I watched her with this cancer thing. Melanoma. I call it a “thing” because that’s what it became. It literally consumed her. And you know, she smiled through it. She said, “Oh, I’m fine and should be back at work in a week or two.” On one occasion when she was back at work, I knew she was sick and not feeling well, but I couldn’t stand myself anymore. I also wasn’t any good at face-to-face stuff because I cry- All. The. Time.- so I sent her an email. I won’t go into detail, but I admitted my wrongs to her, in detail, and asked for her forgiveness literally thinking she’d tell me to go straight to hell. She not only forgave me but told me she knew my heart had been torn by the world and was watching the changes in me and knew something was different about me, even if I hadn’t told her about Jesus.
Peace made. I was kinder, gentler, more patient. I worked with a group of friends one day in her yard to help prepare it for winter when she was too sick to do it herself. We didn’t talk much, but she knew that work day was my way of saying thank you. Thank you Darlene for showing me how to trust Him anyway. Thank you for showing me that, no matter what the day holds, I can smile and know Who holds the future. Thank you Darlene for never, ever one time saying I told you so or you owe me or anything else that directly reflected the kind of person I had been to you for so long. And thank you God for moving me to ask my girlfriends what if. What if we decided not to be angry at God when things don’t go our way but to thank Him for allowing us to be a part of the story. Thank God I was a part of Darlene’s story.
I started this post with a verse from the Bible about writing the Word of God on your heart. About tying it to your wrist or hanging it on your forehead, whatever it takes to remember it. That’s because life is going to happen. This fallen and often very ugly world is going to happen. It’s always changing, and it seems like most of the time, it’s changing for the worse! But the truth of God never changes. He has- past tense, done, in the word of a friend from middle school, finito- defeated the enemy and has won the war He waged against sin and death and we ARE victorious in Him. You may take it differently from day to day, but if you search your heart and listen to the voice of God as He leads you through your days, you will find His meaning. Yesterday I asked my friends to remember that He is in charge and to keep the end of the story in mind instead of the details on the pages in between. It appears I asked just in time, too. In God’s always-perfect time.
So now, today’s calendar note says this:
If we’re not moving forward, we’re stagnated. – Heather Gemmen Wilson
I have no idea who the lady that said that is, but she’s right. Water that doesn’t move gets stagnant and you know what happens to it, right? It gets all slimy and turns green and starts to stink. That’s what happens to our hearts if we don’t nourish them. I don’t have a lot of favorite stories to tell you but I know the story of what my good, good Father is doing in me is becoming one of my all-time favorites! He is moving me forward in Him. That’s my part of the story. I have no idea what the end of it looks like except that I get to be like Darlene someday, standing in His presence, glowing in pure love, and not worrying any longer about the cares of this ratty old place we call earth.
That’s why I’m here… I think. To be a source of encouragement, or inCourage-ment, to you. I want people to know that there is a better way, and believe it or not, it really is a lot easier than the way I used to live. I still babble incessantly but these days, I’m talking more and more about what He’s doing, in me, in my circle of friends, in my world and yours. His yoke really is easy- because He sets the pace. His burden is light- because He will never leave me to do it all alone. He draws me, daily, deeper still into Him. And I dive, eyes wide open, with open and trusting arms…
“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
– William Barclay