Category: Acceptance

Connecting the Dots

John 17:20-21  English Standard Version (ESV)

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me…”

Connecting the Dots5

 

If you have ever struggled with feeling like you don’t belong, I understand.  If you’ve ever struggled with the worry that people just wouldn’t understand you, I do understand.  If you’ve ever wondered if anyone heard your cry, I’m listening.  If you’ve ever struggled with how you fit into the grand scheme of things, boy, oh boy, do I know how that feels.

I’m finally starting to see where God has been leading me my entire life.  Funny thing is that, as much as I fought it, it is right into His arms. Funnier thing is that, when I got here, there were a whole bunch of others here, too who had thought the same stuff!  We are now connected in Christ.  My dots are connected to their dots now.  And there is strength in numbers.

The scripture I started this post with is where Jesus is praying that people would come to know Him by hearing the gospel and the testimonies of the ones who were with Him.  That people would believe in Him and come to the Father through Him by being witness to the changed lives of His disciples.  His prayer was that those who came to believe because of those lives would become one with them, and one with Him, just as He is one with God.

That’s not the only time the Bible says that He prayed for us.  Luke 22:32 shows that Jesus prayed for Simon, that his faith would not fail him.  John 14:16 says He would pray for the Father to send us an advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be our helper so He could be with us forever.  Most importantly, in my opinion, when he pleads with God to “forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” in Luke 23:34. No doubt about it- Jesus is our great defender.

By praying for us, Jesus set an example of how we should lift each other up.  In this culture of “whoever looks best in their neighbor’s eyes wins,” that’s a challenge for most of us.  I take the challenge seriously now.  In fact, I published my testimony the other day and I can’t even describe the whirlwind of  response it has received.  I prayed it would open doors for people who thought they were alone.  I prayed it would give others courage to do whatever it takes to get their voices back. I prayed for grace as people came to know my secrets.

Then I realized that, wait- people would know my secrets!  But then they might come to understand that they are not alone. And maybe some of them would come to understand that they were meant to hear my story because God is calling out to them!  Yes, that He is calling their sleeping spirits awake because they need to know that He is still on the throne and that He is still in the business of setting the captives free!

I have no more secrets, at least that I am aware of today.  All of what has been done to me and all that I have done has been confessed to God and to a small handful of who I consider to be safe sisters in Christ.  As I continue to walk in His protective shadow, I am being equipped to handle any other secrets that come to the surface but I am also being prepared to address the wrongs I have committed.  I have not been blameless in this life.  But I am free.  I am happier than I’ve ever been.  I am no longer ashamed or afraid.

So I pray that you are free.  I pray that if you are not free, you would find a way to start that process.  It can be as simple as looking at a friend and saying, “Hey, do you have a minute?  I really need to get something off my chest.”  Or maybe over a cup of coffee, you can start asking God to put someone in your path that would speak to your heart.  Someone who would speak to your pain, be the first to say it so you can say, “Yeah, that happened to me, too.”  Oh, the dots that are connected when we find we aren’t alone!

•     •     •   

There is healing in Christ.  There is freedom in Christ.  There is joy here.  No lie.

Peace y’all….

Busy Work is for Bees

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

Honey Bee Cross Process

 

I’ve been too busy to write for a few days… ok, a week.  I’ll admit, it’s been busy work to keep my mind off of writing.  There’s a lot going on.  But I’ve worked it out and now I know what I want to say.  So here it is….

God’s Got This.

Profound, right?  Sounds like the same old stuff everyone else says, but I mean He really does.  I’ve taken a week to stress and then spend time with Him to make sure I had this down before I came back to tell you about it.

I love to make stuff.  I love creating tiny gifts to give my friends and I love to talk about how each day God shows me something else to be excited about.  My dream is to one day incorporate the two into one big, pay-the-bills-and-have-free-time-to-play-and-create pile at The End of the Sidewalk.  But life keeps happening and distracting me from it!

So this past weekend, I turned my phone’s ringer off, including all social media notifications, on Friday night so I could think.  I left it that way until I needed it for church and then for the GPS for a prayer dessert I was going to on Sunday. I wanted to read, pray, and listen.   I had received a text earlier in the evening from a friend about the bookmark I had recently given her, saying her daughter wondered if I made panda bookmarks.  Of course I never had but I quickly responded, “Why yes, I do!” As soon as the ringer was shut off, I started doodling.  Saturday morning I got to work and by noon, I had created a few I thought she would like- cute, huh?

MyMy's Bookmarks

Nothing fancy, but she loves them.  They’re mostly corner covers, and they’re not all pandas, but they were a hit!  There’s even one her big sister might like and her dad’s a Tennessee Vols fan so yeah, I had to make one like that, too.  Judge me. 😉

But it made me happy to know that I was able to share a little bit of the crafty side of me with a friend. And to boot, to show me how happy she was, I think she’s 7, she made one especially for ME!

imagejpeg_0 (2)

This was all in response to listening to God to just be.  Not be a bee: but Just. Be.

I have an hour drive home from work, so Friday on my way home, I was having this talk with God about why I’d been stressing all week.  About why I even got to the point of wanting to be mean so my voice would be heard. I mean, earlier in the week, I had wanted to remind people that they had made choices that effect others and that just because they feel ignored doesn’t mean they get to get out of the choices now.  I wanted to tell people they aren’t God and to be mindful of the examples they’re setting.  I wanted to tell people “Let it go!” and “I told you so!”  And every time, instead of posting or emailing or texting or confronting, God kept bringing me back to the thought of a yoke.  The yoke of trying to fix things especially.  The yoke of thinking that, after the life these people have watched me live (read: survive), they should be able to believe that I knew what’s best for them.

The thought of a yoke reminded me of a lesson from the Freedom in Christ classes I worked through last fall.  In this particular class,the facilitator taught us the Biblical meaning of the yoke by telling us a story about a young ox that was hooked up to the yoke of an old ox.  The young ox (Judi in this case) thought she was tough and strong and could work circles around the old ox (this one would be Jesus) and tried to prove it. The young ox would pull as hard as she could to get the old ox to hurry up and get the job done- probably so she could go play Candy Crush or something- but the old ox just kept up the easy but steady pace.  The young ox pulled and stressed and got so exhausted the old ox ended up just about dragging her around while He finished the work.

Thinking of that scenario made me realized that God was trying to show me that all of that stuff that’s going on isn’t my problem, it’s His.  He was trying to show me that my job is to keep the pace He has set for me and to let Him help me through it all.  I realized I was trying to play God but that’s His job.  I realized that all of the stressing and the busy work with groups and games and visits I had pulled off last week was about avoiding Him while I tried to figure out how I could work it all out myself.  He was trying to remind me of how much I need Him.  All the time.

So I closed it all down for a few days.  I shut out the noise of social media, put my face in the Bible and a couple of good books I am reading, and I made a little girl some silly bookmarks. And you know what happened?  The world kept turning.  Facebook kept Facebooking.  Twitter kept up with the tweets.  People kept peopling (yes that’s a word now). Jesus kept being Jesus.  And I survived not being in control.

I can’t fix anything but I can work to improve who I am as this new creation in Christ. I can focus on who I am called to be now that He is living in me.  I can trust that He knows what’s best, what’s going on, and how it’s all going to work out while I take care of my little piece of the earth.  I’m officially hanging up my robe and sandles folks.  I’m gonna leave the busy work to the bees and let that easy yoke guide me on this journey.  God’s got this.

Peace y’all.

 

A Countdown to Christmas- Part 2 of 2- for now or next year

So back to this.  I’ve had such a blast doing this for everyone!  It started as a silly little “maybe they’ll read” idea, but I’ve had people stop by my desk asking if I was still doing it on days when I’ve been busy and late getting it sent out!

Keep in mind, I’ve literally copied and pasted the original emails I sent to my group of friends so it’s a little weird-and technically in the past with a couple of added notes (and a picture or two)…. so just go with the flow.

 

So let’s continue where we left off, shall we?

 

Countdown- 11 Days til Christmas

Scripture to Read-

Luke 2:7  English Standard Version (ESV)

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

 

Mary had to be so strong to be so completely submitted to the plan God had for her life- to bear the seed that was told about in Isaiah 53?  Can you imagine?!  Young girl, no midwife or doctor on hand, Joseph had probably never seen a girl’s knees much less what he was about to help with!  Oh, how I strive to have that kind of trust in Him, too….

Fun Idea:

  • Build a gingerbread house.  If it falls apart, put a toy dinosaur (or a monster truck or a Barbie Corvette- whatever can do that kind of damage!) in the middle of it and call it a victory!

 

Peace y’all…

Countdown- 10 Days til Christmas

Only 10 Days to go!!!!

Scripture to Read-

Luke 2:6-7  English Standard Version (ESV)

And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

 

I know verse 7 is a repeat of yesterday, but that’s how it’s printed on the chain link- by the way, if you haven’t actually seen the links, they’re hanging on the stocking on my desk shelf.  You’re welcome to come by and read them all. (Or since you are reading a past email, here’s a picture!)
The Countdown to Christmas Chain

 

I think it’s significant that the nativity story tells of Mary, who literally was a virgin and was so young, who had left her hometown to go have a baby in the middle of what many called Nowhere, with a guy who knew the baby wasn’t his but who obeyed God and stood by her in a time when women could and should be stoned to death for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, much less giving birth to the baby!  My first delivery was so complicated, it resulted in an emergency C-section!  How scary it must have been for her!  Keeping that in mind, and keeping in mind how harshly we as humans can be quick to judge, it all reminds me of that song Mary Did You Know….

Fun Idea:

  • Do a chore without being asked and without complaint.  For example, run the dishwasher without being asked, or maybe check the laundry room to see if anything needs to be folded or put away.  Sometimes, the best gift we can give is a few minutes of our time that allows someone else to rest.  It really is the little things that make the world go ‘round.

 

Peace y’all…

Countdown- 9 Days til Christmas

I hope your shopping is done- or at least very nearly done!

Scripture to Read-

Micah 5:2  English Standard Version (ESV)

[a] But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

 

If you try to define what is good and what is right, on what do you base that definition?  What within you makes you know that something is right or wrong, good or bad? I know, that’s a tough one for me, too.

Like in this scripture from Micah, he knew that a King was coming.  A savior to make the world right with God again, once and for all.  The religious rulers of the time were sure that King would be from a family in high standing in the community and in the eyes of God.  They were only half right.  It did happen. God found a completely humble young couple that was indeed from the house of David and who were completed submitted to the will of God to bring His perfect sacrifice to life.  It’s good news folks.  The best I’ve ever heard.

 

Fun Idea:

  • Wrap random items around your home in Christmas wrapping paper and put them back where they were.  Fun displays that may just freak your friends out. ;0)  Examples are photos or art on the walls, lamp shades, books, vases, stuff like that.  Have fun with it and paper and tape are only a buck each at the Dollar Tree!

 

Peace y’all…

Countdown- 8 Days til Christmas

What?!  Only a week and a day left?!

Sometimes, if I’d just take the time to say, “Show me, “or “Help me,” my life would be so much less stressful.  I sure hope none of you are as stubborn as I am! Unlike building eFiles now that Vector is “technically” up and running, today’s countdown item is one that should help alleviate stress and lighten your spirits- a no pressure kind of fun thing to do!

Scripture to Read-

Luke 2:5-7  English Standard Version (ESV)

to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[a] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

 

Can you imagine how the owner of that inn felt once the story got out that it was Jesus he had turned away?!  Whoa, I bet he awful!  I hate it when I do that stuff in my own life.  I’m guilty of jumping to conclusions way before I know the whole story and I usually end up sorry for it.  I’m working more these days to see opportunities for service in my choices instead of trying to first how I stack up against a situation before I step up.  It goes back to that part of the story in Matthew 25:40 that says, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’”

 

Fun Idea:

  • Read and discuss the Nativity Story together.  Imagine the time, the literal circumstances, the ability of the people on hand to actually deliver a baby.  Think about the things- the comforts, the epidurals, the clean surroundings- we take for granted today that weren’t there for Mary and Joseph.  Wouldn’t hurt to make a list of things you’re grateful for when you’re done and stick it in someone’s stocking…

 

Peace y’all…

Countdown- Weekend Edition (#3)

Um, this means this is the last weekend before Christmas… sorry this is so late today- I’ve been busy!

Saturday- 7 days til Christmas:

Scripture to Read-

Luke 2:4  English Standard Version (ESV)

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David…

 

Scripture says in several places that the Messiah would come from the house of David

Fun Idea:

  • Bundle up and take a walk through your neighborhood (or load up the car and head out) to look at the Christmas decorations!  Shadrack’s has a Winter Wonderland at the Smokey’s baseball stadium if you’re like me and can’t get enough lights!

Sunday- 6 days til Christmas:

Scripture to Read-

Matthew 1:22-23  English Standard Version (ESV)

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

 

Are you getting it yet that the story has always had a point and that the end was always going to be that we needed that God-shaped hole within each of us filled with, well, God?  Because of His deep and genuine love for us, it’s always been about bringing us back to Him. He WANTS to be with us!

Fun Idea:

  • Stage, photograph, and post to social media a personal- that means with you in it- Christmas “card” to your friends, family, and followers… yes, and the stalkers, too.  You know they need love, too.

Countdown- 5 days til Christmas:

Scripture to Read-

Matthew 1:21  English Standard Version (ESV)

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

 

There He goes again, drawing us back to Him.  I was recently asked to define “sin.”  It literally means to miss the mark.  In God’s eyes, perfect is “the mark” but He knows who he’s dealing with…. And that is the definition of “grace.”  Lucky me!

Fun Idea:

  • Buy or make an ornament for your best friend!  From simple to complex, when someone knows you took the time to literally stop what you were doing to think about them, it makes a difference… at least that’s what I’ve been told.  ;0)  Click here for some ideas!

 

Peace y’all…

Countdown- 4 Days til Christmas

I know, I know, it’s late, but it’s been a crazy day!

 

Scripture to Read-

Matthew 1:20  English Standard Version (ESV)

20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

 

In the days of Mary and Joseph, remember I said a woman could have been stoned to death for being found pregnant without a husband.  She was innocent and Joseph knew it, but can you imagine the stares and jeers, the accusations and shame he put up with to raise a child everyone knew wasn’t his?  That’s a brave guy, even by today’s standards.

 

Fun Idea:

  • Take the bell ringers at Wal-Mart or wherever you will be finishing up your Christmas shopping some Hot Hands or homemade hand warmers.  It’s the first day of winter and it’s in the high 50’s but hey, they may need them more than you know.

 

Peace y’all….

Countdown- 3 Days til Christmas

I’m too busy to be this close to Christmas!! This was supposed to be a laid back week that I’ve used for years to catch up on cleaning up email archives and files, but Nooooooooo, there’s too much to do!  Lol, I really do love that I have a job when so many people don’t, you know?  So I will count myself as blessed.  Way more than I deserve.

 

Scripture to Read-

Luke 1:46-55  English Standard Version (ESV)

Mary’s Song of Praise:

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

 

Young Mary could have seen her situation as hopeless- having to leave her home to have this baby that wasn’t hers with a man that had never touched her but that was shamed for staying with her.  Lots to feel bad about, if it hadn’t been for her love of God.  A lot to feel helpless about, if it hadn’t been for her faith in God.  A lot to be ashamed of, but only if she hadn’t believed that she was fulfilling her part in the greatest love story ever written because she was the apple of God’s eye…. Just like you are.

Don’t believe that?  Read it for yourself:  Deuteronomy 32:10 says (regarding the way God sees you in this crazy ol’ world we live in) ““He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.”  Yep, that’s you He’s talking about, too.

Fun Idea:

  • Make it a point to smile at everyone you pass today… I hope you make eye contact when you do it, too.

 

Peace y’all…

Countdown- 2 Days til Christmas

I’m not sure who is working tomorrow, so I wanted to go ahead and share the last two days with everyone before you’re gone for the week.  I’ll be here, but then won’t be back until after the new year!

 

Scripture to Read-   

Matthew 1:18  English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

 

This is basically a pretty way of saying Mary was a virgin. She was not yet married and had never had the influence of Facebook or other social media outlets to make her question her self-esteem so she was literally pristine in the eyes of God.  This is part of the miracle and the proof of the divine intercession by God to bring us what it took to build the bridge that would bring us back to Him.  Even though I am as far as the east is from the west in comparison to Mary, He built that bridge for me, too.  To say I am thankful is an understatement by leaps and bounds.

 

Fun Idea:

 

Joy

Peace y’all…

Countdown- 1 Day til Christmas

Silent Night, Holy Night….

 

Scripture to Read-   

Luke 2:21  English Standard Version (ESV)

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

 

This verse reminds me of that whole part of the story (Jeremiah 1:5) where we’ve been on His mind for all eternity- “before I formed you in the womb…

 

Fun Idea:

  • Start a list today of all of the things you are thankful for. Add to it all day long as things come to mind.  Read it out loud to your family before bed on Christmas eve.

 

It’s really been a lot of fun to share my countdown with you all, but also to give you a small glimpse at the reason for the changes in me this year.  Yes, I’m still a goofball, yes I still get angry at the people we work with that “have been doing it this way for years” or who swear “they just keep changing things!” and I still have plenty of issues to last a lifetime, but I know I’m not who I was this time last year.  I know that choosing to accept that this precious gift of Jesus was for me, too, even before I was created and even though God knew I may never accept Him, has been the difference maker in my life.

 

This year has been one of building relationships- first with Christ, and then with you all.  I’m the first to admit that I’ll never be perfect, but I know I’m a better version of me these days.  This has been a rebuilding year, one of finally facing some giants I’ve needed to deal with- like my bitterness towards the people (and institutions) who have hurt me as well as my need to forgive others.  Yeah, I’ve been dragged through the mud, the fire, the pits of hell it seemed sometimes.  But this year I started to make choices for MY peace.  I’ve heard it said that holding on to anger (insert: bitterness, hate, fear, jealousy, etc.) is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die… I decided this year that I’m not going out like that.  This is the year I decided that the crazies aren’t gonna change so it’s time to change me.  Plus it’s made it a WHOLE lot easier to show y’all how much I know that I would be lost without this team.  Where else could I go work that would let me be me?!  Lol, you know it, too-  nowhere!

 

So, there ya go.  In this very special Christmas season, I truly hope you have peace and are surrounded by friends and family, the human kind or the furry ones, that warm your hearts and make you happy to be alive.  I wish you cookies and pudding and too much fun and oh yes, football.  Here’s to a huge Outback Bowl win for the Vols!   The “other” teams rooted for here, well, I’ll lose my Vol Card if I say it so, you just enjoy your games.  ;0)

 

 

And seriously, Peace y’all…

 

Judi

 

From Here to Eternity- and I don’t mean the movie

The majority of my daily commute is on I-140 between Maryville and Knoxville and it can be a crazy ride.  They call it Pellissippi Parkway, I assume because it runs through the heart of the Pellissippi Corridor here in beautiful East Tennessee.  I’m geographically challenged so if you want to know more beyond that, I recommend you look it up… trust me.

So I was driving down Pellissippi this morning, radio blaring, singing along loud and proud (because everyone else on Pellissippi is doing crazy stuff, might as well make my crazy stuff matter), praising God that I have a job to drive to, even if it is 33 miles from home, and thanking Him for a car that is in good enough shape to get me there and back 5 times a week for the past 5 1/2 years when this song came on the radio- give it a listen when you get a free minute or three:

 

 

I could hardly sing it through my tears, but I did.  Sometimes, His grace hits me like a punch in the throat!  Lol, I am sure that someday I will come to use a more mature language, but for this post, that’s exactly how it “hit me” today.

 

The song reminded me of a conversation we had in my church’s Square 1 class this past Sunday (it’s during our church service and it’s like church with questions- YOU get to ask them!).  One of the facilitators gave us something to consider and I’ve elaborated on it here for you to consider, too:

  • If the Bible says that before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs (Jeremiah 1:5), even before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 1:4), He knew our names, He knew our paths, and every detail of our lives, and

 

  • If the Bible also says that in Christ we have eternal life (John 3:16)- ETERNAL, meaning forever times infinity, meaning after this crazy, sloppy, selfish world passes away, we will spend eternity with Him in glory, forever free from the pain and suffering we endured in this world, then

 

  •  Can we work on wrapping our minds around the fact that we’ve literally been on His mind forever?!  He has known our stories for all of eternity and knows how this story ends so it’s safe to say He knows what He’s doing and is using our struggles simply as a way to show us how much we need Him AND to show us that we can trust Him to keep His promises!  No matter what comes our way today, we can stand on the truth that He really does have our backs!

This song brought every ounce of that into the light for me today – here’s a small but HUGE section of the lyrics-

He calls me:

  • Chosen!
  • Free!
  • Forgiven!
  • Wanted!
  • Child of The King!
  • His Forever!
  • Held in Treasure!
  • I. Am. Loved!

 

I hope as you make your way through the day that you remember the most important message in all of this:

Make no mistake, He knows YOUR name!

(And mine…)

I love that.

 

Peace, y’all.