Category: Uncategorized

As it is in Heaven

There is a peculiar sense of loss felt when we witness unspeakable tragedy such as the mass shooting that devastated Las Vegas and our nation this week. Raw and varied emotions flow out of our consciousness.  Anger, confusion, sadness and fear flood to the surface…

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….

Beauty from Ashes

Isaiah 61:3 ESV-

……to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.[c]

Beauty from Ashes

 

I went to a retreat with the women from my church last weekend.  That was a pretty huge step for me because I’m not exactly famous for trusting women, or for being hidden away on a mountain with 30 or so women, and especially  if those are “church women.”  I got the opportunity to confess that little secret at the retreat and we ended up not only laughing about it, but bonding over a deeper discussion on the subject.  It turns out I wasn’t the only one there facing that same giant.

Theory of being chronically unique shattered…

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I came to understand that having the common bond of being in Christ changes a lot of things, and changes the lies we tend to believe about ourselves.  For example, standing in the kitchen in my PJs and tattoos, I asked one lady, “If it weren’t for Christ, would you even want to hang out with me?” She laughed and said, “If it weren’t for Christ, why would you want to hang out with ME?!”  That was when I realized we all have these fears. She was asking the same question I was:  Am  I enough?

The funniest thing that happened was that I learned that I actually am not enough.  Yep, you read that right.  I’m not enough.  I’m not enough to fix my life by myself.  You can’t fix God-sized problems with human-sized strength.  I know Christ is enough though.  Christ is enough to make my mess something beautiful.  Christ is enough to turn the pain of my life into a light that encourages others to come  out of the darkness with their junk.  There’s nothing that defeats the enemy more than a shared secret.  There’s nothing that glorifies God more than a testimony of all the wrongs in your life laid at the feet of Jesus.

I walked away from that gathering on a beautiful mountain in Gatlinburg more in awe of the women than of the scenery.  I walked out of that cabin knowing not only that they knew my name, but that I had nothing to fear of them and that neither did I have to fear telling my story.  I am giving my testimony at a banquet in a couple of weeks and I know that afterwards, I will tell you about it here.  I am no longer a slave to fear and I will wear that headdress of beauty over the ashes of my life any day.

This is my story. This is my song…. you know the rest.

Peace y’all…

 

Breaking Free of the Cult of Me

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It’s been a long time since I posted anything to this blog.  Nothing since Mothers Day to be exact and here it is nearing November.  I’ve been trying to write this post for months though.  I’ve changed the title three times; changed the subject matter each time; decided to just start writing anything I was thinking, hoping that maybe it would become a post, so I started 7 other drafts.  I just couldn’t make anything make sense…

So I finally did… I think.  At least I hope it makes sense to you.

After more than 45 years on this planet, I recently admitted (read: accepted responsibility for the fact) that I had honestly and completely given up hope on true love, a peaceful life, and especially God.  Sometime last year, it was revealed to me that I had already found the acceptance I had been searching for in a cult.  The cult of me.  It’s a long story that would take years to explain, but here’s the bulk of it, as evidenced in the life I’ve been living for the last 35 or so years:

The cult of me made it ok to use every excuse possible for remaining a victim of the bad stuff that had happened in my life.  The cult of me blamed everyone else for all of that bad stuff instead of taking responsibility for any of my part in it. The cult of me made it ok if I lied, pretended, judged, dodged, scammed, stayed drunk or played until I was completely alone and at the end of my rope.  In the cult of me, I had forced everyone out of my life except the ones that needed to stay as witnesses to the misery I was in just to make themselves feel better about their own lives.  The cult of me was only about me, only for me, and only existed to satisfy the void that was within me.

Then one day when I was in a really vile and ugly place and so completely sick of the mess I had made of my life, God showed up and I didn’t even notice Him.  That day, someone came alongside me and asked if I was ok.  And she meant it.  I told her I was fine and walked away.

Eventually, after I had watched her life unfold over 5 years of working together and spending more time together than we spent with our families, with kindness and patience she invited me to come and see where she “gets it.”  The night I decided to take the chance and accept her invitation, I showed up, and so did God. This time, from somewhere within my spirit, I heard Him call my name.  I was gently confronted with a truth I had never heard:  I’m worth Jesus.

I was given a choice one day to believe it- all of it or none of it.  I had been hurt so badly by church, but this was God.  This wasn’t the rules or the law or that awful and boring mold I was supposed to try to fit into.  This was the God of the universe inviting me to trust Him!  I was afraid, but I chose to believe.  And I chose to believe all of it.  All I did was make a choice and wow, has He done some crazy amazing things since.  I am simply in awe.

I was baptized yesterday- October 18th, 2015- and in such a way that it will be publicly posted for anyone in the world to see.  I made a public decision to let the world know I have truly and completely accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and that I will live for Him for the rest of my life.  I know that I am a different person today- that I’m not who I was before.  I’m not defending myself because I just don’t need to anymore. The difference in me now is that before, I knew OF God, but I didn’t KNOW God.  Today I know that He is my Helper and my Defender.  Today I know what forgiveness feels like.  Knowing what it feels like to receive it has been preparing my heart to give it to others.  It’s coming in His time.

The difference in anything you may have thought about me before now is that, before, I didn’t know HOW to know God.  I thought I had to work my way into His grace but since I had broken every commandment, I couldn’t get past the wrath thing.  Today I understand that to know Him, I only need to spend time with Him.  In His word, in prayer, in praise, in community with other believers.  I really didn’t get it before that He had already done all that it took for me to be accepted by Him, that I just needed to accept Him!  I didn’t know before that the Cross was enough.

So, if you’ve wondered why I left your life, it’s not you- it really is me.  It’s because He’s tugged me away to something else.  If I hurt your feelings by not returning your texts or calls, it’s because He knows my heart isn’t there anymore and He has other plans for me.  If you think all of a sudden I think I know everything, I don’t.  I know it took 46 years to get into the patterns and habits I was living out through the cult of me, but He is undoing that in me.  I’m no longer afraid.  And I’m not turning back.  I’ve broken free from the cult of me.  And I thank God for His help doing it!

I’ll be changing this blog a lot in the next few weeks to reflect the changes in me and my way of thinking.  I started this thing as a way to find myself.  At the end of the sidewalk where I was out of plans… that’s where God met me.  I’m going to take this where He leads me now.  Come along if you wish.

Peace and Love,

judi

Let it go…

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I’ve been sitting here for nearly four hours drinking coffee, reading, playing with the insane Sgt. Pepper, who by the way had me scared he was gone forever yesterday-but that’s a post for another day, and just listening. Listening to the traffic growing and to the trees and their inhabitants. Earlier, I could hear people talking at Weigels across the highway. That early morning quiet of a Saturday. I never do this because I’m always in a hurry with nowhere to go…

With the increased noise of people getting their day going,  I began thinking about my choices of late. I’ve got years of experience in making poor choices and all the wounds, real or imaginary, that go with them. Some barely ever come to mind but some I still look in the eye on a daily basis.

While I’m the only one who knows about many of my wounds, generally those based on what I thought someone thought of me (pretty conceited, right?), some of my choices have hurt others.  These are the hardest to bare.
So I was thinking about a choice I made this week that put two of the most charished people in my life in an angry and uncomfortable mess. My mouth. Or rather, my head and then my mouth not giving a crap what my heart was saying about information it was receiving. I completely blocked out the memories of the same thing I did the summer before my son’s senior year in high school. The summer I mentioned in my last post… the summer I lost my mind a little.

You see, I’m a control freak. Yep, there it is. That summer of 2012, I not only opened my big mouth and told a group of people exactly what my aching heart (Read: my ‘lashing out at anyone and everyone so someone, anyone will feel this with me’ heart) was feeling because I was losing my son so, by God, we were gonna do it my way, but I also put it in writing. Writing that was shared with some of the people I saw as the problem. That’s when I really lost my son. He knew standing up to me was a risk he’d rather not take, so he just cut me off instead. He played my game but he didn’t stick around for the snacks and ‘atta boys after.

Compounding that pain was my fear of asking to be a part of his world because I didn’t know how to make it right. I missed senior pictures and a class ring because I was drinking it away. I paid him off through his birthday and Christmas.  That’s also the year he told me he was an atheist. So we didn’t celebrate Christmas. Then he cut me out of the hardest thing he’s ever had to face in his life- the loss of Claire to cancer. And not only was I not there for him, but  nobody was there for me and I wasn’t there for my friends when they lost their daughter. Crazy cycles of shame upon shame upon anger upon rage upon deep regrets upon….all of that.  You know what I mean? Fear literally paralyzed me for two and a half years. I nearly felt like I had no soul left.

So back to the choices I’ve made. That summer and this week I made the choice to play Captain Obvious with information that wasn’t mine to share. And now my friends are mad. Mad at me for outing a truth that wasn’t mine to point out. Mad at each other for knowing about the situation but refusing to talk about it and now a technical outsider knows. Just mad… I think. Yes, I started out the day worried about how they feel about me.

The only difference is that this time, very quickly after I realized my mistake, I let God in on it. Now, I’m not someone who can pray those elaborate flowery prayers of thee’s and thou’s. I’m more of a “Holy crap, Lord, did You know I was like that?!” kind of prayer. God knows it’s taken 45 years for me to become me and He knows I’m getting better but He also welcomes me to come as I am. I refuse to think He’s a God who would refuse to listen to one of whom He calls His. Regardless, I’m praying. That’s growth by itself.

Next, I opened my devotional to see what promise I can carry into my day and, no joke, the first sentance literally says, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I cracked up. I literally looked up and said out loud, “Really?! I didn’t sleep for two days because I’m stressing over my big mouth and Jesus Calling says don’t beat myself up?!” (Remember, I’m still sitting on the deck when I do this. Sarge looked at me like, “Really?” too.)

But see how He talks to us? In His perfect timing every single time! I still feel like making my mistake known by apologizing and I will do that today, so I didn’t take that as a Trophies for Everyone way of saying I’m off the hook. No way. That’s just not Biblical. But in His presence I know I’m human living a human experience and my goal is always to learn from my mistakes and to grow and to listen for His voice and lock it into my heart. I’m choosing more and more to lock the good stuff in my heart.

I heard on one of my favorite podcasts that God has three answers: Yes, No, and Grow. I made a mistake I will make amends for and I will work to remember we are all looking for the same thing in this world; the stuff that fills that God-shaped hole in each of us. I want to be a person that encourages people, not one that brings them down. Today I choose to accept this challenge to honor God’s response to my plea for guidance. Today I will choose to Grow.

Peace y’all.