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.

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

A Mother’s Day Note

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Have a happy one! Na, I’m just kidding.

Being a mom is weird. We spend 18 or so years raising them in the way they should go and we are tough as nails through it. Tough in that, as a mom you experience things most people would pay to avoid. You know, like the diaper that was almost but not quite in time fastened or the realization on the way up I-75 at 65 mph that giving the one in the car seat behind you a hot dog and Koolade in 90° weather wasn’t such a good idea. Heaven forbid they bleed! If that happened in my house, they’d be shaken off, spit in the cut, and shoved back on the field. Knowing what I know and having lived what I’ve lived, I think you will agree that it’s fair to say if you as a mother just knew the vocabulary, you’d pass the MCATs on the first try.

But every single time I think of my sons now, 18 years after the photo above and now that they are grown and not a major responsibility (in terms of who’s paying the bills), I am moved to tears. Does that happen to you? I hope it does. It tears me up knowing that somehow, definitely by grace, I was given the responsibility of children. I don’t mean the normal, every day care for children because those closest to me know I didn’t do it that way, but I mean real responsibility. The fears, cheers, and with the onset of the teens, jeers. You are 100% lock, stock, and barrel, soul tied to a human being. Ruined to life as you knew it. Forever changed.  That’s how I hope you feel about your kids, today and every day.

I hope you laugh, and cry, and have your breath taken away, just like I have today. Not only did both Sam and Dan send me a Mother’s Day text, they did so at an hour when I know most guys their age aren’t up yet. I thank God for the gift of thoughtful children in spite of me. I am blessed.

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.