Tag Archives: journaling

Give it all ya’ got!

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:42-44

I didn’t start running until I was 42 years old. Prior to that I had been a smoker “only” about 1/2 pack a day smoker, but a smoker nonetheless. I received a flyer in the mail for Team in Training that said that they could teach me to run a half or full marathon. Pfft….yea right….but my interest sure got sparked. I had played around with jogging prior to receiving this flyer, but I was out of shape and overweight and my lungs, I’m sure, were damaged, so running was hard, so I never really kept with it.

Team In Training raises funds in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The mission of LLS is: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS exists to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. To learn more visit https://www.teamintraining.org/ I am not advertising this program, its just a program I chose to train with and have made lifetime friends with and forever changed my life.

SO ANYWAY…to say I was out of shape is putting it mildly. For those of us training for the half-marathon, the first Saturday of practice was to “run” 3 miles. MY goal was to make it back to where we started. Somehow. 3 miles??? Seriously? The trainees were of all different athletic abilities. Some had been running for YEARS, some were athletic but hadn’t ran before, some were novice runners. Me, I was a beginner. The very slowest of all the athlete participants. I was the most out of shape. But mostly, I couldn’t breathe. The years of smoking had REALLY caught up with me.

I set out, and got about a half mile down the trail and “Coach Jeff” caught up with me….I say caught up, it was actually that he slowed down for me. Coach Jeff is a beast. He probably ran 2 marathons every Saturday catching up with and going back to the participants to guide them and, in my case, listen to them. He truly is an amazing athlete and coach. That first day, when Coach Jeff asked, “How are you doing?” I stopped “running” and started to cry. I just said, I can’t breathe!! Shared with him that I quit smoking recently, and I want to do this, but how am I supposed to run 13.1 miles when I can’t even BREATHE through this Saturday 3 miler?!?!”

Coach just said, to only run until I couldn’t count to three with my steps and breathing….like count 1, 2, 3 steps and if I couldn’t inhale that long, to walk. Catch my breath, and then start again. Which is really great advise, right? But then I looked at people like “Beth” who was already at the 1.5 mile turn around and not even breaking a sweat. Her arms in that tank top looked amazing, and here I was choking.

Both of these athletes gave out of their “Wealth”. It didn’t physically cost them at all to run that dreadful 3 miles that day. For me though, I brought the only two very small copper coins I had. All I was able to give that day didn’t add up to but a few cents, but I truly did give all I had to the trail.

I felt very small that day. Not because of Jeff and Beth, they are two of the most encouraging people I know, they truly did help me across the Nike Women’s Half Marathon that year. I’ll be forever grateful for their mentorship. No, I felt very small because I was always comparing myself to “real runners”, and I continued comparing my abilities for YEARS. I was afraid of running with people, because of how slow I was, so I isolated myself. My friends and family encouraged me and were respectful of my running, but I always felt like I wasn’t as good as….(fill in the blank)

Do you do that too? Do you compare your beginning to other people’s middle? Do you sometimes feel embarrassed by your entry-level abilities? If so, can I just encourage you to stop that? Please stop that. In retrospect I see that this caused me to look down on myself.

I ran several events after that season, and usually with a group of people. One season I trained with a group and had worked my way up to running 10/1s. That means I ran for 10 minutes, and walked for 1. I was pretty proud of myself. Well, in the pre-dawn hours of the Houston Half Marathon, I was lined up with a group in my pace “corral” and twisted my ankle in a small chughole in the downtown street. I tumbled, and twisted my ankle, tore my leggings and banged up my knee.

Then the gun went off. My group asked if I was ok, and I said yea, but because of a swollen ankle and skinned up knee, I fell behind. I did end up finishing the event, but WAYYYY behind my usual pace. At the end of the event, my group took pictures and celebrated, but I held back. I was ashamed of being in any of the pictures. I felt like a failure because “I wasn’t as fast as them”.

I had just finished 13.1 miles with a swollen ankle and skinned up knee with torn leggings. I felt ashamed!!

Can I just encourage you today…..STOP FEELING ASHAMED of your inabilities or noviceness (is that a word?) Here’s the plan:

Give out of your poverty, put in everything – all you have to live on

translation of Mark 12:44

Dear Lord, thank you for the experiences of my past that have helped me grow closer to You. I pray for the needs and abilities of the person reading this right now. Lord you know what it is that they need and you see them perfectly. Help both of us to see ourselves in the light in which you see us as we both grow closer to you.

Do you need prayer today?

In what way are you comparing your beginning to other people’s middle?

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What is Love?

  • Numbers 4:1-5:31
  • Mark 12:18-37
  • Psalm 48:1-14
  • Proverbs 10:26

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31

Recently, I was asked to pray with and for a friend who is going through something terrible in her family. One of her close family members had a tough decision to make. My friend did all the right things, she supported and counselled her family member. She got some professional help for the family. She set up a Facebook prayer message with her church family, and included me in that group. A few of us fasted and prayed, others prayed. Some of the women put up the praying hands, some said words of affirmations to my friend and her family. Some prayed for a specific decision. And most agreed, “Thy will be done, Father.” I don’t know who these other women are, but some of them had the most exquisite prayers. I sat in awe at their raw-ness and humility. For several days we’ve been keeping Facebook Messenger vigil over this decision.

My friend had asked some of her family to be praying too, so there was also a completely separate prayer message going on during this time. All of us praying for the “good” outcome. Its really beautiful knowing that so many people pulled together to pray for this family, I felt honored and blessed to virtually meet with these souls and pour blessings over my friend and her family.

Finally, the day arrived for the decision to get made. Unfortunately, the choice was not what we had all hoped for. Human Free Will, given by God prevailed and the outcome wasn’t what we had thought or hoped would happen.

I found myself a little jarred by this. Like being in a car accident really, driving along thinking its a beautiful sunny day, what could go wrong with all these virtual friends by my side, and then WHAM! I get sideswiped by free will decision making gone awry. My friend was devastated. This decision made will alter the path of her family forever, and my friend has no control over it. She did all she could and has to live with the choice of another forever.

What do we do with that? What do we do when bad choices get made and they fundamentally change the way things are “supposed to be”? What do we do when someone close to us abandons the faith that they have been taught and raised in? Because essentially that’s what happened, the family member made a decision to do something that seems to be the opposite of “What Jesus Would Do”? What do we do especially when these decisions are made by our adult children, and you just want to grab their shoulders and shake them saying, “What are you thinking?!?! I taught you better than this!!”

Many of the women in my virtual prayer meeting said, “You love her unconditionally like Jesus loves us.” This is so true, absolutely, we’ve all done things and made choices that Jesus Wouldn’t Do or Make. (there should be a book like that) I totally agree. But if I’m honest, and I usually am, that’s not what my instinct says. My instinct is to put up my hand and walk away, saying you made your choice, now deal with it. Talk to the hand sis.

Love the Lord your God

with all your heart and

with all your soul and

with all your mind and

with all your strength.

Mark 12:30

Sometimes, friends, we have to break down the Words of Jesus in to baby steps. This is one of those times, because I my Enneagram 4-ness has a difficult time navigating feelings and thoughts in my daily.

Love is an action word. Its just that simple. We make a decision to love every time we cook dinner after work even though we’d rather just plop down on the couch with a cup of tea. Love is getting up early on Saturday morning for little league and staying gone till after dark because your kid is pretty good this year. Love is wiping snotty noses that are gross and slimy. Love is cleaning up the vomit of a loved one whose chemotherapy treatments are tough this week. That’s LOVE, ya’ll. Its not ALWAYS that mushy gushy feeling when we first meet the person we “fell in love” with, or the look on that sweet baby’s face when they’re asleep. LOVE friends, is an action word.

In scripture the Heart is talking about the very center of a human. A person’s will, intention, character are the Heart. Some of the reference on biblehub.com state that Heart refers to “the understanding, the faculty and seat of intelligence”. This again, isn’t that sparkle in the eye heart, this Heart is where decisions get made at. My husband and I of 29 years, talk often of how we have made the DECISION to love each other for all these numbers of years. That doesn’t mean we don’t have intimate mushy gushy times, but certainly there have been days where, my Heart was the seat of intelligence to Love him and while I think I’m pretty cool, I’m sure its been the same for him.

Soul is translated to greek as Psuche. Psuche is also described as the Breath of Life. The Bible tells us that when God created man he breathed life in to him, every creature on earth that God made, He breathed life it to. This is Psuche. The place where God lives. Our Soul. THAT is where we love from…we allow God to breathe in to us so that we are able to love when bad choices and decisions get made that make it really difficult for my humanness to love with.

With all your Mind. So this is the part where I have to take off my emotional cap and put on my thinking cap. Not really a strong suit, to be honest. This work in Greek is dianioa, it means intellect, thought, understanding. When I was thinking about all this situation yesterday and was madder than a wet hen about the choice that got made I remembered Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said to people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:21-22

Well, alrighty then! I guess my Mind better take over this Love I need to put in to action, right? This is the part where I repeat over and over and over and over in my Mind that Jesus came to this earth to die for me even before I was born to save me from the stupid decisions I made too. Don’t feel, just think.

Now let’s talk about what the decision to Love DOESN’T mean. This kind of Love DOESN’T mean sticking around for abuse or condoning bad behavior. When people we love do things that we don’t understand, are hurtful to ourselves or others, when we aren’t protected, sometimes requires Strength to let go. This decision to love takes Strength during times when life just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes it means sitting in a pile of tears watching them walk away in to their destiny with nothing but the clothes on their back. Sometimes people have to experience the consequences of their poor choices so that they can hopefully turn back to God, when those consequences get tough. And they will get tough. To Love someone enough to watch them walk away takes the Strength of an army. Loving someone sometimes means letting them go, even though the very cell of our being wants to hold on to them. This kind of Strength can only come through prayer and with the help of friends and family and perhaps even a support group.

So Lord, this is a long journal entry, and I didn’t even know where to begin when I started. But as always you walked me through it and I feel stronger than before. Thank you. Lord, teach me to love like this. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Thank you that you loved me, before I was even lovable. I pray for the person reading this that you would guide them closer to you through this writing, thank you that you brought them here today.

Have you ever had to let go of someone you love because of their bad decisions?

What do you do when your prayers seem unanswered?

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Gratitude

  • Number 2:1-3:51
  • Mark 11:27-12:17
  • Psalm 47:1-9
  • Proverbs 10:24-25

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.

Psalm 47:1-2

Today’s Psalm is a song of praise to God. A Psalm of GRATITUDE. I found seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude on the https://www.psychologytoday.com blog.

  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships
  • Gratitude improves physical health
  • Gratitude improves psychological health
  • Gratitude enhances empathy & reduces aggression
  • Expressing gratitude improves sleep
  • Feeling grateful improves self-esteem
  • Having gratitude improves mental strength

And who wouldn’t want those?!?! Back in my real estate days part of my business plan was to send at least 10 Thank You Notes to my database every week. So lets do this, shall we? Lets NAME the things we are grateful for….the little things.

He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

Psalm 47:3-4

I am grateful for my little farm. These past 2 weeks 3 of the mama cows have given birth to babies. Baby cows are so cute. They play and jump around like children. They’re totally amazing because within about 5 minutes of birthing, they are up walking around and nursing. When they’re this young you can almost get close enough to touch them. In fact, my husband said that our grandson was able to pet one this past weekend. These aren’t this year’s calves….they are last year pictures. I really need to get some current photos. All the pics in today’s blog are from previous years.

God has ascended amid shouts of joy the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise

Psalm 47:5-7

The weather yesterday was beautiful! It was about 68 degrees F and sunny. I have a desk-bound project at work and it is super tedious so I was super anxious to get off work at 2:30 and go for a 3 mile run/walk! I’m grateful that at 56 years old, I can run for that length. To be honest, in January & February, I didn’t run very much, and have just restarted my running program, so I’m out of shape and so I really just did a run-walk. But 3 miles is 3 miles!

Then when I got home, I still had time to plant my onion sets in the feed trough gardens we have set up. There are 200 onions in 1 of these feed troughs that have drain holes in the bottom of them. I love reusing old items for new purposes. The pictures here aren’t this year’s garden feed troughs, but this is what they are.

God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God he is greatly exalted.

Psalm 47:8-9

There is alot of political turmoil in this world….but I promise you this, God still reigns over the nations. No matter what happens, friends, remember that God reigns over the nations. God is still seated on his holy throne. The kings of the earth….ALL OF THEM…ALL the political leaders of the earth were created by and belong to God. In the end, God has final authority over what happens. So no matter what God is greatly exalted, we need not be afraid. Some day every knee shall bend and every tongue confess that God is the Lord. #facts

My daughter called me day before yesterday and invited me to lunch! We spent an hour catching up. She is a busy mom of four and I miss spending time with her so much that it hurts sometimes. I yearn for time alone with her, that never really goes away when they grow up, ya know? Anyway, I am really grateful that she took time out to have lunch with me. Last Friday, my youngest daughter and I took off work early to go shopping to find a dress for her engagement photos. We had sushi, then went shopping. Spent way too much money, and I don’t care. It was a wonderful time, and all our funds are provided by God, and so we will always have more than enough for what we need. When I think we don’t have enough….I will be grateful for what we have. This is again a 2 year old picture. Sheesh, I need to get updated pictures!!

I’m grateful for my husband of 29 years. I would be lost without you, Jeff. You complete me. Lord, thank you especially for my sweet husband. He’s such a hard worker and supports all my crazy endeavors. God sent me Jeff so that I could become more of the woman that God intended me to be….it wasn’t always easy, but it is definitely worth it. This picture was taken on our 29th wedding anniversary in Eureka Springs, Arkansas at the Passion of Jesus Pageant they have there. I love you, Jeff.

Dear Lord, thank you for the many blessings in my life and I am so sorry for the times I complain. Thank you for this day to celebrate the life you have given me. Teach me to love you and love those around me better each day. I thank you for the person who is reading this right now. I pray that you use this blog post to remind them of their many blessings and that they would know that it is YOU who created them and YOU who love them so much that you sent your only son to live among us, be crucified and die for our sins. ALL of our sins, no matter what they are, were redeemed for on that blessed day. Then Jesus rose again and is seated at YOUR right hand, gone ahead to prepare a place for those of us who put our faith in you. I pray that the person reading this would turn their life over to you and draw close to you.

What are you grateful for today?

Is there anything that I can pray for you today?

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Be still

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

I looked out at the dark morning through the window in front of my desk, seeing only the reflection of me in my jammies and become aware of the fact that my shoulders were up around my ears. What in the world ya’ll?? Its 5:45 a.m., and I already have tension in my neck and shoulders? No wonder I have neck and shoulder pain all the time! Closing my eyes, I intentionally relaxed my shoulders and breath . I feel my whole body release.

Aaaahhhhhh, that feels better.

Ok, now you do it! Take notice of your shoulders…are they tensed up? Ok, relax them just for a second. Notice any difference? Ahhhh. Be still, and know that God is God.

I do have a tendency to carry stress and the worries of the world on my shoulders. Always a To-Do-List rattling around in my head. Forever wondering if the conversations I had yesterday were ok. Endlessly thinking about people, places and things for the future.

“Be still,” God says in my heart, “I WILL be exalted among the nations, I WILL BE exalted in the earth. And really, Theresa, there’s not much you can do to speed that up or slow that down. Its happening. Period.”

Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:22-24

Jesus had just performed a miracle by withering up a fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit and his disciples were amazed. Jesus reassures them that they can make stuff happen too….if they only believe.

And trust.

And relax their shoulders.

Jesus had also just flipped tables in the temple courts. So he had been MAD too! Who wants to be the one to make God mad? Not me! I would definitely have had tense shoulders! So I read up on this flipping tables moment in time.

This happened in the temple courts which was the ONLY place that the Gentiles, AKA outsiders, could go to worship God and gather for prayer. They weren’t allowed inside the temple courts. The vendors coming to sell animals and exchange money set their tables up there in the ONLY place for these not normally included outcasts to worship. How is one supposed to pray and worship with goats bleating, doves cooing, and vendors yelling? These people were probably those who yearned for God. The desperate ones. The ones that took that last leap of faith. Yet, they had to compete with the oxen and pushy salesmen pushing their goods.

I’m a sucker for the underdog, ya know? When I see or predict a situation where an injustice is happening or when there is tension in the area….well….my shoulders get all tensed up, and I’m ready to go to battle.

But that’s not always my job is it? In this case, its God’s job. My job is to “Have faith in God….not doubt in my heart….believe” (Mark 11:22-24 abbreviated) But there is some requirements of me.

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Mark 11:25

Forgiveness. Its trick isn’t it? While I am standing still, praying, take note of any forgiveness that needs to happen. God WILL accomplish miracles….in fact, God already has accomplished miracles. God already sent his only son, Jesus, to live among us, teach us how to love one another by dying for us, and was resurrected on the third day. Now He is seated at the right hand of the Father. That’s the miracle, the rest will just fall into place, whether I’m all tensed up or not.

Father God, I thank you for your Word that reminds me that you already have all this under control. No matter what I do, say, write or don’t write, Your Name WILL BE exalted in the earth. Help me to know what it means to be still today. I pray for the person reading this that You would speak to their heart, encourage each person with the understanding that You already have this under control. Lord, I desire to be part of your plan to bring glory to Your Name. Show me how to do that. Teach me Lord, how I can be part of your plan in such a time as this.

Is there something that you can trust God with?

What does it mean to you to Be Still?

How can I pray for you today?

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Reward for Obedience

  • Leviticus 25:47-27:13
  • Mark 10: 32:52
  • Psalm 45:1-17
  • Proverbs 10:22

Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:43-44

This servant verse isn’t what I originally thought about journaling about. At first, I thought about writing about the Leviticus verses. I like those better….they were more along the lines of how my empty nest womanhood understands this Christian life should be. Lets look at Leviticus 26:1-13

Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves….I am the Lord your God. Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary, I am the Lord.

Lev 26: 1-2

Check! Got that part! I don’t have any golden calfs or totem poles at my place. I go to church every Sunday, and many Sunday’s I’ll take a nap. This one I got, Lord! Now what?

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain….the ground will yield its crops…the trees their fruit…..you will eat all the food you want and live in a safety in your land. I will grant peace and make you lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts,….You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall…..I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers,….I will walk among you and be your God….I enabled you to walk with heads held high.

Lev 26: 3-13 (abbreviated)

So, lemme make sure I got this right. If I go to church every week, do my Bible studies, do my work, then God, you’ll provide for all my needs and everyone is going to look at me and see how much you blessed me? No enemies, all the food and drink I can handle, lots of honor. I can do that! I like this part! Bring on the blessings especially the part about walking with my head held high! Pride! I’m good at that one!

Then Jesus came….and in Mark we learn its not EXACTLY as clear cut as it seems here.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him, “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

Mark 10:35

It may as well have said, “Theresa” in that verse, because so many times, I go to the Lord saying that I want God to do whatever I want, when I want it, how I want it. Ugh.

What do you want me to do for you?” He asked.

vs 36

Jesus had told them for the 3rd time that they were on their way up to Jerusalem so that he could be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law who would condemn him to death. Then Jesus predicted that the elders would hand him over to the Gentiles, who would mock him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.

So what was this brilliant request that the sons of Zebedee had for Jesus?

They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?

“We can,” they answered.

vs 37-39

Apparently my friends James & John didn’t hear what Jesus said. Spit on? Flogging? Mocking? They must be living in some kind of denial or something. Who would have signed up for that?

Or maybe they just didn’t understand the gravity of what following Christ is.

There are real persecutions being done against people who accept Christ as their savior. Like REAL persecutions happening, and like RIGHT NOW.…in today’s time. I hear about people being imprisoned and persecuted in foreign lands, and I just can’t wrap my mind around that. I knew a priest one time many years ago, that had to escape from Vietnam because of his decision to Christianity. It took him 3 times to escape….the first two times they hung him upside down and flogged the bottoms of his feet so he wouldn’t be able to run. But he kept going, and finally made it to the U.S. where his reward was that he didn’t see his family for a couple of decades. Must have been worth it though, right?

In the U.S. we have it fairly easy and available to follow Christ. Sometimes though its not comfortable because of the ridicule or censorship we experience on social media or amongst the “crowd”. Family members sometimes reject our beliefs, possibly even the family members we give birth to or those who gave birth to us. Even those who are raised in a Christian home sometimes grow up to think their parents are off their rocker. Sadly, this includes those of us who celebrate the Sabbath and those of us who don’t have golden calves and set the example of living life following God. Sometimes the free will God offers doesn’t feel so great to those who get rejected.

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Mark 10:41-45

Dear Lord, it is so easy for me to get all wrapped up in my pride, thinking I deserve to be respected, appreciated, valued, looked up to, etc, for all that I do and have done for people. I act just as “entitled” as others forgetting that the only reason I am sitting here in this chair surrounded by these blessings of people, places and things is because YOU Lord, paid the ultimate sacrifice for my sinfulness. Long before I was even born, you paid full ransom for my soul. Often times, I feel rejected and unvalued for all that I have “done” and will do, but really, they are nothing. I’m sorry for my prideful demands of what “you can do for me“. I pray that you take this heart of stone within me and turn it to a heart of flesh in order for me to be the servant you need to draw people closer to you. Thank you for healing my heart and mind this morning and using the Word to draw me closer to You.

I pray for the person reading these words this morning, that they would be convicted of all that you have done for them. Help each person wrap their mind around the sacrifice you made for us.

What can I pray for you today?

Jesus does hear our prayers, and he wants to answer them. What requests do you have of Him today?

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I Will Trust

  • Leviticus 24:1-25:46
  • Mark 10:13-31
  • Psalm 44:9-26
  • Proverbs 10:20-21

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.

Mark 10:27

If I were you, I’d turn away from my blog post now. I’m completely unqualified to be writing to the general public about any of today’s scriptures. I feel that way alot, but this particular day, these particular readings, I’m at a loss. I honestly and fervently prayed this morning and asked God, “So what am I supposed to say to these people? Are you sure it’s me You want? I don’t even know what to talk about….what am I supposed to be saying to these people?

Lord, all these scriptures talk about trust!! Who am I to write to someone in a country that I’ve never been to or dire circumstances that I can’t even fathom, about these scriptures pointing to TRUST?” What right do I have to talk to someone with a shattered heart about TRUST, when I take for granted going to bed last night underneath the nice cozy comforter, next to my loving husband after spending a love filled weekend with him, my grandson and my daughter. What is it I’m supposed to say to the one who got a bad diagnosis or that recovery just doesn’t seem to come? Ya’ll, I got nothin’.

But God said…..talk to them about ME. I AM the Way, the Truth and the Light.

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.

Mark 10:13

Now….why in the world would the disciples do that?!?! That makes no sense to me….in America….in 2021…but back then, children just honestly didn’t count. They were a burden and a liability until they could work the fields, then they were a commodity. But not to King Jesus.

Kind of like our small problems. You know the ones we are scared to talk about for fear of people judging us? The ones that seem so much smaller than the one that the girl in the cubicle next door has. The problems that may even be self inflicted….or the bad habits that we just can’t overcome. To the binge eater, closet smoker, mom who rages, dad who has one too many after work…yes, these kinds of “small problem”. To the boy or girl who is being approached inappropriately by someone in authority….yes, that kind of “small problem”. To the hard worker who got passed up for promotion…..AGAIN….yes, THAT kind of “small problem”.

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

Mark 10:14-15

I remember reading this verse YEARS ago, and it somewhat resonated with me, but didn’t really really wrap my mind around it. Then one day, my 3 year old Ashley and I had to go somewhere….I can’t remember where, I’m just sure it was a regular errand kind of day. I fed her breakfast, got her dressed, took her hand and said, “lets go”. I loaded her up in the car seat, got her safely buckled in, got in the car and started it up. But before I pulled the car out of the garage God made me aware of what this scripture was all about.

I looked in the rear view mirror at my sweet, trusting baby girl.

I just sat for a moment and listened to her sing a little song while she prepared for us to go.

It occured to me that she never asked where we were going. What we would do when we got there. Who all was going. She never double checked the seat belt, or questioned whether I put gas in the car. She didn’t ask to see my driver’s license or doubt that I was qualified to drive. She just ate my food, put on the clothes, took my hand, got in the car, looked out the window and sang her song and waited.

She trusted me. She TRUSTED that I knew what I was doing, and had a plan. She had been in this circumstance before, and it turned out well, and with love. So, she had no doubt that I would provide for her fulfillment and safety as I had done in the past.

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:24-25

A rich man had just asked Jesus about how to inherit eternal life….he wanted to be a follower of Jesus too. Jesus told him that he had to not only follow the 10 Commandments, but to sell everything and give it to the poor. He had to give away everyTHING that made him rich. His house. His cars. His servants. His money. His cell phone. Everything. WHAT?!?! My cell phone?? Wait. Everything, Jesus?

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Mark 10:22

Some of us have to choose to give up what we think is important and some of us lose it without any control of our own. Some have to walk away from family that won’t support our decision to follow Christ. Some of us lose loved ones who pass away before us, and all we have left is Christ. Some have to give up addictions and don’t know who or what we will be afterwards. Some of us end up having everything taken away because we have grown dependent on something other than God.

I lost friendships and relationships when I turned my life over to God because I wasn’t as fun at parties any more. I walked away from substances that clouded my brain function and hindered my health. Giving up cigarettes was one of the hardest things I had to do because it becomes a part of the personality, on top of being a coping mechanism. I remember wondering what I would do/be like after dinner or having a beer, or hanging out with so-n-so.

I chose to change my lifestyle because my body is God’s temple.

Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops? I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.

leviticus 25:18-22

HERE’S where I’m comfortable….in the asking…..in the concern. I’m the one asking “What will….? What if…..? What then…..?” God says to Trust. Y’all I’m so unqualified for this. So I’m not telling you what I would do….I’m telling you what GOD SAYS TO DO. Trust.

That seventh year must have been scary right? The year of not planting or harvesting? Just depending on what is already at hand? Trusting day by day that provision will come. Just taking the Hand of God and getting in the car.

Maybe not as scary as the sixth year leading up to it though…preparing for the non-harvest years? These are the years when its important to eat right and exercise for health of the aging years. These are the years to save for retirement. These are the years of paying off debt and having the emergency funds in place. These are the years to love on our babies because we never know what will happen in the future. These are the years to dig the well or feed the livestock in preparation for the year of drought.

But what a celebration the 8th and 9th year would be!! It’s in the 8th and 9th year that looking back and KNOWING that only by the grace of God did everything turn out all right. This is the time to lean in to in the future years knowing that God provided before and God will provide again.

All this came upon us, though we had not forgotten you; we had not been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path. But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals; you covered us over with deep darkness.

Mark 44:17-19

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes kids get abused. Sometimes husbands have heart attacks. Sometimes wives get cancer. Sometimes the bank calls the note. Sometimes the drought never ends. Sometimes a spouse finds another person they think they’d be happier with. Sometimes the economy tanks and we lose our job. Yep. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense, and I’m not going to even try to pretend to know what some of my readers may be going through.

#unqualified

But I do KNOW that God is faithful and his promises are true. He will come to our aide. I promise this time of trial will end. Life will look different, but God will be with is in and through and on the other side.

Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.

psalm 44:26

I pray for trust. I know that you, Lord have seen us through some really devastating times and I trust that you will provide for us the next time. In the meantime, I ask that you prepare us and provide for us. Forgive me that I take Your provision for granted. I pray for the person reading this right now that they would find hope and trust in You no matter what life situation they find themselves in. I pray that You speak clearly and guide them closer to You through their circumstances.

Do you find yourself in a year of preparation, waiting or celebrating today?

What can I pray for you today?

How have you been called or forced to trust God in the past?

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Competition

  • Leviticus 22:17-23:44
  • Mark 9:30-10:12
  • Psalm 44:1-8
  • Proverbs 10:19

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:35

We sure have a competition issue in this world, don’t we? Everyone wants to be bigger, better, greater, stronger, prettier, more popular than the “other” person. This is a strange dilemma though, because I personally, don’t believe in participation trophies. It is my opinion that in every competition, there is a winner and a loser. You either get the job or you don’t. You either get first place, or you don’t. You either close the sale or you don’t. You either take that first step out the door in the morning, or you don’t.

A couple of weeks ago we were playing Candy Land with our 4 year old grandson. The first game we played, “Papa” won. Boyyyy did that make my grandson angry! He stomped off and cried. When he got done with his little fit, we explained to him that in every game, there’s a winner and a loser. I am forever grateful that the next game, my grandson won, (whew!!) and the illustration was complete, hat we just have to try again, and next time it may be our turn to win. We just gotta get back up and try again. (yes gotta is a word;)

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.”

Mark 9:33-34

So, how do we make sense of my earthly brilliance in “there’s a winner and there’s a loser” and also make sense of “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all?

The disciples were arguing amongst themselves about who was Jesus’ best friend, who was being the most selfless and likely who had sacrificed more than the other, and who DESERVED to sit next to King Jesus. They didn’t understand the ultimate sacrifice that was about to come via Christ our Lord. And ya know what….Jesus DID know what they were arguing about already. He’d read the Pharisees and crowd pretty darn well so far, he was testing his buddies to see if they could be honest with him, and ultimately themselves. He was asking them to question themselves about what they actually “deserve” and if they were willing to work for it and stick with him.

So listen, lets talk about this competition thing. I don’t think that Jesus meant that we have to give in and give up in competitions. Paul in the Book of Corinthians says:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it a slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

So really, its about disciplining ourselves to the training is where the competition is effective. Not against other people. To others we are to serve.

Serve like my cousin friend Mary served me today. She kindly commented on this post with the deep wisdom of a woman who knows the harsh realities and beauty that comes from competition. I walked away from this blog post earlier, unfinished thinking I would get back to it later. “No one is reading them anyway,” I said to myself. Mary’s words today are an example of ultimate servanthood. I’ve seen her give selfless support to her family in times of severe stress, and ask for nothing in return. She comments and brags on family on every social media post. People like Mary are #goals for those of us who obsessively compete against themselves, and sadly, at times, others.

Father God, thank you for keeping my competitive spirit in check. Thank you that you teach me to discipline and compete with servanthood. Lord, teach me what that means every single day, because like someone said, I’m just a “C+ student” in a world of A+ family and friend examples. I pray for the person reading this right now, that you would minister to them and help them stay encouraged, yet humble, strong, yet weak. Lord guide all of us to serve others through this life.

What goals and dreams are you striving toward?

How have you been ministered to recently?

How can you minister to another human today?

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I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

  • Leviticus 20:22-22:16
  • Mark 9:1-29
  • Psalm 43:1-5
  • Proverbs 10:18

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-22

Y’all, I must admit I don’t even know how to approach any of today’s readings. In Leviticus, we read the rules and regulations regarding priests cleanliness. I can’t even begin to relate to these laws, they make no sense to me. I’ve studied them and I know them. Mostly, I know that Jesus came to be the final sacrifice so we no longer have to bring lambs and birds and oxen over and over again. He paid the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you Lord!

In Mark, we learn about miracles of healing. The closest I can come is my experience with pregnancies.

Jeff and I have 2 daughters, as you may know or have read in my bio. But what I haven’t shared is that I have 4 babies in heaven. These babies were miscarried or died in utero at about 10 weeks. My body didn’t do pregnancy well. Two of the babies that died in utero, had to be surgically cleaned out. Someday I’ll write about the heart wrenching pain of miscarriage, but not today. Today, is the miracle of the two that God leant me to raise up.

I had already had 1 miscarriage when I got pregnant with Ashley, and my body just didn’t know what to do. Ashley is a miracle baby because my body threatened miscarriage with her SIX DIFFERENT TIMES. The doctor just kept putting me to bed for a week at a time, which my body and baby seemed to like because she hung out with me. By the time she got here, I was so grateful to hold her….WE MADE IT, baby! WE MADE IT! I held her skin to skin in that hospital bed and cried. We made it baby girl! If we can survive that, we can do anything! She’s my miracle baby.

By the time I got pregnant with Dakota I had three miscarriages. I was a emotional basket case!! *sigh, my poor husband, sigh* I had a diagnosed hormone imbalance and was in the high risk category under a doctors care. The doctors put me on hormones to try and balance my body out, and our circle group fervently prayed over us before & during pregnancy. When she was finally conceived, Jeff and I were elated! The first time I got morning sickness, I celebrated, because that meant my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing, keeping baby safe n’ sound! THENNNN the tests showed that she could possibly be down’s syndrome and all kinds of flags and warnings went up. I didn’t care, she would be a miracle either way. And she is.

These are proof enough that Jesus does really heal in the way that I want Him to sometimes, and my babies in heaven….well, I know that I’ll get to meet them someday. My heavenly babies, all have names. I named them as a way of releasing grief. That’s another story I’ll write some day….not today.

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Mark 9:19

When I first read this verse, this morning, it felt like a scolding. But after journaling, I don’t think it is. In my prayerful imagination, Jesus and I are sitting on a rock by the water, criss-cross applesauce, like in preschool, and he’s looking at me in the eye, as I cry asking in a loving way as I lay my head on his shoulder. How long shall I stay with you, Theresa? Those words “put up with” can be translated “hold up” or “suffer”. So Jesus, for today, is asking me how long do you need held up? How long will you suffer with this unbelief? Remember THESE miracles!!

Many times my faith wanes, and I can sense that Jesus gets impatient with me. But not today, or at least not at this moment. Today I sit with the memories of the miracles in my life, still feeling the moment that I heard the heartbeat of my little girls and believe.

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Mark 9:29

Lord, thank you for the miracle of my family. You took two broken people and brought forth miracles of life through them. You Lord have held together this family, and for that I am forever grateful. Lord, I believe that you still perform miracles. And Lord, help me when I don’t believe, ok? Be patient with me, again. I pray for miracles in the life of the person reading this. I pray that you are patient with them and help them to see the only NECESSARY miracle and that is that you came and died for us, were raised again and seated at the right hand of the Father. Secure our hope in that.

Amen.

Are you needing prayer today?

What miracles have you seen?

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Proverbs 10:17

  • Leviticus 19:1-20:21
  • Mark 8:11-38
  • Psalm 42:1-11
  • Proverbs 10:17

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Proverbs 10:17

Last year, the pastor at our church did a whole sermon series about the Enneagram. I had vaguely heard of it before, when I say vaguely, I mean that I had seen or heard people announce their “number”, but that’s about it. It was a really great sermon series and many of our congregation jumped in with learning about their personality Type.

God really spoke to me with this study, and as with many things, I jumped in full body immersion. I learned that my Type is that of an Enneagram 4, and my second highest number Type, which is really close a Type 7. Currently, I am taking an online course at www.yourenneagramcoach.com. This website offers a deep dive and even one-on-one coaching, and pursues it within a heavy Christian light. I just love it and I am learning about alot about what makes me tick. One of the attributes is for Type 4 is being “introspective”. That’s putting it mildly, for me.

When a Type 4 is in a growth point, moves toward a healthy side of Type 1, who tends to be more disciplined and grounded. I would absolutely concur this information. When I am in a good place, I tend to get more be good at setting and achieving goals. I am more apt to be productive and focused. However, when a Type 4 is under stress they try and manipulate others into loving them, which is more like an unhealthy Type 2. They (we) become overly involved and clingy to others. Yep. That’s me.

Ugh. Sorry family! I’m working on it!

Perhaps I should write in invisible ink on the inside of my glasses Proverbs 10:17, so that it only shows up when I’m either being disciplined or leading others astray AKA causing arguments with my clingy-ness. Is this even possible? Someone should invent this. Not me, I’m a Type 4, the only thing we invent are new ways to paint furniture and poems and songs, and perhaps write long blog posts.

The word discipline comes from “discipulus“, the Latin word for pupil. Interestingly enough, it also provided the source of the word disciple….you know, like those guys that Jesus was doing his best to TEACH in the Gospels? So like, when I’m in a healthy place, I’m being “teachable”. I’m actually being a disciple. I’m growing and learning in the Lord.

Disciplined in what way? Well, one way for me, running is a discipline. I always say I don’t particularly like running, I just love finish lines!

This is what discipline looks like to me….but its also the hard days. Training for these events takes dedication and effort. These pictures are from finish lines, but to get to the finish line took showing up for rainy days. It took discipline to take that first step at 5:00 in the morning. It took answering the question….why am I doing this? For you, it likely means something else. Maybe its reading scripture every day. Maybe its eating healthy foods (this is one for me too, that I really struggle with). Maybe its giving positive talks to yourself. Maybe its cooking dinner at home instead of spending money going out to eat. What is it for you?

But ohhhhh, the people I met along the way!! The friends I have made with running are some of my favorites. Doing something hard together brings a level of friendship that years and distance can never take away.

We all get stressed out and off track sometimes, especially me…..somehow I can get so off track that I don’t even know how I got there. So I wonder, does getting back on track require the discipline first or does the discipline come as a result of getting healthier? I can tell you this, for me, right now, its taken me to get off my fluffy winter butt and going outside! It requires me to take that first step. It takes a physical response to Jesus when he says “Follow me!”

Dear Lord, thank you for the wisdom of the enneagram, its so helpful. Thank you for teachers and coaches that you have placed in my life as a beacon of light to you. I thank you for your patience with me when I get off track and for knowing that you have a path for me to take….I’m in awe of you. I pray that the person reading this seek your light and find a guide that would put them on the path toward you, because there is REAL freedom. There is an unstoppable joy!

What is your discipline?

Are you on track or off track? Please share, and let me know how to pray for you today.

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Psalm 41

  • Leviticus 16:29-18:30
  • Mark 7:24-8:10
  • Psalm 41:1-13
  • Proverbs 10:15-16

Psalm 41 is David’s lament when he was seriously ill. He acknowledges that his illness is related to his sin. Today I am praying Psalm 41 as a lament.

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble. The Lord protects and preserves them – they are counted among the best in the land – he does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness

Psalm 41:1-3

To me this feels like David is just stating facts. He is laying his trust down on the Lord, saying this is what I KNOW to be TRUE. David knows that God delivers those who have taken care of others in need. He trusts that God protects and preserves them. David believes that those who care for others when they are weak are counted as blessed in the land, and that God will NOT give them over to the enemy. He has experienced, trust, believe and grasp on to the very last string of hope of the TRUTH in that God sustains them.

I stand with David, and say I know this to be true, no matter what the doubts in my head say. No matter the voice of the enemy that is trying to convince me that it’s not true, I believe THIS to be true. I know that I’m feeling off kilter and stuck today and it doesn’t FEEL like God is sustaining me….but I am gripping with all my might on to the last thread of trust that God is keeping his promise to hold me fast. I’m going to write this on paper and out loud for the world to hear, so that hopefully when I finally get out of this mess, eyes will be opened and ears will hear.

I may FEEL hopeless, but I’m not, because I KNOW this to be true. You healed me before God and You’ll do it again! You fixed my situation before God, and I know you’ll do it again!

THIS, I BELIEVE to be TRUE.

I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

My enemies say of me in malice, “When will he die and his name perish?”

When one of them comes to see me he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then goes out and spreads it around.

Psalm 41:4-6

David my friend, you know what I like about you? You speak YOUR OWN TRUTH as well as the truth of God’s word. Dude, you own your stuff!! You know when a man can be trusted? Its when you witness that he can bear his own soul, confess his sin out loud, and be ok in it. Not only that, but invite others in with him and share it. He takes responsibility for his own shortcomings so much that he just confesses it outloud, KNOWING dang good and well, that the person he shares with, is going to spread that gossip for real! #courage

I stand with David and ask for mercy, healing and forgiveness for my own sinfulness. I have tried to do the best I could and at times, just banged my knee on it, and other times fallen flat on my face. I’m sorry for the times I yelled at my kids. I’m sorry for the poor choices I made. I’m sorry for being needy. I’m sorry. I hear my enemies slandering me. I hear them saying she’s so weird. I hear them having parties and not inviting me.

Or at least I think I do. Aren’t they? Or are they? What if they’re not?

I’m sorry for being so self centered that I THINK they’re gossiping about me….maybe they’re really not. Maybe they’re just busy. Maybe they just have their own families to think about. I’m sorry for being so self absorbed that I think this distance is about me….maybe, just maybe, they’re lonely too, and think no one cares. Maybe that feeling is too scary to admit to so they just keep filling empty minutes with stuff to do.

Maybe my sin is actually just thinking about myself first, and not them. Maybe my sin is actually trying to manipulate relationships to fit my needs, when YOU Lord, are doing some work behind the scenes that I don’t need to worry about right now. What if this distance is really just You protecting me? Or….what if it’s just You protecting THEM?

All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me saying, a vile disease has afflicted him; he will never get up from the place where he lies. Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread has turned against me.

Psalm 41:7-10

David did have enemies trying to take his throne. David did commit the sin of adultery. David did repent and at least try to make amends. I thank God that David wrote this Psalm so that I can learn that there are this world consequences for sin, but that you love me, and hear me, even when I sin.

I stand in this empty-nest-ness and have time for my imagination to afflict me. I remember all the times I was a less than stellar mom and wish I would have done such and such differently. I pray for my daughters to grow closer to God, and I try to talk to them….and it only causes them to push me away. I shared my bread with them their whole lives, and feel them turn against me.

But is it me they are turning against?

What exactly are they turning against?

Or are they turning TO?

What exactly are they turning TOWARDS while they are turning AWAY?

I’ll never know, will I?

What if I just have to TRUST that not only does God deliver me, but He will deliver them….in His time. Not mine. Ugh.

But may you have mercy on me Lord; raise me up, that I may repay them. I KNOW that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.

Amen and Amen.

Psalm 10-13

Who is the real enemy here? Have mercy on me Lord, and rescue me from this enemy that is attacking me…I must be doing something right to be under such attack. I know Lord that you are pleased with me. You created me to be a woman of integrity and you will uphold me in that. I know that when I do what I say I’m going to do, be who you created me to be, you will set me in your presence forever.

Life may not look like I want it to right now, but I am RESTING in the KNOWLEDGE that You have placed on my heart that you will use these writings and my prayer and these situations all of us, especially the person reading this, closer to you.

What sins do you need to own up to today?

Do you TRUST that the Lord preserves and delivers? What would that mean to you?

Praise be to the Lord, the God of YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, from everlasting to everlasting. Can you praise God today? Why or why not?

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