If Only

IF ONLY

REGRETS

2 Corinthians 7:10 biblegateway-com-logo  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Am I the only one that has ever said this?  If only ____________ hadn’t happened that way, then _______________.  If only I had of ______________ then the results would have been different.

I recently have been listening to “The Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp and it’s all about living in this broken world, with our broken hearts and learning how to let the love in while giving Adundant love out.

One of the 1st things I noted when listening was how we need to learn to say “I’m Sorry” and that will teach others around us that it’s okay to show our weaknesses because we have a Lord that remodels all of our broken parts.  Admit our failures, allowing people to see that we too are not perfect.  Admit when we’re wrong, allowing people the opportunity to forgive  our wrongs.

I vividly remember the 1st time I admitted to my adult children that I was wrong about something.  I remember a gasp of surprise in their voice that “MOM” was admitting she was wrong.  That moment has not left my mind. It saddens me that I led them to believe that I was perfect, that I never made mistakes and never needed to show my weaknesses.  It saddens me for a couple reasons.

1. I am absolutely not perfect and I have made mistakes, bad decisions and acting in ways that I shouldn’t.  And if I don’t admit that, then their disappointment in me grows.

2. That I led a day to day life, portraying a sense of perfection then that is what others (my boys) would grow up believing that I expected from them.  And that is the furthest from the truth. I understand that they’re not perfect and I don’t expect them to be BUT I love them anyway.

I also vividly remember my 1st “If Only” after my divorce to my 1st husband.  Maybe just maybe my children and I wouldn’t have had to feel all this pain.

The problem with the “if onlys” is it wouldn’t be a if only if it wasn’t in the past.

And then dealing with the “if onlys” and “regrets” can also give you the sense that you have nothing to offer.  Nothing good to give!  And you allow the “if onlys” and “regrets” to fill your soul and restrict your purpose.

Ann writes, “Change your life expectations to what “life can expect from you” and your life changes! Believing there is enough of me that there is enough of anything to give.  If I want to give to those in need and that I believe I could be worth enough to give to others for Christ, then what is stopping me.  Don’t I need to believe that I’m good enough, that God made me enough to be able to give. I must believe in me and in God, I must believe that God believes in me. The bible says, Christ is in me so God can’t help but believe in me.”

When Jesus chose his disciples, he chose the imperfect ones, the broken ones, were the ones he believed in, Right? Matthew 14:23-34 (click for full story) So in the story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus, once Peter stepped in the water and realized what he was doing, he started sinking.  Did he sink because of his lack of faith in Jesus or because of his lack of faith in himself?  Jesus believed in him or he wouldn’t have told him to step out there in the first place.

No matter how broken, believe that Jesus believes enough in you that he chose you.  Don’t doubt!  Step out there and give!  Give abundantly!

So we need to empty ourselves

“The abundant life doesn’t have a bucket list but has an empty bucket.  Pour ourselves out so that we can be filled by others.  Emptying of our self allows our self to be given to.” ref “A Broken Way”

We are most Christ like when we are most empty!

So don’t wait! There is someone out there waiting for us to be that good thing that happens in their life!  Live ABUNDANTLY and make it not about what we expect out of life but what life can expect from us.

Forget the “If onlys” and “Regrets”!  Live today Abundantly for the Lord! And Love !

Lord, I am so thankful for your love.  I am abundantly aware that I would not be able to live not even 1 day without you.  Please forgive me when I fail, which is often.  But thank you for always picking me back up and reminding me that I’m worth it.  Continue to be with my family, bless the, protect them and help us love.  I pray Lord for those that don’t know you and I pray for their souls.  Amen!

signature

 

Friday’s Question

What do you want “more of” in your life?

What motivates you/me? What are we seeking?

Romans 12:1-2 biblegateway-com-logo

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Are my actions transforming me more into the person that God created me to be or are they making me grow stagnant?

What do I want more of from my life? 

I desire to do God’s will and grow in my knowledge of Him and grow in my willingness to serve His kingdom, but do I make conscious decisions to change my desires to His desires.  I may  have to live a little more modestly.  I may have to forego the self some so I’m able to give to others.

Philippians 1:21-23biblegateway-com-logo

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

I know what I want more of out of my life.

Can I release all my humanness and trust that the Lord will create in me a heart of servant-hood?  Can I trust Him to provide me with all my physical needs and fill my emotional needs with peace and love so I can give it away?

I want more of HIM!

Proverbs 8:17 biblegateway-com-logo

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

1 Chronicles 16:11biblegateway-com-logo

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!

signature

Face It

Romans 12:21 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Face It then Let It Go!

Life…………… it’s just not easy!  But then……….. most things in life that come easy are not really appreciated.

John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” biblegateway-com-logo

For years and I do mean years, I’ve carried around things in my soul that ate away at me. Controlled my decisions and became truth in my heart.

And then I figured it out.  It was shown to me by a gracious and merciful God that I didn’t have to let those things control me and those things weren’t who I am.  As it says in the book “A Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp, “Maybe the love gets in easier right where the heart is broken”.

1 John 4:18  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  biblegateway-com-logo

Letting go is a daily chore and one that I find refreshing.  One that releases my heart to the joys of life instead of holding me down by the pain.  I rejoice in my broken heart because it has caused me to love strong!

Philippians 3:12  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

I’ve had to face my own and I’ve had to face others and at the end, I’ve had to LET IT GO!

Lord, Thank You! You alone have shown me Joy! Amen!

signature

0-10 yet He still covers me

Exodus 20:1  And God spoke all these words

Cameron Mills,  a one time UK Basketball player, came an spoke at a church service the other week.

As Cameron shared that he has seen his ups in life, he has also seen his downs.  He like many of us have been long time believers in Jesus and have been living as a follower. But………. even followers struggle.

Cameron went through the ten commandments 1 by 1 with examples for each of how his sin was real.  And it challenged me to do the same.  So here goes…..

The 10 Commandments List   Exodus 20 (click here to read from the bible)biblegateway-com-logo

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. – Have I ever put another human in the place of God in my life?  Yes
  2. You shall not make idols. – Have I ever dreamed and sought out material things more than I sought out a relationship with Him?  Yes
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain. –  This varies according to who yo talk to but have I ever used Jesus, God or Lord in a statement that was not up lifting to the person hearing it?    Yes
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. – Do I take time off to just be with Him?  No other distraction for a whole day?  No, I will take 30 min or a few hours but never have I devoted a full day of simple holy thought.
  5. Honor your father and your mother. – It would be fantastic if everyone had the “Mr. & Mrs. Clever” parent but Not everyone has a mother & father that in the human standards deserve “honor” but we must always remember that they are no different than we are, sinners and in their sin, we can still honor them. So have I always honored my father and my mother?  No
  6. You shall not murder.–  In the true sense of the word, I have never committed murder but there has most likely been times when I have murdered someone’s reputation with slanderous words.  So murder of the physical sense , No but murder of the internal sense , Yes.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.  –You know that your don’t actually have to take the steps of a physical relationship with someone to commit adultery, solely by lusting or considering it in the mind is enough.  So have I ever considered it?  Yes
  8. You shall not steal. – Have I ever?  Yes
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. – The little “white” lies as we like to call them.  Or sharing information that we haven’t verified to be Truth. We Spoke as if something was fact when we know it’s not. Regretfully, Yes
  10. You shall not covet. – Am I content, Yes but do I sometimes wish for the thing that someone else my have ?  Yes

So, there you go 0-10, some may have been years ago and some may have been as recent as yesterday.

But still saved by Grace!  God’s perfect redeeming Grace!

2 Corinthians 12:9 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Lord I’m grateful because I know that even though here on earth I may be 0-10, with You I’m shooting 100%.  I’m thankful for your unending forgiveness and that love you have for me keeps me coming back to You.  Please Lord be with those who feel that they can never measure up.  Let them know that as long as they are seeking you with all their heart, they can leave it all to you.  Amen!

signature

A Journey Home

Sherrie Rison:  Sherrie………what can I say about her except that her smile is contagious! The sweet spirit that she carries so gracefully is one that those around her are blessed by. She is willing to show weakness but admits that her determination can sometimes hold her back from being vulnerable.   I’ve only been blessed by her presence in my life for a couple of years.  I’ve seen her walk through some pretty tough issues and wonder what God is trying to teach her.   I’m also getting to be with her during a time of blessings and joy.  All I know for sure is that God always knows what he is doing and through all of Sherrie’s life, He has been weaving a unbelievably beauuuuuuuu-tiful story.  I’m grateful that I am a part of it with her.

Jeremiah 1:5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

sherrie

It is important for me to remember this; as my life has wound through seasons and years, people have come and go, but this verse, this truth remains the same. Thank you for letting me share how God has always been with me.

  As an infant my environment did not reflect a loving household. 1985, My first year I moved from Nashville, TN with my mother, father and two biological brothers to Huston, TX with my father, aunt and brothers to Mt. Sterling, KY with house parents and my brothers at Hope Hill Children’s Home and finally Winchester, KY with my first official foster parents, without my brothers. They were a nice family. I have three older brothers and an older sister.

When I was 5, 1990, my father decided to reclaim my brothers and me from foster care. A day came when everyone’s face was sad and hearts heavy, too young for me to understand. I relocated to the next town over, Lexington, KY. My room was in the basement with my brothers down the hall. I cried myself to sleep and spent years trying to figure out what happened, what was still happening.

I staggered through the effects of alcohol and drugs in my new home. As my school years continued I settled in to feeling very lonely and outcast, almost hidden. My interest peaked in Wiccan and pagan practices. (Not necessarily dark, just something greater) I started making some friends in the neighborhood smoking cigarettes, pot and drinking. My oldest brother came out he was gay. His lifestyle had an impact on my introduction to rave parties, acid, ecstasy and mushrooms. All of these things I was reaching out for, trying to reach and understanding of “feel good” or love, left me empty at the end of every day.

My sophomore year 2001, there was a teacher who invested in me like no one before. Spending time after or in-between classes. She invited me to church and led me to a relationship with Jesus. I was so reluctant but I was told John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. The opportunity to be truly loved in a way that would never ever go away. Romans 8:38  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I was fully aware of the loneliness in life and the deep need for Love. A simple prayer between me and God, asking for forgiveness, acknowledging I needed/wanted Him/love in my life and I asked Jesus to make His home in my heart, to lead my life. (March 9, 2001) There was a still, small moment that I could feel God call to me. With the smallest amount of faith I prayed for the first time. “God if you’re there…” Something happened in that moment. I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. My heart felt like butterflies. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. The feeling lasted days even weeks and it couldn’t have come a better time. While I transitioned from my fathers to the shelter and the attic I knew I was loved and felt like I was loved. Nothing in this world had ever given me that before, Jesus was/ is different. Life must go on, the bible says, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Just because I am a person of faith doesn’t exempt me from difficulties. Difficulties that give me the opportunity to choose what character I will create in myself.

After returning home from the retreat I carried Jesus’s love with me everywhere. He made me confident, worthy and I had a great hope. I was ready to meet my next level of faith. My father met mine and my brothers’ maximum limit of tolerance for his abuse a month after my retreat. He was charged with neglect and we were placed back in states care with nowhere to go. Trying to place a 15 and 16 year old in the foster care program was a difficult task so we stayed in an emergency shelter for months and eventually were relocated again to an attic belonging to a man who previously sat on the board of the foster program. He was an extreme activist with no shower, stove or washer and dryer. There was no food in the house and if we went to school, we caught the city bus.

God introduced me to a family through the church that were foster parents. Job 29:12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. I was so distracted by wanting out of states care and being tossed around I did not see the love right in front of me. I had a mother and father, 6 new sisters and 3 new brothers. The pain, resentment, anger and entitlement had me in bondage. All I could see was what I thought was the finish line, my 18th birthday. I managed to make up my grades and graduate high school. By graduation I was already moving my things to a friend’s house.

I let loose of the focus I had and put aside the truths I had found. Somehow forgetting, taking for granted the freedom, peace, and love I had found in my relationship and conversations with Jesus. I wanted to do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I was pregnant the summer after graduation. My actions lead to guilt and shame. It was hard to strike a conversation with God. Even though I was scared and felt very alone again Jesus made, what I knew as, His first great promise to me; “You and this baby will be okay.” Almost an audible voice, the room seemed to clear of everything but this warm radiant light and I was again filled with strength and hope. My last ultra sound confirmed it. The doctors said March 22 and my heart knew March 9, 2004, exactly four years after I asked Jesus to lead my life. Sure enough I was held over in labor until March 9. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. This undeserving grace and gift was enough to humble my heart again. I felt the deep need for God in my life as my sons father went to prison I was left with the responsibility/ privilege. I stayed involved at the church, started college and worked full time in addition to being mom. I was blessed with peace and my son. I watched God touch others through how he was changing me, even witnessed my closest friends who came to know Jesus too and was able to pray with them to receive His love for the first time.

It was a few years later, that I was tempted by my old habits, hearing lies that I really wasn’t any different and that I could go back to those good ol party days instead of pretending I was this tied up person with a bow on top. I let go again and this time for 5 years. Dating many men, living in domestic violence, DVO’s, jail time, married, and divorced with three abortions, there was so much confusion I did not even want to begin to processing through it. Not until I was sitting at the Salvation Army with my two boys, driven to my knees with a deep need for Love. 1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

I started to realized just how bad things had gotten. I managed to save for our own apartment as I finished my AA degree. I was lonely, sledging through the days just trying to keep food in our bellies. I think I started to understand and learn this lesson. God dignifies us with free will, the power to make decisions of our own rather than having God or fate predetermine what we do. He wants us all as His own children but will not force or hold back any consequences. Even in the not so great choices He will still make good come of it, giving me strength and renewed hope. My faith in Jesus’s promise to never leave was becoming concrete.

After graduation, naturally I felt the need to start something new. I was feeling accomplished and determined to keep moving forward. I slowed my decision making and thought about how to start rebuilding. God needed to be the center and foundation for this restoration to be successful. I started small conversations and prayers. I was filled with a new hope, for my family to be put back together, healing to come to my biological family and reconciliation with my other past families. My second sons’ father and I agreed on forgiveness and started making plans to move out of the state, away from the labels we were living under. A new fresh start. This was going to be another very long journey. I was confident God was the engineer and paving the way. We had a large yard sale and headed out west. God carried the vehicle to the other side of the nation without a hiccup, to Huntington Beach, Ca.

First things first, my home and little family needed to be on the same playing field. God provided a home just a half a mile from the beach, a great connect to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and Celebrate Recovery, for all hurts, habits and hang ups and I enrolled at Azusa Pacific University, a Christian Liberal Arts College. Jesus began to soften both our hearts. As I prayed, God worked miracles and my boyfriend was baptized with my oldest son on June 29 of 2014. 2 Corinthians 5:17 this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! beautiful

Again a new season with new hearts and renewed spirits. Together we were filled with another new hope and wanted to go back home to face the past so we could share this love with our friends and family. I was in awe of the way God had moved in our lives bringing to light the desires of my heart. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

There has been a pruning process, healing broken places in our hearts, weeding out the things not needed for our future and restoring joy to our lives. It has been a difficult road since we have been back almost 2 years. In fact it reminds me a bit of the exorcist. It is not a pretty process but God promises; He gives beauty for ashes, Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning, Peace for despair.

I pray for the day when a great purpose will be revealed and I will be equipped for success, to glorify what God has done in me. So for now, I will be still, quiet, taking no action but to do what is in front of me and read the word, and pray. Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Lord, I am in awe of You and what You can and will do for us.  Thank you for giving me my friend.  Continue to guide her, making your love for her evident.  Amen

signature