Rise UP!

65% of adult Americans claim the name of Jesus Christ. It’s time to rise up individually and then corporately. There are millions of churches in this country, but our light is so dim that darkness overtakes us. It is your personal responsibility to not only make sure you are a candle with a wick but that your wick is lit and burning. I don’t understand the great divide in this country. Revelations 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation ESV. God did not create the white church, black church, Hispanic church, or Asian church; He made one church. Repent and rise up! If you believe abortion is a choice, gender identity is not a choice, sexual immorality is a besetting sin, you have mixed Baal worship into your Christianity, and you should repent and rise up! If you are more worried about what people are wearing and what Bible they read, you should read Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness ESV or Romans 2:16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.ESV. Psalms 7:8 The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. Keep your eyes on Him, and rise up! If you worship the music, the building, or the people in it, join a country club or repent and rise up. Your light in this world is your hope, love, joy, peace, and long-suffering; if all you are offering is the opportunity to join a bunch of people struggling, fighting, devaluing, and judging each other, they already have that. Jesus came with the greatest gift of love to seek and save those who are lost. His promise of life more abundantly comes through the privilege of knowing Him. On that day, your heart will be revealed, and your works will be judged according to His Word. If you think you are saved, make sure. If you feel you are doing it right, make sure. If your feelings are hurt, or I stepped on your toes, skip the comment, pray for me, and then RISE UP!

Childhood

I have so much on my mind today, and as I begin to write, I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if I were a child today. I have five siblings; two of us are girls the other four are boys. I am number four in the pecking order with two older brothers and two younger ones. I remember being such a tomboy as a child; I wanted to do all the things my brothers could do. I played with cars, climbed trees, played football, got into fights, and hated dresses. I’m sure I declared hundreds of times I would have no children and that I would go to college and then off to see the world. I truly believed I could be anything I wanted to be if I worked hard for it. During this time, I was forced to eat beans and broccoli, take baths, and bedtime. We were not allowed to eat candy for breakfast or ice cream sundaes for dinner. We had chores, school work, and manners all forced on us to explain that we were to grow up able to be productive, responsible adults. As we grew to be preteens, each of us questioned the choices our parents made for us; we wanted to be independent and choose for ourselves. My father always had the same answer for each one; “what you want today will hurt you tomorrow.” It made me angry sometimes, especially when he told me I was too old to play football with the boys. It was not long after that I began to dress differently, wear makeup, and enjoy those same boys’ attention. I now have twin sons and two grandsons, and a husband that I love. I now understand broccoli is good for me, and sleep and education are essential to my mental health. I enjoy taking care of my home and making it warm and inviting for guests. As an adult looking back, I realize if left to my own choices as a child, I would be uneducated, lazy, and have rotted teeth.

I’m not reminiscing about the “good old days”; I’m troubled about the shift in parenting. I don’t see children having tantrums in the veggie department begging for broccoli, but I see plenty of fourteen-year-olds with greasy hair. This morning I cried for the children in bondage to sex traffickers, who live in homes where they are physically and mentally abused, and now for the ones that are being mutilated by their trend-setting parents. I can’t say that I agree with any identification confusion, but it is child abuse to chemically castrate a child and change their gender. The best part of children is their freedom in imagination; to dream about being a fireman one day and a ballerina the next. What child doesn’t want to be their favorite superhero or just like the person they admire? Don’t children constantly change as they grow? Hey Doc, my child wants to be Spider-Man; how much does that cost? We have women walking around dressed like a vagina spouting out that girls can be anything they want and do anything they want and fighting for selfish, drama-seeking parents to take that right away. Webster’s definition of child abuse “physical maltreatment or sexual molestation of a child.” My five-year-old grandson wore a cape to the grocery store and carried a little stuffed duck everywhere he went, but he doesn’t want to be a super farmer. My three-year-old grandson dresses up like a cat-boy and says cat-speed when he runs, but he is not really that fast. I understand that we have become a canceled culture and that everything good is now evil and evil is now good, but I can’t stay silent anymore. We have a drug epidemic; children are stolen and killed or sold, mass shootings, and the thirty pieces of silver are not worth our souls. Our race to the moral high ground of political correctness has been nothing but a farce to divert the lying, cheating, corrupt takeover of our government. The eccentrically wealthy have nothing else to conquer but the sheep quietly hoping to catch a crumb from their table. When will we stand up and protect our children? We have sold out the American dream for the American handout and the quietly slipping on our bling shackles just hoping for a free iPad.

Leaders or Representatives?

I feel as if I have been wandering aimlessly for some time now. It is such a weird time in this country, and we are such a divided people. I genuinely don’t believe the hype portrayed in our media, but I can’t help but try to remember when so many changes happened without us knowing it. For several years now, the statement “all politicians lie” has bothered me deeply. Why is that statement so flippantly accepted instead of creating a demand for honesty? Would our last election been such a fiasco if we had demanded all voter fraud be corrected years ago? Should we be asking the hard questions about racism and all of the phobias being tossed around? Is there any way we can come together and debate with integrity once again, or do we just accept the mud fest and follow behind the person with the best comebacks? I hope I am not the only person out there wondering what just happened?

Right now, everybody has an opinion, and most are afraid to speak them, but I personally have been raised to accept people on their merits and character. Can we all agree that every group of people have good and evil? Is there a way that we can once again disagree on an issue and still respect each other? Does history repeat itself? Does anyone but me believe we are capable of stopping sex trafficking and child abduction? Why do we spend billions of dollars to stop an opioid crisis with Band-Aids and not actually research why there is such a crisis? I might be naïve but why are we willing to fight so hard to save a planet but not the people living on it? Why have we stopped teaching our children that they can become anything they want to be if they work hard?

After thirty years of instant gratification, extreme minimal discipline, and the acceptance of total disrespect for others, can we stop the experiment; it didn’t work. Isn’t it scientific that for every action, there is an equal reaction? For every choice, there is a consequence; with instant gratification, we lose the value of hard work. I’m proud to be a part of a country that is by far the most generous and helpful in the world in times of disaster, but it is our freedom that allows us to do that. Is there anybody else that feels like we have sold out our grandchildren for a few thousand dollars? I am not ashamed of who I am or where I live; I believe people are our greatest assets; the differences of opinions allow us to learn and grow, which is the extraordinary power of freedom. Yes, there is racism from all cultures, yes there is every phobia imaginable, yes people hate others based on preconceived ideas; yes, political parties disagree; yes, there is a war between light and darkness.  So what if we started teaching “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’m not going to stop reading Dr. Suess to my grandchildren, and I don’t hate you. He calls me Beloved!

Off to Conquer the World

I feel like I am swimming in an ocean of self-help, how-to, and I can teach you how to be rich information; I am overwhelmed. I have begun a new adventure, and I am excited about it; however, it is entirely out of my comfort zone. Because I know nothing about this business, I thought it would be wise to learn and grow into a successful person. I have come out of the last five months of learning to be authentic and confident, doubting that I have any value. I do believe what I think matters. Also, I believe speaking life changes my disposition and brings me more joy. What has me baffled is how I can be authentic and talk like someone else? I find humor in some of this because it is like looking up diet information; the more you read about choosing healthy, the more contradictory it becomes. It’s kind of like “eat beets, they are so healthy,” and the next doctor says, “beets have way too much starch; eat very sparingly.” They both have convincing arguments that can be validated, so do you eat beets or not? I don’t want to be entirely negative because I have gotten some valuable information that has opened my eyes to the area of my life I have overlooked. With that said, I have a new vision for my life, and I am ready to take this journey. A wise man once told me, “eat the meat and throw away the bones.” I believe that applies to everything but the Bible. Here is 2021, the year of new beginnings, new adventures, and plenty of trial and error.

If I can encourage anyone with my story, it is because it is not unique. Change is going to happen, and it can be good or bad, depending on my outlook. The most important thing I have learned so far is that joy has nothing to do with circumstance and everything to do with mindset. The next phase of this journey will be full of failures and hard work, but today I want to absorb the potential and believe in myself. I want to reflect on where I have been, only to see the beauty in what He has made me. Life is so short, so I want to make the best of what I have, and when I stand in front of Him, I want to be sure I finished well. “Take every thought captive” is my mantra today because He calls me Beloved!

Off to Conquer the World

I feel like I am swimming in an ocean of self-help, how-to, and I can teach you how to be rich information; I am overwhelmed. I have begun a new adventure, and I am excited about it; however, it is entirely out of my comfort zone. Because I know nothing about this business, I thought it would be wise to learn and grow into a successful person. I have come out of the last five months of learning to be authentic and confident, doubting that I have any value. I do believe what I think matters. Also, I believe speaking life changes my disposition and brings me more joy. What has me baffled is how I can be authentic and talk like someone else? I find humor in some of this because it is like looking up diet information; the more you read about choosing healthy, the more contradictory it becomes. It’s kind of like “eat beets, they are so healthy,” and the next doctor says, “beets have way too much starch; eat very sparingly.” They both have convincing arguments that can be validated, so do you eat beets or not? I don’t want to be entirely negative because I have gotten some valuable information that has opened my eyes to the area of my life I have overlooked. With that said, I have a new vision for my life, and I am ready to take this journey. A wise man once told me, “eat the meat and throw away the bones.” I believe that applies to everything but the Bible. Here is 2021, the year of new beginnings, new adventures, and plenty of trial and error.

If I can encourage anyone with my story, it is because it is not unique. Change is going to happen, and it can be good or bad, depending on my outlook. The most important thing I have learned so far is that joy has nothing to do with circumstance and everything to do with mindset. The next phase of this journey will be full of failures and hard work, but today I want to absorb the potential and believe in myself. I want to reflect on where I have been, only to see the beauty in what He has made me. Life is so short, so I want to make the best of what I have, and when I stand in front of Him, I want to be sure I finished well. “Take every thought captive” is my mantra today. He calls me Beloved!

Transformation

Transformation makes me think of butterflies and how they completely change from one form to another. I try to imagine what it would be like to be wrapped up in the cocoon, unable to move while wings grow, and the butterfly goes from just remarkable to magnificent. God’s creation is a picture of how He works, not only in plants and animals and creeping things but in the hearts of those who love Him. I have new anticipation of the future and who I am in Him because, just like the butterfly, He has given me wings. I’m struggling with the words to explain this, but Jesus said to Nicodemus, “you must be born again,” and just like the butterfly, we go through the process of unbecoming the child of Adam to become the child of God. I am a new creation in the eyes of God; it is the process of coming out of the cocoon where I have been hiding the real person I am. This life that I worked so hard to turn into a pile of ashes has sprung new life, and out of it, beauty is rising. Not long ago, I would not have been able to say that out loud. In my mind, the word beautiful is a description of something I see, not something I am. Just the idea of vanity would stop me from writing about beauty because it didn’t pertain to me. Other than gaining some weight and adding wrinkles, my appearance has not changed, but I have. Here’s what is funny about all of this; I became a beauty influencer with a makeup company, and I love it. I’m not the best at putting makeup on; I have never taken a selfie of just me, I have never sold anything, and I am a complete introvert, but my cacoon is cracking open, and I am ready to fly. This world puts too much emphasis on outward appearance and not enough on being a person of value.

True beauty comes from character, confidence, security in my ability, and in the amount of grace I have for others. For years I tried to buy into the idea of loving my appearance just like I am, accepting my curves and not focusing on my imperfections. I find that idea to be a double standard in a culture that sells everything with lust and sexuality. Although it is an excellent concept, I watch women of all ages struggle with joining the worldly view of beauty and the idea that everyone is beautiful just like they are together. I have to chuckle as I write this because I believe beauty comes from within, and I sell makeup? Here is what I know; to be loved, you have to be lovable, to be smart, you have to be teachable,  to be confident, you have to put the best version of you forward.  I am thankful that I don’t need to fit into a box, and I can love wearing makeup and not find my identity in what I look like with it on. My encouragement comes from this deep desire to get out of my comfort zone and love people. Do you know the most beautiful people alive are the ones that love you. Created to shine is the start; learning to sparkle is the gift; becoming “beautiful You” is the process. My value comes from the one I keep my eyes on, and He calls me Beloved!    

Fear

The most powerful emotion I know is fear. It is sneaky and bold all at the same time, but it steals so much. Fear is the very thing that makes me go two steps forward and one step back regularly.  This process of renewing my mind is a fight to stay focused on truth. The Bible says God did not give me the spirit of fear, so every time I allow it to grab hold of me, I fall back into my past that has long since been gone. I believe Christianity is this process of continually being challenged to step out in faith and do things that are out of my nature. Today is a day for reflection on the places God and I have traveled together. Throughout this journey, I have built many monuments to remind me of His faithfulness. Those places He alone brought me through remind me how far I have come from the person I used to be. Fear is nothing but doubt and insecurity in my ability to prove my worthiness and value in this world. To be clear, I’m not talking about my irrational fear of spiders but my fear of allowing myself to be more. Vulnerability is a real issue for an extreme introvert, yet that is the constant whisper in my ear. “Say out loud, you’re beautiful,” and then walk in it. Live, talk, and walk every day like I am perfect because I am perfect in Him. This revelation that vanity creates darkness but beauty is a true overflowing of the God that lives in me. I want to think that the number of women that struggle with putting their value on their outward appearance is small, but I know it is not. I live in this world, and I know the pain of having my physical flaws pointed out in public, but truthfully, those words are usually just a reflection of someone else’s fear. There is freedom in vulnerability that is hard to define in a culture obsessed with outward appearance, and yet that same culture creates campaigns and slogans to encourage people to love how they look. I love the concept, but true beauty is not me deciding to love my body and my imperfections; it is me becoming the woman I love and respect. Like most good Christian women, the Proverbs 31 woman comes to mind, and I have to chuckle. She is an excellent example to strive for, but God has called me to be a woman that embodies 1 Corinthians 1:13. In truth, He is not asking me to be vulnerable in my ability to love but to pour out what He has given me in abundance. That overflowing love from my Savior makes me beautiful, and fear has no place there. He calls me Beloved!  

Beautiful

The word beautiful always makes something inside of me, push back. It’s a great word, and even though the content of beauty is entirely personal, the fact that everyone sees beauty is universal. Because beauty is only in the beholder’s eye, I find it ironic that I have struggled most of my life to look a certain way. Like every other human, I live out what I believe, and even though my belief system is being changed daily by God’s word, there are some deep-rooted ideas that I’m not enough. As a young child, I was given this tiny box and asked to stuff myself into it because being a specific size is the only way to be beautiful, and being beautiful was the only way to be loved. I wasted so much of my life angry and defeated, believing I was unworthy of love.  That one belief created a trajectory for my life that could only lead to destruction, and it did. Every day, I am thankful for my rescue and the changes in my life and thinking, but this beauty issue challenges me.

I will start with the sweatshirt. A few years ago, I bought a sweatshirt online. It is white with gold letters that say beautiful; I didn’t know it said anything when I ordered it, so that was a surprise. It is truly the most comfortable shirt I own, but I have worn it a total of two times. I put it in the Goodwill pile a couple of times, but I always take it back for some reason. The crazy thing is when I have worn it by the end of the day; I find myself unable to look up and make eye contact with people. I’m sure that every generation creates a plan to fight against this idea of outward beauty, yet the problem seems to worsen. Why would He pick me and give me a desire to encourage and strengthen other women? I certainly do not have all the answers or even most of the questions, but I know I’m not alone. God has called me to be beautiful. I can almost hear the gasps, but this is not a place of vanity or looks, or even size. The most beautiful people I have ever seen are the ones I love. It’s like a domino effect where the more I know someone’s heart and hear their hopes and dreams, and I begin to see them differently. Others become beautiful because they become confident, secure, and able to be silly and play. To be known is what it takes to be loved, and to be loved is what it takes to be beautiful. My God is beautiful, and I have never seen Him. He is the light in me, and He has given me all the beauty in the world because He loves me.  It will take me some courage to step out from behind my life, but He calls me Beloved.  

The Light

That’s me, called to be the light; several other things, like salt, I can be pretty salty, but that is a work in progress. I say that facetiously because honestly, I am or I am not, but I’m not trying to be. Right now, at this place in my journey, God has used a few people to give me some profound wisdom to help me move forward; “I am Free.”  That sounds so elementary when I say it out loud, but the truth is I have never been afraid to let my light shine, but I am worried about going back into the darkness. Here it is John 8:12. Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life. My problem is not being light; it is living in the light. That deserves an explanation! I have been a follower of Jesus for at least twenty-two years now, and along the way, I have grown, stumbled, fallen flat, and grown some more, but for the most part, I have been looking at this wrong. Years ago, I had a conversation with a wonderful lady that has long since passed; as I told her my story, she stopped me and asked a question. I had a drug problem in my former life and had gotten to a place mentally where I didn’t want to live anymore. That was not a passing thought, but for months a constant battle of thinking about what would happen to my sons until my mind turned to how I could take them with me? It was a desperate screaming at the ceiling that brought my rescue, and I don’t ever want to get over it. I say all that, so the question has context; my sweet friend ask me if I was still in counseling or therapy for my addition? My response to her was so sudden that it surprised me. “I am a new creation, old things have passed away and behold all things have become new.” I have never even considered myself an addict from the day I read that verse; that is no longer who I am. I love that, and it is a constant place of worship and thankfulness for me, so why have I not applied that to the rest of my life? After twenty years of faithful church attendance, some excellent sermons, years of Bible college, and this internal nagging that something is missing, today I see that I have only applied that verse to the “big” sins. I am not a sinner saved by grace; I’m a child of God transformed by grace. Free from all bondage of sin and shame yet always excusing myself with “just a sinner saved by grace” statements. Being a sinner incapable of perfection is the thing that holds me back from being the reflection of my Savior. Was the cross enough, or do I need to work to overcome my sinful nature? What a practice in futility for a person with a track record of “epic fail.” The excitement of understanding that simple shift in my thoughts has changed the trajectory of my future. There is no longer a dark foreboding swamp in front of me because everywhere I go is light. Looking back is only to be reminded of His faithfulness, and looking forward is only to be reminded of the hope that lives in me and shinning where I am right now is His reflection of that faithfulness and hope to others. What a mighty God! I think I’ll go swimming! He calls me beloved!

Stepping Out

“I’m not sure what the future holds, but I know who holds the future” I am in a constant state of reminding myself that He is faithful. Church folks call this place I am at in my journey “stepping out in faith”; it feels more like base jumping with zero information on how to go about it. God is leading me so far out of my comfort zone to this place I might have imagined as a young child, but through the years lost all hope of ever finding. In the last few months, 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,”; has continually run around in my mind. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”. Since the first time I read that verse, I have had this spark of hope that one day I would also be a new creation and so I have spent many years working on becoming something that He made me the day I met Him. It does take time and intentionally seeking to hear His voice, but it is the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2) that changes me. That all sounds wonderful, and “I’m in.” I have been strolling on this new path for a couple of months now, and my emotions are a mixture of excitement and terror constantly warring each other. My Shepherds quiet voice continues to say, “follow me,” but stepping out of my hiding place into the forefront of my life requires me to see the world differently. My past is behind the mountain; ashes are all that remains, but my future is the beauty He created me to be. What I have come to understand is true beauty comes from His reflection and not mine. I am a jar of clay filled with hidden treasure; the only thing I have to bring is the gifts and talents He has given to me. My path has come to the swamp of vulnerability, and the unknown danger that is lurking just under the surface causes me to pause. He is waiting for me to assess the current situation; I can’t see the end of this swamp in any direction; there is nothing to go back to, and I am left to choose set down or be brave? My comment to Him, “it’s dark in there,” to which He replies, “that’s why I gave you light.” He’s a funny guy; I’m sure on the day of judgment when they roll the volumes in on my turn, I will see some eye-rolling. His peace overwhelms me, and I reach for His hand once again. He calls me Beloved!