The other day as I listened to a sermon the words jumped out to me: “It is when you are getting close to God coming through that we turn the other direction.”

Heard these words preached, posted on social media, in writings, and in songs more times then I can remember. But this time the words had my attention like never before. 
See God has had me in some really hard places over the last four years. So much pain came from those years. I desperately long to be healed of the pain. But more than not I find myself in anger over the time I lost. 
If those four years had not happened I would be:
-Employed with benefits. 

-Going into my third year of my Masters, which I just might have been in my last year. 

-Able to take vacations. 

-Have a savings.

-Out of debt. 

But instead the opposite of everything I listed above is what is currently going on plus more.
Therefore, in order to break down the bitterness of what has been taken from me the Spirit finds ways to lead me into deep reflection for healing and to let go. 
I sit here now full of Jesus on the inside but empty in my surroundings. I wonder does Jesus really hear my prayers? Does He really see what I am going through? Am I that bad of a person that I made so many wrong choices to be where I am today? For the one that stands and boost how great their life is with little blemishes in their years, are they better than me to have not seen the life I have? 
One thing God has shown me is the things that I prayed for others He answered. Not only did He answer the prayer He used me to help the answer prayer come about. 
That sounds heavenly doesn’t it? I should feel some type of awe. But I don’t. Instead I say, “Lord, did you see how they person persecuted me? Remember Lord when they did . . . Because I do. Lord, do you not remember how they slandered me? Lord, do you remember when I could not get out of bed because the oppression weighted me down too much and they skipped with smiles living their life in my face?” His response is, “Wendy, I answered your prayer on their life.”
I just stopped pleading my case and just started repeating what He said…I answered your prayer on their life. 
Tonight as I am cleaning out drawers I came across this prayer spiral. I had committed a certain time to pray for specific things for certain people and places. 
When I first came across it I was like I am not even going to read that. But I found myself opening it up to see what I prayed for excepting to see how my prayers were answered like before. 
Instead, I saw how my prayers cause me to be rejected by multitudes because what God wanted to do they would turn the other direction instead of letting Him have His way. 
I found that mind boggling. How one prayer was answered exactly like I asked. One prayer was answered totally opposite. 
I thought back to this devotional I read by Joyce Meyer. It was in regards to everything works for His good. As I read it she pointed out that His good does not mean it eliminates the bad happening. It means that in that bad He is bringing good that you can’t see for His glory. Because of that in faith we can be thankful and praise Him while it is bad. 
One thing I have learned through it all is I might have many dreams and plans that God agrees with but my first obligation is to go where He tells me in faith to save souls no matter the pain I have to go through to save them. Just trust He has better to come but I got to see His work in my life not the pain of the past.

There are some days that living the Christian life comes with a lot of persecution. The blows from others are so consistent we start to wonder if the comments they are saying are true. Our worth is not feeling so worthy. While we know we are doing the right thing their is still this unexplainable feeling going on in us. It reminds me of this Olive tree we have.
We live on 10 acres and our land has been in the family since 1948. So to some it is just land with a run down old house. But for others it is a land full of stories and memories. This Olive tree is just one more story to the list of stories.
Where this Olive tree is located there use to be a line of trees. There were so many that they were crowded together. However, the days of tree clustering slowly started coming to an end once we moved out here in 1991. I think my step-dad made it his mission to clear trees out. This area where this Olive tree is was a location of one of his missions. 
He cut all the trees down. It took some time and I watched as the progress was being made over time. His mission finally came to an end. I looked out and there was this tall tree with maybe a couple of branches on it, which they were all sticking straight up. Only one branch had leaves and there was not very many. 
I asked, “Why didn’t you cut that tree down it looks dead?” He said, “That is an Olive tree and those are good trees. It was smothered from all the other trees so it was not able to grow. Now that the trees that were taking what it needed away from it are gone it will grow.” 
Every summer when it comes time to mow I have stared at this tree while I mowed. I have wondered why is an Olive tree all that. I have wondered if it was every going to grow like it is suppose to. I have pretty much sat in wonder of this Olive tree trying to see what my step-dad saw in this tree.
Now in looking at it I no longer wonder. I can see what my step-dad saw. Today it is a beautiful full tree. It produces olives and shares them with the ground underneath. I can not tell you how many little trees I have had to mow over. If I don’t get to them soon enough there are an abundance of them.
After a day of persecution maybe you feel like this Olive tree looked. Beat down and not seeing a lot of good in you. But the One that allowed you where you are sees a lot of good in you. He sees that where you are is clearing away all the things that are smoothering you from growing into full bloom. As they are removed the light is able to get in to grow such an abundance of fruit that it will be an overflow. 

God loves you like crazy.

Today is the big day.

You have given the last four years preparing for this race.

You have:

– Trained.

– Studied information on the subject.

– Critiqued yourself to boost your style.

Believing with all your heart, you know you are ready.

The race is about to begin. The gun goes off. Pow! You start, running at maximum speed. In your mind you are telling yourself “I got this”. As you continue moving, you find ways to encourage yourself,

“Oh, I am glad I read that book about….because I could use that knowledge right here.”

“Oh, I am glad I changed the way I did that because I would have just messed up right here.”

“Sure am glad I practiced because I could not withstand against some of the competition today, they are in top fitness shape having won gold medals.”

As the race continues, your endurance wears thin. The perfect form you started the race with is showing defects. No biggie, it is here or there. It is not bothering your lead in the race. You look at your coach on the sidelines cheering you on. That gives you the push you need to remain ahead.

Now halfway through the race. You are still breathing. Your body is a little sore. You are tired. But this race is about others, more than you. So you take a deep breath
and you keep pushing forward.  Your emotions are up and down, your body and mind are telling you to give up, but you can’t. Once you make a decision in your heart that you will carry out the race before you, then commitment keeps you running. Your form is now consistent with imperfections, but it is an event you cannot leave.

The final stage of the race takes place. You are dragging. You are not even certain if you will make it. Now, you are so tired you say, “Forget other people, I am trying to get through this final stage.” Your tiredness shows in your affections and speech. It is intense. If you stepped outside your body, you image the picture would be one of an individual encountering a violent wind. The coach sees it, he is encouraging you to carry on while he speaks to himself at the identical time.

Whew! You made it.

The race is not over yet. You are in the cool down stages. But the severity of the race is behind you. Reflections are coming to mind. Observing where you have hurt muscles or
made wrong moves in the race. You think “wow” I did not even realize I took that turn wrong. Now I understand when I stepped this way why that happened. Then you notice how the moves aided the opponent in the race. You gain mental notes to correct this revelation to improve the next race you will be in.

Many times when we think of being a Christian we visualize the faith walk with ease. Our flesh yearns for things to be handed to us, not having to work for anything. When we are told of a “loving” God our mind has produced the conception that a loving God would not allow circumstances in which we sweat and hurt.

However, in reading 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

24 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. 25 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.

Paul tells us that in order to run this race of faith it will undergo training. Training to obtain a crown that last for eternity.

I encourage you that no matter where you are right now and how hard it is to stand on God’s Word. Continue trusting Him for what He has said. Believing that more is being worked out in and where you are, then what you can see in front of you.

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  1. Have you ever trained for any type of race or competition? If so what was it and how did it end?
  2. Has God every had you in a situation that it was harder than you excepted it to be? Explain.
  3. Has there been a time you wanted to give up on walking in faith and do the bear minimum of what God was asking of you? Explain.

Here I Go Again. I was in the bathroom; I whispered something I should have resisted from making public. It begun when I got out of bed this morning. Oh, it will be okay no one is around.

Driving to work a jeep turned in front of me. Frustrated, I yelled at him from inside an enclosed car. Whew! No one was in the car to examine me acting like a fool.

Finally, at work.

Sitting at my desk, my eyes intensely on the computer screen. Out of the corner of my eye I see Sharon, a woman in which our personalities clash, walking up to my desk. She starts talking about personal issues going on in her life.  Struggling to listen because my patients are low. The only thing I can think about, is how I want her to shut up and leave. Her high pitch tone is scraping every one of my nerves inside. I close my eyes, to focus, so I do not say something I should not. The tone in her words is getting louder and louder. Each time it rises, so does my stress level. I can’t take it anymore. I look at her and my mouth comes open, spewing every reason I was not interested in her story. She looked at me with hurt in her eyes and walked away. I was instantly convicted by my actions. I bowed my head asking, “Lord, I need you to help my thoughts and give me self-control over my mouth.”

Why is it when we are in private we assume our thoughts are unharmful until those same ideas come out of our mouth in front of others?

Lately, I have been reminded of how God knows every thought, the good and bad, even when we assume He does not.

Too often we concentrate on the wrong we have done in the past. But what about the good?

Good, like what He will accomplish with our life.

Good, like having characteristics that resemble Christ.

Instead of accepting the valuable things, our response is the same as we say privately in the bad. “Yes, Lord I read what you revealed about me but in my ears, I hear the other.” Inside we are doubting like Moses, claiming, “That is not me. I cannot do that.” It becomes a reasoning game with God. Something like, “Lord, I gather what you are suggesting about me, but let me explain who I am. Let me inform you what my skills are, in which I am valuable. Let me instruct you on what you can do with my story.” As God listens never speaking a word He ends up just showing me He knows better than I do.

Afterwards, I ask myself, “Why do I do this?” Doubt. Unbelief. Lack of faith. Resorting back to our former ways, instead of trusting what God reveals.

What makes it worse is that Satan knows these weak areas. He comes in with a pick ax, just chopping away to beat us down. He shouts at our insecurities, as our ears become deaf to all those things that God has spoken. When we can’t hear what God says anymore, we travel back to our own knowledge. Putting our trust in our self because we have survived taking care of our self for years. Instead of allowing God to enter in and prune us to grow into what He has said. The downfall to this is we miss out on the exciting and unbelievable things God prefers to do in us.

Therefore, I encourage you to never give up on what God declares about you. He might put you through the fire to produce in you what He sees. In those trying times draw upon God’s Word as His strength and power gets you through. Before you know it, you will start seeing what He sees in you.

1 Corinthians 2:10-12 

Jeremiah 17:9-10 

Romans 11:3-36 

Hebrews 4:12-13 

Romans 12:2 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. If you are unsure where to start here are questions to help you get going:

1)     Are your first thoughts the good or bad?

2)     If you could describe your thoughts how would you describe them? Would they be what God thinks of you or different?

Okay, so in my first blog “Stray Dog” I pointed out we get strays in abundance. Well, a seed from that abundance has landed again. Which has gleamed insight on walking life out in faith.

Our house is situated a distance off from the road. There is a long, red dirt path lined with trees that leads up to an older, white frame, two story house. Mostly, when people let their dogs go on our street, it’s at the end of our driveway. Filled with anxiety the dogs stay in one location, not even trying to get past the gate that blocks trespassers.

They stay in that area for three days. Believing their former owner will turn back for them. Then reality sinks in, along with the stomach cramps of starvation, and they act on finding food and a place to reside.

img_1545-1Although, this time the story is slightly different.

After three days, the stray dog still had not moved to find her way to the house. It is summer in Texas, with temperatures passing 100 degrees. I grew concerned that the dog would become dehydrated. The images of her never moving from there appeared in my mind. She will starve herself to death waiting on her previous masters. I could not figure out why she would not join us at our home.

Baffled.

When we get out to retrieve the mail or newspaper we talked kind to her. Petted her. Told her to follow us. She would get excited to visit us. Wag her tail. She seemed as if she knew we were for her.

I could not take it anymore I gathered up food and water. Walking to where she was. As my daughter presented her the food, she ate it in record time. Afterwards, she lapped up the water as if she had nothing for days. I felt this would alter her judgment about walking to our house.img_1554-1

Nevertheless, after a couple days she still had not come.

In my heart, I knew if she would move up the driveway to take notice of the house, pond, and the other dogs she would give up that area.

I ended up taking food down there to show her the way to the house with a food trail. I reached my hand out to her, let her sniff the dog food, patted her, and reassured her how good of a dog she was. Laid a handful of food down for her to eat. After she ate, I gently stroked her fur, reminding her I was proud of her. I stepped distances in front of her in the direction towards the house, placing more food down. We continued this for a limited time. Going away from the gate. She would turn her head around, gaze at the gate. Reason about traveling back. Glance at me. Think twice about the food, and continue with what we were carrying out. We advanced half way down our driveway with food still in my hand. I perceived we would reach the house and she would understand how great it was to stay. Instead, half way down, at the curb, she turned around and walked toward the gate.img_1559-2

I guessed it was too soon. Saying, “Tomorrow I will attempt it again.” The following day I tried again. The results were the same. I questioned why she chooses to return to a place that was empty. No food, water, or people to give her love.

On one occasion, I observed underneath her that it was obvious she had puppies. I simply concluded she was a mom wanting her babies. Therefore, she could not give up the chance of returning to them. She had to get back for when the former owners returned.

One time, as I was working on getting her to the house, I watched her keep turning her head looking back. Finally, she gave into her thoughts and walked away from the house and back to the gate. In this picture before me was a display of God extending His love to us, and we decline it to go back to a point that is empty.img_1556-2

God will present a way He desires us to follow. Through the path, what is to come is unclear. All that is in our view is a dirt road and trees. God sees we need encouragement along with some cheerleaders to follow this route. He surrounds us with individuals just loving on us. Cheering us on. Telling us we can do it. Being there when we are at our weakest and fear has taken the greatest of us. People feeding us when we cannot provide for our self. On the trail, we stop. We turn our head and look behind. Then we glance forward. In that split second, we convince our self to return to the past because people and things are waiting on us. If we don’t go back, we will miss them when they show up. Therefore, we walk back to what is familiar, presuming the existence of something is still there. Only to realize, emptiness is all that is waiting for us.

In Ezekiel 20:6 ESV God informs us He will lead us out of the land of Egypt (our former ways not of God), into a land that is beyond what we have experienced.

“On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands.”

He does not just show us this is Ezekiel He assures us in:

Exodus 3:8

Jeremiah 32:22

Deuteronomy 28:1-68

Exodus 3:17

God informs us that this land, that we cannot see, is abundant in love. A lifestyle of richness, not necessary rich as one might imagine with wealth. Instead waking up excited to face the day. When somebody claims something offensive to you, your joy responses in compassion. The most glorious of all the lands. If I dwell in a place where people and the environment bring me down, it indicates it will be greater. If I remain in a place that I come up empty, with the people I hang with or the places I go, the new location will enhance my fullness. A place I remain satisfied and content. Where I hang around people or go places that have me overflowing with goodness.

Reflecting on how this dog prefers returning to a place of emptiness it leads me to pray for God to search me. When I am walking forward in faith but I turn to look back believing there is something there waiting on me. Finding any state of emptiness in me. Asking God to provide the courage to cling to what He has declared. Coming into what God has that is “the most glorious of all lands”, an area beyond my imagination.

Prayer: Dear Lord, when I cannot make out what is ahead and the suffering of where I am speaks louder than your promises. I ask that you quiet the voices of pain and bring in remembrance Your Word, giving me strength like I never have had. So, I can overcome the battle, walking fiercely towards all you have sworn. In Jesus Name, Amen

In the comment section below please share your thoughts. If you are unsure where to start here are questions to help you get going:

  1. Do you have a suggestion for the dog’s name in the picture?
  2. Do you believe God keeps His promises? Is there an area in your life God has promised you one thing but you return to something contrary to what He has said?
  3. Is there an area in your life that you are trying to walk forward but you keep looking back, thinking if you do not stay you will miss out? Explain.

 

Breaking Out

Life brings different adventures that await us. One of the hardest parts is to break out of what we are accustomed to and into the path we desire. We can see the experience and the opportunities shining with excitement. The kid in us prefers to reach for it in a blink of an eye. But inside are all those voices of reason that have influenced us while growing up, holding us back.

The butterfly metamorphosis is reference repeatedly in Christianity.  A caterpillar that lives in a cocoon of transformation and afterwards breaks out a beautiful butterfly. The caterpillar representing your past and the butterfly representing your new life. th (7)

In my beginning years of giving my life up to Christ, it was a story I held onto. At times, I thought I would be in the cocoon for the rest of my life.  I was convinced once I burst out of the cocoon the story was over. My beautiful wings would stretch out and I would take off into what God had. However, time has taught me the story of the butterfly is never ending and each event I get a different outlook.

Recently, God put me in a position where it seemed as if I was in a box, a cocoon you could say. At first, I did not understand until He closed doors and there I sat by myself with just me and God. A place where my finances remained at bare minimum. No work. No income except child support. A situation I was not prepared for.

Aware of what was ahead I took the measures needed to go after what the future
required, simply to come up empty. Okay, I got knocked down. I got up,
suggesting God had something else in mind.

I paid impressive money to pursue the job of my dreams. I laid all my fears down to
apply for positions I was qualify for.  Although I did not understand how I would blow
the interviewer out of their chair to declare, “Yes! She is the one.” Only to sit
three months afterwards with nothing but declining letters from companies in my hand.

This taking place during the time of year that is fun and relaxing. Summer. You know when people are on vacations. Family and friends by the pool. Sleepovers and attending late night movies.

th (9)Well, life circumstances have felt like the climate of summer. It has been hot. The only rain falling is what you produce from your eyes, called tears. When all you can look at is dirt, it creates a large amount of uncertainty in you and you grab at different possibilities. You pray, but when the answers don’t come, you answer the prayer yourself. Realizing you took a bunch of risk but nothing came from it. Then you begin the mental process of recollecting your mistakes.

If I had not spent . . . on that idea I would have . .  . more money than I do now.

               If I had managed my time better, I would be 10 more steps ahead of the idea I am working on now.

                If . . . (You fill it in.)

It’s easy to fill in our failures with “ifs” as we tear apart our worth.th (8)

Then you hear that one thing in which can only come from God alone and it reignites you. You take that small flame while carrying your failures and “ifs” and you march toward God stronger than you every have, believing there is more.

Y’all this has been my summer.

What amazes me in the process of what I regard as so awful is it took God to bring me to this point to go after my desires.

A movie that speaks encouragement to continue after my dreams is “Pursuit of Happyness”. The film with Will Smith where he lived in the slums of San Francisco and had nothing. His wife abandoned him because the situation became too much. The situation led him to find determination like he never had. It was at his lowest that caused him to chase after something so many would consider impossible.

Check out the trailer here:

When we watch movies, our emotions get so caught up in the goodness of what is transpiring that our emotions dance a lovely picture. They make us miss the aches and pains it takes to break us out of generational ways of thinking. In those desperate moments when the tears are falling, creating puddles, it can be one of the most beautiful
times in our life. A time of just you and God. Allowing God to tear down the barriers keeping you bound from a place you never imaged to be or do. A point where we give into the fear ceasing and faith arising. Grabbing faith’s hand as we consent to God pulling us up and telling us what to do.

In the comment section below share your thoughts over what your read. Here are some questions to help you get going:

Has fear ever kept you from what you desired? If so how did you overcome?

How do you handle when God has you in a summer season so you do not lose, or give up on, your faith?

Is there something God is calling you to but you remain in a box that you need to break out of? Explain.

 

It is Summer! image3

Time for outside entertainment. Barbecues. Swimming. Hanging with friends. Then right in the center of all the summer fun is July 4. A moment of remembrance for American’s Independence, celebrated with fireworks.

Fireworks where families travel to see a magnificent extravaganza. Fireworks people go buy, putting on their own personal show.

For our family, we do them ourselves. There are two holidays you will find us at the waterfront setting off fireworks. Although, there are years, due to planned activities, we go elsewhere to enjoy them.

image1 (4)This year, with my son away at camp, my daughter and I elected to go to Fair Park in Dallas, to view the fireworks. We had gone several years prior and started remembering the wonderful day we had. As we conversed about the memories, it was the most pleasant experience in our life. Then with concern in my eyes I questioned, “Do you remember the traffic to get out of Fair Park?” My patients could not handle her delay response, “It took us over an hour to get out of the parking lot. As we sat in the same area, in a hot car, filled with gas vapors from other engines, while we were amused by people playing soccer and football.”

After recalling the incident, I was not convinced going to Fair Park was an excellent decision. But my daughter had put on “the look”. You are aware of the look? Where no sounds are heard but the facial expression produces the silent phrases, “Mom this is such a great idea and I would be heartbroken if you broke these plans.” Yeah, so my brain went to work. Trying to figure out how to overcome the obstacle of getting out of Fair Park after the 4th of July firework display.image2 (1)

We considered many solutions, but agreed that we would have a picnic by the lagoon while basking in the evening. We had it thought out. A blanket to sit on. Dinner outside. Card games as we waited. My favorite, observing people around us. Surely, we could get out of the park within reasonable time.

As the evening unfolded, our plans went contrary to what took place. Our picnic turned to eating inside a fast food restaurant. We ended up parking inside Fair Park, opened the rear door of my CRV and watch fireworks from my vehicle.

Yet our plans varied, I was still seeking the strategy to defeat the difficulty of getting out with little wait time.

image2The distances to exit Fair Park was visible from where we were. I parked, so all I had to do was travel straight to the gate with no reverse action. Told my daughter when the Fireworks are over close the doors and we will go as quick as we can to the gate.

We were set.

Fireworks ended and our course of action begin. As I drove through the gates to leave with no traffic, I could hear trumpets going off in my ears.

But there was one issue. I did not realize the street I turned on you could simply go left or right. My intention was to go straight. As I pulled closer to the light I had a choice to make. Right, which would bring me into the Fair Park traffic and was the route towards going home. Or left away from the Fair Park traffic. I picked left. 

Turning left only brought me to the unavoidable traffic. My car claustrophobia set in and my strong will felt crushed. I became aggravated, frustrated, angry, and disappointed in myself. To escape having to sit in traffic, and my struggle within myself, I would turn on a street in which I was convinced was the way to get out. Only to make a full circle and be taken right back to where I was. Eventually I yielded, with my daughter’s aid, and remained in the traffic.

What I preferred to not deal with, I ended up facing… sitting in traffic for over an hour after enjoying the firework display at Fair Park.

When I came upon the freeway to freedom I was so furious at myself. My meditations were induced with negative thoughts about myself. Wendy, if you had turned right instead of left you would not have made circles all over Dallas just to get home. If you would have given further regard to the routes, this would not have occurred. 

With sorrowfulness in my soul we made it home. I was worn out. The reality that it was late was an insignificant percentage to why I was tired. I was mentally broken down and weakened. All I longed for was to lay down and escape.

As I crawled in bed, I picked up my phone to go though mindless post on Facebook. The first post in my feed was about a shooting at McDonald’s by Fair Park. Not only a shooting, but a gang fight. One that created chaos. People running away from the shots being fired and into the street.

Instantly, I took a deep breath and became thankful.

See if I turned right I would have been in the center of that, I know I checked the time. Instead I turned left and believed I made the worse decision in my life. But, it was the best decision, even though it did not look that way as I went through it.

In Psalm 32:8 it reads, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

I have been going through the Psalms which states on many occasions about God being with us and having His eye upon us. As I read that post about the shooting and fight I could not push back remembering how God’s eye is upon me. But in my anxiety and uncertainty I mentally take a sword out. Then in my thoughts start negativity cutting at my worth when it does not look as if I heard correctly, yet God clearly said it. In addition, I make every effort to get out of the precise place God permits only for me to end up right back in the place I left.

When listening to God on most occasions it’s like taking a left at the light instead of a right. I do not completely comprehend why He took me the way He did, until after it is all over.

In the comment section below share your thoughts over what your read. Here are some questions to help you get going:

1.)    How do you spend July 4th?

2.)    Have you ever thought you were going the wrong direction in life, or in a situation, to only find out you were exactly where God wanted you to be? Explain.

3.)    During times of uncertainty, or you think you have heard God wrong, how do you respond?