Throwing out the Rules

I don’t know exactly what happened. Somewhere in the last couple weeks I lost sight of what and why I was writing. I managed to subconsciously, and soon consciously, create all of these rules for myself on writing. It amazes me how subtly things like that can seep into your creative world.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about writing, but not actually doing it.  So, last night I sat down and listed all the things I believe get in my way of writing – both external and internal reasons. There is where I found those rules I spoke about.

Rules like, if I am not writing everyday, I shouldn’t call myself a writer or the biggest one, which happens to be the truest of all my stumbling blocks:

If I am not writing a devotion or a piece of Christian writing then I shouldn’t write it.

Where did this rule come from?  Who says that because God places devotion pieces on my heart, means that He doesn’t want me to write other things?

So, I have decided to throw all these “rules’ out the window – to be bold, but still prayerful; to be courageous and take some risks. 

Afterall, God created us in His image. He made us creative.

I don’t know where this revelation will take me, but I hope you will come along on the journey.

“The scariest moment is just before you start” – Stephen King

Impact of Relationships – A Thank You

What I have missed the most during this pandemic has been the ability to travel to different congregations throughout Texas. This relationship building not only plays a large part in being successful at my job, but on a personal level it has led me to some amazing relationships. Each of these relationships has helped me build a community of prayer warriors and encouragers.

I am so grateful for the ability to worship at different congregations online each Sunday morning. What a true blessing it is to attend multiple worship services in the same day and still be able to attend my home congregation’s service online.I have already been to three this morning and the messages were not only fantastic, but were ones I needed to hear. 

Although I do believe that some people and places are only in our life for a season, I am convinced that all of these people and places have a lasting impact on our lives.

I have come to realize that people in my life, no matter how many seasons they dwell, help me become a better person and help me grow in Christ.

1 Peter 4:8-10 says:

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Notice, the verses don’t specify a timeline. It doesn’t matter if it’s one day or a lifetime, we must love one another, show hospitality and serve one another, showing grace in each moment.

May this continue to be written on my heart.

Dear Lord,

Thank you to the pastors in my life for working so hard to make sure we can worship together online and safely in person. Thank you to all the friends I have met in my life, whether our time of friendship has passed or continues, you have made an impact. Thank you to God for all the opportunities, including those during this pandemic, to grow in Christ and build relationships.

42 Word Writing Prompt: Jostle

Thoughts jostle in the space of infinite competition.

Pushing against each other, they vie for my attention.

Where can I hide from their pursuit?

I search for ways to silence them.

I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and try to let go.

Heart Assessment

I was listening to Spotify the other day when a cover of the song “Diamonds are Forever”. I have heard this song before, of course, since it’s the theme song to a James Bond movie of the same name. Yet, this was the first time I ever actually listened to the lyrics. These lyrics struck me with their power:

I can see every part, nothing hides in the heart to hurt me

It reminded me of how there have been times I have hidden things in my heart. These things, if they had been let out, may have hurt someone or hurt my relationship with them. Sometimes I have hidden things in my heart from others out of fear. It was easier to tuck away things in the darkest secret corners of my heart then it was to be vulnerable.

I have even tried this same tactic with God. It I thought, ‘maybe if I hide the parts of me I am not proud of or the actions I regret deep in my heart, He won’t see them?  

I was only fooling myself. I was only doing a disservice to myself. I could not fool God. How could I have blinded myself to fact that God is Omniscient?

Psalm 44:20-21 says:

If we had forgotten the name of our God

    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,

would not God have discovered it,

    since he knows the secrets of the heart?

It may be a little scary to know that God sees everything in our heart, every dark secret shines in light before Him. However, this is a good thing. We need Him to see what is in our heart, so He can expose the good, the bad , the shameful, the fearful and everything in between. 

Proverbs 4:23 tells us the heart is the place from where all things flow; Where life flows and springs up from.

I can often tell what is in my heart based on what flows from my mouth, what’s stirring in my thoughts, and my overall attitude. Sometimes it’s wonderful, other times not so much.

If you are struggling with what is flowing from your mouth, what’s stirring in your thoughts, or your attitude, may I suggest taking a “heart assessment?”  

No matter what is hiding in the dark corners of your heart, your known and unknown secrets, trust that they are already shining in the light of God’s love. He sees them. He knows them. There is nothing hidden from God.

We don’t have to fear this because we know these two truths:

  1. God will forgive us for all these thing we try to hide

But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 TPT

  1. We can have a new and clean heart

Create a new, clean heart within me. Fill me with pure thoughts and holy desires, ready to please you. Psalm 51:10 TPT

I don’t know about you, but Psalm 51:10 will now become part of my daily prayer.

I will leave you with this quote by Oswald Chambers:

        “ The human heart must have satisfaction, but there is only one Being who can satisfy the last abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

One Lesson Learned in 2020

I started 2020 with a fear which carried over from the previous year. This fear had to do with my heart health. 

Just a couple months into 2020, though, this fear was replaced by a new fear: Covid-19. The pandemic brought with it not only fear for the health of myself and those I know and love, but also the financial fears which come with job loss.

Then, two weeks ago, I had a new fear come and replace the Covid one – Melanoma. This diagnosis brought a fear of pain, a fear of medical bills, and a fear of what may come next.

But let me share with you the biggest lesson I have learned in 2020:  

There will always be something in this world to fear. 

Let me share with you another truth:

God is greater than any fear or any cause of the fear. He is in us and with Him we are more than conquerors!

So, exhale, release these thoughts and emotions and remember His words:

4 My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One who lives within you is greater than the one in this world. 1 John 4:4

99 Word Writing Prompt: Misanthrope

She sits alone at her kitchen table. One hand casts away cigarette ashes while the other turns the final pages of her latest escape. 

The knock at the door startles her. She cautiously approaches.  Peering through the peephole, she sees no one. She waits a few minutes, checks again, still no sign of anyone.  She nervously opens the door.

A package falls atop her slippered feet. In her paranoia, she kicks it over to reveal the return address – Salisbury Press Inc.  

She bolts the three locks, lights another cigarette, opens the book and enters the only world she trusts.

GOD IS PERSISTENT

Have you ever had one of those “middle-of-the-night, brutally honest, two way conversations with God?”     

I have. 

In fact, due to not sleeping well in the past week from the surgery, I have had quite a few. (I could use another week just to sit and process everything He has shown me.) 

If I am truly honest with myself, though, none of what was revealed to me was a surprise. God has gently nudged me before on the subjects, but I just chose to subtly ignore Him (which you can’t do by the way).

God is patient, but He is also  persistent.

It’s not easy to hear things about yourself – weaknesses pointed out or personality traits you  wish you didn’t have. Our pride says “if you don’t like who I am, that’s your problem.”

It’s our pride which keeps us from taking a deep dive into analyzing the things about ourselves we would rather keep hidden or refuse to admit.  It was my pride that kept me pushing His gentle nudges aside. The irony that my pride was one of the subjects He spoke to me  about  is not lost on me, by the way.

Again, God is patient, but He is also persistent.

Think about the story of Jonah.  God called Jonah to go to Nineveh.  

What did Jonah do? He ran.  What did God do? He persisted.

Jonah didn’t want to hear or follow what God wanted him to do, but God persisted and prevailed.

God’s persistence is a beautiful gesture manifested by His faithful love for us.

Trust in His persistence in your life.  

“But You, O Lord, are a God [who protects and is] merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and truth.”  Psalm 86:15

Oh, What a Song to Sing

On this morning of my surgery to remove the Melanoma, I woke up to Chris Tomlin’s song “Nobody Loves Me Like You” on my heart.

It serves as a great reminder that He who has created this day and given me the breath to live it, loves me more than anyone and in a way that only He is able.

He came down to restore me and today is a day of restoration.

3 The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness. 4 I said, “Have mercy on me, LORD; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” Psalm 41:3-4

Being Still

They stood on the banks of a pond, fishing lines in the water.

“This is not what I was expecting when you told me you wanted to teach me mindfulness,” she said to her friend.

“Being still comes in many forms,” he replied.

Upon hearing those thought provoking words, I paused the show, and the character, who just said words that spoke volumes to me.

When did I decide that “being still” meant only sitting in a quiet room praying and reading my Bible? Why did I define it so rigidly?

Being still means being in His very presence, listening for him, focusing on Him and all things by Him.

So, be still on the banks of a pond with a fishing line wavering in the water.

Be still while moving through the trails of a nature reserve.

Be still on a morning walk.

Be still wherever and however you desire to be.

Find your space.

Be still.

Another Battle to Fight

The words on the other end of the phone call were not what I expected to hear. Everything had led me to believe that it wasn’t anything to worry about. Yet, there I stood, cell phone in hand, learning another lesson in the agony of unmet expectations. I was caught off guard and I felt the air leave abruptly from me, knocked out in one sentence.

Melanoma.

Again. 

My first diagnosis was May 23,2011, a first look into an unknown fear. I tried to process it. I cried and called out to God. Finally, after a whirlwind of emotions, I finally said to God, “Don’t let this be in vain. Let me be able to help others by using this for good.”

Now, here I am. April 24, 2020. Here in a time when Covid has been my fear, I am faced with the harsh reality of having a Melanoma diagnosis again. A new fear in the same arm as last time.  Just above my wrist is going to be a scar – a Battle Scar. 

Melonoma is not just a battle against a cancer trying to attack my skin, it’s a battle against emotional and spiritual enemies. I fight against the devil trying to steal my joy and against letting the diagnosis define me. 

In the past nine years, I have won this battle, fighting diligently through the highs and lows that come with it. I can list for you every blessing I see in this just as much as I can list every fear and reason for frustration.  I see that as a good thing. I never want to lose sight of the blessings that shine even in the darkness. 

So, why I am writing this? What is the point?

Well, I am writing this for YOU. Whether it’s a scary diagnosis, unexpected bad news, or unmet expectations …. YOU have a  God who is right there with you. A God who created you to feel every emotion instilled inside you,

Let yourself feel what you feel. Give permission to yourself to feel and process everything. And when you have, bring them to the Lord, who walks beside you, upholds you, and brings you to the green pastures to lie down to rest and the still waters to rest beside.

So, as I go forth with surgery next week to remove it, the blood tests to make sure it hasn’t found its way in, and the x-rays to ensure my lungs are clean . . . I will prepare for battle.  

Just as was told to King Jehosophat and all the people of Judah in 2 Chronicles 20:15:

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

The army may not be vast in this case, but it is still something on the attack. I will not retreat as long as my God is on my side. 

He will always fight for me.

He will always fight for you.

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