Keep Working

Have you ever noticed that whenever we start paying attention to the things we are doing wrong and start making a  conscious effort to not do the wrong thing, that more situations arise that would generally start making us do the wrong thing?

For instance, say someone’s down fall is seeking approval from man. So they start making an effort to not worry about approval from others but worry about doing God’s wil. Then everything they do from that point on receives no notice. Because they aren’t receiving feedback or no one seems to be paying attention to what they are doing, they start questioning if that is really what God is wanting them to do. Granted, some of what they use to do in the past is gone. They aren’t manipulating the situation to make people notice and get themselves noticed. But, they are disappointed and hurt so they are letting that cause them to stop doing what God wants them to do.

The devil knows your weaknesses just as well as God does and he will do whatever he can to stop you from doing God’s will. He doesn’t want your life to have meaning. He doesn’t want you leading others to Christ. So if he can make you doubt yourself and stop you from doing what God wants you to do then he has accomplished what he set out to do. God will not make you doubt yourself. If what you are doing is not what He intended, He will let you know, but it will never be by making you believe less of yourself. God will not put you down.

Stay in His word and keep praying. Keep working through the hurt and rejection you may feel by man because what God has in store is well worth it.

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday! Big 51. I’ve had seven birthdays since I was diagnosed with cancer and that’s great news! Because I had to go through hell on earth to still be here, I don’t mind turning another year older.

What’s more important to me though is the way I’ve handled this day. I didn’t take off from work. I didn’t make any plans to have a party. Knew my boys were struggling with money, plus with their work schedules I knew it would be hard to get together with them. Knew that this evening we had free physicals set up for one of our county high schools. And yep – I worked. Didn’t leave work until after seven. Had 200+ kids there.

Both my boys called and/or text me Happy Birthday and they loved me. My youngest walked my boxer for me since I was going to be late and gave my male chihuahua that has seizures his medicine for the evening. The beginning of the week, one of my coworkers made me a s’mores cheesecake and it was freaking awesome! My parents wished me a happy birthday. Had friends and family blow my facebook up with birthday wishes. People at work wishing me a happy birthday.

So no, I may not have had special plans. To some it may just seem like another day. But in the past it’s a day I would have come home, curled up hugging either my boxer or a pillow, and cried all night because I’m still alone. This time though – I’m blessed beyond words with friends and family that care about me. I’m blessed to serve a risen Savior that loves me and will never leave my side. I’m not alone.

Happy Birthday to me – it’s been an awesome day.

Death Phase – Learning Phase

Leaving, famine, believing, death, and resurrection. These are the five phases of faith that Lysa TerKeurst talks about in her book “What Happens When Women Walk in Faith”. This was the subject of the last Bible Study that I participated in through Proverbs 31 Ministry. While I identified with every phase, I still struggled with the death phase. Until this evening.

This evening, after writing my blog post Finding Forgiveness, God put it on my heart about a learning phase. So I thought that where my life was concerned, I would look at it as another phase. It would fit in probably after the death phase. After looking at the book again, I thought maybe some would say that it is a part of the believing phase. But God has told me different. My learning phase is my death phase.

The death phase to me had represented when things you wanted to happen have not. What you thought was God’s plan for you really wasn’t. That dream, that plan died. I realized tonight that my death phase is letting my past die. So during this phase I have to learn how to let go of the past, learn how to live for God, learn how to do the things He wants me to do instead of what I want to do, and most important, learn how to wait on God. I have to die to self. I have to let die this desire to win the approval of others. Not to manipulate the situation to get what I want but wait on God. I have to let die the part of me that wants man’s approval and breath life into the part of me that wants to please God.

So my death phase is my learning phase which will lead to a glorious resurrection phase.

*written on the evening of 5/19.

Finding forgiveness

they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them,“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it,being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  John 8:4-11 NKJV

Have you ever felt like this woman? I have. Many times. Condemned by others. Shunned because of past mistakes. Felt unworthy and unloved. Could not see how God could use me. How could God even look at me. It was during these times that I even questioned my salvation. Oh, I knew I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But that was when I was a child. Before I grew up and started making the wrong choices and going down the wrong paths. Before I became unworthy. Not good enough. Unlovable.

Unlovable. Three marriages, three divorces. Unlovable. Numerous relationships that ended badly. Unlovable. Cancer, surgeries, scars. Alone. Unlovable.

It’s easy to say “God loves me”, but when you have been hurt and rejected it’s harder to believe it. It’s easy to say “God forgives you” but when you look at the choices you’ve made and the people you’ve hurt, especially those close to you, it’s hard to believe that God forgives you. Especially when you’ve not forgiven yourself.

The thing that has scared me most over the years has been ending up alone. I mean physically alone. No one to hold you when you hurt, no one to hold you when you weep, no one to rejoice with you when you are happy, no one to help with everyday things like chores around the house, no one to help you make the hard decisions. Because of this fear, I’ve ran from relationship to relationship, person to person, wanting to find that one. That one that would be there with me the rest of my life. Yes I prayed. But then someone would show up and I would convince myself it was God’s answer to my prayer. It didn’t matter that deep down I knew the situation wasn’t right. I convinced myself it was okay because this was God’s plan. This was the person for me. Even after being diagnosed with cancer right at the same time my third divorce was final, I still believed that I had found the one for me. That it was an answer to my prayer. That nagging little voice that would show up every now and then to tell me it wasn’t right, I shoved it away. Made it shut up. Ignored it. Did things that I am not proud of. Even after that, I was left alone. At the lowest point in my life when I really needed someone. During my time of chemo.

The simplest way to describe chemo would be to imagine the worst case of flu that you have ever had in your life. Then try to imagine it being ten times worse. There were times at night I would hug my pillow and cry myself to sleep, tired, drained, sick, crying out wondering why I had to endure this alone.

I want to say that it was during this time that I found my way back to God but in all honesty it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have made it through that time in my life without God. But that’s not when I really started trusting Him. That’s not when I really and fully understood that I wasn’t alone. I think that’s when I really started finding my way back to Him, but still got sidetracked by things that would show up. And the one thing that would still drag me down was not only my fear of being alone but not forgiving myself for my past.

The internet can be a great place for someone that has become very insecure with themselves as a person because they can find sites to go where they can be something they aren’t. I was good at finding those places. It was like I was living a double life. I could be one way in the real world, then come home and be something totally different. Something I wanted to be and no one had to know the real me. I joined games or sites or whatever you want to call them, where you could create an avatar that looked NOTHING like you and go find other people to hang out with without ever leaving the comfort of my couch. Even there I would try to find happiness by having my avatar be in a relationship that would end badly. I became addicted to WOW (World of Warcraft). Would spend hours upon hours shooting and killing things. End up in guilds to try and find friends and still eventually be disappointed. I don’t know how much time I wasted on the computer in games trying to find happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trashing computer games. I was just using them for all the wrong reason. In other words, I was searching for something to make me happy and fulfill me. I got to the point where I was cutting myself off from the outside world and living my life online. When I got home on Friday evenings, I would literally not leave my house until Monday morning. I didn’t want to be around people. I was looking for acceptance from people that I didn’t meet face to face. I wanted someone online to tell me I was important, that I mattered. Figured if I couldn’t find it in the real world, I would find it online. Then when I didn’t, I would sink into depression.

Sitting here now writing this, I am still battling that demon of wanting to have approval and acceptance from the people I interact with, whether it be online or people I meet face to face. Even when I first started joining the P31 online Bible Study, I would want what I said or did in groups to be noticed and meet with someone’s approval. Someone to say oh what a difference you’ve made in this group. I actually stopped doing a study once because I was disappointed that it hadn’t happened. Other people were getting mentioned but not me.

It was during this last study that something clicked. I wish I could tell you what, that I had found the answer, but I can’t. It’s still a change I’m struggling with. But I have started pushing through. Working through the feeling of not being important. Determined not to give up. Seeing that these studies I do or the things I participate in is not about me and earning praise from people, but learning about God. Learning what God wants me to do. Learning what other people have to say about life. Learning to open up and share what has happened to me because God wants me to whether or not anyone else finds it important. I may never have someone comment on my blogs or comment on the posts I put on Facebook. But that’s ok. Because I write and post what I feel God has led me to. And if I don’t get asked to participate in any other way, then it wasn’t meant to be. Then that’s not the way God wants to use me. I have to stop trying to make things happen by manipulating the situation. God will make it happen when He wants it to happen the way He wants it to happen.

I went and sat with a friend this evening and we talked about some things that happened in the past. She’s probably one of the few people that know some things that have went on. I told her that I tried to be what others wanted me to be, whether it was the person I was with or a group I was with, just because I was afraid of being alone. But in the end I still ended up alone. It was when I stopped fighting being alone, when I stopped searching for people or things to fulfill me, that God spoke. I had to be alone to fully realize that I’m not alone.

As for the forgiveness thing. This past study is where I started pushing through and spending more time in His word. Not just a passing thing in the morning and taking breaks on weekend. But actually spending time in the morning and evening studying and listening. When that feeling of wanting approval and not getting it, or wanting special mention, or whatever would hit, I pushed through it and didn’t quit. I still attended the events and participated whether or not anyone would acknowledge it. It was through this study that I started learning alot more about not living in the past. Not letting the past define me. Trust me, it’s not something that changes overnight. This is something that took a lifetime to learn and it’s going to take a lifetime to unlearn. But like the woman in the temple, one thing I know to be true now, is that Jesus does not condemn me. He is not throwing stones or looking the other way. He loves me. And He is holding out His hand to me. He will always be by my side.

I know I’m not alone feeling like it’s hard to forgive yourself so it’s hard to believe that God forgives you. Read my blog post forgiven here: https://walkinginfaithjourney.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/forgiven/. I don’t have the answers as it’s still a walk in faith journey for me. But I’ll be more than happy to listen to your story if you need someone to talk to. God puts people in your life for a reason. I have learned that. If you’ve found your way here, then it must be for a reason. Feel free to share.  I won’t judge or condemn. Or search out Proverbs 31 Ministry. They have a lot of resources and studies that will help you. Listen to KLove as they have excellent music and words of encouragement. Talk to someone you are close to. Spend time in God’s word. Spend time just listening in the stillness. Trust me, it may feel like you are alone, but you really aren’t. Jesus is there to pick you up. Let Him be your portion and your happiness.

Forgiven

they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them,“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it,being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  John 8:4-11 NKJV

Caught. Betrayed. Hurt. Shame. Crying. Pleading. Begging. “Forgive me,” I cry but to no avail. No one will listen to my pleas. My tears make no difference. They drag me into the street and down the dirt road. Is that my husband with the men dragging me? Shame fills me. I look around for the man I had been with but he is no where to be found. No, they will not hold him accountable. This will all be on me.

We stop. We are at the temple. I look around at the men condemning me. None of them will look me in the eye. They know I am unworthy. I do not blame them. I brought this on myself. There are no excuses. Nothing I can say will right this wrong I have committed.

“Harlot.” “Adulterer.” “You have brought shame on your family.” The cries from the crowd surrounding us fill me with shame even more. Their words condemn me. I am to die. Why oh why had I chose this path? Instead of talking to my husband, I listened to the sweet enticing words of another. Now I am here. Knowing I am to die. I am condemned.

Prayers long forgotten run through my mind. I refuse to utter them. God will not help me. Not after what I have done.

“Look, it’s Him.” “Jesus.” “They say He is very wise.” “He says He is the Son of God.” “Surely He will condemn this woman.” The mumbling from the crowd catches my attention.  The Son of God? Here? I look up and see this plain simple man approach. Is this really the Son of God? My shame and grief now knew no boundaries. I hang my head. I cannot look at Him. I am not worthy.

A gentle hand lifts my chin and I am looking into the gentlest eyes I have ever seen. He searches my face and smiles. Jesus smiled at me. A condemned woman. He kneels beside me and starts to write in the dirt. What? What is He doing? They ask Him a question about me. He ignores them. They ask Him again and again. He stands and looks around. “Is there one here who is without sin? If so, then you cast the first stone.” He kneels beside me and starts drawing in the dirt again. A small smile appears on His face. He’s smiling? They are going to start stoning me and He smiles. I knew I was not worthy. I close my eyes and prepare for the stones to hit me. Tears streak down my face.

I wait.

And wait.

What are they waiting for? I open my eyes to see Jesus standing up, holding out His hand to me. He pulls me to my feet and looks around. “None of your accusers are here.”

I look around and there is not one man left. The crowd has dispersed. “No Sir, they are gone.”

Jesus smiles. “I do not condemn you. You are forgiven. Go and do not sin no more.”

Forgiven? Me, a condemned woman. An adulterer. He forgives me? I smile. I’m forgiven. I start running to my home, my feet light. Peace fills my soul. Jesus said I’m forgiven. I must make amends with my husband and my family. I’m forgiven!

I stop and look back. There He is watching me. He smiles and I smile back. Forgiven. I am forgiven!

God Bumps

Have you ever experienced a God bump? You know, those goose bumps you get because something happened, but you know that God was the one who caused it to happen? I have. Several times. This post is about the one that meant my life.

I was in my second marriage and had my two sons when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had a lumpectomy, radiation and chemo. Did the whole pink ribbon thing for awhile but after years went by and she stayed cancer free, the whole thing kinda went into one of those drawers you tuck away to never look at again. Even knowing that she was not the first in our family to have breast cancer, that we even had female relatives that had passed away from the disease, did not push me to continue to go to the doctor yearly and have yearly exams. Did not do the whole self check exam. In the back of my mind I wanted to believe that it would skip a generation. Even though I wouldn’t wish it on any of my kids or grandchildren or their kids – you get the picture. It was just one of those things that you think ok it’s not going to happen to me.

When I started going through my third divorce, I’ll admit I wasn’t quite with it. Other things were going on that I’ll explain in another post. That speaks more toward following God and not rushing and jumping into situations you shouldn’t. Which I was VERY bad about doing. Some days it took all I had to get up and go to work. My kids were about grown – one was a senior in high school but having issues which I won’t get into here. The other one was back living with me trying to figure out what he wanted to do in life. I’ve apologized to them for that time in my life because I sure wasn’t there for them then. It was during this time in my life that one morning I got up, went to get ready for work, and could not find the bra that I usually wore. Not a big deal I know, but I knew that it was there in my bedroom or bathroom, just no where to be seen that day. I’m not one that has a million bra’s laying around, a different color for every outfit. Usually had just the one and somewhere there was one that was a back up. So I dug around and found my back up which had not been worn in like forever! During the day, the underwire snapped. If you’ve ever had one snap you know that the poking does not feel good! You tape the end, you try putting it back in, you try to do whatever you can short of going without the bra until you can get home. When I got home, and took the bra off, there right where it had poked me I could feel a lump. I of course panicked, the family history of cancer coming out of the drawer I had tucked it away in. Of course, I had not been to a doctor in several years, not done a self check in I don’t know how long. Too late to call the doctor’s office I had to wait until the next morning. Luckily, the doctor was very understanding and was able to work me in immediately that morning.

When the doctor examine me, he did the examination and looked at me like where is it. So I put his hand on the lump and he’s like yep there’s a lump there. He looked closer and wanted to know what that indention right in the middle of the lump was. That was where the underwire had poked me the day before.

Later in the month when I met with the surgeon who was to become my surgeon for the rest of my life or his, he knew I was beating myself up for not doing self exams. He explained that even though the lump seemed big like it had been there for awhile, he believed it may have actually only been there for several months. He didn’t believe that I would have felt it five months before if I had done a self exam. But, if the underwire had not snapped that day, I cannot tell you when I would have found it. Considering at the time they removed the lump that it had grown from the first biopsy, that my breast was filled with cancer like material so they could not get the margins clear, that the main lymph node had cancer cells, and that I’m BRCA II positive, had I not found it when I did, there is a very real possibility that I would not be here today to write this post.

A God bump. Something that happened at exactly the right time to stop something even worse from happening. Something that can’t be explained especially since that night when I got home, my bra was laying right on top of my dresser. Right in plain sight.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve had several friends pass away from cancer. One from breast cancer a year and a half after I was diagnosed. The other from lung cancer several years later. Believe me I have asked myself several times a thousand why me and not them? Why was my life saved and not theirs? I still don’t have the answer. But I know it was a God bump that saved my life. I will thank God for that every day especially every day I celebrate a birthday and remember those that did lose the battle every day and thank God that I got to know them.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven –             Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

He Loves Me Anyway

Sometimes I visualize God and I like the way Lola, my boxer, and I are. When I have her on the leash, she’s good and usually listens to me. Every now and then we have a tug of war about where we are going, but we always end up where we need to be. Some days I have to tug harder than others. There are days when I will let her off the leash while we are outside and she may be good for a little bit but as soon as something gets her attention off she goes. Then I will chase her down and make her get home. Yes, I said make. Trust me, a boxer can be just as hard headed and stubborn as a human can be. Usually she hasn’t gone far but since we live close to a highway, I don’t want to take that chance that she runs out there on the road and someone hits her. She doesn’t think about a car coming barreling down the road, she is just chasing after whatever has her attention at that moment. But I do know what could happen so I want her where she belongs. Even though she takes off away from me, that doesn’t stop me from loving her. I know she’s not perfect but I love her anyway.

I imagine God like that. He knows the dangers of where I’m going when I run away from where He wants me to be. He knows what lays ahead. So He comes after me and brings me back home where I belong. And even though I am far from being perfect, He loves me anyway. Even though I do not deserve His love, He loves me anyway. Thank God He loves me anyway!