Moving Forward, Going Backwards

As she stood at the doorway and told me one last time she didn’t want to go, I looked her in the eyes and told her the truth: Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is in your own mind or out of someone else’s mouth or actions, it is the devil and he is seeking to devour you!

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My daughter has been taking gymnastics classes for a little over a year. She’s experienced joy, frustration, excitement and motivation. She’s experienced fear and has overcome some fears. She’s been encouraged and she has also been discouraged. This sounds like life and what we all experience throughout our days, doesn’t it?

I’ve never seen my daughter so passionate about something in her life as she is with gymnastics. She has set goals. She stretches and works on things every day and marks it off with a check on her calendar. She has learned self-discipline. For the past several months there is not a day that goes by that she doesn’t set aside time to do this.

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Although she is shy, she has become somewhat of a leader when it comes to this. Her friends that come over see her motivation and join her. Even family members have gotten on the mats and joined her in stretching and doing flips. (Myself included and it was not pretty haha.)

Last week when I picked her up from class, she said she didn’t want to go back. I haven’t seen her this frustrated since she started. This week, yesterday, after school she told me twice she wasn’t going to her gymnastics class. She made up excuses and gave her reasons but I said, “You’re going.”

Her big thing is she is afraid to go backwards. Of course I relate this to life and spiritual things with her, telling her we want to move forward in life and move forward with God, but in gymnastics it’s necessary to go backwards: that’s part of it.

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As she stood at the doorway and told me one last time she didn’t want to go, I looked her in the eyes and told her the truth: Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Whether it is in your own mind or out of someone else’s mouth or actions, it is the devil and he is seeking to devour you!

John 10:10 NKJV   “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 

1 Peter 5:8 NKJV  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeing whom he may devour. 

The devil wants to steal your joy. He wants to kill your dreams and motivation. He wants to destroy your goals- everything you’re working towards. He wants to devour you by taking away any confidence or hope you may have. It’s not you and it’s not anyone else- it’s the devil. He wants you to give up BUT God is greater and He wants you to succeed!

I’m not sure what else flew out of my mouth but I told her she was going and that the Lord would take care of her and He would be her strength. She surprisingly and quickly agreed. She wasn’t all that happy on the way to class but her whole attitude changed as she exited the car and walked toward the door of the gymnastics studio- all smiles and even laughter!

An hour later, I came back to pick her up. A woman was standing outside talking on her phone and she said, “Go look at your daughter! She got her back walkover!”

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I went inside and everyone was excited. I watched that young lady God blessed me with go backwards! And with such grace! I was in shock! I thought I was dreaming and was she ever beaming! I said, “Do it again!” And she did, ever so gracefully!

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She was smiling from ear to ear all the way home, as was I. It was a lesson for her, as well as for me.

I told her, “Now do you see? The devil wanted you to quit and you didn’t and look what happened! You moved forward, you pushed through, and you did what you didn’t think you could do!”

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Ironic enough, my niece called me later and I told her all about what had happened. Later in our conversation I told her it didn’t look like I was going to make it with a writing career. She quickly reminded me of what I had spoken only hours before- “That’s just the devil wanting you to quit. How is that any different than what Leah just went through? I mean, you’re writing for God.”

How quickly I forget!

I hope we will remember to apply this to our lives, even by the minute. Thank you for reading and God bless!

 

 

 

 

You Can’t See?

You have hidden their heart from understanding? I’d felt betrayed by so many, now I felt betrayed by my own Father.

I gazed upon a sunset one humid summer evening. I quickly took my phone out of my pocket and pressed the camera button to take a picture. A message popped up on the screen. It said my battery was low and the flash wouldn’t work. I pressed “cancel”. I didn’t need the flash to capture this beautiful pink sunset. I took the picture but it didn’t capture the true beauty; it was so dim. I took several more pictures but to no avail. I couldn’t capture the reality of what I saw and nor could I share it with others for them to see what I saw.

Several years ago I experienced what I found to be something with a name: spiritual abuse. I recall speaking with a few trusted individuals explaining to them what was going on. No one I confided in seemed to understand; only the few of us that were longing to be understood. How we longed for someone on the outside to hear us.

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I struggled with this. I vividly recall crying out, “Lord, why doesn’t anyone understand?” I prayed. I cried. I asked God to lead me in His Word. Just something! Anything!

In my final, lonely plea that night, I opened the Bible and my eyes fell upon Job 17:4 (a) NKJV. My heart split as I read the words, “For You have hidden their heart from understanding”. In that moment I was truly broken. This is why my cries fell on deaf ears all along?

You? You have hidden their heart from understanding? I’d felt betrayed by so many, now I felt betrayed by my own Father. Why Lord? Why?

After a minute, I put my Bible down on the couch. Weeping, I dropped to my knees. Once I was ready to listen, He spoke to me. “You listened to men all along instead of listening to Me. That’s why you’re in this position. Why do you feel the need for men to understand you?”

Ouch! My Father spoke the truth.

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The notes mid-page came from a website I found on spiritual abuse.

Sometimes we feel totally alone in our suffering. We can’t find one that understands. Even if others are going through it, it seems you’re always searching for someone to tell you it’s really real. Or maybe we’re searching for someone to fix it or make it go away. We oftentimes search among men looking for answers when we really need to search for God through His Word.

In this situation fear was instilled within by the twisting of Scriptures. I was fearful to even speak of it- fearful because “the verbal warning” flashed over and over in my mind, “Don’t disagree with an anointed man of God,” and other familiar lines, boasting of their “authority”, followed by what the Lord would do to us if we did. (Again, the internet was my friend as I searched phrases, finding again, there is nothing new under the sun. Abusive authority in the church seem to have their own personal guidebook with these familiar quotes.)

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I think that was what was so difficult. Once I got the courage up to tell someone what was going on, they didn’t get it. It’s not always because they don’t want to. It’s because their understanding has been hidden. We, as humans, feel we need someone that’s tangible to be there to tell us what to do. How to escape the situation. We feel the need to be understood. Someone to tell us we’re not crazy. This can make you feel as if you’ve lost your mind, your salvation, your security, even your family in Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

I learned that our Father is fully capable to supply the need we long for. He’s there. He sees the fear, the hurt, the pain. He understands and I finally realized He was the only One that could help me. He’s still helping me. He gives me the strength to break the silence of spiritual abuse.

Another thing He helped me realize is that I didn’t “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

Relating this to the picture I took, I was unable to display the full color of what I was going through. The message on the screen warned that the flash wouldn’t work. God said He wasn’t going to enlighten everyone with the truth of this situation. My battery was low. I canceled the warning yet still expected for others to see what I was seeing.

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Just my thoughts I wrote down

I actually wrote this post years ago, but as I edited it today, such sorrow struck my heart. I know I must remember to be thankful for this situation I went through. I dug in to God’s Word, my guidebook– the Holy Bible, deeper than I’d ever dug before. I don’t blame Him- I thank Him.

**Please keep in mind this doesn’t happen everywhere, but it does happen and it’s something that isn’t widely discussed. I’m only sharing a piece of the experience I had, which was totally unexpected, yet nothing surprises the Lord. Matthew 4:1-11 tells us that the devil knows Scripture and used it to try to tempt Jesus. Jesus quoted it right back to him and the devil left Him.

This may help you better understand an earlier post I wrote. Click here to read “The Brick Wall”

Thank you for reading and God bless!

 

 

 

 

Nothing New Under the Sun

Although what you have to say may have already been said, you never know who might read your posts when others’ have gone unread.

I used to love to read Christian books. I loved finding deals at yard sales, thrift stores, book stores and anywhere else I could find them. I would come home and put them on a bookshelf. Any time I would walk by and look, one would catch my eye. I would pull it off the shelf, open it and it would be something that would speak to my heart.

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When I first started working on my own book, I quit reading other books. I even got rid of a bunch of them. I feared something would stick in my mind and I would unconsciously plagiarize. I didn’t want to be labeled “copycat” so I chose to stick with the Bible as being the only book I would read.

Although I read articles from time to time, I still haven’t touched but a handful of books over the past 4 years.

It’s been a little less than a month and a half since I started this journey in my life called blogging and it has been a roller coaster of a ride. I’ve had moments of excitement as well as moments of discouragement. Not long in, I even wished I’d never started so no one would know I had quit.

One night I was so discouraged, I desperately picked up my phone and “Googled” when you’re a discouraged blogger (or something to that effect). I read the first thing that popped up on my screen, which was a blog and just as the books I used to open, that post was exactly what I needed. It spoke to my heart.

Recently I ventured out onto the blogging site I use and read some fellow bloggers’ posts and even subscribed to some of their sites! I joined a social media group of blogging women. I have found a special community and they have welcomed me in with open arms. It has been a huge blessing to say the least!

And do you know what? I’ve read a post someone wrote about getting a speeding ticket (and they wrote theirs before I wrote mine). I’ve read posts about some things I wrote about in my book. I’ve read posts where someone used the same Bible verse last week that I used the other day. I’ve read posts about things that have been weighing on my mind and heart heavily. I’ve read good godly advice about blogging and the Christian life. I’ve read about our faults and His grace. And do you know what else I’ve read?

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 NKJV   9) That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.  10) Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us.

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I have realized I’ve been robbing myself of blessings for quite some time now. As my friend Elizabeth told me- the root word of relationship is relate. When you can relate, it builds relationships. We understand one another! So, to all my newfound blogging friends, I want to thank you!

If you’re not a blogger and you have something to say, start a blog!

Although what you have to say may have already been said, you never know who might read your posts when others’ have gone unread.

Now I’m beginning to sound like Dr. Seuss so I’m signing off for now (haha).

Thank you for reading and God bless!

The Mustard Seed

As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

Luke 17:5-6 NKJV    5) And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6) So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

I never knew what a mustard seed looked like when I first read this verse  long ago, but could only assume it was a very small seed. It never seemed to affect my understanding until years later when I actually saw one. It was quite an encouragement to see how small a mustard seed really is and know, if I have at least that much faith, big things can happen.

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A lady I used to clean for once a week never had me doing the same thing as I did the previous week. One day she wanted me to help her clean her spice cabinet out. As I reached and retrieved different bottles and containers, I handed them down to her. When we got to the container of mustard seed she said it needed to be thrown away. I quickly spoke up and asked if I could have it. Of course she didn’t care and I gladly brought the jar home.

Since I spend a great deal of my time in my own kitchen, I decided I’d put it on the counter beside my stove. It would be a good reminder for me.

Reminders can sometimes be overlooked when we see them day after day, but when we see them in places other than our own kitchen, they remind us, as well as revive us, in a special kind of way. The reminders we’re blessed with seem to come along just at the right time.

It was the night before Christmas (just kidding, but it was close!) and my husband and I were out doing some last minute shopping. We decided to eat at a restaurant close by that we’d never been to (Outback Steakhouse).

As we sat at the table, we talked about some things that were heavy on our hearts at that time. As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

The shelves weren’t near every table but they were by ours at a perfect time: a time when all the faith I had was surely as much as at least one tiny seed in that large jar.

I believe He hears our hearts say to Him, “Increase our faith.”

Can you think of a time when He gave you a reminder?

 

Messy Monday

I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, once again, the house is quiet: everyone is back at work and school and I am home alone. The only noise I hear is the sound of raindrops lightly beating on the rooftop.

Mondays always make me feel a little detached from the world, but with the much needed rain falling today, that feeling is magnified a bit more. I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, in the quietness, I have no choice but to recognize this reality. The issues I can pinpoint, even try to justify, yet I know the loneliness I feel is the result of separation from my Father.

Today, as I wander around the house aimlessly, I remember something I’d once written many years ago. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be song lyrics or a poem, but nothing else came to my mind to go along with it. Those words, much like me today, stand alone:

“I only come to You when it’s raining outside; I only run to You when there’s nowhere else to hide.”

So often I’ve been known to call on others instead of first communing with my Father.

As it so happens, our home phone has been having problems for quite a while now and seems to worsen with any sort of moisture, so with the constant rain, a conversation with anyone today is not a viable option.

One thing I have learned is when it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing anyone can say or do to change it’s condition except my Father.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 KJV  12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

On a day like today, He leaves me no choice but to commune with Him, and for that I am grateful. 

Now, please excuse me as I prepare for freedom once again.

Thank you for reading.

 

The Dryer

There seemed to be no escape, no matter how hard or fast I ran, He was still there, walking. And then there I was- bent over, holding my side, barely able to catch my breath.

As I lie here in bed, the clothes in the dryer are nearly approaching their last tumble. I’m tired, but earlier this evening I heard a terrible racket. I tracked it down and found it to be the dryer. Something is causing a horrible sound. It’s a little scary and I’m not sure what exactly is going on in there but work clothes need to be dried for the workday ahead.

I figured I need to stay close, stay awake and stay aware to make sure all will be well, so again, I am last at getting in the bed. This wasn’t my plan at all. Early on I asked everyone to get their clothes ready to wash and told my daughter to get her shower and get in bed at a decent time so I could be in the bed before 10 p.m.

Instead, I find myself playing the role of the watchman: watching for anything that may harm my family so I can call out to them if (or when) danger comes.

I am once again reminded of the conversation I had with my brother-in-law not long ago. It’s rare I talk to him through the week, but I was stuck at home waiting for that package that never came (Click here for the related story) so I know our meeting was a divine appointment.

We talked about the Lord with tears in our eyes and as he told me one particular thing, my eyelids gave way and the tears began to roll down my cheeks. He said, “If your family is ever going to be saved, it will be because of you.” (Meaning my obedience to the Lord.) Click here for the related story

That was a lot to take in, but it wasn’t as much of a shock as it was the first time it had been revealed to me. It was, however, a heavy weight on my arthritic shoulders. But what about the role of a watchman? That word alone is enough to bring me to my arthritic knees.

As with so many topics, there are many, many verses but I will only post a chosen few:

Ezekiel 33:6-7  NKJV  6) ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ 7) “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.

Ezekiel 33:11 NKJV  “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the LORD GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Any time I have felt the Lord speak to me about being a watchman I have been driven not only to my knees, but to my knees weeping and sobbing. So much so that my husband once thought there had been a death.

The truth of the matter is that it scared me, but even more, it pained my flesh. It was a death- a death to myself and I just wasn’t willing to pass away.

Not long ago I ended up running from the position and the One who seems to want me to have it, only to have Him gently walk alongside me. There seemed to be no escape, no matter how hard or fast I ran, He was still there, walking. And then there I was- bent over, holding my side, barely able to catch my breath. Even with something as calm as a gentle breeze blowing the last of the leaves on a big oak tree I would hear Him simply say, “It’s up to you.”

Him never leaving my side, I returned to Him knowing the people I love, the people in my life- they have souls. The weight doesn’t seem as heavy now because He’s proven to this “doubting Thomas” that He’ll never leave my side on the watchtower.

So tonight, and every other hour, it is a privilege that I must take seriously, for the sake of my family- physically, at times (such as tonight), but also, more importantly- spiritually. I love them, and since I do, I will watch for them. The concern is always: but will they still love me? That is the reason for the tears but I have to love them to life, not love them to death.

Have you ever been called for a position in which your response was nothing short of begging and pleading for Him to accept a simple “no thank You”?

I’m sure you’ve found the Lord is adamant when it comes to His will being done. If not yet, just wait. The good thing is, you’ll never “go it” alone: He will be with you.

Do you happen to be running like I was? Take just a second and look beside you. Yep, there He is.

Thank you for reading and may God bless you and yours.

 

The Speeding Ticket Part II

I’ve been to court with people and was treated as if I were the one that was guilty; I certainly didn’t want to go knowing I was.

Once I acknowledged and admitted to myself, and others, that I was guilty of the offense, I had no choice but to move forward.

I’ve heard some say, “They’re only sorry because they got busted.” I say maybe sometimes we need to get busted. What better way to bring us to our senses?

Regardless, I now had to deal with the consequences of my actions- how I regretted them.

Not only the possible increase in insurance premiums, but having a mark on my driving record, as well as pay an almost $200 ticket was quite a price.

Since I wasn’t given the option for driving (traffic) school on the citation, I called the city clerk’s office. They said I could go before the judge and ask for the option. Would that also mean paying court costs? And to stand before the judge? That doesn’t even sound good to me. And to volunteer to do it? Court really isn’t a place I want to be. I’ve been to court with people and was treated as if I were the one that was guilty; I certainly didn’t want to go knowing I was.

As time went by, I would occasionally contemplate my choices with my husband. At first he made jokes and laughed because he had warned me time and time again about going too fast. When time drew near he said, “Oh Cill, don’t worry about it. I’m going to pay the ticket for you.”

The thing is, I’ve been with him the majority of my adult life and he has paid for whatever the majority of my adult life. This time it just seemed different. Maybe I’m not as immature as I seem but I just couldn’t think of him paying for this, especially after he’d warned me many times to slow down. It wasn’t his wrong; why should he pay for what I did.

Out of love he was willing to pay the cost.

Hmmm. You see where I’m going with this?

Isaiah 53 tells of Jesus giving His life for us. I encourage you to read the whole chapter, but I will pull out verse 5. It says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

There is no way I could ever pay for my sin as I did my ticket, instead God sent His Son in my place to pay that price. I was the guilty one, yet the Innocent One took my punishment.

This ticket is a lesson for me. I now watch my speed. I don’t want to pay a hefty fee for doing wrong. I work hard for the money I make.

As far as the debt that was paid for my sin, it’s not something I would never be able to afford, nor is it something I can work off by my good works. The only payment method accepted is the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross.

HE worked hard. HE carried that cross- the same one HE died on. HE knew HE had to suffer the persecution, yet HE did it out of love and obedience so that we could join Him and the Father when our time is over here on earth.

He gives much grace, yet He wants us to learn here. To realize the things in our lives tie in spiritually. He doesn’t enforce the law, but gives grace time and time again.

At the closing of Part I, I had to admit I was guilty. Spiritually speaking, to be able to come to the my Father through Jesus Christ, I had to admit I was guilty of being a sinner. I had to drop that pride and rebellion and humble myself in the sight of the Lord. In Part II,  I see mercy and grace offered out to me even during the consequences from my rebellion and my poor choices. I see He paid the ultimate cost for me, yet through all parts, He continually loves me and is patient with me.

What a wonderful and forgiving Father He is to love even me, in spite of me, and He loves you too!

Thank you for reading!