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!

 

 

 

 

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?

 

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!

Carry Me

As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within.

My youngest brother (of the 3) is a little over two and a half years older than me so we were pretty close growing up. He may have inflicted much pain into my life but he would also stand up to anyone that tried to hurt me. From early on, any time I got hurt, I remember him carrying me home.

I had to have been about 4 years old because our grandmother passed away when I was 5. We were playing down by the creek and my brother, Keith, picked up a big round rock. I always wanted to do what he did so I decided to pick it up too, only I wasn’t as strong as he was. I dropped it on my knee and I began to bleed. Thirty-four years later and the scar is still there. Keith was not only strong enough to pick up the rock; he was strong enough to carry me all the way to our grandparent’s house. When we arrived, my grandmother cleaned my knee and put a bandage on it.

One day we were riding the school bus home on our bumpy dirt road. I was sitting in the back and let me tell you, skinny kids don’t belong in the back of the bus when you’re on a road with potholes. The bus driver showed no mercy and hit a few of them in a row. I bounced up off the seat and the breath was knocked right out of me. Thankfully it happened about a minute away from our house. Again, Keith carried me home from the bus stop.

Another time I recall is when my brother built a ramp to jump his bicycle. I watched him fly through the air, carefree. I decided I was going to do it too, only I didn’t go near as fast. After the fact, he told me I didn’t go fast enough. I rode my bike slowly up the ramp, singing a song from a perfume commercial (yes, I still remember the song haha). I flipped right over the handlebars of my bike. Guess who carried me home. Yep, Keith.

It is not often I see my brother anymore but I remain grateful for all the times he took care of me. As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within. It was no longer my brother that I needed- it was my Father.

Isaiah 46:4 NKJV says- Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

In life there are still times when I pick something up that’s too heavy for me to hold. Just because He (God) is big enough to lift it doesn’t mean I am. I end up dropping it and scrape myself up, yet He’s still there. He picks me up and carries me.

When the bumps along the road of life knock the breath right out of me, He picks me up and carries me.

When I try to do things my way, the wrong way, I flip right over the handlebars and land in the gravel. Still, the Lord is there. He picks me up and carries me.

Although I have some scars from life, and although I’ve endured pain, I’ve always been picked up and carried. I believe He was giving my brother the strength to carry me until I figured out I needed more than he could offer. What I needed was a Savior- I still do.

So if you’re reading this and you feel something lacking in your life- you need someone to carry you- reach out to the Lord. He will fill that void that none other can fill. He is strong enough. It doesn’t mean you won’t cry while He is carrying you in this life, but His Word is true. One sweet day, He will carry you home to be with Him: a place where there is no more sadness, no more suffering, no more pain and your tears will be wiped away.

Revelation 21:4-5 NKJV- 4) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. 5) Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Thank you for reading. May God bless you, for He will help you through.

 

 

 

Toys Picked for Me

I am my parents’ 5th child and am the baby of the family. By the time I was 3 years old, my oldest sibling was of legal age. A few years later, my brother next in line was graduating high school so the majority of my childhood years at home were with my sister and my  other brother- the third son of the family.

We were tight-knit long ago, as we lived in the country and were around one another the majority of the time. My brother and I were actually babied by our older sister.

At the age of 4 years old, kindergarten wasn’t quite ready for me yet, but I was becoming bored at home. I remember wishing I could go to school like my siblings, Becky and Keith. I’m not sure if I expressed my feelings, or if it was just their good idea, but that year they started leaving toys out for me to play with during the day.

I remember a particular morning when I woke up and checked that special spot. They had a purple and white airplane laying out, among other things. I was so excited and felt so loved that they had taken the time out of their morning to hand-pick specific toys just for me! I remember thinking, “Wow! They really want me to play with this today!”

Although these were toys I had full access to on a daily basis, it was the thought that counted. Even after 30+ years, I can still feel how special and important that act made me feel. It also made me feel as if they were with me during the day.

The memories of those plans they had for me still bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

They cared about me and wanted me to have fun and enjoy my day.

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Even when life doesn’t seem as joyful as having toys laid out for us to play with, our Father in Heaven has good plans for us. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel lonely at times or wish we were somewhere other than where we may be, but He thinks good things of us. He wants us to have a future and a hope, but that hope can only be found in Him.

When we walk with Him, He picks out our plans and lays them out specifically for us, just as my sister and brother laid out the toys they planned for me to play with each day.

What an act of love from our Father. He cares about our days and longs for His presence to be present in our lives. With Him, our future is far better than we could ever plan for ourselves.

I pray this will be a reminder of the hope we have in Him through Jesus Christ. Thank you for reading.