Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “love”

A Letter to my Boy

This morning I came undone.  While cleaning my desk, I uncovered a letter I wrote at the beginning of this school year to my son.  A letter that he received while he was away at a school retreat.  I cried while I typed it, but this morning I wept as I read it out loud. Yes, I made the ugly face!!  I have six months left with this boy before he launches out…leaves the nest we had so lovingly prepared those many years ago when I brought my miracle home from the hospital.  This boy stole my heart just yesterday and in just a few short months, a young man, prepared and loved will walk out of our home and into the future that God has prepared for him.

I thought I’d share that letter today…

October, 2015

Joshua Alexander Britt:

Leader…truth seeker…tender warrior…compassionate friend…faithful son!!!

If love were tangible…not just an emotion…if you were able to touch love, if you could climb into my heart and take a peek at love, you would be overwhelmed. Josh, I had prayed for years for a child…there was nothing I desired more than to be a mom. I had just about given up hope….and then came you!

You were an absolute miracle..an answer to prayer; the fulfillment of God’s promise to me. For the nine months that I carried you, you were my secret, growing quietly within me. God’s proof that He loved me and heard my cry.

You never kicked hard (which is shocking given the bruiser you are)…you were gentle and peaceful in my womb. Yes, you were my secret!! You were celebrated by those who knew about our infertility struggle, and I made a promise to God that I would always share my testimony in gratitude for the miracle that was your birth.

January 7, 1998 the words I longed to hear were said by Susan at St. John’s Hospital as she confirmed that I was pregnant after having lost a baby and being told once again that I would never be able to successfully conceive. She said “this pregnancy is happening.” And those four words were the start of my healing and the beginning of our journey together.

Besides the day I gave my life to Christ and my marriage to your daddy, the day of your birth was the absolute greatest, most memorable day of my life.

For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. 1 Samuel 1:27

You were named “Alexander” after Dad…the man who raised your daddy. He was a wonderful, funny, compassionate man. We considered the name “Jordan,” after Michael Jordan, being rabid Bulls fans and well, he being the greatest basketball player ever, it was very tempting; however, we settled on Joshua. Joshua, after the biblical character who was hand picked by God to lead His people. I have always said that you would live up to that name!!! And you have, son!

I had been told that the mother/son bond was special and I had witnessed Dad’s bond with Ma so I thought I knew what to expect, but nothing could have prepared me for the instant love and attachment I felt when I laid my eyes on you, Josh.

I stayed awake the entire time that I was in the hospital…I just couldn’t close my eyes for a second. I held you, memorized you, watched you while you were sleeping. You were such a good baby. I inhaled every moment….enjoyed every moment.

For the first four months of your life, I stayed home with you and when I had to go back to work it was torture leaving you. The only saving grace was that daddy was able to watch you during the day and I rushed home from work every night to spend the last moments of your day with you… to bathe you and nurse you to sleep. You would get so excited when I’d get home from work. You’d kick your little legs and open and close your hands…reaching out to me!!

Another memorable moment of my life was getting pregnant with your sissy and realizing my dream of staying home to raise you and Mariah. It has been a sacrifice, but one that I would do over and over again.

I still recall rough housing with you, our sword fights, hide and go seek, nerf guns, basketball in the living room, teaching you how to roller blade in the house; I recall you literally climbing the walls in the kitchen, and how rowdy you were as I taught you to read….”the cup is on the bed….the cup is on the bed.” I still hear your raspy voice; when I close my eyes I still see you in your Bible Man costume…LOL!!! I see you playing with your Bob the Builder gear on with the TV blasting Bob the Builder. I still see you dancing to Veggie Tales and counting with Sesame Street. I still see you lying on your bed during nap time looking at your Sesame Street stuffed animals (hands behind your head) saying…”Be cool Beeyah Bird; Be cool Melmo…” I recall your first ever friend, AJ…how you loved him and looked up to him; how when he stayed with us you would spend hours in your play room (the den) with him. I recall how you loved your sissy……SO ROUGH!!! Girls are like flowers, girls are like flowers!!! The day you picked Mariah up from her crib and brought her down the stairs to me….”here mama…Ritay is crying,” you said, as you walked carefully down the stairs….wood stairs, in socks – as I held my breath!!!! I recall your first day at preschool and how I dropped you off…you were so happy and ready to make friends and I stayed outside the classroom looking in, teary-eyed…making sure you were okay…praying that the teacher would have patience…and she did. Miss Kelly loved you!! I close my eyes and remember you standing with me during prayer at IHP…always near me…in front of me swaying to worship. I drank it in because I knew the years would pass so fast and I’m so glad I memorized those moments.

I recall your first bullying situation…Spencer in 2nd grade, tripping you and you were both called into the principal’s office and how in the end Spencer became your best friend…You have an easy way about you…you always have…You have always been forgiving and just easy, Josh!!

I recall your first little “crushes…” Truth and Jamie and the little girl at church, was her name Tiffany?,,, who when I looked over at the two of you…you were holding hands during service. Hehehe (Not so funny then.!! ) LOL — you know I was horrified. Hahahaha

I recall your recitals and how composed you always were. “Cool as a cucumber”…I would say. You would walk up there, confident and prepared and knock out your piece and my heart would just soar with pride. I recall what a strong baseball player you were…how nervous I was whenever you came up to bat…how I’d be praying in the stands when it was your turn to pitch; your cannon of an arm when you’d make the play!

I’m flooded with memories as I type this…..

That all seems like yesterday and now here you are…on the brink of stepping out of our home and into your future. You have been such a joy to parent, Joshua. I could not have dreamed of a better son. I love you with every bit of my being, son!!!!! I love how talented and polite you are; how you are such a great friend; I love hearing from people how much they love you; I love how open you are with me; I love how we have our shows that we watch; I love how you love on daddy…how you two have bonded over music. If you could have seen his face when I told him I was having a boy…if you could have heard his conversations with his friends when he was announcing that he was having a boy. Your daddy loves you so much!! I love how you love on your sissy..how you call her “child.” You have never been jealous of her…you welcomed her into the family and were excited to love on her…HARD!!! I recall being nervous to introduce you to her in the hospital and was so relieved when you burst into the hospital room holding my gift saying, “here ta go mommy.” You walked right over to Mariah and kissed her head while Auntie Eeeah held her. I was so happy that you were happy!! I love your compassion, Josh. How you are such a good friend. How I always hear how you are encouraging to you friends…offering counsel and support. I love how responsible you are; how you never give up…how confident you are that “everything’s going to be all right, mom…I got this.” I somehow believe you!!! J

You are a great kid, Josh. I’ve always said that and I pray that you know that nothing can ever change my love towards you…my love for you is forever!! Even in the hard times…I love you. I love you. I love you!!!!!!!

You know I’m crying as I write this, right? J

I LOVE YOU!!!!!

If this were the last message you ever received from me I would want you to know….

I have loved you with an everlasting love;

I have and will always be your greatest cheerleader;

I am on your side;

You have loved me well; have been such a respectable, loving, honoring, son;

I have always and will…until my last breath, pray for you!

You are my favorite son :)!!

You can always come to me and daddy with anything…any time;

Even if I react “passionately”J — there’s nothing that can change my love for you;

I WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT:

God has a plan for your life;

You were called and appointed;

Don’t ever turn your back on God;

He loves you and is for you;

He is real;

His word is true; it is the final authority;

He hears you when you call on Him;

Apart from Him you could do nothing; but with Him you could do all things;

Prayer works!

I WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT:

There is no place you can go that God can’t find you;

No place you can go where His love can’t reach you;

Nothing you can do that can cause Him to give up on you;

I WOULD WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT:

A Godly woman loves a man who knows how to lead;

A Godly woman loves her man to pray over her;

A Godly woman loves a man who takes the initiative;

A Godly woman loves a man who loves the Lord;

A Godly woman loves a man who serves the Lord;

A Godly woman will honor you, respect you, be faithful to you…as you love, honor and respect her;

A Godly woman will be loyal to you.

I pray you have had a memorable Kairos, Josh; I pray that the rest of your Senior year will be the best ever; I pray that God reveals His plans for your life and that you embrace them and run full force into your future; I pray God’s protection over you, son; that you would continue to be yielded and teachable; that you would hear the voice of God louder than any other voice you hear and that you obey the first time; that you would never, ever, ever…for one minute doubt my love for you.

You healed my broken heart and filled my life with joy, joy, joy.

I love you my son…..I love you!!

Mommy

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The Odd Woman Under the Tree

UnknownAll summer I watched her watch me, seated in her wheel chair across the street from my house under a shade tree.  I didn’t know where she came from…she would just appear and leave just as quietly and stealthily.  I would catch her eye and smile and drive away wondering what her story was…who was she, where did she live, why was she just parked under a tree?  Even on the hottest of days, there she would sit…watching me as I went about my day.  I have errands to run, not much time to take care of business, certainly no time to cross the street and speak to the odd woman under the tree.

I actually slowed down once as I drove past her and asked her if she wanted a bottle of water.  She shook her head and showed me her water bottle.  I asked her if she was okay and she smiled and nodded.  I told her I’d stop by to speak to her when I returned and she just smiled and waved at me  Of course, she was gone when I returned and so I went about my day…I have errands to run, not much time to take care of business, certainly no time to rush home to speak to the odd woman under the tree.

Yesterday, off my daughter and I went to run some errands and as we pulled out of our driveway I spotted her.  We quickly reached the end of the block and I looked back and saw she was looking our way.  I told my daughter that I would stop to speak to her on the way home….we had errands to run, not much time to take care of business and no time to stop and speak to the odd woman under the tree.  By the time we returned, she was gone.

Today, after church, my daughter and I turned on our street and there she was again and this time I told my daughter that I was going to cross the street to speak to her.  My daughter asked me why and without thinking I said, “I wanna know her name.”   She watched me as I got out of the car.  Her eyes never left mine as I made my way across the street to speak to the odd woman under the tree.  I asked her her name and she answered, haltingly.  I stooped down and asked where she lived and she struggled to find words as she reached for a business card in her purse.  She lived in an assisted living home around two blocks away and she shrugged when I asked her why she was always parked on our street.  I discovered that her loving husband Jack passed away in June and that her heart was broken; I discovered that she had two sons and she just lit up as she spoke of them and her five grandchildren; I discovered that she worked as a secretary until “this” happened.  “This” was a stroke that took away her freedom and had her trapped in a chair.

As our time together drew to a close, I shared with her briefly about the faithfulness of God to heal my body and my broken heart; how He heard the cry of an infertile woman and gave me children.  Her eyes teared up as I asked if I could pray for her. “Please,” she said.  She told me that she was a Jew…and I said “so is Jesus.”  I quoted Jeremiah 29:11 to her and told her God loved her and that now I knew why she was parked on my street. 🙂  She smiled and bowed her head as I prayed for her, right there across the street from my house under the shade tree.  Our eyes connected one last time and hers were filled with tears.  We embraced and she would not let me go.  When she finally did, she smiled, turned her chair around and slowly made her way down the street….as I watched her go.  Inez is her name….nothing odd about her.  Just an assignment…that’s all!

Let Me Love Without Brakes With No Breaks

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 The Message

I came across this scripture this morning.  I giggled at the first half and then quickly sobered up and leaned in to grasp the admonishment contained in the last sentence.  As I did, I thought of my husband and kids…those closest to me.  The ones who get to see all of me, the real me…the ones who get the full monty…the good, the bad and yes, the ugly me.  I got so checked…and then I became so grateful.

Grateful that God so loves me that He checks, then redirects me.  It’s so easy to step out of our houses and enter the world wearing our “faith” face, our “everything is peachy in my world” face, our “I love everyone” face and then return home tired and dusty, remove the mask and take for granted the very blessings God has given us.  The family hand picked by the Master.

Lately I’ve noticed how rapidly my children have grown, how in a blink they have matured and how I am “seconds” away, it seems, to being an empty nester.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!!!!!????

I have questioned myself, doubted myself and cried out to God asking Him to slow down the process….let me squeeze every minute that I have left with my babies; let me have a few do-overs. Let them remember all the good and forget all those forgettable moments.  The ones reserved only for the ones I “love!!!”  :/

Let me not be so busy and overwhelmed that I miss connecting with my husband.

Let me not sweat the small stuff…those things that look large at the time, but with time fade to nothingness.  Let me love them deeply, lavishly, unashamedly.  Let me focus on each of them individually and not focus on what is wrong, but on everything that is so right.

Let me live generously and graciously toward them, Lord, the way you live toward me.  Let me be slow in anger and quick in forgiveness; let my words be uplifting, encouraging, healing; let me show them mercy and kindness; let my love not be conditional…let me love without brakes and with no breaks.

Just the way You love me.

Watch, Record, Repeat

When our son was dedicated as a baby, one thing our Pastor said has really stuck with us as we raise our children.  As he held our son, he turned to my husband and said, “He’s gonna be just like you.”  Truer words were never spoken, for they are both watching every step and recording every word, every moment…

IMG00190-20100410-1609

Me and my girl circa 2010

Recently, my girl and I ended our full day of errands and busyness with a trip to Target.  My intent was to scoop up some paper products and hand soap.  There is no way I can get in and out of Target with my girl by my side so we lingered a bit, just about every stinkin’ aisle receiving a visit and we ended up with a cart load.  As we were loading up the truck, I noticed my hand soap wedged between the side of the cart and the seat where I had my purse.  Right away I knew I hadn’t paid for it and I was immediately reminded of my daddy and the times he would return change to the store clerk, or merchandise that hadn’t been paid for.  I was wiped and the thought of trudging back to the store and standing in line for a measly $2.99 was most irritating; however, there was no way I was going to allow a bottle of hand soap to haunt me and most importantly, I didn’t want to grieve the Lord.  I figured this would be a good lesson to teach my girl, who was watching and recording my reaction.  She was impressed by my honesty and as we stood in line asked me whether I was going to tell the clerk.  “No, “I replied….”you don’t have to trumpet your honesty or your good works.  The One whose opinion of you matters most knows and that’s good enough.”  As we walked back to the car, I shared Matthew 6:1 with her “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “  Your announcement of your “goodness” is your reward, and it doesn’t match the reward we receive from the Lord.

Well, yesterday my son and I were driving and he was talking about the movie he and my daughter and their friends saw recently and he stopped midway to compliment his sister.  You see, as he saved the seats, she and her girlfriends went to the concession stand and returned with arms laden with treats, popcorn and drinks.  As she distributed the goods, she realized that she hadn’t paid for a box of candy and without skipping a beat, she returned to the concession stand to pay for it.

The best part of the story?  She never told me.

Yes, Pastor…our kids are watching and they will be just like us.  Thanks daddy!!

Trust and True Sisterhood

IMG_0488For the last nine months I have been studying the book of Genesis with the greatest group of women in a neighborhood bible study.  I limped into Community Bible Study about a year and a half ago needing a place to congregate, really intending to just get lost in a crowd and spectate for a while after having been heavily entrenched in ministry.  Well, you know God always has other plans…you can kick and scream if you like, but once you quiet down, He’ll have His way in the end…you may walk away with stronger legs from all that kickin’ and a need to repent from all the screamin’, though!  Today I’m healthy and strong, enjoying a freedom I haven’t known for a long time.  I was asked to join CBS as a Core Leader in 2012 and in March of this year during my time at bat for devotion, I shared this little dittie on Trust.  Today, I share it with you…

You know, when God has an assignment for you, every force in nature (at times in the form of people), comes against you in order to make you stumble, retreat or even give up.  I cant even begin to properly express how much I have gleaned from our  journey through the book of Genesis – how much the lives of these people – their faith, their obedience, their trials, their drama, their failures, their victories has reminded me of my journey with Jesus.  I have been Abraham, leaving my home and family to come to California in support of my husbands dreams; I have been Sarah, longing for a baby, sadly watching as friends around me added to their families while my arms remained empty, overjoyed when God finally said yes; I have been Hagar in my own times in the wilderness, feeling apart from God needing to know that He sees meHe hears me.  Ive been Esau, deceived and lied to and Ive been Jacob, operating in fear, making plans without first consulting God and then praying for His help.

Most of our failures and victories all surround TRUST.  Who you believe, what you believe, where you place your trust and with whom.  Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.  But did you know that you can put your heart on lock down where you choose not to trust anymore; you cash in your chips and decide isolation is the best place to be when in fact its the most dangerous place to be, for the enemy works best when we isolate ourselvessomehow he talks more and louder and actually sounds believable.  It’s in that dark, lonely place that we really get pummeled. 

I think WOMAN really is Gods most amazing masterpiece.  We are machines….such contradictionstender but tough; too weak to lift heavy machinery, but strong enough to carry another life and then push it through a key hole.  We are healers, nurturers, encouragers, life givers and much more, but we can also be the opposite of anything good and uplifting.

I arrived at CBS as a wounded warrior bruised, but refusing to be broken.  Once again my trust had been breached by women and the last thing I wanted to do was be in the company of women, but here I was in the company of women.  After day one of my circle time as I drove home, I said out loud I wont be participating.  Ill just sit and listen. (My way of keeping walls up.)  That declaration was followed by a loud OH YES YOU WILL PARTICIPATE, rising from within.  Huh?  Hmm!! I got home and my husband asked me about CBS and I replied, I wont be going backits not for me.  Two days later I was at my desk doing my lesson.  As I released my grip on MY will for me, God got to work establishing HIS.  You see, you must release in order to receive.

I sat under the leadership of Carol, a dear, powerful woman of God, and as my heart thawed out I witnessed quiet strength in action; I witnessed Gods grace and His gentleness operate through Carol as I, and the other ladies, respondedand yes I opened my mouth – probably more and louder than most.  And in my yapping I divulged to someone that during this season I wanted to receive ONLY, so imagine my surprise when I received a call from Carol asking me to pray about whether I would be interested in being considered for Core Leadership the following year.  I was honored (while we were on the phone) and as I hung up I was horrified and once again I felt that wall creeping  up only to have it kicked down by my husband who quickly responded positively to the opportunity to re-engage.  (I wonder if he really wanted me out of his hair already!!)

After praying and seeking God for His will, I felt released to accept the opportunity and waited for the next step, which was a call from Cindy…the “interview!”  As I recall, there was only one spot remaining and more than one lady in waiting poised to occupy that spot.  We had a candid conversation and I remember as I spoke, I heard that still small voice.SCREAMING!!!! YOURE TALKING TOO MUCHYOURE TALKING WAY TOO MUCHOKAY, YOU BLEW IT NOW! I felt like I was laying it all out there honestly to her, half hoping that she would turn me away — only to have Cindy push back by saying something like, you are exactly the type of leader the women will respond to because you have been through something.  Those words cut through the wall I had built around my heart and jump started my process of healing.   That day I had a Jericho experience – that wall came a tumbling down!!  I made a choice to position my heart to receive and to trust again.

Circle of Sisterhood LogoSo what would I have missed had I not turned around and returned to CBShad MY will been done and not Gods?

 I would have missed witnessing grace under pressure; strength in a storm; Gods hand of healing; love in action (with no strings attached); humility; encouragement; support; kindness; tenderness; respect; generosity; sincerity; transparency; unity.

I would have missed experiencing true sisterhood; comfort; a feeling of belonging to something special but not exclusive; I would have missed experiencing unspeakable joy and barrels of laughter; opportunities to connect and engage; to refresh and be refreshed.

I would have missed an opportunity to witness Gods daughters behaving and interacting the way God intends. 

I would have missed an opportunity to learn to trust again.

The Amplified version of Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best…”Lean on, trust in and be confident IN THE LORD with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

I came across a great quote recently that said, “You could run from your past or you can embrace it and learn from it.  You can let it hold you back or you can move forward and have a better future.”

Im so glad I embraced it and learned from it; that I moved forward to a better future, one which included CBS and all of  my beautiful sisters.

Oh and as a footnote

I knew this was a sisterhood when on Day 1 of orientation, I was approached by another Carol who said “I have panties that match your dress exactly.”  “You do?” (What an icebreaker, I thought!)  She continued, “Yes, would you like them?”  “Do you have them on now?” I asked.  “No,” she said as she laughed…”I’ll bring them tomorrow.” – It was then that I knew I was home!

God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us, but His plan cannot be enacted until we yield to His voice and respond to His calling in order for that purpose to be revealed.  How amazing is our God and how great is the journey.  It doesn’t always make sense at the time, in fact it’s downright aggravating, but in the end if we don’t grow weary, if we don’t give up, it all makes sense…every bit of it!

*Community Bible Study  (a bible study where many churches are represented by women of all ages and stages in their walk).  Find a study in a city near you at www.communitybiblestudy.org/ There are co-ed studies too:)  Ours is a ladies only affair….a whole lotta tissue slinging, I tell you!

A Wrong Turn Down Memory Lane

Taking a walk down memory lane is the best and the worst thing we can do. My husband and I were doing just that yesterday, the conversation starting off pretty funny and pleasant and with one wrong turn, I stumbled down a lane riddled with thorns, speed bumps, pot holes and quick sand. I completely ignored the Holy Spirit who was holding up a sign that said “Road Closed.” Ugggh!!! It was amazing how with one question, I found myself taken back down a road I should have never been on; one which I just knew I would never visit again. I would tip toe past it from time to time; I’d even do a “fly over,” being very careful not to set foot down that path again, but here I was reliving it all over again, allowing the thorns to once again pierce me; being slowed down by the speed bumps as I tried in vain to quickly get off that lane, tripping on the many pot holes which littered a once beautiful lane….stopping short of the quicksand which I knew if I would tread on it would take me down…no way I’d let it take me down again!

So I side stepped the quicksand and found myself at the end of that once lovely lane feeling like Lot’s wife who was to be spared but just couldn’t resist looking back one last time.  Looking back is just not natural when what you are looking at is just not pleasant. What’s wrong is that a glance over your shoulder to a time of adversity should only serve to strengthen your resolve not to pay adversity another visit…not if you can help it, anyway!  Sometimes we allow adversities to paralyze our forward motion.  The problem is that a glance becomes a stare, becomes a lingering gaze and before you know it you’re hot once again. I was bummed that I had stirred up emotions that were supposed to be “dead” and as I turned back to continue doing what I had been doing before my husband and I began “reminiscing,” I thought to myself, what would make it better?  What could be done to finally bring closure?  Would opening my heart to a “public viewing” help?  Would a confrontation be the ticket?  In the end the only one hurt is the one needing pay back so the answer is no….a big fat resounding NO!

Vindication ain’t all it’s cracked up to be…so you get heard and understood and then what? Though the speed bumps are flattened, the thorns trimmed and the pot holes filled, it’s still up you to make the choice not to allow yourself to be swallowed up by that quicksand..the quicksand of anger, hurt, bitterness…sucks you in to take you out!

In the end, I took a dose of my own medicine and began to think about all the good that resulted from that time; how God uses every part of our lives…every season we encounter to grow us and show us things about others, but mostly about ourselves.  What I learned about me is that I am one tough cookie! I do have self control…shocking for someone who at one time in her life would go from zero to 60 in a blink. I learned what I’ve always known to be the case…Because I love hard, when hurt comes I take it hard; I learned that I love truth, so when lies and accusations are hurled I react; I learned that love is a verb…ALWAYS and at all times; I learned that “I’m sorry” is way overused and trust is earned; I learned that I am quite discerning, so I’m rarely surprised, but sometimes shocked!! I learned never to allow myself to be placed on a pedestal again and if I slip up, I’ll make sure it’s close to the ground:)

I hit the light and in the dark, I decided that renewing my mind with the word of God was still the best approach so as I envisioned myself walking around the patch of quicksand at the end of that once lovely lane, the scripture which came to mind was “It is Finished” – for now anyway!

I Wanna Live on Holy Hill in a Sacred Tent

Today during my prayer time, I came across Psalm 15.  I love a good checklist and tend to tell the truth (in my head) while I’m reading that checklist.  If I don’t like my answers, I just keep on flipping the pages for something more pleasant, but those answers stay with me.  OY!!!

v. 1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?  Who may live on your holy mountain?  (I’m good here, because I want to…I really do!  Oh Lord, may I?)

v. 2 The one whose walk is blameless (uh oh), who does what is righteous (subject to interpretation), who speaks the truth from their heart (I’m feeling pretty good now, kinda);

v. 3 Whose tongue utters no slander (ummm…), who does no wrong to a neighbor (I don’t try to), and casts no slur on others (uh, Proverbs 31 anyone?) – If this entire verse could be removed, I’d be feeling a lot better!

v. 4 who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord (I’m working on despising the deed not the doer…that’s good, right?); who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind (I got this…no longer clenching my jaw!);

v. 5 who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent (piece of cake).

Whoever does these things will never be shaken.

So, am I a candidate to dwell (remain, abide, stay) in His sacred tent or on Holy Hill?  Wanting to is not good enough, it seems.  (“If you are willing AND obedient, you will eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19)  Having great intentions won’t get me where I wanna be, either!  That stinkin’ tongue!!  The truth is we all have work to do.  The bar is set so high lest we walk around puffed up monitoring other people’s checklists while we move into pride, marveling at how perfect we are and shunning those who just don’t measure up.  Humility goes a long way!

I was checked this morning and am thankful for ears to hear and a willingness to allow Him in to shed His light on the areas in most need of adjusting so that I can humbly claim my spot in the best campsite ever…that sacred tent on Holy Hill!

Hiking shoes (check); rod – to swipe at any enemies trying to impede my progress (check); blinders – can’t afford to be distracted (check); mind stayed on Him (check); pressing forward.  Here I come, Lord…save me a spot!!

“Lord, set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips; give me ears to hear and a tenderness for those You’ve placed in my life so that I may speak words of life and hope, kindness and mercy.  Give me the grace to quickly forgive and the ability to walk in the agape kind of love that bears up under anything and everything, overlooks wrongdoing, keeps no record, believes the best and endures without weakening…in Jesus’ name.”

The Language of Love

The Lord orders our steps daily…and if we allow Him to have His way, good always comes to us and through us.  This morning my husband and I rushed out of the door to start our busy day.  I was being dropped off at a friend’s house for us to carpool to our 9:00 meeting.  He was then going to drop off our car for servicing.  As we approached our first destination, I noticed an elderly woman struggling to maintain her balance, clinging to a pole for support.  Our car had barely come to a standstill when I jumped out Starsky and Hutch style 🙂 and reached out to her.  My husband joined me and for the next few minutes we tried to determine who she was and whether she was hurt.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get very far once it became very apparent that we didn’t understand one another.  We got her to sit down and we did what we knew to do.  We laid hands on her and prayed for her and she relaxed.

I looked up after we prayed and saw a police car and flagged the most compassionate, caring policemen who joined us in attempting to crack this mystery.  They radioed for a translator after she said “I Russia.”  She had no identification and got excited (in a not so good way) when the officers began questioning her.  I sat next to her and rubbed her back and by my tone was able to calm her.  She kept repeating what sounded like “Babylon” and at this point she was holding my hand and motioning for me to stay at her side.

In the meantime, my husband had to leave for his appointment and as he pulled off, he noticed a black bus with the name “Babylon” written on it.  He turned around to give us that heads up, we flagged the bus driver and our mystery was solved.  I found out from the driver that her name was Rose.  As I prepared to say goodbye, Rose grabbed my arm, pulled me close, hugged me and took me with her to the bus, where we said our goodbyes.

How much does God love Rose, that He would perfectly orchestrate it that my husband and I would catch her before she could fall; that after prayer we would open our eyes to see help in the form of policemen; for my husband to notice “Babylon” on a black bus?  Our communication was severely handicapped, leaving us to rely solely on instinct and mostly on the Holy Spirit.  Today, love had no verbal language, but its demonstration spoke volumes.

We all went our separate ways but for a few minutes five nations converged on that corner unconcerned with time, appointments, race, politics or anything that would otherwise distract us or compete for our attention…we all saw a need and each did what Jesus would have done.  We were His eyes, His hands, His feet.  God showed me through this incident with Rose that He will catch us before we fall, He’ll protect us and if we wait on Him we’ll reach our destination…That’s love!!

Daughter…You were Planned…You are Loved

If God is for us, who or what can come against us…and be successful?  Nothing and no one you might say and I’d beg to differ, coz there’s always YOU!  Those three letters separate you from Him and every good and perfect thing He has reserved for those who would yield to Him and believe that YOU are what HE says you are; YOU can do everything HE says you can do.  You are that whosoever He speaks of in Mark 11:23 KJV.

Lately, the story of the woman with the issue of blood has been coming up a lot in messages.  I always tune in when I hear her story in Mark 5:25-34.  This woman had some issues.  Don’t we all!!  Imagine having a continuous flow of blood for twelve years and desperately seeking a cure, going from doctor to doctor until you’re left financially ruined and in worse shape than when your nightmare began.  Imagine the physical toll on your body; the ruinous effect on friendships and forget about any kind of relationship with a man.  Like the lepers of that time, according to Mosaic Law, she was excluded from society and was forbidden public access unless she announced her arrival using the word “unclean” to describe herself, giving people ample time to steer clear from her.  Imagine that humiliation!  Imagine the hits you would take from the “theys.”  Those who gather to point at you, to gawk, to spread rumors…imagine the things said about you; the names you’d be called…outcast, unclean, pitiful, cursed, nasty, poor, loser.   Nothing can be said about you that would rival the tapes running in your head, recited in your own voice…adding to the horror, the feelings of anger, shame, loneliness, hopelessness, sadness, depression, fear.

But faith…it comes by hearing and hearing by the word.  This woman heard about Jesus, the Word made manifest in the flesh, and she moved…pushing her way through the crowd despite her weakened condition, her outcome already settled within her as she pressed forth.  She didn’t wait for Him to see her…she saw, she reached out, she took her healing.  I absolutely love her encounter with the One who healed her.  He could have corrected her for interrupting Him; rebuked her for coming out in public in her condition…instead, He replaced every awful name she was ever called when he called her “Daughter.”  He healed every hurt when he continued saying, “your faith has made you well.  Go in peace.  Your suffering is over.” NLT

I shared this message with a  group of teens/young adult women and then I passed around a gigantic, hand held mirror and asked each girl to tell me what she saw.  The responses ranged from just okay to not good enough to one of the girls not even wanting to look at herself.  I took that opportunity to remind them that they were His daughters and they were on His mind…have been for a long time and will be forever; they were loved by Him unconditionally and were not a mistake…were perfect in His sight.

And so I invite you to read and receive, then take and make yours the way they did..

You Were Planned

– I knew you even before you were conceived. (Jeremiah 1:5)

– I pre-appointed the exact time of your birth and where you would live. (Acts 17:26)

– I knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

– You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

– You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in My book. (Psalm 139:15-16)

– I brought you forth on the day you were born. (Psalm 71:6)

– I know everything about you. (Psalm 139:1)

– I know when you sit down and when you rise up.  I know what you’re thinking. (Psalm 139:2)

– I am familiar with ALL your ways. (Psalm 139:3)

– Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. (Matthew 10:30)

A Father’s Love

– You were made in My image. (Genesis 1:27)

– You are My offspring. (Acts 17:28)

– It is My desire to lavish My love on you, simply because you are My child and I am your Father. (1John 3:1)

– My thoughts toward you are as countless as the sand on the seashore.  (Psalm 139:17-18)

– My plan for your future has always been filled with hope because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 29:11; Jeremiah 31:3)

– You are My treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5)

– I will be with you; never leave or abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

– I will never stop doing good to you. (Jer. 32:40)

– I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

– When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. (Psalm 34:18)

– I comfort you in all your troubles. (2Corinthians 1:3-4)

– I am your greatest encourager. (2Thessalonians 2:16-17)

– I want to show you great and marvelous things. (Jeremiah 33:3)

– If you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

– I desire to establish you with all My heart and all My soul. (Jeremiah 32:41)

– Delight in Me and I will give you the desires of your heart, for it is I who gave you those desires. (Psalm 37:4; Philippians 2:13)

– In Me you live and move and have your being. (Acts 17:28)

– Every good gift you receive comes from My hand. (James 1:17)

– I offer you more than your earthly father ever could because I am the perfect Father. (Matthew 7:11; Matthew 5:48)

– I am your provider and I meet your needs. (Philippians 4:19)

– I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine.  (Ephesians 3:20)

My Boy’s Big Day!

I’ve been a bit on the mopey side lately…wanting to spend as much time with my son as possible.  “Mom, can I play on your computer?”  “Yes,” I say, knowing that he’ll be close enough for me to sneak glances at from time to time without being so obvious.  “Mom, do you wanna watch our favorite show now.”  “Yep, I’d love to,” as he settles in next to me on the couch.   Today marks a new chapter in my son’s life.  Today my boy is officially a high school freshman and I’m blown away!  Where did that time go?  I recall being told when he was a baby to enjoy the time with him because it goes by so fast.  How true!

It was quite clear to me that parenting entailed a series of separations and I anticipated the possibility of pain.  That separation began in the delivery room and I have been “painfully” aware of it ever since.  I was surprised at how sad I was when I brought him home from the hospital.  For nine months we had shared a secret while he grew inside of me and now that we had become separated, I had to share him.  Then came the time when he was around 10 months old when he decided that he no longer wanted to be trapped beneath my shirt for a drink.  He traded me in for plastic.  I was broken hearted when I dropped him off at preschool because the arms that comforted him throughout the day would no longer be mine.  I’ve watched him slowly become independent and while I celebrate his budding independence, I’m missing my little boy.

My boy…my miracle child, has been the sweetest, most tender gift from God.   I fell in love the day it was announced, after my first ultrasound,  that “this pregnancy is happening.”  From day one, I’ve been super aware that I would be raising someone’s husband, so I’ve been diligent about teaching him what girls like…be a gentleman; ladies first; open doors for them; smell nice; dress sharp; r.e.s.p.e.c.t.; leave room for the Holy Ghost when you dance (hehe);  honor your parents; love and serve the Lord…oh, and “the girls love the curls, son!”  I’ve also told him that “everyone starts dating at around 25.  That’s the cool thing to do!!” 🙂  On his school field trips, he always thinks of me in the gift shop and brings me home a trinket (and one for his sissy too); he compliments me constantly (for free…doesn’t cost me a thing:); he still holds my hand in public; makes a perfect cup of coffee and assumes the role of the man of the house when my honey goes out of town.  Recently, I’ve started teaching him how to cook and he has expressed an interest in learning how to wash clothes.  During those times that I’m stealing glances, I think about his wife (the one I’m praying for all the time) and I think about how blessed she will be.

And so the separation continues and as he begins this next chapter…. high school….that hormonal cesspool, I’m anticipating the dating thing and I REALLY need to get before the Lord since I’m thinking the dating at 25 deal ain’t gonna fly.  Long ago I heard a great answer to the dating question given by the oldest child of that Duggar family…the one with 20 kids.  When asked why he chose not to date, he felt that when one dates, they give a little piece of their heart to each person and he wanted to give his entire heart to one.  I’ve passed that little dittie on to my kids.  Another time, we were stopped at a light coming home from elementary school and we saw a couple of kids making out and my kids’ eyes were locked on them.  I said, “you see those kids there…chances are they will not be together long enough to marry.  He is kissing and caressing someone else’s wife and she’s making out with someone else’s husband.”  I’ve encouraged them to respect themselves…save themselves for their husband/wife.  I’ve pointed out that they can always be like “the crowd,” and dabble in marriage-type behavior; however, if they choose to remain pure, the “crowd” that has chosen that behavior can’t be like them.  Whew…what a tightrope we walk in this area..trying to walk the line, make the right choices, trying not to blend in in a world where everything is permissible.  The challenge for me remains in the angst felt by my kids when they are not allowed to run with the crowd…and so I remain prayerful that their appetites will be for those things that are pleasing to the Lord and beneficial to them; that they remain rooted and grounded in the Word; that they not be tossed and turned by the philosophies and doctrine of man, as dad and I keep watch over them as best we could, teaching them as much as we are able and trusting God to cover them better than we could ever cover them.

Today I released my boy into the next part of his journey into manhood.  He left this morning fed and watered with expectation written all over him.  Dad and I prayed over him, and with a kiss and a wave he was off.  I did good…Dad, not so much.  He called me from the drop off area sounding pretty weepy, blown away at how fast time has gone…

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