Monday, March 31, 2008

Ephesians 1:1-5 part B

At work today I kept thinking about my previous entry on Ephesians. And about free will, being chosen, etc. and I had some additional thoughts. The problem with calvinism to me, besides the whole ...I believe in true & real free that when we believe some were just picked out and chosen and designed to be chosen without having any ability to choose on their own....then it seems that anybody else who hasn't yet chosen Christ begins to think, well I must just be not chosen. And then the people that are christians, these chosen ones, begin to get prideful thinking when they see non-christians, well they're just not chosen. I guess calvinism would make sense if our humanness wouldn't mess it up --- but it does. That viewpoint inherently turns the focus and attention on people rather than on Christ. It puts the chosen "above" the unchosen and takes away the grace available to ALL. The more I think about it - I just really don't agree with the calvinist view on this issue. I believe in free will!

But there was another thought I had about this "chosen" idea. I think that it's awesome and clearly divine how God designs our earthly families and friendship circles. The people who He knows will choose Christ at a young age - He always makes sure to put around others who haven't decided to follow Christ yet. Example: Brandon, my husband who was brought up in the same environment as his 4 brothers for some reason chose Christ. I believe that his placement in the family and environment he grew up in, is a perfect example of God's hands and perfectly orchestrated weaving of our lives!! Obviously Brandon was put into his family line for a reason.

So many times Brandon and I have had conversations like... why us? We don't get how our siblings and us could all sit through the same sermons, same youth groups, same experiences.....but it was different for us. How come we decided to "buy in" to all we heard. How come it penetrated our hearts? How come we just believed in what we were hearing and the eyes of our hearts were open to it. I believe that God chose to open our hearts when He did.... so that He could use us to be catalysts for those around us. We were chosen to have our hearts open and we thank God we said YES. I believe that because we said YES to God, because we allowed Him to soften our hearts --- that that is God's "in" with our circle. He made us receptive to Him, not because we are any "better" than others - but He needed to choose at least one person in every circle of influence out why not us? In love, we were predestined to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ. (5) For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. (4). We are holy and blameless because we said YES to Jesus. and I pray that all of those around me that haven't yet....will say YES as well!!!!

Ephesians 1:1-5

I couldn't decide which book to start with on this new venture since I have a million things I want to write down and explore I decided to start with the bestseller of all time. The roadmap. The Bible!! yay! :) Pastor challenged us this week to read a chapter from Ephesians each day to prepare us for our Easter drama on Sunday.

Ephesians 1

The first thing that stands out at me from this chapter is how Paul's introduction reads.... To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus. I believe it to be true that anybody who believes in Jesus, who asked Jesus to come into their heart and be their savior, is a saint. I don't agree with the Roman catholic church that a saint acts a certain way, does certain things, is ordained....I believe every Christian is ordained a "saint" because of the righteousness that Jesus brings to us when we welcomed Him in. This introduction makes so much sense to me because of this belief.

Verse 3 - He has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ? woah...I have a hard time grasping this. I need clarity on this. I obviously underestimate the power and strength I have because of Christ. Tell me more about this God. You have blessed me with every spiritual blessing, in the heavenly realms, in Christ? Does this mean wisdom, grace, hope or does it mean teh fruits of the Spirit?...I need more on this....

Verses 4 & 5- Yes I believe He has chosen us (the saints, the Christ followers), but I don't agree with the calvinist view. Calvinism says God chooses who He will save and these predestined have neither the opportunity nor desire to turn away....but I don't agree with that. I believe He has given us free will and when it says He chose I believe it means sort of, He "elected" the ones that He knew would have chosen Christ anyway. We're chosen because He knew we would be the ones to follow Christ. I believe this view is called Arminianism. I don't get how these two things could exist -- free will but also Him choosing.....but that's just one of those God-mysteries. I believe those 2 things can exist and do exist in His dimension even if I can't get my mind to wrap around that. I'm a firm believer in true and real -- free will. God is freedom and I believe He knew that unforced love and adoration from us was worth the risk of some not choosing Him. Do you know what I mean? Unforced love is so sweet and precious and powerful that He would rather have some of us give unforced love and some not...versus having all give forced love. I hope I am writing that clear enough...

That's all for now - time to go to work.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Church, Ministries, Jesus the Carpenter

We had such an awesome church service today. I absolutely leave every Sunday saying, WOW that was the best sermon ever! I just leave with so much love for God and just leave passionate! I always leave smiling so big and I search for other faces to see if anybody is feeling what I'm feeling. I wonder, was I the only one that felt the power in the room? Am I the only one totally feeling God at work? Am I the only one totally fired up for what God is doing in this church and this community!? Each week it keeps getting better and better. I don't know if it's just me that is changing and so I am feeling more connected, more alive, more intune with the Spirit. Or maybe God really is just working on a lot of hearts in the church and making His presence more and more known. I don't know what has changed about church, but it has just been so so awesome and getting better every week.

I have to admit, I was never extremely involved in church growing up. I always went on Sundays and was always a part of the youth group - but until I found Southside, I can really say I never found a church that felt like home. I grew up in an evangelical free church...and to this day I can't really tell you what that means. And then in high school I started going to an extremely small Baptist Church that met in a little christian school in New Jersey. Although I had very close friends & family at both churches and loved the fellowship and am thankful for that foundation I had.... Southside is home to me. It's a medium size church - about 3 to 400 people go regularly on Sundays split into 2 services. And it's just full of loving, merciful people who love God and know how imperfect they are but how perfect He is. It's an open church wanting to reach out to this laid back beach town. I am proud for Raymond to be growing up in it and I'm excited God has lead us here. I am excited for what God is doing through the church! We have some really incredible ministries!!

I always yearned for a church that was full (rather than empty) of people, that was passionate about Christ and that was DOING things - not just the same crusty old thing every week. Because there is nothing crusty or old or stagnate or boring about Christ at all! He is opposite of that! I believe God has answered my prayers by leading us to Southside. Pastor Kelly right now is doing a series called, "Under Construction" and I can't even explain how perfect this timing is. It was perfect timing for where I am.... trying to find a way to get more involved, trying to figure out what specifically I can do to help further the gospel.

I always knew deep down that church wasn't about Sunday morning. But really that is all church was for so long to me. Most of my childhood, church was about me. What *I* could get from the sermon. What *I* would feel during worship, etc. etc.... and I am beginning to realize that Sunday morning really is to worship God and to bring Him honor through learning about Him, focusing on Him, praising Him... Second to that, it is also a time of fellowship and a time for encouragement, to just be with other believers... to love and uplift each other; but that is second to God.

I have learned that Sundays are not the purpose of the church though. My ultimate and defining purpose as I say on the "about me" is to be with God, to know Him, to align with Him more and more....but my earthly purpose....and the earthly purpose of the church is to spread the gospel of Jesus Chrst. Our specific mission statement at Southside reads something along the lines of.....To help people become fully devoted to Jesus Christ. It's not to fill a pew on Sunday mornings but to go out and share Jesus with the prostitutes, drug dealers, athiests, liberal college professors, homeless, self-righteous christians, just WHOever at all God puts in our paths during the "normal" days of our life. It's showing people by our love and mercy that we KNOW there is nothing better about us than them....except that Jesus alone made us righteous and eternally saved.

I have a long way to go in this area --- and I'm going to be extremely vulnerable right now and say that I can honestly say I've never "witnessed" to somebody in such a formal manner that I was right there when they made the decision to ask Jesus into their hearts. I do believe that God has used my words, my love, my forgiveness, my encouragement to plant seeds in others that could be the catalyst for them to seek Jesus Christ out or just to know Jesus better.....but I am not sure I've been a good and faithful servant. I often wonder, have a made a difference to anybody God? Have you used me in some way at some point? Brandon says I'm too hard on myself and that he is sure I've indirectly helped many people on their journey to be fully devoted to Jesus Christ. But the choleric personality part of me wants to make SURE I'm doing whatever I can for God. It's not about getting a tally of people I've lead to Jesus.... I don't want to know a tally or know names...but I just want to know that when I get to heaven, I can say I did whatever I could to bring others with me, ya know!? Maybe Brandon's right though and I shouldn't worry so much about who specifically I've helped....but I just think about the lost a lot because I've been given a heart that really thinks a lot about eternal things. I really am scared for the people around me that will go to hell if nothing changes. I have so many friends and peers around me that don't know Jesus. I can't imagine going to heaven and finding out ___ went to hell and I never mentioned Jesus to them. But it's hard because I can't push Jesus on them at all ya know? I have to just allow Jesus to work through me first to connect to them, to love on them and then when the trust is formed and when the time is right, God will allow them to ask me a question or lead us to a conversation where I can specifically talk about Christ, ya know?

As I've been on this spiritual journey in the past few years..... the point I seem to be at right now, or in the past 3 months or so, is to find out how to be more directly involved. I really do yearn to be used. I think so many of my frustrations and things in the past weeks is that I am impatient. I want to be used NOW. I yearn to use my talents and gifts and all the lessons God has been giving me. But I have to have patience! I am a work in progress. "Rome was not built in a day" sort of thing. I just have to take teeny steps daily to allow God to work on me. I have to trust that God is at work and that when the timing is right He will slam wide open some doors for me. I still have to do what I can to be Jesus right now, where I am, exactly as I am in the here and now...but at the same time look forward to more responsibility and different roles that will be given to me as I progress in my faith and wisdom and love. I have to be patient as He, the great carpenter, works on me.

I really do just want to share Jesus with others....and I have felt a tugging to serve my church or a specific ministry in a more organized and deliberate way. So I am so so excited about this new series the pastor is training us with! AND I can't WAIT for this weekend. Our worship arts/ creative arts team is so awesome! This Friday Saturday and Sunday we have our Easter drama entitled STAND Live the Life. Written by a church member, based on the book Live Like a Jesus Freak - it talks a lot about what our modern day christian life should be like. It will talk about the persecuted church as well in some scenes, from what I hear... I have been asking friends and family to go, I hope they will! I have been praying for this to be a blessing and a powerful way to spread the gospel throughout this wonderful city! We are having ministries and missionaries coming in from all over the COUNTRY to share with us what they are doing and asking others to get involved and support them. They will all be in the fellowship hall for people to talk to and get inspired by and I just pray that people are stirred to STAND up and get out of the pew and onto "the streets". I pray that I will find a specific ministry/mission that I will just know God is calling me specifially for.

But to tell you the truth - I think I have an inkling of what my ministry calling is right now....and it's to help believers, especially new believers be encouraged to be involved. Since I've been that person sitting in the pew going to church every week and wanting to be involved but not knowing how...I want to help those people! I want people to know they are special, unique and that we want to hear their wonderful unique story and the special talents they bring to our family! I want them to know they have a special role to play and that they were brought to the church for a reason. THAT really is what my passion is right now! I realize that the lack of involvement in church is not always a lack of desire but a lack of knowledge of how to get involved, fear, fear of rejection and fear of not feeling accepted. I want to help church members, especially new members feel like an important and accepted part of the church family. I want to help others get connected quickly and fully to the church once they join!

One way I have been working on doing this -- is revamping our church website. I made this 5 page word document on changes to the website and how we can/should be using it as an awesome tool for the church. From the perspective of visitors, members and church leaders. I gave it to the guy who does the actual designing/editing of the site and he seemed to like it. He loved the new organization outline/flow. I was so so excited that we might be able to get this done before our huge performance this weekend where so many visitors will be coming and finding out about all the ministries/missions we are a part of...but I'm discourged because we hit some snags. The webmaster is in France for a semester and is swamped with work. He also is having some issues with the html as it was given to him from the company who designed the site. and I really don't know anything about the actual HOW TO of websites so I can't help. I am just good at the flow/organization/marketing and analysis of visitors and such. So at the same time of being so so so excited about the upcoming drama and all that's going on - I'm frustrated. The website won't be of good use at all. I see how absolutley incredible this website can be and this church can be -- but it's like it's SOO close but just not there. I wish I could help. I wish my ideas could be incoporated --- it's like the same issue I'm having at work with nobody giving my ideas a chance...ahhh :)

So I'm just praying. I just pray for God to keep closing doors if I'm not supposed to pursue volunteering my time and ideas in these areas... but if this IS my ministry - to be a support for the church and for helping people find areas to be involved in...for helping the church get organized and be the connection between church & people....then I pray God will help me realize that and will open doors for me!

PHEW! :) another long post. Raymond is awake now so time to go. But if anybody actually does read this -- I'd love to hear some feedback. What ministry/missions have you been a part of?! What causes you to STAND!?

LOVE! :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Money Part 2

I have to apologize for such a LONG and scatterbrained post on money. I went back and tried to correct some of the errors I found --- but that is what happens when you just sit and type and let it flow.

BUT I woke up feeling so rejuvenated! :) Brandon and I talked last night and he helped me focus again on the long term. He is just such a faithful, steady person. Exactly what I need! and I thank you all as well for contributing to my encouragement! :)

and we DO have a plan and I WILL be coming home full time in 2008!! YAY! :) I can't imagine how excited I will be. My heart as a woman literally aches sometimes to be home full time, to be completely 100% focused on bringing love and beauty into my home. I really do think that men were designed to provide and woman designed to take care of the babies. But while I'm working part time "out there" I need to just look for ways to bless others in that position, God brought me there for a reason. and I'm so so so so thankful that Brandon also has the same dream as me. He wants me to come home full time just as badly. He wants to be the sole provider. Brandon grew up in a family of 5 boys. Can you imagine that?!!?! His mom was a single parent for quite a few years and worked 3+ jobs to provide.... so I'm so glad that despite our different upbringing, we share the same dream - to have the mommy home with the kids and be the primary & sole caretaker.

When I DO come home full time, I wish I could invite you all over to celebrate with me hehe. I really do wish I had more friends closer to me with babies around my age. It would be nice not to have so many empty playgrounds around here. It really is just different for our generation though isn't it? I didn't mean to make it sound like I have NO example of financial prosperity --- I have that example in my own parents! But I just wanted an example from MY generation. My mom stayed home and I believe I had the perfect childhood. We had next to nothing when we were little and now they are abundantly blessed. I remember my mom making clothes, making crafts, painting and making decorations instead of buying things --- but I just don't have that talent. I thank you all for sharing on your blog your "cheap" decor. In fact Michelle had a post just yesterday about that. Maybe someday I will be able to be a creator like that and learn that I don't need a lot of money to have "new" things. They can be new to me though old to somebody else. You all inspire me, thank you.

Brandon helped me realize that things are extremely different now from our parent's generation - God is ultimately in charge! He is the ultimate leader, the ultimate babysitter and He is here with us. He can bless us no matter what laws change or what the government is like. He is good and faithful if we are --- and so I just need to increase my reading, to increase my faith!

So I'm going to do what I can to focus on the blessings we have now but to look at the big picture! To focus on the long term and where we're going, not where we are now! I will also continue to fill out my "dream book" that is a binder I have full of ideas I want to do in my house and life! and I'll do what I can to continue to read your blogs and find inspiration and how to make beautiful things without breaking my bank!

so THANK YOU all! :) and to end on a positive..

my dear hubby is such a server...when he got his promotion, he wanted Raymond to partake in the increase as Raymond got his first "big" toy from us. I can truthfully say that any toys Raymond has right now is because of our parents or friends, so it was so nice to buy him something. When we went up to New Jersey my nephew got a little 4 wheeler for his birthday and Raymond wanted to ride is so so so so bad. He was fascinated. He just craved it but since it was my nephew's new toy, Raymond didn't really get any time on when my mom found this 4 wheeler at Toys R Us on sale for $30 we had to get it!!! This is the best $30 I've spent!!!! It's such a fun toy - and now that the weather has been in the 70's, we've been loving life! We've been riding the 4wheeler everywhere, it goes pretty fast actually and walking in the stroller and bike riding.

Life is good because God is great! Everybody have an awesome Friday!! :) love you all!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Money Money Money

I'm going to ask for forgiveness for this blog entry right now...because I have no idea what is going to come out. and I predict that I'll blog for Raymond's ENTIRE nap and since I type really fast this will probably be REALLY long! I just need to get OUT all this "junk" in me. and I have to admit I'm going to be extremely vulnerable and open. I'm just going to voice both sides of the argument I am having between my mind/heart. It's just not been a great day or week really. Which is typical after such a wonderful celebration of God in my life this past Resurrection Sunday. I think the devil is attacking me - I really see this as an attack. I would welcome anybody who actually reads this all to challenge me on things I type...but please do it in a way that is loving. Disagree with me and if you do please voice it, help me see other perspectives, challenge what I say.....but please condemn my words, not me.

My mind has been on finances a lot. We are lining things up for me to come home full time in the next 6 - 9 months which is so so exciting but I'm scared. If we're barely getting by now is it possible we can do it with me coming home? How will Brandon figure this out? I guess so much of my fear is because we haven't sat down and looked at our goals since his promotion....but I just have to admit, I have fear.... I really doubt it will ever happen that I will be a full time mom. God, will I ever be able to plan to have more kids!? I have fear that we will never get out of being slaves to money - but God doesn't give me that Spirit does He!? Jesus has overcome all our struggles - so why do we struggle so much? Are we doing something wrong?!

I think about money a lot, which stinks... Isn't there so many other wonderful things that should fill our mind? I absolutely can't stand having to think about money so much. The only people who think about money all the time are people who don't have any, including me (or people who have it and are in love with it and obsessed with it -- which isn't me)'s not like we don't have ANY money - it's just that we don't really have any "extra". and quite frankly I am so so so sick of this struggle. and I'm just confused. I don't know what God wants me to do.

I appreciate so much all I have right now - being able to stay home with Raymond the majority of the day is AWESOME especially since I know how blessed I am compared to all of my friends, who don't stay homes. But so many of my friends just have different standards than me, I can't even compare our situations. Our home really is so beautiful, though small, and so so much better than our previous house by a long shot so life is good. and I do whatever I can to just focus on what I have...but sometimes I just burst for wanting more. Isn't it okay to want more!? I want to live on an even bigger scale - I just don't want to have to think about money. I want to be home full time. I want to have money to give, I want nice things, not Walmart quality junk. I can literally say I have a strong love/hate relationship with Walmart.

The American, enterpreneur in me, the person who wants MORE out of life...hates Walmart. I hate what their business concept promotes, I hate the Walmart quantity not quality concept. I HATE that I have to shop there - but....seeing we are on such a tight budget, I love that it really does help me save. It helps me stretch that money and get more food than I could at the regular grocery store. Brandon is so so awesome at budgeting. He is just a great leader for our house - he is such a long term thinker, and I usually am to - but sometimes I just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. We delay delay delay - don't use credit cards, don't do the typical walmart thing where you go in for 5 things and get 25. Do you know how hard this is for my personality? I am NOT good at delaying. I feel that right now we are so good with our money....but I want change! I don't want to HAVE to shop at Walmart and I *hate* that businesses and products like that are taking over. I want fine things, I want quality things. I do not want a LOT of junk...I would be happy with a FEW just nice quality items once in a while.

I want to support stay at home businesses. I want to support small businesses. I want to support and spend my money at places that are unique and not the same ol 'junk' as everywhere else. I have so many friends that do direct selling or own their own businesses that I want to support --- but we literally just can't yet -- so my money goes to stupid ole Walmart and other cheapo places. I know the reason our country has thrived is because of our entrepreneurial spirit! The free enterprise system that promotes competition... not promoting who can make the MOST stuff - but who can make the best. The free enterprise system that gives anybody the freedom to make something of ourselves. The freedom to take responsibility for our actions and use our God-given talents to be financially successful, not depending on the government to take care of us. But I am frustrated that I haven't been able to partake in this wonderful system yet - I feel like the freedom our country is founded on is slipping away with the globalization and walmartization of society. I feel like the system (government) is out to steal away the ability for us to have freedom to create wealth. I feel like the government WANTS more people to rely on it... and big businesses are taking over and controlling everything. and even worse, credit card companies targeting everybody and feminists who changed the course for moms/women everywhere....and don't even get me started on education and what the public school systems teach. so can you tell I'm just cynical right now!?

and at the same time of all these shifts happening in our the government gets bigger and our freedoms get less, I STILL haven't found a niche I can benefit from in this wonderful free enterprise system even if somehow it IS kept alive! I am just trading my hours for dollars like any other rat in the corporate world right now.... and I am so sick of it!!! I feel like we're so much better than how we're living. Every one of our pennies has a place it is assigned to - whether it be emergency savings, insurance, bills, then somebody needs dental work etc. etc. there is no extra and I'm sick of it.

I don't believe it's wrong to want more. I don't believe that I am materialistic at all - in fact anybody who sees how I want to spend my money knows I'm not. Anybody who comes to my home or sees the same clothes I wear all the time or sees how cheap we live so that I can stay home knows we're not materialistic --- but I have to admit I want more. Isn't it okay to have dreams? Why do my dreams feel like a burden sometimes? Doesn't God give us dreams on purpose? These "dreams" are not my defining purpose by any means - God and my inner growth are the most important - but I want to be successful in all areas of my life. Isn't it honoring to God when you are successful in all areas? I know that I can be honoring to God right where I am always because of my attitude, right....I know that in my heart --- but sometimes my attitude is just AWFUL like today!! I want to move forward!

It's just hard right's hard to delay delay delay. but I can honestly say I love how simple our life is right now in many ways. I hate clutter and I love that I don't have to worry about that haha....but what about even things like treating people to dinner, giving gifts to others, donating money....I want to do these things! I know that delaying is great... I really do love delayed gratification , because I know that when I DO get the blessings, I will appreciate them so so much and I will feel like I "deserve" know? I'll feel like I worked for it by delaying.....

BUT sometimes I just feel like I am designed to lose and that I will never win and then I get mad that I let those thoughts in and feel guilty for not trusting God! It has to be the devil. But sometimes I literally feel like I'm just failing in all a mother, as a wife, homemaker, in my outside the home job..... this isn't a pity party -- it's just me needing to vent this out and I'm sure I'll feel much better soon!

I have to admit... the finance struggle I feel like I have been constantly under since moving out of my parent's nest and into my hubby's...makes me look forward to heaven so much. I can't wait to just NOT have to deal with money at ALL. That alone makes me want to jump to heaven right now. To just be able to focus on God and my true ultimate and defining purpose to love Him and be with Him --- and not have my mind full of really mundane details like money, up keep of house/car/body, etc. etc. will just be AWESOME!!!!!! But I know God wants me to face my problems. I know somehow He will use these struggles for good, right!? I know that this too shall pass right!? Someday I will get to have some earthly dreams filled, right God!?

Doesn't God bless His children who are good stewards with their money? anybody!??! Anybody have a testimony!? Will He bless us someday just because we aren't going into debt, for working hard, for not depending on the government and instead leaving welfare for His children who REALLY need it!? I mean we're doing everything right. We really are. We listen to proverbs when it says not to be lazy (work hard, don't depend on others), not to go into debt with others (using credit cards, etc.).... but will God bless us just for doing things right?

But then I can He bless us without action though? To bless us financially we have to do something different than what we're currently doing right? You can't expect to do the same things and get different results - so does that mean I have to work even MORE hours God!!? or look for a new position? or just depend on Brandon? I dont' know!! He ca

n't really bless me for just NOT spending money right? or can He!??!! He can only bless me when I DO something that will reap a reward. Or maybe He will somehow bless us for being good stewards!? I just don't know!

But what talents do I have God that I can DO so that I can bless others and therefore bless you and therefore be blessed myself!? God, sometimes I get in this trap of looking at others and seeing the financial blessings they have...and it makes me feel like somehow they are doing something more "right" than me. Am I just not following a success principle I should. Am I doing something wrong? Looking at other people being so blessed, makes me feel inferior -- but that is what my mind says. My HEART says that YOU are at work God and that I can't compare myself to others. I KNOW that comparison is the root of all inferiority - but when I have my peers ask me all the time when we'll get a house, why Raymond doesn't have tons of things that others do, why we don't really go anywhere or go to "playdates", why we won't have more kids anytime soon, why why why why why.... it ends up beating me down without them even meaning to. But I don't want it to get to me. I don't want money so I can get the same things as everybody else -- it's not about comparison in that way --- but just to not have to feel pain when bringing up the issue of dreams/finances. I just want to feel some relief God and that I am delaying for a reason.....

Just to not have to think about money at all will be AWESOME! I just am so sick of being a slave to it God. What if there was a way to just get it totally out of my mind not just momentarily!? Just to have my mind totally consumed by Him will be so awesome.. I don't mean to make it sound like money takes up ALL of my mine the whole day.... it's not that extreme; because He does give me lots of moments of rest.

He makes me rest (Psalm 23?)--- because when I'm with Him and resting in Him - I get glimpses of heaven and my perspective changes. Literally when I am with the Spirit, I am not in this world for those moments. He just brings me such peace and joy because it's like nothing else matters but God in those moments. But then I'm back to my reality --- yes fully rejuvenated and full of joy and hope because of my quiet time - but nonetheless back to the details I wish I didn't have to deal with. I KNOW this life is but a blink of an eye --- but I absolutely believe that God doesn't want me to have to focus on money so much. I absolutely believe He is doing something and is at work even when it doesn't appear so. I believe He is leading me to huge blessings. I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and focusing on Him and just go with Him and I know He will lead me to where I'm supposed to be.

But sometimes I'm just like AHH am I doing all I'm supposed to God? I know these "things" are not my purpose - I know YOU are my purpose - but how can I help bring others to Christ if I have nothing to give God. If I have no money and no room in my mind because it's consumed with my own needs, then how can I be serving and giving to others!?

What talents am I not being a good steward of God? I am not crafty, I can't "make" anything to sell --- what I'm good at is marketing, customer service, helping companies troubleshoot DUMB policies and procedures, helping with website flow, organizational flow... just being a business consultant - but it takes money to make money. I'd have to invest hundreds if not thousands to start my own business if I was going to do something like that. Am I supposed to be sharpening one of these skills God? If so...which one, how?

Or maybe I have it all wrong and I'm just supposed to be mommy and a part time worker and that's it.... Should I just be happy to be dependent on Brandon's success and just be "content" to stay at home with Raymond. But God we're not abundantly living in the financial area of our lives. You know I have a hard time with that word "content" God. "Content" makes me feel like I'm not striving to be better. I KNOW that being a mom is "enough" but it's not really enough when we're struggling and doing all we can just to stay afloat right? I feel like I can't even do that great of a job as mom, when we're stressed about finances. This struggle can sometimes be all consuming God - so I need you to either change me so that SOMEHOW I can get my mind off where we're AT now and instead focus on the long term. OR change our situation God.

Money affects every decision we make. Where we go, what ministries we will support, what we'll eat, how many children we'll have and when, what friends Raymond has, where Raymond will go to school some day, how safe our car is, how safe our home is, what we'll wear, what sort of hobbies we'll do.... YES these are just "things" and come after God and family - but they are things that are important to me. What about just having TIME!? It's like you can either have time or money but you can't have both with typical jobs and I can't stand that.

I am not one of those types that think money is bad. I believe money is just money. and that it takes on the characteristic of whoever has it. It has extreme power to do a lot of good...or a lot of bad depending on who has it. and I believe that God would want money to be in the hands of good people!! So I want to be a good steward of what He has -- I don't want to be a kink in the water hose -- I want the money to flow through me and I want God to trust me with it. I want to bless others with all He gives me and I know because of that He will give us more. I don't think that wanting things or wanting money makes me unappreciative of what I have at all!!! Can't I be appreciate for all I have, but have dreams for more!? I believe it is possible to be joyful and thankful for what we have -- but at the same time to have desires and dreams and goals.

BUT all that being said ---- I also am battling because my job I have right now outside the home is extremely humbling. This is probably where a lot of my discouragement comes from now that I think about it. I work in a call center in a position that I believe is extremely below me. A lot of the time I am micromanaged like a barely high school educated worker. The pay is great, the benefits are awesome, the opportunity is great (if you're looking for a full time career)....but it's below me. Is that my pride talking? I guess, but it's just totally how I feel. I won't go into my past successes and talents God has blessed me with, that make me really overqualified for this. but sometimes we have to do things we don't want to I guess. We really needed some extra income (which is a whole other story - but summed up, I got pregnant while on the pill and 3 months married, 5 months out of school with barely a penny saved for anything and we absolutely as a household are against credit card Randi gets a job when Raymond is 5 months old).

BUT.....about my position. I feel like I should be consulting this department on how to streamline their processes better; training my peers on how to have better customer service; helping organize & design our websites better to make them more user-friendly and efficient.....not being the bottom rung on the ladder, taking robotic calls saying the same thing over and over...and over. I am a driver. I am competitive, I'm a hard worker and I am very goal oriented. If I'm not moving forward - I'm not happy. And this position is frustrating because I intentionally am putting myself in a position that I will be stuck in until we decide to bring me home full time. By not going full time even though they ask me again and again - I am keeping myself locked into this particular job, no other opportunities are available for part time work exept for the job I have. It's so discouraging becuase I have so so many suggestions for the department, but I'm "just" a part time worker and any suggestions I have that I believe could be benefit the company SUBSTANTIALLY are seen as me complaining about policies or making excusing for something.... I know God sees my heart - but won't He use me? and didn't I just have this issue a few months ago? and didn't my cousin Christa remind me that none of this is my purpose? that God is my purpose -- YES I KNOW that --- but I'm HERE right now so shouldn't I care about the here and now too!? Isn't trying our best in ALL areas of our life important?!

This job just takes a lot out of me. Am I happy with this stage in my life!? YES!! yes yes!!! In SO many areas. More days than not I am GIDDY with thankfulness for being home, being a mommy so unexpectedly and just for everything we have..... I am moving forward in my spiritual growth, my physical health, my emotional health, relational health (thank you all who have challenged me on this and helped me mature a lot in this area)...and I just thoroughly enjoy my time with Raymond and being with him the majority of my day.....

but I still feel days of discouragement like today.

and what's crazy is that we have even been financially blessed recently too! but I still feel like we're just paddling as hard as we can just to stay afloat! Brandon got that wonderful promotion --- and it was such a HUGE blessing...but it's like how in the world could the money increase and there are still more bills? Maybe I just haven't given Brandon enough time to work out a new budget maybe?! Yeah maybe that's it! His new paychecks start next week - so maybe we will be able to maneuver around our budget better and I will be able to see our different budget categories increasing and I won't feel a rut! Sometimes I feel like I'm just like a messenger for our paycheck. The money comes in and OUT so quickly it's line "vroom" - where did it go!?

But I bet that is exactly why I'm discouraged! I just need to talk to Brandon. We've been so wrapped up in life, we haven't had time to sit and talk about the budget so that is why I'll do!!!! That will make me feel better! When we sit and talk about the budget, it helps me focus on teh long term! Becuase I am losing focus on the long term and just focusng on the here and now too much!!! I just need to see that I'm leaving my little baby with somebody for a REASON.

and as far as this position/job...I guess my goal right now is just to shut my mouth at work and work on being encouraging to everybody around me. Use it as a humbling experience and a chance to be a blessing to others. I will shut my mouth and be humble when criticized about certain things that I disagree with but still have to comply to because policy says so and nobody wants to listen to my suggestions. and I just have to BELIEVE no matter what my circumstnaces look like, that God is doing SOMETHING! I KNOW that I AM SO SO SO blessed compared to the majority of the world and I am SOO thankful for all I have!!! It's not like I'm trying to play society's game of having quantity things..I just want some quality things! I want to be able to be successful to be able to give glory to God, ya know?! I'm not trying to keep up with the Jones...I don't work to get my hair done, nails done, to have clothes, to party -- I work to pay the bills and I'm proud of all I've had to give up - but I just pray my sacrifices are worth it. I don't want nice things to impress others... I want my life to be successful in ALL areas so I can give credit back to God. It would be nice to just go out on a date sometime and not be watching the clock to see how much we owe the babysitter. To not worry about giving extra at church when I feel nudged to!

I think I've just seen too much -- I've seen people all around me be able to break away from the chains of money and I want to live like that! I want to overcome this victory! I just want to take money totally out of the equation adn just not worry about it! I want to be financially indepdent and have financial peace so that I wont' have to think about money at all!!

and I know I'm not the only one in this situation... our country has empty playground syndrome. Empty playgrounds have become a regular scene for Raymond and I. Empty playgrounds are the norm! Where is eveyrbody , you ask? Well the babies are in daycare and the mommies are at work I guess!? In fact, when we go to a playground - and there are a ton we go to - not just one specific one --- it's really unusual to have people there with us! Empty playgrounds are so sad to me!! Yes it's wonderful that Raymond can have everything to himself...but not really.

Whatever happened to mommies going to playgrounds and meeting other mommies and getting to be friends. I don't want to have to join a mom's group online or wherever and have to "schedule in" playdates. I want to meet a mom and child that are not SO SO busy with their other 'playgroups' already or not working so much that they don't have time for relationships!? ....can you tell I'm just discouraged?

I know that this is a battle our generation is fighting and I know so many of us don't even want to partake in this battle! We don't trust companies, we don't trust the corporate world or even traditional jobs - because we see how well they have done to our parents. Pensions cut, jobs laid off, benefits cut...

Listening to KLove this morning I had the strongest urge to call in and add to the discussion they were having! They were complaining/discussing as everybody seems to be doing in this country about gas prices --- and I was just thinking to myself --- MAN - there are much deeper issues going on in our society if raising gas $1 to $2 a gallon really totally breaks people's bank. What is that like $100 or $200 a month difference? That totally ruins the majority of people's budgets. I know it has been eating into ours bigtime and thank God my husband's company reimburses us for that....but the system seems totally designed against us families isn't it?! It's like we are not teaching something to our children or not doign something right in our laws if the majority are even having a hard time "succeeding" in the most free, wonderful country in the world. And depending on who we elect for our next leader, it's going to get worse!

Can't we claim victory over this!? I don't believe that we are meant to have to be a slave to anybody or anything - including money and I hate it!!!! I want to win this battle for you God! Can't you use me God to overcome this victory and help others to the same?!?!?!?!

I KNOW I just have to keep believing! God please help me have faith. Help me believe that you are at work and that you will provide and that you will present opportunities and that you are blessing us. Help me not be so affected by my circumstances God. God I don't want to think about money - help me get it off my mind! I am so sick of being a slave to money and I want out of this. I believe Jesus overcame the world so I didn't have to struggle and battle and I believe you will give us this victory and all glory will go to you!

Did anybody read this?! Do you know what I'm talking about?!?!

Is there anbydoy out there who is on the other side and can give me some encouragement?! anybody!? Anybody who has been blessed to not have to worry about money all the time, just for doing things right with their finances!?

Sooo I don't know exactly what lesson I'm going to learn from this yet --- but I know this. I hear God telling me that I need to rest in Him more. If He is what helps my perspective change and helps me focus on the big picture (wisdom) then I need to be with Him more. I need to increase my quiet time and reading, again. and if Brandon is who I run to when I need to see "the dream" - when I need somebody to help me focus on the "vision" then I need to do that. So I will run to him tonight!!!

I hear God telling me that I am going through this struggle to be relatable to others. To be compassionate to others struggles. To be understanding. Because someday I'm not going to be in the rain and when I am out in the sunshine and somebody else is getting rained on --- I will be compassion and empathetic and not judging or imcompassionate (is that a word?)... I really believe that to be true.

Thanks for allowing me to vent my dear blog retreat. Sorry for any spelling or grammar errors. I am not going to go back and re read or spell check. I gotta hop in the shower.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I rejoice in Jesus' victory today!!! Eternal victory is so sweet -- not bittersweet at all!!

"The grave and the enemy have been boasting of their power since Eden - but no longer!!! Jesus faced the most unimaginable fight and our champion, Jesus Christ, WON the final victory!"

We boast today not in ourselves but in our champion who allows us to be a part of His victory! "We now soar victoriously where Christ leads - for Him and because of Him. We bask in the benefits of the cross and we look past the grave to to our heavenly and eternal reunion with our Lord" (from God's Daily Promises email)

Praise God! Thank you for allowing me to partake in His victory!

I Corin 15:20

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday moon

This is my 3rd post of the day --- but I just can't resist!! haha

I just can't resist typing sometimes! I couldn't resist post # 2 during Raymond's nap because when that song came on my playlist --I felt this need all of a sudden to just shout and jump and just literally run to Jesus! I wanted to ask Him..."Jesus was it worth it!? What are you feeling right now!? Isn't the victory of being with God again, at His right hand so so so sweet!? Is the price you paid worth all the victory you feel now!!?!? I want to see you shining! Jesus show me how you victoriously reign right now!" ..... I do boast in Him and His victory! I love telling Him that I know that He is victorious!... and I know He sees my heart and my intentions and I know He loves that I love Him! :)

My quiet times just me and Him are my most favorite moments. They literally are what keeps me going....but the social aspect of me (and I can be a very social extravert) - wants to connect with others as well over our common love and pride in Christ!! I love that the internet can get us that connection during the week! but I know that not everybody will understand my personality or intentions in my praise - so please just use the grocery store approach on my blog. Take what you want - leave everything else but still love me!! :)

Another beautiful thing about this blog is that I can "run out into the streets and shout" His name in "public" and just exclaim praises to Him and just totally boast in Him and who He is---- unlike in "real" life. Because I just can't see myself standing in the middle of my yard or the grocery story or at the park today singing and praising God. In "real life" I just have to show my love for God by who I am, by the mercy and love and patience I have with others and the beauty that I allow Him to draw out of me. Imagine what heaven will be like though - when we can proudly and boldly praise God and not have to worry if there is non-believers who won't understand our worship...we won't have to worry about judgement from others or anything else that we worry about now. We can just praise Him!!! What do you think it will be like!??!?! I look forward to my eternal home so much. Does anybody else have an extroverted sanguine personality like mine that makes you literally feel like you will bust if they don't just get OUT what you are feeling sometimes!? Is there anybody at all who can relate to me?!

I'm so thankful for the ability to praise Him! I am so thankful for the ability to share with others my praises for Him on the internet! I bet the devil hates it - but I love it. So that is why I couldn't resist post # 2.

And finally for what I really wanted to post real quick in this post # 3 ----- if anybody gets the chance tonight - go look at that beautiful moon!! Brandon and I were just watching the NCAA tournament (GO Tarheels!) and I peeked outside and shouted WOW Brandon look at that moon (such a sanguine to get excited and giddy over a full moon)...and then Brandon even got excited because he was like woah woah woah - look it's making a cross! And it really was! I had never seen that before in my life!! We kept trying to figure out what was doing it - we opened the glass door thinking the glass was making a weird reflection --- we kept moving and turning off lights and finally Brandon said oh wait it's probably the screen (we have a screened porch on the back --- duh) and so he opened the screen door and the cross was gone....but isn't that awesome?! It made the most perfect cross! God really speaks to me through nature - and I really read "signs" like this to be Him speaking to me.

I love God, I love His creations and I love YOU right where you are right now!! :) Have a wonderful Resurrection weekend!

Worthy is The Lamb!!!

The song Worthy is the Lamb by Hillsong came on my playlist and I am just BURSTING with praise for God! I would post a video here but the only videos are of The Passion of the Christ movie and instead of those visions, although I did spend time watching them early this morning --- instead I want everybody to envision God as He is now!

So if you feel so inclined --- click on that song on my playlist on the bottom and praise Him! Dance for him, just listen and focus on Him - sing to Him...jump for Him! Raise your hands and feel His embrace!! He is victorious!! Today we commemorate His suffering - but I can't focus on that long because I can't stop thinking about what we celebrate on Sunday!! HE is victorious! He is alive!!!!! He defied everything! He is at the right hand of God!!!!! Give Him all the praise He deserves!!!

Praise God!! Worthy is the Lamb!!! THANK YOU for the price you paid!!! I praise you Jesus - The king of Kings! Lord of Lords! THE Savior THE Redeemer!! As as you sit at the right hand of God - may you take pleasure in us - the people you have saved - worshipping you and acknowledging you for who you are!!!!!!!! Praise God!!!!!

Good Friday

Jesus Christ was a long term thinker. He lived with His eyes and heart on the goal --- the purpose He came for. He was able to focus on God's ultimate bigger picture when His senses and flesh were shouting at Him to focus only on the here and now.

2008 years ago Jesus went through the worst humiliation, persecution, all-consuming torture, loneliness and rejection through His crucifixion. He knew that 1983 years later, there would be a girl born named Randi Jo who was going to be a sinner and that would be condemned to eternal death and eternal separation from God for her sin if He didn't take the BLAME and take responsibility for Her sin, if He didn't fulfill His purpose!! Sometimes I can't even grasp that. He took the punishment yes... but He also took the blame! He didn't say - it's her fault but I'll take the punishment. No! He said - it's MY fault. It's all MY fault. Everything she did, every failure she has had, every sin she will commit - put the blame on me and all the punishment and just completely free her from every association with her sin.

As heartbreaking as it is to know what my sin caused you Jesus - I allow you to take the blame and shame for my failures! That torture was meant for me..that separation from God was supposed to happen to me....But thank you Jesus for stepping in my place!!

Jesus, take away all the sin from my heart, and all the blame and shame for my failures! - redefine me! Help me live a renewed beautiful life to give glory to God and to be honoring to your sacrifice!!! I want to allow God's light to shine through me - and I know to do that there must not be any room for blame or shame of my failures - so thank you for taking those out! Words can not express my gratitude to you Jesus.

Today I praise you for everything you are and your perfect plan. God, thank you for sending me my Savior so that I could know you. Please help me understand daily what He did for me. Show me how to abundantly LIVE! Help me truly have long term thinking like my Redeemer!!! Help me live a life that is honoroing to the price that was paid for me!!! Help me live a life focused on YOU God so that no part of Jesus' sacrifice will be in vain.
Praise God!!!!

For can read a wonderful entry at Pearlie's - I agree with you wholeheartedly Pearlie and thank you for writing what you did.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Jesus was so obedient to God. As with everything righteous and good - He was the perfect example for us. No matter what His flesh was saying or how much He hated the suffering and persecution and hatred and pain He was going to have to endure - He still was obedient. I want to be obedient to God too. I trust that He knows best so I want to do whatever He wants me to --- but I'm not perfect and I don't trust in myself that I will always be obedient and not mess up His plans for me. I wish there was always a clear cut path that had a sign above it that read "obedience to God this way" or a clear sign from Him written in the sky saying, "Randi this is God here and I am telling you to _____". Or maybe just a very easily followed path - like this tunnel at McDonald's Raymond and I played at today....

But that isn't the way it is on earth. We have the Bible as our guide...helping us become more christlike and more wise, more able to discern the Spirit's nudges....but it isn't always extremely clear to me. Following the "right" path takes work (and this is nothing about morality or righteousness....when I say "right" I mean being obedient to God - pursuing Him - getting to know Him - drawing closer to Him). But Jesus is always there to fill us with joy and peace and love and rejuvenate our spiritual energy to continue to pursue God and draw closer to Him... and I appreciate Him so much more each day - for being that bridge to God for me. God is not what tires me's just living this earthly life and pursuing Him at the same time. He makes me rest (Psalm 23)... but it's like my soul, who I really am, is craving something so much more than what my flesh is surrounded with and it's draining to be designed for something so greater than what your senses see.
This is all coming out because once again - my Bible reading has slacked off and my 'quiet time' is not where it needs to be. So today I am just going to take a rest during Raymond's nap - and ask Jesus to rejuvenate my energy and help me increase my discipline!

What is so wonderful about our Savior is that even when I'm not obedient - He loves me so much that He helps me get back on track. When my disobedience becomes apparent, I ask for forgiveness and ask for help in never making that mistake again (I repent) - and He makes things right for me. Romans 8:28. His plans are so 'flexible' - that word doesn't even do it justice. His plans are not so definitive - that if you don't choose ___ then that ruins His entire plan for your life. Our detours in no way limit God's ability to bless us and put us back on track!!! Because of Christ - there is no detour we could take that would put us out of God's reach. Yes we make things harder on ourselves with detours and we do miss out on some blessings or make some blessings get delayed but it's okay! We can trust that He will bless us and that He is a good God and wants good for us!! :) So true "success" is being able to keep my focus on Jesus while going from speed bump to speed bump.....from detour to detour. When I'm on a detour, I pray that I will have the strength to absolutely avoid any doubtful thoughts satan puts in my path. and when I'm on the right path - I pray that satan will never allow me to get so puffed up in myself that I think the right path I'm on is of my own doing. The most important step is to keep my focus on Jesus, to allow Him to be the driver.
And when the path isn't clear, when I'm at a fork in the road (which happens every hour - because life is all about the small decisions and daily habits) job is the same. To turn my focus on Him, ask for some sort of guidance and then just to do SOMETHING. I have to just make a decision and then pray for God to make that decision right!!! It's not so much that we always make right decisions - but that we always turn back to God and ask Him to make the decisions we made..right! Romans 8:28

Here's to another fresh start of being obedient to God in my daily journey! :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

"Everybody" has been telling me to read this book, The Shack. I can't wait!! I'm asking hubby and/or MomMom to get it for me as an Easter present! Has anybody read it yet?

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday - when Jesus entered into Jerusalem - one week before His glorious Resurrection. What some recognize as the high point in Jesus' live, this triumphant entry was really not the big picture high point of His life as we all know now. In the flesh, yes this entry was the highest tide in his life. I am sure He enjoyed this moment... being recognized as the Messiah, praised for what He was/is... Hosanna, the Savior. He had fulfilled all the expectations of the Messiah up to that point... it was a triumphant entry. But Jesus would turn everything upside down after this point. As with all of our lives...the only direction to go from the highest high in our down.

The Truth and the way the Truth unfolded in the resulting days of His life on earth...was not what all expected or planned for. What eventually became the high and most glorious point of His life, was not this triumphant earthly recognition of who He was.... but instead it was His torture and crucifixion, the lowest valley of His earth life. Our earthly lows/struggles/battles in the same way, can be God-glorifying highs in the long term, because of God's power in us. What we do during our lows speaks eternally....if we continue to praise God during the storm...that is where our most glorious moments are. If we pray to be obedient no matter our circumstances even when things are going totally against what we 'planned'... there is our victory. Christ was obedient, and because of what He was willing to endure...there is victory for me and you...His light can shine through us no matter our circumstances! He has conquered all our earthly struggles!!!!!

Praise God!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Praise Report

Thank God so much for all of you, for your friendship, encouragement and prayers!!! God is so GREAT!

The past few days, He completely turned around one of the most heartbreaking negative experiences of my life! He restored all of us involved.....He took one of the most hurtful situations I've ever been in - and was able to make it be a positive thing. I hate it had to happen - but He used it to better all involved! Romans 8:28!!!

The stress from the situation was consuming - I still am feeling the battle scars from the past few days....I am so physically, emotionally, spiritually just drained right now I can barely keep my eyes open to type this - but I just had to leave this positive word for anybody who did pray for me/us!

He is so faithful to His promises to protect, provide and comfort!!! I can't even put into words the drastic miracle I saw take place this week while visiting my side of the family. He CAN and DOES change anybody and anything!! He is the restorer, the healer, Grace itself, King of King, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Love, Creator of this universe! Thank you God for preparing me for this obstacle for a long time... for being there right in the midst of it (there is nothing too humiliating or too embarassing or too sinful that you will walk away from God! You will stay right there with us!! That is AMAZING to me!) and for not only taking away the negative in the situation, but making it into a positive experience!!!

Praise God!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Prayer Request, Intercessors

I believe in the power of prayer - and I believe God responds to faith. When we are lacking faith -- I believe we are called to have faith for each other. We are given intercessors...

I am asking for anybody who feels inclined to step out in faith for us and claim victory in my obstacle right now. If anybody reads my blog...will you pray for us right now as you read this?

We have unspoken needs at this point as the pain is too raw.... my heart so broken. I believe in Him - I know I love Him and I know He is with me in my struggles. I can truthfully say in the midst of this most recent storm...I feel peace. I know my most recent teachings He laid on my heart were for a reason - and that reason has made itself oh so apparent. God has orchestrated everything - and through this trial, I am pulling closer to Him.

Stress and pain (spiritual, emotional, physical, whatever) can be all-consuming can't it? Just because I know Him doesn't cover up my anxiety, my physical hurt, my tears ---- but I don't feel hopeless. I am clinging to Him.

We are in N.J. and will be going back home Wednesday.... I will not post this most recent struggle I'm going through publicly...but when I get back I will be emailing some of "yall". I know I will need some godly suport, advice and I know I can count on you all as I will my church... to hold me up and encourage me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


And with that last post 4 of 4 I'm spent!! :)

Thank you SO SO SO much for your comments and emails and encouragement. I know that really all these teachings are for ME..... There's a reason I am learning all this - it's because I've made a ton of mistakes in these areas!! I am very aware that these are God's lessons and the credit goes to Him, I am just thankful that He has allowed me to gain a teeny bit of wisdom and understanding in these areas! I'm so humbled that others could learn from my mistakes and be at least encouraged or inspired by my perspective! Thanks to anybody who took precious time out of their life to read my heart - love to you! :)

Here's me, 5 months old. I don't know why I'm putting this up -- I guess just because I put a young picture of Brandon up - so I wanted to put one of me! haha Who do you think Raymond looks more like?! :)

Relationship Truths Applied to Our Marriage - Post 4 of 4

I absolutely hold marriage up as the most sacred relationship we can have on earth. I protect it, fight for it and honor it absolutely and completely. It’s the most magnificent wonderful God-given blessing gift I’ve been given. But just like anything beautiful and magnificent and reflective of God, it is threatened. I believe anything that can be glorifying to God will also have struggles. God allows struggles to strengthen us. Toia said it so perfectly on one of the comments below – talking about God sharpening us. He loves us that much, that Brandon and I being bowling pals, party friends, playmates, roommates and co-caretakers of our babies is not enough! We are meant to challenge strengthen and sharpen each other! We are called to open all of us up to each other – seeing the deepest most vulnerable weaknesses of each other, and loving each other still unconditionally.

I believe my marriage to Brandon will be glorifying to God. Who else can take an extraverted, sanguine, choleric Randi and a phlegmatic, introverted peaceful wise Brandon and have them somehow mesh to have a beautiful, joyful, encouraging, loving relationship! Only God could get credit for that! We fit so perfectly only God could have orchestrated it. What ties us together besides being total opposites in everything else is that we are both visionaries and we both love God more than anything. We are both long term and deep thinkers. What a beautiful thing God has done!!! But the same thing (being so so different) that could be glorifying to God – is what brings the challenges. We constantly challenge each other perspectives, theories and just how we do things. We have to constantly look behind the actions of the other and figure out what is under the surface of this strange creature to make them do things sooo… differently, compared to ourselves!

Sooo all that being said --- we have challenges!!

But we are absolutely not only determined to make this marriage last but to have it be successfully glorifying to God!! We never push our marriage to the back burner, it’s a priority – which is why I always ask my friends and even on my blog, for advice on how to keep our marriage sharp. I never want to run out of ideas!

People ask me how in the world they have never heard me utter negative or lashing things about Brandon in front of others. Some just say, “oh you’re soo lucky to have been given such a wonderful man…but my husband isn’t like that”…I don’t think I will be speaking negative at all about Brandon when I say Brandon is NOT perfect. Let’s just make that clear right now.

In my vows, one of the things I vowed to Brandon was that, "I will always uplift you to friends and family, never letting anything come between us".....and I really really knew going into our marriage I wanted to make this an absolute top priority and really hold myself accountable to this. Now OBVIOUSLY I have failed at it -- a lot...and miserably....but each time I mess up, I pray for strength to stick to that vow again. I don't ever want to talk bad or even at ALL negative about Brandon to ANYBODY except to God.

God honestly is what gives me the love and strength and patience to be a good wife. I am not a patient person...and if left to my own strength, I would lash out frequently....but HE truly is the source of my ability to be positive and to give and to love. And I don't say this as a theory - it is the absolute proven in my life TRUTH. I have tried things with God and without Him....and I *never* want to do it without Him again (even though HE is always there --- *I* was just not choosing to stay plugged into Him). So when I talk about God - they aren't cute clich├ęs or theories or aww that's nice.....they are proven true real principles I have found worked and are completely true in my life!

So how do I keep my words positive about Brandon? Well.....first I had to understand WHY it was so important not to tear him down with my words. I realized just how powerful words are. The Bible says with our TONGUE we control life and death. Words are so so powerful. I remember hearing a lady say one time - women want to change their husband or *stir* him to change - so they tear him down by pointing out his failures, talk bad about things they don't like --- but once those women have succeeded, they find they don't want what's left. So in other words -- keep tearing down your husband and you will be left with a wussy broken little boy or a bitter, defensive, uncaring, hurt man… Either of which are exactly opposite of what you were trying to do. You were TRYING to make Him better but you listened to your mind, not the Spirit. So much of the time we have to do opposite of what our mind says! Do you realize how much POWER women have though!? We DO have the power to build up our men, to help make Him better – through Jesus.

Jesus says those who are the greatest servers are the greatest leaders...and guess who He put in the serving role the most - women. Our men try to be tough and pretend they don't need our approval or encouragement -- but EVERYTHING changed in our relationship (even pre-marriage) when I realized how every man truly is a little boy inside. Now a days, after I had a son of my own, I started picturing Brandon compared to Raymond my son...I was disgraced at some of the things I would say to Brandon or *about* Brandon that I WOULD BE DEVASTATED if somebody said those things to Raymond. Men aren't as tough as they seem....their egos are soo soo fragile and we need to do whatever we can to protect them. God designed us (women) in His image in that we are fiercely loyal and devoted and we need to embrace that and we need to be the protector of our men's egos. If we allow any negative to be spoken about our husband, it is allowing the devil a foothold.
Here's Brandon when he was little. I don't ever want to express to him with my words or actions what he needs to change, what I don't like about him, what is not good about him. I want to tell him what he CAN do, and that he's wonderful and that I believe in him and that he can do whatever he sets his mind to and that I love him right where he is!!!

Why do we treat children so differently than adults? Do we really think adults are just supposed to have it all together and deserve no room to grow!? It’s silly!!! Once I started picturing Brandon as this young boy inside -- and just started focusing on ENCOURAGEMENT and praise, everything changed. I do whatever I can to ALWAYS speak words of thankfulness, and positive even when I feel like I'm about to blow my lid. Only when we are thankful and focus on being thankful for what we have ---- will God bless us more! Many times I have literally just had to physically bite bite bite my tongue when I wanted to call a friend or somebody to tell what Brandon just did, or didn’t do...or how unloved I feel, me me me, etc. SOOO when I finally understood the importance of my words and attitude and just general respect of my husband....THEN came the hard part - HOW to do it!!

HOW in the world do I hold it in (especially with my personality) when I literally feel like my blood is boiling in frustration some moments......... and I learned that the first step was that I had to control what I could control....and basically well, from the mouth comes what is on your heart, that's straight from the Bible but in my words....and I have found that when I'm listening to a lot of "junk" - negative friends, crap on TV, trashy books, the words slip out a lot easier. It's just the truth -- what we allow in, comes back out. Trash in, trash out....words of love, faith, truth in -love,faith,truth out. It’s a proven Bible lesson.

The 2nd step on HOW to encourage/support and not condemn/disrespect him --- was learning that it was okay to tattle on Brandon and just totally absolutely just rant and rave and speak negative and just show ALL my emotion -- but it was only okay to do that to ONE person - and that is God. I can't even tell you how much this has changed my marriage. POUR out ALL your concerns, hurts, frustrations, (why doesn’t he show me love more? Why doesn't he appreciate xyz? Can you believe he did ___?! Why does he seem so critical about bla bla?) to Jesus EVERY day -- do NOT let it build up and cause you to be resentful, bitter, upset, hurt, mad. Just empty it ALL out and then ask God to SOMEHOW take ALL of that and allow you to be filled up with love again! I am telling you it is MIRACULOUS how I can be soo upset or just hurt and then pour it all out - and somehow there is more love and more of me to give after I've let it out! Jesus gives it to us!!!

We are commanded to love Him above all else - but then to love others....It doesn’t say love God and then love yourself and take care of your needs. It says love GOD! And HE will protect and love YOU – you worry about loving and taking care of others!!!!

Even those that are unloveable or we feel don't "deserve" it... actually especially those....that is true servitude. Because really LOVE isn't about a feeling. It's about a produces feelings, but that isn't what love is.

Also, sometimes it's not even so much about the words we say to our husband or about him, but just our general tone or respect to him. I don't use sarcasm or snide remarks and I don't roll my eyes and make jokes about husbands or marriage....I respect marriage a lot and I believe it is the most sacred relationship we can have - so I am very careful to treat it as sacred....which is why the times I’ve been most hurt in my past is when others try in any way to give the impression that Brandon is not my highest earthly priority. Anybody who knows us, knows our marriage is #1 to us and that I am fiercely loyal to defending and protecting it!

I truly believe that the only thing that has been able to deepen my love for Brandon, is to deepen my love for God. As I've been driving to say -- as I draw closer to Spirit conforms more to His and I get more of the qualities that are God --- love, patient, humility, servitude, mercy, forgiveness.... nobody can really tell you HOW to specifically show love to your spouse (depends on love languages, personality, etc)--- but Jesus can. Ask Him to direct your steps.

To wrap this all up ---- when I stopped loving Brandon just for approval or love back --- it changed a lot of things. Jesus is who fills me up with the love - Brandon's love back to me fills me up with love and the feelings too – but I’m not dependent on it. I don’t know if those are the right words that I'm looking for....but hopefully if anybody reads this, they'll get what I mean. Basically, I don't depend on Brandon for all approval, all love, to define my worth, etc. etc. and it has released him from a lot of pressure and it has changed our marriage!

SOOOO loving God above all else and working on changing ME makes me so much more loving – and makes it so much ‘easier’ for Brandon to love me! J

God is so so good!
A very special moment for us

Crossing the first of many bridges as husband and wife -- hand in hand, togetherSometimes love just absolutely takes my breathe away!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mercy & Love Not Condemnation Post 3 of 4

I am learning about the love and forgiveness God offers to me…. I am learning how to give this love in the form of forgiveness to others….and the next lesson that came to my heart was how I needed to give more love to others in the form of mercy. This is broken down into 2 situations. 1. Mercy in relationships where I feel I’ve been wronged and 2. Mercy when confronted with the sin of others

Mercy in relationships where I’ve been wronged:
I believe we are wired to want mercy, harmony in relationships and justice. But the world brings us something else…. I Corinthians 1:10 proves to me that this battle of conflict and arguments and tension in our relationships is a battle that has gone on since Bible times. God doesn’t want discord, He doesn't bless discord… God blesses unity. There is power and strength in unity isn’t there? And the devil knows it. He wants to tear us apart! We need to realize that in any argument we have, any confrontation, any conflict…. The goal is not to win, it’s to love. That is hard to say the least, for a competitor like me. It is WAY harder to love than it is to simply win!!! But God proved to us once and for all that love ultimately is what wins didn’t He?!! Jesus rose and is ALIVE and victorious!! no matter what seemed to be true on Good Friday evening and the days following…..

So HOW do we LOVE and not “win”. First I got this idea from a Purpose Driven email sent out --- we must get rid of our idea of “fairness”. Whatever seems fair in the world is almost always opposite of the Truth! God doesn't care what we say is "fair". God cares about (long term, big picture) justice. What is in God’s plan or will is never based on what is ‘fair’. When we are treated ‘unfairly’ in the world’s standards, God doesn’t tell us to just walk away from that relationship and to throw a pity party for ourselves. Sulking that we “deserve” to be treated better. No, He says, go and meet that person that has wronged you where they are (if they will let you in). You be the first to give mercy room no matter what your mind tells you.

God's nature is all good and loving. He wants us to allow Jesus to offer this same goodness and love through us to the world! God doesn't tear down, He builds up. He doesn't discourage but always encourages. I hope to someday be a person that has these same characteristics!

Like I’ve said quite a few times in my previous posts, I am so thankful for people like my husband that look for the Jesus in people and draw that out. He always allows fresh starts to others. He always assumes the best in people, he is very rarely offended because!! I can't think of one negative association he has, there is no drama, because he refuses to be offended. That is one of the reasons so many are drawn to him. He is great at absolute forgiveness. I, on the other hand, am hurt easily. I care and hurt deeply when I am wronged. Brandon, my husband does also.... but he knows how to feel that pain and confront it but then he knows where to take it. I have had to ask forgiveness many times in my past for times when I have pointed fingers or kept record of wrongs because of my emotions. But God has been doing something new in me --- I am learning to erase all past wrongs because of this new Spirit in me!! Ezek 36:26. I am learning that when I'm wronged -- I don't need to condemn a person - I need to tattle on them to Jesus and then ask Him to somehow fill me up with love for them!

Not having to worry about ME and my needs and taking care of ME so much anymore has been so awesome! I don't have to focus on who has hurt *me* and if *I*'ve been treated unfairly -- and if *I* feel wronged ...because Jesus takes care of me. When I am free of worry of myself -- I can focus my eyes on others and bringing Jesus to them!!

So again HOW do we do these things? By relying on Him! We need to realize that we can’t just “try harder” and we’ll love others more. That is impossible. We need Jesus to do it. It is not just us doing the loving…it’s Jesus in us!! Galations 2:20 If we rely on ourselves --- we either get puffed up with pride when we succeed --- or get drudged through self worth issues when we fail!! (straight from that purpose driven life daily email!) We have to realize that all we have to do is allow Jesus into us. He will give us the love and mercy that we can then extend to others.

Mercy when confronted with the sin of others:
What to do when we aren't necessarily wronged by somebody...but we just know that we know that we KNOW a Truth that somebody around us hasn’t learned yet. What do we do when somebody is making all the wrong decisions and we just don’t agree with the path these people are taking?

All I’ve learned about this situation is summed up by Jesus in John 4:4-42. I just soaked up this passage in more than one translation! I could FEEL Jesus Spirit through His mercy for this woman. It’s amazing to me how not one time with that Samaritan woman did He say, “you should not have…” ; “you don’t need to…” ; “that was wrong because…” He didn’t preach, not once! Jesus KNOWS ALL the TRUTH in the WORLD! He knows exactly what it is to be righteous!! He is the only one EVER that was able to achieve true righteousness --- but not once does he try to 'teach' her anything or how to change her lifestyle, etc.!

This was just mind blowing to me when I realized how if Jesus didn’t have to teach, offer a lot of words of preaching or lessons in His every day encounter with others – neither do I!!! DUH!!! Jesus wasn’t there to teach something…He was there to offer the solution!!! It isn't about the rules - it's about the solution!!! Jesus let this woman talk and she brought attention to her lifestyle that resulted from a void, her need. He factually stated those facts back her. He saw the need, never criticized it, but lead her to the resolution, the solution. This is mind-blowingly simple and beautiful to me!!

Oswald Chambers, said in My Utmost for His Highest, “God never allows us to see another person at fault so we may criticize them, but only that we might intercede”. We don’t ignore or deny a fault or sin; we just address the need *behind* the sin!!

I’ve fought this battle for a long time --- I thought that by not speaking against somebody's fault or how they were doing wrong – I was somehow lowering the standard, which wasn’t good. Even though I was trying to help others – trying to inspire others to rely on Jesus and to change their actions --- I was doing exactly the opposite! I was focusing on their acts and not Jesus!!! But what I came to realize was I was living by the very law Jesus eradicated!
I had this moral code set up by my religion, my background …. but when others didn’t live up to it, I would focus on helping them reach this higher standard – instead of being an example of God’s mercy and love. I was teaching others by my preaching to be self – righteous like me --- teaching them to focus on finding our righteousness by some standard in us --- not Jesus. But our righteousness comes from Jesus alone!! YES I DO have a high standard for my life for specific things I will or will not allow into my home, etc…. BUT that came into play AFTER I understood Him and after I began to know Him!! After the relationship was formed --- I did have new Biblical standards in my life.. to please Him. I do certain things or do NOT do certain things in my daily life….because I believe the Bible to be a lamp unto my feet and I want to obey it’s commands as a way to help guide me to get closer to Him and to lead a life that would be pleasing to Him.

**** but the difference now is that these ‘things’…these acts/standards/rules are NOT to bring ME righteousness anymore!!! I do them to offer up my life to Him! It’s the same rituals/rules --- but a different intention, a different heart!!! ****

So I am never to bring attention to the rules -- only the needs in others and how Jesus can fill them!! There is no such thing as a “better” Christian! In my eyes – there are Christians and non christians. There are people who have the Spirit in them and then there are people who have not yet asked Jesus into their life and hearts. We can never compare ourselves to others - we have all fallen short, we all sin daily and therefore since JESUS is the standard -- we can't ever be "better" than each other!!! Do I believe that I am more christlike as I continue my journey? Yes --- I’m a driver, a goal setter – so I have to know I am making progress. I have goals to get closer to God every year… to get further along on my journey. I do this because I know there is no constant – I am either getting away from Him or getting closer to Him so I choose to get closer to Him. I don’t use my drawing closer to Him as a tool to be “better” than others --- I just want to be with Him! I want to be one with Him - I want my life to be pleasing to Him! I am better than I once was -- but only because HE is the only “better” in me!!! I don't believe I'm righteous, I believe He is righteous and I allow Him in... and I am proud of Him.... I am proud of the righteousness He is and allows me to have!

I just wanted to add that I know that the reason I used to want to preach/teach so much to others was just because God was filling me up so so so so much and I wanted others to feel the excitement and passion I felt!!! But God helped me realize that no matter how good my intentions were – the TEACHINGS were not the most important thing I could give to people --- the MAJORITY of the time, I am NOT to preach or teach – I am to LISTEN and just encourage and give Jesus!!!! Give grace and forgiveness and help people realize they have hope (because of Him!)

What is awesome to me is that when I decided to give up my desire to constantly share share share what *I* was learning --- God gave me back that opportunity!!! He has sent people into my path recently that have been ASKING (not me pushing, but them asking) for me to teach them some Truths I have learned and it has been so humbling!! One of those people, a friend I will call Kara… has been writing to me about her marriage… and so my next post I will write one of the things I was able to share with her that God taught me!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Love & Forgiveness in Relationships - Post 2 of 4

As I tried to show in post # 1, I am beginning to understand God's love forgiveness and mercy even more each day. Once I started to really understand what He gives me - the next step was to apply it in my life and share it with others. I need to do whatever I can to be more christlike, being fully devoted to God - so that I can inspire others be fully devoted to Him. But how do we find out how to live for Him? His Word. The word is the light onto our path; The lamp unto our feet. The more we ingest of Him, His Truth and His word - the less we will sin against Him. Knowing He wipes all sin away, doesn't by any means lower the standard of living up to His word --- it raises it! I have realized I can't WILL myself to be more christlike --- there's no set rules, no set action plan....all I can do is draw closer to Him, allowing Him in, and He will fill me with His beauty and I will produce the intangible fruits of the Spirit. The more He is in me, the more I am a blessing to others - the more blessing and beauty is in my life!!! This gives me so so much freedom! I rely on His power, not anything I specifically do!!! It inspires me to do whatever I can to get more in tune to him and in line with Him to be able to be a blessing to others - to make my life a testimony!

I am learning what it really means to love people. Not so much my loved ones because that is easy --- but the ones that have been put in my life that I am not close with or I had problems with in my past. The people that are unloveable to our human flesh selves…...but loveable with Christ!! I saw this quote a few times this month and it was like a flashing light for me. “It is better to forgive and forget than to hate and remember.” Absolute forgiveness is forgiving and forgetting. Unforgiveness eats away at everybody involved. Any time we don’t have extreme and absolute forgiveness – that means we are not allowing Christ to totally take over that relationship – and that means that there is room for the devil to come in. And when there is even an inch for him to squeeze in – he will squirm in stealth-like inch by inch and before we know it he’s got a hold and has the majority of a situation!

This true and absolute forgiveness is so so hard for us though isn't it? I know it is for me. I can honestly say this would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to give to others without Jesus in me. It is SO difficult to forgive somebody that has hurt us or hurt somebody we love isn't it? Especially somebody who doesn't have any regret of their actions - or who hasn't said they are sorry. Whether a person says they are sorry or not, it is our duty as Christ-in-us new creations to extend mercy in the form of absolute forgiveness. If the relationship doesn’t work it doesn’t matter – it’s probably just a relationship that is meant to be in the past. Count it as a lesson learned….But even if relationships don’t work or we get burned, that doesn’t give us any excuse to pull away from others or stop seeking out relationships. The devil would want us to run away and become homebodies and use the excuse that we’ve been burned too many times. The devil wants to make us fearful of future relationships --- because he is fearful of the power we have to build up God’s army. The devil wants us to keep away from each other – but Jesus calls us to love one another and stop focusing on our own hurt as an excuse to stop reaching out to others.

The devil wants us to think the worst of each other and to just assume things about each other. But we must let God tell us what is true. We must seek out the deeper truths behind people’s actions. Like I talked about in my “people are loveable” post --- feelings or thoughts do not determine truth. Just assume the best in others and assume they are not meaning to be hurtful to you.

What about when we've been wronged? We all hate injustice don’t we? We are wired that way – we want truth to be told about us, even to those we don’t know! But we MUST realize that the opinions of others, even if it’s a majority, isn't the final word. Truth is what God says it is, and He is the lone authority when looking at our hearts and our situation and interpreting what is true and right. So get right with Him, start reading what the Bible says about you and let Him fill you up if others are not.

One of the biggest lessons I am learning is that WE are not the true enemies of each other at all --- there is only one enemy. He is unseen and wicked. We can't attack each other with human weapons that will never help a situation: gossip, ridicule, threats, blame, accusations, nagging, silence….. but instead, attack the enemy spiritually with prayer, which does get to the actual root of the problem!

So to end this post……..I say that I forgive people --- but I know in my heart that I've only TRULY forgiven - when I no longer define them by their past mistakes but instead let them start totally new in my mind. Absolute forgiveness means we have to do whatever we can to wipe away the records we keep of others wrongs. We have to somehow get rid of the judgements and labels we put on others because of their past mistakes. We have to continue to expect the best out of others even though we only have seen the worst of them in the past. This type of forgiveness and love is only possible when we believe in the power of Christ's healing and redeeming blood. I need to believe in His power in me - but also in others. If I focus on a person's faults, if I keep bringing up the past, I am trying to tear away what Christ has done in their lives - and I don't have that power. I need to focus on the Jesus in them.

I don't believe there is ANY situation that Jesus can't come in and cure! There is no sinner, no mistake, no embarassment, no relationship, no sin, no wrongdoing that He can't completely restore! There is always hope because of Him! Believe in people and have hope that God can turn anybody or anything around!!

Forgiven, Redeemed, Freed!!! - Post 1 of 4

The love and forgiveness God offers is unreal isn't it? Toia’s recent entries and what we’ve been posting back and forth really got me thinking more and more about forgiveness. I believe the best example of love is absolute forgiveness, with the ultimate example taking place on Good Friday. His love & forgiveness is so unreal and unimaginable, yet it IS SO real and true and absolute. I am a visual learner (I think) --- so when I pray for forgiveness - I can literally visualize and imagine God just wiping my sins totally away. I'm new and fresh and rejuvenated after each time I ask for forgiveness even though I usually go to Him beat up, bruised and torn down because I've let the devil do that to me. Then after I've been cleansed and set free once again --- yes I mess up, but the beauty of it is, each time I come back to Him, it's like the first time I'm coming to Him with my sin. There is NO record of wrongs. On MY Heart, each time I go to Him I beat myself up about the fact that I've sinned yet again and fallen short once again and *I* remember the last time I came to Him with this same sin --- but He doesn't!! My past sin is totally wiped away in His eyes - not because of me but because the power of the healing Savior.

I know that when we allow Jesus to wash away our sins -- that those sins are completely and absolutely taken away and we are again given full access to Him. With unforgiven sin in our lives, we have a barrier in our relationship with God, but after Jesus intercedes for us, we are healed from the guilt that sin has put on us, completely! Anytime I write about there being anger, bitterness, or ugliness - I am talking about ME. It’s absolutely the truth that those things used to be what filled up the old Randi, the Randi pre-Savior. I know that so many can relate. In fact, I don't believe there is a person out there that doesn't have bitterness, anger or a history of pain --- otherwise why would we need Jesus. But I am not ashamed of the wrong I've done, I am not ashamed of the bitterness I've shown, the anger I've given, I'm not ashamed at just how much I NEED Jesus. Not anymore!! Jesus takes away all my shame. I want to do whatever I can to continually give myself and others a fresh start, all the time. Leaving no remembrances at all about the sin we've done. Wiping it away like Jesus! The reason I'm not ashamed is because it no longer exists. It's in the past...the only thing that exists right now is right now. Jesus really does totally wipe everything away. The devil is the one who keeps bringing it back to try to get us to think we're not worthy of absolute and extreme forgiveness - or to try to convince us we'll never change or never get better - he tries to define us by our failures --- but that is not what Jesus says!!

My point is that I need to ALLOW God to cover all my bad up. and cover up the bad of others in my mind! I have a lot of bad. I want NO anger, NO bitterness and NO pain to show through me - because I don't FEEL those things at all anymore - I feel a new Spirit.

I learn more and more every day how humbling my humanness is. I'm just one big mess up without Jesus. But, I have learned more than I ever knew before, just how much I need fixing - how much I need Jesus, big time. My sins, every time I fall short of being christlike, humble me so much - and make Jesus that much sweeter to me.

We need to let Him completely redefine us!! It’s not like, “yeah I asked forgiveness but I’ll always be known as the person who did xyz”…. NO that’s not what absolute and extreme forgiveness does!!! It FREES you with no remembrance of your past shame!! I feel so much freedom knowing that I am not defined by my past anymore. Like one of my fave pastors used to say, "You are a child of THE most high God. You are royalty and the devil is not and never will be again --- so he is jealous. He wants to tear you down and he will use anything. He will distort our minds so much that even scripture feels like an attack instead of an uplifting encouraging hopeful message! Don't let him have any power over you. You have Jesus in you and Jesus is an encourager, an uplifter. He doesn't tear down. He might nudge you to change and allow you to be scuffed up a bit - but He will always pick you right back up and restore you!" (well okay - that is my pastor's message translated into my words)

I know I mention this often, but since guilt was one way the devil always used to keep me from realizing and receiving Jesus' blessing in my life, I feel the need to write about it again. I have realized that guilt that leads to forgiveness is a wonderful thing - it's a *gentle* nudge from our Savior that we have done wrong and need to repent....but guilt that comes from our peers, that comes AFTER we have been forgiven - is not a good guilt. It's guilt from the devil and you need to absolutely push that away. If you do have guilt from peers..... if you do have peers that you feel just always are knocking you down..... they probably aren't even meaning to cover you with that negative or be mean at all - but that is how the devil works (or maybe they ARE trying to be intentionally hurtful - but let's just assume the best of our fellow christians and assume they don't realize how hurtful they are). I believe that when direct communication is broken between people, that is when the devil steps in big time. He will use one person's words against another - even words that were meant to be encouraging, he can twist to be ugly and hurtful! The devil plants seeds in our minds that somebody is out to tear us down - and then we assume that this person is malicious or out to get us and we blow things way out of proportion. We read into their words, their intentions and it gets all jumbled. The devil loves to cause confusion and distortion doesn't he? I will continue more of this on my next post about love & forgiveness in relationships.......

For more .... here are more of my thoughts from Easter time last year on my old blog:

and also Toia's freedom blog:

To be continued.........