All the Runners Run

Boy that is profound, isn’t it? All the runners run. Duh. That’s why they’re runners.

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I’ve long been a runner. Not always physically, but I’m a runner nonetheless. All of my life I kept running. Running from the boogey man, from pain, from fears, from people, from love, from Jesus.

Almost ten years ago I also started running physically. What great bringing together of the inside and outside of my life. Run away on the inside, run away on the outside.

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I recently spent a glorious week in beautiful Blue Springs, Missouri. We used to always joke that Missouri was really spelling M-I-S-E-R-Y. This week was anything but misery.  I was attending a rather intensive retreat and Jesus exploded all over this woman.

By all over, I really mean All. Over. Completely.

My prayer going into the retreat was that Jesus would ruin me for life as normal. That I would  have zero desire to ever back to what my life had been like. He completely undid me!

I will never, ever forget my time there. I will never forget what He told me there. I will never forget the pictures He gave me.

I am ruined. Forever ruined by Him and for Him.

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If you were to zoom in on my necklace in the picture above you would find the pendant is a stick figure of a runner. Very much indicative of my life to date. I wore it with happiness.

Happiness but not joy.

I had been home for a just a couple of days at the most when I was putting the necklace back on one morning when I heard Jesus speak to my soul.

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

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I held it in my hands, looking at it. And again I heard Him speak,

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

My soul reacted with joyful abandonment. And I threw the necklace in the trash. I have been completely set free from my running from everything.

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Everything.

I still run. It just looks different now. Instead of running from, I run to. I run to Him. I run to life. I run to love. I run to joy. I run to friendships. I run and when I run I feel His pleasure.

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The Color Yellow

There was once a young girl who was unloved, unwanted, un-everything she should have been.

One day in late August of 1978 she was getting dressed for school and she chose a yellow dress. As she left for the third grade that day she thought to herself, “I look cute today!”  No one had ever told her she looked cute but still she reveled in the idea that she was cute on that day.

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Within 120 minutes of thinking that very thought she was being sexually molested.  She realized that thinking she looked cute and wearing yellow meant bad, horrible things happened to her. She chose to never again think she looked cute and never to wear the color yellow.

Several years passed and she kept the promise she made to herself that day.  Every day she even had the passing thought that she looked cute was disastrous.  While she seemed unable to completely prevent her thoughts from thinking on any particular day she looked cute, she was completely able to keep the promise to not wear yellow.

She did buy one yellow outfit, it was a completely different shade of yellow and she only wore it twice before giving it away.

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That little girl is now all grown up.  Married with children of her own, living in her own little house. Inside the little house all the main living areas are a bright, cheery shade of yellow.

Not only is her house yellow, this abused and abandoned little girl, just bought herself a pair of bright yellow sandals.

And she thinks she looks cute.

That is the grace and healing work of Jesus.

Clearing Out The Old

One of my favorite parts about spring and summer is not the heat, although I do love that. I love yard work.

Strange. I know. But it’s true. I go a little nuts on my yard and working in it. I love tending my flowers, plotting and planning where to put more and what kinds I want. I love getting out, walking behind my mower and  using my weed whacker.

My favorite things.

I’d really rather spray weed killer, or use a good weed and feed than spend any time pulling weeds. Why pull them when you can kill them dead right in their tracks? I mean really!

 

I was recently gone for a week….oh it was a glorious week! Jesus lived large, loud and out-loud. He was so very present. A friend of mine has what he calls “EO” or eating orgasm. (I know…I know…I know), I have adapted that somewhat and will often now exclaim, “JO! JO! JO!” Not as a name, Jo, but “Jay Oh!” Because He blesses me.

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This morning was just such a time.  I spent time mowing, pruning my flowers, and just general yard work. 20170609_063710

I love spending time outside with Jesus. He is always so faithful to speak and focus my thoughts on Him and His very goodness and very God-ness.

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This morning I noticed the ugly part of my yard really needed some attention. And by some attention I really mean a LOT of attention. It is ugly. No grass at all, it’s choked with weeds. There are no pretty flowers and really it’s just an eyesore. Our old broken trampoline is there, broken and fallen branches clutter the top.

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Today was the day to mow that area.  I started in and it was hard going. It seemed every large tree branch from 5 counties was in that small, postage stamp sized area.  My mower was wanting to stop with each step I took it. I was determined to win the battle though and persevered.

Pushing my way through when Jesus spoke. “You know, this is a lot like your life. It’s full of weeds, things you have believed to be true that just aren’t. Now we’re working through these, and it’s hard going.”

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“We’ll have to stop every so often while we pick up broken branches. Some of the weeds will just bend with the mower, so we’ll have to go back over them from another direction to clear the area.”

I was listening, taking it all in. I stopped to move the branches, the broken fence posts, praying for a heart that is willing to do the hard work to believe the truth that so often feels and sounds like a lie.

Isn’t that funny. We listen to and believe lies so much the truth sounds like a lie. We exchange the TRUTH of God for a lie and that makes the lie true and the truth a lie.

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Our choice makes the truth a lie. 

Yeah, you try that on for a pair of moments. Just by believing a lie, you’re making the truth a lie and a lie the truth.

Now that’s crazy talk!

When I willing choose to believe a lie from the enemy, either the devil himself or my own flesh, I do his job for him.

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And you know what?

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I’m done helping him out. 

I’m so done helping him. My life might look barren, dry and full of prickly weeds, but it’s not for long.

Not long at all.

You see I have a dream. A passion. A desire to join with the Master Gardener and work to weed out the garden of my soul. He has plans to break up the hard soil, prepare it with compost, and then plant grass.

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He’ll landscape it with flowers, a bench, and a fire pit. Where we’ll sit and share our thoughts of the day, both at the beginning and the ending.  Just Him and I.

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And we’ll revel in the new found freedom I have.

I’ll call Him my Lord, my Daddy. He’ll call me His little peony.

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Victim no longer

It is one small leap from feelings of gratefulness to feelings of entitlement.  One small leap from being grateful to thinking, “I deserve this”.

Gratefulness acknowledges that we are completely undeserving. It acknowledges that something was given to us and we could do nothing to earn it.

Entitlement thinks it is owed to us because we are victims. It sees every grace, every gift as payment for our victimization.

Victims. We’re all victims of something. Victims of our own stupidity, our own misdeeds, or someone else’s. We’ve all had things done to us that we would really rather not. We’ve all been hurt by someone else. Someone else did us wrong and we didn’t like it.

Those who are well acquainted with abuse, because they’ve lived through it, struggle the most with entitlement.

Those that hang on to their victimization, as if their very life depended on it, are those who view every gift, not as a free gift, but as our very due. When we continue to think this way, we relive over and over the victimization we initially experienced. We wallow in it.

And what’s more, we make everyone around us wallow in our victimization as well. We make them see us and treat us as victims.  We force them to pay for the wrong done to us when they weren’t the one who victimized us. We tell them, “I’ve had a hard life. Oh you’ll never know the misery I’ve seen. I’ve been done wrong. And now everyone must pay for it.”

And we’re miserable! And they’re miserable!

Victims with a feeling of entitlement are never satisfied. No one can ever pay them enough to satisfy the hatred of their soul. It constantly demands more.

So what can be done about it?

Stop.

Just simply stop.

We must stop seeing ourselves as the victim. We need to stand up and declare that in Jesus we are no longer victims. We might have been victimized but we aren’t victims of it.

We must take that victim, entitled self to the cross, and declare loud and out-loud that in Jesus’ name and by His power we are putting that self under His blood. Then we have to nail it to the cross, grasp Jesus by the hand and walk away in forgiven freedom.

Then every time our enemy tries to tempt us to again be the victim, we must remember this. That victim is dead.

And we don’t respond to dead things. Dead things have no power over us. Even when it feels like it. We must remember it is dead, and we need to remind ourselves out-loud that it is dead, that we’ve died to it.

We have the power of Jesus coursing through our veins, but we do not have the power to resurrect anything. Not even something that we crucified. None.

And Jesus won’t!

If we persist in our feelings of entitlement through victimization, we miss the grace that Jesus gives for the moment. For this moment. For every moment we choose to accept His free gift of life, knowing we neither earned it nor deserve it.

Every moment we choose gratefulness over entitlement is another moment of living freely in Him. Every second we choose gratefulness over entitlement, we chose life. His life, poured out for us, living in us, living through us for His glory and our good. And His life is not just a good life, it’s the best life.

The life of a victim is death.

So choose Life and lose the victim.

The Joy of Letting Go by Vicki Caruana {A Review}

As parents we both look forward to and dread the day our children will leave home. Some days we’d like to help them pack, and other days we cry as if we will never see them again.

And then it happens. They actually do move out, either to their own apartment (as I did), or to college (as my sister did), or maybe they get married (as my friend did). They are no longer in our nest and under our ever watchful eye.

How will we transition? Will be it full of joy and grace, or full of condemnation and regret? In her book, The Joy of Letting Go, Vicki Caruana helps us through these thigh high, or maybe neck high waters. It can be done with grace and dignity, tears are a given, but they don’t have to be full of regrets.

This little book is a 52-day devotional that should be read as soon as you get the positive sign on your home pregnancy test. And should be re-read at least every year after that. Because the time to start preparing both your heart, your spouse and your children, is at that moment and not when you’re addressing graduation invitations.

Full of wisdom and personal stories, Vicki helps us tread the path to a joy-filled departure of our offspring. She teaches us to let go in little-bite-sized pieces.

It’s not an easy transition for anyone, but it doesn’t have to be the devastating loss we have come to think it must be and we expect.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 turning pages.

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse.

Welcome to College by Jonathan Morrow {A Review}

(My sixteen-year old read this book and wrote the review.)

collegeI originally loved Welcome To College. Jonathan Morrow did a great job–following the ideas of C. S. Lewis, keeping his material light-hearted and uncomplicated while still including sound doctrine. I adored it.

Unfortunately this changed before I finished the book. Before I made it to page 200, Jonathan made the statement that we (humans) are not sent to hell for not believing in Jesus (Morrow, 116). This is absolutely a bold-faced lie.

It was such a doctrinal blow that I was not able to read further and I am only able to give it one out of five turning pages.