Sunday, August 29, 2021
Friday, June 18, 2021
Today I turned 55! I cannot believe that I am actually this age. The past few weeks have really been a time of pondering the things I've accomplished in these 55 years. All I keep seeing is the speed limit sign which reminds me that I've reached my limit in the area of dreams and goals. I know that is not true, but there is something about this age that haunts my soul.
One of my goals in life was to make it to 50 without being on any kind of medication. I come from a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. In my early 20's I decided to change that direction with diet and exercise. But after getting married, moving to the south (where the food is delicious, but not healthy), having children, and planting and pastoring a church, all of my good health issues went out the window. Although there have been seasons Jeff and I would get back on the health wagon, but for the most part it's not been consistent.
It really wasn't until I turned 50 that I began to pay attention to this area of my life. I realized that it's more than just being in good physical health, it's about being emotionally and spiritually healthy. You see, by the time both of my parents were 54, they both had had bypass surgery and defibrillators. I watched them both go through this journey and deep within my soul, my goal was to bypass 54 without any heart issues. I know that I can only do what I can and it's about my genes and the plans God has for me.
It wasn't until I turned 50 that I realized I needed to deal with some "heart issues" and the "weight" that I had been carrying for so many years. It was not only scale weight, it was emotional weight of past hurts, forgiveness, and lost relationships. Especially as a pastor's wife, there are so many things I take personal in others processes, that I end up carrying that weight too. I discovered in the past few years that I am a person who needs unity and often times I can't control that. I especially feel this when I am unable to help them in their journey. One of my downfalls is that I am a people pleaser. If I can't please someone or make them happy, I feel I have failed them. That doesn't even sound right because the truth is, I'm not God. But when you give your life to serving others and you can't serve them fully, and sometimes they blame you, it becomes an issue in your life. Then you wonder if you missed God or didn't hear God right. I realize now that this is a scheme of the enemy to keep me from being who God created me to be and doing what He called me to do.
Looking at the past 25 years, I reached some of my goals. Goals like getting married, moving out of state, which in itself is ironic. At 25, when I was still single with no hope of marriage in sight, I had this plan that by 30 if I was still single, I'd move to Tennessee and start over. Why this is ironic is by 26 I was married and at 28 Jeff and I moved to Tennessee! So that was in God's plan. Another goal was having children, and specifically two, one of each. God worked that out as well as He blessed me with an amazing son, Justin and daughter, Jordanne. Being a wife and a mother was a dream since I was a little girl and played house with an imaginary husband and my dolls.
But along the way, other dreams began to grow in my heart. Dreams of writing a book. On what subject? I'm still struggling through that one. I never dreamed of being a pastor's wife, but over time my dream has been to create events that speak visually and spiritually to the heart of women. There was a season that that dream was being fulfilled and growing, but due to unforeseen circumstances, those dreams got hijacked. Even now with our post COVID world, I am not quite sure how that will get re-initiated.
As I began to start thinking a few months ago what 55 looked like, I realized that there are dreams that have been aborted and dreams that I just can't see how they will happen. I know as a follower of Jesus, that "nothing is impossible for God," but at 55, if they haven't happened by now, the question is, will they and how?
It really was when I turned 50 that I decided that getting healthy emotionally was going to be key in my physical journey. I really needed to deal with my stuff, unpack the forgiveness issue boxes that were stored in my heart, and begin remodeling my soul. I am often intrigued with the television show, "Hoarders." Watching these people as they collect unnecessary items that fill their homes so much so that they cannot do basic things like, cook a meal, use the restroom, shower, or even sleep. To some degree, this is what happens inside of us when we fill our heart with unnecessary hurts, pain, and regret. In many ways, I try very hard to keep the world around me in order because of the mess that I'm climbing over inside my mind and soul. The question like "what if I missed it" and the phrase "I'll never" seem to be what decorate the walls of my heart that I constantly battle in my mind on a daily basis.
The day the Lord showed me that I was carrying too much emotionally and spiritually, I literally can say a weight lifted. As I began to release seasons, people, hurts, disappointments, regrets, the physical weight began to come off as well. It was amazing at how that "demo day" began to change me from the inside out. The Holy Spirit began to reveal things all the way to my childhood that have shaped me and who I am today. He helped me clean out the corners of my heart that needed a complete remodel.
As I write this today, I am thinking about how I've learned to serve others dreams and call to ministry well, while setting mine on the shelf to work on later. To be honest, I don't even know what they are anymore because I haven't even visited the idea. I can't say either when I will know when it will be time for me to open these gifts that God has given me, but if I keep my eyes on Him, He will give me the go. Also, I can say that because of getting an emotional handle on my eating, I am still medication free! Hallelujah!
In California, the speed limit for most freeways is 65. This is good news for this 55 year old woman. That means dreams and goals don't slow down or stop here! This means that I can exceed from where I am now and that there's more life to be lived. My goal this time is to pay more attention to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to me, to obey Him without arguing, and to live with more intention and not miss a thing!
I don't know where you are today or what you may be facing. Life can throw us all kinds of detours, road blocks, and accidents along the way. Trust me, I've definitely experienced all three and then some. But there is One who is constant and consistent. He's the "cruise-control" for everyday life. When we put our hope and trust in Him, He truly "works everything for our good" (Romans 8:28). He is the "same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). And even better, "He knows the plans He has for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; to give you a future and hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). My prayer for you today is that wherever you find your self on this journey called life, that you would surrender your heart to Jesus and allow Him to lead you every day from now on. That He will turn your life around and you will live a life that is limitless because of where He will take you. In the mighty name of Jesus! Amen!
Sunday, May 23, 2021
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
The pilgrims had left England earlier and moved to Holland for a short time because they were unhappy with the way the Church of England had become. They wanted to be free to worship as they had and left the country in order to do so. The King of England had requested them to return and nothing had changed. They were under such oppression, they were willing to venture off to an unknown land. If they had only known what the trip ahead of them would be like. It is thought that the King wanted them to go to the new world to stake out some land. It's hard to believe things could have been so terrible that they were willing to risk the unknown.
I am sure, after 3 months on the sea, they were beyond grateful to see this new land that greeted them. It wasn't long after they had arrived the harsh winter came and diseases took the lives of most of the people. All that they gone through to get to the new world and then they didn't live to see their dreams fulfilled.
This story touched me as I listened to the lady at the tourist center tell me all of this. I had no idea and to be honest never really thought much about it. But it has changed my perspective of what people are willing to endure for freedom.
The pilgrims landed in the new world in 1620. Here we are 2016, almost 400 years later, still celebrating their victory. I am thankful God has blessed us with this great country! I am grateful for those who had the courage to make the journey and prepare the way for us. I am grateful that to this day we still have the freedom of worship! I am grateful for those who gave their lives to keep our freedom!
Jesus did that for us when he came to earth as a man. He stepped down from Heaven to the depths of the earth. He calmed the wind and seas. He healed the sick. He saved the lost. Then he was willing to go to the cross to bring us out of our distress. Because of his willingness to give his life for us, we will one day be in our desired haven called Heaven and gather at His table for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and give Him thanks! (Revelation 19:9) Oh what a Thanksgiving day that will be! One that will last for eternity!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and may God Bless America!
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Each tree is themed. To me, a Christmas tree can tell a story by the decorations it holds. I love all of my trees, but there's one that is actually where my heart lives. It's our keepsake tree. It's the tree that began in December of 1992. Jeff and I got married in November and we received ornaments as gifts. My mother-in-law started a tradition of giving us a Hallmark ornament with our picture every year. This tree started out as a 4 foot table top, but has since grown into the 9 foot tree. The tree if filled with special ornaments from Hallmark keepsakes, vacation destinations, handmade by my children, and ornaments I've inherited after the loss of loved ones. This tree truly is the heart of our home.
As I began unpacking the crates with these precious decorations, the Holy Spirit began to stir my heart with some thoughts. It all came together in my morning devotions when a particular scripture jumped off the page. This scripture pulled it all together for me. This is the story of the eternal keepsake tree.
The Christmas tree is usually an evergreen. This means it never changes color like trees with leaves. This tree is green, even in the coldest and darkest months. This symbolizes eternal life. The lights in the tree are symbolic of Jesus being the light of the world. As I looked at my tree, I realized the tree really symbolizes the cross. Over 2000 years ago, the light of the world hung on a tree to conquer sin and death once and for all.
One morning I was doing my daily Bible reading and I came across this scripture in Isaiah. "Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display." (Isaiah 49:18 NLT) All of the sudden, I looked at those ornaments that are placed so purposefully on my tree and realized we are God's ornaments. Each of us is like an ornament to God. Jesus died for every one of us. Just as my ornaments are from special people and places and given or bought throughout our marriage. We, like these ornaments are different and even though we were purchased at Jesus' death, we are placed on the tree in purposeful locations and are collected over the years.
Thinking about what keepsake really means, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to separate the word and define each word. The word "keep" is to have possession of. The word "sake" is in order to preserve. Think about that. Jesus died for us so that we could become His "keepsake." First Peter 2:9 says, "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." We were chosen by God to be His ornaments to show others the goodness of God. The light of Jesus shines through us, just like the lights on the tree highlight the ornaments. It's really the light behind the ornaments that give them their beauty.
What a picture this is to me of salvation and what Jesus did for us at the cross. As we head into the darkest days of the year and not only seasonally, but truly as we seem to be heading into the the darkest days of this pandemic, it's time for the ornaments of Christ to shine. It's in these times when we can allow the glory of God to work through us giving a lost world hope for the future.
We were are here on this earth for such a time as this. Jesus told us we were the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). It's time for us to shine the love of Jesus to the hopeless, fearful, sick, and the lost. This Christmas, my prayer is that the Keepsake Tree of Jesus would be surrounded with those who choose the gift of eternal life. He said in John 12:32, "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (NLT) I pray this Christmas the cross shines brighter than ever.