Tag Archive | Lord

Being More And My One Word

I follow a fun, quirky, insanely intelligent woman, Sandi Krakowski.  I stumbled upon her due to my involvement in direct sales, as she is one of the many gurus in the business.  I actually found her because her picture appeared in comments or some such thing on another expert I follow.  I was drawn to her first because of her crazy hair.  It is Neapolitan!  Being one that likes wearing pink in my hair, especially my bangs, I had to check her out.  I have struggled at times with just being me and let the folks who take time to know me make their own determination about me that isn’t based on hair.  But just seeing her encouraged me to continue on being me and let the chips of judgement fall where they may.

Sandi has recently begun hash tagging the word combo, BEMORE.  As in Be More.  At first I thought it was cute, but it wasn’t long before it started to really hit me just how powerful that is to BEMORE.

BEMORE loving toward my enemies.  (1 Peter 3:8-12)

8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, becourteous;[a] 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For

“He who would love life
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
Let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers;
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”[b]

It is a pretty tall order really.  That alone could take me years to achieve but I’m to lean on Christ to help me BEMORE because on my own I cannot do this.

BEMORE diligent to spend time in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18)

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Darn, there is that evil for evil thing again too, but then praying without ceasing could be the way to do this.

The list will go on and on through the year of 2014 as I set out to focus on my One Word, BEMORE.

Thanks, Sandi Krakowski, the Lord has used you to help me find my “word” for 2014.

My One Word – Narrowing It Down

myonewordI have participated in a growing movement to forget about New Year’s resolutions, and instead pick one word that will be the focus of my year.  The idea being that focusing on that area will bring about good things in all areas as it spreads.  I picked SEEK the year before last, then JOY this past year.  SEEK God was the focus, then finding the JOY in all things.

I was going about it just fine but this year decided to not only check out the website but to also read the book.  It has been a life changer already and it is only the 3rd of January.

My word was harder to pick, as there are so many areas of my life that need change, improvement or just to find a way out of the door of my life altogether.  The book has been very helpful in narrowing things down.  I was down to just 4 words, all of these words would have an impact on my life if they were chosen as my ONE WORD for 2013:

KNOW – as in really get to know my Savior through God’s Word in extensive study.

REFLECT – as in reflecting Christ in my life every day as if I am the mirror that reflects Him to the world around me.

APPLY – apply the Word of God in all areas of my life.

SURRENDER – as in yielding, surrendering all areas of my life to Christ.  While I do not care for the whole “WWJD”, maybe more in line of what would Christ have me to do.  Based on scripture and not my ‘gut’ feel.  And praying through things before making choices and decisions.  Surrender my thoughts, actions, Sunday mornings…everything to the Lord.  This word will encompass the others as time goes on, so it was the clear choice.

sur·ren·der

[suh-ren-der]

verb (used with object)

1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress: to surrender the fort to the enemy; to surrender the stolen goods to the police.

2. to give (oneself) up, as to the police.

3. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life of hardship.

4. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.).

5. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

verb (used without object)

6. to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.

The word will be in front of me all year…taped to my dashboard, as my bookmark in my bible (maybe several as I’m all over in there), anywhere I might come across it or the need for it, I will have it in front of me to remind me to focus on that word and what it entails.  It will set the tone for my year, be at the heart of much of my writing for this blog this year, but more importantly it will help me to grow in my walk and faith with my Savior, Jesus Christ.

In addition, I’ve taken the “30 day challenge” I’ve heard on K-LOVE, and I am listening to only Christian music for this month.  Again, it is already impacting my thoughts and mood.  Guess that whole “garbage in (to the brain) = garbage out” could be true.  I catch myself  little more when using less than appropriate language, when a negative or unkind thought goes through my brain, etc.  The music and songs may lack sound theology, but they are positive and encouraging, as K-LOVE often uses as their slogan.

Lessons In Brokenness

angels-falling-broken-feathersToday was the first Sunday of December, which means at church it was the day to celebrate the Lord’s supper, communion.

I had gone over the things from Pastor’s email, and spent time praying during the service, and there were things I needed to confess.

In my heart I carry a root of bitterness toward my soon to be former sister-in-law.  I won’t go into details other than to say that I see her as a very evil, manipulative person.  But the Lord put it on my heart while praying about things I needed to confess, that I need to forgive her for  the perceived wrongs toward me, and pray for her daily.

During that time of prayer, thinking on the fact that Christ died for my sins…and then it hit me.  He died on that cross over 2000 years ago for my sins…sins that had yet to be committed!  Mine and everyone elses, yes, but MINE.  Sins of a woman that had never even been born!  Sins that would not be committed until nearly 2000 years later!  He died to cover the sins of all of His sheep, and those sins, so many were yet to be committed because those sinners were not even to be born for a long time to come.  How unimaginably incredible that weight must have been!  I cannot begin to wrap my head around this!

How could I not want to fall on my face and serve the Lord, the One who paid for my sins thousands of years before I’d ever walk this earth?  Sins I had not yet lived to commit?  The love the Lord Jesus has for His people is not something to be comprehended, that He was willing to die such a horrible death, suffering like we cannot begin to imagine under the weight of sins He knew would occur but were yet to happen?  It is beyond my ability to begin to understand.  Any parent understands they would take a bullet for a child…but can we imagine dying for a child or person who was thousands of years in the future???  No, we cannot.

While  in Sunday School, a passage came up that really made me think, especially during communion:

Isaiah 55

New King James Version (NKJV)

An Invitation to Abundant Life

55 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—

It really made me stop and think…What IS my focus on?  What is it I “buy” with my time and efforts?  It isn’t that it is wrong to work hard to achieve my goals, but which areas of my life are taking the priority?  My study in the Word of God? My walk with Christ?  Or is it still all about me, and things of this world that won’t last?  I need to prioritize my life, really focus on the things that last, delight in the Lord’s abundance first, then the rest of my life will take shape according to His plan for me.  I can pursue my dreams, but pray for what His will, for where I should go and trust that those paths will open up if they are His plan for my life and how I can best serve Him.

I’m thankful that I’m broken, or I’d never have returned to my Father in Heaven, the prodigal daughter, the broken angel in need of Him.

Peppermint Coffee Musings

Peppermint coffee.  Gotta love it.  And my diffuser filling the air in my room with soothing scents of pure lavender oil, and 31 oil.  Mind and heart full of good ‘food’ from church this morning, both the Sunday School lesson and the worship sermon were great.  I’m listening to Twila Paris’s album Perennial.  Some of my very favorite hymns on are there, like Be Thou My Vision and Amazing Grace.   Her voice is so beautiful.  And the words of the songs beyond  description for me at times.  Also listening to a beautiful CD of  music from Fernando Ortega, The Shadow Of Your Wings, it is one  my friend Janie gave me when I first returned to church 2 years ago.  I need to share with her how much that has meant over the past 2 years.  The songs and hymns on it are in somewhat different arrangements than what you might traditionally hear in church.  And they have helped me many times to quiet my spirit and prepare my heart to pray, read God’s Word, or head out to worship services.

The lesson this morning was really good and spoke to me in Sunday School.  One thing that stood out was that we need to be very careful what we desire, as we just might get it and all that goes with it, good and bad.  And that what we sow we reap, no question about that.  Some call it karma, or “what goes around, comes around”.  I prefer to stick with what I know as a believer, God handles vengeance.

Psalm 7:14-16

New Living Translation (NLT)

14 The wicked conceive evil;
    they are pregnant with trouble
    and give birth to lies.
15 They dig a deep pit to trap others,
    then fall into it themselves.
16 The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
    The violence they plan falls on their own heads.

That is one really good passage, and here was another:

Proverbs 5:21-23

New Living Translation (NLT)

21 For the Lord sees clearly what a man does,
    examining every path he takes.
22 An evil man is held captive by his own sins;
    they are ropes that catch and hold him.
23 He will die for lack of self-control;
    he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Dave pointed out, that if you sow seeds of corn in a field, you will reap corn as that is what grows from corn seeds.  If you sow beans, likewise.  And if you sow trouble, you will reap that too.  Gossip, slander, unkindness, sin….sow those seeds and that is what you will reap in return.

The trouble  with seeds is they are tiny at first.  You drop a tiny seed no bigger than a corn kernel into the soil, and a full blown corn stalk grows up with many ears filled with many more kernels of corn.  Now, think about when you plow trouble and plant seeds of iniquity, like sow gossip seeds, seeds of strife, or other seeds that are not things that will reap blessings, they reap what was sown/planted, in abundance.  That tiny seed will grow into a large plant and produce far more than you bargained.  This happened in my past.  Yes, if you go to the search section of my blogs and search the word “swinger” or “lifestyle” you will get back several posts.  I make no pretense that this is somehow a secret, I was a swinger.  And I did photos that were not good, and my kids know.  My church family knows, my friends and family all know about it.   I don’t hide these  things because others might learn from my mistakes.  It was not a good time in my life that I’m not proud of.  But it IS part of who I am today.  It goes hand in hand with the song lyrics I posted yesterday.  I will not deny the worst you can say about me, if it is true.  But I’m not the sum of my mistakes and sin.  It is in my past.  The consequences will at times  be far reaching, but that is not who I am anymore.

Now, I try hard to sow the seeds of good things.  If it isn’t nice, I just try not to say it all, and pray about the thought behind what I considered saying.  I’m not perfect, but it IS the goal I strive for now.  And I pray for those that find it necessary to sow unkindness toward me.  Letting go and not being upset by what is said about me is far easier when I do what God says and just pray for them.

Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. …

We are not responsible for what others do, only in how we respond.

Matthew 12:36

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

I am opting for a Christ like response.  Those that talk, tweet, Facebook or verbalize unkind things about others, will one day have to give an account for that.  And I will give one for my reaction.  My reaction now is to pray for that individual(s) every day.  I sleep solid at night because my conscience is clear, my heart isn’t full of bitterness and hatred any longer.

Coloring Outside The Lines – How It Began

Sin never seems to just burst through the door waving a flag, blowing on a bugle and screaming “COME ON FOLLOW ME!”  Instead it creeps in slowly, at least in a believer’s life.  Like David on the roof top, maybe we look just a little too long, or take a second glance.  Someone flirts and we flirt back.  Someone gossips or speaks ill of someone, and instead of shutting it down by changing the subject or walking away we join in and make an unkind remark.  Someone tries to provoke us and instead of praying for our enemies as God commands, and loving them as His Word instructs, we poke back.  Maybe we reason away that one drink won’t hurt anything when we know we might have a problem controlling our alcohol intake.

Regardless of what it is, we let it slip in through a crack that forms in our foundation.  That crack happens when we take our eyes off the Lord, when we start letting other things come between us and prayer time, study time, and gathering with other Christians.  Maybe it is a TV show, or a football game, staying up late and over sleeping on Sunday morning.  Whatever it is we allow things to start taking priority in our lives.  In and of themselves they are not bad or wrong things, but we let them come before what is most important.  And anything that we put ahead of the Lord is an idol.  Over time we hold that up, giving it attention when something else should be getting our attention.  The crack starts there.

What begins as a hairline crack, nearly undetectable at first, starts to grow in length and width.  Not fast, mind you.  It takes time.  We start to notice short comings in others because if we are focused on them and their behavior, we are not focused so much on our own.  We become disgruntled, the crack grows more.  Dirty water from around the foundation begins to seep in through the crack.  Just a drop here and there, but then bigger drops, and more of them, until it is a tiny stream.

The bible says in James 1:12-15:

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

We’re first tempted, when we let our desires seep in through the cracks.  We are enticed by fantasies and dreams, and we begin to breathe life into them, verbalizing and sharing them.  As time goes by they grow and become more prominent in our speech.  Before long those desires conceive and give birth to sin.  We act upon the desires and fantasies, and the crack breaks open more and sin is born.

That is exactly how it happened.  Time, events, “life” got in the way of what was important.  Little by little, we let more and more things become more important than being at church.  And the fantasies began to be voiced, talked about, used to entice and excite.  In time they were acted upon and we began to lead 2 lives, one that on the surface looked like we were good, church going, bible believing Christians.  The other was kept in secret and away from the eyes of friends and family.  We made new “friends” that helped us to justify what we were doing.  Consenting adults, it wasn’t sin if we both were in agreement.

The first clue that something is a sin might be the ‘secret’ part.  When you have to hide it, there is a reason.  Cheating on your spouse usually starts out with secrets…texts, flirts, emails, conversations, meeting up for drinks or lunch, things you do when your significant other is not around.  Things you would never do in front of them with their full knowledge because it is WRONG and you know darn well what their reaction would be.  If you cannot share it with the church family, or your blood family because they would ‘judge’ your actions as wrong, then maybe you need to be thinking again.  Hidden things, secret things, things that could cost you your position in the church, damage your testimony and/or reputation, cost you your marriage….yes those things are not okay, or you would not be hiding them.

We justified that they would not understand, even tried to convince ourselves that God never intended for us to be monogamous because after all, He made us with these desires and as long as we go home each time with our spouse at the end of the night or party, then it is okay.  If it was we wouldn’t have been hiding what we were doing.  I believe deep down we both knew very well what we were doing was completely wrong and sinful.  But oh the fun, the parties, the open mindedness.  Sharing intimacy wasn’t really my  thing, that was the other half’s joy.  But I enjoyed the parties, dressing inappropriately sexy and embracing the knowledge that I was sexy, desirable and so many men wanted me.  Sure, that was indeed a draw, but what I really wanted more than anything was for my spouse to feel that way about me, and me ONLY.  But I walked into this with him and saw no real way out.  Instead of shutting down those fantasies when they first came up, I put him on the pedestal and tried my best to be what I believed he wanted.  I am just as guilty as he is for where we went.  I could have prayed for him, steered things gently away from the sinful desires, but I opted to feed the flames.  I put my husband’s desires and happiness ahead of the Lord, I actually made him my idol.  I carried things entirely too far from his being my hero and center of my world, when I should have had his spiritual health, the state of his soul as my major concern.  Instead of praying, I added to the temptation.  I ate from the forbidden fruit through the images I’d verbally weave and handed the fruit off to him.

Let my coloring book stand as a warning.  We cannot allow even the smallest temptation to cross over into our lives.  Once we let just the smallest sin in, it takes over and grows.  I have no idea who said it, but I’ll stop tonight with this thought, as it is so very true:

Sin  will take you further than you want  to go.  It will keep you longer than you want to stay.  And it will cost you more than you want to pay.

God’s Amazing Timing

For weeks I’ve felt a tug at this prodigal heart to return to church.  And not just any church but the church family I knew and loved in the past. The one that has prayed for me and my ex husband since we walked away years ago. The same loving faith family that welcomed me back almost 2 years ago, before I ran away again.  That same family that once again welcomes me with open arms and tears, and prayers.  Oh how they have been praying and waiting for God to bring me back on track.  Thankfully they never seem to give up.

I had started a Kay Arthur study a few weeks back, Lord, Only You Can Change Me, and also started reading again the book Dan gave me last time, The Way Back To God, Psalm 51 by Clarence Sexton.  Awesome stuff, both of them.  I actually considered working through 3 of Kay’s studies, the other two are Lord, Heal My Hurts and Lord, Give Me A Heart For You but I’m one  woman with a limited amount of hours in a day.  24, just like you.  So I figured it best to stick to those and get in them in depth and take my time chewing on each lesson.  I’m so glad I did, it’s been life changing stuff all over again. These helped me to open my heart again to focus on my faith.

Wednesday evening I went to the midweek service, which was the home groups that meet once a month.  They are starting a new book, Walking Like Jesus Did; Studies In The Character Of Christ.  I also attended the  women’s bible study Friday, and they are just kicking off, this time in Unit 3 of a great study called Gospel Transformation.  

Interesting to me how many new things are starting just as I return.  And all are things I NEED more than I ever realized.  God’s timing is so perfect.

During the past few weeks I’ve really struggled with ME.  My “it’s all about ME” attitude, the idea that my world revolves around me and “if you don’t like it take a hike” line of thinking.  PRIDE much? Yes, I know.  And then my prayer of late, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”.  I heard that many times over in bible  study Friday, and it is nice to know that while I was away from being fed, my sisters in Christ all struggle daily with many of the same things I do.  When the ladies were doing a quick  review of the last unit and what had touched them in it and unit 1, something stuck out to me regarding the whole “ME” complex I have had.  Idolatry.

The book says, “An idol is anything we believe we need, apart from Jesus, to make us happy, satisfied, or fulfilled.  An idol arises when we desire something more than we desire Jesus; when we fear things rather than God; when we worship ourselves rather than Christ; when we put our trust in anything other than God; when we serve anything other than Jesus.”  The book provides some areas of fear, trust and desire that may be idols to us.  All I can say is wow.  SO many areas that I could check off either in a direct or indirect way.  It is suffice to say that ME has to get bumped aside.  I  know this, knew it weeks ago, and I have to do away with my self centered thinking.  But first comes the root of this ME idol.  That root would be pain.  The pain I still carry around and even cling too, of my divorce.  I am not so sure that I wanted to hurt, as that it is just familiar, like my teddy bear, so I can hold it.  Do I still feel I was wronged? Certainly. But what does it matter? It is done, over and I needed to let it go.  Forgiveness didn’t come easy, but in the past few weeks I truly was able to just let it go and accept the healing that comes from God and not anything of myself.

Before I made the journey back last week, I knew it was not about me anymore. It was about Christ and my walk with Him.  This time when I went it didn’t just feel like ‘home’, this time it felt like I had never left.  I realized at one point that I had to remind myself I had been away a long time, because it felt as if I had never left there and had just been there last week.  And while  kids have grown up and there are been changes to people, so much still felt the same, as if there had been no absence for me.  That was when I realized that I am right where I belong.  And as I sat there, taking it all in, wearing my Harley Davidson long sleeved, v-neck shirt and jeans, with my wild, bleached blond hair, I knew that I can still be me, who I am.  I don’t need to lose the person God created, that Marti is who she is because she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  God doesn’t want me to not be an individual, He wants me to be HIS individual.

I Color Outside Of The Lines

I am an oldest child.  My poor parents cut their parenting teeth on me, and survived not only me but 3 more offspring.  They did well though, no one ended up in jail and we’re all pretty responsible members of society.  At  least we fake that part well most of the time 🙂

I have always been one that is a tad different, maybe even eccentric at times.  I tend to think out side of the box, dance to the beat of an odd drummer, and I color outside of the lines.  All this is a good thing, or can be, if I keep it under the lens of a biblical perspective.  On the simplest of terms, what would Jesus do.  I am not overly fond of that WWJD thing but it works for now.  Perhaps it would be better said, what would a daughter or son of the Most High do, what is the most Christ like, God honoring thing to do?   I love jewelry that is crowns, but not because I think I’m the self-appointed queen of anything.  I love crowns because they remind me that I’m the daughter of the King of the Universe, and that one day every crown I’ve earned will be cast lovingly at the feet of my Savior in heaven.  I wear a cross necklace not to tell everyone around me that I’m a believer (my behavior should do that), but so that when I see it in the mirror, I am reminded to look closely and be sure my reflection is mirroring my Lord and Savior.

Nearly 2 years ago I returned to my home church briefly.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was but I let too much get in the way of it being the life line.  Part of issue I had was that when I went back expecting things to be as I left them, and they were not.  When we left it was “Pete and Marti with the party”.  When I returned it was a solo,  emotionally and spiritually battered mess.  I left and it was various friends, one couple in particular.  I returned and our former best buds were divorced and it was him alone in the pew with his kids.  Other members had left, and there were many new faces.  Then as I was trying to regain my spiritual footing in the midst of feeling judged (my heart issue), a former friend turned enemy decided to send my pastor an email making sure the church knew that they had a wretched sinner among them.  She, claiming to be a born again, God-fearing believer herself, wanted to be certain it was known that I was a former swinger, and that I had ‘attacked’ her on twitter.  It rocked the boat for me just too much.  The wounds of losing my husband in a divorce, the former dear friend turned enemy, the attempts to smear and attack (not to worry they already knew about where I had been), I was unstable and just didn’t last long there before going all lone ranger Christian.  How did that work out for me? Not so good as you can well imagine.

Here I am now, just 2 months shy of the 2 year mark of trying to return, but this time I went back ready.  I am prepared for the storm of judgment and attacks that may or may never come my way, either from others there, others in my life, or that former friend who herself is neck deep still in that swinger lifestyle.  My heart is very aware of where it needs to be each Sunday.  I’m back to being in God’s Word every day, or that is the goal.  I openly admit I miss one now and then but most days it is the case and I’m in the middle of some good bible studies that help too in reaffirming my faith.  This time I’m prepared to stick it out, because I’m not here for anyone by me and the Lord.  I’m there to worship Him, and be fed.  Anyone having an issue with my past, or how I dress, or my wild, bleach blond hair, well that is their issue not mine.  That is between them and God to deal with, not me.

Sadly, when one lives a life of coloring outside of the lines, they leave themselves open for other people to judge.  Okay even those that color meticulously inside of the lines also are objects of others scrutiny.  Anytime you are different from those around you that is just human nature to pick it apart.  Different draws attention.  But different is not always a bad thing.

I dare to be the line pusher, rule breaker and that can be both bad and good.  I have always colored outside of the lines, but not always in a good way.  When we sin we color outside of the clear lines set down by the Lord in His precious Word.  That is a big mistake.  It causes damage, it is sin, and sin always has consequences.  But when I stay within God’s lines, yet color outside of man’s lines? Well that can be a good thing.

I’m going to be doing a series of posts about coloring outside of the lines.  Some will be about my journey off the path and into the pig pen, some will be about my journey back home as a prodigal daughter.  Both are really one big picture of coloring outside of the lines.  But maybe, just maybe, when I’m done, you can see that it isn’t always a sin when the color goes past the boundary, sometimes it can be a beautiful picture if you stand back and look with an open mind.