What a great visit to LW Christian Church in New Lenox today. The sermon started with this song by Ray Charles….(you don’t know me), a good song, but kinda sad… right? Which is a thought provoking topic to really think about as we ponder such a topic. I’m going to indulge and share even more of my thoughts with what the pastor shared today. It’s kinda important stuff this relationship thing!!!!

The crowd – does anyone really know me?

Ponder it. Do you know me? Do you know your “friends”, “acquaintances”, “family/relatives”, “neighbors”, etc? Probably not as much as you think. We usually just know the surface things. Stay with me here… I’ll dig a bit deeper……..

Most of us who have been around for awhile get it. We know that there’s no perfect relationship. We misunderstand, love, like, mistreat, take for granted, get snarky and so on. (We won’t dive into the real ugly ~ for the sake of not going down a negative bunny trail!). What I will add here, is that we must keep in mind, that once sin came into the world, we needed a Redeemer. Adam and Eve broke the perfect plan by eating the apple. So…. we know all people are fallen, sinful and live in the flesh. With that said, we know that some are just nicer folks than others. This brings to a head, grace, mercy and honesty to all. Communication (appropriately executed) is key to keeping relationships running as smooth as possible. We “soulfully join our spirit with others”.

Relationships are work. This is something we really need to emphasis to our children when they are young and formative. It’ll save a lot of hurt and pain later down the road, learning how to build relationships.

If at best, we might have one or two super close people in our life. But we can work on improving such associations and live as peacefully as we can, because we need each other more than we need technology. God made us for relationships. (I will add, there are some times that we need to remove ourselves from volatile people who refuse to work at communications and developing themselves and with others. Another topic for another day).

We usually show most of our colors of the rainbow as we spend time with people. Those we work with, the family we live with; they know our idiosyncrasies, the outline of our lives, what we eat, our families etc. That’s a pretty close relationship over all. But even closer is that of our spouse, children and parents. BUT, sometimes those closest to us don’t see or like when we stretch out into new waters. New goals, new things we do to improve and grow, make others nervous, jealous and so forth. So, communication is key, being open and honest).

I tell the story in my new book “Forever Hope”, how God brought me to this little podunk town back in 1970, as a young girl, to meet my best friend. We became soul sisters. I never imagined the depth of care, concern, love, fun, and joy in having someone that never condemned, no jealousy, and never had an argument. We had fun together, we laughed, we cried, and grew in each season of life together. In all my relationships in life, no one matched the level she and I had. We could sit quietly with no words for long periods of time. We could talk, fix people, fix each other ( or try to at least, lol). We often talked how rare it was to have a long lasting relationship with no boats rocked – never! We loved each other for who we were. And we were opposite in many ways.

But the bigger point in this story, is twofold. Without God, we cannot love others.

Matthew 22:36-40 
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. … then to love others as you love yourself.

We cannot love others when we struggle with our own issues. We need to be whole and not the master of our own destiny. God planned our lives out before we were born! The only way to work that out in this world is to break the cycles. Be honest with yourself and the shortcomings. It is a work in progress for our WHOLE life. Cuz once we conquer one issue, we gotta get to and through the next. Take care of you by running to the Father. Asking for forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.

This chapter explains it perfectly. Stop and reflect as you read it. Know that the power of God is in you, on you and with you. Reach into HIS heart and let him enter into your heart……

Psalm 139

You know me Lord

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 139:17 Or How amazing are your thoughts concerning me

God is with us each moment of each day. He is ever present, and knows everything in our mind and heart before we even act on it. Reaching for eternity is key. The promise is the most important relationship we have. God first, others then ourselves. But we need to be sure to wake up each day, seeking forgiveness when we fall short, make mistakes, say things we should not have, loose the temper etc etc etc. God loves us. He loves YOU. He is personal and generational. he loves the young, and the old and the in-between! His promises are for all of us. No matter where you go, no matter what you do. No matter the struggle. Seek God. Talk to him like you’d talk to your soul mate. If you don’t have a soul mate, you know how to imagine that relationship. God is that and a bag of chips! 🙂

May we be kind to ourselves, which in turn will turn into kindness to others. May our lives be a double fold blessing to everyone we meet. Even if they don’t want to accept the gift of joy, love and happiness.. those are the ones who are lacking love most. Pray for them.

People need to know you care. People need the Lord. You are showing HIS love in a tangible way when taking the time to say a hello, get to know someone on a deeper level. Spend time together. Make a difference today! Don’t let people be faceless and alone. Let’s promise to dig deep with the help of our Savior, who will show us how to build each relationship in its unique way. God is faithful to help us.

Catch the truth of God and ALL he has for you in this day and time. Be sure to read the Bible every day. Pray every day… even if it’s on the way to work. you can speak outloud or quietly in your mind. God hears your heart.

Prayer: Lord God, I need you, every hour every day. You know me well. And I admit I need you more than breath itself. Help me today within my own life. Heal my body, my mind and my heart. I need to release some things so I can be whole. you are the one who can do that. Forgive me for being short tempered, judgmental, and hurtful in words and actions. Help me to do better each day. Quicken in my soul when I am about to go to a dark bunny hole of sin. I repent. My heart wants to be joyful, live in peace, love and have mercy and grace that abounds from your heart, through mine. Thank you Jesus for all you’ve done for me. The Great I Am. God of all creation. I love you. Amen

If you are in the Lincoln Way area in Illinois, please check out LW Christian Church. they have two services each Sunday at 9 and 10:30. They have a wonderful children program, and it’s very family oriented. There’s lots of space, they are community minded and love Jesus.

Also, if you have lost hope and need some encouragement, whether it’s a prodigal family member, struggles with parents, unsaved loved ones, or you are grieving the death of a child or spouse, or friend, please grab my book on Amazon. Forever Hope, it offers encouragement and hope in spite of the struggles we have in life.

More than a conqueror
Never give up. Hold onto Jesus

How many times have you heard the scripture reference, found in Romans 8:31-39  that tells us we ARE more than conquerors – IF WE ONLY BELIEVE!!!!  

How shall we respond, is how the chapter begins.

How
Shall
We
Respond??

Do you ask God sometimes: “REALLY God, am I ? Life is nothing but a struggle. Struggle seems to be opposite of conquering something – anything! And you want me to say that I am MORE than a conqueror? Come on God…. let’s get real.”

How now shall we live? (grabbing that phrase from a titled book from Chuck Colson, it’s a big read, but got some meaty stuff in it).

God is truly merciful, even when I am not. Trouble is before me night and day. People can be like sandpaper burning the heart raw. Persecution from haters (which seem to be more abounding these days). Life in general can be rough. Exhausting. the desire to quit and just give up and veg on the couch sometimes seems so tempting.

I have walked a long dry valley the past many years – sometimes even crawling through the rough terrain. So many situations of  loss, death and lack kept climbing over me like bugs in a trash can. Ick and gross, right? It wouldn’t go away. Discouragement hit me more often than I wanted. Like a bad boxing match.

Yet, I know I have to listen and heed God’s still small voice and not harden my heart when those times come upon me.  Oh, how my flesh wants to harden itself; it’s a protection of sorts. We all have within us a barrier that we put around us, especially once we’ve been ‘burnt’ to many times by things that happen to us, even sometimes things that we do by choice.

We must be cautious not to let the flesh take over our thoughts. What a fine line  that can be. We have to rely on the Word and promises of God. It is sharper than a two edged sword. 

Taking the mind and the swaying thoughts of negativity and strife, the struggle and PROCLAIM God’s promises.

Always. Do. This.

It is amazing that when we speak the Bible out-loud, the enemy has to flee! Do this for a few minutes, paying attention to the relaxing sense of peace that enters the atmosphere! God is mighty. God is true. Our flesh fails us. Our mind wanders to distant damaging places. Run to the Father…. that’s what I am gonna do right now.

Don’t let the enemy take over your life. The devil must flee at they sound of Jesus name. End of that story! Rejoice, praise and sing hallelujah!

Father, God I love you. I know you are faithful. When these taxing, trying negative things in life come to try to override me, I seek you. I run to you. Hold me with your strong right arm. I speak your promises into my life and my family. I love you Jesus. I praise you. Peace I seek for my life. I surrender all. I desire your will. My flesh bow down to what you want me to do. Amen. 

While writing Forever Hope, (released February 13, 2020 on Amazon), it was evident God wanted me to share my story. It’s raw, real, simple and to the point.

I will admit, there was a bit of arguing with God while writing the manuscript over those twelve months. I didn’t mind sharing the facts, but the details were a bit daunting, and I wasn’t certain I needed to share them. I’d get through a few pages, and be in tears. The emotions, the memories all came rushing up to the surface. There is something about writing our memoirs that bring to life what we are conveying. God was so merciful during those experiences. The healing THROUGH each event was absolute. Yet, there is a special bond between pen and paper that connects those who read the story. That’s why I continued writing, seeing it too its’ completion.

I will admit it was not an easy task. But the assurance of knowing that someone, or many, would be touched by the story made it all worth the effort. I prayed, talked and questioned – ‘why was it that I was chosen to live this life, with this story for this generation?’. God knows. I don’t. But in the spirit of listening to my Daddy, who knows what He is doing, I wrote. I conquered, and found a love for writing that was deeper than anticipated.

As the chapters unfolded on the computer, the assignment to offer each chapter a title that was intriguing, simple and to the point. The first chapter was the most challenging to commit to. Deciding to name it Genesis, (not after the musical group, lol), but the Genesis from the Bible. Beginnings. The start of something. That is where I began. Not as a baby, but the transitioning of my early childhood memories, a monumental move from Chicago to suburbia, which left me struggling as a child.

My mom wasn’t a great communicator. She did the best she knew how. But it was simply tough for me to move from the friends made, then to move mid way through the first semester made it more challenging. Like a huge pimple on the middle of a forehead, or sticking out like a sore thumb, is how I felt — for years. It’s awkward, those early years. Pre-Pubescent. Insecure. Uncertain of what laid ahead. But God had plans.

It was a plan He made. Two families moved to the same area only a short time before our family did. They were the ones who adopted me into their lives, as a surrogate daughter. They were the ones who introduced me to Christ. I had no idea what that meant, or how I would live that life out. But it was a preparation for my adult life. God was my safety net through tough times that would happen long before I experienced the situations.

The beginning.

When is the end? I do not know. But I trust a God that knows. He prepared my first half of my life, andif I get to live to 100ish, I get to share his grace with my faith.. My story is deep. It’s wide. And every step I took, was a step of assurance that he is with me always.

You can grab your book at Amazon for the full scope of this eventful life shared for all to be encouraged by. Live by faith. Do not doubt. The everlasting Father is amazing and trustworthy!

Hope is forever when you live in the freedom of Christ.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your guidance, even when we do not understand what is happening. May we live in full trust of your plans. When we make decisions, let us ask you first how to follow through in each event. thank you for hope, love and your amazing grace. Without you, I can do nothing. In Jesus name. Amen .