Greatest Disappointments

Psalm 38:4 "Taste and see that the Lord is good." - even in the miry clay

My friend, Chris, calls me Job. And while I feel like Job, often, I don’t like being compared to Job.  Job was blameless, full of integrity (upright), something that I am not – blameless. Though, I would like to know specifically how long Job’s season of testing lasted. My season seems to be lasting all my life – some seasons are worse than others. And while I feel I’ve made much progression in areas, there are other areas that I seem to be sitting at a red light, a broken red light with no hope of it changing. For someone who has suffered from depression, they can find themselves falling down the rabbit hole very quickly – it’s a daily struggle of taking thoughts captive. Some days I’m successful, other days not so much.

I find that I’m in a constant state of not understanding, feeling disappointed with… well, with everything. But what if I allow my lack of understanding to keep me from progressing? I don’t have to understand, in spite of my wanting to understand, I only need to know that the pain I feel, the lack of understanding, the roadblocks – they are blessings and mercies that are yet to be revealed. Even while I’m in the midst of the mud and the rain, he’s still working on me – he is always at work, this I must believe.

Is your lack of understanding limiting your progression? Do you find yourself sitting at a red light? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Enjoy my new favorite song.

What God Requires

 

 

Psalm 15

A psalm of David.

 1 Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
      Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
 2 Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
      speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
 3 Those who refuse to gossip
      or harm their neighbors
      or speak evil of their friends.
 4 Those who despise flagrant sinners,
      and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
      and keep their promises even when it hurts.
 5 Those who lend money without charging interest,
      and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
   Such people will stand firm forever.

Dear Lord,

May I live a life that is blameless and always do what is right. May my mouth speak only your truth, for the edification of others and may my heart be sincere and pure. May I be filled with a righteous anger toward sin while faithfully keeping my promises to you no matter my circumstance. May I be in the position to help others without want in return and may my influence never be purchased, rather pure and just. Having done these things may You, O Lord, find me firmly planted in You that I may worship in thought, word, and deed in Your holy presence.

May my labor not be in vein and may I tend the harvest fields you’ve entrusted to me with love and mercy. By Your grace alone may the legacy handed down by me reflect Your glory, bringing honor to Your name.

In Jesus’ name.

Pj

Slingin’ Mud

Some days your back is simply against the wall. So you reach down and grab yourself up by the boot straps and keep pressing forward. Then there are those days when you slide down the wall and wallow in the mud. Don’t worry, a little mud does the body good, it’s only when you remain stuck in the mud that it becomes a problem. Here’s to finding your way out of the miry clay [Psalm 40:2]. ~ Pj

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit.”       Romans 15:13

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21

Singing Sparrow

Singing Sparrow

Hymns, the legacy of those wiser before me, handed down to me, if I just appreciate the words, the significance of their power. Most of us, when we’re a child, teenager, and even a young adult cannot appreciate the lyrics in a hymn. Beautiful and majestic poetry, powerfully illustrated for us to step into, embrace, and make our prayer.

There are only two specific hymns in my life that have qualified as my favorite, not because the others are of any less significance, simply because they are the two that I’ve always gone back to as long as I can remember hearing them. Don’t get me wrong, I loved singing Amazing Grace – and as I’ve grown older appreciate so much more it’s meaning knowing the history of it’s making – along with Come and Dine, How Great Thou Art, Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus, At the Cross, Are You Washed in the Blood, Blessed Assurance, Christ the Solid Rock, Have Thine Own Way, Grace that is Greater than All Our Sin, and so many, many countless others. However, none could compare, resonate in my soul, more so than the words to ‘It is Well’ and ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’.

These two hymns have followed me all my life, as if they are a part of me.

Nothing was sweeter, than when my Pastor, the first Sunday of the New Year, sang ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’.

Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home, when Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

Let not my heart be troubled, His tender word I hear. And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears. Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise. When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies. I draw the closer to Him from care He sets me free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. (Martin, Gabriel)

There are few times, yet too, a significant number of times (paradox or contradiction, you decide) that God has, without a shadow of a doubt, made himself known to me. There was the time when I sixteen and He healed my eyes. The time that He chose me for ministry. The time when I was 18 and suicidal and went to the alter and told Him if I was loved at all then to show me and for 45 minutes I stood at an alter in His embrace, what was literal to me. There was the time that I had to make a 10-hour-drive back home but was too sick from drinking the night before, stopping every 10 minutes on the interstate to hurl and I said ‘dear Lord, with all my heart, these are not mere words, I promise you, if I could just feel better I will never drink again and within 15-minutes it’s as if I were never sick.  There was the time, 20-years-later, that He used my pastor – a man that did not know my history or my story – to remind me that my calling into ministry was no mistake. Or the time when I was tired of being a closet smoker and wanted to stop but couldn’t  so I prayed for Him to send me someone to trust me with a secret so huge to them that I would know I had to share mine and I would never smoke again, and He did.

And then…

There is that moment when I was listening to my pastor speak to the congregation about being good stewards of our talents and as I listened, there were lots of notes I made, but in particular three specific things stood out to me: (in the order they were spoken)

1)      Poverty and wealth tend to make their homes in particular homes and cultures

2)      The amount of money we make has nothing to do with the favor we have from God.

3)      The money under our control is not ours, only ours to manage and multiply.

And this is what I heard:

1)      It is up to me to change my home and my culture. Because I grew up in poverty does not mean I have to continue to live in poverty. Because I am a single mother, full time college student, and no ‘real’ job, does not mean I have to live in poverty. It is not only up to me to change, it is expected of me.

2)      When people pray favor on my life for the last few years, it has always been in reference to financial matters. I believed that because I was in poverty I did not walk in His favor. No more lies, I am a child of the Most High and may He find favor with me because of my faithfulness and obedience to Him. Side note; educate those that pray God’s favor for one’s life.

3)      I am merely an accountant, an Accounts Payable Representative. If I spend a penny of the money I oversee without the permission from the One in whom it belongs then I am stealing and nothing more than a thief.

I vow to change my home and my culture, to walk in faith believing that God favor’s me, and to never spend one cent of the money that comes into my hands, my purse, my bank account without the permission of the One in whom it belongs.

Extreme?

That is your opinion. I am here writing this now not having a drink in years, not having a cigarette in a year having stopped cold turkey.

I live for extreme!

I AM THE HEAD AND NOT THE TAIL AND I KNOW HE WATCHES ME!

I chose this video, not because I didn’t like CeCe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Aretha Franklin, or any other artist, I chose it simply because of one line that this 12-year-old adds…

“I may be a child but I know… “ that and the butterfly in the back – ‘change’  is felt through generations – changing my culture and my home begins with me and may it have a ripple effect for generations to come!

Happy New Year

 

Are you capturing minutes or moments?

 

 “I cannot see before me, what lies in the New Year. But I do know this for certain, His Presence will be near!” ~ Rick Warren 

I read these words today, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness…. Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last, but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.” and thought this is the type of woman I want to be. Lord make me this woman. But the Lord doesn’t carry a magic wand like the fairy tales, or Tinkerbells’ fairy dust, nor does he crinkle his nose like Samantha, click his heels three times like Dorothy, or any other suggested Hollywood lie. No, if I want to be this woman I must put in the effort myself.

I could tell you all the things of how I can improve in these areas, for example: I could not yell at my children as if they were mindless idiots but rather with kindness and wisdom. I could not go to the grocery store clothed in mismatched apparel as if to hide, rather I could walk in my mismatched apparel with strength and dignity. (This then, would probably result in no mismatched apparel.) I could not laugh in order to hide my pain but instead laugh without fear. I could not be so stressed with the busyness of life that I don’t see when family members are turning to outside vices and instead carefully watch all in my household. I could not be on the computer, couch, or getting high on coffee in order to maintain an orderly household avoiding any suffering from laziness. Yes, I could tell you of all the ways in which I could improve myself but I already know where I need improvement, which is the first step.

Ellen Goodman once said, “We spend January 1, walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.” I concur! Why must I spend this night reflecting on how to better myself? This night, which is no different from any other night – each night ends a day and begins a new one – yet we pause in all breathlessness as if in this moment we can right all wrongs with resolutions, goals, and wishes yet twenty-one days later they have vanished… all because we focused on our flaws and the struggles they bring with them. Embrace the potential. Jesus came to save us, not condemn us. He offers us hope in His coming and in that hope there is potential for you and me.

Life is not measured in minutes. It’s measured in moments. It’s so important to take those moments captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5) We tend to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. It is the little habits that make us who we are. We don’t have to make massive changes quickly, we need only to make little changes and then stick with it for a long time. Habits are like compound interest when it comes to character.

I am a very future-oriented person as I stated in a previous blog, that being said, I am also very nostalgic. I love experiencing new things and going new places, but I also love tradition. I have the potential to create some wonderful family traditions and personal traditions, of which I plan to put in place this year. I hope that you’ll be around to share them with me.

While I walk away from 2010 and into 2011, I find freedom as He heals me from lies told to me. My past is over and with it my old habits die as I move forward into new habits. I surrender myself, hands opened, arms raised, stepping into the unknown as I follow Him. As I do this, I anticipate, with great expectation, a year of self-discovery, growth, and unforgettable moments.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”    Isaiah 43:18 & 19

Happy New Year to all my family and friends! Here’s to “Moving Forward” in 2011!

 

(If video tells you to watch on youtube, be sure to turn off your pop-up blocker and click on the underlined ‘youtube’ in the video. It is a song worth your time.)

To see previous New Year’s blogs click on either of the following:

https://pennyshire.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/resolutions-tick-tock/

https://pennyshire.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/lets-chat/