The Gospel Message

person-371015_1280“In the West, the predominate message is God’s grace and love. It was certainly God’s love that motivated His sending Jesus to rescue humanity. However, it was His death and resurrection that accomplished this mission. The resurrection, therefore, was the overwhelming theme in the preaching of the apostles, not the love of God. In no way am I trying to show what marginalize this great love or grace–I’m just trying to show what message caused the church to emerge against all odds in the midst of a hostile Roman empire and a resistant religious system. If we want the results the early church had, we must preach the message they preached.” ~ Rice Broocks, Man, Myth, Messiah, pg. 114

Books and Business and Other Things I’ve Been Up To

Why hello there!!

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The big reveal: It’s me and my ruffle scarf creation. 🙂

It has  been six months since I’ve written on the blog. Six months!! I can’t believe it has been that long! I’ve had to take a hiatus from blogging to work on my other projects. I launched my craft business in December and since then I’ve been crocheting like a madwoman. Haha!! I’m just totally obsessed with yarn! Also, I’ve been working on setting up a website for the business along with getting all the legal junk squared away for my life coaching business.

During all this I became part of another book launch back in…oh, gosh! When was it? April or March. Another great experience! I was selected to help Leanna Tankersley with launching her now released book, Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That’s Been Hiding.

Ladies, if you don’t read anything else this year, read this book!! I will write a review soon so you can get a sneak peek!

The other thing keeping me busy is physical therapy. I think I might’ve mentioned before, but if not, I’ll explain. I get headaches and some awful headaches that stick around for days. Usually, about three days and it goes away, thanks to God’s mercy! I had a vertebrae in my neck, two to be exact, that were crooked. It would cause me severe pain if I moved my head around in any direction too much. All I had to do to keep away the headaches was to keep my head straight. (Right. Like that’s easy to do.) By the mercy and grace of God, the vertebrae straightened out but now my problem is with the muscles that got so used to the vertebrae being crooked so that it conformed to the deformity.  I have been to three different chiropractors over the last decade and they were only able to relieve the pain for a short while. So, I decided to try physical therapy. It has been a tremendous help, but only if I stick with going.  All through February I went for my sessions, sometimes twice a week, and then I ended the sessions because I felt better.

A few months went by and the headaches came back again. Once I had a headache for three days, I decided that was enough; time to schedule another appointment with the physical therapist. Through half of June and most of July, I went every week to therapy. This time around was a bit more of a struggle. The pain seemed to get worse before it got better. But then one night, I slept on my back with my head turned most of the night. I woke up with no pain, whereas, in times past if I did that, I would wake up with a headache. Praise God! So I ended my therapy sessions and I continue doing the exercises the therapists taught me. It’s been over a week now and the headaches have returned already. Ugh. I’ve had three days this week where my neck hurt and caused a headache.

With therapy sessions over, I’ve been trying to focus more on preparing to launch my life coaching business. So much to do  and so much to learn!!! So yeah!! It’s been an incredibly busy year.

I’m seeking the Lord’s guidance with the businesses and all He has for me, and praying for help to keep myself on track so I can continue writing. Did I mention I’m in the process of launching a website for my craft business? Did I mention it’s been a busy year? 🙂

I don’t know what the future holds, but I expect God to do great things. As far as this blog is  concerned, I plan on keeping up with it for the next few months and then just seeing how things go once I get my website up and running.

To my readers, I apologize for the long hiatus and for not giving a heads up to the long hiatus. I really didn’t plan on the hiatus, to be honest. Thanks to all those who have been reading and hopefully, waiting for the next blog post.

Blessings!

Greg-Rakozy (1)

photo credits: Greg Rakozy

Goal-Setting Newbie

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The New Year always inspires us. We feel optimistic. We set resolutions and start believing the best is yet to come.

 

I am one of those people that tried setting resolutions every New Year but always seemed to fail to reach them. My solution to this problem? Give up. Stop making resolutions because they don’t seem to work for me.

 

However, last year I tried something different and by the end of the year I looked back and saw how I made progress. What did I do different other than writing down resolutions? I actually cut out pictures representing my goals and put them on something I could see…a poster board.

 

Granted, the poster board was not put in a place where it was easily seen. I tried to find a good spot for it but I could only manage to prop it up behind my cedar chest where it would fold down. So, yeah. Not a good spot if I want to just turn my head and see it.

 

Despite the bad location, the images of what I pasted to the board burned into my memory, and somehow, that helped me focus on my goals. I guess it makes sense for me that it helped since my learning style is mostly visual. In other words, I learn best by what I see rather than in what I hear. So, I’m happy to report that a majority of what I pasted on my vision board I fulfilled by the end of 2015!

 

Now, onto 2016…

 

For 2016, I wrote down some goals that I will paste onto a new poster board and prop up somewhere, if not once again, behind my cedar chest. *sigh* I need to organize my office and find some space. Not much space to be had in a eight by twelve in a half feet room, but surely I can find some. Note to self: Write down goal for 2016 to organize office.

 

Here are my goals for this year:

  • Start life coaching.
  • Research small business management
  • Organize office
    • Remove cedar chest and place in the shed.
    • Arrange filing cabinets
    • Get a new desk that is functional for my needs.
    • Sell old desk.
  • Start Pinterest board for craft business
  • Get a Bible reading plan that I can use
  • Grow closer to Jesus
  • Make reading goals for this year and put in a journal.

 

I might add to this later, but for now, this is what will get pasted onto a poster board.

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The key goal on my list is growing closer to Jesus. A related goal also important that I need to put on my list, now that I’m thinking of it, is growing the important relationships with others in my life. Intimacy with Jesus and intimacy with others is the key to a fulfilling life. I have the tendency to focus too much on tasks and forget relationships until I start feeling lonely and then I’m reminded, “Oh yeah! I am a human being in need of relationships.” Duh. How silly of me to forget!

 

Through all this planning, I pray for the Lord to lead me. I pray that He will be glorified through everything I do. My struggle in all this planning is remembering that it is for His glory not mine. I need to remember that every success comes from Him. When I give into the temptation to make accomplishing my goals my priority or success my priority, I fail. When I make success my goal, I begin to feel frustrated and restless. I feel the weight of my world on my shoulders. But when I let go of pursuing success and make glorifying the Lord my ultimate goal, the burden is lighter. My frustration disappears. After all, the Lord is the one in complete control. He is the one that gives the ability to create wealth and makes success possible (1 Chronicles 29:12). I like what Gary Wilkerson said in the newsletter dated January 4th, for World Challenge,

“The only plans that will succeed are the plans God gives you.”

Seek first the kingdom of God, right?

 

At the end of this year, may I look back and see that I kept my eyes on Him, remembered that relationships are more important than tasks, and give Him all the glory!

 

Uh oh! Just thought of another one: Set budget goals for each month.

 

“Now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him.” Romans 15:13a

Got any goals for this year you want to share? Please do!

Books I Am Determined To Finish Reading This Month

I got into a bad habit, ya’ll. I have a bad habit of starting books and then putting them down and starting another. This has led to a pile of 20 something books by my bedside that I’ve started and not finished. So, my goal for this month is to finish two books. I can start another book; I just got to finish two.

This is it. The books I'm determined to finish.

This is it. The books I’m determined to finish.

And because I love hearing what other people are reading, I thought I would share what books I currently am reading. The picture you see featured are the books. So in no particular order, I’ll summarize the books for you:

  • True Love Dates by Debra Fileta. Yes, it is a book on dating. No, it will not tell you dating is less holy than courtship. Debra has, in my opinion, a balanced take on dating and relationships. We all want to do relationships right, but sometimes we get so caught up in doing things perfectly that we start living in fear of doing the wrong thing. Let’s call it hamartiaphobia (hamartia is the Greek word for sin), the fear of sinning. The only fear we should have is the fear of the Lord. If we have a fear of anything else, it will lead us to bondage, captivity. We are called to walk in faith, not fear. Amen? To summarize the book, Debra encourages singles to date inward, or in other words, get to know yourself first. Then date outward and upward. Get to know others through your dating interactions and, most importantly, know God. In the introduction, Debra explains, “Dating upward proposes that to fully engage in the exchange of love with another human being, you must first experience it within the context of a relationship with God.”
  • Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. I must admit I am a big fan of the Anne series. I have all eight books and I read them just about every summer. Montgomery’s descriptions of a scenery in Prince Edward Island is as breathtaking as if you were there seeing it with your own eyes. Anne of Avonlea is the second book in the series. And I must warn you, if you watched the movies, there is not a whole lot of similarities with the sequel of the movie by producer Kevin Sullivan. Anne starts teaching in her old schoolhouse where she was a student, but there is much more that happens in the book than in the movie. Marilla adopts twin orphans, a boy and a girl, much to Anne’s joy. Anne and Gilbert become friends and share in taking correspondent courses while teaching. And of course, throw in a few more mishaps that only Anne can do. New and interesting characters are introduced such as Miss Lavendar of Echo Lodge. I love the characters and I love all the stories Montgomery weaved into the book. It is a lighthearted and charming book.
  • What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa Terkeurst. Lysa is the president and founder of the Proverbs 31 Women organization that helps women to grow in their faith. I’ve read a few of her books and love her honesty and humor. I also love how I can relate to her struggles with insecurity and fears. This book was written in 2005 and I am just now discovering it. Great book and Bible study!! And so what I need right now in this stage of my life where I am wanting to walk in faith and see how God moves in big ways in my life. Lysa says in her introduction, “I believe God gives every woman a dream. Not the same dream, of course, but a dream that is especially tailored for her talents and His purposes.” But like the Israelites, we women face some obstacles along the way. A desert full of discouragement, impatience, fear, and fatigue. Giants in the Promise Land. We always have a choice when faced with these obstacles: either shrink back and give up, or keep plugging ahead.  In the book she teaches on five phases of faith: Leaving, Famine, Believing, Death, and Resurrection. I don’t want to say too much, but just enough to wet your whistle…pique your interest. Trust me, the book is full of good stuff. There are questions at the end of each chapter along with verses to help you dig into God’s word and listen for His voice. Have a notebook or journal handy!
  • Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable by Valorie Burton. I am proud to say I just finished this book today at the time I’m writing these words (Wednesday, June 17). YAY!!! I bought this book a long time ago. A looooooong time ago. I’m pretty sure I bought it in October of last year. This book is written by life and executive coach, Valorie Burton. If you find yourself stuck in life, not moving forward with your goals, this book might help you pin point why and encourage you to keep going. There are question at the end to get your wheels turning in your head and a prayer at the end. The author has been featured on several t.v. shows including Oprah and The Today Show. I like this lady. She gives me a good kick in the pants. Many of us have learned bad habits that have not served us well in life. I know I have. However we’ve learned these bad happens, whether learned through our dysfunctional families, or just got into making bad choices that became bad habits, it is never too late to learn new ones. We are not doomed!  Valorie encourages me with these words, “God wants to do a new thing in you. What has occurred in the past does not need to dictate your future.” She teaches you to be aware of emotions and triggers that can be keeping you stuck. She gives inspiration to conquer those emotions and triggers, and helps you to rescript your story so it “epitomizes the power of God in your life”, allowing you to step into the amazing life God has for you. If you want to find out more about Valorie and what she does, check out this link to her website: www.valorieburton.com.
  • Successful Women Think Differently: 9 Habits to Make You Happier, Healthier, and More Resilient by Valorie Burton. Yes, I have another one of Valorie’s books. 🙂 I must admit, I’m not very far along in this book. It’s a good book; I just got distracted by all my other books. Well, it is work to read it because I have to think and write. This book is a little bit of a different format than the above book. There are thought-provoking questions that she asks throughout the chapters, but not in every chapter where you have to write down something. I get stuck on the questions and have to put it down for awhile. Valorie defines success as a “harmony of purpose, resilience, and joy. Think of it this way: Success is living your life’s purpose and embracing resilience and joy as you do.” There is a lie I have believed about success. I believed that success comes only to the most talented and gifted of people. The rest of us have to sit on the sidelines. Not true! Valorie teaches 9 habits that successful women have and anyone can learn. One of the main reasons why success comes to people is because they think differently. What do they think? One of thoughts is about themselves. They believe they can do whatever it is they want to achieve. The ones that struggle and quit are the people that doubt themselves. My pastor always says, “If you can change your thinking, you can change your life.”  The first habit Valorie teaches is “Believe you can do it.” She teaches in this first habit to adopt a “growth mindset” rather than a fixed one, and to take notice of what you tell yourself and adjust your thoughts to accurate thinking which is different than positive thinking. You can be positive all day long but not be accurate. “Choose hope. Dream big. Learn new skills. Believe all things are possible.”
  • The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. Deep stuff, dude. Deep stuff. I’ve been reading this one for awhile too. I am almost done with it though with a just a few more chapters to go. While Willard covers a lot in this book (it’s 400 pages), the gist of it is about how we as Christians are to live in God’s kingdom on earth, “the kingdom of the heavens”. Many Christians have the mindset that the primary function of Christianity is as, Willard called it, “admittance into heaven”. In this book, Willard shares his hope, “to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus, especially among those who believe they already understand him. In his case, quite frankly, presumed familiarity has led to unfamiliarity, unfamiliarity has led to contempt, and contempt has led to profound ignorance. Very few people today find Jesus interesting as a person or of vital relevance to the course of their actual lives…The life and words that Jesus brought into the world came in the form of information and reality. He and his early associates overwhelmed the ancient world because they brought into it a stream of life at its deepest, along with the best information possible on the most important matters.” Towards the end of the book, Willard teaches on the primary function of the Church which is to make disciples. Unfortunately, in the West, we do little of that. We live in an age where the darkness is getting darker. While it might seem darkness is winning, light never shines as bright as when it is darkest. We need to let our light shine! Willard really draws out some great truths from Scripture that has inspired me to let my light shine. People are hurting and they need to know where to go to be healed.
  • One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future by Dr. Ben Carson. This book is a political book. Now, don’t roll your eyes. There’s nothing inherently evil about politics. I don’t talk much about politics on this blog because that is not the focus, though, I might imply some things that are debated by both political parties. Nothing wrong with that. We have some serious issues going on in this country that, yes, involve politics; just no way around that. We have issues that need to be debated and discussed and discussed some more, because we have some decisions to make about what kind of country we really want to be. I feel we are at a crossroads with this next presidential election coming up and we, as Americans, need to decide which America we are going to be: the one our Founding Fathers envisioned, or this new America that some are propagating.  In the preface of the book, you can find a transcript of Dr. Carson’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast from 2013. You can also read some of his story on how he rose from poverty to the place as the most respected neurosurgeon in the country. Very inspiring!! “Many Americans argue that our nation’s future does not need to be saved and that we are in very good shape. They think that only partisans are skeptical about our future and that people say negative things in order to make the current administration look bad. They see the beautiful view that is America, but they don’t have the common sense and wisdom to look for lowering clouds that obscure the mountain.” Some issues he talks about? Political correctness, racism, elitism, historical revisionists, education, unity. He also talks about the need for civility in our debates over hot button issues. How do we cordially disagree with someone while making a stand for what we believe? There are action steps at the end of each chapter to help encourage you to increase your awareness of how you treat others that disagree with you and also how to be better informed for the voting booth, and how to deal with academic/pc bullies.

There’s so many more books I need to finish, and I just got a new book in today!! Woohoooo!!!! I’m a bookaholic. What books are you reading? Leave a comment and don’t forget to give me the author. I might want to read it! 🙂

What I Learned in May

It is June and we are now halfway through the year! What??!! It is truly amazing how time flies these days. Didn’t we just start 2015? I could’ve sworn we just celebrated the New Year last week.

I plan on doing this new post series at the beginning of every month, reviewing all I learned from the previous month. I got this idea from one of my now favorite authors, Emily Freeman at her blog, Chatting at the Sky, which you can find on her home page, here: emilypfreeman.com. I will be posting five things I learned. Some will be serious and some not. Wisdom says it is good to look back on what you have learned before moving forward. So here we go:

  1. I’m always in a hurry to get to the next thing, so pausing to reflect on what I learned the previous month is going to be a challenge. Is this going to be fun or what? 🙂
  2. I’m fixin’ (preparing) to become obsessed with the Gone with the Wind, the movie. I started a GWTW night event with a friend of mine who has never seen it, and I am hoping it grows. Yes, I’m going all out with the decorating. This is only the beginning. P.S. The featured photo is my Scarlett garland that I made with cut-outs of Scarlett O’Hara. This will go on the t.v. stand for the next GWTW event. Ah, yes….*rubbing hands together*… I have more ideas churning in my noggin. 🙂
  3. The Lord spoke to me that this would be a year of new beginnings for me. Turns out year of new beginnings means, “year of having my faith stretched out into uncomfortable parameters”. I’m totally having to rely on God to come through in some way…to come through, show up, provide in big ways because the fulfillment of my goals and desires are way beyond me.
  4. Just  because I made fudge using a slow cooker once doesn’t mean I can do it a second time. I made fudge using a slow cooker a month ago and it turned out perfect. I tried it again over the weekend and it bombed. Don’t worry. I ain’t licked yet! I will try it again! (For you foreign readers, “licked” is a southern way of saying “not defeated”. It’s an old word though. Nobody uses it today in the South, but I’m determined to bring back old words and catch phrases.)
  5. Bullet journal. This is a new method I discovered through Emily Freeman as well. What a life changer! It’s method of organizing your time, daily to-do list, events, and general notes for the day. My old method was just using a regular notebook and writing things down, but if I wanted to look for it again I had to flip through all the pages because I had no idea where it was. This has a handy index page where I can write down the page number of where I wrote things. Check it out here: bulletjournal.com.

The month of May was a great month with the exchange of winter’s chill to spring’s warmer temperatures. I’ve been blessed to watch the transition. There were a lot of lessons to be learned, and I’m sure more to come! Six more months of lessons to be exact. I really do love to learn so I pray, Lord teach me Your ways and teach me Your heart!

If you have any lessons you learned in May, please join in the fun and share! Jesus said share. ;-D

Faith by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea

Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;

I will believe the Hand that never fails,

From seeming evil worketh good to me.

And though I weep because those sails are tattered,

Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:

I trust in Thee.

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return

Unanswered from the still realm above;

I shall believe it is an all-wise Love

Which has refused those things for which I yearn;

And though at times I can not keep from grieving,

Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain

And troubles swarm like bees about a hive;

I will believe the heights for which I strive

Are only reached by anguish and by pain;

And though I groan and tremble with my crosses,

I yet shall see through severest losses

The greater gain.

I will not doubt, well-anchored in the faith,

Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;

So strong its courage that it shall not quail

To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.

O, may I cry, when body parts with spirit,

“I do not doubt,” so listening worlds may hear it,

With my last breath.

This poem was sent to me this week by a friend and I had to share it with all those hanging onto faith right now, believing God to be all you need. He is with you. He is for you. Amen? 

Blessings!!

Happy and Alone

Happiness

Happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Look. Behold the girl sitting at Wendy’s alone. She looks happy. Egads! How can that be?! She can’t be happy; she’s alone. Everyone knows if your alone then you’re miserable.

Happy and alone. Those two words sound like an oxymoron, don’t they? I mean how can they go together? How can one be alone and happy at the same time? At least that is the question many singles and happily married couples ponder.

Well, dear readers, allow me to let you in on a secret. It is possible. That girl eating alone at Wendy’s is me. I have been single all my long life, and when I say single I define single in terms of marital status. As in sans a husband. Yep. It’s true. I’ve never, ever had a husband.

You ask, how can one be single and happy at the same time? I don’t believe a single person arrives at happiness by accident. In fact, I don’t believe most people arrive at happiness by accident. I didn’t get to this place of contentment easily. Trust me. It was a long and winding journey.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve liked boys. Yes, even at the tender age of 5. My first friend was a boy. I still remember my first crush. He was a blonde headed boy in my kindergarten class. I remember his name and I remember when my mom became pregnant with my brother she wanted to name him the same name as my crush and, thus, ended my crush.

Fast forward to teen years. Being the shy, awkward girl, I always had a secret crush. My strategy for letting the boy know I liked him–completely ignore him. Yeah, great strategy, eh? I always wanted a boyfriend. I couldn’t wait to get one. At 15, I got my wish. I had boyfriend. Now, I thought, I arrived. I was somebody. All because I had a boyfriend.That only last a few months and then I was nobody again. A year later I got another boyfriend. That lasted only days and then I was nobody again.

You see my pattern of thought? Boyfriend=I’m somebody. No boyfriend=I’m nobody.

You see the lie I was believing? I didn’t at the time. It took me awhile…a long while. I believed a lie that said I could only be validated as a human being if I had someone on my arm. Bless my pea-picking adolescent heart.

I will spare you the messy details of my search for love in all the wrong places as an adult, but I pretty much took that lie from my adolescent years to the next level in my beliefs about what marriage could do for me. As an adult I believed marriage would solve all my problems.  I thought it would cure my loneliness and give me purpose. I thought having a husband would heal my wounds I suffered as a child. Bless my pea-picking naive heart. Until I had possession of a husband, I couldn’t be happy.

I had no help from our culture because the same refrain is made: Single people are unhappy people. Single people must needs to get married and be happy. You’re not a whole person unless you’re with someone. After few failed relationships, some toxic relationships, and by toxic I mean unhealthy, damaging relationships, the Lord began to show me the lies I believed and shined light on the truth. God made me to be whole. A whole person. Other people can’t do that for me. No one person can make me whole. That’s God’s job. I had to go through some painful poor choices in my dating relationships to learn this.

“In him we live and move and have our being…” Acts 17:28 “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Colossians 2:10 NLT

What a revelation that these verses were to me. I could be complete without a man. I could be a whole person through Christ! I’m not saying marriage isn’t great or there are no benefits to marriage. What I’m addressing here in this post is our misguided and unrealistic expectations of what marriage or a significant other can do for you. I love this blog post by relationship counselor, Debra Fileta, said in her blog titled, “Marriage Doesn’t Solve Your Problems”. She lists what marriage can’t do:

1) Marriage doesn’t erase your insecurities.  2) Marriage can’t give you purpose 3) Marriage won’t make you whole.

What is a single person to do then to find happiness? Find it in God. He is our only source. Only God can help erase those insecurities. Only God can give you purpose. Only God can make you whole. Believe me–I’m not saying I no longer desire marriage; I most certainly do, but I have learned over the last few years to be happy by myself. If God’s plan for me is marriage in the future, it will play a small part in God’s bigger plan for my life.

Marriage is built on two people. If a house’s foundation is faulty then the house will crumble. If you go into marriage with a faulty perception of what it can do for you, you will be disappointed and disillusioned, and I suspect, this is one of the greatest reasons for divorce in our culture. It’s not that people go into marriage with low expectations, I think, as much as high and unrealistic expectations. If you learn now to take your insecurities to God, find your purpose in Him, find wholeness and healing in Him then you will have a great foundation to build a great marriage upon, if and when you do get married. For now as a single person, be alone and happy. Sit at Wendy’s with your burger and french fries and dare to smile; make people wonder why you’re happy. If they ask why you’re happy, tell them because in Christ you are complete.

Question: What lies as a single did you believe that God is now showing you truth?

If you wanna…

Crazy Love (Hawk Nelson album)

Crazy Love (Hawk Nelson album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If you wanna know how far My love can go/ Just how deep/ Just how wide/ If you wanna see how much you mean to Me/ Look at My hands/ Look at My side/ If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven/ It’s more than the drops in the ocean.” ~ Drops in the Ocean by Hawk Nelson

Hey, ya’ll! Geesh! It’s been forever since I’ve written on here. I must admit I’ve been afflicted with a thorn in the flesh called “foggy brain”. Balancing all the things I need to do coupled with sleep problems has been a challenge so blogging has taken a back seat once again. Hopefully, with the Holy Spirit’s help, I’ll get this self-management thing figured out and get better sleep so I can have the mind to sit down and write. I pray you all are well and I hope this quote encourages you as it has for me! Think about these words!! Beautiful lyrics that are saturated with the love of God and forgiveness of God. I clearly can hear the passion of the Lord for me in this song and it brings me to tears! So humbling! Often we forget how much He loves us because we forget His sacrifice. Let’s remember! Be blessed!

P.S. Here’s the youtube link in case you are interested in hearing the song. I strongly encourage you to listen! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZH13wFGffg

Rebuilding the Ruins

My heart shattered on the ground and my life laid in front of me in ruins after my break-up with Mark. I never felt so undone in my life over an ending of a romantic relationship. I gave this man my heart and my body and I received nothing in return but a severing from my hopes and dreams. I felt as if my arm had been torn off.

When I met Mark, I thought I met the one I would marry, but after only a few months of dating I gave him everything of myself…way too soon, of course. Once our relationship ended, I realized how much I lost. I lost me and I lost my relationship with God. A very high price to pay for a relationship.

I walked as one who was dead for months afterward. I shuffled my feet to church and listlessly participated in worship. I dragged my dead body out of bed every morning and prepared for work with a mind barely functioning, eyes half closed, limbs limp. I felt I had no future since I built my future with Mark in my head. Where was I to go now? What would become of me?

During the months that followed the Lord reminded me of Isaiah 54. Yes! The whole chapter of Isaiah. This chapter, I believe, is what the Lord spoke to me as my life chapter during my time in ministry school. Some people have life verses to sum up the focus of their life, others have life chapters. That’s me. I needed a whole chapter. This chapter in Isaiah was applicable then when I sat in chapel service, but even more applicable in this time of a devastating break-up.

I believe the theme of this whole chapter speaks about rebuilding. The very name of Isaiah translates to “Yeshaiah” which means “The Lord saves” or “Jehovah is salvation”. The Lord speaking through Isaiah promised to the whole nation of Israel that He would rebuild after the devastating ruin of both kingdoms of Israel.

Step on the breaks! *Screeeech!*

Wait, you say. Both kingdoms?

Yes, both kingdoms. For historical context, at the time of Isaiah, Israel was divided into two kingdoms. This happened at the end of Solomon‘s reign under his son, Rehoboam (1 Ki 12).  So now we have two kingdoms in Israel, with the northern kingdom known as Israel and the southern kingdom known as Judah, ruled by two different kings with two different capital cities over the next several hundred years…and it wasn’t pretty, folks. Depending on whether an evil king reigned or a God-fearing king reigned, both kingdoms were up and down the moral ladder of degradation.

Enter the prophets.

God sent His specially appointed prophets to speak to both kingdoms about their turn away from God toward other gods and warned them to repent lest they find themselves taken captive by foreign nations.

The foreign nations? Assyria–for a geographical picture think of modern-day northern Iraq, and Babylon–picture modern-day southern Iraq.

The final fall and captivity of Israel to Assyria occurred about 722 BC.  The kingdom of Judah fell to Babylon in 586 with the complete desolation of the capital, Jerusalem.

Can you imagine the despair of being taken captive by a foreign nation and forced to live in a foreign land against your will while watching your beloved country destroyed by a cruel army? To give you an idea of how bad the Assyrian dudes were, these guys were known for skinning their captives alive as they hung from a tree or a pole.

You can get a peak into the sinking hearts of the people of Judah by reading Psalm 137. This Psalm scholars believe was written either during the time of the exile of  Judah or sometime after:

By the rivers of Babylon,

There we sat down, yea, we wept

When we remembered Zion,

We hung our harps

Upon the willows in the midst of it . ( v.1-2 NKJV)

Very eloquently expressed through the use of the word “harp” as the symbolism of joy. To put in modern and unpoetical terms, we might say we stopped singing. These people were so depressed they couldn’t sing!

Isaiah spoke a warning to Israel and Judah but he also spoke God’s promising words of restoration after their captivity. This is where Isaiah 54 begins. Let’s jump to verse 11:

“O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels…”

I think this verse here sums up the whole chapter. To paraphrase, the Lord says to Israel, “I will rebuild you with things that are valuable and durable.”

We all need rebuilding.

My church has been looking for a new place to call home the past few months. We need a little more room to grow so we’ve looked at some property around town. One property had a building built in the 50’s. It looked like it hadn’t been lived in since the 50’s. You can smell the mold growing in that place. Grass grew up from the carpet. GRASS!! Growing up from the carpet!! This place needed a lot of work. Walls would need to be stripped bare to studs. Plumbing redone. Electrical work redone. Everything!

This is a picture of us! We need to be redone. Rebuilt! Sin has ravaged us from the inside out and left us desolate. I’m talking about your sin, my sin, and the others’ sins. My sins have left me a mess. Others’ sins against me have as well. I’m a mess inside.

Truthfully, I must admit I was a mess before I met Mark. My mess was just exposed to my eyes more clearly through the relationship, especially after it ended.

It’s now been over a decade since my relationship with Mark and I can testify that God has been true to His Word. I see evidence in my life of the rebuilding work the Lord constructed in my heart. I praise Him for it! The work is not done. Oh, no! Not even close to done. I still deal with misplaced priorities, pride and other stuff that for you readers is on a NTKB (need to know basis).  But, oh, how far I’ve come! He is in the process of rebuilding me and making me new today.

I know there are many out there like me. Your life is in ruins. Maybe you don’t know it yet, but it is. Do you even know you need to be rebuilt? Have you noticed grass and mold growing where it shouldn’t?

I love the song “Glorious Ruins” by Hillsong United. We’ve been singing this song in church for some time and the hope strikes me like a sunbeam bursting through the clouds.

“I’ll look to the cross

Where my failure is lost

In the light of Your glorious grace…

Let the ruins come to life

In the beauty of Your name

Rising up from the ashes

God forever You reign”

No matter the cause for our ruins, we can bring them all to the presence of Jesus. In His presence we will find ourselves revived, our lives rising up out of the ashes and renewed to life in Him. What hope we have in Him!

Whatever situation you find yourself in now, I pray, Beloved, you will bring your ruins to Jesus. He desires to rebuild your ruins.

If you would like to sample the song I quoted from Hillsong, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgMV3_Md8MU