Recently I found out a member of my earthly family had a medical issue. So, my heart encouraged me to sen a small note of encouragement if you will. Granted this person had sent me a text on Christmas morning 2014 and told me to never contact her again, but please, I wanted her to know if she died, I at least cared and would pray.

That’s who I am ~ I love you even when you show me hate.

And speaking of communication, why is it so hard for people to ask you what’s on your heart? What’s in your mind? I went through a period of time where I didn’t talk too much I kept a lot of things bottled up inside, and then I started talking (in therapy) about life, decisions, experiences, expectations and now, at times you can’t shut me up. When I joined the Table Group I now co-lead last January, I talked even more because these people were Christian and listened and gave advice and lead me to scripture that helped heal…

I find it funny people I am acquainted with call others to find out what I’m doing, how I’m feeling or what’s going on in my life. Did I suddenly start speaking a foreign language when we talk? I also love how you tell someone something about you and they have to “check up” on you to verify the information. Really? Why ask me about my life then – go find your own “expert” on my life? But remember, you shut down communication, not me.

And speaking of communication, how many does it take to communicate? I always believed two. I talk, you listen, you talk, I listen – funny how it works that way, huh? I find if I don’t understand something I ask or repeat back to you. Is this “old fashioned”? Outdated?

I also have a hard time when communication is handled like this “you tell me about your life I will verify with my sources to make sure what you feel about your life and what’s going on in your life is correct.” I recently had a “friend” who called and stated “since my rich new husband paid off my car, where is her money for this, that or something else”. Well actually, my car isn’t paid off, it’s refinanced and would you like a copy of those papers? No, you don’t want a copy of the papers? You don’t want to speak to my husband? Why not? Afraid to hear the truth? Well, then don’t accuse me of something you know nothing about.

I also recently had a friend who told me I need to let my parents treat me however they want and talk to me however they want because they are old. Did you also call them and tell them to accept me for me and see how my life has changed? No? Then don’t ask me to do something you haven’t asked them to do.

I get told a lot I need to call my parents and ask them questions. Yeah, I tried that. I found they didn’t want to be honest and open, and I cannot deal with secrets anymore. Too many secrets for too long. Now that I’ve been revealed and God has had my life laid at His feet, forgiven me, renewed me, I have no desire to “hide”.

All this leads me to thinking about past decisions I have made and what do I regret? I don’t know if regret is really the right word, there are certainly decisions I would change that could change the course of my current situation. Like, I wouldn’t have married the second time. There were certainly red flags everywhere, but I ignored them in search of something I didn’t quite understand myself. I would move to the town my daughter graduated from high school, but I wouldn’t have bought a house…renting would be good enough. I would still get my two dogs, and my daughter’s cat, but that would be it. I definitely wouldn’t have asked anyone to move in with us to help share expenses and life ~ that decision right there could change how my life is now.

There are so many issues, decisions and regrets my heart has healed from and it would be wonderful to tell my story to my family and have them hear how God has completely changed my life. I would share what I’ve learned from the Bible and how that opened my eyes to things I never knew. Of course, I gave them the book that changed my life and my mom told me she doesn’t like to read. If my dad read it, I would never know. He obviously doesn’t have the ability to dial a telephone or write a note and let me know. How said is that?

If I could communicate with some, I would share how my daughter walking out of my life changed my heart and opened my eyes to even more things I wasn’t seeing clearly. I would share how the church’s Freeway series showed me I was worth God’s love, mercy and grace – something I never felt or understood before. But, you can’t communicate with people who want to keep you in the past and who don’t want to hear how your life and heart has changed, what God did for you, and how you plan to move forward with your life. You just can’t.

And to me, it’s funny how these same people want to tell you how people in their own lives or churches have been changed through the power of prayer and/or God, but don’t want to hear about how their own family members have been changed. What’s with that? I would think the people you’d be most happy about having a significant life change and “AHA” God moments are your family!

You also cannot communicate with people who only want to determine what your life is about by talking to other people about your life. Whenever I want to know something, I go straight to that person and say, “Hey, how’s it going”, “what’s going on with you?” Doesn’t seem that hard does it?

Or, like with my earthy father’s best friend died and I sent a note saying, “I heard about your friend, sorry for you loss, hope you can keep his memory alive by making the crosses and boxes”, just like the family member who is having a heart procedure soon and I sent her a note stating “I was very sorry to hear about your recent health issues – I’m sure it’s been a little scary…my husband, in-laws and I will be praying for you and your recovery. From what I understand it should only be about a week to ten days before you’re up and running again! Good luck! Thoughts and prayers!!”

That was almost two weeks ago, and still no reply from that either – and people still want to tell me how I should handle everyone and that I should keep doing more and more and more and keep putting myself out there to be rejected and stomped on – I’m thinking God doesn’t want me to continue to be beat down – at least that’s what the New International Version of the Bible I read says… I come back to my all time favorite verses:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b]boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

ROMANS 5:1-11 NIV

So, my heart has taken a few twists and turns over the past year, and all for the good. All for the better and in so many ways, it has healed, but it’s still cracked from not having my child in my life and I am discovering it is a wound that will never heal. I’m glad my parents can be without me and not reach out, not send a note, a card, make a phone call and their hearts are fine – I have a hard time believing those people who say they miss me because their actions definitely say another, I’m glad my sister can not talk to me and her heart is great! I’m glad certain “friends” can find peace in talking to ex-friends and neighbors about my life and gossip about me, and they find comfort in their “truth”.

In the healing of hearts, I find myself amazed at people who tell me I’m doing great, I’ve come a long way, I have held my own during the darkest time of my life. And when asked what I wish my family would do, I find myself coming back again and again and again to the story of the prodigal son. Specifically, I was asked recently what will I say to Olivia if she ever calls – my answer was simple, the same thing I wish my parents would have said to me, the same thing the father of the Prodigal Son said to him, the same thing I know my Father in heaven says to me on a daily basis:

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:20-24

This father didn’t say “let me tell you every way you hurt me” he didn’t say “do you know what you put me through?” He didn’t say “do you know how wrong you were!” He opened his arms, hugged his child and said “welcome home”.

It’s funny how God does close doors of communication, but opens ones of full honesty, disclosure and acceptance. And, its amazing how this heals your life. I’m living proof. That seems to be my theme song “I’m living proof” and I am. I am proof a person can be so broken and God heals. I’m living proof that you can be scared and shamed by things in your life and God heals. I’m living proof when you surrond yourself with people who truly walk with Christ, you are enveloped in mercy and grace.

Yes, I am living proof of abuse, shame, bad decisions (a lot of good ones too!), trying hard to live as Christ would want you too and never quite getting it right. I’m so glad Christ came to walk amoung the sick, the wounded, the sinful – if he only came to walk with the just, healthy and righteous where would any of us be?

So, I do daily checks on my heart ~ is there anything I need to evaluate, anyone I need to talk too? I think about how I communicate and wonder have I left any stone unturned? Does my daughter know how I feel? Have I made myself clear to her that I love her and expect nothing from her? How many unanswered emails do I have to send before I give up? Have I fully rested, reflected, repented and done my best to reconcile? Do I feel the need to constantly put myself in the path of those who don’t love as Christ loves and to be berated, belittled and be the only one who takes responsility for actions? Is the weight of the entire world and every mistake ever made in every relationship my fault?

Those are heavy questions – and, for the longest time, I would answer “YES” to all of them. Now that I know Christ, and what He asks us each to do, I can say,

-Yes there are people I need to speak too (Olivia, Nick???)
-No I haven’t left any stone unturned. I will keep turning stones until Olivia is back.
-Yes, Olivia should have a clear picture of the fact that I just want a relationship with her, I expect nothing, and that I am sorry for WHATEVER I have done to cause her heart to hate.
-I’ll send a gazillon emails before I give up.
-Yes, I have done the Four R’s.
-No I do not feel the need to put myself in the path of anyone who feels the need to berate, belittle and not take responsibility for their actions.
-No, the weight of the world and every mistake ever made is certainly not my fault.

It took a long time to realize these things and to come with terms with the fact that I am loved so dearly and deeply by God. It took a shorter amount of time to realize when you surround yourself with those who walk with Christ, you’ll be able to accept the love and grace showered upon you ~ God gave me a great gift when my heart opened and I heard the truth spoken and I saw the love coming down.

So, I’ll leave you with these thoughts…

Check your heart – how’s it beating? Is there someone you need to call? Someone you need to write? Someone you need to talk to because you’ve only listened to gossip? Someone you’ve gossiped about that you may need to apologize too? Someone you may have spoken harshly too and maybe you should ask forgiveness of? Hebrews 8:12 says: For I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more.

Do a heart check people. Forgive, make that call. It may change the life of someone else, but better yet, it may change yours…

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Hannah Kerr – I Stand Here –
“My desperate feet Come running to you from shaky ground facing defeat I am holding onto Your promise now raise me up on eagle’s wrings give my soul your bigger dreams breathe your life into me a battle cry is in my lungs singing out “Your kingdom come” fall in us pour out your love I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me And as your child claiming peace Oh give this heart your victory I stand here, I stand here…

My weary bones they come alive with the sound of you restoring hope in my anxious spirit forever new raise me up on eagle’s wrings give my soul your bigger dreams breathe your life into me a battle cry is in my lungs singing out “Your kingdom come” fall in us pour out your love…I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me and as your child claiming peace oh give this heart your victory I stand here, I stand here…

Away from brokenness into your promises Lord I’m standing, i’m standing here Away from brokenness into your promises Lord I’m standing, i’m standing here
I stand here at you feet I’m laying down the fear in me and as your child claiming peace oh give this heart your victory I stand here I stand here, oh Lord I stand here”

Funny, I was just speaking to my husband last night about fear and love. I told him I truly realize for the first time in my life I’m not afraid of someone. He knows all my “junk” and doesn’t hold it against me, or bring it up in conversation, I’m the only one who does that, and that’s when I let Satan have control of my thoughts. I’m learning how to stop those thoughts, though, and first it’s with prayer, and second by telling myself, “I’m standing before God and HE sees my heart and my life, I fear no evil” I repeat this process about 100 times a day, if not more.

I realize after reading 1 John, specifically,

1 John 4:18 “there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”.

WOW…I grew up in fear and knew if I did one thing wrong the love would be taken away and it was proven to me over and over again – if my family’s love was perfect I would have them today. This carried into my marriages, friendships and sometimes other personal relationships – and everyone has proven this to be true – love was used to gain something from me, they knew if I felt the threat of the love going away, I would be under their control. If I am fearing, however, that is not love.

Now I know the difference between real, perfect love and imperfect love. Now I understand why I spent years searching for love and acceptance for no reason,and a lot of time in the wrong places with the wrong people. Last year, I had an epiphany of sorts, I had a realization, I gained knowledge and took a deep look at my life and what was wrong with it…what I was striving for, and not only was I hurting myself, I was hurting others in the process. I had someone tell me to be completely honest with them at all times, and I finally found the honesty, and thought I was living fearfully, but I soon learned that being honest and stating how you see the world, how you see your life, how you see their life, was not going to work with someone who wasn’t living in and with Christ. Now I truly understand that love, and started to embrace it last April, when I was baptized I made a promise to myself to never go back to what broke me, and I’m not. I see God’s love, I feel God’s love and all I can continue to say is how great is His love? How great is my relationship with Him? How great is knowing I am made new, perfect and He sees me as flawless.

It is funny to me that I met and knew my husband was the one for me in less than two weeks, I know he felt the same because not only was he walking with God, he was searching for a woman growing and seeking God’s heart. It wasn’t that we “fell in love” as people say, I’ve learned through my marriage class through my church people who “fall in love” will also “fall out of love” and this too has proven to be true. If you can’t share you love and knowledge of God in relationships, they will not work. They won’t. No matter how hard we try. It’s broken from the start and it can only be healed through God’s grace and mercy.

So yes, this love thing is new for me…the perfect, fearless love. I don’t fear anyone or anything anymore and when I do, my husband reminds me, the evil one will try to steal our joy and make us feel less than that perfect love, but I stand here before God every morning and know I have to lay down the fear because if I don’t, I’m not letting love win. I have come to realize people use threats, chaos, past mistakes you have made, and their own assumptions to cast fear in your path and to bring you back to the person you once were before you found your life in Christ. I have found people don’t see the transformation you have made, the caterpillar becoming the butterfly and hold you captive in their cocoon of anger, hurt, and they feel justified in what they are doing because they refuse to see. Last night, after our night of worship at church, I had several of my husband’s friends tell me to stay strong and don’t let anyone rob my joy, God’s got it all, and I can rest in their prayers and God’s promises…I also realize now I need to pray for these people who try to attack, for they are not experiencing perfect, fearless love. I have a cloud of witnesses surrounding me and bringing peace and fearless love…

I will continue to claim peace as God’s child and I will continue to stand before God and let all fear go, I am not broken, He breathes His life into me, I am continuing to exclaim, “your kingdom come”, I am His Child He surrounds me, He protects me, He gave me victory.

Romans 5:1-5

“In our own case, we accept excuses far too easily, in other people’s, we do not accept them enough. As regards my own sins, it is a safe bet that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins, it is a safe bet, that the excuses are better than I think…to excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the excusable in you.” C.S. Lewis.

What a beautiful quote I read tonight as I was doing my D.C. homework. Funny, I’ve had trouble writing lately because I’ve had too many thoughts wrapping around my brain – mainly because I’m fighting Satan at every angle of my life. I do not want to go back to my old life, and one tiny slip will spin me spiraling out of control into the dark again. I’ve had trouble writing too because I keep thinking about a text I received from – what I thought – was one of my best friends and someone I loved dearly, although she recently told me I did not love her – I guess because I chose a different path than what even I expected. Her text read “you are right, I do not know you. The person I know is gone. Very sad.”

Really? You prefer the broken me over the newly healed me? You prefer the person who would let everyone walk all over her and not give her any respect? You prefer the person who was sad all the time? You prefer the person who strove for perfection at all times, yet received no thanks, no praise, no recognition? You prefer the person who was spiraling down to a depression no one could save her from?

This same “friend” then went on to tell me how I had lied to her, to my therapist and yet doesn’t want to be put into the same category as my earthly family who also doesn’t see the new me, the free me, the saved me!

I’ve shown several people who know my story the text about the old me being gone and they all say the same thing “hallelujah”! Yes, my therapist may have just been – as my earthly mom pointed out – a licensed clinical social worker – but she helped saved me. Weekly visits followed by biweekly visits – finally ending in “hey, Teresa, you got this, you are where you are supposed to be, you can keep coming here, but I really have nothing else to offer” – What? I’m cured? Why, how can you say that? She could say that because I did the work, I did the homework, I did the resting, reflecting and repenting! Not only was I seeing her, but I was meeting twice a week with my Christian family who drove me towards God’s word so I could see that I was worth something to my Lord and Savior. He sees me. He knows my worth, more importantly, He knows my name!

I also recently saw a Facebook post that read “Never run back to what broke you” Toby Mac…

Never run back to what broke you…hmmm…to me that explains a lot. I’ve spent 46 almost 47 years running back to what broke me. I’ve tried to live up to everyone’s expectations and not given too much thought as to what God thought of me, or what I even think of me. Last March it hit so hard and in April even harder, and in May when I decided to give my life to Christ, it wasn’t a whim, or just a “oh hey, let’s try this for a while” it was a “I’m all in this and need to do better and need to really focus on the one man who gave HIS one and ONLY Son for my undying, undivided, 100% attentive love!”

Being accused of lying, cheating, no fully disclosing who I am to people and being accused of having mental instability, bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, hearing my earthly parents say to my therapist “do you know what we’ve been through with this one?” Really? Do these same people know what God has gone through waiting for us? What we have done to disrespect God? To run from Him and try to live on our own? To try to prove to GOD that “I got this, I don’t need you?” It’s okay, go ahead and view me as you want. I know the truth, God certainly knows the truth, and if you opened you eyes, listened, saw, heard, watched me, you’d see too…

So, yes, in the past, I have accepted excuses for what I have done too easily, I’ve been too hard on others and not accepted their excuses for what I believed has wronged me and I have forgiven because Christ forgave me. But that does not mean I’ll go running back to what broke me. No way, no how. I see me FINALLY for what God sees. And that’s a very valuable, lovable, grace-filled creation. I am worthy – and I will not be broken – not again. Not as long as God is with me and I plan to remain in Him forever.

Romans 5:1-5

Christmas day came and went, without my daughter, Olivia.  It’s the second one without her, and never something I dreamed I would endure.  And as I was talking to a friend about my earthly family on Christmas Eve, and realized they do not see me as Christ does (and probably never will) and they certainly don’t love as Christ does, that’s not a healthy relationship to be in.  I thought about if my salvation depends on whether or not I continue on a path to continue to let them verbally berate me, and the answer is no.  I do forgive all their trespasses, and I have a pure heart when it comes to how I love them, because I see them as Christ does.  Forgiven, imperfect, flawless and I can extend grace.  

I miss Olivia.  I miss her smile, I miss her laugh, I miss her perspective on life, and I wonder, if she could and would see me now, what her thoughts would be on all I’ve been through since 2004.  How I know this is where she wanted me to be, and how she wanted me to see how I can be loved, and I believe in my heart she would be so incredibly happy and proud.  Because her mom, finally gets it.

I think about all the bad relationships I have been in – with those who cannot love as Christ does – and how this past year was a true transformation for me, and I want to encourage all of you out there who are struggling with relationships where you are not loved as Christ loves – get out.  Do not continue on the path I was for so long…my normal was if someone wasn’t being mean or telling me how wrong I am about life, not fully respecting me or my beliefs, they weren’t fully loving me.  Now I realize how unhealthy a path that was – and while it’s difficult at times to realize I deserve to be loved, it’s a true honor to be in healthy, loving, compassionate, grace-filled relationships, I am learning to accept them.  It’s not easy to let the good, positive, love in, but I will eventually learn that I am worth every ounce that is pouring in…

I heard a Christmas song the other night, and it’s been a long time since I heard it but the words state:

God is in us, God is for us, God is with us Immanuel.

God is in us.  Yes, He is.  He is in our hearts all we have to do is embrace it.

God is for us.  Yes, God is for us in every situation.  He doesn’t leave us – even we we stray – He doesn’t keep records of our wrong, and when we turn to Him, He wraps His arms around us and holds on tight.

God is with us.  Immanuel.  God is with us.  Immanuel.  Every step we take, every situation we endure, every harsh word spoken, every tear we cry, every joy we experience, God is with us.

So as I reflected on the day, and all I was blessed with from the start of the day, to very end, I realized how loved I really am, and how many people out there I genuinely love.  This past year of resting, repenting, reflecting…how blessed I am.  I was given a gift years ago, of forgiveness, salvation, and genuine pure love when God sent His son to save the world.  God was literally with us then, and He is certainly with us now.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas Day, Easter, or any other religious holiday we choose to celebrate, God is with us daily, hourly, moment to moment…

A friend said to me the other day, “you are very important to a lot of people”…I never realized I was important, I mattered, my heart meant something to people…now I see it.  Now I get it.  Now I want all that love, I want to matter, I’m finding my way to “home”.  My heart feels at peace, my steps are lighter, my mornings brighter, and I wake up and pray and thank God for all He has given me for the day – before the day even begins.

It used to be – when I was in a relationship, I still felt lonely.  The loneliness never really went away.  Now, even when I am by myself, I am not lonely.  I know someone is with me every moment of every day.  It could be a friend, a co-worker, a brother or sister in Christ, but for the first time, I know when no one else is around, God surrounds me with His arms, His love, His grace.

Michael W. Smith has a song, entitled “When Love Take You In” and it so true.  You can search your entire life and seek for a home to call your own, you can cry yourself  to sleep, drift off, dream, but when love takes you in, everything truly changes… a miracle truly starts with the beat of a heart that knows and, and more importantly, feels it belongs…my heart is so full right now…I feel like crying happy tears and continuously thanking those around me for believing in me, accepting me, pushing me to become all I should become…all I could become.  There is nothing like fully coming into your own and realizing your potential in what God has made you to become.  And then to know those around you are loving you as God made you…well, this is the type of love that never lets go…and frankly, I don’t plan on letting it go.

I encourage everyone to let love take you in, let God wrap His arms around your heart, and your entire being…let God show you WHO you are and WHAT you are and you’ll learn HOW to love yourself…and when you love yourself, it’s so easy to let others love you too…so I’ll leave you with this…

“When love takes you in, and everything changes, a miracle starts, with the beat of a heart, when love takes you home, and says you belong here, a loneliness ends, and a new life begins, when love takes you in…”

Find love people…

Matthew 1:22-23

“Seems like all I could see was the struggle, haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures, wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son, stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

All my life I have been called unworthy, named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”, I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me, ‘cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same, and a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free, so I’ll shake off these heavy chains, wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be, Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be, Jesus, I’m not who I used to be, ‘cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed.”

Okay, so I broke down on Sunday, December 27, 2015, I cried for about an hour, maybe longer, I’m not sure, I remember hearing the 3:45 bell chime, and the 4:00 bell chime and I don’t really remember anything else until the 5:00 bell chimed.  Sunday, resulted in many an anniversary date and what more could I do, but give in and let go.  As I cried, I was filled with emotions from shame, regret, failure, being unworthy, sadness…I listened to the words of the one with me, and kept repeating what was being said  “God is here, I am here” and I wondered, if God was really here, why was my heart hurting so bad?

These feelings subsided and I was able to fix dinner, and I turned on a few of my favorite songs, “Held” by Natalie Grant followed by “Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day.  Then, I broke down again and asked for an out loud prayer.  Nothing like hearing someone pray out loud for you – and to not only hear the words but feel the words in your heart.

I went home, went to bed and spent mostly a prayerful night, listening to my heart and God’s promises…it’s funny how one event can bring a rush of emotions back…it’s time to let go of them all, however, because I am redeemed.  I am not who I once was, and I don’t want to be who I once was.  I don’t want to live in shame, regret, and feelings of being unlovable and unworthy.  Monday morning I was met with a sermon about “The Bible is the only Truth” by Dave Stone and several songs came on the radio which brought peace to my heart.  I did pick up my head and told the devil to get out of my head.  He has no room in my head, my heart, my home.  He has no room in my life.  He has no space to fill.  He is not good, he is not worthy of MY time.  I will not allow – no wait – God will not allow anyone, anything, to fill the space in my heart or head with negativity, shame, regret or let me be drug into the past.  I am not my past, I am not defined by my past, and I can have hope for a brighter future.

I’ve learned we bind ourselves by our pasts – God doesn’t.

I’ve learned we let the devil in – God doesn’t.

I’ve learned we don’t allow forgiveness in – God doesn’t.

I’ve learned I am my own worst enemy – God isn’t.

I’m looking forward to 2016 – a whole new journey is waiting for me, and I’m ready to embrace it all.

 

“Mary did you know?”  What a song.  Did Mary fully comprehend what God was telling her when He came to her and told her she would carry His son?  Did Mary fully comprehend all that Jesus would do when she was given the honor of carrying God’s son?  What exactly was the full conversation between God and Mary?  I know the Bible gives us glimpses, but I wonder sometimes if Mary said “seriously, God, you want me to carry a child who will die on a cross and suffer a horrible death to save the world?”  And God said, “Yes” and Mary said “okay”.
When you think of all Jesus did:  walked on water, healed the sick, raised the dead, made the blind to see, calmed storms with just the wave of a hand, walked in heaven with the angels…all that and so much more did Mary grasp this with all her might?  Did she feel somewhat scared, happy, overwhelmed???
I think about all this and my heart beats just a little faster…I don’t know if I could have listened to God tell me I would carry a child, watch him be persecuted, die on a cross and then rise again, just to save a sinner like me, I don’t know if I could answer as Mary did  “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.”  (Luke 1:38 NIV)
So, then, Mary, being nine months pregnant, has to go traveling on the donkey to Bethlehem to give birth to this perfect human in a manger full of straw, animals, no midwife, no doctor, no family.  I can see myself now, telling Joseph, “are you out of your mind?  I am not riding a donkey through the cold and giving birth in a strange hotel!”   I’m sure she was scared, but did the comfort of knowing God was with her make everything lighter?  It certainly does lighten my burdens.
I think about the lyrics to “Breath of Heaven” where Mary asks if a wiser person should have taken her place, but Mary continues to believe and offers herself to God and just asks God help her be strong in His plan.  And what a plan He had!
I think about God’s plan for my own life and how I tried to live it on my own and do what I wanted to do instead of listening to the inner voice of God telling me, to let go and let Him.  I think about how I lived my way and nothing seemed to go “right”.  I think about how I gave my life to Him fully over the past year and how much better life goes when I simply let go and let Him lead my path.  I think about all the people, situations, and turmoil this past year has brought and then I think about how peaceful I have become since He rules every aspect of my life.  I see how people can’t seem to grasp this peace I have found and how I do not feel the need to explain myself anymore.  I don’t feel the need to explain, argue, bicker, or justify myself – because I know God has His plan, and my hope is found in Him.
I wonder if Mary felt the need to explain.  Joseph could have had her stoned to death, but he didn’t.  I wonder if Mary felt the stares and heard people talk behind her back, call her names, questioned her character, integrity, her heart.  When I think about all this, my problems don’t seem so big at all.  I haven’t been called to carry the son of God, all I’ve been called to do is live the way the Bible tells me too, to listen to God when He tells me to move, to love Him with all my heart…and I do.
For some reason this holiday season has found me focusing on Mary.  What she experienced, what she was thinking, how she had so much stacked against her yet remained strong.  I think about how, as a mother, you have to be strong so much for the sake of your children.  I think about how God must have thanked her immensely for being such a noble woman and remaining true to Him.   I think about my own life and what God has witnessed in my life.  I realize all the times I thought I was experiencing something alone, I truly wasn’t.  God was walking with me every step of the way.  He’s had my back, my pain, my joy, He was in the storm before it even began to rain in my life.  I cannot even begin to thank Him for enduring may pain and for giving me so much joy.  I think about Him giving His ONLY son for our love, and it overwhelms my heart.  I think of Mary and what she endured and I can only look upon her with a humble admiration.  She gave birth to the most precious gift I have ever been blessed with receiving.  I cannot – in good conscious – take this gift lightly.  Mother to mother – it’s being given a heart transplant and receiving the gift of life – everlasting life – and all I have to do is give her Son my heart, my life, my soul.  That’s a gift I will not return, will not take lightly.  I hope as you think about the people involved in the first Christmas you find someone you can identify with, someone you can relate, someone who touches your heart.  This year for me, it’s definitely Mary…my gift to her is to not dishonor her Son, to hold Him close to my heart, to love like He did, to be thankful for the sacrifice His family made, so I could take a breath.
Have you ever had people in your life who don’t listen to the words you are saying, they decide in their own mind what they want to believe, and/or assume, and that’s the truth they hold on to?  Well, my life has been full of them – daughter, parents, friends, spouses.
What I’ve learned over the past year is you can be honest with your words and actions, and tell people how you are feeling, what your life holds to be true for you and they can’t see it – nor do they hear what you are saying.  Now, the old me would take the words of others (being thrust upon me recently) to heart and make them my truth, and doubt myself, but this new me, the one found in Christ will not relent.  I will not let my past define me.
I’ve also learned, when people think what’s in their heads to be true, it’s because they do not want to face their own “junk” and admit they played a part in the downfall of a relationship.  And it’s impossible to reason with them.
I’ve also learned if you make one mistake in the past, it will be used against you continuously until the day you die.  Some people are incapable of forgiveness and leaving the past in the past and even if you change, and are honest with your feelings, it’s easier for them to throw your past in your face and see you for what they believe you are, then who you truly have become.
I’ve also learned, if you remain true to yourself, and keep plugging away and being honest with what God wants for your life – He will sustain you through all the storms.  This is true for so many reasons and, again, I will not let my past define me.
I’ve also learned when you point out the truth –as you know it – to others, and they don’t like what you are saying, you are the enemy and they will assume and attack anything of your character to prove their point.  The old me would continue to argue and fight for my character, but not anymore.  God sees the truth, He knows what’s in my heart and this is what allows me to continue to move forward and not look back.
I’ve also learned when you tell someone they are “acting like others in your life” they don’t want to be compared to those other people, yet they cannot change their actions toward you – and thus prove your point – they want to accuse, criticize, verbally attack and not hear what you are saying, the words you are speaking, what’s in your heart to be told.
I’ve been accused, criticized, compared, verbally dragged back into my old life, and no one is listening – and I’m remaining strong.  I’m holding fast to God’s promise He will never leave me and He will sustain me.
I know it’s hard to look at someone who you love/loved and think “wow, I may have hurt this person” and to save face and not look at reality you need to keep them in a “bad light”.  Believe me, I’ve done that…and that’s okay, I have big enough shoulders to bear any accusation that comes my way.  I feel no need to fight off harsh words, slander, or what anyone feels is the “truth”.  Because I know in my heart and God knows, the truth.
Am I a little hurt?  Yes.  People say “I know the real you” but if they did, and they heard and they saw the transformation in my heart and life to this point, they would understand, I’ve changed.  Instead of running – like I would have in the past – I faced my fears, spoke my truth and have continued to move forward.  My therapist tells me this is the best thing I could have ever done, and thank God for her, because she has heard the worst of my life, has seen me cry over mistakes I have made, and has never left my side or made me think I was selfish or unjust for facing issues needing to be faced head on – I powered through, I released myself of blame for all that has gone wrong and realized it does take three to make a relationship – God, you and whoever else you chose to have in your life.
So go ahead and accuse.  But remember, God calls us to “bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”  Colossians 3:13-14…I have chosen to forgive all those who keep accusing, blaming and being unforgiving of me…I know who walked into my life and when they walked in, and I know who walked out of my life and exactly the moment I decided to let them go – for my own sanity.  And it gets easier every day to let go of those who want to continue to accuse, persecute and blame.  Maybe because I know the truth in my heart and I know I’ve done my best – and yes, it does hurt to let go, only because I know those who continue to cut me down have no idea of the grace I’ve experienced, the storm I have been through to get THIS point in my life.  I am eternally grateful and thankful for those who have heard my entire story and supported, loved, extended forgiveness, grace and helped me realize I am not the ONLY person on the face the planet who has made mistakes, fallen short and learned to rest, reflect and repent.  And this grace does not get extended by those who just go to church on Sundays – it’s extended by those who are true followers – followers of Christ – not fans.
I have learned music is my saving grace.  It takes me to places I need, takes me to places of peace, tranquility and speaks to my heart when no one else is around.  God always sends the song I need to hear at just the right time.  And as I was reflecting on yesterdays this morning, this song came on the radio…again, I say thank God for God and for sending what we need to hear at just the right time…
 
SOAR – by Meredith Andrewss
Here I remind myself what You said over me, here I remind my soul who You are
You said You won’t relent, won’t let go, won’t forget, every promise You have whispered to my heart
I know with everything you’re with me, I know you’re working as I wait
Lift me up on wings like eagles, to soar
This desert holds a song I will sing, on and on, You’re a river when the ground I walk is dry
You will set the crooked straight, clear my path, make a way
You will lead me from the valley to the heights
As I wait, As I wait on You
I’m gonna run and not grow weary, I’m gonna walk and not grow faint
Rise up on wings like eagles, to soar
I know with everything you’re with me, I know you’re working as I wait
Lift me up on wings like eagles, to soar
This desert holds a song I will sing, on and on
You’re a river when the ground I walk is dry
You will set the crooked straight, clear my path, make a way
You will lead me from the valley to the heights
As I wait, As I wait on You
Creator, Keeper, Lifebreather, your name is greater than anything I’ve faced
As I wait, as I wait on You, I will wait, God, I will wait on You
 
So, what I’ve learned is I need to continue to SOAR..I need to continue to follow His path and listen to my heart, not the voices on my phone, not the voices in my email, not the voices of my past, not the voices in my head at times.
I’m fearfully and wonderfully made and I have a new life to live.  I was buried, raised and God has me.  I learned this June 20, 2015 and I will continue to follow His path.