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Hey Judas! You need a Heart Check.

Elijah’s List posted this recently.

WOW! Heart check!!!

Seriously though, take a minute and ponder that.

I’ll wait….

When I pondered…I thought of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. When Screwtape tells Wormwood to focus the patient’s attention on petty things while he was at church. So the patient wouldn’t focus on the Word and how it applies to himself.

Judas did focus on the petty. The negative. And he remained a sceptic despite seeing miracles right before his eyes. He didn’t read about the miracle of the fish and bread feeding 5,000. He actually ate the bread and fish! He didn’t read about blind eyes being opened, he watched it happen.

Truthfully I feel bad for Judas. He didn’t enjoy His life. He clearly didn’t like himself. Seriously. Judas was with Jesus Himself for 3 years, and never actually absorbed anything about who Jesus was. Jesus was, is, and will always be love personified.

Who spends 3 solid years with Jesus, and comes out worse than where he started?

Truthfully…a lot of people.

What? Why? Who? Sacrilege!!

I know. Because I was one.

I confessed Jesus as my Savior at 16. And promptly tried to be perfect (as in without flaw) and do all the right things. I focused on behavior and looking the part.

Nothing reached my heart.

I couldn’t be perfect. And it frustrated me. My life didn’t change. No miracles happened in my life. And I was disappointed.

I ended up flipping around and going absolutely in the opposite direction. I became more critical. More judgmental. I loved less.

And it took a good 7 years before I gave it another shot. At 16, I shoved the Word at people…but at 25 I started applying the Word inward. I began to deal with my heart issues. My broken places began to heal. It was a process that still continues. It’s a day to day walk.

I can tell you that it’s much easier to point fingers and throw rules at people than it is to love them. It’s easier to criticize, scoff & judge.

But…if you take that pointing the finger and judging everyone path. You won’t heal. You won’t grow.

I think that’s what happened to Judas. I think he allowed his natural skeptic to dismiss miracles. He chose not to receive the love and teaching from Jesus. He chose not to heal and grow.

We have a choice too. Perspective and attitude are everything. Being open isn’t alway easy. Neither is change. Not for me. Not for you. Not for the disciples either.

Let’s be real…the 12 disciples are like us. They screwed up. They didn’t always understand. They acted without thinking. They lost their tempers.

But the difference between Judas and the other 11 is that the 11 grew and changed. They applied what Jesus taught them and walked it out.

Were the perfect? Um…definitely not. And neither are we. Neither are your leaders. We are all human. Doing our best. We are all given a choice.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT

Judas got to choose too. Unfortunately we all know how that worked out. (Spoiler alert…it can’t get much uglier).

Judas was bitter. I don’t want to be bitter, but some days I see myself heading in that direction.

Judas was a cynic. I don’t want to be an eye rolling cynic, but sometimes I am.

Judus had a greedy, selfish & negative outlook. Sometimes I do too.

I don’t want to be a complainer or a gossiper either. But some days I am.

So this is a heart check for me. To go back to Jesus on the rough days. The days I’m more Judas-like than Jesus-like and ask Him to show me what is going on in my heart and head so I can deal with the root of it and have a better attitude and perspective.

Especially with all the chaos in my life right now…I need more Jesus time. More worship. More Word. And less judgmental attitude. Less pessimism.

Point to ponder while you wander…..

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Sinking into a Garment?

Heyo. It’s Monday night and I’ve started a new study on Ephesians 6:10-18 on the whole armor of God. I’ve been feeling like I needed a study every single word kind of study. Then I watched an encouraging video that said something about the armor of God…and Voila! I was inspired to study said passage.

On my first read through of this section of Ephesians “put on the full armor” jumped out at me.

I instantly thought of Colossians 3:14.

So I looked it up.

Turns out the Greek work enduo is the same word in both verses.

Enduo: (en-doo’-o) Verb. G1746 in the Strong’s. It comes from “en” and “duno” (1416) to sink into a garment. To invest with clothing. To array. To clothe (with). To put on.

Thought 1. Sinking into a garment sounds like putting on something soft & luxurious. Something that fits well and allows you to move easily. Like when I come home and put on leggings and a t-shirt to go for a walk, clean, or even to relax and study the Word after work.

This is the exact opposite of I Samuel 17:38-39 when David tries to wear Saul’s armor and he cannot function in it.

Thought 2. Enduo is a verb. Enduo requires action on our part. To put one leg in and then the other and then pull it up. Not hard or complicated but effort required nonetheless.

Thought 3. Other uses of this word are related to choosing to put on Christ, and not to be concerned with what you will clothe your actual body in. Interesting. Ponder that for a moment.

Thought 4. There are some automatic things that happen when you declare Jesus Lord of your life, like… Forgiveness. Holy Spirit. Access to God through Jesus. And so many wonderful things under grace.

BUT there are other things you have to walk out and actually put effort into as we mature in Christ. Things we grow into. Like choosing to put on Christ. Choosing to put on love. Choosing to put on the full armor of God.

Point to ponder while you wander…I felt like I needed to put the verses here that relate to my thoughts today. Read through them. Ponder them.

Then….I encourage you to read the context of the verse that registers with you the strongest and ask God to reveal something new to you about the passage.

I’ll be praying for a new revelation for you. One that encourages you. One that inspires you to grow in faith.

If you do, and want to share, please comment below or shoot me a private message if you’d rather. 😀

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 NLT

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27 NIV

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 NLT

Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.” 1 Samuel 17:38-39 NLT

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” Luke 12:22-23 NKJV

Finger Pointing Is Useless

For better or worse, a child has the childhood they have as a result of their parents choices. Period. I did. You did. Your kids do.

If the child’s parents break the law, it hurts their kids more than anyone else. Trust me, I’ve seen it first hand. It’s heartbreaking. No one wants to see a child be hurt or suffer. No one.

We cannot change a child’s parents or make their decisions for them. BUT…

What we can do about it is to be there for the kids around us. First and foremost, pray for them and their parents. Then invest in them, if you’re able. Encourage and support them. Hug them (when and if that is appropriate). Pay for them to go to a camp. Bring them with you to fun activity that you take your kids on. Tutor. Mentor. Foster. Adopt. Donate your time and/or money to organizations who help kids. Or if God’s put it on your heart, start an organization.

Ranting fixes nothing. Hating and finger pointing changes zip. This post and your post and all the other posts add up to zero.

Changing things and helping people will cost you something. Time. Money. Effort.

Are you willing to put your resources where your mouth is or are you just going to finger point and continue to rant?

My point in posting this is to say 2 things: 1. Kids need the village. Be the village. And 2. Stop blaming the government for everything. Step up and take some responsibility yourself. Some of you do…and I have mad respect for you and how you walk out your life. But I’ve seen some BS rants by people I know just like to complain. And I’m over it. That is the spirit behind this post.

Point to ponder while you wander…Love is a verb. You want to change the world? Then get off your phone. Get out of your chair. DO something. End of my rant.

Deep Thought Thursday…Dreaming Someone Else’s Dream

I remember my first introduction to Jane Austen. It was 1996. I was 21, and studying abroad in Derbyshire. The guy I was dating took me to see Emma. The Gweneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam version, obviously. Jeremy Northam’s Mr. Knightly. Sigh. I loved him instantly. He was my favorite Austen man until I encountered Rupert Penry-Jones’s Captain Wentworth. But I digress….

That same semester my friends and I went to see Pride and Prejudice (in a play form). Who is this Jane Austen? I must check her out.

I remember hearing about Jane Austen’s life for the first time. Realizing she died young. No spouse. No kids. I thought to myself, how sad. This amazing woman left behind no descendants to carry on her legacy. To someone who is passionate about family tree research I was devastated on her behalf.

And honestly she lived the fate I feared.

I wanted to be an Austen heroine…like Anne Eliot who lands her soul mate Captain Wentworth. All the Austen heroines win the man of their particular dreams. The one that uniquely fits them.

With that perspective, I could never understand why Jane chose to be a spinster. To devote herself to writing and to being Cassandra’s (her sister) companion after her fiancée dies. She could have been married and still been a writer.

What I didn’t understand was that, she couldn’t have been the writer she became, had she chosen to keep her engagement. Not in the 1700’s.

When I read her books and watched the movies, I saw all the heroines finding the dream man, so they could get married and have children. How sad that she didn’t get that happily ever after she gave to her heroines. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I was really upset about it.

Growing up, all the women who influenced my life had between 2 and 12 children. My mom. My grandmothers. My aunts. Great aunts. Great Grandmothers. They were mothers first. Everything else in their lives came 2nd and beyond. So my dream as far back as I can remember was to be a wife & mother. I went to college planning on that life. I graduated from college planning that life. I waited for that life. For that dream to come true.

What I realized is that I wasn’t really upset about Jane’s life, she made her choices. What I was really afraid of was not having kids myself.

I turned 28. 32. 37. Then 42. At 42, the rubber hit the road, and I began to grieve. I began to grieve the death of the dream of having children. I grieved it like it truly died. I ugly cried. For months. I never told anyone or talked about it. But I felt it, I assure you. I battled the depression that accompanied this grief for months and months.

At this same time, God asked a friend of mine to pray for me. After a while, God invited her to approach me about it. She asked me how I was doing with the no kids thing. I sobbed again. She continued to pray. I am so grateful for my friends who cover me in prayer, they are gifts.

A few weeks before I turned 43, I had a stunning revelation…I never got what I didn’t want.

What?

The truth is that I wanted children because I was raised in an environment where kids are loved and valued. So I love and value the kids in my life. You only have to know me about 15 minutes before you start hearing about my favorite people in the world, my nieces, nephews, and lil cousins. They are my people.

But I never actually wanted to have kids. I was stunned. I just grieved a dream to the point of depression…for a dream that wasn’t even my own? Really?

How does that happen? How do we acquire dreams that are actually someone else’s? Or someone else’s dream for us?

It happens with kids and sports or ivy league schools, parents living vicariously through their kids. Thinking they’re giving their kids what they never had, but maybe not asking if this is what the kid wants.

No one pushed this dream on me. My mom’s always believed I could be or do anything I wanted. She’s never put her will on me. Not ever.

This was on me.

I didn’t want to ask myself what I really wanted, because I was afraid. Afraid to know what the answer was…afraid to fail, afraid to succeed…because people would expect things of me. Afraid of leading, because what if no one followed.

So in truth, my not being married young, or having kiddos, was the protection of God. Because He knows me. Because He designed me.

Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence! You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me. This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.” Psalm 139:1-6 TPT

God knows me better than I know me. Never have I ever been so grateful for ths fact.

I am designed for partnership with Jesus. I am designed for a partnership with a spouse. I am not designed to be a mother in the traditional sense.

My jaw dropped at this revelation. I processed this revelation for weeks and weeks. How is it possible that I don’t want kids?

Who doesn’t want kids? Isn’t that selfish? Abnormal?

How does a person leave a legacy without having kids?

Who will remember me when I’m gone if my family tree ends with me?

Then God showed me something that left me speechless for quite some time…You’re not designed to be an Austen heroine, you’re designed to be a Jane Austen.

Wait, what?

No, I’m not declaring myself to be the new Jane Austen. I’m Jill not Jane.

But God used her life to show me there’s more than one way to have an impact on generations.

Jane was a brilliant author. She wrote stories that are still impacting generations. Maybe it was intentional on her part or maybe it is just how things worked out, but she stands forever as an example that being a wife and a mother is not the only way a woman can have purpose. In her time a woman had two options, marriage or poverty accompanied by shame. Women deserve the right to choose God’s best for them. She used her God given intelligence, wit, and humor to craft incredible stories. That was Jane’s purpose. It wasn’t motherhood.

Then it clicked! I finally got it.

A legacy of words…

That is my actual dream.

That is my actual heart.

That is the legacy I want!

I want to craft stories that people still want to read or watch in 200 years. I want to leave words that inspire. Words that give hope and encourage. Words that reveal the love of the Father, and the greatness of Jesus. Words that remind people that being human is the best there is in all of creation. We were created in God’s image! Nothing else in all of creation was given that honor. I could go on here, but that is not the point of today’s post.

The point is that like Jane, I am a story teller. I can’t help it. It is who I am. I am a scribe. A writer. A lover of words. My purpose is to create stories. I’m still trying to process all of this because I still am stunned by this revelation.

Stunned. But free. For the first time, really free.

I’m not quite sure what to do with all this as I’m still processing…but be assured that writing is my priority. My goal is to write something every day. Blog. Short story. Work on a chapter of one of my longer stories. Send encouraging texts.

We were all created with eternity in mind, and we all have a purpose. One isn’t better or worse. One isn’t greater or lesser. All the body of Christ is important and absolutely necessary. Embrace who God made you to be, and how you are wired. The world needs you to be your authentic self, not a copy of someone else.

I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling —that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones! – Ephesians 1:18 TPT

Point to ponder while you wander…

Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” Ephesians 3:20 TPT

P.S. To all the parents out there…You have a tough job and I commend you for your consistency. I respect you for loving, disciplining, and raising those little humans day in and day out. It’s not easy. But they are worth it. You are a hero. Hang in there!!

Musical Monday: Get Off My Cloud

Today I’m sharing my fave Rolling Stones song… Get Off Of My Cloud

When I hear the chorus I envision myself as child laying in soft green grass in our yard watching the parade of clouds roll by. I’d call out the shapes…elephant, duck, tree, turtle, ship… or I’d imagine myself floating in the blue sky on my very own cloud. It was quiet & peaceful on my joyfilled cloud. Nothing bad happened there, nothing sad either.

It was dreamy…the thought of alone time. I now know it’s because I’m introverted and I need alone time to recharge. Actually the thought of my own cloud was perfection. Soft fluffy perfection on my cloud.

I didn’t want messy drama brought into my cloud. I didn’t want someone to “wreck” my day.

But the truth is that no one can wreck your day without you conceding the right to them. No one can “make” you angry. They may hurt you, frustrate you, scare you, but you choose how you react. Anger is a secondary emotion, it’s choice.

Only you can determine what your attitude and frame of mind will be. Only you can choose to maintain peace in a storm. Only you can decide to choose joy in the face of a day that is full of problems.

Peace and joy are choices you make every day. Strength comes from joy. Rest comes from peace.

Point to ponder while you wander…Many things will happen in your life that you have zero control over. That is just life. But you have control over how you choose to react. You determine your attitude.

PS Continuing with the theme….here’s Barbra singing Don’t Rain on My Parade in Funny Girl for your auditory and visual pleasure.

Plots, Plans & Purposes! Oh My!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

The word “thoughts” here means meditates, purposes & plots. God is meditating on & plotting peace for your journey of becoming your best you! Your purpose.

In truth everyone’s purpose is the same. What?

It’s true!

Your purpose is to be healed and restored and partner with Jesus in the passion of your heart. Your dream!

From that place of restoration you will automatically pursue your dream in a healthy and productive way, because it’s who you are!!!

Like the Father, who loves because He is LOVE.❤

Many people think God only has one plan for their life. And they are terrified that they have or will screw it up. I know…because I was one of those many. #fearisaliar

The uniqueness of our purpose is not the purpose itself…as previously stated.

It’s not the dream or passion. Many people may have a similar dream or passion.

Foe example…I am a writer and a photographer…so are multiple other people that I know. More that I haven’t met yet.

Many are significantly more talented, and I am okay with that. I cannot do all the writing and all the picture taking for the whole world. I wouldn’t want to.

I want to do specific writing and photography projects that move me. Because my journey and relationship with Jesus are different than other writers and photographers, what I produce will impact and inspire one set of people. While writing by another bride of Christ will umpact and inspire a whole other set. I love that!

They are fellow writers. They are fellow photographers. My artsy brothers and sisters. Not my competition. I may learn from and be inspired by them, or vice versa. But I will not compare myself or my journey with anyone else. It is a waste of time.

Like me…your journey to purpose depends on your choices. God will plot a new course for you everytime your choices take you away from His original course for your life.

He knows you are human. He is gracious. He is patient. He is kind. He is our Father, leading and teaching us.

The commonality ends there.

You are uniquely handcrafted by the potter. You have a heart’s desire. A passion. A drive to do something specific in this world.

You can choose to pursue this passion on your own, and in your brokenness. You may even be successful or monetarily rich. But fulfillment will never come if you attempt your purpose, your journey, alone. The hole in you will never fill.

The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.” Proverbs 14:14 NKJV

But…when we partner with Jesus in the passion of our lives it changes the world.

Point to ponder while you wander…

A hope deferred makes the heart sick but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NLT

Becoming a Whole Me

I spent a lot of my life trying to behave perfectly to earn the approval and acceptance of God. Then for a few years, trying not to be smited because I had full scale run amok.

Truth is God loved me the whole time. He saw me. The real me. He knew the truth. He knew the lies I had been believing about myself and about Him. His heart broke for me.

I am clearly not fully living life to the fullest yet…but in reading Your God Is Too Safe today, I was reminded me how far I’ve come, and just how grateful I am for my relationship with Him. ❤ I continue daily to be in awe…

Holiness is not a bid to be noticed or loved or accepted by God. Holiness, rather, is acting out and acting upon the truth that God has noticed, loved, and accepted us long before we did anything to warrant that. It’s a discovery that we’re alive when we thought we were, and ought to be, dead. Holiness is simply living into and out that aliveness.” -Mark Buchanan (Your God Is Too Safe)

This whole book is hitting me where I live because I like my safe world with Jesus. I love it being me & Him.

But Jesus didn’t heal me so I could sit here be safe and hidden forever. For a season or two yes, but not forever. He healed me so I could live my life fully! Abundantly! He is the God of bigger than I can ask or even think.

He tells me repeatedly two things…

“You think too small.”

“Be open.”

Those two things are super scary…because I am very aware of just how BIG my God really is. I know what He is capable of doing with His kids…

Turning a shepherd into a king. (David)

Turning a barren old woman into the mother of a nation. (Sarah)

Turning a stutterer into spokesman who literally walked his people out of slavery. (Moses)

Turning an introverted girl into an outspoken Queen who risked her life to protect her people. (Esther)

Turning some guy from the sticks in a defeated country into a mighty warrior. (Gideon)

Turning an unknown wife living in a tent in the desert into a war heroine. (Ja’el)

For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. ” 1 Corinthians 4:7 MSG

I believe that there’s potential in everyone to do amazing things. I can see the gold in people…even myself. I believe that the people above were born with everything they needed to fulfill the destiny they were born for!

Just like us, life kicked these folks down, and the world disappointed them. They were told no. The enemy lied to them. Maybe they believed it…maybe they didn’t.

But there came a point when these regular people stepped out of the safety of their little lives..and believed God. They chose to parner with Him.

As a result…a king, a mother, a deliverer, a queen, a warrior, and a heroine stepped out of the shadows and changed their world.

Knowing all this…I cannot help but wonder what will He do with me? And you?

You may not be a king…but maybe you’re a community leader, a state representative, or a mayor in the making.

You may not give birth to a nation…but maybe you’re one who empowers kids as a teacher, a mentor, or a foster parent.

You may be called to fight modern day slavery or sex trafficking.

Maybe you’re be introverted and shy…but you still have a voice!

Maybe you are designed to be a military leader or a police officer.

Maybe you are designed to raise a family and invest in those little people who will one day lead.

Whatever it is you’re designed for, walk in it! Live fully! That’s what freedom is. It’s why Jesus was resurrected!

Point to ponder while you wander… Freedom isn’t running amok and doing whatever you want whenever the mood strikes. It’s being able to be the whole you. Healed. Healthy. Real. It’s stepping out of the shadows and becoming who you were designed to be.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT