What do you think of when you see this picture?
Do you think of home? Family? Protection? Style? Curb appeal?
I took photo this yesterday because it reminded me of wisdom passed on to me…
Don’t build walls. Build a fence.
If you’ve ever read Ezra and Nehemiah you might remember that the bulk of it is about rebuilding the defensive walls. Defensive walls for a city are a good thing. Defensive walls around a person, not so much.
If you build walls and isolate yourself, you may be protected from hurt, but you’re also not living an abundant life nor are you growing.
Tear down the walls, and build a fence instead. A fence is like a healthy boundary.
The gate in your fence allows you to participate. It allows you to communicate. And it allows you to let people in, some will be in the yard, some in the house, and some won’t be allowed past the gate. That’s why the gate opens, closes, and locks.
Only Jesus should be allowed access to every part of you. He has top secret clearance and need to know.
Everyone else has a varying degree of clearance and need to know. You need boundaries in every relationship.
Healthy boundaries foster your growth.
But walls so high they block out the sun, stunt your growth.
There have been times in my life that my walls were so high and so thick that I missed opportunities that God Himself provided for me. I simply was not open to anyone or anything.
I trusted no one. Not even God.
Truth is I was alive but not living. And I was miserable. But I stayed there far too long because I felt safe in the little world I made for myself.
It took time. It took effort. It took counseling. But I slowly began opening up to trusting others.
It isn’t always easy. You will make mistakes. I did! You’ll probably fall and fail a time or two. I do! Sometimes you will trust the wrong person. But you’ll learn and grow, just like I am.
Point to ponder while you wander…
Life is both miraculous and brief. So…
Maybe replace you walls with a fence and open the gate a bit.
Come out to play.
Be open to new adventures.
John 10:10… “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” NKJV
Isaiah 53:18-19… “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” NKJV
Psalm 91:2… “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.‘” NKJV
“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your Name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1
Point to ponder while you wander…Father God knew both the wonderful & the unwise choices the human race would make, so before any of our mistakes happened He planned to redeem us by sending Jesus. And Jesus agreed! So grateful to be loved that much.
“But if you will listen, I say to you, love your enemies and do something wonderful for them in return for their hatred. When someone curses you, bless that person in return. When you are mistreated and harassed by others, accept it as your mission to pray for them.” Luke 6:27-28
Jesus isn’t saying this because he agrees with what that person has done to you. It’s not about the other person, it’s about you and your reactions. It’s okay to feel your feelings…hurt, betrayal, anger…but deal with them. Don’t let them seep into your heart.
If you’re not careful with your heart, you’ll become negative and unforgiving. Then bitter and resentful, and even revengeful. Don’t poison yourself. Take your feelings and turn them into prayer.
Point to ponder while you wander….Praying for your enemies and those who’ve hurt you directs your negative feelings into a positive. It changes you for the better, and invites God into the situation. Wisdom, peace, hope, and love enter when God does.
My frustrations with living in the singlehood usually have more to do with people saying random crap to me than actually being an “old maid.”
Would I like a partner in life? Yes.
But it is not my biggest priority.
I’ll be honest…once I hit 40 the majority of folks considered me an old maid and stopped saying this kind of crap to me, but there are a few who still like to be cliche and nosy.
Here are a few of my favorite frustrations over the years…
People who tell me “this is your year” or “it’s your turn to get married.”
FYI- I caught the bouquet at my friend’s wedding in May of 1998. It’s been “my turn” for nearly 20 years.
People who say “You’re wonderful/amazing/so awesome, why aren’t you married? I just don’t understand.”
FYI-That is not a complement. Nor is it encouraging to me in any way. It is a backhanded insult. You are actually saying, “You seem great, what inner damage can’t I see?”
Well meaning people who tell me, “God’s got someone for you. Don’t worry.”
FYI-Bless your heart. I know you mean well, but it sounds like trite BS when you say this to me. It’s like, “Oh, Baby Girl, I know your team went 0-10 this year, but there’s always next year.”
People who tell me “You really should put yourself out there.”
FYI-I leave my house and interact with the public 6-7 days a week. I’m out there.
People who tell me…”You really should try online dating!”
FYI-I started filling out online dating stuff once a loooong time ago, I heard God say “Jill, what are you doing? I never told you to do that.” God’s on it, therefore I don’t have to be.
Yes. I also know people who met their spouse online too. But God told me no. Generally I listen to Him, He tends to know stuff I don’t.
And before I go…Just because a guy is single, and believes in God does not mean he’s perfect for me.
FYI-Thanks for the confirmation that you think I’m a hot mess by fixing me up with the guy that drank 4 mai tai’s in less than 20 minutes, lied about his height, and actually has a crush on you. You have just ended our friendship. Yes. That actually happened.
Point to ponder while you wander…I’ve got a rather large list of things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. I have another impressive list of things I want to see and places to go. Oh and I have a full time regular job too. So I am rather busy.
If God wants me to get married, He’ll send someone to hunt me down. Cuz that will be the only way it’s gonna happen people. So quit with the BS.
In case you have forgotten…Neither Jesus nor Paul ever married. #boom
My point in writing these is to inspire you to think differently about love. To think of it less as an emotion and more about how to observe those in your circle and love them in a way that they can receive it.
I firmly believe Love is a person and to be like Him, we must stop thinking of love as an emotion and start thinking about it as a verb!
What comes to mind when you think about people with Gifts as a love language?
Trying to buy people?
I think that people who are greedy or are materialistc as fear based people. They’re afraid of poverty, not having enough. They are afraid of being judged for what they don’t have.
Fear, not hate, is the opposite of love.
The gift language people I know are generous and thoughtful givers. They seek out for ways to bless people with gifts and even financially. They are the ones supporting other people’s dreams. That is how they love, by giving.
Givers are great listeners. How else will they find out what to give you? How else can they show you they love you?
In my experience givers are also grateful and gracious receivers.
I have a friend, Julie, who is the most fabulous gift giver I know. She has the knack for finding presents that make me feel known and loved by her. There’s usually a story (or an inside joke) on why this particular gift was purchased for me. She and her husband are two of the most generous people I have ever met.
Givers like Julie inspire me to be generous. Isn’t that what govers should be, inspitational? Helping us to be more giving than we are? #belikeJulie
Usually gifts people are more excited about the thought you put into the gift than the value or type of gift you actually give them.
Gifts are even more special to them on non-gift giving holidays. The “I saw this and thought of you” kind of gifts. That’s the best way to fill the love tank for a gift person.
God is also a pretty sweet giver…
“He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 NKJV
He also gave natural talents and Spiritual gifts. Exodus 36 talks about gifted artisans, Luke 11:9-13 talks about God giving good gifts, I Corinthians 12-14 is about spiritual gifts.
One of my fave scriptures about gifts is Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Remember these things when you need/want to get a gift for someone. Consider who they are, and seek to find a gift that shows them you know them, and that you listen to what they say.
Point to ponder while you wander…Jesus learned from the Father how to give sweet gifts-
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV
I have a photo of a sunrise on my bookshelf. Just a basic 4×6 image in a frame. But this sunrise means more to me than other time I’ve seen the sun come up.
About 16 years ago I surrounded myself with people and things I couldn’t resist. Honestly, I didn’t even try to resist. I went in knowing exactly what would happen.
So in the early morning hours…I got in my car and headed home overflowing with guilt and shame.
Here I was saved, baptized, Holy Spirit filled…and in one night I threw it all away and did everything I swore I would NEVER do again.
I was ashamed, and felt like a worthless human, and then I drove around a corner to this sunrise…
I pulled to the side of the road, and sobbed. And sobbed. Full scale ugly cry.
With tears still streaming, I took this photo with a disposable camera to remember this moment.
In the instant I saw this sunrise, I heard God’s voice tell me He loved me .
In that moment I understood grace for the first time.
In that moment something changed in my mindset about mistakes, sin, and bad behavior. God was against sin and bad behavior because it hurt ME. It affected ME. It broke ME. He hated what sin did to His daughter.
He did not hate me because I screwed up/sinned/made mistakes.
He had not stopped loving me because I “backslid.”
Me He loved.
Sin He hated.
This was a life changer for me.
Point to ponder while you wander…
This sunrise image reminds me that His grace covers my mistakes, as I grow into who He made me to be.
His grace empowers me to do things I could never do alone.
Today I can do things with Jesus I could never do by myself. Even if I blow it and screw up today, I am loved.
Between all the “have tos” in life is this precious substance called time.
Time is finite. Only 24 hours per day. 7 days per week. 52 weeks per year.
Time is not guaranteed. You do not know how many of these 24 hour days you’ll have.
So each of those days has so much value.
Yet we groan every Monday and beg for Friday to roll around. I’m just as guilty, believe me. I love the freedom of my weekends. Sleeping in. Alone time. Bliss.
Being introverted…I NEED alone time. And trust me when I say all y’all around me should cheer that I take alone time. I’m nicer as a result. 😉
But quality time with my people is priceless and delicious, and I need that too. I feel loved and show love by giving people my time. I do my very best to have one on one time with each of my nieces and nephews. To pour into them. To listen to them. To find out who they are and see where I can support, encourage, or dream with them. I find out how to pray for them. And let’s face it…they are a blast those kids. Seriously fun. I love them. More than they can possibly imagine.
Quality time doesn’t have to be long periods of time. But you do need to be engaged with the other person. Focused on them. Not the tv. Not your phone. Not social media. But actively listening and talking with the other person.
Quality time can be as simple as taking a walk with a friend. I miss the Walkie Talkies I used to have with my friend Kate (I moved so we are several states away now), and the deep meandering discussions I had with my friend Rachel on our walks together. Quality time can be going to breakfast the same time every week for decades, like my Papa did with his big brother, Bob. Quality time can also be a weekend away or a road trip.
But here’s the tough part about quality time, we simply do not have enough time in the day to give quality time to every single person we know. It is physically impossible. So with limited resource of time and the 2 commandments of Jesus (loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves), how can we best invest our quality time?
Well…the best example of time management was a man who only lived for 33 years on this earth. His name is Jesus. Jesus loved with all that He had. He knew how to be a servant. He spoke words of life. He gave the ultimate gift. His touch healed every single person that He touched. Literally every single one. And He understood how to balance His time.
He rested, and invested in Himself with alone time. He spent time with the Father. These two things are essential if you want to have anything to give to anyone else. Quality time with yourself + Quality time with Father God = A Filled Up You. Therefore, a better you at work, school, or where you “have to” go every day. If Jesus couldn’t love the World without alone time and God time, neither can you.
A filled up Jesus was then capable of pouring the love He received from the Father out into the world. Jesus loved everyone He encountered. But it was the love He first received from the Father.
But despite this, Jesus did not invest quality time in every single person He encountered. And neither can you. No matter how much time you spend receiving from God.
Jesus invested His time into 12. Out of the whole world, 12.
But the majority of his quality time was reserved for 3 people. 3.
Remember that when you’re scheduling out your time. Who are the people in your circle who are the top priority? A friend in crisis? Your kids? Your spouse? Your inner circle of friends? A person who you’re mentoring? Who ever those chosen few may be, don’t forget to carve out some of your precious time for them. Quality time=love.
Point to ponder while you wander…Papa God is all about quality time with us. He asks us to seek Him, then promises that He’ll show up every time. And He’ll fill you with His love. He’ll reveal who He is, and give us help with our day. What He did for Jesus, He’ll do for you.
I could go on about how touch people love massages, getting their hair washed/brushed, sitting next to you, manicures, hugs, hand holding…and the like. BUT that is not what is on my heart today.
Today there’s a woman on my heart, for whom one touch changed EVERYTHING.
This woman had a bleeding disorder.
And in the culture in which she lived…this disorder prevented her from leaving her home. EVER.
This disorder also prevented anyone from touching her because she was considered unclean.
Zero touch at all…for 12 years!
12 years equals 3 presidential terms!
12 years equals elementary, jr high, and high school!
To me a quality time and touch person. That would be torture or the very least 12 years of love starvation!
During this 12 long years, she spent everything she had on doctors. They took her money, and left her in worse health than when she started.
So she suffered…in complete isolation for 12 years, and was now without any options.
Just so we are clear here…this poor woman was “unclean” so no one could visit unless they were family who lived with her. But no family is mentioned.
No phone or internet to chat with folks online. No tv. She may have had some books…but considering her poverty…probably not. So she’s most likely bored on top of sick, poor, and lonely.
Then one day….through her window… she began to hear stories of a man from Galilee. A man that was going around laying hands on the sick, and they were being healed.
Lame people were walking.
Blind people were receiving sight, and the deaf were hearing.
And hope crept in…
“…maybe…” She thought.
“I mean…I can’t ask Him to touch me..because I am unclean. But if I can just touch the hem of His garment…”
Faith rose in her.
Despite her weakness, she got up. She got dressed. She left her house. She pressed into the crowd until she could get no closer to Him.
Determined…she dropped to her knees…and crawled through the crowd.
I should also mention that touching a man that is not your husband, father, or son could lead to you getting stoned. And I don’t mean high, buzzed, or whatever kids call it these days…I mean rocks thrown at you until you die.
And still…she pushed on through the crowd until she touched the hem of His garment.
Suddenly…after 12 years…she was healed. No more bleeding. Amazing right?!
Well yes, but she was still considered unclean for 7 more days. And she touched a man who was clearly not a relative.
So she needed to sneak out of there SUPER FAST! But to her dismay she hears, “Who touched Me?”
Well…she’s in Roman occupied Israel so she probably said something in Aramaic, Hebrew, or Latin…but come on! If this were you, and after what you have suffered in the past 12 years and you were almost out of there…you’d at least think…
“Damn. So close.”
But back to the brave woman…
She musters her courage and approaches Him…trembling. Then falls on her knees…
“It was me.”
Now I picture a whole crowd of townsfolk, who know who she is, falling over themselves to get away from her. I hear women gossiping, and men yelling their disappoval.
But not my Jesus. He is moved with compassion as she tells Him her story.
He responds by calling her “Daughter.”
It is the only place in the entirety of Scripture Jesus calls anyone daughter.
Personally I picture Jesus taking her by the hands, helping her to stand. Lifting her chin to look in her eyes, before saying…
“Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Luke 8:48 NKJV
Point to ponder while you wander… Touch is a powerful thing. Like words, touch, can lift spirits, encourage, comfort, and even heal. We can all use more of this kind of touch in our lives.
But remember…Love respects people’s personal space and doesn’t touch people without their consent.
When in doubt…give a high five. 🖐❤
There’s a line in “Pieces” by Amanda Cook that gets me every time. Every time I hear…
“It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed. Your love is proud to be seen with me.”
My mind is filled with an image of me at my worst. Then Jesus in white extends His hand to me to help me up. I’m muddy, scraped up, and bloody…but Jesus holds His arm to me, and escorts me through the crowd. He puffs His chest out like I’m the most gorgeous gal in town, and escorts me like a gentleman. Proud.
Not pride in a bad way. But in a way that says, “I know this woman. I love this woman. And I don’t give a damn what you think of her, because to me she’s worth everything. Even my life.”
Then my heart melts into a gooey blob…and I get teary. Leaving me all a fluttery and reminded that I am loved.
So thank you Amanda Cook for this amazing reminder of His love for me.
The link to lyric video is above…or you can read the powerful words here…
Point to ponder while you wander…You are loved. Right now. Right where you are. Period.
Fun Fact… Did you know that wait in the Old Testament is defined as: to bind like a rope; be strong with endurance; to expect/to hope in God.
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 NKJV
This verse is not David pointing his finger at you accusingly and commanding you not to move, despite using the word twice.
He’s encouraging you to spend time with God, let him prepare and strengthen you so that when the time comes, you’ll be ready.
David was anointed king as a kid, but he did not go around telling everyone he was King Saul’s replacement. He did not kill King Saul, despite Saul trying to kill him and having opportunity to do so, to take his place as King.
Instead, he partnered with God and prepared in the secret place, and waited WITH God.
This is the same verse in the Passion Translation:
“Heres what I learned through it all: Don’t give up, don’t be impatient, Be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave, courageous, and never lose hope. Yes keep on waiting For He will never disappoint you!”
Point to ponder while you wander…Waiting is more about having expectation in & partnering with God than timing. Waiting is about hope.