giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:20, 21

Before stumbling upon this verse…

And I say “stumbling”…

Because I sure as heck did NOT want to find THIS one (!).

I thought throughout my life,

“Sure, I can try really hard, and might manage to give thanks to God

IN most situations.

Okay, in SOME situations!!

I’m a work in progress over here, okay?😊

But FOR everything????????

You know, when a preacher tries to tell us about thankfulness….

I have NEVER. NEVER. EVER heard them say anything other than a paraphrase of the following statement…

“The bible doesn’t tell us to give thanks FOR the trials,

but to give thanks IN the trials.”

Has anyone ever heard anything other than this??? Because, I listen to a lot of pastors speak, and I have NEVER heard this.

Not even once!

So, I’ve really been studying…

Looking for loopholes.😊

Trust me.

There’s nothing that motivates us to study the Word more than trying to find a reason NOT to follow something we’re told to do in scripture, especially when it sounds next to impossible!

But the fact that it feels “next to impossible” to give thanks FOR everything is sort of what tips me off that this IS what God wants us to do.

Think about it.

The bible tells us that if we love those who love us, that’s NOT a monumental feat! It says, basically, “ANYBODY can do THAT”.(Matthew 5:46) He says love those who HATE you, instead.

That’s not so easy.

The “next to impossible” stuff is what He’s all about!!

In the moment it was happening, it felt next to impossible to ever thank God

FOR losing a baby…

FOR having a tumor…

FOR having a stroke…

FOR all the sucky things that have ever happened to me.

But THAT’S this life, isn’t it??

What better proof could there be that God is REAL than to thank God FOR all the things that break us?

I see all the good that has come from the pains in my past, and I am now thankful for all of those things.

I can be thankful for those things, in part, because of the gift of

Hindsight.

Perspective.

And those two things are not that special, and they are available to

ANYONE.

Not just to those who love God and profess to having a relationship with Him.

ANYBODY can get perspective.

That’s not the real miracle.

That’s not a miracle at all!

The REAL miracle is being thankful for the hurts of

RIGHT NOW“.

Guys, I gotta tell you.

I don’t like this brand new information.

But I am asking God this morning to keep doing these impossible things in me.

To give me a thankful heart each and every day…

FOR ALL OF IT.

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Next To Impossible!

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, In which you trusted, they wearied you, Then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?”

Jeremiah 12:5 NKJV

“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm, what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?”

Jeremiah 12:5 MSG

Back in my late twenties, this used to be one of my favorite verses.

I have to laugh at my little Bambi-like self back then.😁

I had NO CLUE about what real pain was!

I was, literally AND figuratively,

Untouched.

Untouched by trauma, and untouched by pain.

Innocent and extremely naive! (Well, maybe not “innocent”😊)

Now, every pain that I look back on….

Tumors, surgeries, miscarriage…

Betrayal….

Even stroke….

Seems like a race against man.

I guess that’s the case because they no longer have a tight grip, like a vise,

On my life.

But this.

This battle I’m in right now….

A battle that’s, truthfully, been going on for YEARS…

Well, this one tops them all.

You can just forget about RACING against horses,

Because I’m just trying not to get trampled to death by all of them!

I told someone last night that I’m afraid not everyone in my family is going to make it out of this thing alive.

I’m so drained,

And there are just

Too many horses.

You have these kind of battles, too…

Don’t you??

The kind where you would almost swear you could see hoof prints up and down your back?

Well, the funny thing is,

I think I’ve felt this particular way during each traumatic moment in my life…

A sense that I wouldn’t make it through this very tough thing.

But then,

I do.

I wonder if I’ll ever look back and reflect on this season in my life as being a race against man, instead of the horses I see right now.

If we are granted more days on this earth,

There WILL be more horses.

More races we feel helpless and unable to win.

There WILL be more horses.

There WILL be more impossible situations up ahead.

There WILL be pains that seem completely unbearable.

But there will also be

Jesus.

And He is NOT an afterthought!!

He is not someone we relinquish our battles to, after we’ve done all we can.

He’s fought every battle FOR us, up to this point.

And He promises that WE win, in the end!

So, that tells me that this battle is not really ME against a bunch of horses.

No.

This battle is HIS.

He fought every battle that threatened to keep us from heaven,

And He will fight all our horses, too.

We may feel like it’s too much.

We may feel like we are barely hanging on.

We may feel a bunch of different terrible things.

But THAT’S when you speak TRUTH to yourself…

NOT FEELINGS!

Feelings are born from the heart, which is “deceitful above all things”.

You may FEEL like these horses are far too fast to race.

That you can’t keep up…

That they are going to stomp on top of all that you hold dear.

And you may lose precious things along the way….

But you are not fighting alone!!

Jesus promises we WILL lose important stuff,

But we will NEVER lose HIM!

So….

Don’t.

Give.

Up.

Horses

I recently wrote a post called “Dear Satan,”.

After MUCH reflection and prayer, I kind of regret posting it.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I meant every word of it…

IN THAT MOMENT.

I felt healthy and “cleaned out”, somehow. Like when you do a colon cleanse or something.

You flush out all the toxins out of your body, and for awhile, you feel

CLEAN.

That’s how it was the day I puked all those harsh words out of myself.

TODAY…

I just sort of wish I would’ve written it all down in a journal or something, instead of pressing “publish”, allowing the whole world in on my temper tantrum!😄

I had some people gently correct me, and gave me verses for why they were doing so.

And I NEED people like that in my life, so don’t stop.

I said GENTLY.

😄😄😄😄😄

Now, I don’t know if it was spiritually “sound”, what I wrote, and I usually try really hard to do that, to be mindful in that way.

But what I DO know…

Is that it wasn’t COMPLETE.

Sometimes, we simply give Satan way too much credit.

Yeah, there ALOT of things that are totally his doing!

But.

He isn’t responsible for EVERY bad circumstance in my life.

It turns out I’m pretty talented at screwing my life up ALL ON MY OWN, thank you very much!

He can’t be held responsible for every bad choice we make.

He’s just not that powerful.

We make all these big and small decisions, every day…

And some of them have consequences that go on for YEARS.

And, neither God OR Satan had any say in the matter!

Sometimes, we just act or react, and there are natural repercussions that come from those choices.

I think I love to blame Satan for everything, because it is

SO EASY!

Who wants to accept responsibility for our own actions, when sometimes the result is

Failed relationships,

Legal punishments,

And countless other painful things?

Not me!

I LOVE having a scapegoat…

Someone ELSE to blame for all of my poor choices, and just plain old sin!

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

JAMES 1:14,15

Presently, I can see where I blurred the lines, between what was HIS fault,

And what was MINE.

So, if some of you were worried I was heading toward a nervous breakdown, don’t!😄

Because I’m going to be fine….

Because I now see the lines.❤

I Blurred The Lines

I never say this to ANYONE…

But I HATE you.

You have taken so much away from me!

You are so manipulative, and full of deceit.

You’ve been stealing so many things from me from the very beginning of my life!

First, you stole my confidence. You made me believe I would never do anything of value!

Then you stole my trust in people.

Then, you tried to steal my brain.

THEN, you tried on several occasions to steal my LIFE!!

YOU CAN’T HAVE ANYTHING ELSE!!!!!

You are such a LIAR!!!!

You steal and steal…

Until there’s nothing left to take.

You’ve killed my peace on more occasions than I can even count.

You’ve tried, and are STILL trying, to destroy my marriage!!

I am DONE!!!!!!!

You can’t get away with this…

ANYMORE!!!!

I’ve had it!!

You have destroyed relationships, marriages, health…

You’ve enticed people to think all is hopeless.

In fact, you have led people to take their own LIVES!!

Wow, I can’t tell you how much I hate you!!!

But Jesus hates you MORE.

And I would watch out, if I were you.

YOU DON’T MESS WITH GOD’S PEOPLE!!!

You’re DONE taking things from me!

YOU ARE DONE!!!!!

I’m so sick of your lies and all your insane wickedness!!

YOU. CAN’T. HAVE. ANYTHING. ELSE.

Do you hear me????

Yes, people, I am filled with rage! I absolutely HATE you, Satan!

You are DONE destroying me!

I have a Father who is infinitely more powerful than you,

And His rage and fury against you has been simmering since the beginning of time.

I can’t WAIT til the day comes when He puts you in your place.

I will laugh and laugh, and laugh some more!

Your day is coming, you yellow-bellied coward!!

Run and hide, you horrible chicken.

Run and hide.

Because He’s on His way. And with ONLY YOU,

He will show NO MERCY.

Get ready, you bloody devil.

Get ready.

Okay, I’m done. Rant is over.

“Dear” Satan,

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” -Leonardo DaVinci

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” -George Addair

17As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”

18-19 Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”

20 He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”

21 Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”

22 The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.

Mark 10:17

It’s funny how Jesus uncovered that “one thing” the man was unwilling to relinquish. He KNEW he would never give up all of his wealth….

So, tragically, he walked away from Jesus.

AND, he walked away from heaven, too.

All because he didn’t want to let go.

I’ll be very honest…

There is one area of my life I’m really struggling to hand over to God.

And it’s because of FEAR.

“What if I do what I KNOW I SHOULD do?”

“How will I be able to do it, when there are so many things I cannot do anymore?”

“What if it all blows up in my face???”

“What if….?”

I am learning that all other lessons God has and wants to teach me are completely on hold.

Until I give Him this

“One thing.”

Am I right?

Don’t you find that when you’re reading the Bible, you often are faced with the same conviction over and over to surrender that “one thing”?

It doesn’t matter what book in the bible you turn to…

It doesn’t matter what chapter you choose…

Everything seems to be about your “one thing”!

Or maybe it’s several things for you.

I believe He won’t teach us anything else until we’ve mastered the lesson in front of us.

Maybe, for you, it is something you KNOW is wrong, but you simply don’t want to change.

Maybe it is fear for what will happen if you do what He’s asked of you.

I don’t know.

But I know I don’t EVER want to be the person who turns his back on Jesus.

I don’t EVER want to be the one who chooses

Regret over risk.

I desperately want to be so much braver than I am.

And He, just as desperately, urgently desires for me to just take His hand…

To trust that the water will indeed become a floor for me to dance across…

To a freedom I’ve never known just yet.

I want to “hold tight” to just one thing…

Just one thing….

His mighty Hand.

Just One Thing

I’ve been with H2 Church (Higher Hope International Ministries) since the beginning, which is 20 years ago.

I’ve played the trumpet for the entire time.

About five years into it, I felt the need to teach myself how to play by ear, which means to play having no music…

To “create” the music that I played, while I was playing.

Did you know that the ENTIRE brain is activated and on fire when we play music?

And even MORE SO when we create the music as we play it?

I KNOW in my heart that the fact that I was “creating ” music all the time, prior to my stroke, was the one thing that might have saved my life when the stroke “struck “.

Music has been saving my life since the very beginning.

In seventh grade, I was just some kid who really wasn’t any good at

ANYTHING.

Until my music teacher, Mr. Gary Peterson, suggested I try playing the trumpet.

A classmate had to instruct me how to blow into the thing…

And then….

Surprisingly….

Beautiful sounds came out!

I was stunned to discover that there was something I was naturally good at.

I never had to “work” to sound good.

I just WAS good at it.

And all of a sudden, I became good at other things, too.

My grades drastically improved…

I began to develop that elusive thing called

Confidence!

And God’s used music over and over to save my life…

Again and again.

Every time someone hurts me, or my own body hurts me, God uses songs to hold me for as long as I need Him to.

I’ve needed Him to hold me ALOT lately.

I’ve been in constant, severe pain on my left side for the last two weeks. There have been moments when it felt like way too much.

But two nights ago, in the middle of the night, I’m pretty sure God sent me this song:

Bridge Over Troubled Water

When you’re weary, feeling small

When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all (all)

I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough

And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

When you’re down and out

When you’re on the street

When evening falls so hard

I will comfort you (ooo)

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes

And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl

Sail on by

Your time has come to shine

All your dreams are on their way

See how they shine

Oh, if you need a friend

I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will ease your mind

I know it’s seen as a “secular” song,

But everytime I hear it, it feels like a song Jesus is singing over me.

Over the broken and bruised parts of me….

Over the lost and lonely places…

He’s been “laying Himself down” for me from the very beginning.

He’s been “drying my tears” and “easing my mind” for just as long.

Jesus can sing the very best love songs,

And I’m hearing them all over the place!

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

More than anything else He will ever want us to know is just

HOW MUCH…

HOW DEEPLY….

HOW ETERNALLY

HE LOVES US.

He has MANY songs He plans to sing over me!

He has many songs for you, too.

If you will just

Listen.

My Bridge

A good friend of mine made the following statement the other day:

“Don’t make this pain about you.”

Most of us would probably have something to say about that.

“It’s MY body that is beat up.”

“It’s MY heart that is breaking.”

“It’s MY marriage that’s falling apart.”

“It’s MY family that’s going through this.”

“It’s MY children who are gone.”

“What do you mean, “don’t make this pain about me”??????????

It’s the easiest thing in the world to make the bad stuff that happens to me, about

ME.

It turns out it’s very difficult to look at the big picture of pain.

To value the fact that our lives touch OTHER lives….

To realize what is going on in YOU might be for the purpose to change or challenge OTHERS…

Or to conclude that our pain might in some way glorify the Father.

When Jesus suffered…

To HIM , it wasn’t about Him, but His heart and mind totally made it about US.

So, it makes sense that OUR sufferings should not be about us,

But Him!

MY healing isn’t all that God cares about.

My happiness in this life is actually NOT one of His major goals!

I have a friend named Pam. She has a son who was incarcerated around the age of 19. He was charged with something minor, a charge which most would receive probation. Somehow, along the road other charges piled up, some of which were not his doing.

Bottom line:

He spent TEN years in prison!!

He was recently released, which was something our church had prayed about for years and years.

Imagine that.

Your firstborn son, your baby, has now been locked up with drug dealers, murderers, and rapists.

The one who, when he was a baby, you worried might swallow a penny, was now far away, and there was absolutely NOTHING you could do to protect his body or his heart from all the pain he was going to face.

Mother’s do NOT like to be helpless!!

It’s one of the worst feelings in the world for ANY mother.

But for Pam, I imagine that wound is deep.

Wait guys!

That’s not the end of the story!

During the last ten years, Pam began working with a prison ministry with young female inmates.

She has witnessed MANY come to know Christ. She gets to pray with these girls, pour her love into them on a regular basis.

I’m sure Pam had many dark days during those ten years.

Despair and worry for her son’s safety and well being probably consumed her some nights.

But she worked tirelessly with young women.

Maybe she couldn’t touch her son, but she could touch these women.

So, she DID!

Pam didn’t stay stuck…

She used her broken heart to help OTHERS.

She did not make her pain about HER.

I think she knew God had MUCH in store for her because of her pain.

He has the same bright and shining, God-glorifying plans in store for us, when we decide to unfold from the fetal position of pain, and embrace the fact that THIS PAIN…

This terrible, torturing pain is about so much more than just me or just you!!

God has crazy, mighty, INSANE ways of using our little, private pain to defeat the Enemy….

And to increase God’s great and amazing glory!!!

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

2 Timothy 2: 10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

2 Corinthians 1:3-11

It’s Not About You!