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Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category

The Fallen Pastor

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Yesterday I received the book, “Fallen Pastor” in the mail.  I got my copy early because I did a pre-order on the book and knew about it from the inception.  The reason?  I’m privileged to know Ray Carroll personally.  We met through the wonderful blogging community about 2 years ago, and have been great friends since then.  He is a former Southern Baptist Pastor who had a fall from grace, and lived to tell about it – but more than that, He lived to write about it, help others, speak, minister and be a living breathing reminder of God’s amazing grace.  His journey has taken him to hell and back again – and he is able to help others with what mistakes he made, and what mistakes others made in dealing with the prevalent problem of moral failure in the church today – especially among pastors.

Ray is happily married to Allison and provides hope, help, advice and counsel for those who are suffering with secrets, pride, or failure of any kind.  Ray is down to earth, funny, practical and has found a ministry through the written word.  This experience has broken his heart, humbled him and made him a human being again after years of being full of pride and arrogance.  I deeply respect him, his great love for people, his beautiful wife and children.

If you would like to read this great book of hope and inspiration, you can order it from Amazon.com right here: Fallen Pastor

You can also follow him on his blog The Fallen Pastor as he journeys through life on the other side of failure – where grace and forgiveness are waiting.

I’m proud of you, Ray.  You are an inspiration to others who are hurting.  Thank you.

God Bless

Do you want to be Right? Or Be Restored?

This is an article I wrote a couple of years ago and thought I would repost it today.  It is still applicable in my life today – as I am still learning and on a journey of self discovery.

Be kind to one another with a brother’s love, putting others before yourselves in honor    Romans 12:10

That is indeed the question.  Have you ever known anyone like this in your life?  As long as they’re right – and have the last word they are happy.  Well at least they feel like they’re happy.

You see “being right” does not necessarily bring closure and restoration to an unresolved issue.  It can just create a wedge between people.  I’ve had to back down on things myself over the years – even when I knew I was right.  Relationships with people in our lives are way more important than arguing over the finer points – the “he said – she said” games could go on forever – if we allow it.

Being right is an “attitude”.  And when you are in the people restoring business – you sometimes have to put this “attitude” aside.  It can blind you and cause everything from a past or present situation to have a certain “slant” – as you can only see things one way.  The right way.  Your way.

I would submit to you – that there are ALWAYS two sides to a story and situation in life.  Because people are different and rarely look at things the same way.

It comes down to this:  how much do you value relationships in your life?  Do people mean something to you – even if they mess up?  Do you say, “They hurt me – they messed up – I am so disillusioned and can’t forgive them – I know I am RIGHT”  I know I have.  Why?  Because I love to be right.  And so do you.  People hurt me – have hurt me – will continue to hurt me in the future.  What do I do with this???  Bristle and pull in – never allow anyone near me again??  Argue and argue??  Even bring in a few other people to hear my point of view – so they can tell me how right I am too?  That would be silly.  But people do this.  I have been guilty of doing this myself.  It IS easier to be right.  Way easier.   But NO.  I love people.  I have decided that I will not do this anymore.  It means holding my tongue.  It means submitting.  It means MY story may never be told.  And just how “right” I am – will never be known.  My friends are more valuable to me than being “right”.

Being restored is the right thing to do – it’s also the hardest.  Why?  Because we have to humble ourselves – admit that we are not always right.  We have to face the truth about ourselves.  We have to face the ones that hurt us.  We have to come to grips with the “eye ball – to eye ball” encounter from the one that hurt us most.  No burying it under the carpet – no running and hiding – no refusing to revisit it – but really facing it.  Accept that we are not perfect either.  Ouch!!!  Facing something head on that’s very hard – takes a real Man or Woman.

My husband just recently had to face a situation where he could have taken the position of “being right” or “being restored” and he chose the later.  He chose wisely.  And I know that God will bless his life because of this.  He is free because of it.  It’s caused us to really have great discussion.  Being right – or being restored.

Which one are you?  Do you stubbornly “hold on” to your opinion – a never ending “blame game”?  Stunted and bound up by your own “principles” and “ideals” about people?  Is being “right” more important than anything else or anyone else?  Or are you a lover of people?  Do you have grace for people in your life to “mess up”?  Do you “allow” for others to “mess up” – do you have the capacity to understand it?  Do you constantly “cite” examples of how you are so right – and they are so wrong?  Are you free of sin in your own life?  Can you honestly see things from another perspective?  Reach and restore – forgive and don’t care who’s right or wrong?  Can you put your own feelings aside – and prefer other people?  Are you Christ like?  Do you just ooze with love and mercy.  Are your friends that important to you?

Jesus is the great “restorer”.  He desires health and happiness for you today.  He is the only one that can truly bring people together – melt the heart – bring you to your knees and do the deep work in your life.  If you are in a “situation” now that is unresolved – ask the Lord to “melt your heart” – help you to see things another way – ask Him to help you forgive and love the ones that have hurt you so deeply.  Make that step toward reconciliation – don’t wait for them.  Believe that He has a testimony in this “situation” for you some day – health, encouragement and healing for someone else.

Be restored.  Love people.  You will be a more blessed and happier person.

In what ways would you rather be right, then be restored?  Is being right more important than having relationship with others?  Do you know anyone like this?

Praying for you today.

God Bless

The Value of Past Experience

Reason-C++

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We go through something.  Sometimes it’s REALLY BAD.  And we think, “Why is this happening to me?” – or sometimes we don’t think that – we just blindly accept it as our lot in life.

But I truly believe there is much more.  There IS a reason.  Sometimes we don’t see it until months or even years later.  Sometimes we never really know the reason – but I’d like to think that we always have a choice when hit with adverse situations.  Give in to the negative voices in our head that say, “just give up – it isn’t worth fighting” OR learn from it – change our course – go another direction away from the pain, humiliation or gut wrenching yuck.

I’ve had so many of these situations – that at the time I thought were the end of the world.  But later turned out to be – well – valuable, insightful, great information for someone else going through exactly the same thing.

I have some friends, Ray and Allison Carroll – who recently went through a touchy situation – very painful to say the least and they have shown great courage in telling their story through their blog articles.  They have found God’s grace and mercy in living and telling their story of failure and of redemption – so that others can be encouraged and learn from them – to show people who fail, sin, miss the mark entirely that God has not given up on them – that there is enough of God’s grace, mercy and love to take a dead and broken life, clean it up and give a new start.  Our Savior – the God of second chances – working through people in our ordinary lives – who make mistakes and are truly not worthy to be called righteous.  He uses those past experiences to bring clarification – reveal who He is – and give purpose and understanding.  As long as we are willing to change our heart, to share our story and to be an encouragement to others.

Case and point:  The other day my 19-year-old son came home from work feeling really weird.  His mouth was numb and so were his fingers – he was talking strangely too.  He said, “Mom, I’m freaking out right now – what’s wrong with me”?  I tried to be calm and think rationally, knowing of course he was too young and in shape to be having a stroke or a heart attack.  All I could think of was that he needed food and water – and I asked him how long had it been since he had anything to eat or drink.  I wondered, could severe hydration cause this?  While he was eating and drinking – and eating a banana too – just in case – I googled it.  Greg is ALWAYS gone when any and all domestic emergencies come up and I was mumbling under my breath – ‘where IS your father?‘  Let’s see… what causes numbing?  I was not finding anything conclusive.  I thought I was going to have to take him to the ER if something didn’t change soon.  But he did feel a little better after eating and drinking – said he was really tired and went to bed.

Not 30 minutes later – he came out of his bedroom saying he had the WORST HEADACHE in the world!  Then it dawned on me!  I know what this is!  And although I had not had these exact symptoms before – I knew about them and it was clearly a Migraine Headache.  The really bad kind.  I knew because of my past experience with them.  I get them so bad that I’m vomiting and lose a whole day.  Pretty soon – he was doing the same thing in the bathroom – but at least now I had a fresh perspective.  I gave him ice for his head and a bucket for beside his bed – just in case.  I could tell him there was no need to go anywhere – he was not going to die – he would just feel like it!  It was too late for pain pills – he would just throw them up anyway.  And even though the pain was bad and it’s never fun to up-chuck – at least I was able to reassure him – because I knew too well what was happening to him.

Now, am I glad I have had REALLY PAINFUL Migraine headaches?  Are you kidding me?  But did it help to diffuse a panic in my home?  Yes.  Would I have known otherwise?  No way.  I would have thought he was having a stroke or worse – maybe a tumor pressing on his cornea that was making his eyes not see clearly.  Oh the carnage that would have ensued – the money that would have been spent – only to find out – it was only a migraine.

I will take painful situations if they will help me or someone I love in the future.  I will not like them.  In fact I will HATE them.  But I will learn from them and ask myself – who can benefit from my pain?

How about you?  Who can benefit from your pain today?

God Bless

Soul Surfer

Last Sunday Greg and I went to see the highly recommended true story “Soul Surfer“.  I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe some cheesy “B” film with a dramatic and whiny theme – but I was amazed instead to actually be moved beyond belief.

This film is about real life hero – Bethany Hamilton, a surfer since she could walk – living in Hawaii with her family – already famous on the Island for the way she could ride the surf at a young age.  A fierce competitor who lived in the water and who was herself, fearless.  She had a promising future ahead of her until one day while surfing with some friends – she was attacked by a shark, who actually bit her left arm completely off.  But the story does not end there – in tragedy and darkness – dashed hopes and dreams, the story is more about her miraculous recovery and ever-growing faith in God to get her through the darkest and most challenging time of her young life.

It is a story of ultimate victory over adversity – life from death and renewed determination when life goes sideways.  It is a story that could  put all of us to shame – those of us who whine and complain about life’s woes – with two good arms.

I love how she finally finds her purpose and reason for going on – to be an inspiration to others – her famous quote at the end of the movie – “I can embrace more people now – with one arm”  Simply amazing.

I encourage you to see this film – if you yourself have ever doubted God – ever wondered why things happen as they do – wonder what God’s plan is and purpose in your life when you suffer, experience loss and try desperately to hold on to your faith.  It will touch you – inspire and amaze you – and you will never be the same.

Below, in an interview while the film was in production – is the real Bethany Hamilton.  Her words will  encourage you and her positive approach to life with inspire you today.

God Bless

Silent Night

During exercise Joint Resolve 26, in Bosnia an...

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Just saw a true story called ‘Silent Night’ starring Linda Hamilton – set in WWII time – Germany.  It was a story from a little boy’s perspective just before the end of the war.  A German mother and her son fled to a family cabin away from their German town.  Just as they were settling in – three American soldiers broke in and used the cabin for a ‘hospital’ for a wounded soldier.  Then shortly after three German soldiers came upon the cabin.  The woman (Elisabeth) insisted that they keep their weapons outside if they were to use her cabin for shelter – calling it a ‘neutral zone’ – and amazingly THEY DID!

I was touched by this story of strength and courage from this woman – who at first feared for her life and the life of her son – but who ended up literally bringing peace and love into that small cabin  preparing a meal for them and taking care of the wounded man.  The atmosphere and influence of a warm and caring woman – was felt by all the men.  And they all changed that night.  The war was left outside for Christmas – and common ground between the men – fighting on opposite sides was discovered.  It was Christmas Eve and as Elisabeth prepared soup for the hungry men – each of them had something special to add to the meal from their rations – and one American officer even had ‘presents’ – chocolate for the young boy and young German soldier (about 15 years old) and a french soap wrapped in a little box for Elisabeth – which very much moved her.

What could have been a very tragic and bloody night for all of them – ended up being a very different night in that cabin as they exchanged words and stories with each other.  And later the young German soldier sang ‘Silent Night’ beside a modest little Christmas tree.   It was a night that Elisabeth and her son remembered for the rest of their lives.

I was thinking about this remarkable woman as I watched this.  Would I have been so brave?  Could I have brought peace into a hostile situation?  Can one person really make a difference?  Yes.  I believe they can.  I believe I can.  I believe you can too.

Are you one that brings peace in the midst of a storm?  Do you bring a calming effect to people in your world?  A healing balm?  An atmosphere of true humility and graciousness?  Do you seek out good in everyone – can you look past the ugly things – try not to blame or cast judgment?  Only think the best and try to encourage, embrace and love?

I pray that you will be one to shine your light – make difficult things better – lighten the load for others that carry a heavier burden.

After all – this is the Gospel Message.  Good News.  Great Tidings of Joy.  Jesus came to redeem, love, and win back what was lost.  You and me.

 

I am praying special blessings on you this day after Christmas!

 

God Bless

 

 

Another Year Of Celebration

Christmas in the post-War United States

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Today is a two-year anniversary for my husband and me.  A very personal anniversary for us that started with an ordinary day – a much-needed phone call and participation in a wedding  – and ended up with a great loss, confusion  and many questions.

Time and distance has put new perspective on many things – including that day.  But sadly, not even the marriage that Greg performed on that fateful day – has lasted. It’s almost like the whole day was fated to just be  ‘one of those days’.

But memories linger anyway – and help us fill in the blanks where we are left to wonder – and left to fill  in the empty silent spots.  This can be dangerous – and not very accurate as I’ve recently found out – but sometimes – this is all we can do.  It is better to take the ‘no harm – no blame’ philosophy – rather than point fingers.  And there’s something about this season of the year – and the cold weather that reminds me once again.

And as the Grinch says to Cindy Lou Who in “The Grinch” – as they are speeding recklessly down the hill, ‘Even if we’re HORRIBLY mangled – there will be NO sad faces at Christmas‘.

And so that is exactly how we feel.  barely escaping being ‘horribly mangled‘ – we have gone on – dealt with loss and misunderstanding – and purposed to be our own people and have our own say in things – even when it was not popular to do so.  We’ve kept our unique perspective – and worked it out – our way.  And we won’t apologize for that.   And the way we look at it now after 2 years is this:   No harm done – lesson learned – and another year to celebrate God‘s goodness, protection and provision in our lives.

And so – here’s to another year of celebration.  We wave goodbye once again to the past, fear, ignorance and denial.  And we warmly embrace goodness, love, forgiveness and truth.

Happy Anniversary to us.  We made it. ♥

God Bless

Mercy

Two candles in love. The flame is inverted hea...

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My heart is stirred today in much emotion – a heavy heart over events and situations that have lately affected my life and made it difficult to press on.  A difficult season of life – with many things out of my control – leaving deep sadness,  remorse – and resignation.

Our pastor, Stephen Collins, spoke on the subject of ‘Mercy’ today.  And although it is a subject that is not new to me – or any people of faith  – I believe  I heard newness in this simple message today – things that I will continue to ponder in the coming weeks.  I found myself very emotional.  This is a subject that is close to my heart and life.  And so with tears streaming down my face – I sat there and took it all in – and allowed the Lord to minister sweet words of comfort and blessing.  I was touched and moved beyond words.

I’ve noticed something about people who are merciful. – they are the first ones to forgive, love, embrace and welcome back,  those who are lost or fallen away.  They have no trouble accepting forgiveness or giving it.  They do not accuse and blame.  They have tender hearts – and they understand the value of mercy – because God has shown mercy to them.  They are also the happiest and most positive people in the world – with many friends.  Their friends trust them – and turn to them when they are in trouble – with no fear of judgment of alienation.  These are people who have been forgiven.

We’ve been watching ‘A Christmas Carol’  – I was noting how Scrooge shows no mercy at the beginning of the story – and then after being shown his life by the ‘spirits’ – he begins to see others and himself in a new light.  The Scrooge story is a story of mercy.  A story of second chances and a new lease on life – a valuable reminder to all of us to remember that when you show mercy to others – others will be merciful.  And it is interesting to note – that the nephew and employee of Scrooge have merciful hearts and embrace him without question – at the beginning of the story – when he is NOT merciful – and later as he is transformed at the end of the story.  No questions – no judgment – no criteria.  Just open arms of love and mercy.

I want to be one that shows mercy – even when I feel as though others have judged me and not understood me – or shown mercy to me.  I want to be the first to say, ‘I understand, I forgive, I love’.  And leave it at that.  No questions asked.  No hesitation.  No disbelief.  Just love and mercy.

Help me Lord to be that kind of person.  Help me to get over myself, my pride, my hurt and pain.  Help me to let go of others that have wronged me – those who have no understanding that their words and actions have wounded me more than they will ever know – and help me to forgive them and show mercy. For I am very aware that if I do not show mercy to others who have failed – or not done what I think they should, then you will not show mercy to me.  Help me to walk with a pure clean heart – free of agenda – free of revenge.  Help me to see others through your eyes.  Amen.

God Bless

How To Find And Keep A Woman

Sean Connery at the 2008 Edinburgh Internation...

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I was challenged today (and I love a challenge) by my friend and pastor, Stephen Collins – to write an article to ‘piggyback’ on my article from yesterday, ‘How to Find and keep a Man’.  This time – this one is for all you men out there – wanting to learn some basic ‘secrets’ about women.

Greg and I have been reading the book (our 10th time or so) “The Truth Will Set You Free – But First It Will Make You Miserable” by the late Jaime Buckingham.  In one chapter he talks about the subject of virility of men – and baldness in particular. His writing is humorous and insightful – hearing what men really think about their manliness – how loss of hair affects their feeling of youth and purpose, and dealing with insecurity – either correctly brought on by others – or self-imposed.

I stopped Greg in the middle of the chapter – and said, “Why are men so hung up on losing their hair? – Some of the best looking men – in my opinion have no hair at all!  Patrick Stewart of ‘Star Trek Next Generation‘, Chris Daughtry, of the band, ‘Daughtry’ – Andre Agassi, Vin Diesel, Billy Zane, Bruce WillisSean Connery – to name just a few.  These men exude confidence – and that has NOTHING to do with whether they have hair or not.  And no woman would say they are NOT sexy.

Anyway – I digress.  Back to the subject at hand.  If you are a man – how do you understand, and more importantly win a woman and keep her?

Women aren’t so complicated.  I think there has been much dialogue on this topic over the years.  I think they are more emotional than men are for sure – but basically there are some basic needs and a smart man knows how to meet them.  And a smart man – has just learned to listen more and learn from others who get it wrong.

What should you be looking for?  If you want a long-term relationship – here are some things to watch out for.

1. A woman worth having is one that can adapt to change. I say this because there are many changes throughout life and marriage.  This is the woman who can love you past your enlarging mid-section and loss of hair.  The woman who thinks you get better looking as you age.  The one who will not get squeamish at the first sign of change, both physically or emotionally.

2. Make sure she has a great sense of humor. You’re going to find that this one quality may save your marriage some day.  Can she laugh at herself?  Take a joke?  Not take herself or you too seriously?  Then you may have a winner here.  So many women start out with a sense of humor – but quickly lose it when life becomes serious.  And nothing can make you lose it faster than having children, family issues, financial stresses, external relationships and aging.  Some woman lose it and never get it back again.  The ability to laugh is HUGE.  If she is great fun to be around and can see humor in anything – you may have a winner.  Don’t give her a reason NOT to laugh.  Give her permission to see the ‘lighter’ side of life.

3.  Beauty is fleeting – don’t choose her because she’s ‘hot’. Now I KNOW I’m treading on very thin ice here – so I will just say that the curvy blond that you fall in love with – just may put on a few (okay – maybe more) pounds after having children and may NEVER look like she once did when you first met her.  Now for some of you men – this is a real problem. I’ve even seen it in some members of my family – the man will INSIST that the woman always be on a diet – or NEVER cut her hair.  All in the attempt to keep the woman the way he first saw her and fell in love.  News flash:  Women always know if you love her just the way she is – or if you have conditions on your love. Even is she pretends she does not.  Don’t be one of those men.  Love her exactly the way she is.  And communicate this clearly with how you treat her.  She should always feel like she is the most precious and beautiful woman in the world – to you.  If you do not – believe me – she knows.

And when you have found her – the perfect woman – here are some tips on how you can be sure to keep her.

1. Treat her with respect. She is not the housekeeper or the cook – or *gasp* – your property. She is your partner.  And although I believe the woman sets the tone for respect in the relationship – (please see my article from yesterday) it is also the man’s responsibility as protector and head of the house to set the tone of respect with the woman he loves.  This will do a couple of things.  First, if a woman is treated with the proper amount of respect from her husband – she will do ANYTHING  for him.  And I mean anything.  And secondly, you will become the ‘hero’ in her life and you will feel like a better man because of her.  You will be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound – all because of giving her the proper respect.  If a woman is disrespected by the man who is supposed to (and who has signed up to)  love, honor and cherish her, she will quickly withhold love, respect and honor from him.  I have seen this happen in too many marriages.  You cannot afford to disrespect and dishonor your woman.  It will have terrible repercussions on you for years to come.  And she will not love you physically the way you want or need her to.  Woman are funny that way – they must be emotionally cared for first – before they can give physical love. It is much easier for you men to separate the emotional from the physical.  Remember – she is not a man – or one of your guy friends and you cannot treat her disrespectfully (like you do with your friends) and then expect that she will respond to you in a passionate way.  Woman’s brains do not work that way.  They do not compartmentalize ANYTHING.  Everything touches and affects EVERYTHING else.  All things must be right and healthy in her world first – before anything else.

2. Listen to her heart. This sounds so silly to most men.  Good grief – I married her didn’t I?  Why do I have to ‘listen’ to her?  She’s so emotional – she just needs to think and be more like a man – then all would be well.  This kind of thinking will get you into big trouble.  And as I stated in my last article – if you don’t think she’s worth listening to – or find her valuable enough to hear what’s going on in her heart – then someone else (who has learned the emotional secret to women better than you) will be there – willing and able to step in for you.  Don’t be stupid.  It happens ALL THE TIME.

3.  Encourage her hopes and dreams. Any woman worth having and keeping has hopes and dreams – some that she’s afraid to even speak out loud – but they are there.  Let her talk about them.  Key in on her and let her tell you about them.  Don’t interrupt – or worse yet –  be too busy for her.  Make the time to really listen.  Don’t try to ‘fix’ or dictate your own agenda.  Most men make the mistake of trying to ‘set her straight’ – or trying to ‘fix the problem’ because men are problem solvers.  Women don’t always need a problem solved – they just want the right to be heard.  And they need someone to understand them.  When you – her husband won’t do this – you are setting yourself up for HUGE problems.  Treat her like she is the most valuable thing in the world – and she will return it.  That’s a guarantee.

Woman love ‘little things’ done for them or with them in mind.  They love getting notes, gifts, flowers – it doesn’t really matter – it’s the thought behind it that really melts us.  We are deeply moved by a sensitive man who will move heaven and earth to be with us – and like my pastor and friend, Stephen said to me yesterday – ‘a man will run through a brick wall’ for the right woman who loves him and respects him.  So true.  And likewise – a woman with the love of a man like that – will do anything for him.

I love it when Greg will call me up when he’s out on a business call – and say, ‘I’m on my way home – are you available to have a coffee break with me?’  OH YES!!  I also love dates – either long evenings together – dinner and a movie – or just going somewhere together and taking a walk and talking together.

I know I am probably leaving many things out – but these are the most crucial to keeping a woman.  A smart woman knows a good thing when she has it – even if she may sometimes forget.  Be that man who reminds her – by treating her like she deserves to be treated.  This is the best way to ‘affair proof’ your marriage – when this happens so much today.

I pray God’s richest blessings on your relationships!

God Bless

It Is What It Is

A warm embrace

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The longer that I live – the more I am convinced of two things:

1) I have WAY more questions than answers.

and

2) God is the one who adds and subtracts people from our lives.

To address point #1 – let me just say that I think this stinks – BIG TIME.  I’m a ‘give me an answer’ kind of girl.  Everything must happen for a reason – Every question should have an answer – every conflict should be able to be resolved – ask a simple question – get a simple answer etc, etc.  But this is clearly NOT the case when talking about complex people and complicated situations.  Unfortunately we allow things to be WAY more complicated than they need to be – but  it always comes down to this:

It is what it is.

And like the Billy Joel song I have posted below, that I love and can relate to in many ways, ‘And so it goes, and so it goes, and you’re the only one who knows.’  It is clear that we are not meant to know all the answers and…

Sometimes…

It is what it is

And so it goes.

To #2 – I simply say this:  God does amazing things in our lives behind the scenes.  I am proof of  that.  Just when I’ve needed a certain personality in my world – He  positioned someone kind and accepting to help me through a dark and sad time of struggle.  And though it’s been said before – it bears repeating: Sometimes it is only for a season. And then – the next thing I know – they are gone – removed from my life like a distant echo of the past.  I miss them – their presence and difference they made in my life – the laughter and the happy times – so I mourn.  But only for a while.  Then something amazing will happen – another friend will step in who has ‘like mindedness’ and fills a gap in my wounded heart – and you know it’s a God thing.  These friends are the ones who stay. Bringing laughter, hope and understanding into my daily world.

But sometimes there are those who do damage on their way out of my life.  To those that do this – slam a ‘proverbial door’ as they leave my world – hide behind other people – blame – point fingers and run away – and allow themselves to adopt a mindset of distance and silence – believing things that they know deep down inside are not true – this makes me the most sad.   I believe it is those individuals that are missing out on God’s richest blessings of forgiveness and full reconciliation. They have bought into a lie:  That some things cannot be healed – some things cannot be forgiven.  And they will never know how their wounded and broken heart can be healed by the wonderful love and forgiveness of a lost friendship.  They will never know that those they have desperately tried to cut out of their lives – are the very ones that will be able to answer the questions for them and begin the healing process – and they will never know that these are the ones that will forgive and allow them to start over. Helping them to truly make sense of what went wrong in the first place.  That is a ‘God thing’ when it is done right – when hearts are soft and pliable – and people are ready to put the past finally and completely behind them.

But in the end –

It is what it is.

And so it goes.

I have been given a gift.  I have been forgiven.  And God’s richest blessings are now in my life.  I’m not perfect – I’ve blown it big time – but He’s allowed me to share in the gift of struggle – to understand myself and those around me.  And because He has lavishly poured His love out on me  – I can love and forgive you – and welcome you with open arms – even if you have wronged me.

I am praying God’s richest blessing on your life – that you will find that the  blessed additions and subtractions in your life – those that are there – or not there are for a reason – and is for a higher purpose than you know.  Although there are not always answers to the questions – there is always a reason. And forgiveness and reconciliation is always possible with God. Don’t give up.  Always trust, hope and believe – that there will be answers to the questions – one day.

God Bless

Are You Happy?

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by Jame...

Image via Wikipedia

Heard another great message from our pastor, Stephen Collins yesterday morning.  He has begun a series on “The Beatitudes”.  This question was asked:

Are you happy?  Is this really what you want?  Will that alone satisfy you long-term?  When feelings change and emotions are fickle?

The most profound statement came in the middle of the message.  ‘When we settle for just being happy – we aim too low’ – missing out on God’s blessing in our lives’. Sometimes, God doesn’t want us to be happy.  Sometimes there are lessons in the ‘gift’ of pain and hardship in our lives.  The most significant changes in our heart and character come when life is not ‘happy’ – but dark and sad.

For me – I know this is a true statement – and sums up just what I have learned and lived through over the past 2 years – as I grew and discovered God’s ‘gift’ of hard times, both personally, in my relationships  and spiritually.

If we accept the ‘gift’ in the way it is intended – then God can do His greatest work in us – bringing us more than just ‘happiness’ – but a blessed and meaningful life And sometimes what may feel like the end of the world – may only be the beginning of a great and rewarding life.

Are you happy?  Is that what you really want?  Or do you want more?  Do you want God’s rich blessing poured out in your life.  I know I do.  I want to reap the reward of choosing to do the right thing – when doing that goes against everything I may be feeling.  It means doing right by people and relationships – and being the right person. Living by character and integrity – rather than emotions.  And when I do stray away and don’t choose what is right – at least initially – then knowing how to get back on the right path – hard as it is – to reconcile and fix it – and keep my heart open.

I am more than happy.  I am blessed. I understand this now – but it took a couple of hard lessons to really believe it.  I’m blessed with a wonderful family, a man who loves me with everything that he is –  and friendships that mean everything to me.  What I lost – God has richly replaced – and has taught me a great many lessons in the process.  Things I could not have learned – just by following my heart and emotions because I ‘wanted to be happy’.  When we see life as a journey – and know that there is a much bigger picture than just personal happiness – we will not want to aim so low.

Are you happy?  Are you wishing for more than that?  I invite you to share in some hard times – and think of them as a ‘gift’ – an added blessing to enhance your character and integrity.  I wish you more than happiness, my friend.  I wish you a life of blessing and purpose – a holy calling in which you give up ‘personal happiness’ for something richer and deeper.  To see people the way that God sees them.  To understand there is a lost world out there – and your unique gifts have placed you right where you are – to influence those that He has entrusted to you.  Use them today.

Be more than just ‘happy’ – be blessed and be a blessing to those in your life.

 

God Bless

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