To write or not to write…

I also thought of entitling this post, “Ooops, I did it again!”  Seems to be a theme for me. I know I need to write, so I go to write only to fall into the same traps that keep me from publishing it. As I have written in the past, I am to write. For many reasons: It helps me organize my thoughts and process the things around me, it is a release for me, it keeps my grammar skills sharp, and lastly and most importantly to me, I hope it encourages others. The problems I run into are: 1) I get so caught up in trying to sound intelligent and being creative and interesting that I sometimes don’t publish the post because it’s just not right or 2) I feel like I am being selfish and lazy for doing something I love instead of…cleaning house, taking care of ?whatever?, so I don’t make time for it.  Actually that is only half true. I do set aside time on my calendar, I just don’t actually take the time.

For I do not do the good I want to do,
but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

 

A great example happened on Tuesday……………….(See! Not good sentence structure there. Technically you are to only use 3 dots, but I like to be a little more dramatic and want you all to feel the pause.) Anyway on Tuesday, well actually I need to go back to Sunday when the Lord loving let me know it was okay to do the housework later and to DO what He has called me to do now.  I needed to write and He wanted me to write. He showed me how I was allowing other things – that are important no doubt – to get in the way of doing what I am called to do. So, I set aside Tuesday as a day to write. And knowing who I am and how easily distracted and rationalizing I can be I looked for a local coffee shop to take my laptop because if I stayed at home I would see all that needed to be done and would’ve been torn.

On Tuesday, I arrived at the shop and ordered an iced coffee, sat down, plugged in my machine, and started typing. It was a post I have been thinking about for a while now on friendship. It was my desire to convey that life is hard and being a “in person” friend is important. That having friends is good, having friends physically present in your life – if not daily, at least weekly – is best. Why? because doing life with someone who is there, physically there, for you and you for them, makes life more…exciting, easier to handle, less mundane or monotonous, it also gives accountability. I was going to warn them not to forgo getting together often with a group of friends and not make the excuses I did of not having time, or not letting them come over because my house was a mess – I did have 4 (FOUR) boys and only 2 hands. I wanted to let people know that if they neglect friendships, those friendships will become acquaintances and eventually you get to a point in your life where you will want and have time for the physically there friends and you won’t find any. You may have a million friends on social media, but none in person. And finding new friends is…………..hard.

That is what I wanted to type…(sigh)…but instead I got caught up with how intelligent it sounded, and the reasonings behind my warnings and how interesting it was that the article started being…so not what I wanted it to be. And typical me, when an opportunity to be distracted came along, I took it and gave up on the post. And I rationalized it away with – it just wasn’t flowing, I will get back to it when the time is right.  Yeah, ha, I have 5 unfinished posts right now. FIVE.

So here I am writing this as a confession and a declaration that I will write. I will post blogs. I am not sure anyone will read them, but I will write anyway.  I write to encourage others, but a lot of the time it is myself I encourage. You see, I like to go back and read earlier posts from time to time to remind myself of all that God has shown me. I think I am just going to make it a Journal as such.  I will keep it open for others to read because I hope you may get some enlightening and encouragement from it as well.

In this, I will try not to try so hard, and just let it flow…

_________________

Even now I am finding it hard to hit publish because it doesn’t seem right…unfinished, unrefined, without purpose…yet I know this was more about doing what I know I need to do and not falling into old traps… Am I alone here?

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Almost

AlmostPurpleMan

I stood there looking at the paper on the bulletin board for my name. I knew it just had to be there this time.  I had practiced and practiced. I had finally learned how to do a back-walkover. I put in a lot of time shouting out cheers and practicing the jumps and moves of said cheers. I was almost good enough the previous year, so surely this year would be a different result. My try-out went well – at least I felt good about it. But as I continued to go down the list of names my heart began to sink. Nope, I hadn’t made the Cheerleading team again.  Well, they don’t know what they missed out on!!  I turned around and started to walk down the long hallway.  I was almost to the restroom where I could let go of the thunderstorm brewing in my soul, when I heard some of my seventh grade friends rejoicing over being chosen. When I reached the doorway, I turned around to see “the chosen” celebrating. “Humph!!” I turned towards the door, when it opened and the cheer coach was standing directly in front of me. I gave her the best “You mean nothing to me and I didn’t want to be on your stupid squad anyway” face. She smiled.
“Judi, I want you to know, You were really good this year. You almost made the team…You just weren’t loud enough. Please keeping working on it and try out again next year.”  That is what she said. But I heard, “Judi,…………….almost…………weren’t loud.”

Ha! Not loud enough?! Me?! Who do you think you are talking to lady?! I wasn’t allowed into a good friend’s house sometimes because I was too loud!! -yes that is true- That was the day I determined in my heart I would be heard from then on. You wouldn’t almost hear me. You would hear me!! Loud and clear!!

Almost. This word has always haunted me. Almost. Almost loud enough. Almost there. I almost won. I was almost persuaded. I almost made it.  Almost – but not quite. I almost did it. I almost sent that card. I almost called them. I almost reached out. I thought about it. I talked about it. I almost…so many things. Almost, but…life happened and I didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t.  Well it is the thought that counts right?

I recently heard a great message about that. The speaker was talking about Christianity. And how we need to be making Christianity an action word not a noun. In other words, putting our good thoughts and righteous talk into practice and not almost doing something, but actually doing it.  Because you see, at the end of the day, God isn’t going to say, “Well thought” or “Well said” to his servants. No, there is only one commendation and it’s this, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

Well DONE. I want to hear that, don’t you?

TalentUsed

I don’t know about you but I want to get rid of the almost in my life as much as I can. I want to start turning my good thoughts into good deeds done.  I have learned that “I almost ____” inevitably turns into “If only I had.”

So I am going to get up and get going. Afterall, I (we) have this encouragement and assurance from scripture, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

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Side Notes:
• You don’t tell the fourth child of five that they aren’t loud or that they can’t be heard; you are only asking for trouble.
• I am not a proponent of “everyone makes the team” because if someone isn’t good at a sport or activity, it doesn’t do them any good to make them think they are. They may make the team but then they just sit on the bench or worse they cause their team not to win.
• Truth is, when put in front of a crowd I do go strangely quiet. If you ever want me to shut it, just put me on a stage.
• I have matured to realize when my opinion needs to be heard and when being quiet is more effective. Well… almost.

_____________________

I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or questions you may have. I do filter all comments, so it may take a while for them to show up. I will also try to answer any questions quickly and as best as I am able. May God bless you – Judi

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Believing vs. Faith

 – I originally blogged this in November 2016 and it mysteriously disappeared.-

A crowd of over 25,000 spectators on the morning of June 30, 1859 stood on the American and Canadian side of Niagara Falls, to watch a man cross the falls on a thin rope not even an inch thick, without a safety net. The tightrope walker, a short and thin man who had an ego much larger than himself, was named Charles Blondin. That afternoon, dressed in pink tights and leather shoes and carrying a 50 pound, 26 foot long balancing pole, he started to cross the Falls. He walked boldly and confidently half way across. Then, much to the horror of the crowd, he sat down and drank some wine. He promptly got up and ran the rest of the way across. After a 20 minutes rest, he strapped on a camera – which was quite large in those days – and crossed back over. This time stopping half way to take a photo. From that day on he had a following and drew large crowds every time he crossed. Each time he did outrageous and daring feats, such as doing somersaults and cartwheels all the way across.

niagara-falls

On one particular crossing Charles had brought a wheelbarrow with him. Before he crossed he asked the crowd, “Who here believes that I can walk across pushing this wheelbarrow?” The crowd erupted with an ego boosting response; They believed and wanted him to know it. Charles smiled and quieted them down then asked, “Who here will get in the wheelbarrow and let me push you across?”  This time the crowd went silent. Deathly silent. Not one person came forward that day. Undeterred, Charles crossed Niagara Falls pushing and sometimes pulling the wheelbarrow across.

The point I find very interesting is that as large as the crowd was no one was brave enough, no matter how much they believed in Charles’ abilities, to get in the wheelbarrow. They all said they believed. But not one soul trusted him to get them safely across.

Did you know that 79% of Americans say they believe in God. And while that number has gone down over the decades, it still means the majority of Americans do say they believe in God and identify themselves as Christian. However, when you use the term Born-Again Christian, the number drops to 45%. Belief vs. Faith. Belief says there is a God. Faith says I trust God and put my life into His hands. Belief says you can do it while standing safely on the shore. Faith says I put my trust in you as you sit in the wheelbarrow.

So how does one go from just believing in God to having faith in God? I could write a book on that, and many people have, but my short answer is this – personal relationship. Talk to Him. Walk with Him. Get to know Him. Read His Word. Pray. Daily. Relationships take time and effort. He made a way for you, will you take it?

Once while crossing the Falls, Charles carried his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back. Before they crossed, he told Harry, “Look up Harry…you are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Until I clear this place be a part of me, mind body and soul. If I sway, you sway with me. Do not attempt any balancing yourself. If you do we will both go to our death.”

That is my advice to you. Look up to Him where you will find your strength. You are no longer your own, you are HIS – mind, body and soul. If He leads you here, go here. If He leads you there, go there. If He says stop, stop and when He says go, GO. Sounds easy enough, but I can assure you, it isn’t. But that is where His mercy and grace surrounds you. He will never let you fall. He may let you get your knees scraped up so you learn, but He won’t let you plunge to your death.

Have Faith. Get in the wheelbarrow.

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**Charles Blondin is reported to have tightrope walked crossed Niagara Falls over 300 times by the end of his career, in 1896.  He always worked without a net, believing that preparing for disaster only made one more likely to occur.

 

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Yes Child, God knows your name!

 

 

For those who need to hear this:

 

I was going to type a lot encouraging words but nothing seemed to say it as poetically as this song does. It has helped me through a lot of hard times and I hope it helps you too. Watch it twice if you need to. Let it sink into your deepest, loneliest place. He loves you. Don’t give into the thoughts that bind you and keep you from having joy.

I was awakened a few months ago with God telling me to repeat the phrase below over and over for about 10 minutes. I didn’t know why at that time why I needed to say it so much. I wondered if it was because I was under a spiritual attack at that moment. And maybe I was, but I now know that He wanted me to remember it clearly and POWERfully for moments when satan and his demons try to taunt me with doubtful thoughts and stop me from doing what I need and know to do.  I feel lead now to share it with you for you to use when doubtful, self-deprecating or unfavorable thoughts attack you. Say it loud and strong:

I am a Child of the Most High God, the Great I AM, the Beginning and the End
Who defeated you (satan) on the cross
and I claim all the power and authority
that belong to the Children of God!

 

 

 

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Drink the Water

Craig was excited to finally go on the vacation with his family. He, his wife Renae, and their two sons, Titus and Micah ages 6, 9 and their daughter, Kari, 11 were excited for the hiking adventure along the Grand Canyon rim. They wouldn’t be camping, thanks to Renae, but they would be hiking different trails all along the southern rim in Arizona. In preparation they walked the hilliest trails nearby in the Ozarks many times. But it was cooler weather than what would be where they were going. They knew it would be hot, but once they arrived in Arizona, in June, they realized just how intense the heat truly was. Thankfully, there was some reprieve in the shade. They knew that they would need to drink their water at regular intervals so they wouldn’t get dehydrated and were glad to know that there were a few water stations along the longer trails.

On the day of their first hike, a semi-steep 8 mile loop, they dressed in their light clothing and set off from the hotel before the sun rose. They got to the start of the trail just as the sun was peaking over the ridge. They started their hike joyfully with their water bottles full and a nice packed lunch in their backpacks. After 10 minutes of hiking, Craig reminded everyone to take a drink of water. He continued to do this at regular 10 minute intervals. His kids complied, but Renae wasn’t thirsty so she didn’t take a drink. Instead, she pulled out a piece of gum to chew. It kept her mouth moist. After the fourth reminder, she finally took a drink but didn’t take another until they reach the halfway mark where they would eat their lunch. It was a beautiful shaded spot overlooking canyon. They all were tired and ready for the rest and food. Renae guzzled her water down, refilled her bottle at the water station and promptly drank it all gone. Craig and the kids watched her with concern.

“Haven’t you been drinking your water when dad reminded us to, Mom?” Micah asked.

“I wasn’t thirsty and I had gum in my mouth.” Renae answered sheepishly. Her kids shook their heads at her answer. Kari put her hands on her hips and gave her a disappointed stare.

Craig smiled at her and said, “You know that out here if you feel thirsty it is too late. Your body will never get enough water and you may not have enough energy to make it back.”

“I am fine now,” she quickly answered, “The food is helping. I just need to sit in the shade a little longer.”

They continued eating their lunch and sat to enjoy the view for a bit longer than planned. They disposed of their trash and refilled their water bottles. Renae filled hers took a long drink and filled it to the top again.  They set off on the trail again. Craig continued to remind them to take a drink. After three miles, Renae had ran out of water and was hot and tired. She needed to sit in the limited shade that part of the trail provided. Thankfully there was a water station nearby so she could refill and continue on. Finally they reached the end of the trail. The boys raced to the car. They took off their backpacks and grabbed the bag of candy they saved for that moment.

By the time they reached the hotel a little after noon, they were all tired. But after a good nap Craig and the kids were ready for the next planned activity..a waterpark. Renae was still recovering. She felt weak and couldn’t drink enough water. So going to the waterpark was out of the question. She didn’t even want to think about it. She sent them on without her. Kari made a smug comment about how her mom was just reaping the consequences of her actions. Craig hushed her and reluctantly took the kids promising to be back around dinner time. They had made reservations at a fancy revolving rooftop restaurant. Once they had left, Renae cranked up the AC and laid down for another long nap. By the time they got back, she was feeling better so they got ready and went on to the restaurant.

The next day on their hike Renae appreciated and took advantage of Craig’s consistent and constant reminders to drink water though she would rather he stop warning them by saying they didn’t want to “pull a Mom/Renae” because they knew how that turned out.

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I thought this story serves as a great reminder that we need Jesus daily – all day. We need to walk and talk with Him and linger in His presence. We need to read the Word of God and gain wisdom and understanding for the road we are walking.  We need the living water to keep us healthy and ready for whatever we are going through and that which is to come. If we don’t consistently and constantly go to the well and take a drink, we get dry, overheated, and sickly.  We may even dehydrate if we aren’t careful. Whether we feel dry at the moment or not we need to daily drink of the water.

How does one die of dehydration spiritually? Temptations. Temptations that we would normally be able to withstand in the power of Christ, suddenly overpower us. We become weak. Spiritually sick. We start allowing things and people into our lives that don’t belong there. They are like the gum in the story.  They make our lives seem pleasant and okay, but like the gum, they are only providing fake happiness and are masking the lack of Christ – our daily water.

DRINK!! Drink the water. Spend time in the Word. Talk with Christ. Daily. Set reminders if you have to.

In case you need a drink right now, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q8dYPNV4OQ

 

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Random Rambling

I have so many things going on in my head at any one given moment. And sometimes my face tells on me to the point those I am with will look at my face and ask Whats wrong? or What’s so funny? or my favorite What’s that face about? It is embarrassing how far my mind can wander away from any conversation I am having or task I am doing. It usually starts wandering with one word or phrase that the other person has said, or a song lyric or object I see, or really just about anything. I do have an uncanny ability to see weird things that go on in the background. Anyway, the distraction quickly links to a thought that leads to another and then another and then another until it is completely in a different realm of its own. AND it has nothing to do (usually) with how boring the other person is – no, it is completely my squirrel chasing brain. Let me reiterate that – It has NOTHING to do with whether the person/task/object is boring or not. I can get lost in the most interesting of stories or even my favorite songs.

And the worst thing about it my mouth is in cahoots with my brain. It will open and say things that are totally off subject and may not even be directed at the right person. Then I look like I wasn’t listening to the person I was talking to, except that I totally was, because somehow, that is how my brain functions. Most of the time, I can tell you what was said all the while thinking about whatever.  * Have you ever seen the TV series Limitless? If not the main character guy can hear what is going on while thinking and solving difficult mysteries. People get annoyed and accuse him of not listening, but if he stops and “recaps” he is able to repeat what is said. Of course he has to take a special pill that enables him to do this.  I don’t. I have that ability – not to solve difficult mysteries, haha, no, but to “recap” what was said while chasing random thoughts. Again it isn’t because I am bored, but because ….I don’t know why. It just happens. AND I KNOW IT NEEDS TO STOP. I do.

I really have been practicing listening. Really listening. AND more importantly – NOT talking. Listening without adding to the conversation in my head. Listening without letting my brain think ahead of what I need to say or mostly want to say. Hard but doable. Listening without chasing word squirrels – not so easy; in fact, very difficult for me. Especially if the word leads to a song. A good song is the worst because it is the hardest to ignore. Note* I classify a good song as any song to which I know more than a couple of words. AND if we are in a conversation and you say a phrase or word from a song I know (or half know) OR if the conversation warrants a lyric from a good song then you should expect me to sing it. I am not alone in this. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the song, “Let it go, Let it go!” sang to someone by someone else.

 

However, it isn’t just a good song, I also quote movies. Most of the time it will be some random weird movie that no one else knows that well. That is when I get the “what?” look, to which I just whisper, “Title of Movie, nevermind”.  But how awesome it is when the person I am conversing with actually knows the quote and says the movie! I love it when that happens. Except, usually we just start talking about the movie and stray from the original conversation.  My favorite two movies to quote are What About Bob and Galaxy Quest, just in case you were wondering. They both have a lot of good one liners that relate to so many different situations. I highly recommend both movies for a good laugh. galaxy-quest

So what is the point of this random rambling blog post? Well, I said all that to say, please, please, don’t look at my face and think that you said something wrong to me or that what you are saying doesn’t matter to me. You do matter to me. What you have to say is important to me. If you feel me slipping away from the conversation, just say my name, I will snap out of it. But if I am cleaning/organizing and I seem in my own different world, please let me stay there. I hate cleaning. That is unless, I look sad or frightened, then please get me out. I do go to dark places sometimes.  I don’t know why. Although, sometimes I think if I imagine something bad happens then it won’t really happen. Do you ever do that?

 

 

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I don’t think that word means what you think it means

funny_hell

Funny…but not really. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would want to spend eternity in Hell.  I have heard many a people say “well I’m going to Hell anyway so I might as well__”.  It is popular thinking that Hell is a place bad people (murderers, pedophiles and/or nonspiritual) go to spend eternity. Most people will tell you it is a hot place surrounded by walls of fire that they will spend forever with all their other inferior friends partying it up and throwing rocks at the devil. I suppose they think that they will eventually get used to the boiling hot temperature, and maybe even carve out their own little space to have some enjoyment for themselves. They talk as if it weren’t meant for eternal punishment.

Hell. It is a real place. It will be an eternal home for many – sadly. And I am here to tell you, it isn’t an even remotely tolerable place. It is pure torment. Unimaginable torture – think water-boarding times 1 million and then multiply again and again.  Hell, also referred to as Hades, was created for Satan and the fallen angels. The Bible describes Hell in the following ways:

  • fiery lake of burning sulfur – Rev. 21:8
  • blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth – Matt. 13:50
  • unquenchable fires – Mark 9:44
  • separation from the Lord, never to see the glory of His power – 2 Thes 1:9

I get it…Hell isn’t something people like to think about or talk about. But Jesus did. Why? Because He knew how horrible Hell is and He doesn’t want anyone to suffer eternal damnation. He came, because He loved all of us, so NO ONE would have to spend eternity in that place.

So who will go there? The Bible  says in Revelation 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he/she was thrown into the lake of fire”.

How does someone/anyone get their name written in the Book of Life? Good question! Ephesians 1:13 says that for all who heard the Good News and believed and trusted in Christ, we are then marked as belonging to Christ by His Holy Spirit. If we belong to Christ then our names are written in His Book of Life. Jesus also says that we are to forgive those who trespass against us, and warns that if we do not then neither will our Father in Heaven forgive our trespasses (Mark 11:25-26).

So what is the Good News?  I am so glad you asked! Here is the truth –  Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, loved the world so much that he came to earth in human form and died for our sins on the cross, so we didn’t have to. Yes you read correctly – HE TOOK OUR PLACE on the cross! And then three days later He rose from the dead conquering death and is now in Heaven preparing a place for us and will come again to gather us and take us home to Heaven.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here is what God’s Word says:

John 3:16,17 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, 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 3:36 – He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

You see, God desires that all men be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, who gave himself ransom for all (1Timothy 2:4-5). Therefore, you don’t have to go to Hell. Please don’t! You can choose a different ending. And you must choose. By not choosing Jesus Christ, you will, by default, choose Hell.  God gave you a free will and wants you to choose HIM. Because He know that whoever finds Christ finds life. Life with Him – in Heaven – for all eternity. God loves you. He made a way for you to have eternity with Him.

Don’t wait to choose. Choose life. Choose Jesus Christ. Choose Him now – while you still can.

_____________________

I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or questions you may have. I do filter all comments, so it may take a while for them to show up. I will also try to answer any questions quickly and as best as I am able. May God bless you – Judi

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