Monday, October 8, 2018

Persistent Parenting Is Persistent Discipleship

I get it.... you're tired.  You've BEEN tired... and you're STILL tired...

..... but please do not give up...  do not stop short!

I've been at this parenting adventure for twenty two years and counting.... and I'm not done...even with my eldest.

Sorry to bust your bubble if you thought this particular race has a finish line.

It doesn't.

I have come to realize that though the provision part of raising them eventually concludes, the discipleship of them has no point of conclusion.... nor should it have (!) ....especially in this culture and climate that is particularly hostile towards God and those aspiring to live a God-centered life.   Make no mistake: though you may choose to silence your voice for even but a mere moment.... the world absolutely will not silence its voice.  This walk...this Christian walk... is a walk of vigilance!

Weekly....if not daily... I challenge my adult children concerning their aspirations and goals: Is God at the center, driving those aspirations and goals?

It is not enough to simply say yes.... but HOW?  There should be notable action steps behind the "yes" perception.

Such conversations are not always 100% hackle-free, but I make no apologies for getting in their space and holding them accountable to their daily choices.  While those choices are their future, and they are either life-giving choices or death-making choices, beyond their well-being.... OH, PLEASE HEAR THIS!.... they are a part of the bigger picture.... The Church picture... The Bride of Christ picture:

Am I doing my part to bring weight to THAT awareness?  Are they being made into "without spot or wrinkle" -- or are they knowingly contributing spots and wrinkles to the Bride of Christ??

As a parent, are you asking THIS weighty question first and foremost of yourself... and then secondly, to those in your charge?

This is paramount!

I am convinced less and less Christian parents are.  Let's face it, on a daily basis, it is far easier to let such issues slide than to contend for righteousness' sake.

But contend we must!  It is what we were called to do first and foremost when we accepted Christ's salvation and Lordship!

I get that some of you feel as though you are running out of gas or have run out of gas.

I, too, have felt that way.  Anyone who has toiled long AND faithfully in the field of discipleship has, BUT we must individually take heart so that collectively we can advance forward.  (Re-read that!)

When I have arrived at such a place, I have laid in the middle of the floor.... legs and arms stretched out to the max as if I am preparing to make a snow angel ... with an expectancy that God WILL refresh me.  I block out every thought.... I picture entering His throne room....His arms out wide.... falling into those everlasting arms as He infills ALL that I have need of, both the known and the unknown (to me) needs.  I will stay in the floor until I feel "topped off" IN His presence; then and only then do I peel myself off the floor and move forward BY His presence.

Many there are who attempt to do parenting apart from God.....even Christian parents!

I cannot imagine a greater tragedy.

To do so is truly to fulfill the expression "the blind leading the blind".

Dear ones, I hold you and those you hold dear in your heart in my prayers today.  May you be FIRST found to be a responsible part of Christ's Bride, dedicating your days to becoming more and more His image; then secondly, raising those in your charge to be ever mindful of their individual responsibility to be a growing disciple of Christ.   Neither is for the faint-of-heart, but with God, in God, through God, all is possible!

Press on, dear ones!

Persistent Parenting Is Persistent Discipleship!

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡








Thursday, October 4, 2018

We Made It!

I promise one day soon I will return to Joy In The Morning with great diligence, but for now, I am in a deep season of preparation that includes co-running a multi-million dollar operation I did not see coming four years ago.  As I told my husband recently, "God is building my shoulder muscles up, along with my stamina... or He's trying to kill me."   Take heart those who love and support JITM, I truly do have the faith and the knowledge it is the former and not the latter.

I consider it a blessing and an honor to come along side my boss (aka: Head-honcho) and help her do what we do on a daily basis.... which is MUCH!  I marvel at HER!

These past four years have been LABOR-intensive from both a personal and professional perspective.

Professionally, running such an incredible operation, experiencing double-digit growth during my tenure under her leadership, mine, and one more incredible team has been a blessing NO ONE but God saw coming!   To go from a stay-at-home-mom to co-shouldering such a huge operation as been an honor and an incredible season of growth for me!  Thank you, my beloved BJ, for such an insane opportunity, your trust, and your confidence!

Personally, no words... well, few words.   These days I so often look at my three kids (and my husband) and think, "WOW, what growth!"   THE truly one-and-only wondrous Lord above knows the shear amount of tilling / working the soil and sowing the seeds over the past two decades I have tackled every day.  It has taken EVERYTHING out of me, but the coming harvest as it just begins to pop out of the soil is utterly BREATH-TAKING.   Praise HIM, He has and remains utterly faithful: "He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful."  Isa 30:23

I titled this entry as "We Made It!"  because we made it!





I packed ONLY "comfies".... oh, the thrill, ya'll!  And can I just say, "Hello 72 degrees!"  The temperature actually matches the month here!  #odetojoy

I remain incredibly tuned-in and grateful for this season and the paramount cornerstone it is to what HE is doing for the future.  #legacytoHim

Grow, dear ones!  Never, never, never give in to complacency, nor the world's watered down version of God or what it truly means to be a Christ-follower.  Be ALL  IN or be ALL OUT -- BUT BE!

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."  Ecc. 9:10

Godspeed, dear ones!  ♡

Deborah
 



Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Power of Choice

"We live in a society of blame, and I believe this is one main reason as to why this is the case: the further a society walks away from the reality of the cross, the more it feels the almost insatiable need to blame others.

To be honest, I am a little tired of always having to provide a why to people encouraging them to obey God. It is just another sign of a society that has too many rights and lacks an understanding of the Kingship of Christ.

In my research, God never told Job why he went through all of his hardships. God only expected him to trust.

In like manner, we seem to always need 5 reasons as to why we should obey God or an explanation as to why something will work for our betterment.

God will not operate on our terms in such a way. He is the Great God whose very presence demands our obedience whether it works for our benefit or not.

Food for thought.... Dr. Force"



A fork in the road demands a choice, does it not?

I pause, praying that that one sentence arrests the rote, almost catatonic, state each of us wrestles against daily.

Let me say again:

A fork in the road demands a choice, does it not? 

So many operate as if they have no choice or that their choice has been made for them, and to a degree, if not truly awake in Christ, it has been - by the social "norms"  in which we live.

Let me give a few examples and the commonly approved choice in society. As you read these hypothetical scenarios -- often played out in reality, exam your own heart. Does your reaction affirm 1) Christ's Kingship, His principles, and any yet-to-come-undetermined-God-justice, or 2) society's accepted principles and so-called justice in the now?

A courtroom scene.... a defendant awaits their fate.... the victim's family breathlessly awaits justice..... the judge reads the verdict... "The jury finds the defendant guilty"... the victim's family erupts with fractured zeal.

One spouse is caught cheating on the other.... rapid separation ensues.... divorce is finalized.... they "move on"....the fractured consensus: it was "best" for everyone involved.

A prostitute ....addicted to crack becomes pregnant.... gives birth... the child dies.... the fractured sentiment: though a tragedy, at least the child didn't suffer or become a ward of the state.

As a member of society, would you accept or challenge these socially accepted fractured ideas of what defines just?

I don't know about you, but I know without any doubt that Christ does NOT condone "fractured anything" IN His Kingdom.

So, does it make any sense whatsoever to pray "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done"  - EVEN AS we, followers of Christ, so fervently hold on to the painfully fractured "ways and means" of this world's irreconcilable idea of what is just?

I've come to understand in a deeply personal, yet broad reaching manner, God's way is meant to CHALLENGE me at my very core of who I say I am ....and VERY MUCH flies directly in the face of what society purports to be right... to be "fair" .... to be just.

It's really easy to say we believe in Christ; as the cliche goes: so does the devil.

But it's an entirely different paradigm to LIVE as Christ calls us to live....forgiving AND releasing in totality when we, socially speaking, have the "right" -- often legal right -- to harbor offense and demand imminent justice; or as we often say "just desert".

The bottom line is YOU and I have choices to make daily that either reflect the principles of society or reflect the principles of Christ's Kingship.  Understand, these two are POLAR opposite to one another.  ZERO gray zone.

His principles are forever intertwined in an irrevocable SELFLESS manner with the Cross and the Father.
The world's principles, in stark contrast, are deeply rooted in self-first at all costs.

While society would have us believe we have the "right" to seek justice and "collect blood," so to speak... Christ blitzes all of humanity's circuits and cries out today, just as He did some 2000 years ago, "FORGIVE them for they know not what they do."    Do we ego His words?

(Oh, I know, dear ones, this STINGS.  I implore you... let it sting. In the end, it is a purifying sting.)

How is the extension of forgiveness exercised in the face of unimaginable breaches such as murder, affairs, abuse?  It is exercised once we get down off our pompous pedestals and realize we are ALL wretched and undone sans Christ.

There is NO offense, NO sin too great that Christ's sacrifice has not already settled.

One can live a fractured, "settlement issued today - things are better off this way" kind of existence that lines up with society's ill-fated attempt at what defines just.....

OR

...they can wrestle their humanistic inflated opinion out before Christ, guaranteed to have them leaving the ring with a far superior Kingdom understanding than when they dared to enter the ring.

I've walked out a very long season that did not endure for weeks nor months, but years.... not knowing with certainty what the outcome would be.  I didn't have a preset outcome in mind, often stating to those closest to me, "I do not hold the pen, therefore I do not determine the period."  Each day I awoke, I set the goal that my walk would honor Him...no matter what.  There was never, not once, an "easy day" in all those many years because to walk with Christ takes a path altogether uncommon and altogether uncomfortable to our mortal being.

Understand, the same evil that cried out "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" some 2000 years ago is the same evil that cries out today to you and I , "Crucify him (or her), crucify him  (or her)!"  The question is ---  will you take the bait, go the way of the world, and crucify him or her; OR will you determine to walk the mind-blitzing-God-honoring way of forgiveness and mercy -- leaving justice - true justice to the One Innocent who was slain?

The POWER of CHOICE

Choose WISELY....




"Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, 
I saw the sin of them.
Jesus Christ had died for this man; 
was I going to ask for more?""
Corrie Ten Boom

Live long enough, claiming Christ as your Savior AND your LORD, and you, likewise, WILL most certainly be challenged to forgive what you think is THE worst. 

I cannot emphasize the magnitude your choice holds at these pivotal forks in the road:

Will you take the path rarely traveled, embracing the searing pain of injustice with the understanding, "I do not hold the pen, therefore I do not determine the period"...

OR...

Will you take the common path by many, seeking to escape the pain of injustice by taking matters into your own hand, daring to write your own ending?

Do you know what often determines which path is taken?

Patience and humility;
be they absent or be they present.

The carnal man is impatient and thinks highly of himself, wanting what he wants now, the way he wants it. It is the way of a child. But those who commit to grow in Christ, who want growth more than their next breath, learn to traverse life with patience in surrender to the One who authored it.  LIFE itself obeys one Master.... and neither you nor I am it.

Do you have such an understanding, or at the very least, can pinpoint growth in your understanding?

We are all sojourners here ....temporary dwellers. Make no mistake: to walk with God demands a death, a calling to a place you will never envision nor obtain apart from Him.

My edification to you; my heart for you: COURAGE UP, dear ones, and take the path rarely traversed....the Kingdom path....authored by the Only One True King.....




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Is He Enough?

I rolled out of bed, craving God's companionship - not from a well-spring of enraptured joy, but a place of perceived depletion.

We've all been there.

I quickly took care of my daily duties, particularly pertaining to our four legged friends who live under roof; grabbed up my coffee and a bottle of water, and left the house.

This morning, all I knew was this deep craving to "go there" with Him; not a building, but a place so deep in my heart the thought caught my breath.

I slipped into the driver's seat and started the car.

Almost immediately, before even leaving the drive, I heard Him.

"Deborah, am I enough?"

My heart sank. I knew what my answer was in this moment, as He too knew.

"No, Lord, not in this moment, but I long for You to fill me such that my answer is YES, Lord - You are MORE THAN enough always."

I rode on in silence, meditating on His hovering, tangible presence... His question.... and my stripped down, completely exposed answer.

I have found that when I am in a long-endured season that demands more of me than I know I have, I have to fight off discouragement with a vengeance; a radical, God-breathed vengeance.

I recently heard a well-known pastor state discouragement is a choice, implying we can simply choose not to be discouraged.  After meditating on this supposition, I disagree.  If discouragement were merely a choice, the Apostle Paul wouldn't have written pages filled with contention towards it nor would he have written about the need to persevere through it.

Discouragement comes when there is a great call that delays or when the battle tarries.

Through it all, I have found that the underlying fracture contained in EVERY human soul, exposed by discouragement, is the question, "Is He enough?"

Blessed is the soul who dares to hear Him ask the question AND answer Him.....honestly.

Only then.

Only then.

Only then can He move in and be to us MORE THAN enough.

If you are struggling today.... perhaps a widow or a widower... learning to do life without a human partner....perhaps you are an abandoned spouse... physically, emotionally, or spiritually..... perhaps you are battling a diagnosis... perhaps you are battling thoughts of failure and a broken heart concerning a wayward child.... perhaps everything is going great, but there is this gnawing in your spirit you just can't quench.....perhaps... perhaps....perhaps.... after all, a void is a void....and let's just stop pretending, shall we?  WE ALL HAVE AT LEAST ONE.   Do you find yourself hearing Him ask you, "Am I enough?" --  will you then be open and honest with Him?? ... He's asking because He's the answer... BUT you must courage up and answer Him with the stripped down, completely exposed answer.

Paul knew the question well.  I ponder to myself just how many times God came to Paul in the quiet of the battle... in the quiet of the discouragement.... in the quiet of the calling... and heard, "Am I enough, Paul?"

I know He did because Paul wrote these most profound words that only someone who was asked that pointed, heart-piercing question AND answered honestly would then know:  "God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may EXCEL in every good work." (2 Corin. 9:8)

Oh, indeed, Lord.... You are enough....more than enough.....


And once again, my spirit is renewed, and its course set to heights yet unknown....

To Him Alone Be ALL the Glory.
♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡











Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Intention....God's Grace Exceeds It ALL

It's my day off.  Wednesdays usually always are. They have become my mid-week pause to regroup and reground myself to what's important in life.

As I sipped on my coffee this morning, I turned on the TV.... something I rarely do in the morning... and took in a few moments of today's present culture.

Within in moments, I turned it off.

"Lord, everyone everywhere is scrambling to be heard," I shared my thoughts with my closest Friend.

Every time I have been tempted outward - the Lord anchors my focus inward... to my family of five... the most precious souls I am blessed to know intimately.

Last week my Friend, my All-in-all, kept bringing to mind one word.... Intention.

When I looked up the definition, being the egghead who I am, I discovered two definitions:
1) a thing intended; an aim or plan
2) the healing process of a wound

If you are like me, you were aware of the first definition, but how about the second definition?

Now, layer both definitions, understanding we serve a multifaceted God who is always at all times multidimensional in HIS INTENT.

When I sat and meditated with Him concerning His intent put to task with our family's intent to bow and merge with His intent, it sparked such a WOW moment deep in my spirit.   The outcome can be nothing but transformative.

Over this past weekend, I shared this word, intention, with my family, stating unequivocally THIS was God's heart and focus for each of us over the next twelve weeks. Each one of us embraced the theme... a walk of intention with one another and with HIM.

To walk with intention one with another, brings aim, brings healing, brings intimacy.  It is the very heart core of God for all those who claim Jesus as Savior: to not simply talk the talk, but walk the walk.

One thing I know FULL WELL --  no matter the wound, no matter the sin, no matter how great the offense.... God's grace exceeds it ALL.... and IF we courage up to believe while humbling ourselves to see we are no better than our worst offender....He takes us to heights unimaginable.....

Dedicated to living a lifetime of intention in Him...

Deborah


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday in (Mostly) Pictures

It's Mother's Day.... a happy day for some, a sad day for others, a mixed day for many. Wherever you fall in the various scopes, I pray you feel God's abiding presence.  He alone possesses the ability to meet each of us in our unique place.   So indescribably grateful for Him. ♡

THE  MOST beautiful woman in MY eyes always.
♡ My mom ♡

"Smile".....always!
The eternal optimist in Christ!

My favorite food of all time.... Mediterranean! 

Nearly 25 years and counting....
a lot of grace, forgiveness, vision, hope, and love...
a fierce and unrelenting combination IN God.

Beyond grateful at the fruit that graces my life daily through these
three souls far more than words or actions could ever convey.


At lunch today, my husband asked the kids, "What's one thing you are thankful for in your mom."
My daughter's response, "Only one?...."
My eldest son's response, "Her relentless tenaciousness."
My youngest son's response, "Her humor."

TREASURED WORDS placed in my heart's vault forever.

To God be ALL the Glory!

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Reflection During Respite 2018


For the most recent years, my family re-groups in May, going away on what I affectionately call "A Respite".
It's not just a desire or want, but a need.

We still live on  the school/college schedule, so by the time exams are over....the kids are mush.  I live on their schedule in a virtual manner... (as a mother, one always carries them in the heart).... so I feel a close second on the mush scale.

While away, my walkabouts scale up to the extreme.


 

All walkabouts are invaluable, but my walkabouts in May are historically iconic for me.  It's a time where God reveals His heart for the coming months.

Last year, one of the elements He revealed was His desire to reveal to me His holiness in greater measure.

It's been an incredible year of daily walking with Him as He expanded my understanding of who He is at His CORE, foundational level.

God is certainly love, but He is love because He is holy.

How many times have you heard the expression: "He can be no other"?   I heard that a lot growing up, but the older I get, the more I am processing that at a deeper level than I thought was possible.

If one minimizes His holiness, He is no longer God.  He simply becomes this fantasy being who "loves me as I am."

He. Is. God.
He. Is. Holy.

This means OUR PERCEPTION of His tolerance for the static... His tolerance for acceptance of me....is FALSE.

He is never tolerant of anything less than holy.

He is the ultimate TRANS-FORMATIVE force.

I meditate on this daily.  I truly do.

I understand at an ever increasing depth He did not sacrifice His son unto death so He can "tolerate" and "accept" who I am today.

He sacrificed His son so that I would then be granted HIS mind-blowing attribute to become a new creation IN HIM.

In this "love culture", don't be duped into "soaking" in love and acceptance and altogether miss HIS CORE, trans-formative HOLINESS that is without a doubt, humanly speaking, mind blowing!

I know with overwhelming certainty I will not be tomorrow who I am today.  THAT'S the WONDER of walking WITH God, The Holy One.

I pray each of you develops a passion for God.  There can be NO substitute for time...MUCH time...spent with God, The Holy One, who profoundly steps into those willing lives to become loving Father, yes; BUT closest to HIS heart ----> to become our Transformer....GLORY!


Monday, April 30, 2018

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I awoke to trouble.  I didn't know the extent of the trouble, but I knew it was trouble. The short of the story is that I had ruptured my C6-C7 disc the day before.  A MRI confirmed the rupture. For days, I could do nothing but just sit upright.  To recline was agony beyond description. The days were long, and the nights were even longer; drifting in and out with the rising and falling of exhaustion and pain meds.

The orthopedic told me my only course of treatment was cortisone shots.  My holistic gut knew better. "That will only dumb down the messages my body are sending and mask the problem," I told him. He wasn't too happy with me, but I wasn't happy with him. I left with pain, but without the shot.  I began doing research and found an article by a fascinating orthopedic who takes the body's natural mechanics to leverage healing.

A year later, I have holistically eliminated all body pain and all stiffness.... from my neck to my toes.

Today, I awoke reflecting on this past year in the light of going from this one extreme to the other with the use of  "instruments"....more specially in this case; natural instruments.

There are a host of instruments in my life I use every day for the benefit of personal stability and growth, but the key word is USE.  Like all instruments, they do absolutely nothing on their own.  They must be used.

God's Word does nothing for me collecting dust on the shelf.
Turmeric does nothing for me in the bottle.
Tennis shoes do nothing for me sitting in my closet.
And on and on the list goes.

I have found it doesn't take a lot of effort to benefit  greatly from the CONSISTENT use of the instruments God has so generously placed in my life.  However, as a life long student, as the seasons of life shift, so must my stewardship.

Go back a tad over a year ago.  My season had increased in responsibilities, and as such, I was finding my days full to the brim, to the point I no longer even had time to write here (as the blog's calendar journal demonstrates ).    It was a challenge to get all of life's demands worked in, but life itself taught me....through the reminder of pain.... it was high time to shift my stewardship, even as my season had shifted.

A new routine was developed that made allowance for both morning and evening yoga, essential for my body's healing.  It meant I started my bedtime routine earlier.... "giving up" a TV show or something else I thought I wanted/needed more......so that I could get up earlier and get done what I really needed.

The unharnessed ...better said undisciplined...mind is truly a detriment unrecognized by many until it is too late.

It's common, though not at all advantageous, that so many individuals continue veins of living even after a season of life has shifted.  It's called a rut.

It's somewhat like the summer pastime of "tubing".  So many put their tube into the water, throw their often times weary body into the tube, and turn off.... becoming a subject that just drifts wherever the water so chooses.

That might sound tempting, but those that have lived such an undisciplined life who a woke one day to find themselves painfully surrounded by the rapids would tell you the folly of such living.

Life, at its core, is about stewardship. It's about living life with intention. You were placed here upon the earth to steward your life.....your body, your time, your mind.   You were never meant to go through your days on "auto pilot" in a tube set adrift.

In truth, I am thankful for my injury a year ago. It brought awareness to an area that needed a shift in my stewardship.

May I humbly ask YOU, what area or areas of your life do you sense God putting His finger upon, calling you to shift, or up the ante, or even begin your stewardship in?

We all have an area or areas, yet I observe many choose to look the other way with the mainstream label of "acceptance", instead of embracing personal discipline towards real lasting change.

As Christians, we are not called to a life of acceptance.  We are called to a trans-formative life, going from carnal man to spiritual man, being wholly submitted to the Perfect One even as He perfects us.  That's not a passive act, but a highly deliberate act.

Such a tragedy; we all know people who slept, hitting the proverbial sleep button over and over,  until the rapids were surrounding them, tossing them hither and yon.

WAKE UP, while there is still time. Get off the lazy river, if you find yourself there. But take today and  honestly assess where you are on the trans-formative journey that you are meant to be living!

Be among those who courageously take on going from glory to glory....





With love and sincere interest for your own personal journey....
Journey well.... journey strong. ♡



Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday in Pictures...Well, Mostly...



I love adventures, and truth be told, I wake up every day with my eyes wide open to adventure.... even in the mundane.  Today was no different. After a wonderful message from my pastor, I headed out....seeking today's adventure with the One whom my heart beats after.

Come along...even after the fact!
(Scroll over pictures to enlarge them.)

(Instagram account:  clothed_n_strength )



Local library's foyer.

A little afternoon snack.
NC Museum of Art
"You Are Here" exhibit.
Outside, after the exhibit.
My two eldest on an artistic seesaw...
perfectly balanced.
Intentionally knocked off balance.
Fun times with family and friend.
Be still my tummy's heart....
wild caught sea scallops.
Stirring movie.

Powerful song from the soundtrack:





Lyrics from the song:

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
'Cause we don't want your broken parts
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one'll love you as you are
But I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away 'cause today, I won't let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that's what we've become (yeah, that's what we've become)

I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.

So I ask you tonight..... where are YOU?
Hiding perhaps?  Or are you the one firing bullets?

It's vital you have the courage to stop and assess.... 
......where are YOU?




.....because until you do.... you will go NO further.....

Courage up, dear ones!
A brand new week has begun!
Where are you now?
And where will you end this week?

Dare to envision!
Be bold in your faith!


I'm off to get the balance of my walking steps
 in today before the sun sets!
What a GRAND day this has been with my Beloved!
I pray you can say the same!
If not, what can you do today...
right in this moment,
 to set your intention FORWARD with Him?

Dare to ponder in His presence!

It'll change you!

Change is GOOD!

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡





Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Resignation

I'm winding down, but before turning in I thought I would do something I haven't done in sometime.... share a few thoughts.

Recently, I have delighted in the expositions of two Christian men; Pastor James MacDonald (out of Illinois) and Rick Thomas (out of South Carolina).   Their applied wisdom has left me both challenged and the wiser numerous times this year.  

Just this past week or so, I read Rick Thomas' article, "A Few Thoughts on an Unchangeable Situation".

Captivating title, eh?  Perhaps even a bit tremor-inducing through the view of "mainstream Christianity".  

What do you mean "unchangeable situation"?  Don't situations change in the scope of the "God element"?

Not necessarily, as life's decades have certainly taught me.

I want to pull a quote from Rick's article:

"Just because you want what the Bible teaches, it does not mean you will get it.  Jesus wanted to live. That was not the narrative His Father had in mind. There are two ditches you must avoid:

      1. I will have what I want, especially when the Bible does not forbid my desires.

      2. I will resign myself to a pitiful life because God is not giving me the desires of my heart.

In between those two ditches is a practical faith that allows you to be a 'man of sorrows, acquainted with grief' (Isaiah 53:3) while entrusting yourself to Him who judges justly (I Peter 2: 20-25). The only way to find that sweet spot is through the door of death. (Hebrews 2: 14-15; Luke 14: 26-27)." 

If you are like me, you'll find yourself thinking on these statements in the days to come. I encourage you to courage UP and allow these truths to soak in deep.  Let them both challenge you and change you.

The first time I read them, I experienced the "spiritual blitz of truth."  I knew I was reading truth; I just didn't particularly "swallow it."  It sort of stuck in my throat, but something happened in between the first reading of it and last reading of it.  A point of surrender.  A point of death.  A resignation.

I have long since believed in the necessity to guard against habitual critical thinking because it does put the Author of my story in a bad light to do so.  Granted, long endured trials truly put such a proper and correct positioning of the heart through intense paces that wholly cannot be appreciated unless experienced. Long endured trials walked with the dedication to see who God is THROUGH the process is NOT for the faint at heart.

But through the process, this is what I KNOW:

I am worth knowing.... even if others forsake the opportunity to get to know me.
I am a deep well.... even if others miss the opportunity to dip their cup for a drink.
I am a strong stake in the ground.... even if others fail to hold on in time of weakness.
I am a daughter of the King..... even if others fail to see.

I have value, not in who I am......but who I am in.
I have power, not in who I am.... but who I am in.
I have joy, not in who I am..... but who I am in.

I am not the author of my story.....but my story is surrendered to the Author.
I will leave at least one footprint upon this earth not because of who I am.... 

but WHO I AM IN.

I am resigned to THAT resignation.

Live life, dear ones, with such a resignation. Christ... THE TREASURED ONE... was missed by many, valued by few, but changed the entire paradigm of history by His willingness to embrace an unchangeable situation.....alone.  

In Him, I find my rest. ♡

Godspeed, dear ones...







Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy TEN Years to JITM; Change is Afoot!


Just when the anticipation of life elements slowing a bit, they speed up.  The past few months have been a launch pad of sorts in several areas of life.

My two eldest are launching wholly into adulthood. There really are no words for such an experience.  There is a lot that goes into the final launch though, from the simplicity of changing car insurance policies to thinking through the complexity of where they are going to set up their next nest. And as if my two eldest don't have my head spinning rapidly enough these days, my youngest is a rising junior and will begin taking college classes in the fall. Unreal are these days before us, but suffice to say, I am one more proud mama..... and the fact that I am happy and sane is a sizable blessing in my book.

My secular job as Director of Human Resources continues to both bless and challenge me.  It is a demanding and heavy load to be certain, but all things considered, I have borne up under the weight, both carrying it and growing through it. The fact that the role was ever entrusted to me is both tremendously humbling and tremendously edifying. With God, I will carry it across the finish line with a rather large smile upon both my heart and my countenance!  No doubt what I have exercised and developed will be applied to my next chapter, coming soon!

As for Joy In The Morning, God is no doubt on the move.... where to He is certain and fixed. Since 2018 has begun, it is altogether clear that He is re-staking the ground and giving the command to press forward. In January, JITM quietly celebrated its 10th birthday. Right on that heel, at the beginning of February, I received word that the host/server company would no longer support small businesses as of the end of February....or March at the very latest, meaning I was tasked with finding a new home for the website and blog. No small task in a normal time frame!  But where I felt blindsided, GOD KNEW; He always knows! At the end of February, I had an acquaintance step forward and say he could both host the website on his server, move it over, and revamp the website. Once again, blindsided.... but this time, in a good way.... a very good way!  When I asked him what he needed from me, his reply was, "Not a thing; 'William Doolittle' at your service."  There are NO WORDS to express my amazement, my gratitude, and my serious exhale at God sending this "angel with skin on" to me at the PERFECT time, SO "in due season"!  So, bless him; he has spent this month setting up the host server, as well as everything else (that I absolutely know very little about) that goes into moving an entire website and blog over to its new home. So,  be on the look out for JITM's facelift... coming soon!

"Coming soon" is God's theme for me, my family, and JITM.  Here's to change all the way around, from every possible angle, at both God's beckoning and command!

Aye, aye,  Captain.... lead on..... WE WILL FOLLOW....

With Him, for Him, in Him,

Deborah

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

It's a Matter of Honor

An employee has a report due on Monday.  They submit it on Tuesday.

A driver encounters another driver needing to merge on the highway.  They speed up to prevent the "fronting."

A request is made to turn the television off.   "Just five more minutes."

A member of a household is asked to fold towels. They haphazardly tossed them. 

What's missing in these examples?

HONOR; the deliberate elevation of regard for another above oneself.

This subject has captivated my attention this past month.

Here are a few of the one hundred verses in the Bible that address the subject:

"'Far be it from Me, for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.' "  I. Samuel 2:30b

"The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor."   Proverbs 15:33

"Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor."  Proverbs 18:12

"Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor."  Proverbs 21:21

"Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool." Proverbs 26:1

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:9-10

I have read through many Bible passages this month where when God gave specific instruction to His people, and when they diverted from those instructions in a measure we would all likely assess as "mild", God's anger burned against them.

Why?

The lack of honor.....the lack of regard.
The presence of selfish will..... the presence self exaltation.

Our history reading lends itself to thoughts of judgement against the nation of Israel, does it not?

"What were they; stupid?"  

In my job, I am the Director of Human Resources.  I manage a great deal of people on a daily basis, from their regard of one another to their work place obedience.  It's a challenging, yet humble job, because we are talking about adults with the same selfish, sinful tendencies we all have, and not all have the power of Christ within to identify these tendencies, let alone deliberately rise up against the destructive tendencies and say, "NO, I'm not participating in acts of dishonor!"

Without laying out every role in life, if we all stop and ponder, we can identify the presence of honor or the lack of honor in EVERY role of our lives.

It's a strong current in our culture, is it not?   To look after self first.  To fight for what we perceive as "fair" or "right" in our own mind.

We all face countless situations daily where we have to decide in a moment.... how am I going to respond as the receiver of dishonor, or the flip side.... how am I going to course correct if I am acting dishonorably?

Are you the person turning the report in a day late; or are you the one receiving the day late report?

Are you the person punching the accelerator; or are you the one trying to merge?

Are you the person asking the TV be turned off; or the one delaying by "five more minutes"?

Are you the person asking the towels be folded; or the one tossing them haphazardly?

Life is a long series of interactions one with another.   In a perfect world, they should be Godly interactions, but in our fallen world, they are more often than not wholly ungodly interactions.
  
One of the many lessons God has shown me this past month applies to BOTH sides of the interaction: the times when I am receiving dishonor AND when I am dispensing dishonor.

It's the bent knee verses stiff-neck stance.

We tend to clearly understand this dynamic in the scope of Godly obedience verses disobedience, but it likewise comes to roost in the scope of honor.  In actuality, obedience and honor are intimately linked.  It's just that as adults we tend to disassociate the two through our rationalizations and twisted justifications; watering down both obedience and honor after leaving our childhood behind.

How many of us, when asked to do something completely within our scope to do, bristle at the notion of doing what is asked of us?

Oh, that rebellious spirit within each of us must ALWAYS be put into check this side of Glory!

I dare say we all bristle far more than we care to admit.  But if we run with diligence TOWARDS God's command to have higher regard for another than we do for ourselves, the bent knee should ALWAYS trump the stiff neck.

Paul knew this fight and discipline well:

"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Oh, such RICH words of walked out wisdom from Paul!

So, first things first: make sure each of us is walking a walk of self-policing first and foremost.  Be willing to strike a blow to your own self, bringing it into FULL submission to God.  I can boldly testify that when God has called me to do something my will does not "feel" like doing, and I obey Him, often saying out loud, "Not my will, but Yours be done"...I am keenly aware of one of His great mysteries: my spirit's growth accelerates in THAT moment unlike any other time.

Why this usually still leaves me awestruck is at the very least amusing.  And to be candid, I generally always catch Him smiling when I not only obey when I really don't want to, but also when I stop and take notice of the supernatural fruit such obedience yields..... especially when it involves the honoring of another above myself.

Secondly, how to properly interface the positional bent knee with being a steward of the Gospel message. For me personally, I have found this walk to be a challenging walk.  It is literally my profession to confront and mediate offenses at work  It is equally a passion of mine to give the call to come up higher within the Body of Christ.  In my parenting and in my marriage, it is my job to shine a light on where areas need work in my children and in my husband, and again, call them to a higher, deeper place in Christ.  All while exercising personal discipline on bent knee.

Only with Christ, step by step, can such a walk be walked!

One of my beloved passages in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17:

"Thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God a pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved AND those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the Word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God."

So again, the fine line is walking humbly, yet boldly and honestly, with people SO that our lives illumine if there be death at the core of one's being or life in Christ at the core of one's being.  Our behavior towards our fellow believers in particular should MIRROR Christ in one another.  If it does not, we should boldly inspect what is within and course correct, but if we cannot "strike the blow to ourselves".... we must be willing to take correction from one another, believing that the ultimate prize is in becoming that pleasing aroma of Christ to all we encounter.

Understand that the charge to speak against an offense is vital because  when we dishonor another, we are ultimately dishonoring God who commanded: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10

I once knew this sister-in-Christ who ultimately stepped away from our friendship because though she was constantly dishonored and disregarded by her husband, she would not speak up and tell him.  Every time she bemoaned his poor treatment to me, I would instruct her to let him know how he made her feel; to do otherwise was a tremendous disservice to him. She, however, could never bring herself to do so. In her mind, she rationalized that speaking up was an act counter to submission; it was making waves.  She could not have been more wrong, for in actuality, in her silence, she was participating in his ongoing sin of dishonoring both her and God. That is not a Godly decision of a sister-in-Christ towards her husband.  That is not the heart of Christ.  It is a perversion of Truth.

The heart of Christ is that of FULL restoration IN Him WITH Him and WITH those in the Body.  Neither can transpire if truth is not boldly spoken and walked out daily.

Think for a moment where you and I would be had the Apostles not understood unto death the bent knee of submission to God's will, honoring both Him and those they encountered above themselves, coupled to the bold confrontation of sin and offense within their lives and in the lives of those they did life with. While it is true, we, like the Apostles, do not control whether the listener bends the knee or stiffens the neck, speaking out will forever remain a cornerstone of the Gospel.  Silence is NOT an option.  Silence is NOT an act of love.

Be vigilant, dear ones; fight against your own self protecting, stiff neck tendencies.  Be quick to bend the knee, honor others above yourself, and always be found edifying those around you to do likewise. In doing this, we WILL demonstrate Christ to a lost, perverted, self-indulgent, stiff necked world.

As Hebrews so soberly reminds all of us, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."

It's a matter of honor, dear ones; it's a matter of HONOR!




Sunday, January 28, 2018

January is Coming to a Close....

I've been off radar this month.  In truth, too much to process and little time to do so, but before the month comes to a close, I'll give a few highlights....

- Started the year off with a fast.... ergo no post for the "New Year".... it was an appointed, reverent start to my year... #submitted

- I have been working up near fifty hours a week since the new year.... yes, this HAS to stop.....but one does what one must.... #dedication

- Too many items to recount surrounding my kids.... my head is spinning... and it's just the first month of the year....  #thrilled

In the midst of the day to day, a big shift is coming; plans in the next few months to have our home of seventeen plus years prepared and put on the market.   #nowords

There are days I look around and think, "How did all this happen?"   I'm simply trying to absorb what I can and lift the rest up to Lord.  No one should delude themselves by thinking they are the captain of their domain.  Since my young adult years, stewarding wisely what the Master has entrusted to me has been THE driving force behind each and every one of my days. And now, I can say with blessed assurance I have passed two vital batons on to my kids...."God first" ..."stewardship second".   #grateful

Isn't that the point to the Gospel?  The making of disciples, and the weighty understanding that we WILL give an account before Him for how we oversaw that which was entrusted to us by Him.  #sobering

Seasons shift; and not always as we envisioned them to shift, but the Master remains at the wheel.  He is and forever will be my Captain.  Even as this new year has begun, there likewise comes understood endings. They, too, are often not as we envisioned. I surely pray each of you took significant time during this first month of 2018 to assess that which was, that which is, and that which may or may not be; absorbing what you can and lifting all the rest up to Him.  Be assured;  He sees, He cares, and He alone is able to will, be, and do as He sees fit for HIS purpose.  #surrendered

With love,

Deborah