Joykeepin vs the Joykiller.

First off I am no match for Satan but Christ  in me is and I have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit who all are a complete match for him. Jesus always is my advocate at the throne.  I have been under an attack most of this year.  I am not sure I can plainly explain how this works but here goes.

Satan has a plan for your life. Satan uses much more than our past to harm us.   He loves to get in and confuse and create chaos in our present by distracting, dividing and conquering. He will make the right seem wrong and the wrong seem right. That’s the reason Eve plunged the world into sin as Adam was silent. Adam was right there with her and ate after her. The silence of Adam is why most fail to his prey.  Satan only has the power we allow. If we are deceived we are doomed until we get a clue because God said “having done all” putting your amour on “to stand” standing in the truth of God’s Word “stand” don’t back down and fall prey.   If he tempted Jesus – who should have certainly had sure footing with the Father- he will surely tempt us who are mere man. Jesus didn’t use his God powers to tackle the Devil, he used what can’t be argued. The Truth.

The Truth is the only foundation against a Father of Lies. The Truth is the light in the darkness. It’s the voice saying true things overriding the voice saying “maybe, might be, could be, what if, I don’t know why, and but….. It overrides fear and deception. Truth begins with I know this is right because ……… I know this is true because…… I know I can trust this because……… there’s rhyme and reason for the truth.

Understand if he can get your joy he has your strength. The clear test for an attack is the lack of joy. Neh 8:10 The joy of the LORD is your strength. Therefore no joy = no strength. It’s that simple and clear.

Without actually taking authority over your life and using the same thing Jesus did- the WORD- we are all going to be oppressed and spend our wheels until we get a clue and cry out to GOD for help and deliverance. We’ve all been there. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. Not the physical but the spiritual. He doesn’t need a body count, our possessions or things. He needs to make us grope and search in our circumstances and own reasoning for answers that GOD is clear about already so we miss opportunity and God’s will. That kills our purpose. That keeps us ineffective and always trying to try. It destroys our goals. He steals what God had intended for us to be blessed with.  I have experienced this first hand. It begins with self justification and ends with shattered dreams and ruined lives. Not a bit happy about finding myself deceived by him and rebuilding from the ruins of that kind of deception. By the power of God in us and the will of GOD for us, and the Word of God to us, to the glory of Him we have to stand against it. We have to believe God and realize the father of lies counterfeits God’s plan. He is subtle and makes his counterfeit look so real. It’s the oldest trick in his arsenal. We can take our future back and create a past Satan can not use against us if we walk in the Spirit and the Word. It’s really that simple. But if anyone is oppressed and being deceived they can test it by finding out if they are moving in truth or feelings. If they are confused or clear. If they have the joy and spiritual blessings God intends in Ephesians 1 or are they still trying to find the right combination of performance with GOD that brings that joy. God’s joy comes from letting the Lord be our joy which provides our strength. Neh 8:10. Remember if you have no JOY… you have no strength. The number one thing Satan comes after is our JOY.

Think about it this way. When I was a little girl my mom would say to clean my room. I loved playing much more than cleaning my room. It would pop my bubble to have to stop playing and clean. It took all day because I dreaded it and was unhappy to do it. I cleaned it but wow I  did it by pushing through being sad. Immature huh? Well I was just a kid. Yet many Christians get asked by God to do certain things in his Word and they push through.  They do not act  like they are blessed to be able to offer something to  a King who has sacrificed so much for them. They instead “suffer for Jesus” as if they have been asked to take castor oil.

Joy makes all the difference in the world in approach to the will of GOD. Without it we get frustrated and have to push through instead of walk through.

Sometimes the battle gets weary. We know GOD is for us and we have to hide ourselves in the fray in him. Satan wants to destroy God’s plans by having counterfeit plans for our lives. He sometimes covertly works through any means possible to find the smallest chink in our armor. Please know that yesterday’s victories aren’t sufficient for tomorrows battles. We have to be vigilant and trust what is true. Each day we need grace and the Holy Spirit power that keeps us from being ensnared. I know this from personal experience. Nothing is worse than getting far down a path and finding out you should have never taken the journey. It was easy to get there and I even justified each step of the way. I decided who GOD was and framed him to allow all of my choices. You couldn’t have told me I was wrong at that time. (And many tried to warn me) I just kept on going until I found myself confused and with many hurts. I became frustrated with God because I thought he was leading me but realized I was deceived. There was no reason to think God was in it which is the ultimate irony. Nothing I had chosen to do violated Scripture but the path I had chosen was very unwise. That’s the thing we think wrongly about Satan. We think he tries to get us to do evil. Most Christians in their right mind won’t do pure evil. But they will head in the wrong direction and lose focus and get entangled with things God didn’t assign to them. My entanglement lead to a couple of years of being in the wilderness. I would still be in that wilderness if it hadn’t of been for God using people to reach out to me. I dismissed many before these few who finally got through.  I was drowning and had no clue. It occurred to me when I got back in my race that I had hardly read my Bible daily, had earnestly cried out and prayed only for relief and rescue and that I was not hearing from God all during that time. I was dismissing good advice right and left from clear headed people who could objectively offer soundness.  I cherish being out of that wilderness and will protect with my life now no matter how it looks to the world.

I remember when I was delivered. It was at a Dennis Jernigan freedom conference with Dean Briggs speaking. My friend  had invited me to go. I heard identity in Christ and freedom presented in a way I had never heard before. It revealed how deceived I was, how wrong I was about much of my belief about how God loves us. When I realized what Jesus did to redeem my soul and to put me on solid ground it opened up my heart to something I had never experienced, intimacy with God. I finally felt the complete connection of being his and he being mine. I left there with hope. I had been hurt a lot in life. I never felt as if I belonged or could be loved. Then God with his perfect timing sent a lady to invite me to a Bible study.  I had started to attend the Thursday night Bible study. God orchestrated the most magnificent circumstances to actually pull me from the pit of deception I was in. Little did I know that Satan was forming a counterfeit plan. As much as I was free there were two pieces of the puzzle for God yet to do. The first was for God to build my trust. I was beginning this new intimacy with him but from previous damage by my Father and  in my life I didn’t really fully trust God. I said I did and I tried to but there was an unsettled place in my heart that thought God would let me down too. The second was finding out how God sees me. Realizing that I am priceless to him gives me confidence in GOD that is unshakeable.  I know by his character and how he sees me I can have joy because I am his and he is mine. It might look dark and might feel like the wind is being taken from you. Yet, there’s joy unspeakable that you can’t explain to anyone fully because it defies what you are going through. It’s there no matter how much you cry or fail. You know that you know that GOD will make a way where there seems to be no way.

I wanted to share this again. GOD bless all… and thank you for reading.

Trading My Sorrows...Grace Restored

I wrote this article last year for a Christian internet dating site. I have edited it with a few more thoughts. I think it bears repeating. I am not trying to discount getting to know someone through dating sites. Studies show that people who meet on Eharmony for example have a higher success rate than meeting in person. Yet at some point people have to go toe to toe and eye to eye to dance in the minefield of relationships. That’s all I am saying here. Dating sites are a tool at best. Don’t get the cart before the horse.

March 2010.
Sometimes you have to use common sense. I know this will go over like a lead balloon. Internet dating sites lend themselves to serious discernment problems. You can’t have a “relationship” with someone you have never met. You can feel deeply, feel strongly, and all kinds of things…

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Little Bob ~ How Not To Live

He was only 5 years old and from all I have heard he was a precious sweet child that was very tender. My earliest memories of him were scarce. I remember running past the open door of the mobile home we lived in making huge leaps as Momma hung out clothes. We were trying to keep her from seeing us. We laughed and often ran into each other scrambling like the 3 Stooges and fell backwards. I remember him lying very still in a pretty bed ( I didn’t know at the time it was a coffin) and not waking up. My Uncle Jimmy was holding me and I wanted to give him my chewing gum. I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t wake up. My Uncle Jimmy would tell that story for years with tears in his eyes. They sang Jesus Loves me at his funeral and that song made my mom and grandma cry every time they heard it for years. I always thought of Mom and Bob every time I played it as a solo for offering in the little church I attended.

I remember my grandmother saying she wished she didn’t let him go with my Dad that day. For the next decades Feb 16th would be the day he died and Feb 18th would be my birthday and the day he was buried. It was always the counter for the number of years he had been dead. I remember my Aunt Jean who missed him terribly for a while until she had her own children. I wondered what life would have been like with him. I am sometimes thankful that he was spared some of the things I have seen. I remember every year going to the attic to get Christmas decorations down for Mom and there being a little box of his clothes and a pair of shoes on top. We never disturbed it but each time I saw it I felt something deep inside that I couldn’t put words to. I could see the same feeling on Momma’s face as his name was mentioned. Everyone called him Little Bob, he was named after my Dad.

They said they found my Dad wandering up the highway after Little Bob drowned in the Catawba River. The stories I heard about his drowning didn’t make sense to me for years. The truth I found out years later would put the puzzle pieces together for me but for the sake of the living I will just not put that here. I know Bob’s death changed my Dad in a way that my brother and I would have to experience the rest of our lives. I remember how disturbing it was that no one talked about that day. Truth was that no one talked about anything too hard in my family. Avoidance was the standard operating procedure and using words was foreign when it came to deep matters of the heart.

I will always miss Little Bob.

I grew up with a little brother who was hilarious and mischievous as well. I love my partner in crime and baby brother James. We have fought the greatest fights over the years and I have seen him struggle and I weep for his losses. He gets up and keeps going on and I admire his ability to do that.

I am writing this today to share hope with people who have experienced the loss of something sacred. The story didn’t end with this tragedy being an epitaph. There were a lot of miserable years of lessons learned in those years for me and my family. Dad avoided the pain by being distant from his children and by staying busy. Mom spent the rest of her marriage trying to open up my Dad’s heart again. It wasn’t possible for most of their lives together. Then one day….

We always went to grandma and grandpa’s to have Easter dinner. Her tiny house was under a grove of pecan trees and was the most magical place to me. I loved playing on the big porch swing under those trees. Grandpa took advantage of free labor getting us to pick up pecans when they fell in the fall. We would catch lightening bugs under those trees and sleep in his T-shirts after begging momma to let us spend the night. Grandma had great quilts and made pallets for us on the floor. She was precious and often let me and my cousins tear up her kitchen to make cornbread. We argued over who would stir it.

This Easter my Dad didn’t feel well. Dad was never sick so this was concerning. My Mom confided that he was throwing up blood. The next day a doctors visit turned into a string of test that revealed he had cancer. I remember the jolt to my heart hearing my Dad was sick. It always seemed as if he was the pillar of my life even though we didn’t have a close relationship. I always trusted the strength of knowing Dad was there. I watched cancer humble and soften Dad. It changed him enough to hear the call of Christ in his life and become saved. Dad became more gentle and attentive to my Mom and had opened up to her a bit more. After several years of being a human science experiment they gave him a clean bill of health. He didn’t go back to his old promiscuous and wild ways. The change was real! I thank God for being able to see that. Still the residue of growing up in a home much like the one he had created kept him from saying the words. He went back to work and stayed as busy as ever. The change was great to see and was still there but he couldn’t be vulnerable as I hoped he could yet.

Mom had been through so much she was thankful for the reprieve but I think she was regretful of all the lost time. She loved Dad with all she had and gave selflessly to him. He freely took her love and returned it when it suited him until the final years. It was bittersweet now. They could have had so much because both were capable of so much, but the noise of the world rang so loud to Dad he couldn’t hear her or be himself.

I remember seeing his eyes when Laura was born and he held her. It registered in my heart for the first time~ this is what Dad looks like when he loves someone. I had never seen that growing up. I don’t think the world could contain his joy at that moment.

Laura was 9 months old when my Aunt called at work and said in a matter of fact way. “Get home your Dad is dying.” Unfortunately Dad had been given a clean bill of health but they didn’t know that he cancer had spread to his brain and he went from functioning one day to not functioning the next. It was hard to watch. Mom tried to take care of him at home but it overwhelmed her and he had to be moved to the hospital. I can’t tell you how it feels to see your Dad who was a rock become like a child and then disappear all together. I wanted to hear the words but now he couldn’t say them. I slept on the floor of his hospital room for 4 days as Mom slept in a chair and as my Uncle Charles attended to things for my Dad. No one can ever repay Charles for that heroic way he had of showing love to his brother in those final days. I couldn’t leave Dad’s side and I loved him dearly. I wanted him to know that beyond the words I loved him. I knew in those moments as he struggled to breathe, all that had happened in his life was probably running through his mind and I ached for his painful memory. I also was thankful for the fact that I knew I would see him again.

Dad took his last breath and as me and my brother stood by his side with Mom my heart fell to my feet. Now there would be no more words. His funeral was amazing. Dad had helped a lot of people and a lot had seen the change in him. Several flower shops ran out of flowers in the tiny town of Fort Mill, SC. I remember holding my grandma who seemed to break that day as she said goodbye to her son.

Where’s the encouragement? Well as painful as that memory is and as painful as my childhood could get sometimes I want to say there is hope. The hope isn’t in the memories or the reconciliation. Dad and I never got to say the words. The hope is in forgiveness and letting go. Parental damage can cost us more than we understand in future relationships. Holding on to the past will rob you. If you have had parents in the past who formed some damaging experiences for you I want to tell you that I found freedom in forgiving them and letting it go.

No one can make up for what your parents did or didn’t do and if we are not careful we will expect a future relationship to equalize that damage. The goal of future relationships is not to repair our past. The goal is to forge ahead into a great future.

I love the memories I have of Little Bob. I was greatly affected by his absence in my life. I was also greatly affected by the lack of Dad’s love as well. Yet today, I can look back and remember the great times and have healed from the rough ones. I use the hard experiences to teach me how “NOT TO LIVE”

Here’s the difference between now and how I had lived much of my life. Now I see my life as a journey that was necessary to make me the woman I am today. I totally understand how to forgive and get past these things. I also know what healthy whole love is. (not that I know everything, volumes can be written about that) What I am trying to express to you is that you can get there. You can get to a good place where you deal and heal. Don’t let the past define you or the tapes that keep playing in your head. Get to know yourself and who you really are warts and all. Then realize that God is crazy about you warts and all.

Learn to love and be loved by God and to give and receive love from someone else. I spent most of my life asking why?? Why did I grow up in this family, why did Bob die, why did Dad die, why did my best friend die? why did I lose 2 babies, why did my husband cheat, why is life so hard??? Now I don’t wonder why anymore. The question is not why for me. The question is who am I and who is God in my life? I know the answer to those two questions is this. I am a child of the King who loves me and my life and He is my Father who sees me as priceless. When life happens and I get hurt I always come back to this.

The giants in life are going to come and go. The free will of someone is going to slam into me and can cause joy as well as pain. The conclusion of the whole matter is that GOD is my God and I will love him anyway trusting all that happens is for my good and His glory. That doesn’t mean I skip down the road. It just means I am raw and real with it and face it knowing at some point it will be in my past and can’t be allowed to rob my future.

Dear ones, forgive, grieve the loss and go on. There’s life out there and precious time is a gift. Don’t sacrifice a great future on a bad past.

Anger or Mercy.

I recently took quite a few personality tests. They were all geared to find out more about myself and also with whom I would be most compatible. It was exciting to take them and discuss them, because I hadn’t in years. No one had cared to know me that well or explored who I was that deeply until this past Christmas. Most of my traits are the same as they have always been. It felt good to see personal growth, of course there’s still lots to learn.

There is no test that can prepare you or define you when the unexpected happens. Everyone has down days and times when they do something the test can’t predict.
Life has a few out of character moments that change the course you are headed. Everyone has had an embarrassing moment when they did something totally out of their comfort zone and something out of their norm that has caused harm. The one I want to talk about here is one that came about because I had a lapse in judgment and angered someone deeply.

I work in a ministry that helps people forgive and get past their anger. I am rarely on the side that causes the anger and when I do it usually breaks my heart. I am tender hearted and really do not have the capacity to mindlessly mistreat someone. I am generally thoughtful and encouraging.

The litmus test for un-forgiveness is anger.

What should the Christian do in this situation? Aaaack to be honest I hate saying this but it’s clear and simple even though what you are forgiving might be huge or minor. In order to redeem time and not become bitter we have a choice to forgive. I wanted to unpack this as I am working through it myself. I have to forgive myself for poor judgment and also have to forgive someone for hurting me even though I wronged them.

What does that look like? First you have to acknowledge you have anger and are dealing with this unresolved issue. Secondly you have to forgive and let it go. Forgiveness doesn’t mean a wrong didn’t occur or that anyone “gets away with” an injustice. We live in a world where our free will slams into another person’s life in a very damaging way sometimes. A world where people can and do whatever they see right in their own eyes. Good intentions aside this is troublesome. The same God who loves us allows these interactions and we love Him because he lets us be who we are, flaws and all. I wouldn’t want to serve a God that made me a robot although a little more brains would have been nice a couple of weeks ago. You might ask why I am angry? Well we can get angry with ourselves. We can get angry over the loss of friendship. We can get angry if we feel attacked. I want to be as genuine as I can here without saying anything that can cause further hurt.

Forgiveness is letting go of that damage or hurt. It’s a process that usually ends once we are past the grief and can have compassion on the person we are forgiving. Hoping they are healed or restored from the actions and released from the pain as you now are. It is taking them off your hook and letting them go. Sometimes you are not given the option of asking them for forgiveness. I wasn’t shown that respect either but the argument could be that I didn’t deserve it. I humbly say that! I would welcome the chance to apologize. I can forgive anyway.
When you forgive yourself, the principle is the same, you are taking yourself off your hook and hopefully learning and growing in a better way. Self-forgiveness is hardest for me because I don’t generally like to get into situations that I cause someone else pain. Forgiveness helps you remain healthy and also helps you get past the past. Anything that is in your past and still affecting you now is not healed and truthfully not in your past. Healing takes time and is harder depending on the offense.

I hope the best for people who have wronged me or who I have wronged. No one gets through this life without painful lessons. I sincerely hope people find joy and happiness in the LORD and peace with the past. I truly hope families are restored and lives are changed.

No one can love or forgive like Jesus.

He is our perfect example.

We can only imitate him by forgiving and receiving forgiveness.

I hope to be forgiven but for now I forgive. ☺

The Secret to Life ~ Your flight has been cancelled.

The Secret of Life is in letting go. Listen to this song Completely and read below.

I was supposed to be on my way to an adventure in Atlanta. This was all changed in a week that has been unlike any other I have had in a while. I can’t remember my heart being taken through so much so harshly and quickly. The reason I wasn’t going was partly my fault.

I prayed before I went to bed about the situation and everyone involved. I knew I had to give this completely to God to move forward in my own life. I knew also that God’s direction would be the only one that made sense. I felt His peace and fell asleep. It was the first time in over a week I didn’t go to bed feeling restless. He was my rest and peace. I surrender all.

About 3:19 am my phone went off. I didn’t hear the ring but I heard the vibration. I knew it was the airlines 2 hr. notification. I dismissed it and went to sleep. At 3:27 another vibration and I looked at it because my children live so far away and it was a number that I barely remembered was an elderly lady who calls confused from SC thinking I am her daughter. I put the phone down and dosed back off only to hear the phone vibrate again. I figured it was the notification that the flight had taken off. I saw the number but still didn’t put anything together. Ok, between 3:27 and 5 am my phone vibrated several more times. This was annoying to say the least. I awakened enough to realize that it was only 5 am and the airline must be trying to reach me!

I checked my messages and they said that my flight had been cancelled. They didn’t give a reason. I called the airline and found out that indeed my flight had been cancelled and I could be put on a later flight. I explained to them that I didn’t want to do that and before I could explain further they said. Then we will credit your card for this trip.

Now that might sound like normal routine to you but I believe God woke me up to get that refund. First, I have flown over 100 times in my life and never ever had a cancellation. Secondly, I gave everything to GOD. After this extremely tough week, I believe he wanted to confirm I had trusted him the way he wants me to.

Thirdly, this is the most important to me. I had been chastised and rightly so, but one phrase I was hit with were the sarcastically rebuking words “the God that I serve or I serve a God that” as if I knew little about God. I don’t remember now because everything has been deleted. Yet, It really hit my heart hard and hurt. My heart was to help and not to anger or cause grief. I am glad God really knows what I was trying to say.

I haven’t done everything right in this life but I have always turned to GOD and depended on him before all is said and done. What I tried to accomplish with my words was said in a terrible way for which I take responsibility. Once something is out there you can do little about it. Still there’s no excuse.

All I have ever had and known was real in my life was my Father’s love. I am thankful at a time when life was tough, God took a moment to reach back to me and remind me he’s still in control and there’s little that I control. That although I am not perfect I still serve a God who is. I am thankful he restored money I could not afford to lose and also restored my heart because HE is the God I serve and he does love and forgive everyone including me and people who can’t love me and can’t forgive me. For that I am thankful because we all need his precious grace. This gal needed not only the grace but as my Father keenly saw I needed the love and affirmation. God touched my heart today and I am his and he is mine.

God hasn’t finished with me or with my story. I don’t know what to expect anymore except to keep my dreams big and my worries small. No one can shut a God door.

Rev. 3:8 I know they works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Red Rover send a sinner right over.

Has anything ever knocked you so far off balance you have a hard time finding center again. I remember a couple of times as a kid playing a game of red rover where you form two human chains of kids and call one out at a time to break the chain. I remember Coley, we affectionately called “Coleslaw” who was the guy everyone was scared of at my elementary school. He was just a big guy. When he was called I knew my arm was about to be broken. Everyone knew Deb was “the weakest” link. So of course here comes Coleslaw, the playground felt like it was booming under my feet. Yep, he was gonna take the easy route and go between me and a guy who had a death grip on my forearm. Although my heart was pounding and I knew I was going to wind up on the ground. I held on tightly dreaming to be the one who kept coleslaw from breaking through this time. Yep, you guessed it. There I was in my little plaid jumper, steely eyed and ready to rumble………… then …………BAM……… there I was looking at the clouds. ……….. Man did that hurt!!!! I couldn’t breathe …… my arm was wrenched and yikes ……..now everyone is watching me …….. why not they watched it happen. Still can’t breathe trying to catch my breath. Seconds seemed like hours. Finally, a breath, a sigh, the pain…..yep the tears……. but not boo hoo tears just something in my eye. lol…….. ok lets line up and do this again. Such is red rover……but it’s not funny when you play red rover with your life. God did not plan for us to be knocked down and the breath knocked out of us all of our lives. …….. Time to grow,,,,,,,,time for grace……… time to read the Word…….. time to live………

We will only have the intimate good shepherd relationship with God that we should have by getting to know the shepherd’s voice which is expressed in His WORD.

The worlds wisdom is like Coleslaw……. headed to knock us off our feet. God’s wisdom……found in His Word is like Life, water, bread, ………..everyday we choose life or death…………

Are you calling Coleslaw to come knock the wind out of your sails???? Are you lying on the ground wondering why relationships don’t work and why you are wounded and hurting?

Stop playing with your life…… in the playground of the world…….

PS. Coleslaw  became a great godly man and father later……. I was honored to teach with his wife at a Christian School in SC and to see such a gentle giant.