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DIVINELY APPOINTED

God has Diviinely Appointed our LifeThis morning, as I gazed out my kitchen window, I watched a spider work non-stop at spinning a web that stretched in every direction. Host of insects were entwined in the silvery threads of the web like trophies of his accomplishments. And yet, the spider continued to weave a bigger web.

The spider and his web are akin to humanity as we work and stretch ourselves to a breaking point in an effort to prove our worth and value to the world. I am at the top of the guilty list as I weave myself into new projects that have no real purpose. Why do I do that?

I believe it is a ploy of Satan to distract us from fulfilling God’s intended purpose for our life.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Spinning a bigger web of accomplishments is meaningless unless it aligns with God’s divinely appointed plan. I have found that when I operate outside of God’s plan and try to control and ensnare my OWN dreams and goals, I become anxious.
The following scripture is often used to give validity to choices we make outside of God’s divine plan for us.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

The truth is, we can do anything we want, but God is not going to strengthen us if is not part of His divine plan; the plan that leads you to all things eternal and brings you to the place God desires you to be to fulfill His purpose within your life.
So many times, we try to spin our own web only to find God has different plans for us. When we move and breathe in the Spirit of God, we have peace. Are you living within God’s divinely appointed life for you?

“In Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28

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THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE

overcomeevilI am a friendly person by nature. My husband has always joked that I could strike up a conversation with the devil. Well, recently, I did just that; unknowingly.

The woman had an energy level that put me to shame and for those who know me well, that’s a daunting comparison. All the signs of an bi-polar person not taking medication were evident from the get-go, but I ignored them.

My ‘giving’ disposition took the reins in an effort to mentor this woman toward business goals, that in the end, she would never realize.

Long story short, I had met the devil in disguise and all those red flags I had sensed were really the red horns of deceit and betrayal. This person had a hidden agenda to suck the life and money out of me and others; only, to discard us by the wayside in search of new prey.

What this so-called friend (turned enemy) didn’t know or understand is the protective power of God’s Word that surrounds me day and night. As a Christian and child of God, I know the wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing will be revealed in due time. Not my time, but God’s time.

Many of you reading this post may have encountered a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On a daily basis we find the enemy of God using others to cultivate destruction and devastation to Christians around the globe. Christians needs to rise to the occasion and pray daily for those who are spiritually blinded and being used unknowingly as instruments to orchestrate the eradication of all things JESUS.

In the meantime, my husband and I are pursuing all the legal avenues to reclaim lost business possessions and continue to prayer this person will allow God to claim her soul for something of true purpose.

 

“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered.”
Psalms 68:1

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
Matthew 7: 16-20

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GIVE IT ALL TO JESUS

shattered-dreams3There is no amount of preparation for blind-sided moments life randomly throws into our path. One minute life is good and then something happens that stuns our senses; within seconds our immediate reality becomes surreal as we struggle to make sense of what just happened.

The phone call informing me my sister-in-law had been killed instantly in a car accident was just one of those blindsided moments for me. There have been others; like the words ‘Stage IV’ uttered by the oncologist when my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer or ‘I’m leaving you for someone else’.

History is filled with stories about mankind being blindsided by events or occurrences they can’t control. Certainly the Philistines were blindsided when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down and Samson was blindsided when Delilah cut off his locks of hair. Life doesn’t afford us the opportunity to redo moments in time. I wish it did and I am fairly certain you feel the same.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if my ex-husband still loved me, my sister-in-law was still alive or my dad’s cancer had been miraculously cured? But none of that happened and it never will. My new reality is to accept the challenge to regroup and move forward. It’s the only survival option we have and with God’s help it’s not impossible.

If you have been blindsided by something or someone in life, there is hope in Jesus. In our brokenness, hurt and sadness, he reshapes the attitude of our mind and infuses hope within us. The scars still remain, but so do the scars on the hands and feet of Jesus. It is our blindsided scars that bear witness to our desire to survive amidst some of life’s most difficult moments if we give them all to Jesus.

This song sums it up for me.

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DIANE’S STORY

Today, I share with you one of my sister’s writing from an upcoming book to be published. It will contain real-life stories, just like this one, to help encourage, uplift and bring hope when life situations break you. I have walked in the shoes of Diane; not just once, but twice. I pray this shared story uplifts the heart of someone today.

my storyThis vacation would be like no other.  I had no inkling of the devastating news I would receive.  As we packed and prepared for our summer family vacation, I felt a nudge from the Lord to talk to my husband Steve about an incident that had happened years ago earlier in our marriage.  Brushing it aside, I thought, “this happened 20 years ago.  Why would I bring that up now while we are getting ready for vacation?  “This can’t be God”, and proceeded to talk myself out of such a revealing moment.

Our vacation was going along well, until the last evening.  After dinner, I had decided to take a walk along the lake behind our campsite. Steve followed me after I had been gone for a few minutes.  It was at this time my husband of 21 years asked me for a divorce. My mind reeled, thinking “Divorce?”  I was plainly in shock, not suspecting this scenario at all.  It’s amazing I could even think of saying, “you’re involved with someone aren’t you?”  His response was “yes.”

After this confirmation, I recalled the nudging I had experienced prior to leaving on vacation and began to relay to Steve the incident of 20 years ago.

We had been married for a few years and living in California.  We were at a very low point in our marriage.  Steve had been discharged out of the army and doing drugs.   I was working and feeling very alone taking care of our son Steve, who was between two and three years old.  During this time of loneliness, I had an affair.   As I relayed this to my husband, his face expressed shock but still dead-set on wanting to end our marriage.

It felt like a tsunami had hit me with violent force.  I felt physically ill.

In that moment, he expressed to me that I was a great person, and even a great mom, but we were just too different.  I was a Christian, and he was not.  “You should meet someone more like you.”  Already feeling emotionally stunned, he expressed he wasn’t happy.

How do you recuperate from that, having to pretend none of this happened, since my youngest son and his friend were with us?  We had the packing up and the drive home yet.

Upon returning home, he wanted to stay living in our house together for at least another week.  After what seemed like eternity, he moved out.  Before he did, we sat down with our two boys, Steven and Karl, and told them the uncomfortable news, “mom and dad are getting a divorce.”  I left the room crying forced to face the fact that our marriage was over.  Thankfully, my boys were very comforting to me.

Seven years went by before he filed for divorce.   Divorce is a painful experience.  You really do become one.  I experienced pain from crying but also an actual physical tearing from deep within my soul.  Thoughts would swirl around in my head wondering “what am I going to do now? I can’t believe this has happened to me?”

I needed help in getting through this, so I began going to divorce care and read a book on divorce from the perspective of the one who asked for the divorce.  It was a real eye opener.  I started to grasp his emotional disconnect when he broke the news.  He had already separated himself from me and made the decision to leave.  Now I had to start the process as well.

Divorcing is a lot like death, except the person is still alive.  I went through the stages of grief.  In order to get through my stage of anger, I began working out, lifting weights, because I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Some of my angriest moments were watching my children trying to handle our divorce.  I eventually came to the place where I would allow myself the space to feel it emotionally.  I knew I needed to.

Something remarkable happened to me in 2013 as I sat in church.  Our pastor was preaching about husbands and wives, something that was still uncomfortable for me to hear.  As he preached, I felt my emotions stir again, feeling the pain.  In that moment, I brought this pain to the Lord, giving it to Him, not knowing what else to do.

That Sunday evening, as I was getting ready for bed, I realized the emotion I was feeling was unforgiveness.  “After all this time, unforgiveness?”  The Holy Spirit was telling me that I needed to forgive Steve.  Forgive him for taking away my dream of growing old with someone.  I recalled thinking that thought when he told me he wanted a divorce. Praise God for that extraordinary evening when God’s presence burst into my life and I relinquished my unforgiving heart.

Through all this, I have learned I cannot control anybody else or their choices, only my own.  I’m responsible for me……Diane.  I had to deal with regretful thoughts like “how come I couldn’t win over my husband like the Proverbs 31 woman? I did pray for him, fasted for him?”  I had to come to terms that I was not responsible for the choices he made.

I’ve learned to embrace today and realize that once today is gone, it’s gone.

I have found a strength I never knew existed in me – living alone, doing things on my own.  My circle of friends has become larger.  I am totally surrounded.

Today, when I look at myself, I see someone completely different.  There are things I will not settle for again, when I do meet someone else.  It has made me know the Lord as my husband and deeply enriched my faith family.

Interviewed and written by Sharon Garner

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THE BUDDY BENCH

BuddyBenchLast week my granddaughter, Olivia, had a melt-down because she was being excluded by one of her school friends at recess time. Apparently, her friend had a new best friend and all former friends, including my granddaughter, were being ignored.

In an effort to promote harmony, I suggested we have a sleep-over for all parties involved. In doing so, NeeNee had a serious conversation with the girls about the emotional upsets they were having at school.

I love the honesty, resiliency and forgiving spirit of kids. As I talked with the girls they were candid about their feelings and in between their tearful sobs they talked about how it felt to be left out and sit on the playground ‘buddy bench’ the entire recess period because no one offers to play with them.

Being excluded at any age causes us to ask ourselves, “What is wrong with me.” Loneliness takes up residency in our spirit and opens the door for resentment, anger and, in some cases, thoughts of suicide. In my lifetime, I have experienced that kind of loneliness. Betrayal, divorce, joblessness, anxiety attacks, death of a loved one; or the loss of or longing for friendship have all taken lead role at some time or another.

The reason for your loneliness may be different than mine, but one thing is certain, loneliness is no respecter of persons; the emotions it stirs within us are the same. Perhaps you are sitting on the ‘buddy bench’ right now waiting for someone to befriend you, to care; to listen. That person is sitting next to you at this very moment. His name is Jesus and all you need to do is take His hand. He longs to lead you to the still waters and restore your soul; He longs to be your friend.

You will always find Jesus on the ‘buddy bench’ waiting to be a friend to anyone who asks.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20, ESV

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CONSUMED BY CLUTTER

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Clutter has never been a part of my lifestyle; until now. Every room in my house is filled with piles of this and stacks of that. I’m the process of updating my office and in the transition I have created chaos. The addition of Christmas decorations only adds to the mess. Not to mention all the furniture pieces I have been stockpiling in the garage to re-purpose. My husband shows no signs of support and, quite honestly, I don’t blame him.

This once clutter-free wife has become a borderline candidate for an episode on the Hoarders television show. What is going on here; what changed?

My life is no longer ‘all about the bass’, it’s all about the space (and there isn’t much of it).

Perhaps the ensuing clutter personifies my unfulfilled dreams; things I want to do or experience before I part ways with this world. Whatever the motivating factor, it’s time to unclutter my surroundings; not so I can collect more stuff, but to free up space so I can see what I already have.

I no longer want to look around me and feel like the psalmist who said, “My confusion is continually before me.” (Psalm 44:15, KJV)

And so, my goal this holiday season is to clear my life of unnecessary clutter, both materially and spiritually to make room for those things that matter most; family, faith and friendships. I am raking through the transient clutter that encompasses me in confusion.

First Corinthians 14:33 tells us that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” And Second Peter 2:19 makes it clear: “A man is slave to whatever has mastered him.”

And so, to my curbside-trash-hunting friends (you know who you are); you are welcome to pick through anything you find at the end of my driveway except for my trash-taker-outer honey-man. He’s not up for grabs.

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THE POWER OF WORDS

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“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:1

This verse from the Bible is dynamic and clearly indicates when God speaks, His Words are power driven. I have never heard the audible voice of God and, quite honestly, I’m not so sure I want to hear the voice of someone who placed the stars, moon and sun just by speaking the words.

How is it that the Word existed from the beginning? Beginning of what? I don’t have that answer, but I am confident that if the Word already existed before the beginning, it must be extremely important to mankind.

If God spoke the world into existence and created man in His own image there was a purpose; God doesn’t speak without purpose and neither should we. The scripture confirms the power of the spoken word, not just God’s, but it encompasses the words we speak as well.

The words we speak to others can bring life or they can bring death. They can encourage, or discourage; inspire, or uninspire. As a Christian believer, I am empowered to speak the same powerful word that God used to bring the universe into existence. I’m not saying I can create galaxies, but I know great things can be accomplished when I quote the Word of God.

One day we will be held accountable for every word we have spoken.

“I tell you, on Judgment Day people will give an account for every thoughtless word they have uttered.” Matthew 12:36

Words are powerful, once spoken, they cannot be retracted. Put them to good use.

“…keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.” Philippians 4:8