Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)
14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.

A breastplate was used during a time of battle to protect the heart, the internal organs, the weakest and most vulnerable part of the body. Righteous by definition is:
right·eous (rī'chəs) adj.
          1. Morally upright; without guilt or sin: a righteous parishioner.
          2. In accordance with virtue or morality: a righteous judgment.
          3. Morally justifiable: righteous anger.

To be without guilt or sin. Are any of us without sin? No, that is why we have Jesus, and with Jesus we can embrace the relationship with God, a relationship that is without guilt and without sin. To go boldly before our heavenly Father, to thank Him for our blessings that He bestows and to ask for His aid in our endeavors.

That’s the explanation for the verse but how do we apply it? We have already covered the fact that we are at war. The battles that are waged daily between Satan and God’s children are brutal. Our first step is to recognize the enemy and how he attacks. Satan comes against us is our hearts, our emotions, and our feelings. Feelings can be influenced and changed. Feelings are not always constant and we need to realize that Satan knows that too. He can use the lies that he whispers to make us doubt, to make us feel that God cannot forgive us, to harbor unkind feelings towards our family or friends. But with the Breastplate of Righteousness we can move into battle with our heart protected and our feelings true, because they are protected.

When Satan attacks he has many things in his arsenal, but in my opinion, one of his most powerful weapons is to attack our faith. If we start doubting God’s word, His truth, then Satan has made what could be a fatal blow directly to our heart. By striving to be virtuous, moral, without guilt or sin, we can heal the wounds from the past and reinforce the armor for future attacks because my friends, the attacks will come. We need to protect our hearts with the breastplate, to keep all the tender parts safe, our heart whole, and we must step boldly into battle with the knowledge that we are morally upright, without guilt or sin, and wrap our hearts with righteousness because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.  Armor up, the battle is at hand.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Belt Of Truth

Last week I started talking about the armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-20 but my ADD kicked in and I got distracted. Seriously…it did…oh look…shiny…

Other things had come up, like the porcine plague and I put the armor of God on the back burner. It’s my blog and I can do that.

So today I wanted to talk more about the armor God has equipped His followers with and how we can use it today. Not many of us have need for real chain mail or plate mail armor. It looks really neat but it’s hard to keep polished and really uncomfortable on the commute to work, not to mention all the weird looks you would get from the carpool at your kids’ school. No, the armor that the Bible talks about is figurative. I had never heard about the armor of God before until last year when I was trying to find something to speak about at the She Speaks conference. I am a very visual speaker, I move a lot and I like to have things for people to relate to. That way if they don’t remember what I said, maybe one of my visuals will lock in a thought or an idea that will simmer in their subconscious and God will use that as a trigger for how they can apply it.

In my talk about the armor of God I was equipped with what I pictured as my “belt of truth”. It was a tool belt that I blinged out with rhinestones and crosses (hey, I told you I saw something shiny). In my tool belt I carried my journal, my bible, my coffee cup and my pens and markers. But we are talking about the belt today. The belt of truth. Ephesians 6:14 states,
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist..”
Yes, there is more to it, stop rushing me. Truth. Truth is the key to everything. If you know the truth then nothing can come against you. Satan uses lies and misunderstandings, criticism and blame, to cause a rift amongst believers. If Satan can cause two Christians to come against each other, then he has won half the battle already. Think about this for a moment, how many times have you jumped to a conclusion, went with the wrong information, ran off at the mouth, spread gossip, or whispered a secret that caused pain or hurt to someone else? All action, all detrimental and all something you probably shouldn’t have done, but look back up at the scripture, “stand firm…” Don’t move, be still (and know that I am ...sorry, ADD moment again.).


Jesus starts so many of his lessons with, “I tell you the truth...” John 14:6 states,

                          “ 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
                            No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So your belt, what holds it all together, what binds you, what ties all the rest of your armor together is truth. God’s truth, which can be found in His son, Jesus.

I believe that it’s listed as the first piece of armor because in order to have the rest of it, you have to have that piece first. None of the other works without the truth. I cannot have righteousness, or readiness, or peace, or faith and I cannot fight the Evil one without Jesus, without truth. If Satan is the king of lies, then who do you think is the King of Truth? The truth that God equips us with through His word is how we fight Satan but we can only fight when we know how to use the weapon. We have to learn God’s truth. Satan’s lies permeates everything, the television we watch, the music we listen to, the books we read, conversations we have, conversations our kids have, Satan is everywhere, but the cool thing about that is, so is God and His truth works against every single one of Satan’s lies. Get out your tool belt, bling it up if you want to, and put it on. Equip yourself with the truth, God’s truth, so that you can fight Satan’s lies, the ones that come against you in your day to day battle, not only with the outside world, but with the lies that Satan whispers in your head.

Here are a few weapons for your arsenal.

Psalm 139: 13-16

Philippians 1:9-10

Romans 8:38-39

These are only a few of the wonderful truths that can be found in scripture. Read them, study them, and understand that they were written for us and for the battle that we are fighting every single day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

God Power Washed My Heart.

My WH (wonderful husband) got a great deal for a power washer from a friend at work. He brought it home and tried it out on our front walkway. I had not noticed how dirty it was because it happened gradually, it covered all of it and it was just part of my surroundings. I didn’t realize until WH power washed only one part of the walkway.
That cold, rocky concrete was a perfect example of my life on display. If you have read much of my blog, or listened to my testimony, you know some of the major obstacles I have dealt with. Some of those were due to my own decisions and some were due to others, but all of it left a mark. The guilt and pain and failures added layer upon layer of dirt and filth to my heart but in many ways I ignored it and in some cases didn’t even realize it. Many times lies and hurts, mistakes, and disobedience can sneak into the cracks and crevices of our hearts and we don’t even realize the squalor we are living in, or not living, but only existing.

But God…

God wants to clean that up. He wants to not only forgive us but also give us the ability to forgive ourselves. Yes, sometimes even now, I can slip down into the dirt of what was before, but the Bible says in Hebrews 10: 22-23 to
“Let us draw near to God with sincere heart in FULL ASSURANCE of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies WASHED with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
See, proof, God power washed my heart.

God has such a great sense of humor because while standing on our porch looking at how nice that one part of the path to our front door was I was blown away by an ah-ha moment. That small part of the walkway showed, in sharp contrast, how dirty the rest of the sidewalk had gotten.  I had no idea how filthy it was until I saw how nice it could be, and what a difference getting rid of the dirt made.

What about your dirt?  How does your past impact you today? How does it impact your future? When you ask God into your heart and you repent of your sin, He washes all that away. 

There are still days that I feel like He truly needs a power washer with a brutal spray to dislodge some of the things I keep picking back up and carrying around, but beloved, He's already wiped it away!  I am the one who choses to go back to it, I am the one that choses to dwell on the mistakes in the past.  He no longer sees it.  It is gone and He doesn't want me to keep returning to what was before.  He wants me to concentrate on Him, just Him and His perfect will for my life.  Isaiah 43:25 says,

"I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." 

If the God of the Universe loves me enough to forget all my sins so that He and I can have a relationship, let me repeat that, THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE... then shouldn't I love Him enough to accept it and not try to limit Him?  He can do it and to believe otherwise is limiting God. God’s power is without limit; it is only us who limits God. There is NOTHING that can separate us from Gods love, except our refusal to accept it.

My life was very much like that sidewalk until I asked God to wash all the dirt and garbage away. There is a constant reminder when I leave my home of who I was before and who I am now. I don’t know if I want WH to power wash the whole thing yet.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Have you ever had a time when you thought you were going to go in one direction but you wound up going somewhere completely different? Sometimes due to your own decisions and sometimes due to circumstances totally beyond your control? Really, you have? Cool, I’m not all by myself. Sometimes I sure do feel that way though.

I’m not writing about Ephesians today. We will come back to the armor of God because I truly think it is important, but I don’t have all of it together and God is just placing so much more on my heart that I need to talk to you about.

I want to talk to you about being lonely. There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. I think Satan loves to see God’s children lonely because then they can become vulnerable and weak. From the beginning of time God knew that it was not good for man to be alone, so He created Eve. Now God was with Adam in the garden, talking with Adam, hanging out, but He knew, in all His infinite wisdom, that man needed someone on his level, a helper. (Genesis 2:18)

Time passed, families were created, the parents looked after the children, the children grew up, they lived together or next door to each other, the older ones took care of the younger ones, the elderly were honored and respected and provided for. They worked together, they ate together, they lived together, and they prayed together.

Growing up my brother and I would see at least one set of our grandparents, and more then likely we would see both. Weekends were spent seeing family, connecting, helping each other, and just being there. I spent Sunday afternoons playing with my cousins in the yard, being a Charlie’s Angel, or getting scared of Big Foot footprints (AUNT ROSAAAAAA!!!!!), or just lying on our backs under the big trees in Grandma’s front yard or playing with the buttons in her button box. 

Every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter it was expected that you would get together. It was important, it was a priority. Yes, the holidays were hectic and yes it was exhausting but there were memories being made and laughter being shared, and stories being passed down from generation to generation and roots were growing deeper and intertwining, making lives stronger, richer, and more.

Now my grandmothers are both gone and our families are all distant. Even my relatives that are close by I only see occasionally. My daughter is growing up in a different environment. Her father is hours away and only gets to see her sporadically. She sees his side of the family maybe once a year. And my side of the family over time things have been said, feelings have been hurt, and lives have gotten busy, too busy and every holiday season seems to become more of a hassle, everyone in more of a hurry to come and go, and I can’t help but be sad because I miss it.  I miss my grandmothers, I miss my aunts and uncles and cousins, and I miss the connections that we had.

It’s not good for man to be alone and I believe that even though you might not get along with everyone in your family, God put you in that family for a reason, because they need you and you need them. 

So, Uncle Larry, Aunt Sylvia, Uncle Rodney, Aunt Caroline, Uncle Andy and Aunt Pat, and Granddaddy Ben, Uncle Ray and Aunt Rosa, Uncle Corbett and Aunt Debbie, and to all of my cousins, their spouses and children, know that you are loved, you are thought of and the memories that you have given me I treasure in my heart. And know that you are missed very, very much. 

To Grandmamma Williams and Grandmamma Johnson, I miss you both so much. What I wouldn’t give for a sermon and a song.

Granddaddy Williams, I miss the blueberries and walking to Jack Rabbits. I cannot eat a blueberry and not think of you. I eat blueberries almost every day.

I love you.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Extreme Makeover part 2

I talked a little bit about God making over my life earlier this month (here).  My life needed an extreme makeover in the worst way. Isn’t that what God does when we ask Him to come into our lives? When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior and are born again, that’s when the old life is blown up, just like they do on the show, and the house (our hearts and souls) are gutted, cleared out and a new way made for God to come in and take up residence and make Himself at home.

For a long time, even though I had accepted Christ at the age of 7,  I was only letting Him rent my heart. I wasn’t allowing Him to take ownership over everything.  I wasn't sure how.  In reading Ephesians 6 Paul talks about what it looks like to put on the armor of God.  Armor?  "What do we need armor for?" you might ask, I know I did. 

Because simply put, we are at war.  Not a war of guns and tanks, but of good over evil, God over satan, and light over darkness.  I know who wins (I read the end of the book) but that doesn't mean that we all get out alive, there will be casualties and wounded and those that are lost.  But Paul talks about the armor that God equips us with in order to fight, to overcome, and win the battles of our day to day life.

The Armor of God

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians 6:10-12)
I had heard about the armor of God. Putting on that armor, and really didn’t “get it” but going to Renaissance fairs I was able to see real armor, how it worked and why is was so important.  The armor that we need for today though is not chainmail or leather. This week I am going to explore the different aspects of that armor, one piece at a time and figure out how it applies to my life and my walk with Christ. 

Most of us don't have an opportunity to see real armor at work on the battlefield, but one person most can remember is Wonder Woman.  I use to play Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman with my cousin on Sundays at my grandmothers (love you Sharon!).  We all try to be Wonder Woman, mom, wife, boss,  employee, volunteer, leader, team member, friend, family, and so much more, no wonder we are all exhausted.

I am not Wonder Woman, but the God of the Universe and all His ways holds enormous wonder for me.  Wonder Woman was a fictional character but her creators understood armor, and having protection.  So does our Creator and unless we understand what our weapons and our armor is, how can we use it to protect and fight the enemy?   Come with me as we journey into Ephesians 6 and learn about the armor of God and how it can help us get through our battle of everyday life. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day 2009

Today our country stops and thanks those who have served in the military. I served briefly in the US Navy and learned some very important lessons during that time in my life.
1. I learned that people with the same goal working together can accomplish anything.
2. I learned that no matter if you agree or disagree with your boss, that there is the right way and the wrong way to voice that, and you must always do it with respect.
3. I learned that one negative person can impact the morale and undermine the common goal of a group.
4. I learned about paying attention to detail.
5. I learned, even if you don’t understand, that you have to obey, because the person over you knows more then you do and someone’s life might depend on it.
6. And I learned that you don’t just do “enough” you go above and beyond.
I never went into combat, I never left the US and some of those things I had been taught as a child, however, there is a difference I believe in being taught something and actually learning it. I was “taught” French in high school but unless you want me to sing about planting a vineyard I never learned French. I could not go to France today and converse with anyone. Every one of these lessons, and these are just a few, I have applied to my entire life, not just my military one.

But there are some people that I want to thank today who went above and beyond in their service.

My grandfather, Ben Johnson. He served in WWII and saw more then I will ever know. Thank you Granddaddy. I know the military was different back then, the world seemed so much different, but you went and you fought and you came back home (thank God you did). You are in your 80’s now and you talk more about the times of your youth then you do about yesterday. Thank you for helping to make sure your daughter was safe, your granddaughter was safe, and your great-granddaughter was safe. You don’t claim to be a hero, or some great man, you just went and did what had to be done. Thank you.

My ex-husband, Danny Rider. You serve our country now and have for years. Thank you for all that you give. Even though you and I have had our ups and downs there are two things I could never repay you for. Most importantly is our daughter who amazes me every day. The second is your commitment to the US Navy. It is hard and you have sacrificed much, it does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I am proud of you and all you have accomplished. Thank you.

If you see a veteran today, thank them, but thank them again tomorrow. Their sacrifice and willingness to serve impacts their entire life, not just one day.
God Bless.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pressing on Toward the Goal

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

I am not perfect and the attempt at perfection is exhausting but I do “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Accepting Christ into your heart and deciding to live for Him changes you. For some the changes are drastic and very apparent to those that are close to them, for others the changes are more subtle, a change of thought, a change of view, a change of heart but there is a constant transforming of the mind.

I had tried to lose weight for years, following one diet after another Optifast, OptiSlim, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, and some really bizarre diets as well, cabbage, grapefruit, good grief it ran the gamut. Some worked for a short time, I lost over 80 pounds on Weight Watchers, but I found it again and it came back with friends, and by January, 2007 I weighed 287 pounds. That’s two people in one. My legs hurt, my hips hurt, I was ashamed, humiliated, and I could not see me beyond the layers of fat the encased my body. I put on a good show about it, made people laugh because if they were laughing with me they weren’t laughing at me but inside I was in so much pain, physically and emotionally and so I underwent a drastic transformation. I went to a doctor and had gastric bypass surgery. I was scared but I was more afraid not to have it. I was only 36 and I wanted to grow old with my husband and see my daughter grow up and I wanted to live, really live, and for me it wasn’t possible hiding behind all the weight and I could not do it by myself. Satan tried to convince me that yet again I was a failure but that was a lie (he is the king of lies you know). I had to find a tool that worked for me and for me, surgery worked. The steps that I took to undergo the outward transformation were very much like the transformation that was taking place in my heart.  (This is me in a play, yes it's a wig, but the rest, that was all me.)

I found an expert in the field, my surgeon. I asked questions and became educated about what was going to happen and I researched. I meet with others that were either going to have the surgery or were further along on their journey for support and advice and encouragement. Once all the questions were answered it was time for the surgery and then my faith in my surgeon and his staff had to step in because when they put me on the operating room table I was no longer in control.

The surgeon performed the mechanical portion of the change in me. He made my stomach smaller so that my capacity for holding food was less and then he sewed me up and walked away. His job was over. He had made the structural change but the rest was up to me.

After leaving the hospital  I had instructions the surgeon gave me, but the decision was up to me. I had to exercise, but that was up to me. The surgeon had given me a tool so that my body could be transformed but if I didn’t follow the directions and use all the tools properly, I would not reap the benefits. I eventually reached my weight loss goal but I will continue to use the tools so that I can maintain my weight and not start inching back up the scales. Those pounds come on slowly and just a couple pounds turns into a few, then 10, then 20, etc.

My weight loss journey is a great parallel to what God has done in my life over the last 3 years as well.

A change had to be made and I needed an expert, so I went to God, my heavenly Father, who loves me more then anything. I researched and asked questions and found a church where I could get more information. I joined a connect group and a ministry team so that I would have people who were where I was on my walk and further along on their journey for advice. And over time I had to let go and just allow the surgeon of my soul to do His work in my life. He is cutting out the junk, cleaning out the garbage and the lies that have been killing my spirit and crippling my walk. Unlike my gastric bypass surgeon, my heavenly Father will not close me up and walk away, He will stay with me forever, but He will also be constantly working on me as well and sometimes it will hurt, and sometimes it is hard, but this internal transformation enables me to
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

 My goal. My weight loss goal was 150 pounds and I have reached that. But my heavenly goal is to become more like Jesus. Will I ever reach it? No, I won’t, but I have an expert living in me, one who is helping me to move towards it every day but just like the surgery, I have to make the decision to use the tools He has given me, prayer, reading my bible, spending time with Him.  It is still my decision and one that I make every day.  This picture is my mom, me, and my daughter, all God's Masterpieces.
Thank You Father for being there when I called out.
Thank You Father for allowing your little one to come back home.
Thank You Father for listening to my fears and my frustrations and
Thank You Father for the transformation that You are performing in my life.
My trust and faith are in You God. Amen

Friday, November 6, 2009

Extreme Makeover

Makeovers requires stepping out of what is known, comfortable, and safe, into the unknown, the uncomfortable and the possibly dangerous. It means stepping out of the boat like Peter did. Keeping our eyes on Jesus and knowing that what scripture says is true, and to own
“I am sure that God Who began the good work within you will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again!” (Phil. 1:6)
Every Christian is a work in progress. No matter if you were saved when you were 2 or when you were 82, we are all on a journey that requires us to stop living for ourselves and give everything over to the Lord God Almighty. God says:
“For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for Good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.  (Jeramiah 29:11)
Plans, blueprints. A way of seeing the big picture. He gives us the big picture right there, He tells us His plans, for a future and a hope.

Hope, otherwise known as Jesus, real hope. There were many years that I didn’t have hope, and I really didn’t care what God had “planned” for my life. I was perfectly content to mess it up over and over again completely on my own. I would flirt with my faith for a while, but whenever I started getting more then a little interested in God, something would happen, infidelity, divorce, illness, that would make me turn my back on God all over again, .

Can’t you just picture God standing with His arms crossed, shaking His head at my antics, much like I did when my daughter was small and wanted to “do it herself”. I would stand back while she took those first wobbly steps or rode her bike without training wheels, but I would be right there to catch her if she fell or wipe her tears when she got hurt. Now, that's how I picture my heavenly Father.  He knows I am going to fall, He knows I'm going to mess up, and over and over again He is there to catch me.  Whe are all growing, and God is always there to catch us when we fall, wipe our tears when it just gets too hard, and listen to us when we cry out. But God knows the plans He has for us. He can see the big picture, and He knew that the time was coming when all the things of my past would catch up with me and then He could start my makeover.

This new life under contruction is an ongoing process. He has given us all the tools we need, with His word, prayer, worship, and grace. With only God’s help I have learned how to forgive, not only others, but myself. Satan loves to keep us spinning on that cycle of guilt and feelings of shame for the sins that Jesus has already died for. My continuous run on the hamster wheel of guilt for something that God had already forgiven made it seem as if My sin was bigger then Jesus sacrifice. We have to refer back to our blueprints, His Word, for understanding, we have to stay on our knees in prayer for His still small voice, and we have to allow Him to rebuild and renew our hearts, our souls and our minds. Like the great architect that he is, His plans are always right.

This new construction will also give you house warming gifts as well, your spirutal gifts that are put in place so that You can further His kingdom. God has also given me something else, an understanding of the passion that has been such a part of my life. I always had great passion, but never a healthy focus for it. Now I understand God’s intent for that, because I am passionate about Him and about His word. You can not be sold out for Christ half-way, you have to be passionate about it. It’s like a 90% sale at Tiffany’s, I gotta tell everyone about it because it’s priceless and only happens once in a lifetime.

As He is rebuilding the walls and putting on a new roof, he’s using the materials that I already have. The struggles that I went through and the horrors that I faced and the mistakes that I made. The body is still here, but he is tearing down the walls of doubt and self-loathing by His Word and His never ending grace I know that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and He was waiting for me all along to stop trying to follow my own plans but to “be still and know that He is God” and he’s taken over as the general contractor of my life.

By following His blueprints for your life, His word and His love and His power can shine through the darkness into someone elses broken down, condemend life. He can be invited in to shine His light, roll up His sleeves and get to work on their plans. God knows what the finished product will look like, join Him on the journey in your extreme makeover, God’s way.

PS.  I'll explain the pictures in the next post, just know that I'm in both of them.  Transformation.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Green-eyed monster

I am an almost 40-year-old woman. I own my own home, have a job, a car, and can buy everything I need and most of the things I want, but I fall prey to the “I gotta’s” Have you ever experienced those? I see someone with something and “I gotta have it…” or I think I do. It can be an advertisement on TV or a post on someone blogs, or mercy, someones shoes I see at church and that green-eyed monster rears it’s ugly head and I buy into the fact that if I just have that I will be happy. Lies. All lies from Satan. Satan in advertisement? Yep. I’m taking a hard line on this one. God will provide for all our needs, but how much do we truly need and how much do we just “think” we need and why am I writing so much in quotation marks?

I can remember being a child growing up and there was a certain brand of tennis shoes that everyone else had (yeah, right,) but hey, in my world everyone else had them and my parents refused to buy them for me. I was growing so fast and money at the time was not plentiful. I had a perfectly good pair of tennis shoes, I didn’t NEED another pair and I certainly didn’t need a pair that cost such a high amount just for the label but in my mind, it kept me from fitting in. But I was the one who kept myself out of the “in crowd”. I was intimidated and overwhelmed and I believed the lies that I wasn’t cute enough, thin enough, funny enough, and most of all, not rich enough to belong to that crowd. Talk about being a self-fulfilling prophecy. I became obese, I became depressed, I became poor, not only in finances but also in spirit.
In the past 20 years I have discovered something very interesting. One of the girls I admired, who I am now close with, had the same insecurities that I did. I wanted so much to be her friend but just didn’t know how to do it. She has shared with me some of her own foibles and fears that wonder of wonders; they were so much like mine. It was just all in how we responded to those. She has always had a confidence and a sense of style that I have looked up to and I admire the woman she has become and consider myself fortunate to count her as a friend and I cherish the times we get to spend in our back porch conversations.
The friends that I did make in school, they are still around, but very distant, and that makes me sad. But God has brought women into my life that I don’t share a past with but I do get to share a future with. Women who are smart, beautiful, funny, inspiring, amd every single woman, no matter who she is, comes with battle scars, comes with insecurities, comes with her own set of fears.

It makes me wonder sometimes if when Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and we became separated from our Heavenly Father, did we trade our compassion for conceit, did we trade our joy for jealousy, and did we trade our concern for contempt? Harsh words, but we did lose paradise. For me paradise would be where everyone would feel love; not only from God, but also from each other and where women wouldn’t have to work to overcome the walls we put up, but would instead build bridges to connect hearts to hearts.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Under the Influence

“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.” –Jim Henson

Forty years ago Sesame Street premiered on PBS on November 10, 1969. Just three weeks later, on December 7th, 1969 I was born.  I grew up watching Sesame Street every morning, The Muppets and then Disney on Sunday. (It was always a win when it was a cartoon, remember?)

On Sesame Street the characters seemed to always reflect different aspects of my personality. Sometimes I would be grouchy, like Oscar, and sometimes things just wouldn’t work out like I thought they would, and then I could relate to Grover, or sometimes I just didn’t understand or I was trying to figure things out and me and The Big Guy, (Big Bird) would have a connection.  I didn't realize it at the time but looking back, I can really see the influence.

As I got a bit older and The Muppet Show played I remember laughing and crying but also thinking at some of the performances. “The Rainbow Connection” and the “Buffalo Springfield Song”, which I only remembered as “Stop Children, what’s that sound…” but I still remember it to this day and although I didn’t understand it, it made me sad. Today, seeing The Muppet Show brings back memories of our green shag carpet and an orange “leather” couch, (hey, it was the 70’s) and mom making hot dogs (red ones of course) and putting French fries in a paper bag to salt and soak up the oil. Popping popcorn in a metal pot on the stove. Every Wednesday night hotdogs, almost every Sunday night, sausage and ham with homemade biscuits and applesauce, watching The Muppets and Disney, with my family, traditions, memories, and influences.


We are all under the influence of something, as children, it is what we are surrounded with that influences us. Kids today seem to look down on Sesame Street and The Muppets, or at least on the outside they do, but inside, I wonder if perhaps they long for that innocence, when your biggest challenge as a 4-year-old was learning your letters and getting along with your big sister.

Our children today are used to “higher levels” of entertainment, but I’ve seen some of those shows and the overwhelming theme in the programming seems to be getting away with as much as possible without getting caught and there is no honoring of parents, respecting of adults, or really respecting of themselves. I understand that “things are different now” and perhaps I’m turning into one of those adults who thinks everything was better “back in the day”. Not really, I like change and enjoy some of the advancements that we have made, like cell phones over bag phones, now that’s an improvement I can embrace and easier to carry.

What is influencing you now? What do you allow to have an influence on your life, on your children’s lives?  "Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?" and maybe we can make “The Rainbow Connection” the lovers, the dreamers and me.

Thank you Big Bird, Grover, Kermit and Oscar, and thank you to my mom and dad, for all the memories and all the smiles, I’m thankful I got to be under your influence.

Go here to see the difference between Sesame Street then and now

Happy 40th Birthday Sesame Street!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

“The rest of the story.”

Yesterday I talked about taking off our husband’s boots and giving him back the reins in the marriage. It is important for wives to submit to our husbands. That was a sore point with me until I read “the rest of the story.”

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."[b] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33)

First of all, friends we need to notice something right off the bat. God is giving men a lot more instruction then He gave women. Look back at Ephesians 5:22-24.  For WH's (wonderful husband) perspective on this, check out his new blog. But, back to the females perspective on submission and God's instruction for marriage.
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Three verses, that’s it. Submit and why and then again, submit with an example. That’s it, straight to the point, there you go.

Look at what God is saying to the men and no, we aren't talking about the fact that men need more instruction then women.  (It's so hard to bite my tongue here, see I'm still struggling with some things.)

I am thankful God gives men examples and explains it thoroughly.  In order to do something well we learn by modeling behavior of someone who is already doing it right.  Women are going to submit to their husbands, their husbands are submitting to God, so God is leading by example, He is using this to teach men how to lead

Love, example of Christ loving the church, and how He loved the church, and then more instructions.  "Men are to love their wives as their own bodies." Our bodies are our temples, we are His masterpiece, and God instructs our husbands to treat us as if we were their own flesh.

God gives detailed instructions, to feed and care for, and to put aside other influences, and be united with his wife. A united front. Children are to submit to their parents, to fall under their authority, however, when a man is grown, and has a wife, how can he be the leader in his family if he is still falling under the authority of his parents? That does not mean we stop respecting and honoring our parents once we become adults and have families of our own, but how many mothers are still sitting in authority over their grown sons? How many fathers are still holding authority over their daddy’s girls? This undermines the foundation of their children’s marriage. No person can follow more then one leader. A woman must follow the leadership of her husband, for the glory of her marriage and her life, and a man must fall under only God’s authority and guidance.

Yes, submission is difficult, but God doesn’t argue the point or leave it open to discussion, ladies, you just do it, so that your husband can, in turn, love you as Christ loved the church, provide, protect, honor, feed and care for. I’m so thankful God opened my eyes to read “the rest of the story”. It’s a lot easier to trust and give my husband his boots back when I know that he wants to give me the love, honor, and protection that Jesus wants for his bride. When two people have God at the center of their marriage, it truly does make it so much easier. Believe me, I’ve tried to do it without Him and this way is much, much better.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A six-letter cuss word in the Bible.

“God wants me to do what?”

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ,so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5: 22-24)

Submit? God wants me to submit to my husband, in EVERYTHING? Well, that was for olden times. That doesn’t apply to today. God doesn’t understand. I mean I work hard, and sometimes I’m smarter then my husband about things and we are equals in this marriage. I don’t submit to him and he doesn’t submit to me, and we are doing fine so nope, this passage doesn’t mean me.

And besides, I am not going to become a doormat for my husband to walk all over. If I start submitting to him, he will just take advantage, I can see it now, I will fix his dinner, wash his clothes, clean up the kitchen, clean the house, take out the trash…doing all the chores, and he will just be sitting there like he’s king of the castle. I work full time too. That’s not fair that God wants me to submit to him. Does God know my husband??? Nope, that whole submission thing, if that is what it means to have a Christian marriage, you count me out.

This is such a hard verse to comprehend to new Christians and even some “old” Christians as well. It’s a passage that I have heard twisted and maligned to show that God believes that women are subservient to men, that women were property, or slaves, and that is all wrong. That’s what happens when you take one part of a verse without researching, exploring and reading the entire passage. If you don’t know Jesus and his relationship with the church, then a lot of this message looses its power. If you don’t read on through Ephesians 5 you miss out on God’s instructions to men as to how they should treat their wives.
For a long time I only took the first part of this verse to heart, that I should submit to my husband. I never did that and the argument above was mine for a long time, with all three of my husbands. Yep, all three. I’ll let you think about that for a minute. 1st husband, divorced, 2nd husband, divorced, 3rd husband, holding on tight.

My marriage today to WH (wonderful husband) is my third marriage. Statistically, according to the world, this marriage won’t make it either. That’s a scary thought. But WH and I aren’t living the world’s way anymore, we are learning and striving to live God’s way but I had to make a change. I had to learn to submit. Submission was not something the world wanted me to do in my marriage. I have a very strong personality, which is the polite way of saying that I am bossy, (ask my brother). I have no problem delegating things and I have very strong opinions about things (hardheaded). With husband #1 and #2 I took the lead. I wasn’t going to fetch and tote, I wasn’t going to allow them to walk all over me and I wasn’t going to be their maid or servant. Submit, not me.

Have you ever plowed a field with two oxen? Nope, me either, but I did some research, and I also read “Little House on the Prairie” as a kid. Laura talks about Pa having to train the oxen to plow. He would do that by allowing one ox lead over the other, because if they were tied equally they wouldn’t move, both would be trying to lead. Huge paraphrase there with my apologies to Mrs. Wilder.

But that is a perfect picture of both of my earlier marriages, we didn’t have God as the center of our marriage and I wasn’t willing to allow my husband(s) to lead, and they didn’t understand what leading was. Instead of being able to fall under their authority, I just took one rein and they had the other (sometimes) and instead of our marriage moving forward, it didn’t go at all. There were other reasons those marriages did not make it, but I think a lot came down to I wasn’t willing to submit to my husband, and he didn’t know how to treat me as Christ treated the church.

Are you taking the reins? Who is leading your marriage? Do you know how to submit to your husband? The way we learn to do this is to look at the rest of the passage, we must submit to our husbands in everything as the church submitted to Christ. The church submits to Christ’s authority over it, to His leadership and His direction because the church knows and recognizes that no one loves it more then Jesus. He is the bridegroom. We need to follow our husband’s leadership, need to accept and respect his protection and guidance, and trust that he will do what is best for his wife and family.

But that’s hard!!!!!!!! Yes, it is. This passage is hard because:
1. Perhaps your spouse isn’t a believer; you still give him respect and submit, as long as his leading does not lead you to sin and you pray for him. Your husband will be impacted by your willingness to allow him to lead, do not judge, do not nag, do not be critical of your husband, but speak with respect and love, as you would speak to Jesus if he were standing in front of you. Give your husband that honor and allow the love of God to live through you.

2. Perhaps your spouse doesn’t know how to lead. I remember thinking, “If I don’t lead this family we will never go anywhere.” The world has taken away so many of the wonderful characteristics that belong to men and women have felt compelled to take them up. Like the little girl wearing her daddy’s boots, it’s cute for a while but if she’s not careful she will fall and get hurt. Take the boots off ladies and give them back to your husband. I think our shoes are prettier anyway. Talk with your husband about this passage and get his feedback. Ask God to guide the two of you, as you, the bride, learn to submit, and he learns to lead. Stay out of his boots!

Submit is not a six letter cuss word. It can be a balm to a struggling marriage, the first stitch in sewing a marriage torn apart back together. Giving your husband both the reins enables him to lead. Listening to him and following his guidance in all things, to  and  don't foget to give him his boots back.

This builds our marriage Gods way, not the world’s way, and that is a connection unlike anything I can describe when a man and woman are living their lives God’s way, NOT the worlds way. You get to move forward as one instead of standing still and you get some great shoes!