Finding God in my Mirror

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Constantly, I battle within myself over my outward appearance, and this ultimately effects my inner self.  My blessing has come with age as I am able to accept who I am both inside and out.  Yet, from time to time I drift back into my negativity which affects those close to me.  Although verses of scripture tells my heart that God is with me and loves me for who I am, I always find a way back down that dark path.  One of my favorite scriptures that I open often is found in Matthew 6: 26, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  I know God is there in my mirror, but sometimes I just fail to see him loving and caring for me.

Last week was one of those weeks, when I just could not find the good in myself.  I just looked in the mirror and saw this person that I did not want to see looking back at me.  Instead of heeding 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  I cast my negative doubts on others like my husband.  He carries the burden of not being able to help me through the valley because this is not his valley.  But, I drag him down into it with me anyway each time I go down this dark path.  He is a loving husband who always has the right words that I just fail to hear.  His constant love and devotion always brings me out of the valley and reminds me of Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”  I must hear his words which are from the Lord in order to heal my body and my soul.

As I ponder the reflection in the mirror this week after I have found my way out of the valley, I realize that God does not really look at me the way others do and the way mirror reflects.

1 Samuel 16:7 reads, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Knowing now that God looks at my heart, I need to stop pursuing the mirror and focus harder on my heart for the Lord using the words from Proverbs 23:12, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”  This scripture causes me to reflect how focusing more on my heart might help my view in the mirror.  Can I and will I find God in the mirror?

I spend more time reflecting now on who I really am and the gifts that God has given me.  This is the only way I can focus myself away from the dark path.  I make peace with the spirit God has given me.  1 Peter 3:4 reads,  “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  I grasp for this verse and the message it writes on my heart.  I am precious in his sight.  Once again, I can stand on the mountain top and look in the mirror and see the gift that Christ has given me.  I see my new self given to me through Christ sacrifice on the Cross.  “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”  Scripture from Colossians 3:10 brings this comfort to my heart and the image I see in the mirror.  I am blessed!

Closing Verse:   “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Challenge:  Are you finding God in the mirror?  Are you focusing on your heart so it will shine through on the outside?

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Happiness is a Choice

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I ran into this quote just the other day, “Happiness is not something you get, but something you DO,” by Marlene Cox.  As I thought about the quote, I noted how it connected to our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”.  My husband has been quoting this for years in our home to both myself and our daughters.  A simple reminder that we are in charge of own happiness.  Sometimes choosing happiness means serving the Lord and doing his will.  His will leads to my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2 reads, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

For some reason this past school year has been a challenge, and I am not sure I can put my finger on the reason.  Over the course of this year, I have learned to lean on the words of our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”.  I have to keep reminding myself that I have to choose happiness in my life because it will not choose me.   As this year has been a struggle, I have found myself turning more and more to the Lord.  As I write these words, I realize maybe God is trying to get my attention.  Maybe he is focusing me more on Him and His Word.  I seem to be looking at life different from the past, and I don’t mean this as a “bad thing” just as a “different thing”.  So in moving through such a different time in my life, what has God taught me?  

I must find my happiness in the Lord.  Psalm 100:2 reads, “Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”  The Lord has clearly shown me that I will never find happiness in my work and those around me.  As scripture in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  I know that as I dig deeper into his word that I will find a clearer path to walk.  People will never put me and my work as high as the Lord will.  Each day as I have struggled through a morning or a day, the Lord has reminded me that he determines my path and my worth.  I just have to do his work each day and he will bless me. And I have been blessed to have the chance to see my life’s work and its impact and now to look forward at what my future may hold.  I tried to follow the path the Lord has prepared for me.  I pray I have, and do, and will continue to serve him and be an example of his loving grace.  I am reminded of Acts 2:28 and for some reason it gives me peace, “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”  One day I will stand in the presence of the Lord and my prayer is that I will hear him say the words of Matthew 25:21, ” His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’”.

I have to close with how God is really working in my heart this week.  I have not been feeling well or sleeping well and that leads to being a negative person.  I can remind myself that I have to choose happiness, but God decided to just slap me across the face.  First on my drive to work the KLove morning team was discussing the difference in happiness and joy.  Just thinking about the two made me realize “Happiness is a Choice = Joy”.  Things may not always be going the way we want, but Joy is always in our hearts because we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.  After arriving at work, my daily inspirational calendar read, “What are three things that are making you happy RIGHT NOW?”  Here are my three at that time:

1. Loving God

2. Gracious Husband

3. Hot Black Coffee

I can’t lie that is what I wrote down.  I am a blessed woman.  I choose Happiness!  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”Philippians 4:4

Closing Verse: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,” Psalm 30:11

Challenge:  When you are having one of those days that get you down = Choose Happiness.  Better yet, write down your three things that are making you happy at that moment.  God will show you his grace.

 

God’s Protection

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The past several weeks have been both a busy and exciting time for our youngest daughter, but also one that has taught my husband and I to lean on God and know that he is holding her in his hands.  She finished her internship, another blessing from God, gave all her possessions to her Dad and jumped on a plane to travel across Europe for two weeks.  What does this means for me?  Lots of prayer.  Giving her to God, giving all my worries to God, and praying for his protection and guidance for her.  Scripture has become a comfort as I read with purpose to diminish my anxiety and worry, and look for God’s Grace.

By choosing to turn to scripture, I receive great comfort and God’s grace is easily found in his word.  My husband and I have told our daughter over and over go and do what you want now before your life fills up with responsibilities that will make it harder, so it should not be unexpected that she is doing just as she was told!  These different choices that she is making in her life leads me back to God for comfort.  I want her to live the words of Jeremiah 29: 11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” and as she now is striving to live these words from scripture, I pray she waits always on the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31 is a reminder of God’ timing and that we should follow his will, ” But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  I long to see her mount up with wings like an eagle and soar.

When searching for scriptures on protection, I found so many that compares the Lord to a mother eagle.  As I read these, I identify with my over protective self just as God can be over protective of me, yet he allows me to make mistakes, make choices, and celebrates in my successes.  I have to be like the mother eagle who is protective but wants her babies to fly.  She is willing to allow her babies to take risk so they will spread their wings and soar.  The mother eagle’s pride comes from their soaring away from her not clinging to her.

What does scriptures say about protection compared to an eagle?  Here are a few of my favorite from Psalms that I have been cherishing over the last week.

  • “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”  Psalm 36:7
  • “Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.” Psalm 61:4
  • “He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” Psalm 91:4

Although, they don’t refer directly to an eagle, I picture a great eagle.  When wings are spread for me to take shelter or protection under I see an eagle wing.  An eagle is a majestic bird and my simple brain can only draw that comparison.  In reality, I know that God’s protection and wings are nothing that I can truly comprehend or know until I am in his presence in heaven one day, but until then I will visualize the mother eagle spreading her wings over her eaglets.

As I must now remove my wings and let her fall under God’s wings, I realize that he is now in control of her path.  I must heed 1Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  Scripture tells me to give my worries to God and he will care for me.  As I receive strength from scripture, I am reminded that he cares for her and will direct her path.  The Lord assures me in Psalm 25: 4-5, “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.” that if she knows him and his ways he will direct her towards salvation.  So my prayer for her is found in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  I pray God’s word will light her path and he will keep her in the shadow of his wings just as Psalm 17:8 reads, “Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”

As I pray for her journey across Europe, I find myself praying for her path in life and that God will direct her and she will seek his word and guidance as she grows and prepares for her future.

Closing Verse: “For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.”  Psalm 31:3

Challenge Verse:  “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Psalm 22:6.  Know that if you have planted the seed of the Lord in your children that God will cultivate those seeds one day.

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Did I Do The Right Thing?

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The past week in our house there has been a focus on the Dove House and their annual fundraiser.  My husband and I became involved 3 years ago with the Dove House and each year we feel our hearts pulled more and more to become involved with this organization.  This year I spent the week really looking over myself again and the decision I made or really didn’t make many years ago.  Many people know that my husband was a victim of a sexual predator.  When he was in the 4th grade, his teacher earned his trust and that of his parents and changed his life forever.  He wasn’t his only victim there were many others, little did we know how many till it all came out.  As he grappled with realizing the truth of what happened as he matured and believing that no one would believe him, as the teacher had earned so much trust from his parents and the community,  he hid this secret away.

One day while we were dating and soon to be married a door opened where he had the opportunity and chose to give me some insight into this part of his past.  Just a little piece of what had happened to him.  I chose to listen, question little, and to also never bring it up again.  Did I do the right thing?  Even with this decision I know God answers prayers, because I have spent our entire marriage not just praying for our marriage, or just for him, but praying for God to heal him.  Deep down I always knew that he was suffering and prayed for God to heal this pain.  Over those 22 years of pain, I was blessed to watch a slow healing process that prepared him for the time when he would really heal and get the opportunity to tell his story, face his abuser, and feel the relief of a conviction.  This alone does not end his healing or my prayers, but God has answered my prayers in helping him find healing.  As always I pray knowing that God answers prayers his way as Isaiah 55:8 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”  This verse brings me comfort that God was working in my decision.

Now as I look back, I have to ask myself did I do the right thing?  Did I make the right choice?  Should I have prodded for more back when he first confided in me?  Although the answer is yes every time I ask myself, I am thankful that God is in control and in his timing was able to provide my husband with the healing even so many years later in his life.  His blessings in our lives reminds me that I am not in control and that he is as Romans 8:28 states, ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and for this I am thankful.  I believe that the Lord has been fighting for him all these years even while he was silent.

His silence struck me again this past week while listening to the radio when I heard the song “Still“.  The singer, Hillary Scott, spoke about how she wrote this song about the verse Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” As I was driving to work, tears just welled up in my eyes, I immediately thought of how my husband had been silent, but then was reminded that the Lord had been fighting for him all these years.  He had prepared him for this time.  The Lord has been fighting for me as well in my silence.  God is Good!

Although, God has blessed us through this healing process by putting great friends around us, new friends who have suffered and understand his pain, and the great people of the Dove House, my heart tells me that I should have done more.  I feel it every time I have to tell his story and then my role and feel the guilt for not helping him sooner.  I feel the guilt that I know my husband has carried all these years for not speaking up sooner to protect other future victims.  I feel it when I think about the demons that have tormented him for so many years.  I feel it when I look in his eyes and see a new man now that has been freed of this terrible secret.  God gave him a voice at the time appointed, and he would want me to tell you that as he went through this process of court, jury selection, and sharing his story with strangers; he has been struck and moved by how many victims of child sexual abuse have been silently hurting.  He shares his story now empowered by God to bring darkness to light and let others know they are not alone.

Our blessing now from God is that forgiveness is real.  The promise of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  is God’s provision through the sacrifice of his Son that causes us to realize that we not only have to forgive easily each other but those who hurt us.  It seems so hard, but it is so fulfilling to release the pain and hurt to God and let him be the final judge.

Moving forward we support the Dove House because they do the work that is so desperately needed in our community and so many communities.  They support children as they move through the court system and finally recovery.  They make it safe to tell the truth and stop the abuse.  They save children.  I read this verse this week and it reminded me of the Dove House, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13.  The Dove House watches over, stands firm and is strong for those who aren’t.  May God continue to bless their work as they help others heal.

My constant prayer now is that God continues to heal those affected by child sexual abuse and, as my husband reminds me, there are many layers of victims even those that don’t think they are victims.   Family and others in the community today still do not believe that his abuser was guilty and he continues to have their trust.  May God show us the best way to use the truth to help others now that this secret is finally free, and that we will learn to be still while God is fighting.

Closing Verse: Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Challenge: Romans 12:12 – “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  Be constant in prayer for God is always fighting and working for your good.

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