The Tongue & Apologies

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Rotten Fruit

How many times have my words cut someone down?  I can honestly say that I am not sure I really want to know the result of my tongue and the lack of my apologies.  Sometimes it is hard to stop and think about the wrongs I have done until I feel the impact of someone’s tongue toward me.  When I eat the fruits of someone else’s tongue, I only taste the fruit of my own.  I have to stop and linger over the rotten fruit that I have produced from my own lips.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21.

The Tongue

I believe my biggest sins sometime come straight out of my mouth.  The tongue is such a work of evil that I pray constantly for the Lord to help me bring mine under control.    The Word tells me the only way to keep my tongue in check and I know that I alone can not do that without God working in me, so that my tongue brings more glorification than hurt to those around me.  “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23.

Apologies

I want my tongue to bring healing and not hurt.  I want my tongue to spread God’s Love not the Devil’s hate.  I want my tongue to show love in all that comes forth, but I fail at this everyday.  When I fail I must sow the seeds of forgiveness by asking for forgiveness and giving it when I am hurt.  I must apologize and bring healing with my tongue when I bring hurt with my words are swords of hurt.  “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18.  As I pray and seek God’s word to help keep my tongue in check, I turn my eyes to Jesus and know that following his example is the way to the Father.  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

 

 

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Closing Verse:  “For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;”  1 Peter 3:10.

Challenge: Seek the Lord in your words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good, Good Father

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Summer is Almost Over

As life starts to get busy and summer is coming to a close, I think about the many different openings to school I have had over the past 28 years.  I have always loved watching the excitement of students, even my own, as a new school year begins.  Everyone is ready and excited about the new year, new experiences, and new relationships.  As students begin a new adventure in a new classroom, the excitement of searching for answers and writing a new chapter of their lives seems reachable as a new school year begins.  It gets me excited about what is to come.  For some reason this experience brought the song Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin to my mind.  I guess just watching students at the middle school level searching for who they are and who they want to be just reminded me that God is where all the answers really lie.  “But test everything; hold fast what is good.”  1 Thessalonians 5:21.

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

Searching for Answers

I love watching middle schoolers search for their identities and acceptance.  This can be such a hard time for so many and sets them down particular paths in their lives.  I pray for the students that I get the honor of building relationships with each year.  I pray that God will somehow shine through me and they will find hope and strength in who they are.  These students are seeking so many answers for their future.  I pray that those who need a Good, Good Father may find the peace of God sooner in their lives.  “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”  Jude 1:2.

I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
‘Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you                                                                                                                     It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Love Speaks Louder Than Words

As this new year begins and students enter my life one more time, I pray that I will bring love and peace to their lives.  That they will see a deep love within me that they will want to seek for themselves.  I pray that I have the opportunity to plant seeds and share his love.  As I watch students walk through a day with little love in their eyes and in their lives, I know that I might be the only person to call their name or smile at them that day.  This is a reality for many children.
1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As you call me deeper still
As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love
Because you are perfect in all of your way                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways                                                                                                You are perfect in all of your ways to us
You’re a good good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
Closing Verse:
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Challenge:  Share the Good Father with those who need Him.

 

Security Blankets

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What Is My Security Blanket?

Harley and I flew again this week and as I did my usual preparations for the flight, I watched Harley crawl into the safety of her crate with her blanket.  “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4.  Something about watching her at the airport and on the plane in the safety of her “special place” sent me to thinking about my own security blankets. Security blankets can be a great thing to have, but sometimes I feel I can’t let go of my blankets.  I am going to bet we all have some.  You know those things or “that thing” you just can’t let go of in life.  You think it is your safety net and what you need to keep your life complete.  But then you sit around and dream all those big dreams, so at moments like this I ask myself why am I not living some of those dreams.  Why don’t I trust that if God is putting the dream in my heart that maybe he just might open the doors and pave the path for those dreams.  Why am I holding on so tight to my security blankets?  Obviously, I am longing to feel secure but finding that security in the wrong places, when the only place I need to look is in His Word and to His Son.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

What Should Be My Security Blanket?

I know that my humanness has me holding on so tight to what I know, to what is easy, yet my heart is willing to dream and walk with God.  “My humanness” makes things messy while God makes them simple.  The only real security blanket I need has already been provided to me.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.  God gave me His Son.  He sacrificed him to protect me from myself.  He promises he has me secure, so that I can let go of my security blankets and dream, and live, and service him even more.  “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45.

Closing Verse:  “But made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:7.

Challenge:  Let go of your security blankets and serve the Lord.

 

 

 

#ITSPERSONAL

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Personal

My family is a family of educators.  Our history is full of educators, but I will not bore you with all the extended details.  “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20.  I do want to share my direct line:

My Grandmother (Father’s Mother):  Swanee

My Father:  Alfred

Me:  Allie

My Daughter:  Hannah

We are a lineage of public educators and I can remember some of my parent’s struggles growing up, but I know there was nothing else my father should have been doing except loving students.  He  was a middle school physical education teacher, a coach, and an administrator at all levels.  People to this day continue to tell stories about his love for his job, other educators, and students.  I followed his footsteps as a high school English teacher and finally as a middle school school library media coordinator.  I found my passion!  I love this age!

Now, as I near the end of my career, I pass the passion torch to my daughter who chose a harder yet fulfilling path.  She loves her students deeply as she walks each day through the doors of a low performing school with low income students.  She loves and cares for sometimes their physical needs, sometimes their mental needs.  She celebrates their successes often and cries with them when they struggle.  So yes, Public Education is personal.

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#RedForEd

Last week the country watched a unified effort as North Carolina educators stood up for their students.  I am sad to see how others view educators.  I know the evening news shows the bad most of the time in education, but the majority of educators come to work and love their “kids”.

I have seen teachers:

  • Buy clothes and sew clothes for students
  • Buy formal wear
  • Buy food
  • Provide snacks, breakfast, and lunch money
  • Get students medical services
  • Tutor on their own time after school or at the public library
  • Buy school supplies not just for their classroom but individual students.
  • Be parent stand-ins
  • Travel to watch and support student’s passions

These are just a few of the things I know teachers have done for their students. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.  Honestly, schools nor educators are financially able to meet the needs of some of our students.  I firmly believe the majority of educators want better for their students and classroom before themselves, but even educators deserve better.  Yet, why don’t we want better for students and their teachers.  ”

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.”  Jeremiah 29:11.

I pray our “elected leaders” in both parties are doing more than listening because as our family motto goes, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”.  Act for our students and the educators who love them.”

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,”  Proverbs 1:5.

My Favorite Teacher

Jesus was our great teacher.  “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”” John 3:2.  His example is one I see in so many teachers.  Think about your favorite teacher, I know that when I compare mine to Christ, I see clearly God’s work.  When I think of some of the great teachers who touched my life, I remember characteristics such as service, discipline, loving, passionate, and caring.  All of these are characteristics of Jesus Christ, My Savior and Great Teacher.  Yes, I believe teachers are the some of the strongest people I know.

Closing Verse:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”  Matthew 28:19.

Challenge: Volunteer in your local school.  They really need you in the coming weeks.  Go and see God’s work.  There is nothing better than touching a child’s life.

#WatchGod

God continues to show his grace.  God continues to bless.  God continues to allow this person to shine.  My prayers continue for God to bless and show his love in this person’s life.

Empowered by God

 

Harley’s Talent – Begging

Never downplay the talents and skills you have.  No matter how large or small they are, you have the right to be proud!

I have this great desk calendar that was gift from a friend and each day I receive some motivation or even a good laugh.  Actually, readers of this blog have seen a few quotes that I read on my calendar.  The not so strange part of this is that God seems to send the message I need on the day I need it.  I stand there sometimes with goosebumps and/or tears.  That is what happened this past week when I read this message.  “Never downplay the talents and skills you have.  No matter how large or small they are, you have the right to be proud!”  (no author was listed). I felt God wrapping his arms around me when I needed a hug from him reminding me of the talents and skills he blessed me with and that my only goals are to work hard, be proud, and glorify HIM.  The timing was perfect in his plan for me.

Glorify God 

God knew I needed this message.  He knew that I needed to stop struggling within myself and I needed to be able to celebrate my talents because these are gifts that God prepared for me according to Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  This reminder not only puts a smile on my face but reminds me to always give my best for the glory of God and no one else.  No one else matters because he gave us the greatest gift of eternal life.  Romans 6:23 reads, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  This is my reminder that I live for the Lord and share my gifts for his glory.

God’s Gifts

I am blessed that the Lord has given me the perfect gifts, yet I am called to ensure that I use these gifts to glorify God.  Romans 12: 6-8 gives direction to all Christians in using their gifts, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”  As I move through the coming weeks and use my gifts from God, I will be sure to glorify him more and focus on me less.  I know from the past when I look away from myself and toward Christ that I am truly blessed in my work.  I cannot become the like the Pharisees in Matthew 23: 1-3, “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”   My happiness is practicing what I preach and focusing my life on Christ.

Become Empowered

In closing I want to share scripture from 1 Corinthians 12:4 which reads, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”  This scripture is a reminder to us all that God has given us gifts and these gifts should empower us to live lives that give God all the glory.  As I speak to coworkers, family members, or meet a stranger during my day, I  remember that I am living a life for the Lord.  I am Empowered by God!

Closing Verse:  1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Challenge:  Are you using your gifts to glorify God?  Reflect on how you are using your gifts that God has blessed you with.

 

Loving an Introvert Part 3: Can you be both?

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Can you be an Introvert and Extrovert?

I want to begin by stating that I am no expert on this topic other than the fact that I have lived my entire life as an introvert who fell in love with an extrovert.  Our discoveries have been both difficult but successful for our relationship.  My prayer is that you learn to love who you are and this series Loving an Introvert will be a blessing because God loves you.  Psalm 139:14, ” I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  Two weeks ago a friend asked an interesting question after my post on introverts.  The question was can you be a little of both?  This sparked several conversations around our dinner table, and one result from all the conversations was last week’s post written by my husband, Extrovert’s Perspective.  He gave his perspective and insight as an extrovert married to an introvert.  My husband and I do want to clarify that we are just a minority and our relationship should not be a recipe for others, but our hope was to open conversation and honestly see how both can and do work together.  Everyone needs to find their own recipe.  We know that ours will not work for everyone, but we found it better than the alternative which was lack of understanding and compassion for each other.  Now, back to the question, for me personally, I would definitely answer yes. Although, I feel I have few characteristic of an extrovert, there are many people around me that I feel have both and others who probably are not sure where they fall on the spectrum.  Yet God made us all just the way we are as Ephesians 2:10 reminds, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Where are you on the spectrum?

If we think of the characteristic along a spectrum or axis then each end would be extremes of being an introvert or extrovert, yet many would fall right in the middle.  I believe that everyone would probably place themselves in different spots along this spectrum.  I have asked several friends and family and many feel they have personality traits of each.  Some actually feel that certain settings bring out certain characteristics of either an introvert or extrovert.  I can actually see some of this as I watch my adult children navigate the world.  With DNA from both an introvert and an extrovert in their blood, sometimes they totally blow me away in situations, and then in others I am not sure who they are because they become the total opposite of the person I think I know.  These different personality traits can be driven by specific social situations.  Sometimes it is just natural for some situations to be easy and others to be harder.  These situations according to my children can be depended on how passionate they are about the situation.   Is it job driven? Is it something they believe in? Are all their friends they are comfortable around there?  Or, is a requirement? Is it an expectation and they just don’t want to be there?  These feelings actually cause them to either become and introvert or extrovert in certain situations.  I believe this is how many people view themselves in different situations in their lives.  I will close with Ecclesiastes 3:1, ” For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:”  God Timing is always right.  

My short answer to the question is yes you can be a little of both.  Love who God made you to be.

Closing Verse:  1 Thessalonians 5:11, ” Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Challenge:  Be confident in who you are and know that God has made no mistakes and open your heart for him to keep working in you.  Encourage those around you to bring out the best in each other.

Loving An Introvert Part 2: Extrovert’s Perspective

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This post is written by Derwin Long, my husband and friend for 28 years.

How Extroverts Love Introverts?  

My wife asked me to write a follow up to her blog last week and immediately I said yes, but then I had second thoughts. Primarily because I got to thinking how can I write this and not come off as being condescending or sounding like introverts are somehow lacking in some important traits. However in the end I obviously decided to write this as I do feel it is important. So with that disclaimer I will attempt to share my experiences and thoughts.

Have you ever been in a social setting (my definition is more than 4 individuals) with mostly couples and notice someone who seems to be totally out of place? They aren’t talking, maybe not even smiling and possibly even separating themselves from everyone. Or maybe they are there and laugh with all the conversations but never say a word (this was my wife). What used to come to my mind at first was that this person was upset, unhappy or just doesn’t like being there or maybe doesn’t like someone that is there? Some of us are the one who is at ease in social settings and in fact enjoy them, but have to answer difficult questions about our introvert spouse? It can be very frustrating getting asked all the questions from your friends, like mentioned above, but ultimately the question is “What’s wrong with him/her?” Personally, I would just play it off with friends and say she is just quiet. At home the conversation was different and at times turned into an argument. Ultimately I had good intentions and just wanted everyone to love the person I knew, but I wasn’t very good at conveying that or understanding what it was like for her.

Coming Together as One

Here is where you might expect to get some great words of wisdom or a recipe for fixing what seems to be broke, but what we found out is that it is pretty simple. We never quit or gave up on each other. We are one, so what one feels the other feels or tries to understand. We are better together because we are different and bring a balance to each other’s life.

Mark 10:8, And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.

Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

What does this look like in practice for us? Well there are two sides to this, one is how do I help my wife in social settings? There are many examples that show us Jesus was very social and enjoyed weddings (who wouldn’t like to taste his wine), feast and parties.

  • Initially, I would never leave her side at social setting, why would I leave her when I know she needs me to support her. Seems obvious but we have witnessed someone we know that is an introvert get left to fend for herself. This doesn’t work for several reasons: one is that as your spouse is possibly your only source of safety and comfort. Two is that it puts a huge amount of responsibility to entertain and include someone when their sensory system is on overload and looking for someone who really wants to take the time to have a deeper conversation, than the typical social banter is unrealistic in many social settings.
  • After getting more comfortable being in these settings, I would give openings for her to step in to the conversation, which can be difficult when in a group of extroverts. (We had discussed and talked about this before going). I might say “Oh my wife has a story to go along with that, why don’t you tell them” or when opportunity is right share a talent or personality trait that at that time she would never share about herself like. “Do you know she can crochet?” Or “Do you know she can speak whale?” (Finding Nemo). Doing this gives others insight into her and her personality and in a way that gives others a chance to ask questions.
  • Which is another important thing an introvert can do when at a loss for what to say. Have a thought out series of questions that you know and have memorized. After all what is one of the best ways to show sincere interest? Now you may say how is it sincere when you have preplanned these questions? Because you practice what you aren’t comfortable with doesn’t mean you aren’t sincere, it means you want to get better.

Two is how does she help me learn more about myself? There are many examples where Jesus withdrew from everyone and spent time alone with his thoughts and in prayer.

  • Being an Extrovert I can seem somewhat superficial, never taking anything serious, always joking especially in social setting. Some of it is an intentional desire to be liked and be the life of the party, some of it is just a way to disconnect and have fun. My wife has taught me even in social settings to be comfortable going deeper with friends and building stronger relationships. We used to have zero couples that we considered close friends but now we are blessed to have at least 4 or more that we share life with. Ecclesiastes 4:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
  • She has also taught me that I need time to just do nothing, listen to music, maybe read a book, Bible or just be alone with my own thoughts. There was a time when I couldn’t be still always thinking about what needed to be done or what I wanted to do, but now our favorite place to enjoy downtime is on a beach with several umbrellas and no place to be other than there. These times have been some of my favorite.
  • She has also taught me that not every moment has to be filled with talking whether in social setting or just me and her. That just because no one it talking doesn’t mean anyone is upset and in a social setting just because I think it, doesn’t mean it should be said.

Closing

Ecclesiastes 3:1, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Final thoughts: Ultimately I think we all want close relationships with our spouses, children, friends, and in business. Being an introvert or extrovert can be helpful or it can get in the way. I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone whatever that is and experience life from a different perspective.

 

Loving An Introvert

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Make Peace With Being An Introvert

Recently I found myself in a conversation about a difficult topic that is near to my heart,  introverts.  I know this was not an accident but an opportunity from God to share the many lessons that my husband and I have learned over the years about introverts and how they interact with extroverts.  

In the past, I honestly believed something was wrong with me because I felt different from others, in any setting or interaction.  Yet, God’s Word shows me in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well,” that he made me and it should be well with my soul.  The truth is introverts can struggle in social gatherings.  By learning more about introverts, I have been able to make peace with who I am , and now I can feel more comfortable in a crowd.   I have had to learn how to engage people in conversation.  Sometimes this is more difficult because introverts usually need time to process information before they respond.  This processing can be viewed as shy, quiet or even disengaged and by the time introverts have something to say the moment has past.   Many extroverts in a social setting may constantly dominate the social conversation which leaves no room for an introvert.  Introverts are usually known great listeners, but many times extroverts miss out on their wisdom.  Learning how to engage and respond in various social settings is important for an introvert.  This is where learning from an extrovert, like my husband, can be so valuable.  Now, engaging with people at a social event is not the enormity that it once was for me.

I have a loving God who blessed me with special people who chose to love me.  One is my husband who has helped me learn more about myself and extroverts, so we could understand and grow as a couple. Luke 6:31 reads, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Relationships like these are a perfect place for the Golden Rule.  Introverts need down time to recharge, but extroverts need people for energy.  This is a dynamic combination and each must learn to be compassionate in social gatherings.  In the past when I have engaged in social events over and over, it would drain me to the point that others believed I was an unhappy or even mad.  Being able to identify when this is happening is easier now for me to ensure I get the recharge I need.  God created both introverts and extroverts because the world needs both!  My husband and I have unique roles in our relationship.  

Blessing or Curse

My husband shared this article “Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing”  with me, and I would recommend this read and exploring Introvert, Dear.

This article really helps to understand how introverts respond in social settings.  Extroverts can be a blessing for introverts, but an extrovert can also be a curse.  On the flip side introverts can be the same for an extroverts if both are not learning and working together in the relationship.  God calls us into relationship and made each of us different to complement one another.  The struggle is not letting the curse take hold of relationships.  I am reminded each day that God loves both just by reading 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 seek the value God places on my husband, the extrovert, and I pray God shows him my value in return.

Back to the earlier conversation I mentioned, I have finally reached a point in my life that I can discuss who I am and talk about myself as an introvert and my experience with people.   This conversation allowed me the opportunity to speak about introverts to a few friends who were struggling to understand a situation with some other friends.  I was able to really explain that situation by sharing my own struggles and successes.  The struggle continues each day as I shared weeks ago in the post “Finding God in my Mirror,” but God is constant and good.  Understanding and loving others is one of Christ final commandments found in Luke 10:27, “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” I am blessed by God’s love for me, and I know that I must continue to work at understanding and defining who I am while I love others where they are.  

What has God taught me?  

Love and prayers are the answer.  By providing love and an abundance of prayer my husband and I were able to understand our relationship more deeply and respect the needs of each other.  I pray that for all introverts as they maneuver social settings and deep relationships with extroverts in their lives.

Closing verse:  1 Peter 3:4 “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.”

Challenge:  Don’t Judge Others before you really know who they are inside and out.  Get to know a Quiet Spirit more deeply that God has placed in your life.

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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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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