Forgive me……

I’ve started ending my quiet time with the Lord’s prayer……

‘Our Father in heaven!  May your Name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.  Give us the food we need today. Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us. And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One. For kingship, power and glory are yours forever. Amen.’

Matthew 6:9-13 (Complete Jewish Bible)

i-forgive-youI’ve made it a point to not just say the words but to actually pray the prayer in what I’m calling Sharonese. Sharonese is my way of taking this prayer that has been said for generations by millions of people  and making it my own.

I always find it far easier to ask for forgiveness than to  forgive others. It’s not that I don’t  want to forgive them or that I want to hold a grudge against someone else.  I just don’t want to be hurt again by thinking about how I was hurt in the first place.

But if I don’t actually think about who I need to forgive then I’ve fallen into the trap of just saying the words instead of praying, haven’t I?

During my prayer time the other day, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that it’s not just people who’ve done something to hurt me that need my forgiveness. There are people that I need to forgive that have failed to love me as I wanted or needed them too. And those  people who haven’t lived up to my expectations need my forgiveness also. And I needed to forgive those who seemed to ignore me in my time of need.

And, as always, the Holy Spirit is absolutely right so I did exactly what He told me to do!

So now, I’m asking you. Will you forgive me for failing to love you as you wanted or needed me to? Will you forgive me for not living up to your expectations? Will you forgive me when it seemed as if I were ignoring you in your time of need?

Will you forgive me?

 

Acting ugly….

Hank and I had lunch on Saturday in a restaurant that has been in business for more than 40 years! That’s a long time to be feeding people! This restaurant only serves breakfast and lunch and we arrived at the end of the day.

When I asked our waitress how she was doing she told me everything! Over and over she said that it was getting harder to serve tourists. Obviously this is making her job incredibly difficult because  this restaurant is on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach and 99% of her customers are tourists.  (Thomas Drive  is so iconic that Luke Bryan sings about it in his song Roller Coaster.)

I didn’t have to ask her why she felt this way because she was more than willing to tell me.  She said that tourists are impatient, irritated, and annoyed.

And then she asked the question that I ask when I’m standing in line at the deli counter, Why do people act ugly when they’re on vacation?

Let me just tell you this… if you or I act ugly when  on vacation, at the gym, or driving in the car then we are not living in the peace that Jesus gave us.  People, circumstances, or situations don’t steal our peace. We are more than willing to give it away the moment things don’t go our way!

We sigh, roll our eyes, and make demands. Truth be told, we want  the server, cashier, or  employee  who’s being paid to make us happy to be as miserable as we are. Isn’t that how so many of us see it – it’s their job to make us happy?!?!?

And what about our friends and family who are sitting at the table with us? Or the  people who are standing in line behind us? Our bad behavior has agitated, annoyed, irritated, and frustrated them and now their peace is G-O-N-E!

That’s why I’ve started praying everyday for the peace of God which passes understanding to fill my heart and mind! I remind myself that Jesus gave me peace and I get to choose how I’ll give it away…..I can give it to the devil by being easily agitated, irritated, annoyed and frustrated or I can share this perfect peace with those who don’t have any of their own by being loving, kind, gentle, and patient.

And, since this is a blog about aligning spirit, soul, and body, I need to tell you that I often forfeit my peace by choosing to eat foods that I know are not good for me. In the past few weeks I’ve fallen back into old habit of drinking sweet tea, eating sandwiches with real bread instead of salads, and sharing ice cream cones with Hank. Even something as simple as regretting what I ate is giving my peace away.

According to My Jewish Learning, shalom or peace is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect and this is definitely the extreme opposite of annoyed, agitated, irritated, frustrated, or regretful!)

What will you do with your peace today?

15279-john-14-27-nivAnd the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]. Philippians 4:7 

and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Ephesians 6:15 

 

 

 

 

Getting dressed for church….

Getting dressed for church….

This morning we will get ready to go to church. We’ll put on makeup and do our hair. We’ll stand in front of our closets wondering what to wear. And all the while we are getting ready for church, we will be talking to ourselves.

Most of us will complain about how we look. We’ll tell ourselves that we’re too fat, too old, and out of shape. Many of us are having a bad hair day and are wishing we had hair like Jennifer Aniston. Others are noticing new wrinkles for the first time. We may even ask our husbands the dreaded question…..

Do these pants make my butt look fat?

We are feeling insecure before we ever make it through the church doors. And when we get there, we may even start feeling  worse about ourselves! Maybe the lead singer is young and beautiful. Maybe the pastor’s wife has fingernails and toenails that match her Chico’s So Slimming outfit. Maybe the lady behind us has on the same summer dress and it accentuates her curves perfectly while it makes us feel fat and frumpy.

Even while we are singing praises to the one who made us in His image we are rehearsing   our own insecurities.

As James would say, sisters, it isn’t right for things to be this way!

He goes on to say……

James 3: but the tongue no one can tame — it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison! With it we bless Adonai, the Father; and with it we curse people, who were made in the image of God.

Sisters, it’s not just those ladies who intimidate us who are made in the image of God—–We are made in his image too! It’s actually impossible for us to stand in church,  singing praise to God while we are cursing, belittling, and berating ourselves! We might be singing the words, but our hearts and minds are way too occupied with our own insecurities.

So now our insecurities have stolen not only our confidence and relationships with other women but they have also stolen our praise and worship!

This morning, I’m going to confront the lies that I tell myself every Sunday morning with the truth of God’s word!

Psalm 139:14 I thank you because I am awesomely made, wonderfully; your works are wonders — I know this very well.

And guess what? These pants make my butt look fine!

Hannah, Austin, and the girls spent about 10 days with us at the first of July and I enjoyed every minute of it! It’s the first time that Liberty’s been big enough to enjoy the full Panama City Beach experience.

We spent the days at the beach. On one evening, we  rode rides at the Lil’ Miracle Strip over by Dave & Busters. We started out on the Merry-Go-Round and ended on the spinning roller coaster. On another night, she got to drive the bumper boats. We played putt-putt at Coconut Grove. (Well, we played holes 2-5, 17 and 18.) We took the Captain Anderson III sunset cruise. She saw several movies. Her parents took her to Gulf World while I spent the afternoon with baby Rae-Rae.

We were exhausted by the time they went home. As I was laying in bed one night, I began to wonder if Hannah might think that I love the girls more than I love her. So I called her to tell her that I don’t love them more, I’m just able to love them better. When Hannah was a baby I was struggling with my own fears and insecurities. I was terrified that I was going to do something that would screw her up forever. And, like most young moms, I was incredibly busy trying to take care of a home, raise a child, working, and attending church.

Now I’m able to give my girls my full and complete attention. I believe that grandmothers really have only one thing to give their grandchildren and that’s good memories. Most of the stuff that we buy will be out-grown, thrown away, or given away. But memories will last forever.

perfect2blove2bcasts2bout2bfear2521As I have matured, I’ve learned to love better but I am not capable of perfect love. Only God is able to love us with  perfect love that is unyielding and never-ending. And that’s the love that we need to tap into during these trying and changing times. When we choose to trust in his perfect love for us then we will not have to fear the terror that seems to threaten us every time we turn on the television. If we can believe in his heart for us then we won’t have to be afraid of those who believe differently from us. When we choose to live in his love we won’t see those who don’t vote as we do as enemies who are trying to take something away from us.

Let’s you and I choose to love better than we have ever loved before and rest in his perfect love that casts out fear.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding joy….

After being in the ministry for more than 16 years, I struggled to learn how to pray as just a woman who is also a wife, mother, and grandmother.

In the past I had allowed by own insecurity with God to influence my prayer life. I could pray for you but I spent a large portion of my prayer life struggling to receive God’s goodness in my life. There were far too many times that I tried to manipulate God into keeping his promises. Or I whined because he didn’t seem to be listening. And there was a very long season when I would actually tell God I know you can but I’m not sure if you will. (That was my way of having faith without having faith.)

For almost a year all I could do is pray like this…..

I began by asking for forgiveness, reminding God that though my sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

And then I would ask God to, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.Psalm 51:10

And I would end the prayer by asking, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Psalm 51:12 

I would end the prayer asking God to give Liberty and Raelynn a teachable spirit like Esther, a loving and loyal heart like Ruth, and that they would be like Jesus and be able to clearly hear God’s voice in the noise and chatter of this world.

And that was it! But recently something has changed. I still begin with the scriptures above followed by a few minutes of confessing my belief in God the Father who loves me with a perfect, unyielding, and unending love, confessing that my sins have been forgiven through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and confessing that I am filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I follow this time of confession by sitting quietly to receive every good and perfect gift that God has for me.

And there is one other major change in my prayer life.  I used to ask God to show me his heart for others by showing me what hurts his heart and where I could help. But lately I’ve been asking him to show me what brings him joy and what I can do to bring him joy.

In the past I would confess that the joy of the Lord is my strength. As one who has dealt with depression there often times when I couldn’t have found joy if my life depended on it. And then I would feel hopeless.

What if the strength that I’ve needed for so long is more about delighting in HIS joy rather than trying to find my own joy? Maybe I’ve been depressed because I was asking to see what breaks God’s heart when I had no strength to serve those I saw.  (And does God’s heart really break?)  I think that I spent so much of my time and energy focusing on the broken that I took on their pain rather than delighting in his joy when one heart changes.

God’s joy is my strength. I delight in God’s joy. God’s joy overflows from heaven to become my joy.

 

 

 

 

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