The Eraser – The Water – The Blood of Jesus Christ

When I first started learning to blog, I wrote so much that one had to set aside time to read what I posted. For my last blog (3 months ago) I used my husband’s experience of the flooding experienced in Louisiana and Texas this past spring. So I embarked on a “project” months ago, and other things made me wait to get back to the endeavor. The positive things about my project, our deck will look a little cleaner, still have stains that are connected to memories, and secondly, it is a health benefit to me. But then this morning, God spoke in gentle whispers as I decided to give it another try. Yes it is hot here, and I could have started earlier but I did not and the world is still turning. I always tell others to set healthy boundaries in relationships, but learning to set healthy boundaries in our activities is wise as well. Life for me is full of symbolism and it was the same for me as I sat, kneeled, crawled and hoisted myself around on the deck. I have not shared about the health crisis I had in January of this year and I still can not share all of it, but this is a task I took on to regain lost movements, strengthen weakened muscles and fight mental battles. But as I used my “tools” I found God explaining those symbols as it applies to our Christian walk. I like comparison charts so I am sharing this with my fellow Christians as I see it mentally, organized and “neat” (I know who will be chuckling ahead of time).

My Project Tools:
Magic Eraser™
Identified area to clean
Container to hold water
Water
Defined area to clean in set time
Those stubborn stains that are lighter but the reminder remains
Elbow grease
Refill with clean water
Throw out the spent Eraser™
Standing back to appreciate
Checking back after it dries

Purpose:
Cleaning away the dirt
Know what needs to be different
It sets the boundaries for details
Washing away the dirt
Setting aside a time of focus
To look better and feel good
To reach deeper into the dirt and finding the area cleaner
Moving to another area of dirt
To refresh with new ability
See the change
Bring about renewal

God’s Tools:
His Son Jesus Christ
Conviction of Sin
His Word, the Holy Bible
Symbolic cleansing of old self
Prayer and Bible Study
Forgiving us but there are reminders or consequences
Answers to our prayers, growth in Bible Study and yes, scars
Cleansing with Jesus blood
Forgiveness and restoration
Renewing of my spirit
Unconditional Love

Strange way to blog about God’s love for me, but as I scrubbed, assessed and then moved to the next area God was talking to me. You see, there are four Magic Eraser’s™ to a box, so my effort and time is limited on what I will tackle for this day. God told me there were four things I needed to learn. First, when we use our deck it gets dirty and stained. As I live life, I make choices, decisions and omissions that leave me with dirt and stains. Secondly, I can lighten the stains, but I need the reminders. I have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, stained for redemption. Third, I have dirt in my life, and as I sit with my Bible at my side and my devotional book and prayer box or prayer journal – I have some cleaning to do. Lastly, as I dumped the dirty water and go for another clean pan of water, I need to dump the old thoughts that give Satan a stronghold in my life – the anger, the self-recriminations, the excuses. And when I stepped back to assess the change I feel God’s ever present love, compassion and restoration. Can’t wait to vacuum because there has to be another life lesson ahead!

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Washed but shadows of stain versus stained and dirty

The log with a message …. from God

Life is so full of symbolism, often we miss them but the symbols are there and can teach us so much if we are willing to learn.  We frequently ask God to answer our prayers, as we define the answer, and we miss the real answer.  I frequently see His answer in hindsight as I list my gratitude for the day.  How many times before have we gotten  out on the road to go to a destination that requires a lot of travel, and we ask God for traveling grace  — the assigned meaning for that is “get me back home safely”.  Old habits are alive and well, I still tell God how to answer my prayers.  When my husband, Joe, pulled out in the storms that we have been having here in Louisiana, I called after him to be careful, be safe and a gentle reminder that I would be concerned about him traveling in the high water and thunder storms.  I did not know it at the time, but the thunder storms of that morning was my heavenly Father preparing me for yet another lesson of faith.

So we talked frequently as I updated him on the weather and rising water levels, and because I had made this trip with him many times, he told me when and where he had to take a detour or find a new path, but he made it to his destination on time.  My worry frequency was on ‘high alert’ because I knew it was still raining and where we live in Louisiana there is just a lot of water, but then all of Louisiana right now has a lot of water.  Please keep Louisiana in your prayers.  The trip usually takes four-and-one-half hours one way, the trip home took seven-and-one-half hours.  But God needed to give a message to Joe, and I needed another faith lesson – trust God!  I was thrilled that day when my new devotional book arrived because I have been participating in the online Bible Study through Women’s Bible Cafe™ (www.womensbiblecafe.com). Beth Moore’s “Believing God, Day by Day” was my treasure for that day, or at least I thought it was.  So I hurriedly opened to the devotional for that day, and this was the scripture for this worrier (I was not in warrior mode). Joshua 3:4, “Don’t go near it, so that you can see the way to go, for you haven’t traveled this way before” (March 11).  I laughed to myself because my first response was, oh yes I have, I have worried, I have traveled the worry route many times before, the path is very familiar.

When Joe did get home, with repeated frequent calls because he was searching to find a new way home and I was filled with anxiety, he shared his testimony with me on how God had taken care of him, in a visible manner.  He crossed the Sabine River leaving Texas behind, only to find he could travel no further into Louisiana, or not travel very easily.  He recounted how he had seen the cars ahead coming in his direction begin to turn around, but he saw trucks coming through the water, slowly, but he too can drive slowly when the situation calls for it.  But the truck driver who stopped to tell him that it was very treacherous also cautioned him to turn around.  My husband shared with me his “military” and “law enforcement” reasoning as follows.  Well I am in a large, heavy Tahoe and this should be a breeze, just have to be careful, drive slowly and stay in the middle of the road, actually in the middle of the observable edges of the road.  So then he saw it, the log that suddenly floated across the road, carried by the swift current and deepening level of the water.  So he and several other stranded drivers turned around, drove back into Texas and as a caravan found their way traveling north and then across to the Toledo Bend area, then south and home.  As he shared he noted: “God was not going to let him go that way, so he put that log right there, right then, and if I had gone forward, that log would have hit me.”  God was assuring my husband that the traveling grace we had prayed for would lead him to travel a new path, with a group of strangers who had decided to trust one another, without speaking a word.  I still smile as I think of that log, in the picture below.

Log that stopped joe

Maybe I have missed, no I have missed, many messages, miracles and blessings because I was determined to stay on the path I have traveled over and over, missing what would be on the other path if only I would be still and listen for God’s message, and see the caution signs, detours and natural road blocks, much like the floating log.  We can not tell God how to deliver us,  just trust that He will, and not always by traveling in the middle of the road of life’s journey.   We can not tell God how to talk to us, we have to be willing to see what He is showing us, even in the midst of a storm.  I have been hit by logs that life puts in our path, and now I get the message; I did not listen to the same words Joshua had written so long ago — and take the path God has wanted me to take.  May I be more aware of when God is speaking!

Can we talk …….. at all!

The art of speaking with one another, we just do not do it well anymore, not that we did it with such style and grace previously.  Listening to the current events in the nation leads me to think all we do is fight, argue, bully and kill each other.  Not much going on in today’s world that makes us want to engage other people in conversation – I know I fear getting out in public more because if I do speak and someone takes it as an offense, then what will the outcome be, probably not what I expect.

I use to find such enjoyment in going to the movies, I loved watching great movies on the “big screen”, and it is the one time I mindlessly enjoy popcorn; it is a must for the theater.  As of last Thursday night, July 23rd, I have no desire to be in a darkened theater if someone is angry at the world and is there with a hidden legal handgun and repeats what happened in Lafayette Louisiana.  That was for me, the undoing of another place I considered to be safe.  I will still attend my worship services with fellow believers, but the senseless tragedy in South Carolina is robbing me of peace in my surroundings.  What I have concluded is that we, as humans who have the ability to reason, verbalize and choose our behavior; we are becoming incapable or unwilling to use that God given ability.  Yes, we all have free will given to us by God, the right to pursue happiness given to us constitutionally and because of the freedom of speech which gives me the ability to blog and pen a book, it has all changed for me – and I do not think I am alone in that perception. Just as the Ten Commandments were ordered to be taken down in Oklahoma, I feel my individuality is under attack and being taken down.  As my children and grandchildren go to the beach, I worry about their safety and simultaneously place them and their safety in the hands of my God and Savior.  When choosing my word for the year, perseverance was the one I found that appeared to meet my needs scripturally and spiritually. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 of the New King James Version of the Bible I found these words that would lead me to my goal of inner peace and strength to persevere.  Peter writes: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” As I review the road to perseverance I am checking off my mental ‘to do’ list that will take me on my journey as well as a framework for checking off my progress.  Proverbs 31:10-31 instructs me on how to become virtuous as a woman (always a work in progress), then I started searching for knowledge, not book knowledge but knowledge about the character of God so that I capture growth in faith and perseverance, I embarked on a journey of studying God’s Word. After starting and stopping on daily study on my own, God provided the opportunity to participate in organized and topic focused study through a small women’s group at my church on Friday night and through the Women’s Bible Café (www.womensbiblecafe.com) online. I am learning so much about God, my own faith and gaining an understanding of the scripture that was lacking in my life.  The self-control  in the above list is where I find myself at this time in my life due to my awareness of the violence; hatred and anger are in the world, outside of my safe place to fall which is on God, and out of my control.  I repeat the scripture “Be anxious for nothing …” (Philippians 4:6), and that calms me but I still am concerned over how to stop this downward spiral that is happening around me.  In trying to simplify the problem, communication is the key, or the missing link, which is totally based on my perspective of the day.  Advancing on my goal to grow in the areas found in 2 Peter as mentioned above, our ability to talk by social media or on media, texting or email – we do not communicate thus we do not do well in social interactions.  The lack of open feedback, challenges to our interpretation of actions and events and the inability to cope with our emotions leads us to where we are today. We are a people who are civilized but do not practice civility, or the love that is the goal of walking by faith in the Lord.  Closing with a scripture, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). This is just one solution to the lack of caring about one another, speak only wholesome talk and build one another up not tear them down because of their personal beliefs.  Be available to speak those encouraging words, when it is an observation that a person is isolating and withdrawing – speak an encouraging word, extend a willingness to listen in hopes that this will be an exchange of thoughts so an opportunity for enhancing a person’s ability to cope or just being a sounding board of acceptance.  Even if we disagree, we do not have to say we disagree immediately – give an answer of “I hear what you are saying and I need to think about that” which tells them you honor their opinion at least enough to think about it and end with something encouraging.  Determine to not be a catalyst of anger, bitterness and resentment.  I am not there all the time, especially since anger has been both my strength and my lesser strength that has helped me to cope.  But I have learned to not act on my anger; my anger is my problem, and not something to take out on other people or to act out publicly in a violent manner. I have to give that to God, He loves me unconditionally.

Lessons learned from a Hermit Crab

Since I have began sharing the journey of growing my faith, I find reminders of lessons and new lessons in everything. Joe and I had the privilege of having a weekend visit with our extended family from Oklahoma, the Thoma family. We decided to spend a day at the beach and set out on a journey with yet another reminder and lesson. We were drawn to the beach by the sight of dolphins/porpoises feeding or frolicking very close to the shore. We began to notice the hermit crab shells as we walked, most of whiich were broken in varying sizes of pieces of shells due to natures way of providing food to the sea gulls and the sandpipers. Brittany noted that the shells were broken but she wanted one that was intact, with its lovely spirals. I explained that most of the shells we would find would be broken because of the balance of nature in providing food to the birds. Stumbling across a live hermit crab, shell intact, provided another life lesson. Brittany said: “I would like a whole one, but not with that “thing” in it”, so a brilliant discussion began. Explaining that to have the beautiful spiral we would have to pick up live hermit crabs, kill them and clean them from their habitat. She was so torn by the decision/choice that would have to be made, a decision of life and death. What an astounding observation, and a life lesson. We choose daily to do right or wrong, sin versus the Will of God, good versus evil, to kill or let live. Every decision we make is just as astounding as Brittany’s ultimate decision once she had all the facts. The live crabs we were observing would for the most part be feeding prey for the birds as part of nature’s design. Decisions can change the paths of our lives and impact the balance of those around us. In recalling what I shared in my book, Asking What: No More Whys, this is evident. Decisions made in anger with no consideration of the impact it would have on the coarse of my life, then on the lives of my daughters are reflected over and over. Life can destroy by picking us apart, the scavengers are there. On the other hand, we can seek God’s will for our lives and regardless of the trials at the time, something good and beautiful is the final product. We are promised that if “… in all things with thanksgiving …” will render the results that will not only benefit ourselves but those in our lives as well as though who are “touched” by the hem of our garments or those who are listening to our words, if spoken in love and wisdom.

Living “Love”, the verb

In my book, Asking ‘What’: No More ‘Whys’ I deal with the lessons of learning that love, like faith, is a verb.  Yesterday our pastor spoke about the very scripture that I use, that of reducing or redefining the Ten Commandments with two simple instructions, Honor the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor as thyself. Rev. Johnny Miller started with Deuteronomy 6:4-9  that instructs us to (v.5) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (NKJV).  Because it is a priority on my list, as I was making notes as to how this scripture spoke to me, I noted all the verbs found in my pastor’s key sermon verses.  The verbs are: teach, talk, sit, walk, bind and write – how we are to live love. It is in John 13:34-35 where Jesus instructs us to “love one another”.  Just as difficult it is to tame the tongue, love is difficult to practice daily.  As I moved through my afternoon and evening, I challenged myself to do the things I did not want to do, a simple walk on the hill with my husband, who continues to be the wind beneath my wings.  In that simple act I was reminded of the journeys that have brought us to where we are today.  I had to believe he loved me, that he loved me despite illness, moods, losses and living life itself.  I think it is so important for Christians to demonstrate agape love, the verb, daily because of the ones with whom we may touch.  Joe had loved me through my cancer, through my neck fusion and through so many changes that I wonder how he could continue.  As our church recognized our upcoming anniversary, he whispered to me that he was honored to have me on his right arm.  How loving and what kindness!  I do soar on the wings of eagles because he believes in who I am, the real me, with my flaws and faults, just as God loves me “just as I am”.   I have written my book because we, as humans, struggle so much with loving one another, and God told my pastor that I needed to be reminded, again!