What if You Are Striving After the Wrong Currency?

workingToday in my studies I came across Philippians 3:7-9. It says, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

We spend so much time going after money, going after material possessions, and chasing after our own ideas. Personally, I am not a material possession chaser. In the past when I saw this verse I would think to myself, “I’m good here! I don’t enjoy money. It has brought nothing but hurt my way. I do not desire material things either. I have conquered this verse.” But God spoke to me in that still quiet voice and said, “What about your ideas?”

Wow!!! It was like a brick came out of the sky and nicked me on my head just enough to make me stop reading and pause. I have ideas and lots of them. Some of my ideas I have pursued are from Jesus himself, but not all of them. Many of them are super good awesome great things that I thought would be helpful. Many times they didn’t work out as planned and sometimes they did. You may be wondering, “What’s the problem here? I’m sure you didn’t hurt anyone with those ideas. It probably benefited some people. It’s all good; isn’t it?” I would say to that, “Sort of … to an extent.

This verse says that whatever I gain is a loss and it is garbage. All “my” ideas are coming from a righteousness of my own. They are my “good and great” things. My things are not eternal. When I get to heaven it will be like I never did them. I can’t trade them in for life in eternity. And if there is a currency in heaven? … ever heard of the crowns of glory? Then I am not investing my time well here on earth. I am making a bad investment. All my time here on earth doing GOOD and GREAT things will leave me at the bottom of the totem pole in heaven, which probably won’t be that bad. But how much better will it be to not be at the bottom but to be God’s right hand man for all of eternity! Think of it! It is better than being Bill Gates or Michael Dell’s right hand man. And how many of us would love to be their best friends?!  Being best friends with God is the currency we need to be striving for. His currency, his ideas, his possessions last forever. It is the best stock anyone could invest in. It is the best boat ride you could ever enjoy. It is the most fulfilling service you could do for anyone. It is an eternal investment. What you are working on right now will burn up in a few years. It will break and be put in the trash. It will be spent and you will have to find more. It will be stolen and leave you with nothing.

Here is a wild, but very wise idea. Trade it in. Trade it in for the currency that will never burn, never brake, can not be stolen and will never leave you! Trade it in for the everlasting eternal currency Christ Jesus our Lord. If you don’t know how to get a hold of that currency? Ask me. I have tons that I am willing to give away for free.

A Little Prayer Request

Exam    About 2 weeks ago I was permitted by the National Counselors Board to schedule my test I need to take in order to begin an internship to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). That big day has arrived and I haven’t been able to study as much as I would have liked in order to help me feel secure enough to say that I got this test. I feel like I really need God’s intervention here to help me pass. I know God has a plan and part of it is to be an LPC. His plan will prevail whether I pass now or have to retake it later. At the same time, I need a job pretty bad and this test is my next step in being able to obtain a paid position where I can solely focus on becoming fully licensed as a counselor for girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking and those who have suffered from sexual abuse.

Please keep me in your prayers for the next 24 hours as I finish studying and take this test. I need discernment when answering questions, I need to be focused, I need to arrive safely to the testing site, I need my kids to be healthy and safe in their school during my testing, and anything else God may put on your heart for prayer.

Thank you all so much and I will keep you updated!

The Lie That Landed Me in Juvi

February marks the month when my dad died in 2012. I don’t miss him. I rarely think of him. I recently heard that he wrote some notes about his life and my sister had them printed up. I was concerned because I do not want him even breathing my name let alone write about me. I asked my sister for a copy of them and she obliged. I read the 40 pages of notes. It was mostly about his childhood. It wasn’t impressive and quite pitiful. Pitiful because it shows how he still viewed himself before his death. He held onto this tough exterior and boasted constantly about how strong he was. Towards the end of his notes he talked about most of his children. He tried to boast about how effective and how important his tough love techniques were towards me and my siblings. As he described how rebellious I was he left out the reasons why. One particular story he describes is the time I was sent to the juvenile detention facility.

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He says I was arrested at a high school dance and taken to juvi because I ran away from home. Nothing could be further from the truth! That night I went to juvi was the night my father accused me and my boyfriend with having a gun and threatening to kill him. You see, I was talking on the phone when I wasn’t supposed to be. He came home and my brother told on me. He became so enraged that he began to slap me over and over on my face and on my head. I never cried. I waited patiently for him to finish taking his rage out on me. When he finished I went to my room and proceeded to get ready for bed, but he couldn’t handle the fact that his physical abuse didn’t cause me pain any more. It took about one minute or less before he came charging back to my bedroom yelling again. He then grabbed me by the throat with both hands and began choking me. I tried to scream for my mom but I had no air to breath more than a whisper. He then threw me down on my bed and yelled, “I’m gonna take you out!” He left the room to get his care keys which was in his bedroom on the opposite side of the house. Fearing for my life, I took off out the front door and ran as fast as I could. In my mind, “I’m gonna take you out” meant …I’m going to kill you!! My dad quickly got into his car and proceeded to chase me as I was running for my life! Knowing I couldn’t outrun his car I ducked into a car garage of a neighbor who lived about 4 or 5 houses down the road. Squatting down I began banging on their door screaming to let me inside. No one answered. I noticed a doggy door and crawled through it. By then he was driving in front of this house slowly. He must have seen me duck into one of the carports. I sat and breathed for a moment and heard him slowly drive by the house. That is when I jumped up and went out the back door and hopped the fence into the ally. I ran a few blocks while listening to his car engine zooming around the neighborhood. It was night time so his car was easy to hear. Scared he was getting close to finding me; I went to another house and banged on their carport door. These people where home! I had a waterfall of tears streaming down my face as I begged these people to let me inside their house and hide me. They hesitated for a moment but I guess my small 15 year old stature, that could easily fit through a doggy door, ensured them that I couldn’t hurt them. They let me in. I told them that someone was following me and trying to hurt me. I did not tell them who. I was too embarrassed because a kid walked around the corner from another room who I knew from church and school. I didn’t want to let him know my father could be so awful to try to kill me. They showed me the phone and I called my boyfriend to pick me up. He came right away and we left. My boyfriend took me to a convenience store and he called my dad to see what the heck happened and why he would do something like that to me. It turned onto a yelling match with my father yelling he was going to kill him. Out of fear, we did not go to his home and instead went to an empty trailer that was his grandmas. Soon after we got there the cops showed up knocking at the door. We pretended like no one was there. The cop walked away so we thought the coast was clear. We opened the door to sneak out and out jumped numerous cops with guns pointed at us. They were yelling for us to put our hands in the air. I didn’t understand why they where doing this. I was shocked, but I also had a very tough exterior and was a smart ass to them. They arrested us both, my boyfriend and I. I was told it was for threatening to murder my dad. Not sure if the cop was just trying to scare me or if that was the actual charge. When we drove away in the cop car I saw my dad walking down the street to his car. I couldn’t believe it! The cop proceeded to tell me that my dad said I had a gun and threatened to kill him.

The tables where turned on me. I was running for my life and ended up accused of trying to take someone else’s; the very person who wanted to take mine. In juvi I was stripped searched and had to bend over certain ways for them to make sure I wasn’t hiding drugs up my private areas. (At this time in my life I had never even seen a drug and wouldn’t know where to get one either.) I was taken to a holding room with metal chairs. They were cold and hard and I was so tired. I was then taken to a room where the other girls were and given a mat. All the girls where lined up in rows sleeping on their 1/4 inch mat on the cement floor. As soon as I lied down I was told to get up. I was then taken to a shower where I had to strip again and take a shower in front of a lady. She gave me chemicals to wash myself with. It was supposed to kill bugs. It smelled so bad! This lady was cold, she didn’t smile at all. She was very direct and short with her sentences.  I remember feeling so humiliated again taking that shower in front of her! After the shower I was taken to isolation. It was a small room with a bed, a hole for a toilet, and a small sink. The door had a small window that let me see into the hallway. I remember falling asleep immediately. It was in the early morning hours and I was exhausted. While I was sleeping someone came into my room and left food on a tray on the floor. I woke up and ate it quickly. I was starving! I noticed then that there was blood all over the bed where I was lying. I got up and yelled at the door for help. A lady walked by, looked at me, and kept walking. I yelled I was bleeding and needed a pad or something. No one would come. Exhausted still, I lied down in my own blood and slept more. Again, I awoke to food on the floor. I ate and noticed that my bed and clothes where badly stained with more blood. I banged and banged and banged on the door. This cycle continued and no one ever brought me a pad for my blood.

I do not know exactly how long I was in there but eventually my grandmother came to pick me up. I was told that my father called everyone and threatened that they would never see any of his other kids again if they picked me up from juvi. Of course, there was no evidence that I tried to kill my dad and they had nothing to hold me on. I was only there as long as I was because no one would pick me up. I thank God for my grandmother for loving me enough to eventually come and get me despite my fathers threat.

These writings he wrote before his death show to me that my father was a deceitful liar all the way to his end. He may have not been as abusive to my siblings as he was to me and others. Heck, he really wasn’t even close to being as abusive to my youngest siblings. They saw a much less dysfunctional side of him than I experienced. But, he never apologized. He never said he would have done things different. In fact he says the opposite. This man tried to ruin me. He never loved me and even told me so many times. His last words to me was a year before he died. He told me he never loved and and never will. That is when I finally realized I had no father. I never talked to him again after that.

Some of my siblings are upset that I didn’t go to his funeral. The reason why I didn’t go was because I had already grieved the death of my father a year prior. I didn’t want to take away their time of grieving for him. He was already dead to me. I rejoiced when I heard he died. For me it was a day of freedom! I never realized how much control he had over me till I received that news. I realized that I still walked in fear of him at 40 years old. After hearing of his death it was like the chains where unlocked!I rejoiced with tears of relief! I still struggle tremendously with all the things he has done to me and I struggle daily to not allow it to affect me, but sometimes it still does. Each time I realize that I have allowed him to control me I learn more about myself and gain more freedom.

Without my Savior Jesus Christ who died for all of our sins I would not be able to have as much recovery as I do this day. I yearn to give up more to Him as it is revealed to me. He is the only person that pursues me with a fathers love that I never experienced from my dad.

What Would It Look Like If …

Pick_up_your_Cross      Tonight I was reading Luke 14:25-35 and it said this:  Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.””

I then wondered, “What would the world look like if every believer in Jesus Christ lived according to this scripture?”

Here is what I believe it would look like:

-people would love first and not judge

 -orphanages would be rare and so would large homes with three care garages

-mission trips would be obsolete because everyday would be like a mission trip

-the elderly wouldn’t be lonely

-the young people would KNOW love

-murder would be so rare that it would shock the world if it happened

-the sex industry would be bankrupt and no one would ever have known who Hugh Hefner is

-church would last longer on the Sabbath and people would complain if it ended early

-if a family gathering didn’t happen for someone others would be surprised and rush to invite them to theirs

There is so much more I can add to this list! What can you do to make this list come true? Let’s do this! Go be Christ to your community.

What would it look like if you ……..

Who’s Your Friend?

Who’s your friend?

First of all, I want to say sorry to all 579 friends of mine. Please read all the way through before you delete me as your Facebook (FB) friend. One night I really needed a friend and no one came to mind so I logged onto FB to browse my friends list. I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t think of my one, two, or three best friends names when I needed them. I mean, heck, I have hundreds of friends. Surely browsing them would trigger to memory that really good friend I could trust. You know, the one I meet for lunch frequently, the one who takes my calls at midnight when I am crying… you know, that friend!
facebook-friends1

So, I logged into FB to help my foggy memory. It must be because I am in so much distress that I can’t think of her name and the fact that it is so late at night. As I began looking at all 579 of my friends faces and names I begin to eliminate the obvious ones who I can’t call. Those would be the friends that I met online because we have a friend in common and we said hi to each other once at an event. Then I eliminated the ones who I met through various organizations and fundraisers. They are more networking type friends. You know who you are. Then I eliminated the ones who found me because we have strong interests and we heard of each other but may have never met. They mostly live in other states and other countries.

All of a sudden I am now down to a much smaller number of friends to browse through. I just eliminated most of my FB friends not because they don’t care or aren’t trust worthy but because they are mostly acquaintances or strangers who I never met but who I “know.” I felt a little sad, but I still had some more friends to go through. So I kept digging for that one who I meet with frequently, cry with, and call all the time like a stalker!! LOL!!

The next batch I eliminated had their purpose in my past. They were and are still great people. Our kids may have spent a few years playing with each other when they were younger. Some I met at gymnastics class or a youth basketball game. We have all moved on and have went our separate ways, but we stay connected on FB to keep up with whose kid is graduating from high school and becoming married. I was reminded of good times and nice memories as I browsed through their profiles briefly.

Now it’s another hundred friends eliminated and I’m down to the nitty-gritty. The next batch of people I have met recently and interact with on at least a monthly basis give or take. These are the people I have volunteered with in the recent past or the present. They are great to be around. They are funny, they make me laugh, and I feel welcomed around them. But, I realized I do not spend any time with them outside our weekly or monthly volunteer duties. None of them are that one great friend that I call at midnight, play trivia crack all night with, go to a random movie with, or crash at their home when I need a shoulder to cry on. So I pass by them and then realize I am at the bottom of my list of friends.

There is not one FB friend left.

“That can’t be right?” I think to myself.  “Where did she go? Surely, I had a few really good friends. I am on FB everyday! I like peoples posts, I make sweet or funny comments. Others comment on my post. I feel a lot of love on FB from ALL my friends at one time or another. Where is that one I spend so much time with? Where is that one that knows me deeply? Where is that one who can look at my face when I am smiling from ear to ear and know that I am in so much pain and agony? Nothing gets by this friend! She knows me inside and out!

That is when it hit me. I have spent so much time hiding behind FB, volunteering in places all over the community, raising funds in order to help others who are in need; that I neglected to invest in friends for myself. I sunk down in my seat. “How did that happen?”

Over a period of time, it didn’t happen over night, I decided that I needed to come out of the closet a little bit and stop hiding. I needed to be vulnerable and go to lunch with someone and the conversation can’t be about anti-trafficking or what fundraiser to do next. I thought of people who may have been trying to be more than a FB friend and maybe I didn’t notice at the time. I began with them. I have been working on this for a while and it has been hard for me but I think it is working. I actually stopped at a friends house unannounced the other day for the first time! I felt so friendly!! LOL!!! But what really mattered was I knew it was okay and that this person really cares about me.

So, what is my point!

I wanted to share this with you because I feel FB puts on a facade that we have so many friends and when we actually need one there may not be one that we can trust because we haven’t actually invested ourselves intimately in others lives. These FB friends we have are valuable and full of great people but I learned that I actually need to pick up the phone and say HI sometimes instead of clicking my mouse on the LIKE button. So I challenge you today to take a good look at your FB friends. Are any of them someone you would call in a crisis or stop over unexpectedly? If so? Then you have learned the art of making friends and aren’t hiding behind a screen or too busy trying to “do” for others all the time. You actually are being vulnerable with a few trusted people.

And if you can’t find that friend? Pick one that you see around a lot, one who has the same values as you, and one who has a friendly smile. Get their number. Go out to lunch. Maybe this will be the start of the relationship God intended for you; a friend to stand with you, cry with you, and laugh with you.

And to that friend who allowed me to pop in unexpectedly? I love you!!!! And I will be calling very very soon!

 

 

The Hero of An Exodus

I’ve been going through a trial that escalated on Christmas Day. As I reflect back on the past two-ish weeks I noticed a pattern. It’s a pattern of music that explains emotions I have been experiencing.

The Unplanned Playlist Since the Exodus on Christmas Day

There is nothing to say. The music speaks for itself. This has been my unplanned playlist since my husband moved out on Christmas Day.

 I Love the Way you Lie

I Used to Love Her… then I had to kill her

 LOL!!!

SO WHAT!!!

Ya, I’m still a rock star….

Shake It Off!! And to help shake it off came a little Bangarang!!! You have to listen to this one! You will go CRAzY!!

But at the end of the day, when all the lights are down and I’m alone in my room by myself I realized that none of this music really did anything to solve my problems. It was only a momentary distraction that put a temporary band-aid on my hurt, pain, and loneliness.

Here is what puts me to sleep every night.

I believe Your My Healer

Your Love Never Fails

Oh How He Loves Us

Lead Me To the Cross

And then this song came on. I have never heard of it before. It is about a Hero!

I soon fall asleep to the music, wake up the next day, and am able to put one foot in front of the other as I trust my Hero. And that is how I get through my days.

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