Star Struck

The lobby of the CNN building in Atlanta, GA
The lobby of the CNN building in Atlanta, GA

I admit it. I get star struck.

I didn't think so for the longest time, but yes...

I tend to turn into a blithering idiot around celebrities.

I had the opportunity to visit the CNN building back in 2013, and be a guest on their After Dark show as part of the studio jury during a very high profile case. I got to meet people who are on TV everyday; who are as normal as anyone you might run into in most places.

Me and Vinnie Politan
Me and Vinnie Politan
Me and Darren Kavinoky
Me and Darren Kavinoky

Yep. Red-faced, stumbling over my words, bonafide star struck.

To tell you the truth, I didn't think much of it, other than being excited I got to meet these fascinating people.

But it all came back to me, in a rush, back in May, 2015.

You see, I'm involved with prayer groups on Twitter. One of the people I pray for is Charlie Daniels. That's right, the "Devil Went Down To Georgia" guy. (If you don't know who he is, please Google him and check him out on iTunes. You're missing out on some fine music.) My husband has seen Charlie in concert numerous times, and I decided to go with him in May.

Cyn, Charlie Daniels, and hubby, "Pyro-Jack"
Cyn, Charlie Daniels, and hubby, "Pyro-Jack"
I'm so honored Charlie chose to follow me!
I'm so honored Charlie chose to follow me!

Charlie has graciously thanked me for praying for him, Ms. Hazel, and the rest of his crew, numerous times on Twitter. Back to May. We're waiting our turn at the meet-and-greet before the show.  As Charlie shook Jack(Pyro)'s hand, Jack said, "And this is my wife, Charlie".  I stepped out from behind Jack, Charlie looked me square in the face, and said, "You're CYN!"

and shook my hand, both of us grinning. You see, Charlie was being his usual charming self, posing with people for pictures as he does for every meet-and-greet before a show, but for me, this was different.

He. Knew. My. Name.

And I couldn't help but think, 'If I'm this star struck over Charlie Daniels' knowing my name, HOW MUCH MORE when Jesus says my name?.

How much more indeed?

Praying for my readers today. And Charlie Daniels too.

(An extra note--Charlie's godson, Logan Smith was killed in an auto accident over Labor Day weekend. Please include Logan's parents, Wayne & Cindy, as well as his sister Leighanna in your prayers. Thanks.)

Need prayer? Leave a comment, and know you'll be lifted to His throne.

At Peace? Or Is Your Nose Out of Joint?

I like to look at faces. When I saw this puzzle on clearance, I couldn't resist buying it.

She gets different hats, depending on the time of year and I change her jewelry occasionally.

Once when I was dusting her though, she got her nose out of joint.

She looked like she had gotten herself in a snit, as it were.

I giggled.

How easily we sometimes get ourselves in a snit; feeling our noses 'out of joint', due to a careless word or action.

Opportunities abound for us to get our feelings hurt--especially at this time of year.

Will we choose to live with our noses out of joint?

Or will we choose to live peaceably?

My Webster's defines 'peaceably' as "inclined or disposed to peace".

 

Today's reading in "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young starts with:

"As this year draws to a close, receive My Peace. This is still your deepest need...My abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match...Thank Me for My peaceful Presence, regardless of your feelings..."

Will we stay in our self-imposed snit?

Or will we choose His Peace--the Peace that passes all understanding?

 

The choice is ours.

I Don't Feel Like It!

I've been sick lately. Not an allergy/cold/headache-y sick...

I've had an ongoing chronic health issue that's gotten worse over the last two months. It makes me feel very tired and well, crappy.

Stuff has started to pile up.

Sigh.

I know there's stuff I should be doing.... but I don't feel like it.

I have piles of papers with snippets of wisdom on them...(tweets? blog posts?)

Paragraphs that could be the start of awesome articles...(book chapters? articles for publication?)

I just don't feel like it.

Add the usual "shoulds" to my daily routines--clean the house (because the kitchen floor is adhesive in spots)/ cook real food (because the take-out places are starting to recognize my voice) /and the most important one,

God is still waiting for me.

Yes, there have been times when I've left Him by the wayside... because I didn't feel like ...

Praying...

Reading His Word...

Talking to Him in some other tone than whining....

I sat in my own little corner, moaning my body's betrayal, not feeling like doing anything about it.

But then today... I could choose to not feel like it...or choose to do it anyway.

If I failed, I would be no worse off that I've been over the last two months. But if I was successful in my attempt...?

Please don't misread what I'm saying here. I truly had (and continue to have) a health issue that wipes me out so completely, I sometimes don't make it to the bathroom from the bedroom (a span of 12 feet). I made a pan of lasagna the other day that resulted in a 3 hour nap. There are 'invisible illnesses' that are truly devastating to experience and affect many women's daily lives. I have had a glimpse into their world and can be so empathetic to their circumstances.

I can only speak for myself.

I chose to do a long devotion today, even though I really didn't feel like it.

God was waiting for me--and graciously poured out His wisdom and love on me.

In His strength, He will guide me! In His unfailing love, He will Lead me!...the Lord tested the Israelites...'For I am the LORD who heals you!' (Exodus 15-NIV) Promise after promise. No hand slap because I've been away--He knows the afflictions I've had. I'm not condemned for my feelings.

And neither are you.

The mess may still be there. You still may not feel like doing anything about it.

Choose to feel like it. Even when you don't want to. And watch what my God will do.

So What's Your Point?

"This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God." Genesis 6:9 (NIV)(bold letters mine)

Noah lived in the midst of a wicked population, yet he "found favor in the eyes of the Lord" Genesis 6:8 (NIV). He didn't find favor for anything he did. It was his heart condition that found favor in God's eyes.

Today's reading in my devotional, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers, is along this same vein. He writes, "Am I building up the Body of Christ, or am I looking for my own personal development only? The essential thing is my personal relationship to Jesus Christ--'That I may know Him.'...Whenever I want things for myself, the relationship is distorted."

I remember participating in a 3-legged race once. If we didn't walk together, we soon were a laughing heap on the ground.

And so it is with walking with God.

If we didn't walk together, we could not move forward.

Are you walking with Him today? Or are you following your own agenda?

Appearances Can Decieve

Things are not always as they appear.

I was accused recently of not "being a Christian" because I didn't behave the way somebody thought a "Christian" should behave. I was lied to, to my face, more than once.

I decided I will no longer have anything to do with that person. My boundary had been crossed and I would not, and will not pursue a reconciliation.

Un-Christian-like?

I guess it depends on your standard.

Matthew 5:37 (NIV) says it plain to me. "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

Forgive? Difficult, but yes. But that doesn't mean I'm going to put myself in the same situation to be lied to again.

"The test of our spirituality comes when we come up against injustice and meanness and ingratitude and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritual sluggards. We want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of retirement. We utilize God for the sake of getting peace and joy, that is, we do not want to realize Jesus Christ, but only our enjoyment of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things are effects and we try to make them causes." --Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost For His Highest"

This is today's reading (July 10) from the devotional I am currently using. I expect my Christian walk to be bloody and painful at times because the enemy of my soul will stop at NOTHING to defeat me. The more I do for God, the more I expect opposition.

But I have a strong foundation.

"...God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows who are his..." 2 Timothy 2:19 (NIV)

I'm So Tired of the Crap.

I've been the recipient of an awful lot of crap lately. The last few months have been instance after instance of bad manners, thoughtless gestures, health issues and a general feeling of I-say-what-goes-and-there-isn't a darn-thing-you-can-do-about-it.

You may have gleaned I don't do well in this environment.

I brought my concerns to the Lord. I know He has only good planned for me. (Romans 8:28)

I pleaded for Him to show me His wisdom and comfort through these trials. I got more trials.

I I held onto His promise that He would not forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6,7) Verse 8 says

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." [bold letters mine]

But I was discouraged.

I cried out to the LORD, about the unfairness, the injustice; the crap I've been handed.

He listened.

He forced me to look at my hand in the incidents; I wasn't getting off scot-free.

Some mistakes were mine; I had not had all the facts. But I am not responsible for the actions of others.

As far as it had depended on me, I had done the right things. And it was affirmed to me.

Matthew 5:37 (NIV) states it plain--

" Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

There will be friendships lost; those seasons are over. Feelings may be hurt.

That's too bad.

I want God's approval, not the world's or the enemy's.

And His grace is sufficient for me.

Friday...Finally!

It's been one of those weeks. I was flying high on the heels of a great long weekend of dynamic church services--and then the enemy struck. He was throwing disappointment and bad attitude around like it was candy at a Christmas parade. I almost succumbed to it, a few different times, until I remembered..

I remembered my anointing.

He has called me to make art, to write, for His Glory. He has blessed the work of my hands.

"I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in Him." 1 John 2:26-27 (NIV) (bold letters mine)

Get thee behind me satan. I'm not for sale.

Got Baggage?

Baggage. We are on day 5 of a 15 day vacation and I'm pretty well fed up with my baggage. In my haste to remember everything, I find myself needing to search through various nooks and crannies of each suitcase to find the needed item. Thank you technology--but so many WIRES! So much STUFF! I missed worshiping with my home church, but I went on the website and was able to catch last week's sermon--(I had been leading God-Tham City kids, our kid's church so I was pleased to find the sermon I missed.) If you would like to view the sermon, please visit KLFC.org .

The visiting Pastor, Dr. Bez, spoke on the fourth chapter of Jonah--"Jonah and the...(I won't give it away)", but my mind wandered a bit back to a day I had a "Jonah" experience--back in 1997. My mom was suffering with cancer and was about to start on the grueling chemo/radiation regimen that may or not save her life.

Now, please understand, I was an unruly teenager once upon a time (yes, I know it's hard to believe--but maybe not for some of you). The daughter my mother remembered was not a very nice person, but given mom's health concerns, this was the only possible alternative.

I, on the other hand, also remembered the rocky times--the difference was I had accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior since then and knew taking care of my mom was the right thing to do.

BUT--in remembering our past and our 'baggage', I copped a Jonah attitude. Why should I show her my Jesus? After the way she treated me? I'm the first to admit, I really didn't want to. I was a lot like Jonah with the Ninevites, deciding myself that they (mom) didn't deserve salvation...well, maybe they (she) did, but it wasn't gonna come from me!

God's pruning/growth spurts HURT!

Knowing the caretaker role I was embarking on, God started to show me my mother through His eyes, not the woman I remember, but a lost soul who needed saving, carrying her own baggage. I was suddenly able to see clearer and do for her as if I were doing all for Jesus, despite my own baggage (which I noticed was getting a little lighter each day.)

Like Jonah, I had to learn the tough lesson by being willing to accept and trust God for the outcome..

My willingness, plus seeing the relationship between my husband and I, helped to show Jesus to my mother. Four months before cancer took her life, she did accept Jesus Christ as her Savior. We still had our moments, and some unpacked luggage, but we both knew that peace that passes all understanding.....the kind that can only come from Jesus.

Things Are Not as They Seem

As we were cleaning up my yard last Spring, my landscaper asked where I wanted these lawn ornaments to go; did I want them here or somewhere else in the yard. I chuckled, knowing I hadn't put them there--they had grown there happily, under the protection of the overgrown holly. This got me thinking about circumstances that had occurred over the past few weeks.

I started to get miffed about things I normally let slide-- I started to question everything; my purpose in life, my daily routine--to the point of breaking down into inactivity.

I forgot (not totally) that God was in full control of my life, and did not need my help.

As a matter of confession, I started to believe some of the lies the enemy had been feeding me.

Things came to a head when I realized I was acting, or not-reacting, to anything.

I was at the point I felt powerless to do anything about it. I recognized this, but felt helpless to do any thing about it.

It was then I timidly opened my Bible. "Seek Me first..." drifted through my mind... God brought me to a place in 2 Timothy...snippets from chapters 3 and 4...(NIV--bold print and italics mine)

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive...ungrateful, unholy...unforgiving...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. (3:1-5)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it. (3:14)

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (4:3)

Looking back over these last weeks, in the light of these Scriptures, this makes more sense to me.

Jesus said to "Watch and pray". Beware the tactics of the enemy... because things are NOT always as they seem. Stick with what you know to be true.

Deception has Reared Its Ugly Head...or Has It?

I've been deceived.I should have recognized it; the signs were there but I missed them.

How could I have gone from 'helpful' to 'prideful' in one seemingly fell swoop?

Ah...the whispers of the enemy. He specializes in this very tactic.

I started writing this post yesterday, on the 24th. I could not continue. The enemy of my soul had stopped me again...or had he?

I knew the direction I was heading when I started writing...I was going to spout about the rotten chain of events that had been weighing me down lately. Those enemy tactics that seemed to be working. But I could not continue to dwell in that noxious stew. This starting and stopping had never happened to me before.

This unfinished post became just another thing on my 'to-do list' I had no interest in doing.

But today...

In reading through my 242 e-mails (I had let those pile up too), I came across 2 separate instances from 2 completely different directions; both referring to John 10:10

My NIV states, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." My Living Bible says "(red letters)...My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." (bold letters mine)

Why am I allowing the enemy of my soul to get me down?

I know I acted in a way that was most pleasing to God.

I know I did what had to be done.

I know without a doubt, because I prayed through every decision I made.

Crappy stuff fell on my head; I had momentarily forgotten to wipe it off before I became crushed and paralyzed by it.

Thank You LORD, for letting me stew in my stuff long enough to smell its stench, but not long enough to be crippled by it. Amen.

Stubborn as a Mule!

I had a surprising taste of God's wrath today. Not aimed at me, but a feeling I can only guess was close to approaching God's anger at the Israelites when they yet again chose disobedience to God's law. I have a neighbor whose declining health is necessitating more care than an occasional visit can give. On the one hand, she is appreciative of the help and meals given her. Yet in the blink of an eye, she can become sullen, argumentive, and downright nasty; all while contradicting herself with her own version of the facts--sometimes in the same sentence. Stubborn!

While listening to her latest rant today, I couldn't help but remember the Israelites wandering in the desert, demanding provision from the Lord. In Exodus 15 and 16, the people complained because things weren't like they were before. "...the people grumbled...'What are we to drink?'" (Exodus 15:24 NIV) The Israelites grumbled all through chapter 16, never listening to what was offered to them, never realizing it all was for their benefit, from a God Who loved them and gave them chance after chance to accept all He was willing to give.

I had to administer 'toughlove' today. I had to remove myself from the situation--of course, after saying my piece. There are programs in place to help seniors. The problem lies in the willingness to accept the help from these programs. If the person says 'no', no help can be given. The agencies cannot go against the senior's wishes.

After seeing the reality of her situation; the depth of how much help is needed, my occasional bowl of soup or pan of cornbread isn't going to cut it. But she is set in her ways--indeed, stiff-necked--and is either unable or unwilling to see the truth that has become her life.

Oh LORD, help me find the balance point between what I can and cannot do.

New Growth From Dead Wood

This lilac shrub suffered a major setback from a surprise snowstorm last year. I was afraid it was done for; the damage seemed too drastic for it to survive. It sure looked like a goner.

I thought for sure I had a dead tree on my hands. I had no choice to wait it out and see what developed in the Spring. The pieces of trunk looked like they would be dead wood, no longer of any use to the tree.

I couldn't help but see the correlation with the disciples after Jesus died.

How could there be life after the crucifixion?

I know in my heart I believe it...but...do I really know it? In the same way I can meet someone and know immediately whether or not they can be trusted with my prayer requests? That kind of 'knowing"?

It's been a few months now, the lilac is starting to bloom. I would peek at it through the window, daily, wondering if I needed to have it removed.

Imagine my surprise (and delight) to see, not only new growth, but strong new shoots preparing to carry the needed nutrients to the flowers yet to come!

There will be new life coming out of the 'dead wood' in our lives, as we seek to live in the fullness of God.

Earlier this week I determined to terminate a toxic friendship I knew was not bringing Glory and Honor to God. Why would I want to continue this friendship? Out of habit? Out of feeling obligated to her and her husband?

Is this really how He wants me to plan my day? To carefully arrange my mask so that I wear the perfect facade while harboring resentment and dishonoring behavior inside of me?

1Peter 2:9 calls us "...a chosen people, royal priesthood, a Holy nation..."

Knowing who we are in Christ is about as real as we can be.

I'm not giving in to the enemy's lies--not even for a moment. Rid yourself of all that keeps you from giving all you can to JESUS!

If He can see to the health of a green plant after a storm, how much more will he do for you, His Beloved?

Toxic Friends

Storm's brewin'. I remember watching the skies before this one hit. I had just made it home when the skies opened up. Raindrops like paintball splotches on my shirt. Wind whipping trash and leaves down my street. Take in the perishables but leave the rest of the groceries in the car until after the rain stopped. Storms.

I had an experience Monday that struck me worse than a storm. A friendship I have done my best to maintain needed to be terminated.

It had lasted, in its crippled state, for fifteen years. She had always had a sarcastic mouth, was quick with a put-down--those seemingly innocent zingers that annoyed, and sometimes drew blood--yet always given with a quick laugh to show she was 'only joking' (Wassamatter? Can't you take a joke?)

I hadn't seen her for 6 months--about the time we were led by God to change churches. This was not a decision we took lightly--we pled for God to make His leading crystal clear, for we wanted to be totally obedient to His wooing. God gently but firmly gave His direction and we acted on it.

Within the last six months, still pleading with God to show me what to do about this situation, I reached out with a couple text messages, telling her I missed her. They were answered in that passive aggressive tone--a pattern I recognized all too well.

Monday, I had the opportunity to make a hospital visit, knowing she would be there too.

From the time I arrived, the old zingers appeared. But I could only look at her with sadness.

When I first met her, I accepted the sarcasm, the putdowns, and such; knowing she had been hurt by people in the past and this was her defense mechanism to head off being hurt again. I accepted the crumbs and worked at showing her His love as best I knew how.

Her behavior continued, as did her habits.

Something in me decided ENOUGH! on Monday.

I ignored her comments that interrupted my conversation, but was acutely aware of the passive aggression displayed there.

I cut my visit short--said polite good-byes, and left.

I brought this to the LORD in my devotional time this morning. In my journaling, I have a section called "Admits' where I come clean with what's bugging me, holding me back, and things that are consuming me, whether real or percieved. I started to write-

I'm having a hard time dealing with X's treatment of me. Her passive--aggressive thing hurt, then made me sad, for both her and her husband. I am not responsible for the actions of others. As far as it depended on me--I was peaceful, calm, and collected, but I will not put myself in such a toxic situation again. I've been nothing but kind and friendly to her over the years and I deserve better than this from her!

I paused. As soon as I wrote the words down, I felt His sweet small voice--

I know what you're going through. I deserve to be treated better, too.

Here, I'm wanting to be treated better, because I deserve better than the treatment I've been getting. You feel this way too, don't You Lord; You certainly deserve to be treated better and they killed You. Thank You for showing me this, so I may understand better. I wrote it down in my art journal so the words wouldn't slip away-

Betrayal, deceit, gossip, slander--I accepted the crumbs, because you were not able to give yourself over to genuine friendship--that was when we first met. It's been over 15 years now, I deserve better than this from you. I was saddened by your response to my attempt to 'be there for you'. Sarcasm? Put downs? No thank you.

LORD, You have shown me the grief in me--I need to let myself grieve--and get past it. The best way I know how is to run to You.

So here I am to worship...

Adding Prayer to Lent...the Final Three days.

I am full. My cup is overflowing.

I have had these 3 days of so much prayer; so much closeness to God and physically feeling His Presence that I have had moments I couldn't speak.

It started with my determination to start my Friday in devotional time.

"...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness..."(Matthew 6:33 NIV) "...seek and you will find..."(Matthew 7:7 NIV) "...seek and you will find..."(Luke 11:9 NIV)

Afterwards, I got many errands done; the ones that had been on recurring 'to-do' lists. I washed, dried and folded three loads of laundry. I made a big ol' pot of bean chili (simmering all day and making the house smell wonderful) I made a smaller pot of black bean soup. I worked on an art project I had been neglecting. I got three boxes ready for the mail. I spent time with friends Friday evening at our Bible study group. I went to our church's prayer vigil from 10PM-1 AM, and had a prophetic Word spoken over me.

I was filled with a new energy from that Word.

I slept.

I awoke, renewed.

I continued to slash things off the seemingly endless 'to-do' list. I went from shop to stop, finding good prices, consolidating my efforts, even finding the best route to not waste any extra time....and all throughout the day, I had the certain feeling I was totally in the moment.

I was giving praise to Him and I was indeed thankful.

I'm in the middle of reading Ann Voskamp's book,"One Thousand Gifts";(I'm not done with it yet, but I highly recommend it.) In it, the author wrestles hard with God, with the injustices of this Earth and comes nose to nose with a quote from Alexander Schmemann about the Eucharist [thanksgiving].

About giving thanks for ALL things. Bad things. Hurtful, bloody things. The things that make us dig our nails into our palms and scream until no sound comes out...

'Eucharisteo' she calls it.

Jesus went to the cross for our sins. He endured the betrayal, the beatings, the whipping, the carrying of the cross, the spikes in His hands, His feet, and the spear in His side. Jesus dies that cruel death for each one of us. If there was no one else, He did it for you. For me.

"After taking the cup, He gave thanks..." Luke 22:17(NIV) "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it... do this in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19(NIV)

The miracles happen after we truly give thanks.

Eucharisteo.

I pray this journey of adding prayer to Lent has brought you closer to God. I know I am not the same.

Storm Damage- Conclusion

What happens to those who are so firmly wedged into the lies of this world; who choose to ignore the small, still voice of God? What if we don't realize the error of our ways? What if we've fit ourselves so comfortably in the world's views and opinions that our behavior no longer seems like sin to us?

It will be too late.

"...Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."(1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

Storm Damage-Part 2

The lilac bush had been around a long time--at least the fifteen years we have lived in the house. This branch that broke was not one I had slated for removal. It was one of the stronger ones with great flowering potential. Yet now it was dead wood. As I continued to saw my way through, the tiny teeth left a pile of fine powder sawdust around the blade. It looked like it was barely making a dent.

But that's where I was wrong. When I removed the saw to see my progress, there was indeed a cut in the wood; I remember being surprised at how deep it was. Heartened now, I continued.

I thought again about the seemingly little progress I was making. A secret sin or a bad habit--really anything contrary to God's precepts--can chip away at our resolve to conduct ourselves in a manner pleasing to God. We can justify subtle lies when they're wrapped in noble intentions. The behavior becomes so ingrained that we wake up one day, and hopefully realize our error.

But the consequences of our behavior will happen.

We will be left to clean up the mess.