Broken Vessel #Write28Days

Broken, an adjective, defined as:

  1. having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.
    • (of a marriage or other long-term relationship) having ended.
    • denoting a family in which the parents are divorced or separated.
    • (of an agreement or promise) not observed by one of the parties involved.
  2. (of a person) having given up all hope; despairing.
  3. having breaks or gaps in continuity.
    • (of speech or a language) spoken falteringly, as if overcome by emotion, or with many mistakes, as by a foreigner.
  4. having an uneven and rough surface.

Broken VesselWe are all broken.  We all have areas in are life that have been broken whether by negative events like abuse, neglect, divorce, sickness or death; or just the natural course of events like moving out of the family home, having a child, or children leaving home that create a separation in the normal working order of life. Regardless of what or who causes the brokenness in our life, how broken we think we are, or how broken others think we may be, there is a healing that can take place that creates an even stronger, more valuable vessel going forward.

In oriental countries, there is a practice called Kintsugi, an art of fixing broken pottery. Rather than camouflage broken ceramic pieces, the technique employs a  lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Once completed, beautiful seams of gold glint in the conspicuous cracks of ceramic wares, giving a one-of-a-kind appearance to each “repaired” piece. This method celebrates each artifact’s unique history by emphasizing its fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them.

In addition to serving as an form of art, Kintsugi represents prevalent philosophical ideas. Namely, seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect. The repair method expresses regret when something is wasted, as well as the acceptance of change. Kelly Richman-Abdou on September 5, 2019

The next 28 days, I will share secrets from the Word about healing your broken vessel.  God’s Word promises He will be near, He will save, He will heal and He will bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
For some healing takes place instantly.  For others, it takes a lot more time.  There is no wrong or right answer, God knows what is needed and why He needs it to happen in the way that healing comes.  God didn’t cause the brokenness, the fallen world we live in allows bad things to happen.  However, God can use them to bring about good and to bring Him glory if you will allow His richness and strength to infuse your broken vessel.
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This will be the Landing page for the #Write28Day Challenge.  Each day I will add a link for the current writing day. Word Prompts will be used as much as I can just to go with the spirit of the challenge.  This blog is inspired by Anita Ojeda and the #Write28Days Challenge.  The challenge is to write 28 days in February.  For more information or to get involved, go to Write28Day.
Day 10: Experience
Day 11: Ponder This
Day 14: Anemoia
Day 18: Effective
Day 19: Endure
Day 21: Numerous
Day 22: Success
Day 24: Opinion
Day 25: Increase
Day 26: Schedule
Day 27: Relevant
Day 28: Persistent
Day 29: Leap
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Shine as Lights

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life… Philippians 2:14-16

Our light shines before the world, when we do things without complaining and arguing. We are blameless and innocent, children of God, when we do things without complaining and disputing. I know that I can be both a complainer and someone who argues. I have to consciously stop myself from, as my mother would say, “arguing just for arguments sake.”

There is no doubt that the world around is crooked and twisted. A quick scan of news headliners screams this truth.

It seems, all people want to do, is complain and argue. People share their complaints more than their compliments. Complaints drive our society.  If you want change, complain the loudest.  Large scale changes occur, not because society as a whole agrees, but because a small group of loud people cause so much noise that it is mistaken for the masses.

People express their opinions in loud voices at anyone, whether people want to listen or not. People look at opinions as facts and often share them without even completely understanding what the issue is on which they have an opinion to share.   Everyone is complaining and disputing; it is happening everywhere. Sadly, even with the church, there is complaining and disputing.

As I read Philippians 4:14-16, I was quick to question, “How do I stand strong and spread the Word, the Gospel, without disputing? How can I not complain about the injustices in this world, and the crooked leaders, and the twisted world?  Tell me how, Lord.”

The answer came just as quickly as I penned the words down in my journal. People scream to be heard. Light is seen; it is not heard. Light travels farther and faster than sound. Light breaks up the darkness. Sound is easily drowned out by all the noise.  What a powerful picture!

It is often said, “Actions speak louder than Words.” The Word of God bears this truth:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

and

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2: 18 

Action may cause a sound, but the evidence of action is always seen. Works may be heard, but the result of work is always left to seen, even if the work is not.

It is by our fruit that men know that we are followers of Christ.

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” and By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:5, 8

Fruit is seen; it is not heard.

I am not suggesting silence is the answer. We have certainly been silent for too long as the Body of Christ. We must proclaim the Gospel. We must share His Word. We must speak boldly of His Kingdom.

I am proposing we follow Christ’s example, and let our lights shine in agreement with His words, for God’s glory.

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. John 12:49

And what the Word says, 

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. I Peter 4:11

ShineaslightsI am putting forward that people should be able to see our light shining, without the noise of grumbling and arguing. It is possible to state the truth without getting into a knock-down drag out fight or without a screaming match or debate. I can speak the truth without having to convince someone to accept it. I had a pastor once who said “The truth can offend you or it can transform you.” There are many that Christ spoke to that were not ready to accept the truth (The Pharisees and Sadducees). It did not keep Him from speaking truth. They were offended by Him and the truth. They were offended that others accepted the truth they rejected.

I am urging that the signs and wonders that are suppose to follow those who believe, should follow us even now. This is promised by Jesus:

John 14:12 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

And even as He depart, He promised:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:9

As believers, as followers of Christ, we should follow Him. Our words and actions should be similar to His, because we are called to be imitators of Christ (I Corinthians 11:1). We should be lighting up the world for His glory.  His message should not get drowned out in the sea of complaints and arguments that come from His people’s mouths. After all, we are God’s children; we are called to be blameless.  Let us shine as lights without grumbling and disputing.

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Deep Water

This passage has really been speaking to my soul over the past month.  I just keep being drawn back to it again and again.  Each time read it, I get another picture, another lesson that I can apply to my life.  I believe that God is calling me to go deeper in Him.  For years,  I have been moving forward, going deeper in the things of God.  Recently, I feel like I have been sitting in waist-deep water for too long.  I don’t feel like I am going backwards, but as heat rises water evaporates.  So sitting still, means I am loosing water even if I am not going backwards.

Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.

Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?”

Then he led me back to the bank of the river.  As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. Ezekiel 47:1-10

Deep WaterAs I thought about this scripture the first time, I realized it took intentional movement.  He had to made a decision to move forward, the water never carried him to the next level.    I think part of me has always wanted God to just move me out, and sweep me away.  I forget that He is a gentleman, and will wait on me to intentionally move towards Him, despite His movement of the water that can sway me in the right direction.

The second thing that stuck me was he was led to walk into the deeper waters. While God waits for me to intentionally move towards Him, He is always there ready to lead me into the next step towards Him.  In fact, His design is that where He leads, I will follow.  He will never lead me in stagnate water, He longs for me to go deeper.

It was a measured movement, one that was progressive.  He wasn’t led from the ankle water straight to the swimming water.  It was measured from a trickle, to ankle, to knee, to waist, to water deep deep to pass through.  I know that I struggle with wanting God to just take me to the deep and let me skip all the steps in between.  I don’t want to consider  those steps successfully prepare me for where He is leading me.  I need the lessons learned when I am waist deep to help me withstand the pressure of that water I can not pass through.

When I came back to this scripture, I thought about how many times I have stood in the ankle deep water wanting the refreshing that comes from just diving in.  I love being in the water.   I can settle for wading in water, but I am happiest when I can fully submerge.  It is easy to look at where others are, and think “Why doesn’t God use me like that?”  or “Why doesn’t God do that for me?”  I have learned that generally the answer is “When you do what they have been willing to do, I will do that for you too.”  People who appear to be more favored by God, generally spend more time in close proximity to the Lord. It provides them more opportunity for God to bless them.

Then God brought me back to this passage again.  I just kept hearing fishing.  I am not a fisherman, I have been fishing all of one time in my life so that is not my wheelhouse.  As I read the “And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish.”,    I thought about standing on dry land fishing.  The fish are few and small in shallow water.   Other than a fishing pole and a little bait, you don’t need much preparation.  You can fish and have little evidence of what you have been doing. 

Most Christians want to fish from the shore.  They want to live for God on Sunday and maybe Wednesday.  There is little preparation for any activity that involves God.  The rest of the week there is little evidence that they are a Christian.  There is a tendency to exaggerate our impact on the non-believing world around us, when there is little fruit in our effort.

I know that you have to cast your line out farther and into deeper water to get bigger fish.  You might wade a little into the water (or that is what my grandson does).  You might need some weights on your hook to get it down deeper where the bigger fish swim.  You might use live bait to get their attention.  Still, you catch one fish at a time.  If you are lucky you can catch a few in each setting. 

I feel like that is where the Church has been. There are special program and activities that are done to try to cast the line far and deep.  Some groups are willing to wade into the water, as long as they don’t have to get too far in commitment of time, money or energy.  There is an excitement of the catch (as there should be with anyone who repents and turns to God), but often times we throw them back after a day in the boat.  There are too few willing to make the commitment to disciple and clean the fish once their caught. 

I then thought about the few shows I have watched with my spouse where they go deep water fishing.  Generally they cast a net, and when it comes up it is swarming with fish of all sizes and all sorts of other sea creatures.  You can tell the people on the boat are fisherman, and I can image they smell of it too.  It is a dangerous job and takes a commitment.

I felt like God was showing me that He is about to bring in a harvest of souls like we have never seen before.  He has been calling us deeper because He needs people who are willing to pull in the catch as fisher’s of men.  He is bringing in fish of every kind, a multiethnic catch.   This is where He is taking us, now.   We are into the deep, so He can call in the harvest.

It really is going to take all hands on deck in the Church, not just a church.  There is strength in numbers and this catch is going to be like Peter’s catch in Luke 5:5-7  And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

He needs people who are willing to sort through the muck and mire that will also be there, regardless of how long it takes.  He needs those who can sort and clean up what is about to be brought in.      He needs those who are okay with walking around smelling like a fisherman, looking like a fisherman, and who are prepared to fully commit to being a fisherman.

The enemy is not going to give up the numbers without a fight.  He will do whatever he can to stop our efforts.  He needs people who are not going to give up the first sign of the storm but who are willing to weather it until the full bounty is in.

When we are willing God will use His written Word to reveal to us deeper things.  As we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us.  He will show us the steps that we need to take to go deeper in Him.  He will show us the purpose of certain aspects that we face.  He will show us areas of our life that are holding us back, that are stifling our walk with Him.  He will even show us where He wants to take us, if we will only listen to His voice and follow His lead.

 

 

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Life’s Path

On a drive recently, I took notice off all the different terrains that people travel on.  As we drove along the highway, a saw cars on sideroads, dirt roads, and even grassy paths.  I figured since it was something I see frequently, and my attention was been drawn into it, there must be something more that I am suppose to learn from it. 

There are times when our path seems like a major freeway, busy and full of others traveling in the same direction.  Life can seem busy and full of life as we journey along with others.  It is easy to just go with the flow, because everyone else appears to be going in the same flow.  I feel like it is a season, that up until Co-Vid 19 many of us, myself included, lived on. 

 We didn’t take time to notice that the check engine light was one, our gas tank was running on fumes, and our oil was running dry.  When life is going full throttle, it is to say, let me just get to the next exit or city before I stop to refuel.  We just want to get a little bit farther.

At that speed, it is also hard to notice others around us, unless there is some major trouble that stops our flow like a collision or blow-out.   We miss out on the things that are happening right next to use or the things that we are passing by.  We fail to see our children struggling, our loved one’s pain, the need of a neighbor, or even the beautiful flowers that God has planted for us to take time and smell.

There are times in life the we need to travel the highway.  We need to get somewhere fast.  Multiple people need to reach a specific destination in a similar time frame.  But we can not sustain that lifestyle and be effective in the world around us, the one that we are meant to influence.

Other times the path seems like a country road, comfortable and familiar.  I used to drive a lot for my job and for family things. We lived in a rural area and although it was a highway, to me it was a country road because there wasn’t much traffic and at time the speed limit would slow as I passed through a small town.  I would often be so comfortable with the drive, that I felt my car could go on auto pilot to the destination.  I would not remember passing key points as I arrived at my destination.   

Life's pathThose times in life where things are comfortable and familiar are nice.  We know what to expect.  We journey the same path day in and day out.  There is a routine to life.  I love the structure that the country road provides.  There are times it is fast, and times it is slow, but I know when and where those spots are.

The danger is that sometimes we get too comfortable on the country road.    We can easily drift to sleep at the wheel if we are not paying attention.  Life passes us by because we aren’t really looking.  We know what to expect, and if there is not something that draws our attention from the routine, we may miss things that are right beside us or even in front of us. 

When we operate in a comfortable and familiar routine, there is also little room for spontaneous.   It is easier to make excuses because it doesn’t fit in our schedule.  It is harder to step out into things that are outside of that comfort zone.  It is harder to be redirected to take an alternate route where God might lead.

Other times it feels like a dirt road slow moving and bumpy.  We were recently headed down to the creek and were on one of these long dirt roads.  The car leading the caravan was not made for dirt roads.  Moving so slowly made every bump seem bigger in my Jeep.  Yet, there was not room to pass and so we drove feeling every bump along the way.

These times in life are rough.  Just like our drive, they often feel as if they will never come to an end.  Some bumps may just be a little rough, but others seem to jar our very being.  The bumps often seem to come one after another, leaving us feeling that we might not make it through.  It might be an illness, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a move, problems with our children, or even just a change like them leaving home.  

It is important when we travel on those roads that we realize we don’t have to travel it alone.  God is certainly with us, as He never leaves us.  However, it is important that we stay close to others during those times so we don’t get lost along the way.  Often times, there are turns that others can help us find that will make getting to the other side of the long bumpy road a little quicker.  We might also learn where a slight move to the right or left will lessen the impact of the bump.

Other times the path might lead to an off-road adventure.   I love the thrill of the adventure, but I am not brave enough to do it on my own.  When I was younger, I had some friends that loved to take me off-roading.  We would go places in their SUV that I wouldn’t dare even try to walk.  There were times where I thought the vehicle might flip, and yet the thrill of the moment I was not scared but invigorated with the excitement. 

I think sometimes, God would like us to spend a little more time off-roading with Him.   He wants to show us the thrill of riding with Him.  He wants to take us places we never thought we would go.  He wants to thrill us with what He can do in and through us if we will just trust Him to drive. 

Other times we find ourselves at a dead end road.   There is nothing wrong with being on a dead end street, I live on one.  There are only three people who drive on it, those who live there, those who are visiting, and those who need to turn around.

There will be times in life where we take a wrong turn, and come to a place where all we can do is turn around.   It is important that we don’t set up residence in those places, because we can stay stuck there too long.    If you find yourself in that dead end road, and realize that you have been there too long, it is okay to end  your visit and head back the way you came.  There is always the option of coming to a dead end, and just using it as a turning point to set off in a new direction.  

Sometimes our path may take us over a bridge.  Something that connects where we have been to where we are, with a definite transition between those spaces.  Some bridges are sturdy and solid.  Others sway with the wind and creak with every movement.

Life is full of many transitions throughout.  We go from laying to sitting to standing.  We move from liquid to solid foods.  We transition through school grades.  We transition from adolescence to adulthood.   We transition between jobs.  We even transition from life to death.  Sometimes we move boldly through one phase of life to another.  Other times we feel the ground move beneath us as we transition.  We can rest assure, we will make it to the other side if we are willing to leave where we started.

Regardless of the path we find journey on we must remember He is faithful and we must remain faithful to Him. We must realize we can not go full speed constantly, even the Lord rested.  We also can not get to comfortable with where we are.  When we are going through long, bumpy seasons, we must remember that will not last forever, and it is the best time to seek guidance.  If we let Him God will take us on an off road adventure if we let Him drive. And, if we reach what feels like a dead end, there is nothing wrong with turning around. There will be bridges in life that help us transition from one place to another.

It is easy to get on life’s path and not know when we need to stop for refueling or maintenance, but if we listen, God will direct us.  It is easy to miss the things going on around us, but if we slow down and open our ears and our eyes, God will bless us and use us if we let Him.  When life gets tough, remember we are not called to do life alone; God connects us with others to help us navigate those seasons.  When we realize we took a wrong path, repent and go back, it’s only wrong if you stay there.  We have to be willing to cross the bridge from one experience to another, God will help bridge the gap.  Above all, remember that wherever we are on life’s path, know that He will never leave you and He wants to direct your path.

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Enduring Brokenness #Write28days

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.  Isaiah 57:15 ESV

So often when we sit in the place of brokenness, we question if we can endure through the night, let alone the whole season.  Yet this scripture reminds us, that we do not have to endure alone.  The Lord is with those with a contrite and lowly spirit.  Although it may not happen in our time frame, He will revive our lowly spirit.  He will revive our contrite heart.

I have shared this poem before, but when we are in the midst of enduring brokenness it is a question we must ask ourselves.  It is a poem that has been attributed to many people, so I am unsure who really wrote it, but I stumbled across it as a teenager, and have quoted it frequently.

As children bring their broken toys,

With tears, for me to mend

I brought my broken dreams to God

Because he was my friend.

But then, instead of leaving Him

In peace to work alone

I hung around and tried to help

With ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,

“How can You be so slow?”

“My child,” He said.  “What could I do? 

You never did let go.”

~Author Unknown

 

Often times, we need to search our heart during those times we are trying to endure brokenness.  We need to see if we are holding on to things that we were not called to hold. So often we try to control things, and inevitably we just make things worse and at best just delay Him being able to mend us.

Revive means to restore life, fresh energy, strength and interest.  When we are able to move past our brokenness, we will find a life awaiting us that is more than just enduring.  When you decide to live again, and allow the Lord to bring healing to your heart and spirit, He can restore life to your soul.  It might not look like you think it will, but it will not disappoint if you let Him revive you.  You will find a joy that you did not have before as He strengthens you.  You will find fresh energy that He brings to areas of your life.  You will find new interests and passions that will help you to live again.

We all go through seasons, but if your season is lasting longer than you feel you can endure, spend some time in prayer and self reflection asking if there is something that you are holding on to that is keeping you from healing.  If you find it, surrender it by letting it go to Him, let Him mend that area.

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Broken VesselThis blog post is inspired by Anita Ojeda and the #Write28Days Challenge. The challenge was to write 28 days in February. I am running way behind, but wanted to finish anyway. For more posts on this topic go to Broken Vessel.

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The Christian theater

I woke up thinking about my daughter’s time in theater.  It was likely brought on by finding a picture of my husband’s time in theater from his yearbook. I enjoyed watching her throw herself in to practice and the role that she was filling in her productions.  

I thought about how in theater everyone has a role to play.  Each participant has their own role to play or position to fill. Yes, I realize there are one man shows, but even with those there are behind the scene people working to put on the show.

I thought about how the goal of theater is to tell a story.  In the Christian walk, my goal is to tell of the Kingdom through daily living my life for Him. 

In theater, there is usually a director.   That role in the Christian walk is filled by Jesus Christ, God, the Holy Spirit.  He oversees and orchestrates the entire production.

Then there is usually a lead actor/actress.  The leading lady in the Christian walk is The Church.  Not a  church, but The Church, the full body of Christ as a whole.  There is no understudy or back up, the leading role belongs to us.   We must play our part to show the world the Kingdom of God.

While the Church as a whole, plays the part of the leading lady, we all have individual roles that we must play, and no two people can fill the exact same role.  We have to stop thinking that one part is better than another, when we all have the same overarching goal to share the message of the Kingdom.  If everyone is operating the lights, then no one is paying attention to the sound.  If everyone is trying to be centerstage, than no one is attending to the props. 

It is only when we each attend to our specific duties, and really listen to the Director that our goal in Christian theater will be completed.

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Eye opening perspective

Today, I had a little bit of an eye opener. I don’t really write about hot topics but this is one that I feel burning in my soul, and then today I made a little explosion that I felt it necessary to put out. However, it really made me think.

My young granddaughter had shared with me about a certain children’s television station going blank for s period of time and displaying “I can’t breath” during that time.  I was upset that a child’s television channel would feel it necessary to expose children to this terrible event in any way.  I was upset that my grandchild would need to ask questions that expose her to things that impact her innocence.  I was upset that the actions of a few negligent and abusive people in power might impact the way that children view and approach those that were meant to provide safety and protection.

If I am honest, I was in the third or fourth year of college before I knew anything about hate crimes.  I grew up in a town that at the time was not ethnically diverse. I did not know that per capita there were more white supremist in my backyard that in cities where hate crimes are constantly in the news.  Other than the news, I  was not aware of the tension between races.  Until I was in Junior High, I can only recall one person I knew that was not born and raised in our community.  He was from Vietnam, and he was my classmate and friend.     To my knowledge, he was not treated any differently, and was included in every activity.   I was not aware that people treated others differently based on the color of their skin.  So to me, age seven is way to young to be exposed to the awful truth of the hate that exists in this world.

At work we began a discussion, about how the racial tension was impacting not only our cohort but also the people that we serve.  Different people shared how they were impacted, how they were advocating, and how they were feeling.  I shared my frustration about my seven-year old grandchild being exposed to the hate crimes in such a way. 

I learned that the television channel was part of a larger conglomerate that aired the same thing on every channel. While it didn’t make me feel better about the choice made, it was a little easier for me to stomach.  We talked about ways that we could be more informed and what we could do to support our coworkers, the people we serve, and people in general.  A couple of coworkers talked about a documentary on Netflix called Thirteenth, and a few other places where we could be educated.

I could tell that my opinion was different from much of what was voiced.  It wasn’t about right or wrong, and no one made me feel like my view was in error.  However, being a social worker I can read a group, even if it is over the phone.  After the call was over, I reached out to one of my coworkers for validation of what I was feeling.  I asked her to shoot me straight, knowing that her ethnicity provided a different view from mine.  She validated what I felt, and acknowledged that my experience was different from her experience. 

eviltowinWhile I was upset I was having the conversation with my granddaughter because a television channel made a choice; she had to have the conversation with her child who was even younger because it was the reality of what her family faces.  Talk about eye opening for me.  I was humbled and saddened that our experiences are so different and that I am so blinded to the privileges I have.  I made the decision to watch the Thirteenth and also to educate myself more on other viewpoints.

After watching Thirtheeth, I can say I learned a lot about history that I was never taught.  However, I also realized that hatred breeds hatred.  I can recognize that there is a bias that screamed out at me as I watched the documentary.  A bias, that if I heard constantly, would breed the same anger in me.    I also recognized that although I am not as likely aware of it, bias is breeding hate on the other side too.  We all want others to see wrongs that were done from our perspective.  We each have our own vantage point that we experience life through.

My vantage point, was that my seven year old grandchild should be sheltered from the hate that is bred in our society.  I want her to experience life to the fullness, but I want her to be able to make her own decisions about people as a whole and individually.    I want her to see what she has in common with people as she builds relationships, not let what is different on the outside shade her perspective.

However, I can recognize that the vantage point of my coworker was one that she needed to prepare her young child for a reality he could face a any time.  I know that while my heart is saddened that she has to prepare him, the only way that can change is for there to be a systematic change in our society. I want for her child, the same as I want for my children.

I do not believe that it is going to happen if we sit quietly by and wait for change.  I also do not believe that it is going to happen by rioting and destroying property of others, that is a costly expense usually to people that are only bystanders in the community.  I do not believe that it will happen by defunding police or by enforcing curfews and martial law.  

It is going to take people educating themselves to the experiences of others.  It is going to take understanding and putting themselves into another’s shoes (AKA empathy).  It is going to take some hard conversations about things we wish not to talk about.  It means we have to stop screaming and start listening.  It means we stop justifying and blaming, and start looking at how to move forward.  It is going to mean making some compromises on both sides.  We can not deny or change the past, but we can chose to build a better future going forward.

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Persistent planting #Write28Days

Brokenness plants seeds in our life that unfortunately grow like dandelions on a freshly mowed lawn. You think the brokenness is repaired, just like you think the dandelions are gone when you mow your yard. With a persistence, the dandelions rapidly expand and take over ever little inch of ground they can cover, despite the fresh manicure. That was the picture in my head as I prayed for someone specific.

The abuse, neglect and trauma the person experienced, planted seeds that kept sprouting up at the most inopportune time. The seeds persistently keep sprouting weeds of depression, anxiety, and more trauma. The weeds planted have been controlling too much of the person’s life; creeping in and covering areas that they have no place being. As much effort is placed in controlling the thoughts, they continue to blow over into other areas of life. It is a picture that I have seen recreated over and over again in many people’s lives that I have encountered over the years.

I realized it is like that for all of us. Although the triggers and responses may be different; the picture is the same. We all have dandelion seeds planted in our lives. We have little control over the seeds that are planted in our lives by others, especially during childhood. Those seeds tend to have the deepest root and widest spread in our lives.

Often times we are so familiar with them, that like little children, we grasp the weed in our hand and blow. We blow and cover things that we don’t even recognize as brokenness because they have been present in our lives so long they are normal. We spread the seeds into the lives of those around us, and into relationships that didn’t plant the seed.

persistent plantingThere are things that we bring from childhood into adulthood that came from negative family patterns. They might be poor communication skills, unhealthy boundaries, thought patterns that have been established through modeling, or unrealistic expectations. We carry those familiar things into adulthood and unconsciously believe that everyone else has the same view point. We may see other’s viewpoints as faulty because they are different. We may take the hurt caused by others out in new relationships expecting a new person to make up for the sins committed by another or expect them to treat us in the same negative patterns. Often times our reactions become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

We have no control over the seeds planted in our childhood, but we do have control what we continue to plant in our lives in adulthood. We can make a choice to persistently plant other seeds that can counteract the weeds. There are a lot of Scriptures that bare this truth.

The Word of God, also known as the Bible is called a seed. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Luke 8:11 ESV

What we plant will grow if we tend to it. And although it won’t happen over night, if we persistently plant good seed, it will grow and will start to reproduce good in our life. Finding scriptures that speak to the truth you need planted is a helpful place to start.

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26‭-‬29 ESV

We may feel like the seed that we are planting is small, but even the smallest seed can produce big results. That small seed has the ability to help others and move mountains! Meditating on scriptures that you have found, repeating them to yourself when those negative thoughts come up can feel like a small step, but do it often enough and it starts to grow.

And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
Mark 4:30‭-‬32 ESV.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 ESV

The good seed can grow with the bad seed and still harvest a good result. The more you decide to stop the negative thoughts and replace them with the truth of what God’s Word says, the bigger the harvest will be. You may start with focusing one one area, but as you get that area under control, you can start to combat other lies that have been planted in your life that are causing brokenness.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” Matthew 13:24‭-‬30 ESV

We all have seeds that have been planted in our life. Seeds reproduce after their own kind. We have to make an intentional choice to plant good seeds in our life to counteract those that were planted through the years that have created weeds in our thinking. Eventually if we persistently plant good long enough, it will choke out the weeds that have been caused by brokenness. The Word of God, the Bible, is full of good seeds that can be planted to over come most every negative seed that has been planted.

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This blog post is inspired by Anita Ojeda and the #Write28Days Challenge. The challenge was to write 28 days in February. I am running way behind, but wanted to finish anyway. For more posts on this topic go to Broken Vessel.

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Eternal tent

Scripture:  For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1

Application to my life:  One day both my physical home and my earthly body will be a pile of dust.  Whether from natural causes or worldly disaster, they will both one day be destroyed.  Yet, God has laid up for me in heaven a place that He has prepared that is eternal.

It will be a place not picked by me.  It will be a place not fashioned out of the DNA of earthly parents or made by human hands.  I will have a new body, perfectly made in His image.  I will be like Him.  I will exactly where He wants me to be.

EarthlytentDespite that promise, I also know that this side of Heaven He longs for me to reflect His image.  He longs for me to bring glory to Him.  He longs for me to follow His will.  He longs for me to follow His ways so closely that I am always exactly where He wants me to be.

I know I am not there yet.  It is my desire to get there, through His presence and power.  He has given me the Holy Spirit to help me do it.

Your response:  Lord, thank You for sending Jesus to seek and save me.  Thank You that He has gone to prepare a place for me. Help me to live now, abiding in your presence and reflecting Your image to the world.  Thank You for guiding my steps, help me to obey so that I may walk where You have called me to walk.  I know that You have plans for me here on earth and I want to  do what You have prepared for me.  I want to be who You have called me to be and to accomplish everything You have prepared for me.  I want to live for You until I can come to the eternal home You have prepared for me.  Help my unbelief in doing this so I will be obedient to you.

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I can obey

As the world starts opening back up in the midst of the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, I feel like the one thing I have learned in all this time is I can obey. I listened to my husband, the governor, the president, the orders and the guidelines. I might have questioned things, and still am, but I did what I was told to do. This is not something that comes naturally to me; the Lord knows that about me.

Most people obeyed. Some even to the point of laying down fundamental freedoms. Some people not only obeyed mere recommendations, but they passionately defended their position. Some not only defended, but were compelled to try to help others come to the same conclusion by whatever means necessary. Television was full of well-known people telling us to stay home, wash our hands and practice social distancing.  People took medical advice from celebrities, millionaires, and politicians as if they were top doctors in the field.  People shared information as fact that came from unknown sources or that was passed through the chain of people much like the childhood game of telephone. 

IcanobeyAs I thought about all the guidelines and recommendations we have all been listening to and following, a question came welling up in my spirit.  “Will you obey Me, like you have obeyed man?” It has rattled me a little, because I like to think I obey God. Yet, I know there are times when I feel His prompting and I ignore it. I question His instructions longer than I need to question. I question Him instead of taking action. I ask for other’s opinions instead of trusting His direction.

Yet in the midst of this crises, I have obeyed first and questioned during and after. Why do I not give God that same or even more respect? I know that God is for me. I know that God will not lead me to a path of destruction. I know that God has given the Holy Spirit to help me obey.

Scriptures say repeatedly that obedience to Him shows my love for Him.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:21‭-‬26 ESV

He empowered me with the Holy Spirit so I could obey His commands.  What if I stopped making excuses and just did what He tells me to do?

But he said, Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28 ESV

There comes a point for me where I stopped taking things I read and heard at face value, and I started looking at the original sites – whether it was government data or executive orders and where that authority came from.  What if I searched out the truth from His Word, like I have searched out the truth during this season?

It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. Proverbs 25:2
 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 ESV

What if I loved Him, with His love language, obedience?

But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

What if I took Him at His Word, like I have taken others at their word during this time?  There is power in being obedient in God’s timely instructions to us.  He has really been speaking to me about obedience. I have to chose to obey Him.    What if when I hear His voice, I didn’t question, but radically obeyed!!! I can obey, only I can decide if I will.

 

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Experimenting in the Brokenness #Write28Days

I have mentioned before that healing comes in levels. This was initially surprising to me, but now I realize I need to experiment in my brokenness to get to complete healing. I have to feel comfortable enough to try things I would not have done in my brokenness. Stepping out can be scary, but each time I find the courage to do it, it takes me a step closer to wholeness.

ExperimentIt is only in experimenting that I can find where the areas are that still need work. I can not know that trust is an issue if I never put myself out there to trust again. I cannot experience love again if I don’t experiment loving again. I can not experience forgiveness if I don’t first forgive.

There have been times, like with trust where I have been able to experiment and fully give myself to trusting another, only to have trust broken again.  Often,  I have found that broken trust creates a completely new wound.  For example,  when my trust is broken by a new person that I have not had a history with before.  I remember a small group of people that I shared my dreams with for the future.  One particular woman acted as if she wanted to help bring those dreams to fruition.  We started down the path, but ladies several warned me not to trust her completely.  I did not heed the warning.  I later found out that she liked my dream, but wanted it for herself.  She turned on me and turned others against me.   I walked away from that experience with a broken trust, but it was a fresh wound, one that God quickly mended in ways that I had never imagined.  The woman’s actions had not stopped my dream, but instead showed me where I had gone astray.  Her actions helped put me back where I needed to be with a fresh vision of a dream not of my making, but of God’s making.

However, there have also been times where the broken trust, opens a wound that never truly healed completely.  I have been married for almost twenty one years.  It is our second marriage to each other.  Our first marriage lasted only a year and a half.  It started on rocky ground and it only got rockier as the months went by. We both hurt each other a lot, and there were a lot of deep wounds.  We reconciled after much counseling, and had a better foundation to build our marriage and family on the second time around.

However, when small things would happen, I often found myself questioning my ability to fully trust my husband.  We hit a rocky patch about five years in, and my trust was broken completely.  He wanted counseling again, but I was not sure that what was broken was worth restoring.  I realized that I had never fully healed from our first marriage.  I have allowed the wound to scab over, but the scar remained and underneath was an infection just waiting for the right combination to fester back up and destroy our relationship.  That wound had to be reopened and cleaned out again in effort to truly heal.

For the weeks and month that followed, we met with a Christian counselor weekly.  I had to agree to experiment with trust.  I had to allow my husband to build back what was lost, but the only way for restoration and healing to fully take place was one experiment at a time.  During that time, the littlest things would scratch the surface and all the poison from our previous marriage would come spewing out my mouth as if he needed to be reminded of failures from nine years before.  That would put him on defense and instead of healing, we would just dig a little deeper into the wound.  With lots of prayer and Godly counsel we made it through that time.

I realize now, that because of our relationship and the intimacy of it, he has the ability to open up wounds that he didn’t create.  He has the ability to go deep enough with me that even the smallest bit of unhealed hurt in my life can come to the surface. I have to be willing to recognize that is not his intention.  He loves me and does not intentionally want to hurt me.  I have to experiment with being vulnerable enough to let him know when his actions or words are taking me to a place that I still need healing.  I have to experiment with being open enough not to put up walls immediately instead of being open. He has to experiment with being with me in the brokenness without getting defensive.  We have to experiment in the brokenness together to find healing.

Every hurt is not the same.  Every wound has the potential to open up other wounds or to just create a new wound.  Wounds heal differently.  It means experimenting in the very areas that we have been broken, being vulnerable enough to allow another in.  It means experimenting with how much we open ourselves up to others, especially those we are closest to.  It means experimenting with giving the benefit of the doubt and sharing what we are feeling and experiencing in the moment.  Brokenness does not have to be final, but it does take experimenting with stepping out of our comfort zone to find healing.

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This blog post is inspired by Anita Ojeda and the #Write28Days Challenge. The challenge is to write 28 days in February. For more posts on this topic go to Broken Vessel.

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