While I still breathe

“Look’, I heard Him say, ‘open up your eyes, notice you’re still breathing, you’re still here upon this Earth.” “So long as you are still breathing the breath that I have given you,’ He continued, ‘your mission here is not done. Look around you in your fraction of the world, look and see the influence, the ministry I set before you everyday. Your sphere of influence is another of My gifts to you. Don’t you understand that your job is not done until you breathe your last breath upon this Earth?”

I was reminded that while Jesus hung there dying on the cross, His breathing labored as He was suffocating and although His purpose mere minutes from being fulfilled, He still saw one last mission, one last Divine appointment here on Earth. He willingly became the only source of comfort to a thief who hung there next to Him upon another cross. Luke 23:43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Jesus gave every last shallow breath within Him, over to the Will of His Father. Jesus truly bore the weight of the world on His shoulders, never once shrinking back into self-pity due to the circumstances and the horror, He found Himself in. He conquered the world! He did not let the world conqueror Him. The torture, the anger, the uncaring, the unforgiving, the vulgar, the evil and the ungratefulness Jesus witnessed and suffered here couldn’t cause His heart to change or tire of doing right. No, even after all the extremes were thrust upon Him and He was shown that the world hated Him, the world didn’t want Him and the world turned their backs upon Him, even though He only loved, taught, fed and healed them, He allowed it not to change Him. As He struggled to breathe, His pure heart remained unchanged, His last prayer still today carries loves echo, for He prayed, Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

I think about all the pain He had to be feeling physically. His body was so brutally beaten and nails pulling on His flesh as He hung from them, all while suffocating. Then I think of the emotional pain, with a kiss, betrayal from one of His closest friends and another of His closest friends denied even knowing Him three times. He never did anyone any harm His entire life. He never lied to anyone, stole from anyone, gossiped about anyone, spread lies about anyone and He never cheated or took advantage of anyone. He healed the sick, taught acceptance and He loved the unlovable. All of this while knowing the plots stewing against Him regularly.

While I sit here meditating on the life that Jesus led, knowing that He was ultimately becoming the one true sacrifice made for the salvation of a people who not only punished Him for the good life that He lived, but they also did not appreciate the sacrifice, they didn’t deserve the sacrifice, and they didn’t want the sacrifice. Still as Jesus went through all that He had gone through from His birth to His resurrection, I know there was at least one name that He was doing it for, someone that could not save herself from her own darkness and sin. One soul helplessly fallen in this fallen world. He knew even then the name of a girl who would one day cry out amidst her pain needing rescued from her enemies, but most of all needing rescued from herself. He chose the nails, the crown of thorns, the mocking spit, the name calling, the betrayals, the flogging, the lots cast for His clothes, the weight of all mankind’s sin, the rejection from Father God and the death on a cross, He chose all this and more for an undeserving, self-seeking, sinful, fallen girl who’s voice would cry out to Him over two thousand years later. And for that one girl way off in the distant future, Jesus said, “yes, I do all this for you.” Then He uttered, “ tetelestoi”! ( It is finished, זה נגמר ). John 19:30 His last words sealing the deal, then He hung His head and died.

As that girl over 2000 years later, I can’t help but be ashamed of myself. I’m finding myself wandering in the desert like the Israelites did for 40 years, partly due to the constant self-pitying and complaining they were addicted (for lack of a better word) to. After all He did for me, how can I justify feeling sorry for myself going through the molding and watering and pruning of my character and my spirit because it feels like harsh trials and tribulations. It’s a win-win situation for me because of His selfless life and death He endured completely and utterly alone, and because He did, I never have to go through my struggles, hurts and sorrows alone. Hebrews 13:6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

Now in an effort to echo my Savior’s heart, I too must understand, my work is not done until I breathe my last breath. What have I chose to do with what God has already provided me? When I say I want God’s Will and not my own how often am I happy with what I currently have and how often am I complaining about what I don’t? How long do I live in the present moment where I can feel Him the most and how often am I distracted by regret from the past or to focused on my future goals? How often have I said to God Thy will be done and then make every effort to be the teacher and not the student or The giver not the receiver? If I truly want to be the person God created me to be, if I truly want Him to change my heart and mold me into the person heaven’s gate will recognize and open up for, then understanding what it means to pick up my cross and follow Him, (basically die to self) is necessary. To stop asking what God can do for me like a genie out of a bottle at my beck and call to give me my next wish and instead start asking what God would be willing to allow me to do for Him, understand the blessing is in His willingness to give me a mission that always guarantees change within myself.

So just as David did when he said in Psalm 103:1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. I too demand my soul and all that is within me to bless the Lord and His holy name.

Until next time, may the Lord bless you and keep you as you seek Him with all your heart.

RIP Daddy

I have been considering my thoughts about this particular blog post to be selfish or self-seeking so I kept stopping myself from writing it. I try very hard to analyze my own motives in an effort to refrain from self-righteous and selfish behavior. Even as I write these words, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me so I don’t gain from them any pity from my readers who’s big hearts may be drawn to feeling sorry for me. However, I feel led to share my very real thoughts and emotions over the circumstances I now find myself in the midst of. I knew it was coming I watched as it drew closer and closer. I allowed myself to feel hope and I wouldn’t allow myself to dwell on any possibility that could shatter the hope within me, so I had every opportunity to prepare myself for what I knew was going to happen but instead I refuse to face it. Then ready or not the inevitable took its rightful place and here I am in a kind of dream-like state of all-consuming disbelief and in the in-escapable knowing, I think it’s almost like shock yet I am cognitively and rationally still very much here. I know God’s Word says, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 but we do not want you to be uninformed, Brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. I have not lost hope and I’m not angry. I don’t feel like a victim of life’s hardships. Still I ask myself, what’s wrong with you? Everybody goes through this at some point in their lives. And it’s not like it was a shock or surprise, he was 79 years old after all and because of his heart he already lived long past the doctors estimates. I guess even those who are given time to prepare for this, still find they were not prepared or ready when the time finally came. Not long ago I was sitting by his bedside and he said to me, “please don’t be mad or hate me because I don’t want to be here anymore”. I was shocked to hear such words from the man I considered to be strong, proud, honest, rock solid and unbreakable. He couldn’t wait to meet Jesus he said. I smiled at him and said, “Daddy I couldn’t be mad or hate you for that, if I had a choice I would rather be in heaven with Jesus too”. They say it’s rather common for girls to be daddy’s girls. As common as daddy’s girls may be, I wonder if every daddy’s girl feels as though they are the exceptionally rare kind of daddy’s girls? I want to say, “no you don’t understand, I’m not the average daddy’s girl, it’s much, much, more than that, so much more special. There is no statistic for the special bond that daddy and I had. Daddy was my mentor, my safe place, my protector, my wise counsel, my most honest critic, my disciplinary, my preacher, my hero and my friend. He taught me how to defend myself, he always went to battle for me when an authority over me wouldn’t listen. Like the time he told the school principal and school counselor to put boxing gloves on me and the girl who had been harassing me for over a year and then put us in the gym until we work out our differences. Speechless at first, one finally spoke up and said we can’t do that Mr. Anderson! In which my dad replied then don’t call me when my daughter kicks that girl’s butt in self-defense! He told them he would guarantee that his daughter wouldn’t start the fight but she had better finish it and he didn’t want to hear a thing from the school about it. He taught me on the way home that most the fight was in the mind so I needed to intimidate her by staring her down while putting down my books slowly taking off my jacket my watch my rings etc. wait until she came at me and then take her down. He was absolutely right and it just so happened that so many had seen the fight, not one person picked on me the rest of that year. Another time my science teacher wouldn’t let me bring my Bible to class to show there is another view on how we all came into existence. I told him I believe in creation and won’t answer test questions or write essay stating evolution is fact. He said he would have to flunk me. My dad agreed with my viewpoint so once again he went to school. This time I didn’t get to hear what my dad had to say but I was told my Bible is welcome in class and we would also look at creation as a possibility of how we came to exist. I remember growing up bragging about having the coolest dad in the world. Until high school anyway. Once I hit 13 I didn’t think anyone understood me. Boy did I put my parents through some heartaches. A stage in my life I am not proud of. I never thought I knew everything or even more than my parents. I knew my parents were wise and experienced I just didn’t think they understood me at all. They sure tried, oh how I hated disappointing dad. I can still feel the impact my emotions had on changing the naivety of how I saw my dad the day I found out he wasn’t perfect. He was human and could make mistakes too. I think how I felt at that moment is interestingly similar to how I am feeling now. Crushed but not broken, disbelieving yet understanding, unavoidably knowing and still unchanging in my respect and adoration of the man. My mind drifts to the time I had major surgery and spent a week and a half in the hospital. Daddy came every morning as my husband left for work and he would read the Bible to me, walk the halls with me, watch TV with me and nap with me until my husband arrived after work in the evening. He would leave for the night but always return the next day. The entire time I was in the hospital he was by my side. Music was a common love between us and daddy sure love those old church hymns. We sang at church, at the ministry we worked for, and all our big family get-togethers were karaoke parties in reality! It became somewhat of a tradition. Daddy never held back when I asked for his opinion of a new song I was working on. Even when he knew my feelings could be hurt he was honest. He was just as honest when asked about my writings. I always wanted his opinion because I knew he would be truthful not sparing my feelings with sugar-coated confusing answers that never seemed to directly answer whether it was good or needed work. I have come to believe, that as a direct result of who my daddy was as head of the family and as a father to me, I more easily understood what the word of God meant in being adopted into God’s family thus gifted with the right to call God Abba, Father. Romans 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” I can imagine some girls having difficulty seeing Father God as dad if they either never had a dad around or if the didn’t have a gentle, loving dad in their lives. I can’t always say that I felt my dad was gentle and there we’re often battles while growing up. The thing is I can’t seem to remember very many bad times. Daddy gave me the tools to understand and have faith in a loving, merciful, gentle, patient, good and kind Father God just by being everything a dad is supposed to be for me. Over the years I have found myself praising God and thanking him repeatedly for blessing me with my dad. For quite a few years he would tell me that I was the one that would take over the Bible classes and Ministry part of the company we worked for once he was ready to retire. I always told him oh no, no, no I’m not a preacher, I’m not learned enough or skilled enough and I don’t know enough of the Bible. He refused to give up on me and he insisted that I come and sit in on his classes. He mentored me on how to teach, the kind of Heart one needs to effectively minister to people, all the responsibilities that we take on as we minister to people and that we must understand our duty to be accountable to them. I would watch daddy as he ministered to people, as he sat by their hospital beds, as he went out of his way to pick them up, drop them off, to assist them in any way he could, sometimes even staying the night at the facility they were staying at just so they would be comfortable. I don’t know how many times he was woken up in the middle of the night and in moments heading all the way to work because somebody needed something or their heater went out, etc. Daddy I’m going to miss you so much. This life, this world feels empty and I just don’t know how to live it without you. The superhero isn’t supposed to die. They may get battle scars and deep wounds but they heal and always come back. What happens when the superhero dies? When there’s no one there to protect and keep watch? What is going to happen to my world? I want to scream, cry, throw something, sleep, mostly I want to go to heaven too. Knowing daddy is in his Fathers Glory, pain free, sorrow free, resting in the peace and Love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, doesn’t make it so easy that the heartache eases. No not even a little. I am so happy for dad. I’m just selfishly sad for me. I’m in a dark- light existence now and I don’t know, will it last forever? This life is not appealing as everything now seems dull and bland. How do you tell your heart to say goodbye?
Daddy I know your in heaven,
and I know your finally at peace,
wish you could send a little,
peace down here to me,
daddy I feel all alone now,
I find it really hard to breathe,
dark light is all around me,
making it hard to see clearly,
daddy have you seen Jesus,
I bet He made you feel right at home,
I bet its warm there in God’s presence,
here everyday just seems so cold,
even though I miss you daddy,
I would never pray you back,
this fallen world can seem so heavy,
you had your fair share of that,
you ran your race fought the fight,
you sure held on with all your might,
drawing strength from the love that you have inside,
daddy I wish I could hold your hand again,
see your smile and hear you laughing,
oh what I would give to just hug you tight,
you finished your race,
now I have to finish mine,
daddy will you think of me some,
as you walk golden streets in heaven,
could you send some prayers my way,
that might help me make it through the day,
oh daddy what’s it like to sing,
with legion of angels accompanying,
I can almost hear the majesty,
daddy could you sing one for me

Precious time

Time… the only precious commodity I can truly say is mine to decide what to do with. I choose how I will spend my time. Sure there are those things in life that demand of it, some things more forcefully demanding than others. Still the choice remains mine whether to give in to those demands or not. And then there are those things in life that steal it from me. Some leaving no trace of ever even being there and others leaving an imprint in place of the time stolen. Time, it seems, is more precious than diamonds and gold. I read in James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Time, my time, in which I have no guarantee of how much will be allotted, is the priceless value I have, individually, to offer the world. It’s no wonder why it’s another thing the enemy twists and turns into deceptive traps meant to keep me in bondage. The enemies traps are relentless, merciless, contemplative and set up for his amusement, as he takes pleasure in watching me struggle, getting torn down, and broken as I try to escape. 1 Peter 5:8 says, Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
So I asked myself, who do I honor with my time myself or God? Have I surrendered my time to Father God becoming alert and ready at any hour to drop my own plans answering His call to serve? Is my faith in Him and His understanding capable of pushing my own judgment of the circumstances aside without question? Or are there limits within my surrendering to His Will over my life?
What I do with my time reflects the desires of my heart. It is the trial, the test, the marker of Truth so to speak. Is God a religious hobby I sometimes find time for or is He a personal relationship I cherish and mold into my everyday life? Do my actions prove His importance and place Him above all things or do my lips speak righteousness while my actions prove selfish and lazy? If time is my only true offering, how much does the God that died a brutal death to save me receive of it?
How often do I find believable, highly convincing reasons to excuse myself from the guilt of not doing the things I know I should be doing and instead doing the things I know I shouldn’t be doing? . Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. The truth is sadly, my reasons may sound good and I may be able to convince myself and others of their fairness and that my reasons are justified, and still I’m only fooling myself. The reality is, I know what I should be doing and its an extremely rare occasion that my circumstances truly stand in the way of my ability to do what I know is right.
So what am I seriously thinking will happened the day I stand before the Lord? As the truth laid bare and undeniable, what am I going to say? Do I actually believe my reasons, excuses and Alibis will hold any weight when Jesus asks me why? Why didn’t I read his word? Why didn’t I use my time wisely? Why didn’t I swallow my pride? Why didn’t I love the unlovable? Why didn’t I watch my mouth? Why didn’t I give more of my time? Why didn’t I see the idols of time wasters in my life? Why didn’t I speak only encouragement and uplifting words to others? Why was my way better than His? Why were my thoughts higher than His? Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
My selfish comforts are not meant to be the focus of my attention. To deny myself and take up my cross and follow Him means if I am demanding my rights, my way, my happiness, my comforts, my proper respect and appreciation from others, etc. Then I am not following or echoing the heart of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No matter how convincingly I can argue the validity of my reasons, all they would sound like even to my own ears when repeated to Jesus Himself, is excuses.
Although I believe Father GOD cares very much for my comfort, I know He will not insure my comfort at the expense of my eternal soul. To look within myself and without sugar coating, excusing, pretending or turning a blind eye to what I see, will most unquestionably hurt. My illusion about who I am, that same illusion I try to pass off as who I am to others, will have to be pulled out of me root and all. This is absolutely guaranteed to cause me pain, frustration and many tears as the root goes deep. Romans 8:16-18 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek Him with your whole heart.

Battle of wills

If I cannot humble myself to God’s will, with complete surrender and sacrifice of my own ways, needs and desires, then it is foolishness to believe myself a vessel of servitude, reflecting God’s goodness, love and mercy unto others. If I need things my way and in my timing He will step aside and allow me to act like a spoiled princess. At this point, I am then operating according to my own belief, understanding and strength. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB) Says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. He will not try things my way which is limited to my understanding of the world because it’s measure is based on the amount of world I have experienced. Therefore my experience is not even a grain of sand held up beside the size of Earth in comparison to His understanding. No He will not join me in doing what I want, but He will allow me the freedom to choose selfishness over sacrifice. As I linger in my own understanding, living life my way, He stands ready to pick right back up where we left off as soon as my temper tantrum subsides and my realization kicks in of his understanding and my understanding are as an ant to the size of the universe. While operating in my own understanding, belief and strength my life is experienced accordingly. If I see something sad I may react over emotionally and when I feel angry I may permanently damage relationships by my emotionally unrestrained actions and words. All of which God will patiently allow as he gently and persistently calls me back to the safety of his arms and the faith in His ability to guide me in the right way. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.— Proverbs 12:15(NASB) If I want to decide what’s good for me, what I desire most and demand my rights, Father God will step aside and let me live by what I think and feel is best for me no matter how tiny my best may be in comparison to his best for me. When I insist on doing what I think is right, best, fair, etc. I am then operating within my own strength and abilities. Physical pain may become worse or even unbearable, relationships suffer as emotions become heightened and I start to think my suffering for the sake of others goes unappreciated. Fatigue sets in and time disappears without a trace. My to do’s pile high while my sleep is scarce. Although I may try with all my might, I will fail miserably at portraying The Fruit of His Spirit in my life during this time. Operating in my own understanding and strength will eventually lead me right back to a place of desperation much like where I had started from. What may look to me like a good; thing, way, word, service, etc., is not always good. And how often have I really checked my true motive? See one of the absolute hardest things to do is pay close attention to how we are operating from the inside and what really motivates our actions and decisions. Often coming to realize the natural, almost habitual way we unthinkingly are led by selfish motivation, seems we’re always in some way looking out for ourselves. Sure we can be more then willing to help those we love along the way and even truly sacrifice for them. But if we stopped to look within our own hearts, unbiased, open to truth, would we find out we lie even to ourselves? If our heart is what Father God judges, doesn’t it stand to reason then that we should know what’s in there for him to judge? So many of us avoid even a slight glance into our own hearts because we know that we never cleaned up all the shattered pieces we shoved in there over and over again from past trauma pain and sorrow. We habitually keep shoving the broken pieces back in there deciding we will get to it after the pain eases a little. Our reasoning that we need to be prepared and ready before we go there is why so many of us just never go there. James 4:8-10(NASB) tells us, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. How long will we wander in the wilderness of our testing before we open our eyes to what needs changing within us? Sometimes we linger in the wilderness, heavy with the burden of the trial, never seeing the light of our breakthrough that leads to our promised blessing. We cannot overcome a wrong attitude, a wrong behavior, or a wrong pattern of thought while we are still trying to justify it. Once we lay down our crown with complete surrender, He promises, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. “— Psalm 32:8 (NASB) And He tells us, For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. — Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB) And remember friends, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. — Philippians 2:13(NASB) Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek him with all your heart.