Puzzle pieces

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about puzzles. More specifically a 40,000 piece puzzle that is the Guinness book of world records largest puzzle in the world. This puzzle is the largest in both the amount of pieces and it’s overall size. The part of this puzzle that has me thinking though, is the number of pieces. 40,000 pieces needing to find their place in the big picture.

With that many pieces one might entertain the thought that one or two pieces aren’t such a big deal if they happened to go missing.. keeping track of 40,000 pieces sounds almost overtime payish.

One piece of a puzzle won’t even give someone an idea of what the picture will be once all the pieces are put together.  Having just one piece of the whole puzzle is useless really as it cannot be the whole puzzle even if it wanted to be.  That piece has its one place within the whole, where it is vital to the whole.  If that one piece decided to go it’s own way getting lost, thinking it’s no big deal or unimportant, would ruin the masterpiece for without it the whole would be void in the spot that piece was to take up. Furthermore that piece is not replaceable either. No other piece can or will fit into it’s rightful place.

As I ponder this I am drawn to the idea, what if life was like this. What if God has this masterpiece in mind as He creates each and every piece to fit together, each having it’s own unique shape and each being equally important to the finished project. He’s skillfully and masterfully knit every single human together while in the womb, giving to each a uniqueness that only they can contribute and nobody can take the place of.

We are all just pieces to the whole puzzle. We are meant to fit together, each in our own unique way.

This is not really a new thought, in scripture Paul puts it this way,

1 Corinthians 12:14-27 NLT — Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

Selfishness, self-pity, self-righteousness, all focus on self.  So long as the focus is on self, it cannot also be on service.

The world has made popular the idea that we should be focused on self, like self improvement, self-confidence, self-help, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-love, etc. All examples of the worldly idea that we need to focus on ourselves.

All around us are the messages, feeding into our minds and hearts, causing us to believe this concentration on self is right.   We are all searching for inner peace, love, and a place to just rest. When focus is on self, no matter what side of the scale, from self-pity to self-righteousness, we are in a constant state of restlessness, anxiety, always standing ready to defend.  We build up walls inside ourselves as part of our defense readiness, having no idea, the walls, once built, won’t allow the bad in, but won’t allow the good in either.   We starve ourselves of the very thing we are seeking, all because we have given into the feel-good, worldly, idea that we should concentrate on ourselves.

The problem is, we were not created for this.   Self, is lonely, isolating, non-community, it’s all take and little to no give.  We were created in the image of  All Mighty God, to be parts of a whole, to fit like puzzle pieces together.  

The enemy doesn’t want us to know we are but one simple piece.  He wants to destroy the puzzle, of course he will most deceptively, by the use of our emotions and lack of true wisdom, give us every reason to continue believing we, individually, are the whole.

We seem to all try to fit ourselves into spots that make us like those we admire or like those we respect. We work hard to prove ourselves worthy of the spots we desire to fit into. The truth is only one might actually fit in that spot. The rest are faking, camouflaged, mimicking, etc.

We all go through this life trying to find our place, a place with people like us, where we feel like we fit in. We look for like-mindedness, hobbies in common, similar interests and ways of living.

We then pass judgement in one form or another upon those who are not living up to our standards. Some may try to use religion or Christian principles as justification for being able to point out wrong doing in others.

We try to hide our true selves just in case we won’t be accepted.

The truth is instead of searching for what makes us the same as, or at least makes us resemble others, we should search for what makes us unique, different, special. We should be looking for our place in the big picture. At the same time we should be encouraging others to find their uniqueness also.

Instead of shunning people that may be different we should be accepting, learning, encouraging, celebrating what makes us individuals.

If we are to mimic Jesus, we need to learn how to serve and accept others regardless of what society and the world try to tell us.

We are all just one piece to the whole puzzle. All equal in significance, all having our own special, uniqueness to contribute to the whole.

Find your unique, be it, own it, show it off because you are special, important, fearfully and wonderfully made, most of all, you are dearly loved by your Creator!

Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek Him with your whole heart.

 

10 reasons I thank God for the blessing of mom

Proverbs 31:10-31 NLT — Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her,

And she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, All the days of her life. She finds wool and flax And busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, Bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household And plan the day’s work for her servant girls. She goes to inspect a field and buys it; With her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, A hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable;

Her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread,

Her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor And opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household, For everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates,

Where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments And sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, And she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, And she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household And suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, But you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; But a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

 

Today, is the one day a year we as a society, set aside to honor our mother’s. Although in my opinion, mom’s should be celebrated and honored every day of the year, it still gives me hope and a grateful heart, that we give one whole day every year, to remember our moms and what they mean to us.

 

I thank God regularly for so richly blessing my life with my mom. Today, on mother’s day, I am especially grateful because my mom is a most extraordinary woman. My entire life, I have yet to meet another mom that can compare with mine.

 

For the sake of space within this blog post, I have narrowed down all the reasons I praise God for my mom down to my top ten.

 

10. Number ten is probably the most obvious and would be rather silly to even mention, except that it is absolutely true and therefore worth listing. I thank God for Mama because she gave me life. She birthed me and took on the responsibility of raising me.

 

9. I praise Father God for my mama because through good times and bad times, she stayed and work things out with daddy. She loved him so much it was awe inspiring. She, by her example, taught me it’s not only possible to be self-controlled, patient, and selfless, but it’s a requirement for a lasting marriage.

 

8. I praise God for my mama because, she worked so hard, both in the home and outside the home.  She not only taught me how to clean and care for a home, but she also taught me the value in working hard.

 

7. I thank God for mama because, she hosted our family holiday gatherings, that always seemed more like family reunions, with how many people would show up. It was hard work and she never got to visit with everyone because by the time the meal was prepared, shared, and then cleaned up, everyone started heading home. Still she did this year after year.

 

6. I thank Father God for my mama because, she has such a big heart. She is very attentive, thoughtful and she is always helping family, friends, and sometimes even strangers that are in need.

 

5. I praise God for my mama because, she raised me to walk with dignity and taught me how to be a woman deserving of respect. She taught by being an example.

 

4. I thank God for my mama because, she was never afraid to discipline me when I messed up. Even as an adult, she’s not afraid to let me know when I am wrong. She gently tells me with guidance from the Holy Spirit.

 

3. I praise God for my mama because, she has never been disloyal to me and she has always had my back.

 

2. I thank Father God for my mama because, she taught me how to listen and hear Holy Spirit  God. She also taught me, to always read at least one verse in the Bible, before reacting in anger to a fight.  She taught me, if I do this, I won’t react the same way I would if I lashed out in my own emotional understanding. I’m less likely to cause permanent damage to a relationship if I read a verse or two before reacting.

 

1. I praise father God for my mama because,  she introduced me to Jesus. Nothing will ever compare to this in all my life. She gave me life and took part in saving my life, by introducing me to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

My list could go on for pages, telling of all the reasons mama has been Father God’s first blessing upon my life. Today, as we honor our moms for the blessings they  are,  maybe we can stop for a moment and with all our heart, say a little prayer of gratitude to Father God for so greatly blessing us.

 

Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek him with your whole heart.

 

Wandering closet stuffers

In today’s society we are not really just desert walker’s, like the Israelites. No, we seem to be more like closet stuffers.

Joshua 5:6 NLT — The Israelites had traveled in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed the LORD, and the LORD vowed he would not let them enter the land he had sworn to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey.

See the Israelites wondered 40 years in the desert after gaining their freedom from Egyptian captivity.  All because they chose to stay within the box of their victim mentality. They participated in the physical liberation but refused liberation of their minds and hearts. For the most part they were born into captivity and so were slaves their whole lives, so it stands to reason then, their minds and hearts were basically programmed as victims because of their captivity. Maybe they heard stories of the days their people were free, days in which they were not oppressed, stories that seemed probably like fairy tales as they faced their current daily circumstances.  Fact is, they as a whole cried out to God, knowing only an act of God would bring about even the possibility of ever being free.

Then, one day they watched, as God freed them from the Egyptians. They crossed the parted Red Sea, they followed the smoke cloud of God, and they ate daily, the manna God Himself provided each morning.

No matter how much proof they had through signs and wonders God performed before their very eyes, they just couldn’t free their minds and hearts. God led them out of captivity but they lacked the faith needed to break the chains of the victim mentality they habitually lived in. As I think on their journey, I’m of the opinion they had to have been literally making an effort not to trust in God. I guess I just can’t see, how a whole generation of people, could see miracles with their very own eyes, and then forget they happened before they breathe their next breath.

Either way I’d say they were complaining, selfish, desert wanderers. Just like I myself have been on numerous occasions.

I have often referred to in my life, when I am reluctantly going through trials and struggles meant to bring about change within me, as my desert time.

Truth is, although as practicing Christians, the time wandering the desert of change is necessary, these days we have become expert at knowing what people want from us and performing based on their desire and or requirements, even when we disagree. That fake it till you make it mentality. We stuff ourselves into the closet while we seek the approval of others, whether that be for a job, social group, family, or even a marriage. Our true self stays locked in the closet only allowed to come out once in awhile when no one is around to witness it. Some of us try to forget about what we locked away and so try to become the person we are portraying to the world that we are.

The problem is, we can’t actually become anything other than who we are unless we change as a whole. The neglected, locked away, forgotten about, part of who we are, is needed in order to bring about true change within ourselves. Doesn’t mean we have to like that part of ourselves, doesn’t mean we have to embrace that part of ourselves either. It just means we have to accept that part of ourselves as being part of who we are. Just because we may not like it and no matter how much we wish it wasn’t so, doesn’t allow us to just pluck it out like unwanted eyebrows.

Change is a process. True change happens when we are totally committed to said change. To be serious and committed to change it takes all of who we are, the parts we like and those we don’t like or even want to admit.

When we are born, we are; taught to cry in order to alert our parents or caregiver of a need, such as a wet diaper or hunger, or a want, such as being held and cuddled. We are taught, in a sense, to be selfish. We want or we need, therefore demand with a cry, and quickly receive.

Then once we have grown up to toddler age, we get the shock of our lives. At least the little bit of life we have at that point lived.

We get told no!!!

In essence, no  means the world no longer revolves around us. You see prior to our first being told no, all our wants and needs have been quickly met once demanded.

Now, we get told no, and so we cry, to no avail. Our cry no longer gets the desired results. A battle begins, as we fight for our way and our parents or caregiver fight for our understanding that the world no longer revolves around us.

There was a season in our lives, from birth until toddler, where the world needed to revolve around us. It was just that, a season of time, once that season of time came to an end, we had to be taught the world no longer revolved around us, hence the move into a new season of our lives.  

Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT — For everything there is a season, A time for every activity under heaven.

Sometimes, moving into this new season is difficult no matter how old we get. When we’re being taught, from that toddler age on, that the world no longer revolves around us, it is hard to understand because all we ever knew was that the world did revolve around us. All we had to do was cry out to be comforted or taken care of.  Now in this new season, we find out there are hard lessons to learn that can cause heartache and tears. Lessons that teach us how to survive in a world that in fact, does not, revolve around us.  It is not that our parents or caregiver means to punish us or cause us pain, they just have to teach us, so that we don’t end up with worse pain.  So they show us the right way, even though it is hard to learn.

Just because something was allowed in one season of our lives, doesn’t mean that we will be able to have it in the next season, or even the season after that.  It means, that we needed it for the season that is finished, and we may not be allowed it in the season to come. It was there for a purpose and the purpose was now gone. The very first season of our lives, from birth to toddler, it is needed for us to believe that the world in fact, revolves around us, so that we will ask for our desire and need. Once we have passed the season in which we need to cry out, that world revolving around us mentality, is no longer needed and so we now, must be taught, what we need for the next season of our lives while learning to let go of the previous season.

The Israelites couldn’t let go of their season of slavery and so could never embrace the season of The promised Land.

We, even though we try to forget the closet part of ourselves, will make decisions with that part in mind. If we truly don’t want to continue being haunted by the parts of us we feel ashamed of or that we ourselves don’t like, we first have to face it, understand just because it’s something within ourselves doesn’t mean we can’t hate it and choose to change it. It’s just until we admit it and allow ourselves to hate it we can’t change it. To truly change and make the change stick we first have to change our heart. To change our heart we only have to change our mind.

We need to understand that having a desire to change a part of who we are, is in no way, a decision that we aren’t good enough, or that we aren’t worthy, etc. Etc., when in comparison to others in this world. It does give us wisdom in that we are less than worthy of God’s love.  The fact that we have the ability because of Jesus to notice a way in us that just doesn’t seem to fit the righteousness of God, tells how wise, humble, and worthy we really are.

Hiding ourselves stuffed in a closet only causes a rollercoaster of trying and failing change. Acceptance of everything about us, after taking a real honest look at what we have hidden, will allow us to confess our knowledge of it and then decide to hate it and ultimately, opening the door to true change.

This is what repentance does for us. Father God already knows the closet part of us.

Romans 5:8 CSB — But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We may be able to fool other people, but we cannot fool God,  Who sees all and even though He sees all, still loves us so much that He sent his son to die for us, that we might be reconciled to Him. Repentance allows this so long as we are looking truthfully and honestly at who we really are.

Psalm 32:5 NLT — Finally, I confessed all my sins to you And stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

Closet stuffing and wandering in the wilderness are traps the enemy sets to blind us from moving into our new season. The enemy doesn’t want us to know we have graduated. The enemy will stop at nothing to steal our hope, kill our joy and destroy our faith.

The Lord Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah as we read in,

Luke 4:18-19 NLT — “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, For he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, That the blind will see, That the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”

We may choose to stay trapped by the enemies lies but the absolute truth is, we don’t have to! We can claim our freedom as we were bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus! Victory is ours because the battle is the Lord’s!!

Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek Him with your whole heart!

 

Once brokenhearted

Have you ever had a real broken heart? I’m not talking about I’ll miss you, cry for a few days and be over it kind of broken heart. I’m talking about that ache deep in your core, somewhere between your lungs and above your stomach. That block, something is there but you cant get it out. No amount of tears can help you. That desperation kind of heartache. You try to keep busy so you don’t have time to dwell on it but it traps you. You cant move. You either want to die or make it go away. Have you ever had this kind of broken heart?

I used to live with this broken heart everyday. I was continually suffocated by it. Sometimes I would get relief for an hour, maybe a day, but then it would just come back to torture me again and again. It wasn’t about loosing the love of my life, he was still there right beside me, trying to understand how I could be so happy yet so utterly unhappy at the same time. It was not about loosing my children, their smiling faces would shine up at me everyday just wishing mommy had the power to smile more often. You see,  it wasn’t about loosing a loved one to the hereafter, or not having my dreams fulfilled, or being alone. No, the hardest thing  was, it was not because I had anything to be unhappy about.

           I had a wonderful life. I was surrounded by people who loved and supported me. Problems? Sure, I have lived a life of ups and downs, but who hasn’t? We all have burdens to bear. In fact, I couldn’t pinpoint one thing to be heart broken about in my life.

           There it is! An unending, unyielding, broken, shattered heart for absolutely no reason at all. How do you beat that? How do you heal that? How do you make it stop? When hurt by circumstances, it is easy enough to just change the circumstances, then just like that the hurt is gone. What could I do about this broken heart? It was just there taking over my mind and body as it pleased. How could I make it stop? How could I continue to live with the unending pain that would catch me off guard and wanted to destroy me?

 

It seems that, all around us are the devil’s lies. Most of which we haven’t even discovered are lies and so still believe them as truth. So many of us go through our days just trying to breathe, searching for hope, all while feeling tired and alone. So much of the feedback we receive from others is muddied and often hollow, for brokenness, heartache and struggle make up the true pandemic these days.

Everyone is hurting, everyone is struggling just to barely survive. Each of us in our own personal way, gasp for air as the waves carry us away.

 

Where is a hearing and listening heart?

Where is a timeless shoulder?  Where is a cheerful giver?

Where is a non-complainer?

Where is an encouraging speaker? Where is an unbiased leader?

 

Our society as a whole, it seems,  took a path that felt good and sounded right. We never saw the dividing wall through all the laughter and the smiles. Smooth and Sly the serpents invisible walls started to divide. Broken homes, broken friendships, broken families, broken countries, broken lives. Everyone must fend for themselves, no time for another’s problems and strife. What about me, what about me, what about me we all cry! None seem able to put themselves aside.

Have we, become so deceived, blind, full of wishful thinking, rose colored glasses wearing or downright truth ignoring, in today’s society?

 

Have we, in an effort to build ourself up, to love ourselves, to self motivate, really become shut off and cold to each other? Have we hardened our hearts, taking the community out of humanity?

 

Ashamed I fell to the floor and surrender my crown, asking the Lord to take the lead, when in my spirit I heard, if you want to change your heart and find the purpose to your life, all you have to do is change your mind. Fix your eyes upon Almighty God and refuse to believe the world and all its lies. It’s your choice when your confusion finally dies.

 

In this upside-down world amidst sorrow and pain, there is still a beautiful joy to be found. John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

 

Jesus said in  John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you so My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

 

I no longer live in that almost constant state of depression. Jesus pursued me and found me thirsty! Hungry for what only He can provide, to this day He never ceases to fill me up. Even with all my sadness, my flaws, He pursued even me. Wow!

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

— Philippians 4:4.

 

Until next time, may God bless you and keep you, as you seek Him with your whole heart.

 

 

 

Once upon a time

A crazy thing about my mind, I think, is my ability to trick myself. Nobody wants to believe they have any major faults within them. Personally I like to believe I am a pretty good person. Patient, gentle, giving, law-abiding, non-judging, practicing Christian (at least to the best of my abilities) are some of the attributes I would say could describe me.

Sure I have a less than desirable side too that comes out here and there. I’m well aware I have some imperfections, but hey, nobody’s perfect, right? So long as I’m doing my best, not hurting anybody, and not telling anyone else how to live, all is well and good it would seem.

And as long as my final destination, is what may come, from the best of my abilities here on Earth, I’d be right with such ideas as these. At least while I still live.

Therein lies the problem. The final destination I have in mind, is so far beyond my abilities, it’s almost being cruel to myself even entertaining the thoughts that I could end up there. Seriously, my chances are less than a high school dropout getting into Harvard. And to make matters worse that’s only based on who I know I am or who I believe I could be, it’s not counting those parts of me I trick myself into believing insignificant, or not even worth contemplating because they wouldn’t apply to me.

So there I was, according to me, a good person, living the best she knows how to live, all while dreaming of one day reaching a place, that short of a miracle, could never be reached. Then, I got my very own, “once upon a time” fairy tale story.

The beautiful thing about it is, I know the end is guaranteed to be happy no matter what I may run into along the road I walk getting there. For me having that guarantee is more than I could have ever hoped for or dreamed of especially as I’m known to veer off and get myself lost more frequently than I may be worth.

Once upon a time, I met Jesus!

I may have thought of myself as a good person before. That’s  When my standard was the world.

Romans 10:3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Now the standard could no longer be the world. Once I met Jesus the standard became Jesus. Now every hope of someday reaching that place was lost. No effort of mine could erase the bad things I have done and no future effort could possibly be enough to stand before Jesus and plead my case for the right to enter that place. I suppose had I not felt the unconditional, unexplainable, unmatchable love of Jesus, I would consider my chances completely hopeless at this point.

But I did! I did feel the love poured out for me like a tsunami enveloping my entire being.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:4-5

My happy ending, yet to come is guaranteed not by my own efforts, not by my own behavior, but by His grace through His love and mercy!!

Praise Father God, Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit!!

Now my final destination will be that place and through no effort of my own!

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

In a world where nothing is free and even the basic necessities of life come only through trading time and labor for money to pay for, grace is a hard concept to swallow. It’s to good to be true, is the first thought. Even the most giving of people always seem to have a price for their giving. I’ve heard them say the gift is from the Lord but come to church or lunch or something. Sometimes it’s a gift yet they mean to choose how it will be best used in your life. All small prices to pay for sure yet a price just the same.

This gift though, grace, Jesus death in place of mine, His suffering so I wouldn’t have to suffer, and all I have to do is say yes. Yes I believe and accept this sacrifice for my guilt, my wrongs. Then I also get to go to that place in the end.

Imagine, what kind of love is this? Love that would cause one to give up everything that’s rightfully theirs including their own life just to have someone like me say yes I accept you, yes I want to be your friend, yes I want to know you. It’s a love this world has never known. God who owns it all, Who’s all powerful, Who’s the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the God who created me and created everything this Earth has to offer for me, truly loves me. Even though I took for granted the very life He gave me, even though I turned away from Him, even though I loved the world instead of Him, He loved me so much He made Himself a man so He could be the true sacrifice to save me from that which I deserved. He loved me so much He took my punishment upon himself. What kind of love is this?

Honestly I don’t have a clue what love this is but I do know that I will spend the rest of my life seeking Him to find out. And at the same time, I will spend the rest of my life, singing His praises, for loving me though lost, so much, that I’ve been found.

Until next time may God bless you and keep you as you seek Him with your whole heart.