FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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She Didn’t Even See Me

I started this morning kinda hard.  Really hard.  As in face down on some cement.  This is how it happened…

I went out early for my morning walk (trying to make at least three miles each day).  On my way to the walking track my feet got tangled in some orange safety netting.  So much for safety because down I went scraping elbows, palms and worse of all, my knees.  Both of them.  You have to know that I am super protective of my knees.  Osteoarthritis has long plagued both, and as I age, it has gotten progressively worse.  Injuring a knee is the LAST thing I want to happen.

Oh well, so much for wanting because I hurt them – scrapes, bruises and swelling.

At this point I wasn’t sure if I was glad or not that no one was around.  My pride was glad that I was alone, but I surely needed some help getting up because I had to kneel on the cement and those injured knees to stand.  More scraping.  More bruising.  And now some blood, sweat and tears.

Nevertheless, I was able to stand and limp back to my car.  I dusted myself off, grabbed some tissues to blot the blood and searched my knapsack for a bandage.  No luck.  I thought I might still be able to walk (I want to get those three miles in!) if I could just get some bandages and maybe some Neosporin and Aleve.  Close to a grocery store, I drove there.  Not open.  Passed two drug stores.  Not open.  Ahhhhhh, a dollar store!  And it was open.

Still early in the morning, there was only one person working in the store and now me.  At this point my knees were swelling and because of the bleeding my pants were sticking to them.  I said, “Good morning, can you tell me where the first aid supplies are?”  The clerk responded, “Huh?”  I said, “Band Aids” to which she replied, “Aisle 12.”  Now hobbling (Is this worse than limping?  It felt worse.), I made it to what I thought was Aisle 12, but I did not see bandages, Neosporin or anything else that looked like a first aid supply except some cotton balls.  Tears welled in my eyes; I was hurting.  I called to the lady, “Maam” (That’s what we say in the South even though I suspect I was twice her age at least.) “Excuse me, but I don’t see any bandages.”  She snapped, “I said Aisle 12; you are on 13!”  As my grandmother used to say, “I don’t know who licked the red off of her candy,” especially so early in the morning, but I just needed some bandages and to elevate and ice these knees.

Over to Aisle 12.  Band Aids, Neosporin and Bacitracin.  Passing by the cooler, I grabbed a bottle of cold water – to drink and to put on these now throbbing knees.  My elbows and palms had begun to burn.  I stopped at the first register to pay.  The clerk walked past me to the third register and yelled, “Down here.”  My Lord, more steps.  And in the wrong direction – away from the door, the parking lot and my car.  By now I am beginning to tremble (don’t know if it was nerves, anxiety or something else).  Trembling and tearing I fumble into my purse to pay.  The clerk takes my money and throws (literally) my stuff in the bag mumbling, “Come again; have a nice day.”

A nice day?!

She never looked up.

She didn’t even see me.

Yes, she saw a woman come into the store.  If I’d committed a crime, she probably would have been able to report accurately to the police that I am Black, heavyset and was wearing black trousers.  She might be able to add that I wore my hair in a ponytail.  Beyond that, she didn’t see me.  She didn’t see ME.  The hobble (or limp).  The tears.  The trembling.  The need for help.  The need for a gentle response.

Rather than be angered, I thought, “How many times have I not seen people?”  How many times have I been guilty of having a conversation (“Come again; have a nice day.”) without really seeing the person (or meaning the words)?

We are commanded to love each other (John 15:12), to lay down our lives (John 15:13), to give (Matthew 5:42) and to look to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4) all so that we might point others to Christ and so that our Father in heaven may be glorified (Matthew 5:16).  We can do none of this if we do not first “see” people.

In my car, crying and bleeding, I prayed, “Father, open my eyes and my heart that I will never pass another person and not “see” them.”  I am grateful to the Lord for this early morning lesson; I just wish I could have gotten it a little less painfully.  😉

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Broken Crayons Still Color

It’s February…the month of love! Valentines have been in the stores since the after-Christmas sales. It’s funny how retail runs all the holidays together – Valentines on the shelves while Christmas decorations are still on the end caps; wait another couple of weeks, and we’ll be inundated with Easter flowers and bunnies even though it will still be February. Oh well, I digress. This is NOT what this post is about.

It’s about February, love and heart break.

It’s also about understanding that Broken Crayons Still Color!

Research from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that emotional pain may be more closely linked to physical pain than scientists previously realized, and heart break specifically registers in the same part of the brain that responds to physical pain. Further, heart break registers sensations much akin to broken limbs. Ever had a broken heart? Then, you didn’t need a study to tell you – it hurts!

Heart break changes you, consumes you. It drains and weakens, crushes and kills – joy and spirit. It separates and isolates. Yes, true heart break leaves you feeling out of sorts, depleted and alone. And were this not enough, heart break leaves you feeling imprisoned in a jail of sorts that surely you will never be able to leave.

But guess who has the key? Yes, our Father, God Himself. He, our King, who sits high and looks low knows what it is to have a broken heart! We (humans) have broken his heart for ages, and we continue to do so on a regular basis much like Gomer in the Book of Hosea (read the first three chapters; Hosea 1:1 – 3:5). Gomer repeatedly breaks Hosea’s heart, yet he loves her against logic and redeems her by taking her back. If you don’t know it, you’ve got to read the story and how Gomer leaves a man who loves her and passes from man to man until she ends up naked on the slave block to be sold!

And who buys her back?

You guessed it – Homer, her husband! But even that is not the BEST part of the story. Hosea pledges his love anew to his newly purchased wife – his wife the betrayer and prostitute, his wife the dregs of society, his wife who was broken. Now, the best part…Hosea’s love broke Gomer’s heart anew AND from this time on Gomer was faithful to Hosea. Gomer was restored!

Are you broken?

Have you loved someone only to realize that they don’t love you in return? Has a love betrayed you? Deserted you?

In your brokenness have you stopped “coloring?” There is a color that only you can paint in this world.  But have you ceased to be you? Ceased contributing positively to your work place, to your family, to your friends, to your home?  You may be a broken crayon, but you can still color!

Hosea paints for us an image of God’s love for us. We have broken His heart, strayed, turned from Him and sought other loves and lovers, yet He loves us and redeems us from the enslavement of sin. He sees our brokenness and calls us to come to Him in the midst of it. Our inclination is often to run from God and to seek worldly repairs for our broken hearts – drink, work, drugs, social networks. At best, they are temporary. There is no repair, but God. His love is true love – love that will not desert, betray or deny. His love is a love that has a plan for your good (Jeremiah 29:11), that stems from a desire to make you whole, that knows though you are as a broken crayon, you can still color and, thus, it is a love that redeems and restores.

THIS WEEK read Hosea 1:1 – 3:5. Who or what has broken your heart? (It doesn’t matter if the leaving was intentional, accidental or unavoidable as because of death, you may still experience heart break.)  Whose heart have you broken? What has been the impact of your brokenness? What temporary repairs have you sought? Your first step is to turn to God; only He can restore you. Ask Him to help you identify the next steps after that.


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Let God Finish

When I was a younger woman – and before there was Cable TV, I enjoyed watching the PBS Channel. PBS was the precursor to HGTG, Food TV and all the other DIY channels. One of my favorite shows was The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Take a look at an excerpt of an episode in time lapse:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCLyUSqmr_k

Bob would begin with a blank white canvas, clean brushes and an assortment of colors that always seemed to include Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Blue. From those few resources and in a matter of minutes, Bob would create a masterpiece, but as you watched him paint, you couldn’t help but wonder because his work never looked like what he said it would be. He would smear some blue over here, some yellow over there then spread a little black over it all, add some streaks of white then scrape some of the paint off and, as the French say, “Voila!” There, right before your eyes would be a beautiful scene – a forest, a cabin, a trail, a bubbling brook. You could almost hear the birds chirping, smell the pine trees and feel the coolness of the water.

You just had to let Bob finish his work.

Our lives begin as blank canvases. Along the way the canvas gets smeared with a little sweat, stained with a few tears, streaked with happiness and scraped with pain. Looks like a mess. But “we are God’s masterpiece…” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Let God finish His work.


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Just Where He Wants You

The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (Acts 16:22-24 NASB)

Paul and Silas had not been long in Philippi when they met Lydia, a seller of purple fabrics. (Acts 16:14 NASB) The Lord opened her heart and she and her household were baptized. What a great high Paul and Silas must have experienced. Their ministry here was off to a great start. They headed next to a place of prayer, perhaps to thank God for safe travels, for the Holy Spirit leading them past Phrygian, the Galatian region and Bithynia to Macedonia. Along the way they meet a slave girl with a spirit of divination. What a great opportunity to show God’s power and to share His Gospel! Without missing a beat, Paul says to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment. (Acts 16:18 NASB)

How pleasing this must have been to the Lord. His Spirit had led Paul and Silas to this region and they were busy about His work. It seemed they were just where He wanted them to be! How pleased God must have been. How displeased Satan must have been.

But wait a minute. In the very next verse (19) we find Paul and Silas being seized and dragged into the market place before the magistrates. Keep reading and we find them being beaten with rods, thrown into prison and fastened in the stocks. How displeased God must have been.   How pleased Satan must have been. It seems that he now has them just where he wanted them to be.

That’s the thing about looking at situations through earthly eyes.

Lost jobs. Foreclosure. Bankruptcy. Divorce. Death. These all seem like tragic conclusions, ends of the road and final chapters in our eyes. Seems like Satan has us just where he wants us. Confused. Distraught. Alone. Weary. Feeling Forsaken.

“But about midnight,” says the Scriptures, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”  And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25-30 NASB)

Seems like God had them right where He wanted them.

What Satan intended for evil, God used for testing and ultimately for good.

Every day God tests us through people, positions, problems or pain. Our first inclination (and prayer) is to escape the situation or experience. Rather than pray for immediate deliverance, quick relief or escape, determine to understand and do the work that God has for you in the place where He has you.

He knows where you are, and He has you just where He wants you.