She is clothed in Strength and Dignity

Writing4Joy
“Strength and Dignity”

Proverbs 31:25
She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.
She makes me laugh. She gives hope when I feel discouraged. She reminds me that my mind needs to have redirection when I am thinking of the things that are not life-giving. She is a woman of Grace.  She understands my struggles, either because she has lived them or because she is walking close to the one that knows my every moment and breath.
She is my friend. She is my warrior in battle. She is a Proverbs 31 woman. A woman fully clothed in strength and dignity.

Who is she? She is many. She is the many women that the Lord has put in my life to edify, encourage, build up, and strengthen me in this thing we call life.
In the presence of these mighty women, I can’t help be changed and transformed to be the woman that God had created me to be.

Just as the scripture says bad company corrupts good character (I Cor. 15:33), so can a strong woman influence the ladies within her circle.

Because she spent the time to cultivate my walk, I am able to say that I too am a woman of strength and dignity. I too can laugh at my future without fear.

I have been blessed to have women in my life give of themselves and take the time to instruct and teach the truth. They have spoken into my nows, for the development of my next.

Who the Lord chooses to place in my life has taken turns over the years. But each one that has imparted has made a lasting impact. I remember the women, that taught a young girl, how to raise my hands in worship. I remember the women that taught me how to go to the scriptures in all of my trials, longing, and joys. I remember the women that taught me how to be a wife that saught God’s plans for my family. I remember the woman that spoke to me as a young mother and reminded me that the seasons would go fast and to enjoy each moment. I remember the woman that taught me how to retrain my thoughts. I remember the woman that told me I was assuming another’s heart was ill-intentioned and that I  needed to trust in God for other’s motives and love without restriction. I remember the woman that spoke into my life, teaching me about my identity in Christ.

These many women changed my life from the victim to the victorious. From the mundane to the extraordinary. To a life full of expectation rather than a focus on what was lost or left behind.

Because she was willing to invest, I too can boldly say that I  am a woman clothed in strength and dignity and I can laugh without fear of the future. Because of the Holy Spirit within her pouring out, I was changed.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.
She can walk in this truth as she listens to the instruction of the Lord. She dwells with the Holy Spirit. Letting His power be at work within.

She may not even know the impact she has made. For her efforts may have seemed so small in the grand scheme of things. But to the one that had her life changed, it meant everything.

She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.

Sorry… Not Sorry

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An open letter of apology, for those who were before and those yet to come.

Authentic: not false or copied; genuine; real: representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified: reliable; trustworthy:

I am sorry I had spoken too quickly, I will now be more aware. I am sorry that I thought our relationship was at a level that we could speak openly into each other’s lives, the good the bad and the real. I am sorry that you were hurt. I am sorry that you feel that I was not the kind of person you wanted to be around because in your words; “we are too different”. I am sorry you didn’t feel bold enough to tell me I crossed the line or anything was wrong. I am sorry that I thought you understood my physical limits, sometimes my smile hides the reality.

I am not sorry that I am authentic, it is who I am. I am not sorry that I seek a community that is bold and truthful with one another, I am not one for a smile and the fake.
I am not sorry that I can’t measure up to your expectations, especially if I don’t know what they are.   I am not sorry that I am human, flaws and all. I am not sorry that I want to know all of you; the good the bad and the real. I am not sorry that when I see one hurting and pouring out their heart to me, I have wanted to share that I too have been there and where my truths and personal victories came from. I am not sorry that when I share all of me, my hope is that you will share all of you. I am not sorry that I am open to the fullest connection. I am not sorry that I told the blunt truth even if it hurt, because others have done so for me and it was my defining moments of clarity. I am not sorry that I must grow and learn from this and now know that not everyone wants the same kind of relationship.

Yes, we are called to encourage, lift up, edify and bring joy.  However, if I saw you walking straight into oncoming traffic, I would grab you and pull you out of the danger zone. I would not smile and wave you on.

Let me say to the ones that are absolutely completely my polar opposites, that love me just as I am, to those that can discuss everything under the sun, even if we don’t agree and still smile across the table without being offended, that will tell me when I am too much, or that they flat out believe I am insane because I believe in a God that speaks to me and they don’t believe in one at all, thank you. Thank you for loving me, and making the effort to be true with me. Thank you for not discarding me like so many have. Thank you for the lesson that just because you want someone to love you, it doesn’t mean they will, but others are waiting. I am sorry for the disconnect, but I am not sorry for being me.

Lord help me walk in this truth. Reveal where I lack and give me the wisdom needed to know who is my community. 

Ephesians 4:20-32 English Standard Version (ESV)

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[a] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

COMMUNITY

54730098_10218592822756772_3689364288650084352_o Awakened_arts 

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.

I had started a very basic purple painted canvas on the first day of spring.
I asked my social media friends, to share what color they wanted on the picture, fully intending to see who matched what was on my mind for the painting. The interesting thing, everyone had a different idea for the secondary color than mine. As I stood and stared at the purple canvas, deciding which color I would pick, the name of the piece came to me, “Community”. 

This painting wasn’t about one or two solid ideas, but about combining the creativity of many into something of beauty. I took each color that my friends had suggested and I thought of them and prayed as I painted their color. I sought where the Lord would have them impact the piece and prayed for individual situations. A few friends had chosen teal, it didn’t matter, as I applied the color again, a new friend came to mind. Another, shared her idea for the technique to add dimension and direction. This was a wonderful example of community, each contributing, every individual uniqueness adding a new depth and detail as we collaborated. 

This piece alone reminded me of how important it is to be in community with one another. I could have said, ew I don’t like that color, it would never look right, but looking at this painting, it needed every single color whether at first, I thought it would belong or not. As I looked at the painting with each layer I was timid to place more colors, yet a sense of belonging came over me as I saw the work coming together. 

You would not know that two years ago, I had my self hidden away, shying away from the world, from being hurt, from being ignored and passed over. I had a horrible sense of my self. I had lost the knowledge of my worth somewhere on the journey of surviving grief and illness that had reared its ugly head like never before and the depression wanted to take over. In the past, I was swallowed by that depression. I cut everyone and everything off and literally wanted to die.

The amazing thing, this time, depression could not stay! While I started blocking people out of my life, there were the solid, the community that would not let me. There were the people who reminded me of who I am. There were the people that pointed out when I was being flat-out ridiculous and that I needed to stop identifying with what I was facing and start identifying on who God says I am. It was my community that picked me up and reminded me how much ground I have gained and even in this hiccup, it was safe to spread my wings and fly again. 

Community: A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Romans 12:5-
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Do I always agree with everything they do? No. Do I enjoy every single personality within my community at every moment? No.  Do I share every single belief and value? No. 

Do I drive people in my community crazy at times? Ah, YAH! 

However, when in the community, despite our human differences we can choose to stay united with a common goal. Intentional to build together, to hold one another up by carrying each other’s burdens and remind each other there is hope in a sea of unknowns.

When the going gets tough, we can be tempted to run from our communities, but all that brings is isolation and loneliness, which in turn becomes bitterness and anger. I think this is why the Lord mentions not forsaking the gathering of our brethren. He knew that we needed far more than to hear our own voice whisper silently to the wind. 

Hebrews 10: 24-25-
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

 

Identity​

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NO END TO HIS LOVE- Redwoods 2018

 

 

There was one who wanted me to never be born.

There was one who loved me, but I was not their own.

The one who loved me left me with words, “she wasn’t mine anyways as he walked out the door.”

Always waiting for the next person to leave.

Always feeling as if I wasn’t enough.

Hurting heart, depressed mind. Listening to lies of the accuser.

Then the one that knows me from before the womb, holds his hands out to me and says, I have every part that you need.

I always want you.

I always love you.

I will never leave or forsake you.

I know you are enough because I crafted you so.

I am your Father, Friend, Savior, Healer, Comforter, Confidence and IDENTITY.

The peace has settled, for there is no limit to what He holds for me.

 

 

Isaiah 64:8- But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

A Song for my soul:
Your a GOOD GOOD FATHER  –   

 

I have GROWN UP :)

 So I do know there are many many areas that I am childish and need extra help. But today I am going to focus on my victories.  I must admit that this last year of trials has left me growing in great ways and I would not trade the lessons learned for anything.

 As I turn to the words of Jesus and learn HIS character I find that I stand stronger and am unmovable in new ways.

 The other day, something that would have bothered me to distraction and would have affected my mood, tried to rise up. This is an old haunt that has had control over me before. Yet I have chosen to renew my mind and focus on what the WORD says about me and these situations. I have chosen to focus my mind on what is GOOD, what is RIGHT and what brings HONOR to HIS name.

 So when these little darts started flying at my mind, and I began to get anxious, I pulled out my sword (the word of God) and dispelled those fiery darts! You know what ? IT WORKED! After just a few moments praying and focusing on the Lord and what HE says, my emotions and feelings were put in the right position.

Now these darts came at me a few times that day, and each time they needed to be addressed with the TRUTH of God’s word. If I would have excepted them as they shot at me, my whole day would have been different and the atmosphere around me rather soured.

We all have our battles and our areas we need to grow. But there is something so special about that moment when you realized, ” I have GROWN UP, and I have arrived in this area and it doesn’t own me!”

I feel like the child that has taken the first steps on their own, then it is time for a bicycle with no training wheels, then it is time for my drivers license. There is ALWAYS something new to learn but that doesn’t mean each time I grow a little more, that it is any less exciting. 

I remember the milestones of my children, they have ALL been special and continue to be so.

I have GROWN UP and in  areas of victory, they are true treasures. I am no longer a babe crying over the loss, but rejoicing in what I have gained 🙂

 

Challenge this day my friend: Keep pulling out that sword in your battles, keep growing and when you have realized you have accomplished a goal in your steps… REJOICE for the LORD IS GOOD!

Ephesians 4:14-15

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ

The lesson that was shown, not told

On my glorious girl time away, my friend and I had a late night dinner at Famous Dave’s. The food was SO amazingly tasty. We could not get over how fabulous it was. That is until the next morning, my friend got food poisoning. She was so sick, that she could barely lift her head. But she absolutely insisted she was fine, not wanting to miss the conference. Now I do not skim over this lightly, but I wish to spare you details….she was SICK.

When we made it to the conference and found our seats she looked so horrible, I suggested she go lay in the car. I learned by now that suggesting we leave would not be an option. But it wasn’t until we were at the conference and the worship began while she was still in the car, that I realized she wasn’t pushing through for herself. She had pushed to get there for me, she would NEVER settle for me missing out on what the Lord may have for me. My heart was overwhelmingly blessed, and humbled.

Thankfully after a couple hours of napping my friend came back in and heard Joyce Meyers speak.

After the session we came back and took a good nap in the hotel room, and my friend woke feeling like herself.

Throughout the whole time I saw so many  ways that my friend was always thinking of me. She brought me breakfast on a tray one morning and had coffee made, she was always trying to let me sleep extra, she took my bags to the car, and she always wanted to make sure I was taken care of.

My friend taught me in many ways, more than the conference ever could. She taught me how to love and serve another without selfish ambition. The conference was wonderful and I learned many things I could apply to my life, but these were things told, the lessons learned from my friend, were things shown.

I am so very thankful for these real life experiences and an opportunity to sow seed of my own. I pray that her harvest is GREAT and that others will learn from her soft gentle ways and not keep looking her over because she tends to be a quiet soul.

I have been challenged myself with this time away and it is a challenge that I will take seriously: How can I express unselfish love and motivations in the way that was shown to me? Am I making sure that others are put above myself? Am I being Christ in the most tangible way to others on this earth, by putting them first? Thank you sweet friend for the example.

Titus 3:14

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.

( New Living Translation )

Ruby Red Slippers

While jesting with my Sheila Renae, I realized how much I miss her (again) and I laughing mentioned if only I had working ruby-red slippers, then I would click my way home.

I had only lived in Colorado for 9 short months of my life. But they were the most home filled months I had ever had. I had moved around my whole childhood, but there was something about that small town and the friend with a huge heart that always reminded me of ‘home’.

On March 12, 2012 it will be exactly 20 years since I last was able to give Sheila a real person to person hug.

She was my first and most constant best friend.

This friend was always there when I needed her, even with over a thousand miles away separating our bodies, the distance could never separate our hearts. I could always count on her humor to see me through heartbreak. I loved receiving pictures she had drawn, encouraging words through poems, letters, emails and phone calls. It was these gestures of constant true friendship that kept my head above water for those horrible ‘teen’ years and often keeps me above water now.

Sadly, as I reflect back, the only time Sheila was ever silent in my life is when she needed me most. We had lost connection for a season, and I prayed like mad because she was on my heart but I could not reach her.  God answered my prayer and brought her back into my life.

The joking reference of ruby slippers got me to thinking.  I did not appreciate what I had until it was taken away for a while. In the storms of life we lose much, but as the torrent calms, we see hope renewed.

I am working on living in true joy that surpasses all understanding.  There is a joy that sustains me in all things at all times when I allow it. It is during this absolute joy that I pause and remember, “there is no place like home.”

I’ve passed through many storms in life and much has been taken away. But my constant is, I always have peace because I know for me where home is. I have a hope in the kingdom of God.

He will never leave me or forsake me. I may go through some rough rides but He is always faithful, He is always there, He is always home.

Challenge this day my friends, evaluate, where is home for you?  Where can you come to in or through your trials of life. What will bring you peace and a sense of home? Do not stay lost forever in your trial, it is time to have the victory and walk through to the other side.

Thank you again Sheila Renae, for being an inspiration and speaking through your actions to my heart reminding me of home and who waits for me there. The storm is not over at this moment, and I do not own shiny red ruby slippers, but I know there will be an end to this long, long road.