The Big Picture

Faithfulness Matters

Photo by IB Wira Dyatmika on Unsplash

“As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.” Genesis 50:20 (Amplified Bible)

For months I’ve lost track of life mourning the fact that some situations can’t be redeemed this side of heaven.

Some pain can never be reversed can it?

Like the death of loved ones … a way of life … relationships.

I’ve spent days in bed with my bible just trying to get a word from the Lord that would pull me out of this funk.

The enemy has used the pain and my introverted tendencies …  to tempt me in walking away from the church and community in general.

The Devil loves using pain and loss to persuade us that faithfulness doesn’t matter in light of our circumstances.

But the story of Joseph has been a great encouragement these last few months.

This story has it all – betrayal, loss, oppression, dysfunction, jealously, rejection, false accusations and bondage … the list goes on and on.

And every time Joseph was oppressed … falsely accused … rejected … the scripture reminds us that God was with him.

I recently read a story about Andrew Murray who was a beloved pastor and writer in England in the late 1800’s. He suffered from debilitating back pain as a result of an injury. As he was eating breakfast one morning, his maid came to tell him that a woman was downstairs in great distress and was seeking advice or encouragement. Murray handed his maid the piece of paper he had been writing on and said, “Give her this advice that I’m writing down for myself. It may be helpful to her too.”

The paper read:

“In time of trouble, say, ‘First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.’ Next, ‘He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.’ Then say, ‘He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.’ And last, say, ‘In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows.’ Therefore, say ‘I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time.”

When I read this story, I realized that Mr. Murray’s advice is the exact model that God used in Joseph’s life … over and over.

Amazingly … Joseph remained faithful in all things … good or bad.

As a result, God used him to save many lives … including the lives of the brothers who hated him … yet Joseph held no bitterness in his heart for his oppressors.

Trusting God with our pain and learning to walk in the fullness of His sovereignty … just like Joseph did … can lead us to our purpose in life … if we remain faithful.

Faithfulness matters … especially when our world has turned upside down.

So, let this truth seep into every crevice of your heart …

You are here by God’s appointment … kept under the shelter of his loving wings … for His instruction to grow … within His timing.

Oh, sweet friend with the broken heart …

God has a purpose for your pain … so trust Him and remain faithful.

And that’s the Big Picture that Joseph so wisely understood.

love mel

Is Loyalty Dying Among Christians?

When I look back on the people that have come in and out of my life … the enemy wants the losses to overshadow those who remain loyal friends.

We know when people pull away … when they are for us or not.

It’s obvious by their speech, actions, and heaven forbid … even in their Facebook activity (that’s a truth said in jest by the way).

It’s difficult when we realize the loyalty we give … is not always matched. And that’s okay because we know too well how human we all are.

But loyalty – that true kind that eptiomizes God in every sense of the word … has been on my mind for some time. Recently in a meeting with one of my pastors, he hit on the subject -reiterating how important loyalty is for Christians to practice.

Loyalty comes in many forms.

There is loyalty to God that says … no matter what … I’m going to be faithful to you Lord.

This determined faithfulness to His statutes and commands, compels us to do the right thing … even when we don’t feel like it.

There is a persistent, unwavering commitment to our spouse that hangs tough when life is less than perfect.

In fact, this kind of loyalty builds character. It’s a determination much like a tenacious hound dog that won’t let go of a bone.

There is a loyalty that a mother hen gives to her children.

A mother’s devotion will take on a herd of bullies even if it means being smashed like a bug in the dirt. NOBODY messes with my hairy, man, babies … and that goes for my daughter-in-law and grand-kids as well.

Then there is the sibling allegiance – like the kind my boys have.

They may aggravate and irritate each other but by golly … nobody’s gonna’ mess with any one of them … or there will be a hellacious problem.

There is steadfastness to an Alma Mater … our favorite learning institute …  or die hard dedication to our favorite sports teams … and even to our preferred hobbies.

Then there is devoted constancy to the church … to God’s man in the pulpit … and to the body of Christ over all. This kind of loyalty guards against fickleness or offense.

Loyalty is vast in variety, but the one that’s wrestling in my heart of late … is the loyalty of a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

It’s a beautiful picture of walking through life’s valleys with those you value during the hard times and even the good times.

And as I’ve tried to wrap my flawed brain around what loyalty really is and means in regards to friendship … I keep thinking about what loyalty isn’t. Those descriptions are much easier to name and recall for obvious reasons, aren’t they?

You see, we all can find a reason to abandon someone … when it’s not convenient … when we’ve been hurt … when there’s no apology … or when we just want to sit on the fence and not get involved.

But the truth of that is… we can still be loyal in neutrality if we desire to. And perhaps we don’t realize when we’ve walked away from loyalty? Or, maybe we justify it by flawed reasons?

Then for some reason we think loyalty is about shifting the relational balance and standing in one’s corner. But that’s not true loyalty. It’s not about taking sides … it’s about faithful friendship, period.

But as I search the bible looking for examples of what it means to truly be loyal … I keep hearing the Spirit say … “It’s all about the love, Mel.”

“It’s all about the love.”

That’s a thought that makes me think … well if it’s all about the love … then the people that abandon us never really love us, is that right God?

Maybe … probably … maybe not.

So, if we don’t feel this love to the core … then either we don’t love like Jesus loves … or we allow the enemy to draw our intentions away … making us abandon God, and each other.

In fact, I believe the loyalty we give is equal to the love we have in our hearts. This truth is making me examine some wounded places deep in my soul.

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We can always find a reason to walk away … whether it’s a righteous one can only be determined by the Holy Spirit … but the flawed words of man should never pull us away.

I’ve finally realized, if loyalty is all about love … then I need to adjust my love meter, I guess.

The truth is … there are times when it’s easy to be loyal, right?

Like when it’s not costly or when it’s righteous … when we feel it to our core. I guess that’s the love part the Holy Spirit uttered to me.

But the point is … we are all so stinking flawed … we blow it in this love and loyalty thing.

If there is anything God has taught me at all in the last 12 months … loyalty matters because it’s a reflection of God’s Covenant love.

If you’ve never studied God’s Covenant love … then you will never understand true love or loyalty.

So … I want to love better, period.

And loving better doesn’t mean that I dive in without boundaries … but it does mean that I love … without judgement … without hypocrisy … and without giving up the desire to want God’s best for those that abandon me.

Loving better means I don’t take sides and I sure as heck don’t wag my tongue.

Loving better means I forgive … and I move on to heal.

Loving better means I don’t look back.

And finally, loving better means that even if my love and loyalty is not reciprocated … I love anyway … without offense.

Loyalty may be a dying character quality to the world … but Christians can show the world a better way – if we truly love what’s important … and what’s most important is God … and each other.

Lord, May our love be evident to you and each other … by our loyalty to do what’s right.

love mel

The Truth About Social Media #pocketsofjoy

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“I got off social media, the devil was using it against me.” This message came from a sweet, young mom of two littles. I shot back, “I’m proud of you, you are a wise, young woman!” And she is. My friend gets how the enemy can lie about perceptions. She totally understands that this comparison game on social media is one big hoax, 90% of the time.

Don’t get me wrong – social media can be fun and a tool for good. I love seeing special moments in friends and family’s lives. But outside of the real moments of life, Satan has used social media to wreak havoc in our lives with this comparison sham, and it ain’t pretty, pardon the Tennessee slang.

We see the pictures posted of what appears to be the perfect person, in the ideal setting, smiling ear to ear, and making us all feel less than perfect, right? I don’t have to tell you that comparison messes us up, we know that.

My sweet, young, mama friend said that she felt like a failure when her kids were screaming and she was cleaning house like a slave – and then the glossy pictures with  perfect, behaved children on the fun mom outings pop up. Needless to say, she was defeated.

The real truth behind those types of pictures is that nobody’s life is perfect – It doesn’t matter who we are – there is a mess in our lives somewhere – or a difficult circumstance we are enduring.

I really became aware of this last fall when a friend told me that we had the perfect family. That we seemed to have so much fun. I realized she perceived my life to be different from what it really is. So, I just point blank told her. We are far from a perfect family. We do have fun with each other, but we have situations that are hard for us.

For example, my husband’s PTSD from his time as a combat soldier in Vietnam. My sweet daughter-in-law, Kayla, recently said; “No one would believe how he is behind the scenes if they didn’t see it for themselves.” My husband is a charismatic, fun guy when he’s in public; however, there is a deep sadness that comes over him sometimes when he is alone with his thoughts. As a result, my children have lived life in ways that most kids will never face.

For this very reason, I am more aware than ever of the pictures I post.

Losing our precious Paula and Ronnie in a tragic wreck on January 30th has left our lives in a mess frankly. The same is true for our grandkids, they’re really feeling the loss of their parents in a messy kind of way that we will never get. That fact is, we’re all broken in ways that we will wrestle with for years to come.

So, I’m not going to pretend that my family is all that when we are not, nor have we ever been.

But the Lord gave me a scripture that brings great comfort and truth during this time:

“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.”  Psalm 94:19  

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Here is the truth that I can sink my heart into … and it’s never been more true in my life than of late.

The cares of my heart are many, but God consoles through tender moments just for me.

The pictures I post are merely “pockets of joy” wrapped in imperfections.

They are moments that have been ordained by my heavenly Father to console and cheer my soul.

They are precious times when we laugh in the midst of our pain.

They are sweet, sweet memories that I cherish afterwards for days.

I wish we could all just get wise and honest about those pictures that we post in the moment. Yeah, it’s a good moment and a blessing … but it doesn’t mean life is perfect.

So, don’t let the enemy trick you into thinking, posting, or believing in something that isn’t real. Be real, share your “pockets of joy” and savor the memories.

Here’s your challenge … live your “imperfect joy moments” with the hashtag #PocketsofJOY

love mel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Mamas Cry #JOHNNYSAWYERSTRONG

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When Mamas cry … surely heaven gets out all the buckets, right?

And surely the good Lord knows how long that Mamas gonna’ cry, and how many buckets she’s gonna’ need?

I reckon the angels are pretty busy when Mamas cry.

In my big imagination I can see the stealth, precise movement of angel wings as they swoop in and switch out the buckets … carrying them back to heaven for safe keeping.

These blessed tears of pain manifest a deep dependence on the Holy Spirit: because being in the presence of the Spirit strengthens a Mama’s heart. Heck we are all changed when we’re in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

But oh how God works through the tears of worry that birth a hungry faith.

The bible says there is a time to cry. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

Mamas don’t pick those times … the heart does all the picking.

Mamas cry at the silly things too. The first day of school, the first time a heart gets broken, and the first time we realize our babies don’t need our help anymore.

But sometimes the biggest tears are those that bring the biggest fears. These are the most precious tears because they beg for a stronger faith and learn how to rest in a sovereign God.

God made us to cry so it’s okay to just boohoo when we’re at our Mama’s wit’s end. A good cry clears out all the cobwebs of anxiousness and lets the soul breath in the prince of peace.

God knew we needed an emotional release in this complex Mama makeup that’s wrapped up in our babies.

Even Jesus cried and He didn’t have no babies. (John 11:33,35)

So it makes sense that He knows the heart of a Mama’s cry and what He needs to do for her.

Oh you rest assured that God don’t waste a Mama’s tears. He’s just storing them up in His glory pools. One day He’ll release them like a broken dam and His glory will burst onto the scene to do its work.

Yes, He works through every tear a Mama cries.

So think about all those precious tears you’ve cried Mamas. Nothing so precious to you will ever be forgotten by your Creator … on no … He sent His son to die for those tears.

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There’s a couple of sweet Mama’s I know that’s been using up heaven’s buckets lately. They are precious friends to me. One’s a grand-mama who’s taught me a lot about Jesus. The other is her daughter. These girls sure do love Jesus.

But right now they are crying because their precious, 7 year old, Johnny Sawyer, received a diagnosis of MLA / Leukemia last week.

There’s some hard days ahead of them but these Mama’s are warriors. But even warriors need some help every now and then.

I got a lot of friends out there in cyber space and it would sure be nice if  ya’ll would pray for my sweet friends. Here is a link that will share more of their story. I promise … you’re gonna’ fall in love with the Dyers.

You can also find Johnny Sawyer’s Facebook page at this link. Go visit, like it … and please share it.

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I don’t take this sacred place that I share my heart with you for granted. I just love these sweet Mama’s so very much and they’re just flat out heartbroken right now … they are desperate for our prayers.

If you are a Mama who knows what its like to have endless tears … will you pray, please?

Thank you sweet friends. I’m so thankful for you … and for a Heavenly Father who cares about every single tear that each and everyone of His children cry. (Psalm 56:8)

love mel

When You Need a Reason to be Thankful

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Everywhere I’ve been this week I see Christmas decorations. In the stores, in yards, and even Facebook is splattered with pictures of Christmas trees going up.

As much as I love Christmas, I couldn’t find it in me to take down my fall mantle. It has a set of broken pilgrims that stand tall and proud. If you shake the mantle … the male pilgrim’s top half will topple over, making him look like he’s been sawn in half by a magician.

I know … I need to superglue this universal symbol of gratitude together but somehow … I feel led to leave him broken. He reminds me of how I feel sometimes … broken … but still showing up and taking my place as God would have me do.

I purposely don’t want to forget the raw places that keep me close to God. I may whine at times … but the truth is … I need to see and be reminded of how desperately I need God.

Just as I write these words to you today … I sit here in mismatched pajamas … Indian style on my bed. My bible is laid open to Psalms 71 (a new favorite), there are about 10 used up tissues scattered about because I have a vicious cold.

The heating pad is on my lower back at the moment because I landed in the doctor’s office yesterday, doubled over with intense pain. It seems I have a rather angry kidney/urinary tract infection because God gave me two urethras. What a blessing right?

I’m miserable, physically, head to toe on this special day … but yet I am most thankful.

In my younger days, I am ashamed to say that I couldn’t always find gratefulness when life wasn’t all sunshine.

How about you?

Is there a situation in your life today that is swallowing up the goodness of God?

Are you wondering this morning how you were dealt the cards you are playing with?

Are you confused at how God allows the good and the bad … even from difficult people … into your life?

Yes, our infinite God allows places in life that we don’t understand … but HE is ever understanding about our plight.

Unfortunately, some of these difficult places we find ourselves in is of our own making … yet some are trials.

God wants us to learn the truths of His faithfulness through our mistakes and the trials … but sometimes we choose to check out on God in the middle of the test.

Sometimes we are walking through the wilderness and we decide to camp out for a while.

Bitterness, anger, and depression often stall us.

Just like the children of Israel, we can complain, blame God or someone else … but the truth of the matter is … we are responsible for checking out on God.

We are the ones who take our eyes off God and put them on self.

Trust me … I know.

I’ve done it too many times in years past.

So today on this Thanksgiving day … I challenge you to take your eyes off of what it is that’s stealing your peace.

Shift your focus … if only for an hour … to our faithful God who wants you to see Him today.

Make a list of the good things in your life. Then make a list of how HE has been faithful to you in the past.

I challenge you to spend some time in prayer thanking Him for all good in your life, past and present.

It’s time to shut down camp and move on.

We can choose to wallow in our circumstances or we can be grateful for what “is” good in our lives.

It’s simply an attitude adjustment my friends … one that replaces misery … with a faith in the one who created you and knows all about you.

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”                                                                                                                     1 Thessalonians 5:18

So what is your “everything” dear one? Will you get alone with God and figure it out today? You might just be surprised at what He shows you.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends. May you see our loving God through all of your circumstances today!

love mel

Why God Allows Change

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Change can turn our world upside down if we’re not careful. Trust me, I know. There was a time in my life when God allowed change to become my normal. I fought it tooth and nail just like an unruly toddler.

But looking back I can see God’s hands were lovingly moving all the pieces of my life around … and it was for my good.

Today I am humbled to once again share a part of my journey in a guest post over at (In)courage. If you are not familiar with this beautiful place where women connect and share their hearts then today is your lucky day!

What is (in)courage?

Founded in 2009 by DaySpring, the Christian products subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, (in)courage is a vibrant community where thousands of women have gathered since then to connect, share stories, and spread encouragement.

Sign up here to receive free daily notes from (in)courage, sent right to your inbox!  

I promise you will love this place to connect with others and our God … this site has certainly been a beacon of light for me in recent years.

But don’t forget to click over right here and read more about the year that God totally changed my world … for my good and His glory.

Change is messy my friends … but our Heavenly Father knows that change can bring us closer to Him if we will let it.

love mel

Tweets:

Why God Allows Change, by @MelMel27http://www.incourage.me/?p=181625

At critical crossroads of melancholy, we must remember our faith in God is our future. http://www.incourage.me/?p=181625

Our Heavenly Father knows that change can bring us closer to Him if we will let it. http://www.incourage.me/?p=181625

Every season God brings into my life is lovingly filtered through His fingertips. http://www.incourage.me/?p=181625

Change is good for us even if it is wrapped in circumstances we don’t understand. http://www.incourage.me/?p=181625

 

 

 

 

Reflections of Motherhood On a Special October Day #Sweet Memories

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The waves lapped the shore as we sat side by side on the sand. Sitting with my first born, we were soaking up the beauty of the ocean. All defenses were down as he relaxed in the sun and became the brilliant, talkative boy I remember. He and his brother were excited to have tickets to a medieval dinner show later that evening.

We found ourselves in a sweet conversation that I’ll treasure forever. It started with the subject of knights and their noble causes.

As he talked … I realized boys big and small, want to live out nobility.

To have a cause gives purpose.

He continued to tell me about Roman history, naming his favorite emperors and historic battles. And then he mentioned Constantine and the significance of the cross that was put on the soldier’s shields … taking me all the way back to the crusades.

His eyes danced as he relayed historic and symbolic meanings of Christianity.

Then I asked: “Would you have been a knight, son?”

“Well yea mother” he said. “I would fight for my faith, absolutely.”

Joy swelled in my heart. When sons and daughters grow up, taking their own paths, it’s a sweet blessing when they confess what we taught.

I struggled through the years with letting go and trusting God with my boy’s future: But in all my mistakes as a well-meaning mom, I see a hairy, man boy who isn’t perfect, but he gets what it’s all about and deeply believes his faith is worth defending.

I smile and remember the time he got a perm because he wanted hair like the knight, “Arthur” in the 2004 movie.

“Girls like curls” he said with a mischievous grin.

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The qualities of a noble knight are loyalty, generosity and chivalry … and my boy gets all these right. He is loyal to a fault, generous till it hurts, and he defends the weak fearlessly. He works in the medical field and is so compassionate that his patients fight over him. For all his human frailties … my boy has some mighty noble qualities.

I will forever cherish those two hours with my son that day. I saw him as a man … and not my little boy.

Too often we take this parenting thing too personal. We think our kids are a reflection of us … when they do good … and when they mess up.

But that’s just pride, because any good thing in our children is because of the Creator.

And even when they make a bad choice, it doesn’t mean we didn’t do our job as a parent.

A sweet friend recently said; “Kids do stupid things because their brains aren’t fully developed.”

How very true. So lighten up moms, our sons and daughters have to live and learn.

Our job is to keep pointing them to JESUS.

My boy immensely enjoyed the medieval dinner show that evening. He even decided to be knighted. When asked what proclamation should be put on his knight certification … he replied … “Because being a knight is awesome.”

And so as he knelt for the ceremony, the Lord of the Manor “dubbed” Sir James Matthew Porter, a knight, and proclaimed to the masses that he was granted all the rights and privileges of a noble man … “Because being a knight is awesome.”  He giggles like a little girl when we talk about it.

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So moms, embrace everything about your kids, big and small, quirky, normal, good and bad.

Feed their dreams, guide them through their messes and celebrate their victories.

Take every opportunity to view into their souls … because I promise, you will cherish it forever.

Wrap them in your prayers but leave their future to their creator.

And most important … give them unconditional love … just as our Heavenly Father gives us.

So on this October day 2016, I celebrate my noble son’s 30th birthday.

Happy birthday Sir Matthew. You are precious in my sight … as well as your Heavenly Father’s.

Gosh how I love you son!


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Aaron- my middle son, Matt- my first born, and the Falconer

Yes, Aaron humored his big brother.