What is God Doing in the Stillness?

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Stillness. A place my soul is learning to rest in. It’s a place where I am all alone with my thoughts and the Lord.

It’s been a gradual journey to get here. Little by little He sets activities aside, narrowing the focus to Him.

Some days my introverted side loves the quiet, other days the extroverted me wants community with hearts most like mine.

At the core of this stillness is surrender. So I press in, soaking up the truths that He makes me aware of … and for the most part I get them immediately. Then there are times when He has to thump me on the head like a ripe melon.

Today the stillness finds me at my middle son’s hospital bedside. Sickness has a way of bringing life to a halt.

So I surrender my thoughts and plans for this time … to wait, to focus, to listen, and to rest in His unwavering faithfulness.

I eagerly anticipated this day … to celebrate my risen Savior. There’s a sadness that we couldn’t be in the Lord’s house as a family today. No festivities, fellowship, or good food.

Of course Aaron’s sickness didn’t catch the Lord by surprise. So with every detail or event that the Lord allows to touch my days … I linger … waiting to hear His voice. Today in the quiet He reminded me of a few simple constants that my heavy heart needed to recall.

1 – When life takes a curve rendering you helpless and powerless … He is fighting for you and stands guard over every overwhelming detail.

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”  Exodus 14:14

 Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them.  The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes. Deuteronomy 1:29:30

2- When you are tempted to worry … pray instead.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

3- Let your faith kick in.

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:22-24

Yes sometimes those directives are easier said than done, especially if fear creeps in. But though we go through these life bumps … He hasn’t deserted us.

In fact, it’s for the sicknesses we have … that He hung on a cross and died.

It’s for the many regrets that nag our memories … He willingly laid down His life.

For all the brokenness, the mistakes, the hurts, the barren places … for every inadequacy we are or feel … He became the sacrifice.

And finally the stillness reminded me that … one day when I see His face … all the longings in this patched up heart will become obsolete. He will fill in all the cracks of my soul with a love that completely fulfills.

I’ll be whole. What a comfort. What a faithful Savior.

So if  and when you find yourself at a place where you are forced to be alone with your thoughts … there is a good chance the Lord wants to remind you of a few things.

It’s good to hear from the Lord.

I challenge you friend … Don’t resist the stillness.

Happy Easter to you. Ain’t God good?!

love mel

 

Dealing With The Voices Of The Past

I tripped over a memory today and lost my balance for a while.

You know the type of memory….a voice from the past that comes back around to hurt? It reminded me of a devastating experience. Horrible words, overwhelming circumstances …a flood of tears.

Along with the memory came the voices provoking the details.

Before long, the memory exploded like a glorious Fourth of July fireworks display. Only the emotions accompanying the fireworks are anything but glorious.

The emotions reveal insecurities…feelings of being unworthy, unwanted, unloved.

I entertained the voices. I listened, and since I didn’t shut them down immediately…they continued.

Then suddenly I realized what was happening….and I cried out to JESUS.

I went to the Word of God. Reading three different translations…I grasped my failure. God opened my eyes clearly.

“This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life or death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.”   Ephesian 6:12     The Message

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We Christians can be guilty of being too casual about the enemy’s intentions.

Our attitude must be that of a soldier tiptoeing through a mine field.

Because we don’t palpably see him….we forget about him.

We must get smarter than the Devil.

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We must watch for the traps…deceptions…the dangers.

When it comes to the Devil and his schemes, we must live on the defensive but pray on the offensive.

We must be wary of our weaknesses before he uses them against us.

We must assert truth to our situations when he whispers lies.

We must affirm the word of GOD when he hurls the accusations of the world.

We must prepare ourselves for the life and death battle to finish well.

We must prepare for the battle…every day.

Any negative thought, past sin or  hurtful memory that comes to us…..is of the Devil. God will not bring up your past, or feed the hurt. Simply refuse to listen or think on it.  Instead replace it with scripture, prayer, worship, and truth.

When the Devil tries to dig up your past, immerse yourself in truth. Believe who you are and take authority over his ploys.

Be a fierce soldier and put on the armor of God before you take your first breath of the morning.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.                                                                                                                                 Ephesians 6:14-18

Suit up soldier and use your battle plan, don’t let the enemy gain any ground.

So I tripped over a memory and lost my balance for a while….and then I remembered who I am.

What have you tripped over today?

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When Life Turns Upside Down ~ An Honest View Of An Undone Life

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How can a girl ardently seek Jesus every day and still worry? How I’ve wrestled with this question so many times.

“Those who have faith, deep abiding faith in an artist who has all things under his control, have no need to rehash the past or predict the future.”                                                                               Michele Cushatt

Such wise insight from Michele’s new book, Undone.

Bottom line, if we don’t choose faith….we won’t have faith.

Michele’s story is probably similar to the rollercoaster story we all find ourselves riding, yet somewhere between the hurts, the heartaches, the losses, the failures and even the cancer….

Michele finds the beautiful artist, lovingly at work……one brushstroke at a time…..in a life that is undone.

“Faith isn’t rooted in the past or the future. It’s birthed in how we approach and handle today.”    Michele Cushatt

This resolute heart for Jesus has met him in the tender, swollen and irritated moments of weakness…and found….his presence is enough for each moment.

She reminds us that even life with the most imaginable hurts is in the here and now.

You see….when life becomes undone…..in just one phone call or one indiscretion or one bad decision…..we are forced to stop in the middle of the road.

We can catapult to the pits of worry and despair.…

Or we can breathe in the presence of the great artist and choose faith.

Jesus asked…..

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” 

What has worry ever done for you? Nothing friend…nothing.

“Worry like cancer consumes life, eating away at a person from the inside out. It exaggerates the unknown and clouds the known until the worried person sees only the horror of what might be, rather than the beauty of what already is.”                                                                                                   Michele Cushatt

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Worry seeks to take what good there is in life and condemn it with the hurt, the pain, the cancer and the loss.

This beautiful memoir met me in a recent battle that had turned into a stronghold of worry. A blessing from God that I thought was secure in my life….all of a sudden became unsure because of greedy man.

Two days ago I hit my knees at 1:36 a.m. and …..I chose faith.

Life is going to come at us with both fists wielding. It may knock us down, but we can look up before we get up….and remember who is in control…trusting him to help us in each unknown moment.

This is a beautiful book, one that you must read. It is a book for the divorced, single parent, the perfectionist mother or wife, the blended or new foster family, the career professional, the struggling faith walker and yes even the cancer patient.

Michele relays the poignant details of her struggles refreshingly real….. yet agonizingly raw. She can take a simple bible story and retell it in a way that makes you forget you have heard it before.

Filled with gospel truth yet soaked in intimate honesty, I feel like I have known Michele for years.

I can’t wait to meet her face to face one day soon and put my arms around her neck, and give her a holy kiss. This brave woman gives me hope…and a new perspective.

Reading this book will be a wise investment to your spiritual bank…..it will greatly strengthen and prepare you for the undone moments of life.

I just want to share one more nugget of wisdom from Michele, plucking at my heart strings for this undone life I too am living….

“Only a marred life gives birth to the most beautiful redemption.”

It seems we don’t see the richness of the struggle and how we mess it up at times….until after we have experienced the mercy.

What a beautiful work the great artist can do when we trust him in the unexpected and unknown.

Oh thank you, thank you Jesus.

If you find yourself at a place in life that is undone…..take heart my friend….God’s presence is here and now….so choose faith. He promises to never leave you nor forsake you….even when life is undone.

It is an unspeakable honor to be a part of Michele’s launch team for this beautiful book. You will be able to find it in stores on March10th or go to the Undone website and preorder it now. You can also read a sample chapter and find out more about this awesome lady. 

“How GOD Fixes Broken People” My Vietnam Vet’s Struggle With Alcoholism

My story…..is tightly woven into my love story. What a man…what a GOD…and oh what a story of FORGIVENESS.  I am recycling an old post to link up with the precious Suzie Eller for #livefree Thursday.

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The year was 1968.

He was barely 19 by just a few days when he received his mandatory invitation from Uncle Sam.

Life was simple….. but he was far from a simple boy.

Talent, smarts and personality oozed from every pore of his body.

Required to report within 21 days, he left his boyhood behind.

After 12 months of combat training he stepped off the plane in Chu Lai, Vietnam.

All he could see on the tarmac were thousands of body bags laying side by side for three lengths of a football field.

Fear struck his heart….

He told himself he would never make it home.

His boots hit the jungle ground running.

His daily goal was just to survive to see the sun rise.

He once went 3 weeks without taking his boots off.

When I asked why?

He said you didn’t want to get caught with your boots off.

When he finally removed them ….the medic had to strip the socks from his skin.

The nights were sleepless.

The smells were endless.

The noise was miserably deafening.

The sights were horribly unforgettable.

The emotional and physical stress took its toil….

He had his first taste of liquor to cope.

One by one he watched his friends die.

He was one of the lucky three that survived his squad.

The tactical missions occupied his mind…..

Shifting his focus from the prospect of death.

Once after an intense night of battle….

He carried a dead GI on his back until he met up with the medi-vac helicopter.

You never forget that kind of weight….he says….

It’s a weight that lays heavy in the mind….

It’s a weight you still feel 44 years later.

Every 3 weeks his squad would go to the rear, aka command base, for a precious 3 day rest from death and destruction….

That’s where he learned to drink in order to numb the stress.

He tells stories of GI’S who shot themselves in the leg or got food poisoning on purpose…

He laughs about one soldier who actually tried to fake being crazy…..

These were the ones who would suffer being a coward rather than face the alternative.

The gruesome images he saw….are still prominent in his memories.

The desperation of surviving affected him in ways he could never imagine.

There are times he is still in survival mode even today.

The shock of all his senses engrossed in the worst horror story you can imagine….

Is who he is….at the most unexpected recollection.

He was wounded…

They patched him up and sent him back to the jungle a few months later.

Again….he fought to live….

Day in and day out…

Fighting for a people who for the most part….

Didn’t appreciate the effort…

Or the sacrifices.

He managed to survive….

He managed to come home….

But he wasn’t the same simple boy who left at the tender age of 19.

He came home and turned to alcohol more and more.

He worked hard and long hours during the day…..

He partied hard and long hours into the night…..

Every hour of productivity or leisure was occupied with anything to ease the memories.

I met him in 1985.

I didn’t know it then….but he was still broken from the war…. 15 years later.

He was a functioning alcoholic.

A good one too.

He was the life of the party….

But after we married…

The party was getting old to me….

Especially after the first baby came on the scene.

I just wanted to be normal….

But he couldn’t give me normal because he was carrying the weight of an unresolved emotional trauma.

Statistics cite severe drug and alcohol problems for 60-80% of Vietnam veterans.

Divorce rates hover around 90 percent.

Somewhere around 58,000 Vietnam vets died in combat….

Over 150,000 have committed suicide since the war ended.

Over 500,000 have been arrested or incarcerated.

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 are in prison and over 200,000 are on parole.

These 800,000 men will never get back what they lost.

They will never know normal….

At least in the way it was before it was taken from them.

My veteran gave up so much promise….

So much hope….

So many dreams that have never been reborn.

He lived with years of pain….

Years of functioning dysfunction….

Years of guilt.

Until it all caught up with him….

And the self-destructible behavior cost him everything.

You see that’s what happens when we can’t cope with the pain….

The guilt….

The mistakes….

The horror of the past….

Man self -destructs.

Interceding prayers made the difference in my vets life.

There were numerous….a too many to mention, faithful prayer warriors…..who prayed for him.

Then one day….

When he could bear the burden no longer….

He surrendered to JESUS.

When the bible talks about a new creation being born at salvation…..

My vet instantly became a new creation.

What rehab couldn’t do….

JESUS did….

What an undying love from a faithful young bride couldn’t do…..

JESUS did….

Nothing the world could offer helped him in anyway….

But JESUS did.

Immediately his countenance was different.

Immediately his heart was light…

His smile was bright….

His soul was at peace.

I will never forget the conversation we had a few years back…..

He talked about how the LORD had removed all the guilt of what he had to do to survive the hell hole of Vietnam.

“All that guilt…and worry….the faces I used to dream about…it’s all gone, GOD took all that from me when he saved me, I am FORGIVEN,” he said.

GOD also took his desire for alcohol away.

He has been sober for 23 years.

What GOD has done in his life is nothing short of a miracle.

He is far from a perfect man…..

But he lives a spirit filled life of joy….

Peace….

Hope…..

Freedom….

He has health issues due to his service…

But he has JESUS….

And though life is hard at times….

And never reaches a perfect place……

JESUS helps us endure….

JESUS keeps us going…..

JESUS helps us live daily with love, laughter and vision for the future.

And now JESUS uses my vet for HIS kingdom….

He teaches Sunday school….

He witnesses and helps others struggling with alcohol….

He goes and prays with those who need a touch from JESUS….

He has led several in the sinner’s prayer.

You see…….

GOD doesn’t throw people away….

Because GOD never uses perfect people.

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No matter what emotional trauma you have suffered….

No matter what addiction or stronghold in your life…..

No matter if divorce happens…..

No matter the mistakes you’ve made with life changing repercussions…..

It just doesn’t matter to JESUS

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When you are HIS….

You are a new creation…..

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!            2 Corinthians 5:17

GOD wants to use you…

And your brokenness….

This past summer I heard a quote at a Proverbs 31 Women’s event and it gave me such hope….

“The thing that we think disqualifies us for GOD’S use…is the very thing GOD wants to use.”

Won’t you surrender to JESUS today and you can be FORGIVEN too?

If you have never accepted JESUS as your savior….there is no better day than today to become a new creation!  Please follow this link …..It’s so easy to come to JESUS!

“When The World Beats You Up”

Today has been one of those messy days of grace for me.

My mindset has been fractured all day….. cracks were exposed in places of faith I previously thought were strong.

My emotions were fragile just enough to let me drift off to the abyss of pessimism.

Hindering oppressive thoughts drained into my soul….taking me back to long ago when I felt no grace.

I thought I was beyond the point of wandering back to the valley.

Somehow I stumbled right into a thicket of obscure dejection. I let man’s actions make me think I was less….unimportant….invisible.

Funny how the enemy knows what days the physical body ails….making it hard for the spiritual consciousness to keep up.

Today I felt as though I was a middle school girl being bullied all over again….bullied by life….bullied by another’s sin.

I am a child of the King…… why do I let the world hamstring my heart at times?
I know better!

How can we be on the spiritual mountain top for months only to be pushed off by the enemy in one short span of time?

There is shame in this weakness for me.

After all…I thought I had passed the faith test….bought the t-shirt…..walking bow legged from so much truth poured into my soul.

How did I let this happen?

I turned off the light way earlier than usual to sleep this melancholy hangover off. Tossing and turning side to side…. trying to get comfortable in my slumber.

I started to pray…..wrestling with words…as well as my comfort…..but I couldn’t find physical comfort…for my spirit was in battle.

Then I clearly hear HIM say…..

“Work it out in words child….tell me exactly what haunts your heart tonight.”

So I turn on the lamp…I reach for my lab top…and tell HIM just what a rotten day I had.

I tell HIM I am mad at myself for listening to the enemy’s lies.

I tell HIM I’m sorry I didn’t filter my mind….I didn’t fall back on the truth.

I tell HIM the pain I feel by hurtful actions and attitudes.

Immediately….I start to feel peace…slowly soaking up the bitter spew of GOD-less thoughts.

I literally can feel strength seeping back into my aching frame.

Truth is pulsating through my spiritual veins again!

I am an overcomer!

Regardless of what emotional lava that has spread over my mind today.

No matter what suppression man may fling my way….

No matter the landmines of doubt the enemy made no attempt to disguise….

HE has reminded me…..

“Greater is HE that is in me….than he that is in the world!”

The Living GOD is in me!

THE LIVING GOD IS IN ME!

And HE will fight my battles!

And soothe my wounds!

The Living God will go before me in all my steps….and tomorrow?

Well tomorrow will be another day…a new day….to take my stand in the truth of HIS faithful righteousness.

A new day to be “HIS” love…..even when I am unloved.

A new day to experience his mercies….for they are new every day.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22

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Don’t let the world consume and beat you up my friend….

Don’t let the enemy exploit the fragile places of your heart.

Remember who you are….and whose you are!

For you are a child of the one true King…..JESUS CHRIST!

And you are an OVERCOMER!

Press on OVERCOMER!

Press on!

“When Life Brings Unexpected Change”

Nothing stays the same.

Everything changes in this vacuum of time called life.

The babies grow up, the loved one passes away, the job ends, the divorce becomes final,  the friends come and go.

Resistance is the human reaction we all grapple with.

The seasons of life can bring great joy as well as great pain.

The good changes are easier to deal with, the scary changes with consequences not so easy.

With every change the uncertainty of life as we know it becomes a distance memory and if we’re not careful…..it can cloud or stall our future…..but be cautious because our faith is our future.

Don’t get stuck living in the past…….it can be a miserable place to exist …I know….I’ve wasted too much time living in the past.

GOD allows change for good….even though we don’t like how it comes sometimes.

We may face life events that seem catastrophic or heartbreaking….but if we are abiding in JESUS….HE will work it all for our good.

The fact that HE allows change….regardless of how it comes….. shows HE doesn’t want us to stay as we are….HE knows change can bring us closer to HIM if we will let it.

Its when we resist HIS change that we stumble and stray….getting lost in the foggy circumstances.

We can choose to stay the way we are….. where we are at……or we can embrace the change….and become more.

More like HIM is the change HE wants.

I know many are wrestling with big changes in your lives……but instead of dreading and fearing them….let GOD’S peace rest in your heart.

Take time to grieve or regroup…..but …don’t linger too long in the pain because that’s the place Satan uses to trip us up……the pain can cause us to become bitter, hardened….hopeless.

The bible says there is an appointed time for everything….for every event under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

If change wasn’t part of life there would be no long summer evenings on the porch….we wouldn’t have the splendor of fall to look forward to…..there would be no winter for the earth to rest…and without the rest….the spring wouldn’t bring new life.

The same is true in our spiritual life.

Fervently trusting JESUS will change the shades of our faith, making them more brilliant…..no matter what season…. be it the hurts and the joys…. seasons of change spin abundance from GOD’S heart.

Change hurts…. but somewhere along the path….the evolution of the heart finds a harvest of mercy, healing, joy and new life.

Hold on tight to JESUS… embrace the change….and see what HE does next.

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Are you getting old? Or just a little older? There is a difference! Happy 50th Birthday to me!

Time is a like a roll of toilet paper….the closer it gets to the end….the faster it goes.

Time waits for no one yet affords us many pleasures.

Time awards us wisdom yet threatens our youth and vitality.

Time comes quickly and cruelly leaves us longing for more.

Time measures our days, the special occasions, the new experiences, the tearful goodbyes and the joys of new life.

Time….a friend and a foe.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately.  I’m turning 50 this weekend and totally amazed I’m going to be a half a century old….considered an antique….now eligible for an AARP card.

I used to think people in their fifties were old….the jokes on me now right?

As I have been embracing my slow swan dive into pre-senior citizen status, I’m actually kind of excited.

I am determined to make the next 50 years the best of my life.

In about 6 weeks I will finally have an empty nest.  My last little birdie…or buzzard is probably more appropriate…is jumping out of the Porter nest.

My husband is especially excited he won’t have to hide his Debbie cakes and ice cream and he’s counting the days until he won’t have to share the family room TV.

For some silly reason he thinks we will run through the house naked if we desire.

Not this old girl.

I’m not afraid of getting older….but I am afraid of getting old.

You see….there is a difference…and a lot of it has to do with how we think about aging.

Getting OLDER means I’m still evolving to become what GOD desires….I’m still learning….still skipping hand in hand with the passions HE’S burned into my heart.

Getting OLD signifies becoming fixed…brittle…resolved to what is happening with the body…the mind and habits.

Getting OLDER means I am not afraid to keep trying, learning new things…..dreaming new dreams.

Getting OLD means to give up the dreams.

Getting OLDER is the path GOD has set for me…and you.

Getting OLD means stopping on the path…….giving up…..giving in.

I will not give in to the lie Satan wants us all to buy….you know the lie with fear attached to it…..getting older means life is getting closer to being over?

The truth is…..GOD has a charted path and plan to walk us right into eternity.

It is our job and responsibility to seek and follow HIS path every single day until we take our last breath.

By following HIS customized path for our lives…..we won’t get bored…..tired…..or fearful.

Following HIS path and plan will renew us….give us endurance….give us joy.

I can honestly say I am more excited about my future than I have ever been.

I’m carrying the lessons of the past in my back pocket and charting for a new territory called senior citizenville….the place of discounts galore…..and I will exploit them all.

I’ll be the newest golden girl on the block with the hottest senior citizen hubby already in residence…..he’s been there a while and has been patiently waiting for me to join him.

Since he is 16 years my senior….he was excited when I turned 30….I think he’s extremely satisfied with my ever approaching 50th mile marker.

In the past I dreaded this birthday but GOD has done amazing things in my heart these last few years.

HE’S breathed new life into the now empty space of motherhood.

HE has been pursuing this stubborn heart my entire life….and I finally got smart enough to realize it.

I know my future is good…..because GOD’S got me in the palm of his hand.

I’m so thankful for where I am at now.

I am grateful for the lessons of the past….the heartaches of yesterday…the regrets surrendered to peace…..for all these experiences are now wrapped in wisdom.

I am grateful HE has given me 50 years….some hard…some easy….but all full of life and hope.

When you have JESUS….you can’t help but think….. life…and hope.

So happy 50th birthday to me…..

A golden girl in training.

I’m not getting old…thanks to the good LORD….I’m just getting a little older.

“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”       2 Corinthians 4:16

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