“Gratitude For Our Broken Places” Day 5 ~ Five Days Of Thanksgiving ~ Drawing Closer To The Giver

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We stood hand in hand in a big circle around the room.

Bright eyes….

Hungry souls…..

Grateful Hearts.

Over 30 women from different walks of life.

All with a story…..

Battles survived….

Heartaches endured….

Some with loss still waging war on their souls….

Yet they were grateful.

I stumbled into this group on accident.

I was asked to share a devotion at KARM’S Serenity Shelter.

I came away changed.

How these women press on is nothing short of a miracle out of GOD’S playbook. 

My heart was so excited to return this month to celebrate Thanksgiving.

A precious sisterhood of women from our church have been going for months to love on this magnetic group. And yes my heart is now knit to these special women who have been serving faithfully.

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I’m hooked.

We do simple activities, play games, eat, laugh and pray with them.

This month we took a THANKSGIVING tree to hang ornaments of gratefulness on.

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It struck me it could easily be a TESTIMONY tree.

Reading the ornaments made my heart swell…..much like the Grinches crusty heart did when the “Whos” showed him unconditional love.

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I find myself thinking about these ladies all the time.

We go to love and encourage them….

We come out loved on and encouraged.

They are so grateful we come.

It’s ever so obvious they love us too.

Cassandra came in late from her job having missed the opportunity to share what she was thankful for earlier.

As we stood holding hands for prayer to end our evening, she spoke with humble eloquence.

“I am thankful for a second chance. Ladies, we have all been given a second chance.  Because we belong to JESUS, we get another chance at life. HE lives in all of us girls….HE is inside of us. I am so thankful for that.”

The humility in her voice as it cracked literally split my heart.

Earlier in the evening I prayed with four other ladies ranging in age from 20 ~ 55 years old..

The prayer requests were not of the material means….instead they consisted of….

Restored relationships and Salvation for their families….

Freedom from addiction for their families….

Requests for favorable results for upcoming educational testing, court dates, custody hearings.

They weren’t ashamed to share how long they had been sober…clean…..drug free.

I marveled in their humility wrapped in gratefulness. 

Their stories are not pretty by any means….

In fact their stories are shocking to someone like me who lives in a bubble.

Yet they shared….unashamed of their brokenness….with ugly details….ugly facts….ugly consequences.

Transparency is key to humility.

Transparency is necessary in GOD’S eyes. 

I can’t help but think about the ugly details in my life…the ugly facts…the ugly consequences.

I am not so brave to share such things with my sisters.

Why?

The LORD whispered in my ear…

     “It’s because of your pride, Mel.”

Pride keeps GOD at a distance in our lives.

Pride breaks down truth.

Pride hinders the SPIRIT’S desire to work in and through us.

Is there a broken place in your life GOD worked for good?

Are you ashamed to share it?

When we hide our broken stories….

We deny GOD’S glory.

We deny HIS work in our lives….

We cheat GOD….

We cheat ourselves…..

This THANKSGIVING can we lay down the pride?

Can we allow GOD to work through our ugly, sordid brokenness?

Can we let go of the shame of our weaknesses and let GOD do HIS work?  HIS will?

Can we ignore Satan’s attempt to silence our stories?

Can we start living transparent in JESUS CHRIST?

We keep too many struggles secret…..yet we probably all struggle with the same things…. doubt, greed, jealousy, hate, bitterness, lust, selfishness, insecurity ….and the list could go on and on.

In this 5 day series of THANKSGIVING I have challenged you each day to do draw closer to the GIVER by thinking different…being different…engaging GOD in a different way.

I can think of no greater way  to start engaging GOD ….than laying down our pride and letting HIM have HIS way with our stories.

Instead of being ashamed of your places of brokenness…..

Be THANKFUL for the GLORY GOD has worked in your life….

And pass it on.

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Start sharing what you have overcome…

What God’s done in your life that no one can see on the surface.

The truth will set us free…..

But GOD wants to use our truth to set others free as well.

Happy Thanksgiving friends….

May you engage JESUS in a way like never before.

Love,

MEL

To worship our LORD please click this link from the Elevation Worship Team.  Ask GOD to give you the boldness to share the broken places in your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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!

“Getting Past Life’s Mistakes”

Do you ever wish there were “do overs” in life?

Like the stupid decisions that led to shame…or pain…or loss?

Or the lost opportunities we couldn’t see the value in when we had the chance to be something different….do something important?

How about the conversations or remarks you wish you could take back?

And the regrets of ungodly actions?

The older I get….the more I think about the “do overs” I wish I had.

If only we had the wisdom and discipline to make all the right choices….our lives would go a lot smoother for sure.

But there is hope….

Even when we make the wrong decision….GOD is there…..

If we trust him.

In Lysa Terkehurst’s new book “The Best Yes,” she shares we can’t let our mistakes make us think our life is ruined or forever soiled.

Lysa says…..

“An error is an unintentional mistake; an end is a termination. When considering the potential outcome of a difficult decision, its important to distinguish the errors from the ends in our thinking.”

 

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Even when we mess up…it’s not an end….it’s a mistake we did not intend to happen.

We CAN recover from poor decisions…if we let GOD have control of the situation.

Yes we may have to face some uncomfortable consequences but GOD doesn’t mark us off as disappointments.

In fact …. here is the kicker…..my favorite quote of the whole book……

“My imperfections will never override GOD’S promises. GOD’S promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on HIS ability to use well.”

I don’t know about you…..but this truth just pierces me deep down and makes me want to cry like a baby.

What comfort it is to know my mess ups will never disqualify me from….

HIS love….

HIS mercy…..

HIS kingdom purposes….

or….

HIS ultimate will for my life.

There is so much anointed wisdom from this new book….and I want to leave you with one more quote from Lysa to think about…….

It’s not the activities or accomplishments we string together that make lives well lived as much as it is the hearts of wisdom we gain and use along the way.”

We are going to mess up on this winding….rocky path of life, but if we will let the mess ups (errors)…teach us wisdom ……we will learn to make wiser decisions in the future.

Friend if you are mourning a poor decision and your stuck in the mire of consequences……

Don’t get discouraged……

Don’t hang your head in shame……

Don’t think your life is in a dead end……

Remember…..you are in the redeeming process…..

And what GOD redeems……

HE always uses for HIS GLORY!

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“We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so the best of who we are can emerge. What has “rushing” stolen from you?”

Taken from Chapter 2: The Way of the Best Yes

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Are Life’s Struggles Karma…Or God?

It was only a box of diapers and a few bags of groceries but to me…it was gold.  The gift of love my sister provided meant my babies would be comfortable and their bellies would be full for another week.

The provision was just in the nick of time. I was in a dark place of life….a place where I was living day to day.

For me the period was in the Spring of 1990, just weeks before my husband found salvation. Some days all I could do was just exist in meagerness.

But God always came through…..somehow….some way….he sent the vehicle to show me mercy.

Mercy is a sweet gift isn’t it?

We don’t always deserve it.

We don’t always give it either.

Recently I was faced with the choice to give someone I know…. mercy.

By the world’s standards, this someone didn’t deserve mercy…..and a few told me so.

I kept thinking none of us deserve mercy……yet Jesus gives us mercy everyday…..not to mention what he did for us on the cross.

There have been numerous desperate times I needed mercy…and when it came…..I recognized it…..and I was grateful to God.

You see because I’ve needed it so many times…..I don’t mind giving it.

I can’t keep from thinking about the scripture in Galatians.

“Do not be deceived; God will not be mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.   Galatians 6:7-9  

 

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This familiar passage is both encouragement and a warning.

If we want mercy….we need to practice giving mercy.

But what about the other things we are sowing in our lives everyday?

We sow many things…..

kindness…..

hatred….

joy….

oppression…..

bad habits…..

dissension with others….

unwise choices……

love…..

sorrow……

good deeds for others……

wise choices…..

discouragement…..

faithfulness….

unfaithfulness…..

laziness….

jealousy…..

dishonesty…..

strife….

hope….

doubt….

and these are just a few……some actions we are not aware we are sowing everyday.

But it makes sense doesn’t it?

Just like the farmer who collects the harvest of planting….we collect the results good or bad from our season of sowing.

 

Hosea 8:7 says…..

“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

 

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I don’t know about you but I don’t want to reap a whirlwind.  Life is just to darn hard to reap a whirlwind!

But Dr. Charles Stanley says……

“We reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow.”

 

Reaping more than we sowed and later than we sowed sounds like we can be swept right up in a whirlwind doesn’t it?

The farmer knows he can yield much even from one seed…..

yet unlike the seasons of the harvest…

Life has its own seasons….and many times we have no control over those seasons.

So what are we sowing in our lives today?

Perhaps it’s time to examine our lives…..because tomorrow we are all going to be reaping today’s actions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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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“Waiting Well” What do we do when GOD Is Silent?

It doesn’t feel good when someone gives us the silent treatment does it? I’ve been guilty of thinking GOD is giving me the silent treatment at times. I have enough faith to pray…..”Why aren’t you moving here GOD? Can’t you see what I’m going through down here LORD?”

I know HE can move and fix my problem in an instant so why doesn’t HE?  Then I seem to go through a cycle where I am up and down. One minute I’m trusting HIM and the next I’m bellyaching cause HE hasn’t moved.

I have failed the “silence during the test” class many times. It seems HE has been trying to teach me to “wait well” for the last few years. I once heard a pastor say, HE will keep putting us through the same lesson until we get it. I’ve been a real flunkie some days.

Then HE showed me the test isn’t just to learn to trust HIM but to learn to focus on HIM.  I’ve realized when I am praying and just sitting here waiting on HIM to answer…I can get pretty discouraged.

In the eighteenth chapter of Luke, JESUS was sharing the parable about the widow who kept taking her case to the judge to avenge her from her adversary.  She was persistent and the judge finally granted her request just because he was over her begging.

The LORD gave me two points to ponder from this scripture…..the first being….don’t give up asking.

JESUS shared HIS teaching of the Judge’s decision…..

 “Hear what the unjust judge said… shall not GOD avenge HIS own elect, which cry day and night unto HIM, though HE bear long with them?  I tell you that HE will avenge them speedily.”  Luke 18:7-8

In other words JESUS was saying….if this unjust judge would agree to avenge the widow….don’t you think a loving, just GOD will avenge you one day?  Give you relief?  Come back around to settle things on your account?

So even if HE is being silent….HE doesn’t want us to stop praying.

But it was the second part of verse eight that really challenged my thinking about what HE wants me to do during the silence.

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall HE find faith on the earth?”  Luke 18: 8b

Shall HE find faith on the earth?

Sadly, I don’t think I have been very faithful in my waiting through the years.

Yea, I go to church, I pray a lot, I study my bible everyday.  I fervently love my LORD…..but when I’m in the trenches praying about a problem….I’m not necessarily being faithful because I’m more focused on praying for GOD to come through for me….instead of really focusing on HIM.

There is a difference.

Faithfulness encompasses prayer.

Faithfulness is humbling myself in anticipation should HE say no instead of grumbling about the discomfort I’m in.

Faithfulness is asking the hard questions….GOD is there something you’re trying to show me here? Some sin?

Faithfulness is repenting of the not so obvious…secret….character flaws….keeping me from truly being clean.

Faithfulness is growing spiritually.

If I’m not growing while I am waiting…then I’m just missing an opportunity to know my LORD better.

My associate pastor says…….

“If we are walking with GOD….growth is not an option.”

If I am “waiting well”….I will be growing spiritually.

What I am doing in the waiting period is significant to being faithful.

I confess for many years I have not waited well. My actions didn’t show faithfulness….my words didn’t reveal faithfulness.

GOD may have withheld HIS hand on my behalf but HE never withheld his love, protection, provision or faithfulness to me….yet I withheld everything HE deserved.

GOD’S silence is good for me.

I can’t believe I said it….but it’s true.

GOD’S silence has taught me to evaluate how I am waiting…..

What I need to repent of…..

What I need to submit to…..

How I need to serve HIM regardless of what HE does for me….

And how I should love HIM….regardless the answer.

But here is the key to all this…..if you don’t take anything away….remember this please….

If we don’t seek to know HIM better during the trials….the heartaches….and the silent times…..we will lose hope.

The bible clearly tells us if we seek HIM…..we will find HIM.

If we repent…..HE forgives us.

If we submit…..HE blesses our humbleness.

If we praise….HE dwells with us because HE inhabits our praise.

HE reciprocates our efforts.

Let me say that again….and let it sink in…

Our GOD….will reciprocate any efforts we make to know him better….including…..

Our submission….

Our repentance….

When we go to HIM with the desire to grow in HIM…..

To give him pure praise…..with no strings attached.

HE  responds by granting peace…..

Joy….

Blessing….

 And Hope.

And if HE doesn’t answer the way we want….. we still have an intimate relationship with our precious SAVIOR……. and HE will grant HIS SWEET GRACE to us in order to accept whatever outcome HE deems HIS perfect will to be.

I’ve come to realize…

When I am walking close with GOD….its easier to accept his will and abandon mine.

Don’t just pray for the giver of all things to give you relief or what you need……get to know the giver intimately.

If we seek the giver……we will be found faithful.

lf we’re faithful…we will be “waiting well.”

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