An authentic love

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Many times I am asked to explain what I mean when I talk about feeling close to Jesus and having more than a superficial relationship with Him.  How can I say he is my best friend?  How do I know when He is guiding me in a certain direction?

When I was very young, I was taken to church by my mother and grandmother and as I grew it continued to be part of my life.  In my pre-teen years, I went for the fun and games, to see my friends and because I genuinely wanted to be good.  I wanted to do the right thing and I was afraid of the consequences if I didn’t.  Somehow, in spite of all of the lessons telling me that Jesus died for me and how much He loved me, I couldn’t wrap my head around what it meant to be in a relationship with Him.  There were times I felt more inspired than others, but I still didn’t grasp the depths of His goodness at the time.

Many years later, after multiple failures and the death of my mother, I found myself in a bad place.  I felt alone, insecure and without much hope.  As a young wife and mother, I didn’t feel like I had anything left to offer the ones I loved.

But slowly and surely, the things I had learned in my youth came back to me and the timely words of a friend reminded me that there was somewhere to find strength and peace.  I found myself thinking about God and wondering what it would feel like to run to Him and cast all my cares in His lap.  Would it work?  My mind, educated in the bible, said yes but my emotions were a wreck and my doubts numerous.

I don’t remember the exact day and time like some people do when they have life-changing experiences, but I do remember feeling like I didn’t have anything to lose.  Why not cry out to God?  I was at the end of me (and therein lies the key).  That was almost twenty years ago and I haven’t regretted my decision to fully surrender to Jesus, not one time.

On the contrary, my love for Him has grown by leaps and bounds.  He has been my friend when there was no one else who could possibly understand me.  He has forgiven me though my sin was deep and He freely gave this precious gift of salvation.  All I had to do was believe and ask and surrender my life to Him.

Has it been easy?  No, I would be lying if I answered that with a yes.  There were times I felt weak and frail when He has been my strength.  When I felt faithless and my shortcomings seem to come in droves, He was long suffering.  When my tears fell like rain, He taught me to have joy in spite of my circumstances.  When I was afraid and fearful, He spoke peace.  Making a decision to surrender didn’t make things perfect and life still had it’s curve balls to throw but now I had a perfect God to run to, Who gave strength like no other and a peace that I had never known my entire life.

Having said all that, I still haven’t fully explained how I feel so close to Him, why I am certain of His abiding presence and direction.  How do I know how much He loves and and how can I confess such an overwhelming love for Him?  Intentional time spent with Him, loving Him, getting to know Him and in the process, getting to know me.

The only way I know how to explain is this.  When you love someone (and I’m not talking about the superficial relationships this culture is wrought with), you spend time with them.  You get to know them.  You read their notes or letters over and over again because you want to discern how they really feel about you.  You’ll take the time to discover what moves them.  It’s not a “hook-up” or a “best friends with benefits” type of attraction.  It’s way deeper than that.  You put them first and even in the midst of life’s craziness, they remain a priority.  You look forward to their touch and you share with them your heartfelt thoughts and desires.  You turn to them for direction and advice because they know you so well, they are the best to give it.  You take every opportunity you can to be in their presence.  It’s intentional.

This made all the difference for me.  I went from feeling like I was outside looking in, to a beautiful, holy relationship with my Maker.

I felt inspired to share this on this beautiful rainy Sunday.  We will all have our perfect sunshiny days, but we will all also experience the rain.  Let us love Him intentionally, placing Him in the proper place in our lives.  When the rain comes, He wants to be your shelter.

 

Post Irma musings

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As I sit on my cousin’s porch here in Tennessee, the air is cool in the midst of my favorite season.  The birds are filled with song and two little squirrels are chasing each other up, down and around a tree.  In the midst of one of the most chaotic seasons of my life, I sing praises to my Creator and thank Him for His abundant mercy and the beauty of my surroundings.

After losing our home in hurricane Irma, I am a grateful guest in a household that is filled with the love of Christ.

Due to my granddaughter’s health condition and fearing long lines and possible fuel shortages, we fled the state of Florida prior to Irma’s approach.  Some said we were over-reacting but I had prayed about it, discussed with my husband and had peace with our decision.  He would stay and continue to make preparations and be close to assess the aftermath and my daughter, granddaughter and I would head for the hills.

The first weekend I was here I remember sitting in Sunday school thinking that if I let one tiny teardrop fall, I was going to bawl a big ole ugly cry in front of a room full of people I didn’t know.  I did cry during service as the Pastor described efforts already underway to send trucks of essentials and workers down to assist in our area.

The emotions pre-Irma, mid-Irma and post-Irma have been like the tea-cup ride at Disney.  One minute you’re screaming as someone spins the cup faster and faster and the next minute, you need to throw up.  And, all of my emotions have been from afar, so add a strange sense of guilt for not being there with and for my friends and family.  All I could do was pray, and that I did and continue to.

Mid-Irma, we watched with horror as we experienced wind and storm surge in real-time, thanks to Facebook, face time and videos sent to us.  We sometimes watched along with the people we love who stayed to ride it out, hearing the fear in their voices as the waters continued to rise.  Thankfully, technology also provided a way to let us know everyone was safe immediately after the worst of it.

Post-Irma my husband sent pictures of the destruction as he walked for the first time back into what we once called home. We cried along with him.  We lamented some of our most painful material losses together, always thankful that we still had each other.

Then we shed overwhelming tears of gratitude as we saw people from all over; loved ones, clients and strangers begin to load up trucks like the hands and feet of Jesus, destination Everglades City, to unload a little bit of love and hope.

Homeless Irma victims, we have so much to be thankful for.  We have family who immediately opened their home to us until we can find a place of our own, more family and friends, clients and colleagues who have blessed us with gift cards, money, prayers and encouragement, and a place for my husband to stay while he is down there working.  We have our lives and our precious memories of how things used to be.

We have a lot to do and some new paths to forge but I remain steadfast in the knowledge that my God will provide.  He has not forsaken us, nor will He.  This life is fragile and our things are perishable but His love is everlasting and His promises are sure.  I pray for wisdom to follow without hesitation His perfect direction and plan for my life.

My deepest gratitude to all who have helped in any way.  May God richly bless you.

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Door number two

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Adrift

I can hear the water as it tickles the bottom of the boat; a comforting sound.  The sky is a bright blue with snippets of white puffy clouds and the sun is hovering around its 4 pm eastern position on this lovely day. My book is splayed open in my right hand for ease in […]

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