Parking Lot Birds

parking lot birds

The meaning behind songs interest me.   I am always interested in why someone wrote a specific song.  What was going on in their lives at that time?  What was the reason’s they wrote this song.  This morning I was doing my devotions and listen to music.  One of my favorite songs “His Eye is on the Sparrow” came up so I thought I would look up who wrote this song and why.

The writer of this song was Civilla D. Martin and her husband.   On a trip to New York, the couple make friends with another couple by the name of Doolittle.   Both of the Doolittle’s were handicapped.  Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for 20 years and Mr. Doolittle had been in a wheelchair but even though they struggled through their limitations they were happy and brought inspiration and comfort to all that were around them.  When the Martin’s asked them what their secret was to being so hopeful and happy,  Mrs. Doolittle said, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

Often, when I am out shopping and walking through the parking lot I see sparrows everywhere I think about this song and the scripture.   I call them parking lot birds.  The are in most any parking lot just hopping around looking for food.  They are just that common!

One day as I was out walking during a break from work; thinking about an issue I was having to deal with, I came across one of those parking lot birds just happily hopping around on the sidewalk without a care.  Immediately, God reminded me that if he cares about this common parking lot bird then don’t I think he cares that much more about me?

Sometimes we get sidetracked with all the other things that are going on in our lives.  We forget there is a God that is interested in our lives.  That if he cares about the parking lot birds,  how much more important we are than a sparrow.

His Eye Is on the Sparrow. (2015, June 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:09, August 4, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=His_Eye_Is_on_the_Sparrow&oldid=667628695

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Dear Religion

religionwordlewhiteround

Since I was nine years old, you have been my companion.  I was very good at learning all your rules and requirements.  I have tried hard to complete all the demands that were put on me by all your rules and although some of them didn’t make sense to me, and I couldn’t find any proof in the Bible regarding these rules, I still felt obligated to try and accomplish these tasks, lest my salvation be in jeopardy.    I am now 53 and have a few questions to ask you.

Religion, with all the rules and regulations that I was required to abide by, where were you during the time I needed you the most?  During the time when my life was falling apart, your rules and requirements did not assist me in overcoming all the obstacles that were placed in my path.  There was no rule that told me what to do when your husband verbally abuses you.  Where were you, Religion?  There were not any rules that guided me or told me what to do when I found out that my husband was abusing my daughter and son.   Where were you during that time, Religion?   You seemed  no where to be found.

Religion, where were you when I was searching for a path after through the ashes of my divorce?  Oh, I heard your voice now and again during that time but again, you never presented yourself with a rule that would guide me to freedom.   I was good at performing and knowing all the right things to say.  You were a good teacher.

Religion, since you have been such a lazy companion and not really committed to our relationship, I’m breaking up with you.  I have found someone better that has helped me through the most desperate times in my life.  His name is Grace.

Grace has been the one that has taught me to forgive myself.   When I was searching for that path in the aftermath of my divorce, Grace found me and picked me up and helped me get on my feet.  When I was working on rebuilding my relationship with my daughter and son, Grace was there to give me his guidance and support.  When I was feeling let down by you, Religion, Grace came and comforted me and gave me strength and told me I could make it.  Grace told me that my past is in the past.  Grace said he loved me just as I was.  He did not require me to preform for him.   He told me there was nothing I could ever do that could make me worthy of his love.  He just loved me because I belonged to him.  Grace didn’t have a list of rules for me to follow.   All that Grace wanted from me was love.  Just to love Him with my whole heart.

So I say good-bye to you Religion.  I am no longer bound by your performance requirements.  I have learned there is a better way to live and I don’t have to be controlled by you anymore.

Grace is amazing!

gracechangeseverything4-w855h425

 

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My America

 

obama-goodbye

Getty 2017

Today  I sat and watched the Inauguration almost to the end.  I was at work and watching it streaming.  My daughter was at home watching so we IM’d each other during the program.  Also, my high school marching band had the privilege of being able to march in the parade so I was trying to see them.  Although, I completely missed them.

All in all the whole shebang went off without a hitch.  The normal pomp and circumstance that goes along with traditional government functions.  Everyone smiled at the right time, said the right things, walked the right way and so on.

It was also emotional for me.  Not in the way that someone might think.  I’m not afraid of President Trump and wasn’t afraid of former President Obama.  I think it was a ridiculous notion to be afraid of either of them.  (I think people watch too much news!)  Our country isn’t going to implode.  We’re not going to have a nuclear war and the suggestion of such is a ridiculous idea.  Contrary to what people have watched on TV, there is not a big red button waiting for someone to push to release a nuclear bomb and the President does not have sole authority to do such a thing.

The thing that made me emotional about this was watching President Obama and Michelle Obama leave.  I guess it’s my 20 years as a military wife that made me emotional because I get it!   I get thinking this is the last time I will sleep in this room.  The last time I’ll walk down this hall.  The last time I’ll see these people.  I’ve been there.  Getting ready to leave a place I’ve lived for 4 or 5 years.  The excitement of starting a new journey and the sadness of leaving the old journey.

I sat and watched and chatted with my daughter who also got it.   I cried with them as they walked through the White House one last time, out to the helicopter that was taking them to Joint Andrews Air Force Base. The one last time flight as they flew around their home and neighborhood for the last eight years.   Even now, the emotion wells up inside me thinking about how they felt.    I remember our moves and getting on the airplane while everyone was standing around saying good-bye.   That feeling as the airplane taxis and takes off.  Seeing the town I lived and loved for five years become a miniature play toy.   The emotions are so overwhelming it takes your breath away!   The tears that you have been holding back for weeks are like a dam that breaks.  You can’t stop them!  It doesn’t matter to me whether I liked President Obama’s policies or not.  I’m a decent human being and could feel the pain and emotions of leaving a life they had been living for the last eight years!

Today I was proud to be an American.  Proud of the respect that was shown to President and Michelle Obama.  Proud of the traditions of our country and emotional as they said goodbye to their life as they knew it.  I cried and prayed for strength and peace as they move into another chapter of their lives.  Goodbye President and Mrs. Obama.  Thank you for giving up your lives and serving our country for the last eight years.  God bless you as your new journey begins.  May the next chapter of your life be anything you want it to be!

 

 

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We’ve Missed It!

                                                 heart

I’ve been going to church my whole life!  Well, since I was 9 years old so I consider that my whole life.  I grew up in Louisiana so being from the South puts a whole other spin on the idea of being a Christian and going to church.

I was reading the comments on an article about a person that professed to be  Christian.  This person the article was written about doesn’t act much like a Christian.   First, let me say I don’t like the word, Christian.  I prefer to be a Jesus Follower.  There are too many connections to be a “Christian”.  I’m a follower of what Jesus taught and not what church believes is correct.

As I was saying, I was reading the comments on this article and one stood out to me.  The person said that why would he/she want to serve a God that sends people to hell.   I thought, what have we done?   If this is what people think that being a Christian is about then we’ve made a big, terrible mistake if all people think that my God is mean and about punishment.  We’ve gotten things terribly wrong and we should be ashamed.  We have portrayed Jesus as being mean, nasty, hypocritical, judgmental and that’s not why He came.  We have focused on the “do not’s” and completely missed the “do’s”.   We have totally missed it!

The Word says that Jesus came to give life more abundantly!   He came because he loved us so much that he wanted to be able to spend eternity with us.   This is lover talk.    Jesus was compassionate, loving, understanding, gracious, forgiving and extended grace unto the far reaches of the earth.  These are not the attributes that we’ve portrayed as Christians.  Just think, if your boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife told you they loved you so much they wanted to spend eternity with you!  Your heart would melt!    (I’m a Jane Austen fan so this would be the equivalent of a Mr. Darcy moment.)

Why would we do this?    Even raising my children, I did not focus on the things they did that were bad.  I would correct them, but I didn’t want the focus to be they were bad.   I noticed that if I focused on the good they accomplished, they would grow stronger and more loving and try to do even more loving things.   The more I highlighted the good the better they became.

What if the state of our society is our fault?  What if it’s because all we have done as Christians is focused on all the bad things that people have done.  We have stood on our judgmental throne and pointed our boney fingers at the “others” and judge them unfairly. Jesus even ate with a tax collector, which was considered a “sinner” back in his time.   How many of us could have dinner with a murderer?  Could I invite that person to my house?  I don’t know.

To anyone that is reading this blog.  Please forgive me for being judgemental and unforgiving.  I want to really be a Jesus follower and not just a Christian.  I want to have that compassionate, loving nature.  I want people to see love from me and not judgment. I want to give grace to things I don’t understand.

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The Problem with the Roof

roof-top

We make all kinds of  decisions in life that affect the outcome of the future.  Sometimes we make good decisions and sometimes not so much.  The problem with the bad decisions is they usually can’t be changed.  Isn’t it funny how that is?  If you make a good decision, then usually things just get better but the results of a bad decision are usually unchangeable and  not only effect you, but everyone that is connected to you.  I don’t know about anyone else,  but I don’t make bad decisions on purpose.  Usually these decisions are made in the heat of the moment.  In a time where your life is in turmoil and you are trying to find a way out.  Sometimes you were in the right place at the wrong time. The wrong decisions we make in life can have devastating consequences.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  He had been serving God since he was a boy.  He killed a loin, a giant, soothed a king with his music, defeated armies, but he still got caught up in the moment and sinned.  David decided to play hooky from the war.  During the time of war, all the men went including the king.  But for whatever reason, David stayed behind.  Maybe he was bored with the war.  He had been fighting and running from King Saul ever since he was anointed the new King.  One evening he decided to go for a walk on the roof.   That’s where he saw Bathsheba bathing.

There are some misconceptions about Bathsheba.   We think she was on the roof bathing but that’s not correct.  The scripture says that DAVID was restless and went for a walk on the roof.  (2Samuel 11:2)  If you’ve ever been up on a roof or up in a tree you can see in your neighbor’s yard.    You don’t have to be really high to look over and spy on your neighbor.  Essentially, that’s what David was doing.  Spying on his neighbor.  In 2 Samuel, the text states that Bathsheba was conducting her month purification cleansing.  This was something women had to do after their monthly cycles because they were considered unclean.  So she was actually performing a private ceremony that David spied on.

At that moment, David should have immediately left the roof and went back to his room.  He did not.   He saw Bathsheba and sent for her and sent went.  I’m sure that when Bathsheba was summoned she was not thinking of being seduced by David.  After all, when the King calls, you don’t say no.  Also, Bathsheba was probably not a stranger in the King’s court.  Not only was Bathsheba married to Uriah, a General in David’s Army, she was the granddaughter of one of his counselors and the daughter of one of his bodyguards.  She probably didn’t think it unusual that she was being summoned.  The fact that she was the daughter of closest, personal counsel  and probably friends,  should have been enough to deter him but it wasn’t.  All David considered at the moment was what he wanted and nothing else.

This is what happens with sin.  Sin is selfish.  It does not think about the consequences of it’s actions.  It is only interested in getting what it needs in that moment.  This is what happened to David.  He not only got what he wanted, but he got more than what he bargained for.  Usually, to cover one wrong, you have to commit multiple wrongs.  Not only did David commit adultery, he also committed murder because Bathsheba became pregnant. No where in the text did it ever refer to the incident as David and Bathsheba’s sin.  The responsibility was squarely on David’s shoulders.  It was his sin.  After Uriah’s death, David took Bathsheba as his wife. She lost the first baby but God had mercy on them and gave them Solomon.  God forgave David of his wrongs, but there were consequences in David’s family long after that walk on the roof.

I thought about this today because my (ex) father-in-law passed away on Saturday.   I wasn’t sure quite how to feel about this.  Of course, I was sad but maybe I was expecting to feel something else.   I thought of all the times we had with him.  The goofy, funny things he did.   His son, who used to be my husband,  allowed the selfishness of sin to control his life and the entire family paid the price.  This made me sad for the entire family.   I was married to their son for 20 years and have known my father-in-law for 33.  I grew to love his family as much as I loved my own.  But because his son chose to be selfish and think of nothing and no one but himself, it changed that bond that had been created.

I still love them very much.    When I was trying to figure out my place in life, our relationship became strained,  but through the grace of God, he brought us all back together.  The relationship has changed because I’m no longer married to their son, but I still love them and they will always be part of my family.

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Window Washing

sun shinning

 

This morning I was sitting on the couch with the sliding door open on my balcony.   I live in Phoenix and it gets quite hot in the summer time but the best thing about the summers here are the monsoons that come and cool the air.  This morning I was enjoying such a time when the Lord reminded me of something.

As the sun was rising and shining on my balcony, I noticed that the glass in my sliding door was dirty and needed cleaning.  I can’t always see it because there is a big tree shading my balcony so once the sun is up, I can’t see the glass as clear anymore.  It’s shaded by the tree.

This reminded me of something that happened to me when I was younger and our family was stationed in Germany.  My first marriage was very abusive so in order to win his love, I felt like I had to “do” things to get his attention.   One of those things was to clean my house until it shinned.  That was also one of the things he was very critical about no matter how hard I cleaned or how much it shinned.  Now I’m not a perfectionist about house cleaning.  My house was not dirty.  Maybe stuff sitting around but it was clean.  Floors swept and mopped, windows cleaned, bed made and so on.

This day was no different than any other.  I was in the kitchen getting ready to make dinner for my family when I bent down to get something from the cabinet when I noticed there was dirty marks on the door.   It looked like  something had been spilled and run down the cabinet doors.  Why had I not noticed this?  I had probably been down on the floor cleaning the cabinets before but never seen these marks.  Then I noticed something.  The afternoon sun was shinning in the window of my kitchen right on the cabinet doors which showed all the stains.  At that moment, the Lord reminded me of this fact.  Things look all shinny and clean on the outside until Jesus shines his light on my heart then  I can see the dirty hidden parts.

I will never forget that day. I can see that moment as clear today as it was just yesterday.  I can see that cabinet with the stains running down the front.   It was a realization that has never left my mind.  Even during my running away from God, that moment in time has always been there.

So this morning, when the sun light was shinning on my sliding door showing the dirty glass, the Lord reminded me again of his light shinning in the dark places and highlighting the things in my life I need to clean up.   The dirty things like pride and arrogance and replacing them with humility and grace.  These are the things that are on the dirty glass door of my heart.  Changing my way of thinking that it’s not all about me.  These two things have been life changing for me.  Especially at work.  Having more humility and remembering what Jesus said not to think myself more highly than I ought.   When things seem unfair my flesh wants to protest and I want my way,  I remember what Jesus said “Blessed are the humble, for they shall inherit the earth.”  Matt. 5:5

Jesus is the window washer of my heart!

 

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Redemption and Winning

chess

God has a way of moving you around to position you in the place that you need to be to win.  It is like moving pieces on a chess board.  Sometimes the game can take a long time until you are in the winning position.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of spending 3 days in the mountains of Prescott, AZ with a lovely group of women from my church.  (Yes, all of Arizona is NOT desert.)  It was an amazing time and God did some wonderful things for the women and especially for me.

My chess game with God has been really slow.  That’s not his fault.  It is mine.  For the last 12 years, God has been trying to move me into that winning position but I kept leaving the game.   God kept trying to put me in check mate but  I jumped up and ran away.

I didn’t want to be in the spot.  I didn’t deserve to win and I was afraid.

God has been working in my heart to heal the hurt that was caused by another.  It was a very deep, hard hurt.  Anyone that has been in a abusive relationship can relate.  The person that I loved the most, didn’t love me at all.  Because of what he did to me and my kids, this caused some really deep scars for me.  I have felt like a failure as a mother.   Every time I would go to church, I felt like everyone was judging me for not being a better mother.   Let’s face it.  That’s what church people tend to do is judge.   So I closed that part of my heart off.  I didn’t want to hurt anymore.  I felt abandoned by God and by the church so I abandoned my faith.

About 5 years ago, in this chess game with God, he moved me to the desert of Arizona.  Circumstances presented themselves that my daughter and her family had moved to Phoenix a couple of years earlier and she made the suggestion to move to Arizona also.   Her and I still had some issue to work out and I was glad she asked me to move closer.  It was all part of the game.

Fast forward to Mother’s Day.  My daughter spoke in church.  She gave the message for Mother’s Day.  Before she spoke, she made the statement  from the platform that God had redeemed our family.

Redeemed.  The dictionary defines redeemed  as to restore honor, worth, and reputation.    I felt like my reputation and worth as a mother had been destroyed.  Most people would look at me and say how could you not know what’s happening?  Weren’t you paying attention?  I was paying attention but in an abusive relationship the person being abused can’t see the situation.  You have been conditioned to only see what the abuser is showing you.  It’s just a messed up situation.

So God in his infinite wisdom, he moved me in the winning position.  He organized my life to move me to Arizona and to a church  that is all about healing people coming out of a religious background.  When the things and people you have known all your  life turn out to be on the wrong side of the pew.  This church was a hospital for me and for the last 3 years, God has been working on restoration.  First with my daughter, and then with my relationship with him.  It hasn’t been easy and it’s hurt but God has always been there with the band aid.

Checkmate!

 

 

 

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Living a Lie

DSCN0052 (2)I did not know about the shootings in Dallas until this morning.  I am just sadden by the turn of events.   I read Facebook post about guns, the political escapade and killings and I’m just at a loss for words.  What has happened to us?

Lately God has been in my heart working on my attitudes about things.  Jesus’ compassion on this earth was for the hurting.  The ones who need a doctor.  Not the Christian/Pharisee standing in church pointing their fingers at others.  Jesus never held back his love from those who were hurting.  He never judged the adulterous woman.  He didn’t point his finger at her and said demand that she change first  and then he could pray for her.  He just loved her.  He didn’t even judge Judas Iscariot who he knew was going to betray him.

What has happened to us “Christians”. When did we think it was our job to be a judge of others?    We are not much different than the Pharisee standing and praying saying look how great I am.  Where in the Bible did Jesus say it was okay for us to give our opinions about how others are living?  Where did it say that we could use our Christianity to be better than others?   The only thing I read where Jesus did any kind of rebuke was talking to the Christians of that day and he was very harsh with them.  He called them a brood of vipers!  Is this what we’ve become?  A pit of snakes?

My heart is broken today.  It is broken for the people that are hurting in this world.  For the ones that are caught in a life of sex trafficking.  People that are sick or homeless.  The poor, blind, hungry and naked.   This is who Jesus came to help.  It’s time to remove the blinders  of complacency than the enemy has put on our eyes and see a world that is hurting and needs help!  If we are true followers of Jesus, we need to get up and be about our Father’s business.

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