Choosing Regrets

leap in the dark

Image credit to MyRon Edmonds

  “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”                                                        ~Ecclesiastes 11:4 (TLB)

The 2-minute video below addresses the difference between day-to-day regrets and life regrets. In summary, people tend to regret ACTIONS in their day-to-day experiences, like maybe traveling for a vacation when they may have wanted the money used for something else, but when reflecting over their lives, the biggest regrets tend to be INACTION. In fact, the number one life regret is not traveling more. Hopefully you enjoy the brief video; you can click subscribe for more. You won’t know every possible outcome, but you really can choose your regrets. Take the leap, go all in, your future self will thank you!

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Life Soundtrack

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Many of our most powerful life experiences are inextricably tied to healing melodies that have both stirred our souls and lifted our spirits, music that will forever have an emotional impact on us and be indelibly etched into the fabric of our lives. Here’s a compilation of what was shared with me along with my own #lifesoundtrack. I thank each of you for sharing and blessing my life!

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when I wanted to give up on any hopes of healing…but God…TUH #butGod

“When [my sister] Lystra died. “I’m going to be ready” by Yolanda Adams was on Serious REPEAT!”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for much of my senior year of high school when the pain of my past threatened to eclipse God’s plan for my life.”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“I sang this song outside the office of the professor that took my full scholarship away because I couldn’t sign up for a class she wanted me to take. I was sitting in a desk in the hallway outside her office, singing, when SWAT showed up. She called them because I “intimidated” her. Well, maybe but, I got my scholarship back. #goodtimes

“After my abortion. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.”

“When I was pregnant and terribly anxious because of my heart condition I would listen to “He Has His Hands On You”. I also continually return to Keeping My Mind, Promise Keeper, Draw Nigh, and Breathe Into Me O Lord, from the Spirit of David album.”

 

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for a number of days my freshman year in college. Some days I couldn’t even muster a prayer. What. a. GOD!”

“Speechless by Israel. Mannnnn”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when my water broke after just 25 weeks of pregnancy with the twins and the neonatologist came by to tell me what I can expect for them (bleeding on the brain, seizures, death, nothing good!) [they’re 4, now, btw, alive and completely healthy].”

“When I was tied up and gang raped, not supported, feeling worthless.”

“When reflecting on the miscarriage of my first child…”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for the four days between my doctor finding a lump and the negative mammogram results.”

“…this was on repeat when my life was completely broken…spiritually, mentally and emotionally and I just couldn’t turn anywhere else.” [1/3]

“But…AFTER THIS….” [2/3]

“And my favorite Andrae Crouch” [3/3]

This I’ve been meditating on for the last month. It’s completely repetitive (lol) but it was exactly what I needed.” [below is the version sent to me and a shorter version; both are great!]

“When I started to fight back against depression on a spiritual&practical aspect when the enemy tried to convince me it was too dark to pray Already Getting Better by William Murphy got me through those rough counseling sessions”

“When God gave me the strength to let go of the guilt of my past Daryl Coley “He’s Preparing Me” helped me understand that the assignment never changed ! God was preparing me the entire time”

“When I thought that because of my depression God finally gave up on me and stop speaking to me Marvin Sapp’s Speak to my heart and his rendition of “I Come to the Garden Alone” became my daily prayers”

“Reflecting on my last suicide attempt, i look back and remember the pain that had brought me to that point. now diminished greatly on most days, that pain almost rendered me unavailable, incapable, feeling unworthy to worship my creator. i truly could see no other way, no hope, no love, rejection , scorn, contempt, guilt……..i just simply could not have morning come one more day. And as my body fell to the ground, i looked into my husband’s eyes. he was afraid. i’ve never seen that look on his face again and i pray i never will. the vomiting, the ambulance ride, the hospital band that read my name but reminded me that i failed yet again. the anger for having to pick myself up and try to live one more time. i didn’t have a song then. didn’t have much of anything come to think of it. But i did have God’s love. Today, i am still amazed by just how much he loves ME.”

“‘Withholding nothing Melody’ more recently has been blessing me EARLY in the morning”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“The day before I was to share a very personal testimony, I had the thought, ‘I feel that urge to withhold some things,’ and within a few seconds, I saw a friend tweet, ‘Withholding Nothing.’ I felt God’s peace as I honored Him by speaking truth.”

“Can this be on the life soundtrack list? It’s just… so…relevant. to like, everything.”

I was truly, truly honored to share this day reflecting and worshiping with those who shared. I heard familiar echoes of overwhelming Love telling of a God who reaches into impossibly bleak situations and makes all things new. I hope you’re blessed by this playlist! All of the songs are compiled into a single Youtube playlist HERE.

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Wounds Of The Spirit

The reality is: some wounds we may live with until Christ returns, and He wants us to continue crying out to Him, ANYHOW, with absolute faith that He’ll answer (Luke 18:1-8) and that whatever His answer, it’s for our good (Romans 8:28)! I pray you all are blessed by this quote: Wounds Of The Spirit.

There are wounds of the spirit which never close and are intended in God’s mercy to bring us nearer to Him, and to prevent us leaving Him by their very perpetuity. Such wounds then may almost be taken as a pledge, or at least as a ground for a humble trust, that God will give us the great gift of perseverance to the end. This is how I comfort myself in my own great bereavements.

John Henry Newman

wounded heart

Some wounds are meant to draw our hearts closer to His.

Amazing Jesus

Amazing Jesus

Amazing Jesus

This isn’t about what you may think. Of course Jesus is amazing, but this is about what amazed Jesus. I’m thoroughly amazed by Jesus, amazed by His grace, amazed by His love, but this is about us amazing Him. As I reread the story of the centurion soldier this week, I was absolutely blown away when I got to verse 9 of Luke chapter 7. The same account is given in Matthew 8, that when Jesus saw the faith of the centurion soldier asking for His servant to be healed, Jesus was amazed! I adore what the soldier says in the preceding verse. He essentially told Jesus that if he, being a roman soldier with just some authority, could give commands and have them followed, then surely all Jesus had to do was give a command and sickness would flee. He was saying: I don’t need You present before I believe Your power, Jesus! I have enough faith in the power of Your words, faith that if You would just speak from there, Jesus, Your word will not return to you void but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent (Isaiah 55:11). This reminds me of the following Robert Murray McCheyne quote we have on our living room wall:

If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room,

I would not fear a million enemies.

Yet, distance makes no difference.

He is praying for me.

We need to get to this place of trusting God’s Word ~ over our fears, over our “facts,” over our five senses, even. We have an amazing Jesus doing amazing things, like ever-living to intercede for us (despite the distance), and yet, this same Jesus is amazed at OUR faith. I studied further and only found two instances wherein the bible states Jesus was amazed, both in reference to our faith. Once was depth of faith, shown by the centurion soldier, the other was lack of faith, specifically, unbelief demonstrated by people of His hometown to the point that He was unable to perform miracles (yet, He still healed). A friend also had me shouting that their unbelief couldn’t even override His healing hands, but I’ll leave that where it is for now.

All I know is that I’m no longer satisfied with my faith until it amazes an amazing God. I have no interest in my words or actions amazing anyone; I want my faith to amaze Jesus. You have an amazing Jesus and you’re capable of amazing Jesus with your faith. Amaze Him, not with your lack of faith, but with your depth of faith. If our faith can amaze Jesus, let’s start amazing Jesus!

Amazing Faith Amazes Jesus

Amazing Faith Amazes Jesus

The Glory of It All

Okay, so first, first, FIRST, watch this video clip! It’ll only take 2 1/2 minutes of your life (unless you watch it a few times, like I did, with a big grin each time). But watch it first before reading on, or you won’t get the next two paragraphs.

I watched this video and couldn’t help but draw the parallel of how God is always working on us, and here we are on the sidelines, brows furrowed, not even seeing the beauty He’s creating. I mean, even Anderson Cooper was flabbergasted. He didn’t even realize that the painting being created in front of him was a spitting image of himself.

I’d dare say that too often, we also miss the beauty of God. We’re so pigeonholed into viewing Him in just one way, that we totally miss the glory of it all. But, then there’s the reveal. I thank God for those revealing moments. I thank Him for those moments of recognizing even a glimpse of His glory. He Hideth My Soul is one of my favorite hymns because the image of God hiding me, gently covering me, and still revealing a glimpse of Himself to me has been so real in my life (Exodus 33:18-23). Moses asked God to show him His glory after growing in intimacy with God and desiring more of Him. I asked God to reveal Himself for other reasons. I was fed up with a God who seemed so good on paper, yet also seemed so absent in my pain. Yet, God’s grace surely abounded much more than my sin; He obliged, and showed me a glimpse of His working in my life…a glimpse of His holding me, protecting me, restoring me. As the song in this last video indicates, I’ll never be the same. The song is, “The Glory of it All” by David Crowder Band. Again, this 2-minute video below before the concluding sentences underneath.

I”ve watched this video a few times, just enjoying the song, art, and worshiping God. But after the first reveal, you can easily discern what’s being painted when watching it again. Just so, I can more easily discern God’s hand in my life, and others’ lives, even. It’s beautiful to watch, and I’m committed not to miss the glory of it all as God proceeds with His process.

Glimpses of glory from the cleft of a rock

But, It Doesn’t Look Good

This looks good…it’s also plastic.

I absolutely love to cook. I have more recipes than time, but when I finally get some free time and a few ingredients, you can find me in the kitchen. Anyone else who cooks knows that quite often, the finished product looks a bit more “home-made” than the restaurant-quality recipe picture. This was the case when I first attempted a brand new dessert. The pictured pie appeared an amazing golden color, but my finished product was more of a muddy brown. Still, after all of the hard work, I had to give it a taste. To my surprise, it was one of THE best desserts I’ve made, yet!

I thought of how this relates to our walk with God. Christianity, at the outset, does not seem very appealing. As followers of God, we are told such things as: rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3), count it all joy when we meet trials (James 1:2), in this world we will have tribulation (John 16:33), blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10). Just looking at the outside, without ever experiencing it, being a Christian doesn’t look so good. However, I believe there is an excellent reason for this.

After years of trying to make picture-perfect recipes, I learned that many of the items pictured in magazines are nothing more than plastic molds, painted with vibrant colors, and polished to a high-gloss finish. The reason for this is that food is not very photogenic; meaning, it may look good to the naked eye, but not on camera. Meanwhile, my dessert, with the home-made look, was not only edible, it was delicious. This reminds me of the age-old adage, “All that glitters is not gold,” and I would submit that the opposite is also true: gold does not always glitter. I think God wants us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). He knows that we can be easily swayed by things that look good, but are no more filling or nourishing than polished plastic. My dessert did not have to look as good as the picture, but it tasted even better than I’d hoped. Likewise, Christianity doesn’t have to LOOK good because we serve a God who IS good (James 1:17; Psalm 107:1; Numbers 1:7; Psalm 145:9; Psalm 119:68; Psalm 31:19; Luke 18:19; Lamentations 3:25; Jeremiah 33:11).

Preparing for the Storm

He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him.

Have you ever watched people prepare for an impending hurricane? If you live near coastal regions prone to such destructive weather, you are probably all too familiar with storm preparation. In fact, you have probably already weathered some storms and learned from your experiences. Some time ago, my daughter experienced a medical emergency that reminded me of how important it is to prepare for upcoming storms, even if we have successfully braved the tempests of the past.

When she was about 18 months old, my daughter had her first febrile seizure. This is a seizure due to a spiking temperature. I can say with confidence that I felt the Holy Spirit guide me to immediately rush her into the sink to cool her off. He calmed me as fears arose due to her limited responsiveness following her seizure. When my daughter was almost two, she again experienced a spike in her body temperature due to an ear infection, and again, she had a seizure. This time, I didn’t feel God’s presence as keenly as I did before. I didn’t hear His voice calming me as I did before. Instead, I felt distinctly alone, and this time, all I heard was deafening silence.

There was very little time to think, but I immediately began praying over my daughter and telling her she would be okay. I rushed her to the bathroom and lay her flat in the tub, cooling her with the running water. Those ten minutes felt like an eternity. As I prayed over my daughter and begged God to heal her and spare her life, I remember doubts creeping in. As her lips turned blue, I remember thinking, “There’s nothing I can do,” but that was far from true! I remembered God’s word tells us the prayer of faith will save the sick (James 5:15). True to His word, God’s Holy Spirit brought back to my remembrance the scriptures I needed to recall at just the right time (John 14:26). Thus, I continued to pray, in faith, for my daughter’s healing and protection, and I continued to tell her she would be okay.

The entire ordeal taught me the importance of hiding God’s word in my heart (Psalm 119:11) and being prepared before the storm hits. In the midst of the storm, there is very little time to think, very little time to grab your bible, and it is hardly the time to start learning to pray in faith. We can be sure the storms are coming, for God’s word declares that in this world we will have tribulation and He is a shelter in the storm (John 16:33; Isaiah 25:4). His word also tells us that when we hear His words and put them into practice, we are like a wise man who built his house on the rock, and like that wise man, we have to have that firm foundation in God’s word before the storms arise (Matthew 7:24-26).

Study to show yourself approved ~~~~~ + ~~~~~ Hide God’s Word in your heart

Further Out to Sea

Amidst the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, this week was marked by stories of both suffering and survival. Among the devastation and ruins I’ve witnessed determination and resilience, proving Helen Keller’s words to be true:

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

Like many of you, my friends and I have been discussing the storm and its aftermath. Last night, a friend recounted a news story with such spiritual implications it’s gripped me throughout the day. She said that as Hurricane Sandy approached, a cruise ship was forced to go further out to sea and battle waves as high as 35 feet. I think the instinctual question is, “Why wouldn’t they just head to shore?” I’m sure the answer is as simple as ports closing, and going further out to sea was definitely a more viable option when you consider the alternative – the cruise ship being battered by Sandy and forced to run aground.

Yet, I somehow think if I were on that ship, I’d have prayed both for safety and to get back to shore, A.S.A.P! But, the captain knew what he was doing and knew the best and safest place for the ship and its passengers was further out at sea. So often we pray such conflicting prayers, asking God to save our souls but shunning His method of salvation; requesting financial prosperity but refusing to invest sacrificially to build wealth; claiming we want to be a light in darkness but questioning God’s love when we find ourselves in life’s dark places. I wholeheartedly believe this is why Romans 8:26 reminds us “…we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Thank God for taking our confounded foolishness and transforming it into what it ought to be.

This reminds me of questions David Franklin of Let’s Pray Live recently posed on Twitter: “How does God respond to prayer? Do some prayers go unanswered? Or are all prayers answered in some way?” My response was essentially this: ALL prayers are answered in SOME way, we just need to remember that the Holy Spirit’s prayers are better than ours. The Captain Himself is praying for us, and He knows what He’s doing!

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than your ways and [His] thoughts than your thoughts.”

~Isaiah 55:9

Mark Batterson pointed out that the farthest observable object in our universe is over 13 BILLION light years away from earth. God is saying THAT’S how disparate His thoughts are from our thoughts. I thank God that when I plead for trials to end, He knows how much further things need to go to perfect His peace in my life. In other words, I THANK GOD I’m not the captain! I thank God that when I beg Him to take me back to shore, He knows what’s best for me is to be further out to sea.

Broken for His Purpose

I was in a chat app with a few brilliant, beautiful souls with whom I shared what God has again been reminding me of lately: It probably seemed like forever between the time Joseph proclaimed the truths of his dream and when it finally came to pass. He found himself in a pit, was sold into slavery, and no doubt praised God for his time in Potiphar’s house. Maybe he even thought he was on the heels of realizing that dream, but then found himself wrongfully accused and imprisoned. He even had to watch as others were freed before him. But ultimately, God’s vision is for HIS appointed time, and if GOD says it, it WILL come to pass (Habakkuk 2:3)!

One awesome chat member questioned how we “Josephs” of today can avoid such perilous lessons and why God can’t just trust us without such hefty trials. My response was this: I don’t believe there’s ONE human being so trustworthy. God’s Word warns us that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)? To address our heart condition, the Word declares that silver is refined in the fire, but God uses the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10). However, assuming some of us are so upright that we would remain chaste without chastening, have we considered that our trials may be solely for the purpose of meeting someone else in the depth of their pain, used solely for the purpose of bringing someone else to Christ, solely for the purpose of bringing HIM glory? Maybe some things we go through JUST so that we can comfort others with the same comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted (2 Corinthians 1:4). As Pastor Burden recently illuminated for me, God cares more about His eternal purposes than your immediate deliverance. Sometimes what you’re going through is because God is looking for an occasion with someone (as He was with the Philistines through Samson; Judges 14:1-4).

Later I received a Words with Friends game board from a wonderful lady who thought I was someone who helped her after a life-changing car accident 7 years ago. The accident left her with numerous broken bones, bionic prostheses, and enduring pain from traumatic nerve damage. At the end of the day, her testimony is that she’s had an opportunity to be a witness of God’s sustaining power in places she’d have never been if God didn’t see fit to break her for His purpose. Her hospital roommate accepted Christ into her life before dying, and while she wishes she were still able to ski, but can’t because of the accident, she swims instead and has worshiped and prayed poolside with Christians, Jews, Muslims, you name it! How would they have known, if she had not been sent, if God had not seen fit to break her for His purposes (Romans 10:14)?

To sum things up, when you find yourself wondering, “Why me?” or “Why this?” Consider the beauty of being broken for His glory! I don’t know what my new friend’s body must be like, given the crushed bones and mangled nerves, but I do know others are grateful for her beautiful feet, which are precious because she’s carrying the gospel wherever she goes.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

~Romans 10:15

HIS purpose for your life may bring pain, but will remove stain.

HIS purpose for your life may bring pain, but will remove stain.