Each year, God willing, we reach the day of our birth and for me that day is today.
Some people don’t feel that their birthday is important. They tend to think that it’s just another day and why should they take the time to celebrate. And honestly there is nothing wrong if that how you feel; however…I’m not that type of person. If I’m honest around this time of year I tend to become a little more introverted than usual which my friends and family will tell you that can be very dangerous for me. But it can also be a good thing for me because it gives me a chance reflect on the year I’ve had.
So let me reflect.
The biggest thing for me during my year was that I branched out and took steps to become more consistent in my writing and one of the things I’ve done to walk that road was to attend a writing conference in July. CAN YOU SAY NERVOUS? So nervous in fact that I called my mom (yes I’m a mama’s girl) from my car in the parking lot of the where the conference was held and cried about my fear of how things would go. As always she had the words of wisdom and I was able to meet people with similar goals.
I’ve also allowed myself to get out of my comfort zone and take the time to develop new friendships. Some friendships were started while shopping on a Friday night. Others were started while attending a women’s conference. Is it easy? Is it something that comes natural for me? The answer is no on both counts but I am so much more grateful to God for His grace in walking this journey with me.
In addition to the writer’s conference this summer I attended a Christian concert with my sister-in-law in June. We bonded, we sang, we danced, we praised God. At the end of the concert we were told how much we blessed some of the other concert goers because we were inhibited…not usually something I would hear about myself in public but I’ve decided that I will enjoy my life and my life is about the Lord.
So as I turn the corner on another year I look forward to what this year brings. More concerts. Another writer’s conference. More connecting with new friends. And most importantly more walking in faith.
Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up and immediately the fever left her. And she served them. (Mark 1:29-31)
An unassuming passage and to be honest, one I haven’t read in a long time but it’s a verse that to has so much depth and speaks to how we should respond when Jesus heals us.
The bible doesn’t say how long Simon’s mother-in-law was sick. It could have been days, months, weeks, even hours but what the bible does say is that they immediately told Jesus about the sickness. Why? because they knew he was the only one that could solve their problem. I wonder what would happen if we immediately told Jesus about our problems. How much time would be save if we didn’t spend it worrying about things out of our control?
And then after God heals us how many of us immediately get up and serve Him or others? Most of the time we think that the healing we received is just for us but it’s not. Our healing is for others and for the glory of God. Simon’s mother can be a great example for us. She didn’t get up say “thanks” and then go about her business; she got up and showed her appreciation by doing what God tells us to do – serve Him by serving others.
So as we enter the holiday season when so much emphasis is put on what we can buy let’s take a page out of Mark’s gospel and shift the emphasis onto who we can serve.
Psalm 137 was written when the nation of Israel was in captivity in Babylon where they were asked to sing a song-a song they used to sing in Zion. It was an opportunity to sing about the goodness of God. To sing about how God opened the waters so they could walk on dry land. To sing about how their clothes & shoes didn’t wear out during their 40 years in the wilderness. But did they sing? No. They said “how can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”The tendency is to be surprised that they didn’t sing but I really shouldn’t be because I’ve been there.
My foreign land wasn’t Babylon but it has been depression, fornication, the loss of a job. It’s been the suicide of my father. The loss of some of my aunts and uncles. And quite recently and more often than I would like it’s been my finances. Admittedly during these times I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t sing about how God kept me when I made the decision to go home with someone after the club. Or when I was walking home with my friends down busy streets at 10 or 11 o’clock at night.
As I’ve gotten older and grown in my walk with God I know that no matter what the situation it’s important to remember how God has kept you. Why? Because remembering will help bring you out of your situation. There are going to be times when we stumble along our walk and those memories of God’s grace & mercy will cause us to repent, pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. And our song isn’t just for us. How many non-believers became believers because of your song?
Our song is our testimony. A testimony that is either verbally sung or played in how we live. The nation of Israel didn’t sing their song in a foreign land. Will you?
A few weeks ago my Facebook history showed me a post where I talked about how grateful I was to be able to talk to my mom and how she’s always there for me when I need her. I honestly don’t remember what we talked about but I can guarantee you that the conversation involved the name of Jesus. Why Jesus? Because calling on His name changes everything.
I know what you’re thinking, how can He possibly change everything? Because He’s God that’s how. Granted it may not look like how we think it should look like. But He will change it. He may not move you from that horrible job but He can change your perspective on the job. Even in our grief Jesus can help us find peace and comfort.
I don’t know what you are going through only God knows but I just wanted to let you know that Jesus cares. He cares about your hurts. He cares about your sorrows. He cares about your tears, your joys, your triumphs. He cares…about you.
I have recently started watching a Youtube channel, Ashley Empowers and I must say that I am so glad that I did. One of the series she has on her channel is called Dating With Purpose. She sits down with married couples and asks them about their relationship, how they dated with marriage in mind and how they kept their relationship pure leading up to their wedding. The first video wasn’t her interviewing a married couple but a mother and daughter speaking about their particular relationships with their husbands. I was immediately hooked and as I watched video after video I realized that they all had one thing in common – boundaries. Boundaries for them personally and for them as a couple. Those boundaries are what helped them remember what they were striving for when faced with the temptation to have sex.
I know the consequences of giving in to that temptation. You can feel disconnected from God and start thinking that you’re not good enough. That because you’ve fallen no man is going to want to be with you. That you might as well settle for something less because desiring and living for something more is too hard.
Well that’s not entirely true. Yes it’s difficult to hold onto your standards but it’s so worth it. People may think you’re crazy. People may tell you that it’s not normal to wait. People may say that as a single person you should be living it up but here’s the thing-“people” aren’t the one’s living your life and they aren’t the ones who gave you life in the first place. Holding onto your desire to live a life free of sexual sin starts long before you get into a relationship with someone and it’s not just refraining from sex.
As with a lot of things in our life, sexual desire starts in our minds. That’s why God’s word tells us to pay attention to what we hear and see. Whatever we see or hear goes into our minds and beings to shape our thoughts. If we are constantly exposing ourselves to sexually explicit music, movies, t.v. shows or books it becomes harder and harder to stay sexually pure. I’m not saying this because I’ve heard it somewhere I’m saying this out of experience.
The other day I was listening to a song my Mint Condition and it brought be right back to my first apartment. I was listening to the song as the person I’d finished having sex with was getting dressed to go back to his house. I got my first apartment in my early twenties but all these years later I’m immediately pulled back into that scene just because of the memory that song evokes. And believe me when I tell you that’s just a sample of the books, music or movies I’ve read, heard or watched that hold some memory for me.
I want my body to a be a living sacrifice for God and the only way for me to do that is to deny my flesh and submit to the will of God. The more I’m able to do this while I’m single the more I’ll be able to do this when I’m married.
For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
I almost fell into the trap. You know the one where you start looking at things and being to think that what you have isn’t enough. The one that tempts you into making purchases you can’t afford. Like looking into moving out of the home that you love because you want an updated bathroom or a pantry in the kitchen. Really, Melissa? Moving for a pantry? Well, it has crossed my mind but thankfully over the last few days I’ve come to my senses.
I have been in my home for 6 years now and I started to think that I’d outgrown the nearly 1500 square feet of my one level town home. I know, I know sound’s silly right? How could little old me outgrow 1500 square feet? Well, I really haven’t outgrown my home I was just looking at it with the wrong eyes. After 6 years I became complacent and I started to take everything for granted. I remember when I started my house hunting venture. I wasn’t to particular on location, except I didn’t want to be in Brooklyn Park (it takes my mother to talk about that considering that’s where I ended up) but I did have some things I absolutely had to have and God answered that prayer.
So why exactly have I begun to think my God answered home is no longer good enough? Because once again I wasn’t really looking at my home. I stopped seeing the best and started seeing the negative and worse I started to complain about the negative. No I don’t have a pantry but guess what I have more than enough space especially if I rearrange some things in my kitchen (again it takes my mom to talk about my storage container cabinet).
God wants us to think on the good things about life-not that we should live in a rose-colored world but we also shouldn’t dwell on the imperfections of life. This doesn’t just apply to homes but to other aspects like relationships, jobs, finances. Too many times we make decisions based on the surface instead of digging deeper and I for one have decided to try to look at things in a different light.
I stumbled across this show on PBS called The Widower and the basic premise is that this man meets, marries and kills or attempts to kill his wives. He first gains their trust by preying on their sympathies and then slowly begins to enact his plan of killing them. He tells one woman that he’s going through chemotherapy. He shaves his head and gives himself needle marks to make the lie more convincing and it got me thinking about how far people will go to deceive others and even themselves.
We live in a world where it’s easy to gain knowledge of people through social media, internet searches and background checks yet with all this technology there are many, many stories of people still getting scammed. Why? Because at the heart of it all we still want to believe what we want to believe. Think about the times when something was presented to you and everyone else could see how it wasn’t good for you. They tried talking to you. They tried texting you. They tried emailing you. They tried sending smoke signals to let you know you shouldn’t go down the path you were headed but nothing they said or did changed your mind.
During those times the already bad decision becomes compounded by even more bad decisions. Our judgment is off and we begin to slip further and further away from the person that we used to be. Sometimes the descent is only for a short while and sometimes it can be for years and years but however long the descent it’s never too far that we can’t be brought back.
Eve was deceived by the snake in the garden and even though God had to remove both her and Adam He still wanted to maintain a relationship with them. David was deceived by lust and even though he lost his first child with Bathsheba God still allowed his bloodline to be the link to Jesus. Judas was deceived by greed but even though Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed He still humbled himself, washed Judas’s feet, picked up His cross, walked up to Calvary where He was crucified for Judas’s sins…where He was crucified for my sins…where He was crucified for your sins…where He was crucified for the world’s sins.
Jesus’s atonement on the cross was for everyone. He’s just waiting for us to believe. Believe not lies but the truth. What do you believe?