Let’s Have a Parade!

Wow, who doesn’t like parades? 

When I think of a parade I think of the many parts it contains.  The floats, the bands, the queens riding in cars, the horses, the clowns; so many parts.  And what are your thoughts of, when you go to a parade?  Happy thoughts.  It is a time to celebrate!  No one is sad at a parade.  This is what comes to my mind, when I think of a parade.  

God told me “when you go through your valley celebrate in this manner.”

So I asked myself,  how can I experience this when I go through trials?  When what I go through,  my thinking is,  “when will this be over?”   But I realize that when God makes a declaration to me it is meant to be acted upon.  My first step was to find out what it meant to be a part of a parade and what happens at a parade. 

As I shared above, these were the thoughts that came to my mind.  I allowed the Lord to show me the process in how this was to be practiced in my everyday life experiences filled with stress. 

Example: 

  • When we are travailing over a loved one’s salvation, or
  • A healing for a spouse, or
  • A child or dear friend that is very ill, or
  • When we are waiting for a job to present itself and you only have enough food for one more day.

I asked the Lord “where is the parade meant to be in these times?”  

But God revealed to my heart that within my own self the parade will never happen.   He showed me that there comes a time in our lives when we need to realize that only through His faith can we enter into such a time of celebration.  We can have great hope in time of difficulty when we remember that God knows our frailty.  (Psalms 103:14: For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust!).

In Romans 8:28 it says that the good that God accomplishes in our lives is our maturity in Christ and, ultimately, God’s glory. I realized that the outcome is ours . . . depending on where we put our Faith.  When you know your purpose, your focus cannot be shaken. 

Friends, when we go through every day trails, and we do, remember that God never promised us that we would not under go problems.  I realize that being here on this earth there will be valleys every day that we must go through.  Sometimes I look at others and say to God, “Why is their life so easy, God?  Why are they so favored to be able to smile and dance in you?” 

Duet 30:15:  Today I’m giving you a choice.  You can have life and success.  Or you can have death and harm.  I’m commanding you today to love the LORD your God. 

It is so plain to me —  it is an act of my will.  I can choose faith and trust, or I can continue to live in fear and maybe’s

God continually, through the His word, talks about joy.  He blessed the tribe of Zebulun,  “Be filled with joy when you go out.  Issachar, be joyful in your tents.  God states, the joy of the Lord is my strength.” 

I say, “either God is God in my life or he is not.”  I am experiencing this right now.  Sometimes it is a very, very small parade and other times it is a full-scaled parade with all the frills. I have to tell myself that my God is in control of my life.  Each day we are honest with ourselves, we know that there are situations that try our very soul.  Situations that make tears fill our eyes and our hearts break.  These are the very trails and valleys that we can cry out to God and truly say “I don’t understand one thing about this, NOT one thing.”  But, “I will fear no evil.”  Sometimes I have to grab ahold of myself and say  “you can’t do this, so the only avenue you have left  is to have that parade in My God.” 

So I let those tears fall and I raise my hands to God and say “this will not slay me, I will live my life to the GLORY OF God.”  And you know what?  God comes. He really does!  He comes to the parade and puts me in the Grand Marshall’s car!   It is your parade because when you give God the Glory . . . he will be the lifter of your head and he will walk with you through these questionable times.  There will be a “peace that surpasses all understanding.”

So let us have the parade.!

Blessings

Erme

Finding Peace after my Divorce

Divorce is painful.  Nothing about it will quickly fade away. It is something that has to be worked through. 

Forgiveness  is one of the most powerful experiences a man or woman will undergo after a painful divorce.  If the act of forgiveness is not applied, then the danger of the bitterness and the destruction of the divorce will remain. 

The choice is given to us clearly through the Word of God concerning forgiveness, and the benefits from chosing forgiveness is for our healing.  I read these statements and I learned to apply them in my divorce to my ex-husband, and the benefits affected other areas of my life:   “Forgiveness does involve a literal forgetting.  Forgiving  involves remembering graciously.  Remembering that harboring forgiveness comes at an emotional and a physiological cost.  Cultivating forgiveness may cut these costs.”  (source unknown)

Forgiveness brings much to our life.

It frees us from the emotional weight of the pain.  It doesn’t take the pain away,  but it releases the hold those emotions continue to have in our heart.  Holding on to bitterness too tightly causes a range of negative emotions, and even causes physical stress to a person.

Forgiveness gives an earthly picture of grace.  Most of the time there is no earthly or rational reason to forgive.  Forgiveness gives something that is mostly underserved.  What an awesome picture of God’s grace!

It helps you sleep better at night.  The emotional weight of an injury is often heavier than the actual injury and takes longer to heal.  When we forgive one another, it feels as though pressure is released from one’s shoulders.  Forgiving people takes less stress and makes more joy, regardless of the pain in our life. 

The subject of offering forgiveness causes some people to cringe.  It feels like a risk too big to take.  When you forgive, it feels like you are inviting further injury.  Forgiveness can be abused. 

I wonder if Christ ever feels likewise?

I write this insight realizing I will  never be able to state that I  have arrived.  It will always be a continual surrender to Christ’s will, his love, and his direction.  But the knowledge that freedom, forgiveness and restoration brings has its own satisfaction:  a desire in my heart to never stop the journey. 

What does it mean?  It means giving up my hate towards that person for all the wrongs they inflicted on me and the children.  Choosing to forgive is never an act of the will, because we know that if the choice were ours it would never happen.  I realize it becomes an act of the will once we have surrendered it to God, and as we allow the healing process to begin.  Only then do we begin to understand the AWESOME HEALING POWER of God.  Once we have allowed God to truly cleanse us, we experience an actual act of the will.  “Why?” you ask.  Because our will becomes his will for our lives.  We become tubular.  (This will be explained next blog).

Divorce is a bitter action between two people who vowed until death do us part.  But though it is tragic and devastating, our journey goes on.  The path becomes single again and sometimes very lonely because of our unanswered questions and our hurt.   The only hope we have to continue successfully is through our forgiving the offender.

Life does go on, but it is up to you as to how you want to demonstrate to your children that forgiveness is one of the keys to a life of happiness in Christ —  no matter what life may present. 

I chose to forgive.  My life with my ex-husband is being able to see him and to see a “dear friend.”  I could have chosen to continue to resent and hate him.  But my satisfaction came one day when I heard my 33-year-old daughter telling her close friends that, “I am able to forgive because what I saw in my mother when she divorced my father.”  She continued to state that, “They are good friends.  They can sit and have a cup of coffee and a good conversation together.”  It was very hard but ONLY through Christ can this be possible. 

 But, oh the joy that comes when you are fully aware that you have arrived at a place of green pastures where there used to be only hate and vengeance.  It takes commitment and obedience to yourself  that you are going to make it.  Vowing that you are going to create an attitude that states, “I am beyond what I feel inside me and what I remember in the past, and I set my heart to heal.”  Even when everything inside you is saying, “my life was destroyed by this divorce.”   You need to take that all to God and let him lead you, sometimes blindly, through your deliverance of the divorce; but the wonderful outcome will be FREEDOM IN CHRIST!!!

Blessings,

Erme

Run With Your Heart Wide Open

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.  Psalms 119:32

The Lord has set my heart free to run in him.  I feel like I am running in the “breezes” of the Lord.  It was a position in life I was not able to obtain for such a long time.  Because of the negative choices I had continually made, it created in me a heart of fear.  I always longed to be able to feel that freedom in my God.  I longed to be able to experience running, and standing, with confidence in the Lord.

I have learned that the only thing separating me from that relationship with God was my lack of confidence in knowing that God loved me with a furious love.  When I discovered that truth, I fell right back in love, and true freedom exploded in my heart. To this day I will never be able to put it into words, but I do remember that God did tell me, “Now go and run with your heart wide open.”

I have learned that God is waiting with wide and open arms for all of us to approach him.  And what is it that God is waiting for?  Intimate fellowship, intimate prayer and communication, intimate dialogue and conversations about anything and everything, and the sharing of our most personal, private, and secret thoughts. I learned that God is looking for seekers!  God is looking for those who are not afraid to try to establish a personal, on-fire, passionate, intense, and willing to tell-all and share-all love relationship  with him.  God is looking for a maximum intense kind of personal relationship with no holds barred.  He is looking for on-fire and passionate people who will try to tear into him; people who will try to take hold of Him.  He seeks those who will try to understand Him and His ways.

“For it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.  Hosea 10:12

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”  Psalms 42:1

A professional athlete will give it his best and give his all every time he goes out to compete in an event.  God wants us all to show the same amount of intensity in our personal relationship with Him and in our own personal seeking of Him and all of His ways.  Just to emphasize the importance: God want us to be seeking him, take hold of him.  He wants us to seek him with maximum effort and maximum intensity.

I believe that seeking after the Lord  and establishing a good, deep, intimate, personal relationship with Him is all part of a sanctification process.  Something that God wants to do with each of us.

When I stop to think of the kind of God we are dealing with, the God of the entire universe, I see a best friend that will never harm you, never hurt you, mistreat you, lie to you, leave you, or forsake you.

Finding this out to be true in my own life is changing me.   I do not need to worry about myself because God will take care of me.  I am experiencing that to run with “My heart open wide” is  exciting.  Running in his instructions for my life, and in his righteousness, is freeing, it is life!  I see myself like a picture I saw on my Facebook that shows a little dog running (see photo above).  The quote was “run like someone left the door open”  and in my life, I am finding that someone left the door open.  That someone is God.  He left the door of my heart open and I am running straight into his arms. Then, he turns me around and says to me, “Now go run with your heart wide open with my blessing and peace.”  Love like you mean it, live like you mean it.  Wow….I am blown away every time I am awake, or asleep, because of the God to whom I declare my allegiance!

Am I experiencing life to the fullest?  My answer is a mighty “YES” because of the this God I serve who “loves with his heart wide open.”

Blessings,

Erme

When We Go Through Tough Times

source: microsoft photostock

I Corinthians chapter 10, verse 13 states, “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But, God keeps his promises, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm at the time you are put to the test.  He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.”   This verse states  two things to me.  It says that God is in control — he will not allow me to be tested beyond my power to remain in him.  It also states that God will give me strength to endure it.  This is good news! I have found that the worse thing I can say to myself during difficult times is, “I can’t cope because I feel hopeless.”  The bible tells me to challenge that type of thinking no matter how difficult things get. 

Nowhere in the bible does it state we will be spared of discomfort.  John chapter 17, verse 15 states, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the evil one.”  Wow…what does that mean?  It states that God is in control.  He knows how much I can endure.  He will not let me be tested beyond my power to remain firm.  He also tells me he will give me the strength to endure it. 

I need to watch my attitude.  If I base my attitude on how to get through difficult times on 1 Corinthians, 10 verse 13,  I would take the attitude that, “God has given me this test, so I just want to through it as quickly as I can and get going.”

But, I read in James 1, verse 2 -4 that he has presented to me the attitude I should be adopting.  “Consider it a sheer joy, friends when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed , not defiant in any way.”  I learned that my attitude had to change.  My thinking of difficulties as a curse is to be avoided.  The saying, “Don’t get out of anything prematurely,” has really made a huge impact on me; on how I think about the whole process of difficulties.  God has shown me he wants to use every difficulty I go through to develop my faith. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  When I am going through difficulties, I think they will surely destroy me, and I cannot understand why I am going through them.  But this verse tells me to trust and  rely on God. 

“We need to trust in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.”

After reading this verse (Romans 8:28) I realize that God knows his plans for me and what he is doing is for my good.  I don’t have to understand everything, I need to trust him like a child trusts his Father.  God shows me that I need to stop complaining to others, I need to tell them that God is giving me strength and his word to go through the difficulty, and to grow in my trust and faith in him.

Philippians 4:8 tells me to stop worrying about what I am going through.  So I fill my mind with Praise: things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, and honorable. I then recall times when God has answered my prayers, especially the difficult times when I had to rely on God for each moment.   These are the times I know that God has been closest to me, and demonstrated his power to me.

So for me, finding verses that cause me to think, to trust God, to make a decision to accept them, and to apply them to my thoughts will make a difference in my difficult times. 

It is not easy to change the way I think and act, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, I believe I can make these changes in my life and to trust God when I am going through those difficult times.

Blessings,

Erme

The 23rd Psalm

source: wikimediacommons.com; photostock

I memorized the 23 Psalm when I was a little girl.   It meant so much to me even then.  But, now that I am older, I realize the true meaning of this powerful Chapter known as the 23rd Psalm.  I would like to share with you what I have learned. 

He makes me lie down in green pastures

How many times have we been through stressful times when we did not know what to do?  I remember many such times.  But I heard God’s voice telling me to “lie down.”  Often, we don’t realize that we are walking in our green pastures, and we can’t see it because we don’t allow ourselves to lie down and be at peace. 

Even though I walk through the valley of death

The valley of death is just a shadow.  God is walking with us, guiding our steps out of the valley.  Keep following him and he will lead you to the mountain top where you will be able to find peace and relief.

God’s rod and staff will comfort you

Every shepherd carried a staff for the sheep and a rod for the wolves.  A rod is a symbol of authority and a staff is an instrument of support.  God gives us both.  He has power over us which means nothing, or no one person, or any situation can harm us, or take us from the love of God.  He will bring us through and support us through the valley.

He anoints our head with oil

The shepherd anointed the sheep’s head with oil for protection.  The sheep stuck their heads in holes in the fields which had serpents in them.  Because the sheep’s head was anointed with oil the serpent would strike but could not penetrate the sheep’s wool.  For us, the oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is our helper, who gives you the power to be able to go though the valleys and climb to the mountain peak.  This means we never have to walk alone, or feel like we have to do everything in our own strength, which is limited to us.  We can rely on God’s power that always is at work in us and for us.

But I must point out that the declaration, “I will fear not evil“, is what speaks to me the loudest.  Just to say it satisfies the soul, what a declaration of independence!  What a soul-stirring heralding of absolute truth.  Proof positive of the resident anointing of Faith in my heart.  To face perilous times with the firm and absolute conviction, come hell or high water, “I will fear no evil.”   The scripture states “the enemy goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”  The purpose of the roar of the lion is to paralyze his opponent; to terrorize them and to leave them  helpless in fear.  The animals that are able to stand in the face of  fear forget to run because they are terrorized by the roar of the lion.  If the devil is seeking for someone to devour there has to be someone who he cannot devour.  

I have learned the difference  that those that can be devoured and cannot be devoured is based on how we react to the roar.  When life roars at you and you react in utter terror, forgetting who you are and whose you are, forgetting what God gave to you, and you forget where God brought you from, then we become a victim for the lion’s dinner.  But if we remember whose we are and what we are and refuse to be intimated by the lion’s roar than we can evaluate where we stand and become the victor in the test.  Remember the devil thrives off of our fear just as God moves off of our Faith. 

The devil does things in our life to terrorize us.  Anytime the devil does anything against you, he will make sure you hear about it.  Because worse than the event, is the terror that rises up inside your heart because he is seeking whom he may devour.  But, our God sends us out as sheep among wolves.  I ask myself, why would God make me a sheep when he knows I have to walk among wolves?   And then,  not even allow me to fear or be in terror?   He also reminds me that he has not given me “the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.”  God says “I am the good Shepherd.”  So whenever some thing comes against you to terrorize you, or intimidate you, never forget the 23 psalm.  Because the 23 psalm is a lethal weapon in the hands of a believing sheep.  Because it has Power to deliver!

Blessings, Erme

Who’s keeping track?

Recently my husband was suited with a heart monitor to track activity and stress levels.  He was instructed to write down hourly activities such as running, nap, and watered plants, in a journal. I guess this was to detect any signs of stressful interactions in his lifestyle. I teased him occasionally about his journal entries. “What are you writing now? Is it about me?” 

I was dusting in his den the next day when I came across his journal.  I had to look! Come on, you wouldn’t want to know what was on it? Of course the entries were simple (I should have known, we live a simple, bordering on mundane, life):

  1. 10:00 am Went for walk
  2. 11:30 am  Had lunch
  3. 12:45 pm Nap
  4. 2:30 pm Went to Home Depot
  5. 4:00 pm Worked on Bathroom Shower

Yes, pretty basic.  I thought, this is good cause there’s no “discussion with wife on my eating too much salt”.  Gotta tell ya, he does tend to add salt to everything.  Probably why the doctor is having him wear the monitor.  Although, I don’t think the doctor is going to catch that by his entry.  I can see the doctor’s note, “this guy, by the results recorded,  gets excited about this lunch”!

In the following days, he would occasionally tease me back by saying, “I’m writing that down in my journal!”  I would respond, “What?  That was nothing.  Are you keeping track of my wrongs?”  I had no idea if the entry would reflect a difference in heart activity, but just the same it was a nagging thought.  What if the results showed that I was the cause of harmful heart palpitations in my hubby?  I imagined myself being called into the doctor’s office to discuss my husband’s condition.   How mortifying! 

All kidding aside, do you ever feel like, no matter what you do, some people will just not let you forget your wrong doing?  It’s like they keep a tally or record somewhere that has your name on it in bold letters.  From time to time, they bring it out to remind you of your error.  Remember when you said  this?  You thought it was in the past, gone, erased and forgiven.  It’s frustrating to say the least. 

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged”. 1 Cor. 13: 4-5  They key words are it (love)  keeps no record of being wronged.  Now, I don’t expect everyone to remember that “in love” they are to keep no record of wrongs to me or I to them.  I can remember quite vividly sometimes what wrongs I have suffered, and the injustice of them all.  And, they did not come at the hand of someone who loved me (Ouch, that hurts to admit. How can anyone not like me?).  The thing is, maybe I did wrong someone, and if I have apologized or repented in my own way (and prayed for forgiveness from the Lord) shouldn’t they forgive and forget? 

I am glad God has written that verse in His word.  I remember it when I want to bring up a wrong with my hubby or someone else.  Even if they have never asked forgiveness, I must forgive them because true love commands it.  I have asked for forgiveness many, many times for wrong thoughts or actions and each time I know God has forgiven me.  Matthew 6:14 states, “if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (NLT)  It far more valuable to me that my sins be forgiven than to hold onto a record of a wrongs towards me.  I cannot stand to have anything barring me from His presence.  In His presence, I am complete and able to live life above this chaotic world in peace. 

I urge you to forgive others, even if they do not ask you for it.  Harboring wrongs or keeping track of them only eats away at your heart and peace of mind.  There’s so much more to life than to live in the past.  Like my old Virginian pastor used to say, “you can’t drive forward by looking in the rearview mirror”!  Pray about it and leave it with Christ.  He hears you and will help you through the pain until you are walking forward once again.