Love Yourself Enough to Shine Your Light

gallon or teaspoon

We have to love ourselves. We are worth loving. We are worthy of great things. We must forgive those who pained us and learn from that pain. There is always a lesson. We need to be the love to others that we want for ourselves. We also need to be the love to ourselves that we want from others.

Life is full of lessons and at 47, I’m still learning from the past. Sometimes, we don’t learn until we are older and can come to terms with the lessons that pain has been trying to teach us. Sometimes, we never learn even when we’re old. Some people repeat the patterns of what their parents did to them, even when they know it was wrong to treat them that way. Some of us are weak and just continue the pattern while others are stronger and learn there is a better way.

Be the change in the world that you want for yourselves and for your children. Be the light in their lives, in your own life, and in the lives of all the strangers you meet. We all have a story and lessons we can teach others. There are lessons others can teach us.

We are not going to build a better future if we just repeat the patterns of bad behavior, abuse, neglect, hate, unforgiveness, resentment, disrepect and judgment. The change begins with you. The change begins with me – with each of us.

Learn from the mistakes of others and of your past. Forgive them and yourself. Move forward on a better path with the intention of helping.

I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m far from it. It’s so difficult to not judge, especially when you read the Bible and it says “this is bad,” and then in another place, it says “do not judge others.” But I’m trying. I’m trying to love – others and myself. I’m trying to love people where they’re at. I do not have to understand them or their ways and I do not have to tolerate or condone what they do, but I do believe it was the intention of God and Jesus for us to know our job is to love others as we want to be loved and to forgive as we want others to forgive us. We need to love each other as if we are that person. We are mirrors to each other. Be a good influence. Live your life the best way you know how and if you don’t know how, learn. There are so many great life teachers out there, on the internet, in books, in the Bible. Great spiritual teachers surround us – even in the laughter of a child in the grocery store – they teach us to laugh and be free, laugh with our belly and be happy, do not stress.

We must first learn to love ourselves right where we’re at, with all our weaknesses and failures and laziness and stuck in a rutness. Yes, I made up a word. I’m talking to me, too, by the way. I just want you to know you are loved. You are worthy. You do not need the approval of others to do your thang. There’s my southern draw comin’ out. BE YOU. You are the only one that can do that. There is only one of you and God needed you on the earth. That’s why he made you. Get it? You are special and unique and have gifts that others need. Get out there and share what you have.

Believe in yourself! You aren’t getting any younger. You don’t want to be 95 and wish you’d gotten off your ass when you were 50. Do it now!!  Time goes by sooooo fast. Stop waiting, because life will pass you by in the blink of an eye. I mean, look at last year or 3 years ago. How much progress have you made since then?

Thank you, Jesus

My second thank you letter in my 365 Thank You Letters project.

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My dear, sweet, loving Jesus,

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How very special you are to me! I can never thank you enough for always being close by, guiding me, along with our Father’s help. Thank y’all for the employment of God’s many angels, for all our many blessings and most of all, for saving me from my sins so that I can be with you and my family in heaven one day, hopefully far, far from now. No offense. I surely will be so very happy to see you again. I just want to be around on the earth for a while so I can spend more time with my two favorite girls, witness my daughter graduate high school, then college, then her marrying the right guy, my playing ‘Nonnie’ (otherwise known as grandma) to my grandbabe(s), witness my mom turning a happy and healthy 110+, and witness so many more blessings.

Thank you for showing up at all the right times when I needed you most. I know that was you. I felt you sit on the edge of my bed and soothe the pain in my soul. You lulled me to sleep that night. Thank you for getting me out of all those bad decisions and almost bad decisions, for loving me in spite of my many weaknesses and stupidity and anger and meanness. Thank you for your forgiveness and for going to our Father on my behalf.

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When I think of what all you went through for me (for all of us), I can’t help but cry, sweet Jesus. To go through so much torture, cruelty and torment, it physically hurts my heart and body. I wish it could have gone a different way. I wish you could have saved us from our sins without going through such pain and suffering. But you did do it. And you did it for us. Because you love us. Because you’re strong and brave and your love has more courage, strength and power than any physical abuse you could have ever experienced. I know you are healed and feel no physical pain now, but my heart still aches when I think of those six hours you spent on the cross and the torture leading up to that.

Please forgive me for my sins. Please wash me as white as snow. Wash those sins away and renew me in you, sweet Brother. I belong to you and to our Father and I always will. Please help me to be more like you, fill me with your love and compassion and friendship and kindness so that I, too, can spread that love and goodness like you did and still do. Help me to be courageous and strong in spirit. Help me to have confidence so that I can do whatever it is you and our Father wish for me to do. And fill me with your strongest faith, Jesus. You are my truest hero and I will never love anyone as much as I so deeply and truly love you!!! Thank God and YOU for your beautiful soul!!

Love forever and ever till the end of time (if there is such a thing),

Carol

 

Images courtesy of http://www.akiane.com/ and photobucket.com

The Greatest is Love

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version

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And still one of the best things I’ve ever read.

Be Kind to Each Other

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you.

– Ephesians 4:32 TLB

Where Is God? Where Did He Go?

questionDon’t misunderstand.  Many miracles have been performed in my short life so I know God has shown up.  I have much to be thankful for and I’ve been showered with blessings — my daughter, my mother, true friends, our homes, our land, the vehicles we drive, different interesting and fun jobs, the ability to work from home so I can raise my child, forgiveness, love and laughter — just to name a few.  But as many struggles take place in our lives, I suppose our faith (or lack of) is tested.

I realize we weren’t promised a rose garden.  We were warned this life wouldn’t be an easy one.  We are asked to believe in God and in Jesus and what Jesus did and still does for us.  I believe all that without question.  Miracles have transpired to cause me to believe in God.  I’ve never questioned Jesus.  I have a great love for him.  And it’s not that I don’t love God.  I do.

A friend brought up some relevant questions concerning God that have me questioning his intentions.  Actually, I had already been questioning.  While I understand we are not supposed to question God and we do not have the capability of ever understanding his reasons or intentions of why he does what, isn’t it the human condition to question when it comes to things that are so tragic and impossible to understand?  I mean, it’s in our nature to want to understand, right?

We are expected to have blind faith, to rely on God, to trust in him and not to worry.  We are not to worry about tomorrow because it’s not here yet.  But what about today?

What about the person who lost their home because they didn’t have enough money to pay their mortgage?  And they didn’t have any family they could stay with until they got back up on their feet?

What about the homeless man that’s too far away from a shelter or food pantry to eat or sleep?

What about these horrific acts of terrorism that abruptly and senselessly steal the lives of hundreds and even thousands of people (men, women, children, infants)?  How are we to make sense of this?

How are we to send our tiny innocent children to school when a crazy person might show up and change our lives forever, breaking us, tearing away pieces of our soul?  We are not supposed to live in fear because exhibiting doubt, worry and fear is to not fully trust and have faith in God?  How can we not live in fear when all this is going on around us?  Our God is bigger?  Bigger than we can understand?  Bigger than all these tragedies?

We are supposed to pray and petition God daily.  We are to put our faith and trust and reliance in him to take care of us and to answer our prayers.  All we have to do is ask and trust and believe.  That’s what the Bible tells us.  But the Bible was written by man, yes?  By several different men, in fact.  It’s been translated so many times, has it not been twisted to distort or even completely eradicate the truth?  Some words and meanings in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek (the original texts) do not even have correct English translation.  Just something to think about.

I read Matthew 7:7 (NIV) all the time:  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  As well as Matthew 21:22:  “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  And Mark 11:24:  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  While I realize when we ask God for something (and yes, I know he’s not Santa), his answer to a prayer can be no, don’t these verses say “it will be given to you?”  And I know that it’s in his time, not mine.  I’m glad he waited on some of the answers he’s delivered.  Sometimes, he’s been lightning fast to answer, which I’m also happy with, thank You, God, by the way.

What about the other stuff?  How are we to make sense of these things that make no sense?  God has a reason for everything.  I understand that.  But what are we to do with that?  How do we get out of bed in the morning when we know what could be potentially waiting just outside that door?  How do we let our children out of our sight for a moment?  Why does he wait so long to answer when we do need him right away?  Why does he perform a miracle to cause a non-believer to all the sudden believe but not do this for another?  He doesn’t give us more than we can handle?  What about the person who just committed suicide because she just couldn’t take it any longer?

At times, I’ve felt God turned his back on me.  I know deep down in my heart that it’s not true.  He’d never do that.  Even though I can be filled with bitterness, anger, resentment and blame and even scream out at him with what can be a trash mouth at times, he does not and will never turn his back on me.  I have found great comfort in this.  At other times, I feel the need to turn my back on him.  Yes, I said it.  I feel a bit of guilt admitting this but I’m just being real.  How many of you have felt the same?  And I consider myself a Christian.  I am a Christian.  I am also human and filled with human emotion and feel the need to express myself to God and to Jesus.  I know they understand my heart so I feel a little less guilt for being real.  God appreciates authenticity more than fake respect/reverence.

No, I’ve not read all of the Bible, yet, but I’m working on it.  I also know the devil can tempt you to do bad things and maybe it’s the devil tempting me to question God.  But maybe it’s also my humanness to question.

Don’t you question?

What do you believe?

How do you deal with all the struggles of daily living and all the evil that’s in the world, just outside your front door?

How do you deal with not knowing?  Not understanding?

How has your faith been tested?

And how do you stay faithful?

Do you believe it’s sinful to question God?

 

 

(Photo courtesy of mashable.com)

Moses, with the Power of God, Parted The Sea

Exodus 14 (paraphrased)

The Lord told Moses to have the Israelites camp out by the sea.  Pharoah will think they’re wandering around in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.  God said, “I will harden Pharoah’s heart, and he will pursue them.”  What do you think this means?  He forced Pharoah’s heart to be hardened?  Anyway, when the king of Egypt realized the people had fled, he changed his mind and wanted them back under his thumb.

Pharoah took 600 chariots along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them.  All Pharoah’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops overtook the Israelites as they camped by the sea.  When the Israelites saw the Egyptians approaching, they were terrified and cried out to the Lord.

They accused Moses of tricking them and bringing them to the desert to die.  They claimed to be better off where they were, serving the Egyptians than to die in the desert.  Moses told them to not be afraid, stand firm and the Lord would fight for them.  Then God asked Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?  Tell the Israelites to move on.”

He told Moses to raise his staff and stretch out his hand over the sea to divide the water so the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  How freakin’ cool would it be to have seen that?!  God said he’d harden the hearts of the Egyptians so they’d follow in after them.  Then the angel of God, who’d been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them.  The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.  Throughout the night, the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.  So cool!!  I don’t think I knew this.

Moses did as God asked and the sea was divided, the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on the left and right.  The Egyptians pursued.  During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.  He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving.  And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites!  The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”  

Then God instructed Moses to stretch his hand over the sea so that the waters would flow over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.  So he did and at daybreak the sea went back into place.  Not one of those Egyptians survived.  When the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared him and put their trust in him and in Moses, his servant.

Consecration of the Firstborn and Headed for the Red Sea

This is Reading the Bible in 365 Days (although it’ll most likely be longer) and today, it’s on Exodus 13.

Consecration of the Firstborn

God told Moses to dedicate to him every firstborn male.  The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to him, whether man or animal.  What about female if she is firstborn, I wonder?  Nope, just the first of the sons born to each.  Same as the deal with Pharoah and each firstborn son.  And then Moses told them all to commemorate the day they came out of Egypt, out of slavery and to eat nothing containing yeast.  God was giving the land to them that he swore to their forefathers and they should observe the ceremony this month.

Crossing the Sea

When Pharaoh let them go, God didn’t lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.  The Israelites went out of Egypt armed for battle.   Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath.  He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”  By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.   Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. How cool is that?  I did not know about that part.  Learning all kinds o’ stuff.

Passover

Exodus 12 (paraphrased)

The Passover

12:14-20pp — Lev 23:4-8; Nu 28:16-25; Dt 16:1-8

The Lord told to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “Tell the community of Israel that on the 10th day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.  If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor.  

The animals must be year-old males without defect, and take them from the sheep or the goats.  Take care of them until the 14th day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.  Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.  That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.

Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire–head, legs and inner parts.  Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, burn it.  Eat it with your cloak tucked into your belt, sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand.  Eat it quickly; it is the Lord’s Passover.  On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn–both men and animals–and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.  I am the Lord.

The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, no plague will touch you when I strike.  For the generations to come you shall celebrate this day as a festival to the Lord.  For 7 days you are to eat bread made without yeast.  On the 1st day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast these days must be cut off from Israel.  On the 1st day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the 7th day.  Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat–that’s all.

Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this day I brought your divisions out of Egypt.  Celebrate this day for the generations to come.  In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the 14th day until the evening of the 21st day.  For 7 days no yeast is to be found in your houses.  And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born.  Eat nothing made with yeast.  Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”

Moses called all the elders of Israel and said, “Go and get the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.  Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and both sides of the doorframe.  Not one of you shall go out of his house til morning.”  He told them what to do with the blood and why.  “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants.

When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.  And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ”  Then the people bowed down and worshiped.  The Israelites did as the Lord commanded.

At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, including the firstborn of all the livestock.  Pharaoh, all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The Exodus

During the night Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Up!  Leave my people, you and the Israelites!  Go worship.  Take your flocks and herds and go.  And bless me.”  The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country.  “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!”  So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing.

The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing.  The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.  The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth.  There were about 600,000 men on foot, besides women and children.  Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.

With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread.  The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.  Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.  At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.  Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.

Passover Restrictions

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover:  No foreigner is to eat of it.  Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it.  It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house.  Do not break any of the bones.

The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.  An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land.  No uncircumcised male may eat of it.  The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.”  All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.  And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

Focus on the Positive

“Finally…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8 NIV

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Here, the Lord is suggesting we focus on the good, the better side to things.  We are not to dwell on the negative, to judge others harshly as if we are perfect because we are not.  None of us are.  We need to see the good in others, the positive aspects to life, the truth, what’s right, notice beauty all around us, those who work hard to get where they are, as long as they get there respectably and not trample others on the way to where they’re going.  So even God is telling us to focus on the positive.

Do you think it means something else?  Something different?  Please add to the conversation in the comments below.  We want to hear from YOU.  😉

Plague on the Firstborn

We are studying Exodus 11.

The Plague on the Firstborn

The Lord told Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt.  After that, he’ll let you go from here, and when he does, he’ll drive you out completely.  Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.”  The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.

So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Around midnight I’ll go throughout Egypt.  Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh to the firstborn son of the slave girl and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.  There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt — worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’  Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.  All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’  After that I will leave.” 

Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.  The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you — so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.”  Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

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Seriously?!  Even after his son was taken.  This man truly has no soul.