Unashamed

Unashamed

There is this girl I know, she was conceived in unfortunate circumstances, raised by preachers, who did not tell her she was adopted till he was 16 years old, engaged to be married and as her father was about to go into open heart surgery. She was sexually abused not only by a young man who called himself a christian, but right inside the church walls. She was bullied and made fun of by her peers, people who didn’t even know her believed she would never turn out to be any good. Adopted at birth,  She herself suffered from infertility, for 10 years. Struggling with body issues she was bulimic for a time, just to try to conform to what she thought the world expected from her, and to fit into a family that would never love her.

It seemed every time this girl would get ahead in life, something would knock her back down. People in the churches she was raised in rarely acted like the God that she knew. Her dad, kicked out of 2 churches, himself, should of made her hate God, she herself was fired from three jobs in her life,  and each time her father was asked to leave, it was as she herself had been rejected again. How could people that call themselves Christians act like this? She not only faced emotional bankruptcy but financial as well. She lived in 5 different states, and attended 9 schools in twelve years, living in countless houses but never really having a home.

Just looking for someone that would find value in her, she searched everywhere,  including an emotional affair. She lost the only father she ever knew and loved, when she was only 23 yrs old, and became the full-time caregiver for the next 33 years to her handicapped mother. While, homeschooling all 3 of her children one being severely dyslexic she felt again she had failed and blamed herself for her child’s challenges. Early in her marriage she and her husband with one child to care for, found themselves homeless, her family has rejected her, her church has rejected her, and her own mother has even rejected her, she felt all alone.

 Exhausted and tired from all the circumstances of her life, it is no wonder that she locked herself in her house for a season and refused to leave or answer the phone for fear of what the world was going to do to her next.

She had seen a lifetime of hurt and pain that no one should see their whole life, let alone before the age of 30,  and once this girl finally got brave enough to leave the house again, she did so, but not without putting up some walls in her life to guard her from ever being hurt again. Especially around people that called themselves Christians, because all this girl had ever known was to be hurt by these so called people who loved God. This girl finally put on such a hard exterior that no one could get through, and it’s no wonder she decided that she didn’t care if the whole world would die and go to hell.

Her plan was to just follow Christ like a racehorse with blinders on, laser focus to the finish line, because suicide wasn’t an option for her but a natural death or the rapture would be her only escape. Because,  after all, God was the only one who had never left her. With her hard exterior and protective layer she soon went in straight survival mode, guarding what she said, and preferring to be alone. She was hesitant about anything she would say around others,  because all to often in this Christian world, like a puppy that would just barely stick its head, out of its cage, she had all to often been slapped back in before she barely got her nose out the door.

She felt whipped, beaten and alone. She felt unsure of who she was and what she could ever do. There was a battle raging within her of what she knew she could do, and what she felt like would be accepted by those around her in her life. Her mind tossed and turned contemplating, what she wanted to do, and what she knew she had been called to do. So all to often it was just easier to step back and do nothing. That is when again, she drew up into a shell, and just really wanted the world to pass her by.

Until one day the Lord begin to show her in her own prayer time that He had great plans for her, that her circumstances were not a punishment, but a badge of honor to wear. Not proud because of her mistakes, but a victory that she kept going and did not quit,  that she was a fighter and a winner. So slowly but surely this girl would attempt to stick her head outside the cage one more time, maybe it was just saying “Hi” to a person, maybe it was just inviting someone over. But just as quick at she stuck her nose outside that cage, she would pull it back in, for fear it would get swatted again like it had so many times before.  

Over and over again she tried each time sticking that wet, scared nose out of the cage, a little bit further each time, with the success from the last. With each attempt to let the world back in,  she would stay a little longer outside the cage, looking around a little more, till finally one day she was totally revealed to the rest of the world. She had come completely out of her cage.

All the while, her mind battling against what she wanted to do, which was crawl back in her cage and let the whole world die and go to hell, and at the same time realizing that God had bigger plans for her,  and those plans would mean stepping out of the comfort zone of that cage and allow the world back into her life. That process took well over 40 yrs and she still is working through it.

But that girl doesn’t hide in her cage anymore, afraid to stick her nose out for fear it would get smacked because she isn’t good enough. That girl, now looks back on her past, not with shame,  but with gratefulness of what the Lord has brought her through, that girl realizes that she is a child of God, and no matter what man may do around here, or think of her, it doesn’t matter, because God is her ultimate authority and He calls her His child.

Oh! Does she still battle with the fact life would be easier, if she just stayed hid in her house and let the rest of the world die and go to hell. Sure she does! But she also realizes that the very reason she was created, and the reason she had to walk through what she did, was because she needed to know there was a God that could bring her out  and there are many that she needs to tell of this goodness of God.

So when you hear  this girl talk about how shy she really is, when you hear her say she really prefers to be alone, believe her. Don’t be shocked when you see her laughing in a crowd or sharing with a group of people. Remember at those times, what the Lord has brought her from. Understand that the girl you see today has not always had this freedom. You need to know that there is still a battle that rages within her.

But also know that she has drawn a line in the sand and she as decided that she refuses to allow her feelings to abort what God has called her to do.  And I know all this, because that girl is me!

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25, But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV

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The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect

This past week was Easter Sunday, not only is it the day we remember the resurrection of our Savior but, it is the day that my life was changed. Oh! Not directly but indirectly. You see probably 70 plus years ago a young couple ready to throw their marriage away decided to give it one more chance and go to church before they filed for divorce. They said “If this doesn’t work we are throwing in the towel and this marriage is over”. That Sunday the man walked down that aisle at the end of the service and so did his young wife, neither one realizing the other had done so because,  if my memory serves me correctly of the story I heard, It is because they refused to sit together that Sunday.

But when they got up from that altar, they looked  at each other and knew their lives would be different because they had given their lives to Christ. 70 plus years later, we can all look back and see,  not only their lives were changed, but God used those two broken individuals to impact the lives of many people over the 40 years the couple were in ministry. That couple was the people I called mom and dad. The two took a baby into their life unexpectedly when my birth mother couldn’t raise me. They taught me that Jesus loved me from birth. All I have ever known is the love of God,  because one couple decided to give God a chance in their marriage. That small decision had a generational impact not only on me, but my children and now my grandchildren. Had they not made that decision I am confident I would not be who I am today. Nor would my children know about a loving God and my grandchildren would not know that there is a Jesus that loves them.

I wonder, what one small choice would you make that would make a generational difference on your family? Is there a choice you have already made that has changed your world? Maybe you don’t think,you are that important,  or nothing you would ever do make that big of a difference.

I have to tell you, you are wrong, in fact there was a study done called the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

Just like my parents giving their heart to Jesus and surrendering their life to Him, had an eternal difference in my life, so does it have an effect on my kids and grand-kids, as well as every person’s life.  Just like me writing this article, to every person my kids and grand-kids lives touch, their choice, affected a larger change many years down the road. Not only did their giving their lives to Christ make a difference in their lives, but they went on to help others. Everything we do,. Every choice we make, every decision made  has a cause and effect.

Recently, I was re-reading the letters of condolences that was sent to our family when my mother passed away,  almost 7 yrs ago now, and when I read this one , it reminded me of this fact

Many years ago, on the Bowlus Center stage, a little lady limped onto the stage, sat on a stool and sang “When He Was on the Cross, I was on His Mind”. That song personalized His death and sacrifice for ME. That lady was Doris and I will never forget her even though I never met her.”  

See,  I don’t know this person who was so kind to write this on the website condolence page of the funeral home where my mother’s services were, but even at 70 something years of age, as my mother who could barely walk with a cane at the time,  decided to sing a christian song at a community talent show. Many would of written the old lady with a cane off, but all those years ago, she submitted her life to Christ and decided she would serve Him and tell others about Him till her dying day.  She stood before a community of people from all different walks of life and beliefs and again, made a difference.

As you go about your life this week, how about you think about what choices you are making and where they are leading those closest to you. Let me encourage you, if you don’t attend church weekly, start by making that difference in your life. Find a bible believing church and make sure you are there and take your family with you. Begin to make it a habit every week, where you can learn more about God and tell others what He has done for you. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past, what matters is what you do from here on out.

You have a chance to make “ the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” You can create a butterfly effect in your life. The truth is you are everyday anyway. Why not make it a positive one. See because, the sensitive dependence is only good conditions, it is bad too. If you choose to abuse alcohol or drugs your kids and friends see that and it has a negative affect sometimes for generations. If you choose to gossip or treat others unkindly, you are teaching your family how to to treat others.

So if you are going to create a butterfly effect in your life anyway, Why not do it right. Show up Sunday at a church somewhere and give your life to Christ decide you will live for Him, no matter what,  or go ahead right where you are now and tell Christ you want Him to come into your life, and forgive you of your sins, just like you would talk to me you can talk to God right now.

This can be the beginning of a generational effect for all those who come after you or you are around. Now get into church Sunday and begin to make a life that will forever be a blessing to others, like my parents,  we can make a difference and the bonus is, You’ll go to heaven too!

Now What?  When life is uncertain but God isn’t!

Now What? When life is uncertain but God isn’t!

It’s that time of year when all the college students who are about to graduate are sitting around wondering if all the education and loans they have accumulated over the last 4-8 yrs have been worth it? At least that is what my daughter, is feeling as she is about to graduate, with a BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in Film and Digital Media. 

We have all had times like this haven’t we? Okay, maybe we haven’t been to school and accumulated loans and taken all this time to learn something that we’re afraid we may never get to use. But we all have been at a place of uncertainty. Maybe it’s uncertainty about your health? Maybe it’s uncertainty of how much the farm will make this year? Maybe it’s uncertainty of what will happen to our children or grandchildren? I am sure if you think about it, you can remember a time you were living in uncertainty, maybe you are even living in it now?

I remember when Jeff and I were at that place many years ago,  by saying that I don’t mean ,to sound like it has only happened to us once,  by any means. But this one particular time, before Amy was even born and before Jeff was in full-time ministry,  we were at a crossroads in life a place of uncertainty of what we should do next.

Jeff was looking for a job and there were none to be found in Alabama where we lived at the time. We were at a place we knew we needed a new start and so we thought Atlanta GA. would be a good option for us. At least we knew there were plenty of jobs available there.

So, Jeff picked up the Atlanta Journal Constitution Newspaper and began searching through the want ads. He found several jobs that met his HVAC experience and he applied. We prayed and we prayed hard for God to give Jeff a job. When Jeff finally got a call back from one of the owners for an interview Jeff was eventually hired. After working there for a bit, the owner told Jeff that he had been the only applicant to apply for the job.

Now, at the time Atlanta had 2.5million people in it. So the chances of Jeff being the only person to apply for a job was literally a miracle. Whether he blinded the peoples eyes to see that ad back then, or if he made it disappear for everyone else in Atlanta and the surroundings areas that took that paper. Because this paper did not only serve the 2.5 million people that live in Atlanta but at the time, this paper was delivered all over the state of Georgia and part of Alabama and Florida. Perhaps even further. When I think of the prayers we were praying at that time, asking God to open the right doors for us to walk through little did we know. God would go to such extreme measures to protect us and guide us.

You know I am reminded of a story in the bible where God protected Daniel. He was in the lion’s den. He had been thrown in there because he had stood up for what he believed and God closed the lion’s mouths so tight they didn’t eat Daniel. God protected Daniel that day. God watched over him. God provided a miracle for Daniel and kept him from harm.

I believe God still performs miracles today. I believe if we are following Him and trusting in and relying on God, he will be faithful to protect and provide for us. I know that is what God did that day for Jeff and I. 

There is no humanly way possible that Jeff was the only one that could of applied,  unless God had closed the eyes to everyone else to see that ad.

Time and time again, if we will only look we will see God’s hand in our lives. We don’t have to live in uncertainty,  because we know we serve a God that sees us and loves us with an everlasting love.

So no matter what the future holds, no matter if we don’t know what is ahead of us in life. We have to remember what we do know, and we do know that God knows all, He is watching over us and will take care of us,  if we will only ask, just like he did Daniel and Jeff.

God doesn’t leave His children hanging, He doesn’t leave His children alone. He loves us and if we are following after Him He will guide and protect us. So when those times of uncertainty and anxiety try to overwhelm us, what we have to remember is,  we serve a God that never fails, that can close the mouth of the lions, or blind the eyes of everyone else. He is watching over you, the question is will you trust Him?

Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves

I have a pet peeve! I am not gonna lie, I have had it for a long time,  and I would be willing to bet, it is one of God’s pet peeves too, although I know He handles it with greater grace than I do.

When my children were younger, I like to think, I was like any mother, who would ask my children to do some things around the house, like clean their room, put their laundry away, general tasks  most moms would assign to their children. But I am sure, my children aren’t the only ones in the world to ever responded “Ok! I will be there in a minute”, to which I would respond, “If I wanted you to do it in a minute, I would ask you in a minute, but I want you to do it now!”

This frustration also coincides with people who promise to do something and then don’t follow through with their commitment as well. I think people should be a person of their word and I strive in my life everyday to do the same.

So, I can’t help but think God might have the same pet peeves as I do. I mean we can look at the bible and find Him getting a little frustrated with children of Israel, so much so that even after they had begged God for years to rescue them from their evil Egyptian tasks masters, when He finally did, they doubted Him and went against what He told them to do, and because of that, all but 2 of them ended up not getting to enter into the promised land. (You can read more about this in  the book of Exodus in the bible)

Then lets not forget Jonah,  who was told to go to the city of Nineveh and because he didn’t want to, he ended up being swallowed by a whale. (You can read all about him in the book of Jonah in the bible)

I promise, I would never let my kids get swallowed by a whale! But nevertheless I get frustrated. It has been said that delayed obedience is still disobedience.

So what has God told you to do? You may say “ Oh! He has never talked to me” But the truth is He has, we may have not heard His audible voice but He left His word for us called the bible. He gives men and woman, called Pastors, words to speak to us, every week, and we can hear it when we go to church. One of those things He told us to do in His word says, we need to go to, church (Heb 10:25)

Now when we go back on our promise to God, when we haphazardly live our life claiming we love God, but not following what His word says to do , It makes me wonder if God isn’t a little sad with our actions. If we aren’t being a little like those in the bible,  and I wonder what is yet to be.

See, we hear a lot about God’s love these days and some of us have come to believe, that love will just overlook the times we have chosen to ignore what we have known, and what we should be doing. But I don’t believe that. We are all allowed to make the choices we want, but we are not free from the consequences of those choices. Those consequences are not because God doesn’t love us, but it is because He does love us and wants us to choose what is best for us, but we often times believe we know best and decide we will do what we want to do.

I heard someone say recently “How can a book written over 3000 years ago relate to my life today”. Well, the bible can because the Creator of the Universe is the one who ordained the writing of that book and the one who inspired every word of it and the bottom line is, the Creator always gets to tell His creation what to do. 

The Inspection

The Inspection

Do you have any traditions in your home? Oh! I mean, more than just what you do at Christmas, or Thanksgiving? I mean the subtle things that happen and you may not even realize it. These things come from who you are deep inside and often from your habits and the standard of which you were raised.

 

We have one of those at our house, it is now in the 3rd generation in our family. ,You see,  my father-in-law Trammel Miller was an amazing contractor and his standards were so high all that worked for him called him the “piano man”,  because if you tune pianos you have to be a perfectionist and that is exactly what Trammel was.

 

Thus, when he came to our home, after Jeff and I were first married,  if there was something that was not maintained to Trammels standard, he would give Jeff that,  “I am disappointed with you son” Look. The look may be followed by a few intriguing questions of exactly why it wasn’t this taken care of up to the “Trammel Miller Standard” .

 

The funny thing is, there was no handbook that told my husband that this inspection would come, no official notice was sent ahead of time, verbal or otherwise. My husband just knew, if his dad was coming over to visit,  he would rush around, getting those last minute honey do list items I had for him done. Sometimes he would go back over and check what he had done,  to assure it met the expectation of Trammel Miller.

 

And even funnier thing today, is that Lee Miller now does the same thing his father did,  all those years ago when we were first married. Trammel is now celebrating his anniversary of being in heaven 4 years this month, and we all know he is running the construction crew of angels,  who are building our mansions in heaven, because that is just Trammel Miller, and God needed Trammel up there because of his perfectionism.

 

See when we now call our son to let him know we will be visiting, his family in Tulsa, it isn’t uncommon to hear Lee tell his dad. “Well, I’ve got to go so, I can get done before you get here to make sure I pass inspection when you come. ” We often laugh about it as a family but the premise is the same.

 

You see there as been a standard set that my sons automatically knows their father expects of them and that got me thinking, isn’t that just like our Heavenly Father?

 

There is a standard that has been set by our Heavenly Father who will soon be coming to visit,  and if we don’t meet that inspection, we are not gonna pass, and we won’t make it to heaven.

 

The difference is, we have been given a handbook with every detail we need to know of what He expects and it is called the bible. We have even been given a family to help us understand what He expects and that is called the church. God has even sent a helper called the Holy Spirit to help us while we are here on earth to help us choose to do the right thing.

 

So the bottom line is,  we have no excuse for not following the directions, God has laid out for us. Everyone of us can pass the inspection that is coming, but it is up to us.  

 

My boys could not care, what their father thinks when he comes to visit. They could ignore standards they have been raised with and choose to walk away from. But they realize their father loves them and wants the best for them. They know, their dad would give his life for them and only expects these things,  because he wants the best for them and believes in them and loves them. Because of their fathers age, he has more knowledge and wisdom then they do and can often tell how things are going to turn out, because he has had the same problems, been in the same situations, and doesn’t want his kids to go through what he has been through.

 

The same is with our Heavenly Father. God loves you and He wants the best for you. He has given us all the tools we need. The question is, are you using them? Will you pass the inspection with your Heavenly Father when He comes? Take the tools He has given us and use them. Don’t hesitate to ask your Heavenly Father for help. After all, that is what a good good Father does!

 

Clean Dirt

Clean Dirt

I don’t know about your house,  but it has never mattered what home I have lived in or what brand of dishwasher is in that house.  On occasion, someone in my family has pulled something out of that dishwasher that, had just been ran, that still had some piece of food left on it, to which my family member will say something to this effect “The dishes are still dirty” and I will reply “ It is clean dirt, it has been washed” We will usually laugh and then wash the item by hand.

 

You know that little scenario got me thinking. How many of us think like that in our own life. We think the little bit of dirt in our life, is “clean dirt”,  after all we are good people. We don’t mean harm to anyone and are just doing the best we can. We justify what we see in our lives often times, all the while condemning what we see in others.

 

But the truth is,  what we think about ourselves or others really doesn’t matter, it is what God thinks that really matters. In fact,  His word is the ultimate authority. The question is how well do you know God’s word? God’s word is His son’s dying wishes for our life. Just think about it, the creator of the Universe left you a letter,  with directions He wants you to follow.

 

Oh! I know some people say “I have tried to read the bible, but I just don’t understand it” to which I would reply “That is why we have churches and bible studies” It is important that each of us read those true stories in the bible. Those are lesson we can learn through others lives that have lived before us. We also see Jesus as He walked this earth and can learn from His stories as well.

 

One thing we all need to remember, past the 10 commandments, there is 1 commandment we all must follow,  in fact Jesus said it was more important than any other, and that is found in Luke 10:27  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

 

You know if you love someone with all your heart, and I mean REALLY love, then you want to please them, but there is no way to please God if we don’t know what His word says. So how about this week you do 2 things, take just 5 minutes and start reading the Psalms and Proverbs each day in the bible, then throughout your day,  show that love Jesus talked about in Luke to those around you.

 

Because if we don’t do these things, then can we really say we have surrendered our life to Him?  It’s really like saying you’re clean dirt when you don’t. We all know that doesn’t make any sense in anyone’s book,  and the fact is, we can’t wash ourselves on our own or by what we do. God’s love is unconditional and His grace is free ,but it is only when we receive that unconditional love that we realize how much He loves us,  and in turn wants to give that love back to Him, by living a life for Him and sharing that love with others. So let’s stop trying to hand wash our lives in our own ways and follow what the Jesus says.