Category Archives: personal

Living in a Glass Box

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As an extremely shy, introverted, and fearful youth I often retreated into my easily controlled fantasy world. I was reluctant to open up or talk to people or didn’t know how. I’d sit in a high school classroom and fantasize about putting a glass box around myself. A place where I could read, observe, or do what I wanted unseen by others.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t a fantasy. I succeeded but my hiding resulted in the reverse of what I thought. I put myself in a box that blinded me to others. I shut myself away so I became almost unreachable.

I escaped into a self-protective mindset that caused me to avoid eye contact, especially with strangers and to engage in non-committal conversations. It caused me, as someone once told me, to be “like a knight in impenetrable armor.” I felt safe in that armor. I could look out and determine when and where to let someone in. The problem is I isolated myself and prevented others from knowing me. I developed the habit of keeping people at an emotional distance.

Thankfully, God began to open my eyes in my early twenties and He’s been helping me since to learn. I’m in my sixties and continue to see what I’ve reaped from that box. I still avoid eye contact with strangers and honestly have to be intentional about looking friends in the eye.

I’ve come a long way since high school and I’ve had some great moments over the years of opening up to others. But, I’m still learning and always will be. The awesome news is my heavenly Father loves me exactly as I am and always has. But He also loves me enough to help me change. The grace of Jesus Christ covers every moment I ever shut someone out even though I still reap consequences. His love for me is eternal and secure. In spite of my weaknesses I have a husband and a son who love and respect me, and many faithful friends and loved ones.

My prayer is that my Father will help me take a sledgehammer and smash the rest of that glass box and crush the armor to pieces.

Is it possible I can live being who I am and stop trying to manage perceptions or keep people at a distance? No one can live perfectly open and free. Hey, we’re human! But with the help of Jesus, I’m learning to walk freely knowing He loves me as I am, knows all my sin and weakness, has already covered them on the cross, and has called me to walk in freedom.

And when I’m tempted to retreat, I can remember Psalm 32:7, which says, “You” God “are my hiding place…”

I don’t need a box, a suit of armor or any other self-protective stance.

God is my hiding place.

I first published this at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

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Unfiltered, Unedited

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Why do I continually teeter on the edge of following God whole-heartedly and being aware I’m totally self-seeking? I’m 64. Have I progressed at all? Am I just a weak, flabby believer? Have I deceived myself and fallen for the easy life, comfort, warmth, never pushing myself too hard? Am I real with others? Am I just looking for the way of lest resistance? I say I want to follow Jesus, that I am His follower but am I dying to self? Jesus said the one who comes after Him must deny themselves take up their cross and follow Him. The line between following Him in self-denial and living to enjoy all He has given becomes blurred.

His word says He gives us all things richly for us to enjoy. Everything is a gift from Him. But my flesh so easily starts looking to the gifts more than the Giver. The Giver is the one who is the source of my joy, peace, and life. The gifts are to point me to Him. The pull to self-exaltation is always out there, luring me away from worship of God alone. Why else would I continually battle jealousy, pride, and comparison? My flesh looks for recognition and honor. My spirit longs to honor my Lord. I know I belong to Jesus. He is my Lord and my Savior. But will I enter heaven as if by fire, with all my works burning up? Will I have any gold or silver to offer to Him? Have I had it too easy? Is that why my flesh so easily falls back into floating along? Do I truly love people? Loving others is everything. That is the whole law summed up. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do I even know how to love?

Sometimes I feel trapped in my own mind. Trapped in seeking ease and comfort. My brothers and sisters around the world suffer just for believing. They have no choice. It’s so easy to make excuses for myself. It’s so easy to give myself a pass. But the only true evaluation is what my Lord thinks. Am I living in obedience to Him? Am I listening to His voice and following my Shepherd? What others do or don’t do has no bearing on me. My call is to listen to and obey His call on my life. Am I listening and following or am I deciding what I think should be His will for me? Am I choosing the way I want to go or following Him in faith? He will call me beyond myself. He will call me to do what I can’t do apart from Him. He will call me to die to self-exaltation, self-protection, and pride. He will call me to lay down my life for others.

Jesus, I want to be willing. I want to hear you. I believe in you with all my heart. I want to live for you with all my being. I want to be willing to die to self-protection, comfort, and the easy way. Help me Jesus. Please, help me abide in you. Help me remain in you because that is the only way to bear fruit. I don’t want to waste the time you’ve given me or whatever time I have left. I don’t want to leave this earth in regret. Please, Lord, take my strengths which are few, my weaknesses which are many, my gifts, talents, experiences, hopes, dreams, my life, my all. Take me and use my life for your glory. Glorify your name in me Father. Let your strength be made perfect in my weakness.

Luke 9:23; I Timothy 6:17; James 1:17; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 3:15; Mark 12:29-31; John 15:13; John 10:27; John 15:4; 2 Corinthians 12:9

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A Mother’s Request

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S – “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?” She said to him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’” Matthew 20:20-21

O – The mother of James and John was like all of us who are mothers. We want the best for our children. She was asking Jesus to give them a place of honor. She thought they deserved the best. When she asked that they have this place, she didn’t know what she was asking for. She didn’t know how much Jesus would have to suffer. She thought she knew what she was asking but her perception was limited to earthly things. Jesus knew what was ahead for James and John.

A – What is in my mother’s heart when I pray for my son? When I kneel at the feet of Jesus, what am I asking for? When I ask Him to bless my son, do I know what I’m asking? Do I know what it will take for him to fully trust God? I know what my perception is. I know what I want his life to look like and that doesn’t involve suffering and hard things. Like this mother, I tend to picture great things. But God’s perception is different from mine. He knows everything from beginning to the end. He knows what is best and He knows exactly what our son needs. I have to trust Him. His ways are not my ways.

P – Father I do trust you. I know you love our son more than we can imagine. As much as we love him and want the best for him, it doesn’t begin to match the love you have for him. Please work your will out in his life. Give him strength and endurance for whatever is ahead. Help his faith to grow. May he know the depths and heights of your love for him. Thank you Father that we can trust you and know your plans for him are for his eternal good. Help us to walk by faith and not by sight.

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OPEN

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My word for 2018 is OPEN. I want to be open to God. To whatever He has for me. Whatever He wants me to do and be.

I want to be open to my husband. Open arms, open heart, not holding back.

I want to be open to my family and friends. Available for what they need.

I want to be open to people I meet along the way. Strangers. I want to let them see me. See the light in me.

Open my heart Lord. To love and care.

Open my eyes to see those around me.

To see into their hearts. To look into their eyes.

Open my ears not just to hear but to listen intently.

Open my soul to let your light shine. To be transparent.

Open my wallet that I will be generous.

Open my hands so that I’m willing to give where you want me to give.

Please Father, help me do my part. Help me be willing to hear and obey. To trust you whatever you ask of me.

Please fill me with your Holy Spirit.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

 

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One Last Tear

countryside-1850111_no-more-tears1280My mom passed away one year ago today. This is what I wrote in response. I love you Mom! I will see you again one day.

 

via One Last Tear

 

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Will I Choose Silence?

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Do you ever feel inadequate? Maybe you don’t use your gifts because you think they aren’t good enough.

I often feel inadequate as a voice speaking out. I look back on previous devotions and see I need my own advice! It’s frustrating. Part of me thinks I need to be more “spiritual” or “victorious” to share a message with others. But, I suspect readers relate more to my struggles than to my victories. No one has it all together and shouldn’t give the impression they do. However, this struggle doesn’t go away.

Recently, I was doing my daily  SOAP  reading and this verse stood out:

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Queen Esther had the opportunity to speak up for her people and possibly save them from destruction, but she was afraid. There was a good chance she would die if she approached the king without being summoned. Her uncle Mordecai gave her the advice in verse 14, telling her if she kept silent, God would bring deliverance from another place.

The truth of that verse hit me. “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise…from another place.” I realized I can stay silent, but if I do, God will use someone else to share His message. I’m the one who misses out if I don’t share. God will find a messenger. He will accomplish His purposes on earth. For Him to ask me is a privilege: not a right. If I deny that privilege, I lose it. I want Him to use others but I don’t want to miss out on that opportunity! If I keep silent and don’t share through writing, I’ll miss the blessing of experiencing God working through me. I’ll miss the encouragement that comes from others. I don’t want to treat lightly the grace He is giving me by offering opportunities to share His truth. I can’t take that for granted. Opportunities come from Him. I’m not entitled to the privilege of sharing through writing.

Yes, I need to seek Him, live for Him, and know the truth of His Word: otherwise, what I have to share will grow thin. Living for myself doesn’t produce fruit. But, the fact that I stumble and fall and struggle with my flesh doesn’t disqualify me from the race. I’m humbled and awed that He would still give me opportunities and still use me to encourage others. I don’t deserve that privilege. It’s all grace.

What are your gifts?

How is God using you?

If you struggle at times with feeling unworthy to use those gifts, remember if you stay silent, if you put your gifts aside, God will send someone else, use someone else and you will be left without the blessing that comes from serving Him. He wants to use all His children. He wants all believers to operate in the body as one.

We are all important and together we fulfill His purpose on earth.

I don’t want to miss out on experiencing Him working through me.

Father, thank you for the grace you give me every moment, every day. It’s amazing grace that I can even come to you in prayer. Thank you for the opportunities you give me to serve, to share, to write, and to give. Help me to take each one. Open my eyes to see when and where to speak and what to say. Open my ears to hear your call. Please work through me and let your will be done not mine. May all glory always go to you.

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One Last Tear

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My mom’s breath began to slow. It was 10 seconds between breaths, then 20, and then 30. There was one last breath. I realized that the first sound I heard on this earth, my mom’s heartbeat, was about to stop. Sobbing, my two sisters and I clung to our mom as a tear rolled down her cheek. Then her spirit was gone. In an instant, her body became an empty shell. As I gripped her hand, it became as lifeless as an empty glove.

One last tear was shed.

Did she cry for her daughters who were hurting? Did she cry at having to say goodbye? Maybe it was a happy tear as the veil was torn away and she saw glory. My sisters and I believe she shed a tear for us. She loved us well and with all her heart. In that moment, it was clear that this body we live in is just temporary housing. When her spirit left, the body was just an empty tent left behind. She wasn’t there anymore.

It had been a difficult ten weeks. From the time my mom first fell and broke her hip and then faced one setback after another. She finally was put on hospice and we sat by her side for a week as her body slowly weakened. Here are some thoughts I meditated on as I sat by her side:

Dying is hard.

Regret is devastating.

Moments are fleeting.

Opportunities pass.

There’s a last time for everything on earth.

Seize the moment.

Love well.

Make eye contact while you can.

Say I love you often.

A person’s tent is just that – a tent not the person.

Jesus conquered death.

Hug while you can.

Grief will not be rushed.

Grief stops time.

Rushing doesn’t improve life.

Trust requires patience.

Trust is shown in a gentle and quiet spirit.

Waiting patiently requires us to stop and be quiet.

Faith is the evidence of things NOT seen. It’s trusting without seeing.

I wrote this as I sat with her that morning:

This is probably the last time I will hold my mama’s hand.

Let me hold your hand one more time.

Feel your touch.

See your face.

I will always love you.

Always have you in my heart.

You’re my mom.

My dear heart.

You loved me fiercely and were always glad to see me.

“Hi sweetheart!”

“Hi Darlin!”

“Love you so much.”

These will echo in my mind.

Soon Mama, you will never have another pain.

Never be lonely again.

You will know everlasting joy and see the face of Jesus!

Strong, stoic, hardworking, determined,

Giving, generous.

Loved by many.

She loved us with a fierce love.

She was so proud of her girls.

She is with Jesus.

Singing, rejoicing and praising.

Free from suffering, pain and loneliness.

Free of guilt, hurt and sorrow.

Life is a mist, a vapor,

a puff of smoke,

a flower that blooms in the morning and dies at night.

Live purposefully.

Live intentionally.

Walk with Jesus.

Follow His voice.

Simplify, listen and just follow.

“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” Psalm 103:15-16 (ESV)

“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14b (ESV)

“’O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV)

I originally published this at Internet Cafe Devotions

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Filed under death, Faith, family, grief, heaven, loss of a loved one, personal