Swing and a Miss!

Photo Cred: Pinterest

I’m one of those “lefties” that’s totally ambidextrous. I only do a handful of things left-handed…holding a fork and spoon, writing, holding a pool cue stick. I do everything else right-handed, except that I do bowl with my right hand with a left-handed stance, so the ball inevitably hits the back of my right leg. I’ve TRIED changing my stance but at the last second, my legs do this little “hippity-skippity-doo-da” hopping thing and my right leg defies me.

It’s one of the reasons why I was never a successful softball player…not that I ever really tried. Sports (other than horseback riding competitions), weren’t my thing. But the few times I did try to play as a kid, swinging the bat right-handed was fine (I couldn’t even attempt it left-handed), but I also wanted to catch AND throw with my right hand because my left hand was weak, compared to my dominant right hand.

Why all of this, you ask?! It’s because Satan has been coming at me, HARD, for weeks! Nah, make that months! I feel like I’ve been trying to beat him off with a Louisville Slugger – both lefty and righty, but to no avail – I keep swinging and missing! I’m so frustrated! What’s the motive here? Does he think that just because I really haven’t been myself for the last several months – anxious, a little depressed (truth-to-tell), uncertain; that he can waltz right in and steal my joy? Fahgedaboudit! I may be struggling, but that’s between me and God. HE is my rock, my fortress, my protector. I need to get out of my own head and lean harder into Him. HE will always make a way for me. I just need to rely on Him and His promises. Although I know and believe all of this, I still feel vulnerable…like all of a sudden I’m naked in public with nothing to cover up with (an infrequent but recurring nightmare, unfortunately).

A fleeting thought entered my scrambled-eggs-brain recently as to whether or not there is anyone or anything that could ever make me turn from God. I’m ashamed that the thought even entered my head, but I knew the answer immediately…it was an emphatic “NO”. There’s no one, nothing – no circumstance – that would ever make me turn from Him. That thought was so comforting and convicting, knowing that no matter what I’m going through, especially difficult seasons and trials, I will never deny or forsake Him.

God knows what I need, when I need it. The issue is “me”…it’s “all me”. Psalm 46:10 is one of my favorite verses and I’m always chastising myself to, “Shut up! Sit still and you’ll hear what God’s trying to tell you”. That lasts for what seems like a millisecond and then the anxiety and uncertainty of “whatever”, takes up the majority of space in my head. :::Sigh:::

I think what I need to do is put the bat down and refrain from giving Satan another fraction of my time. Okay, maybe just ONE more good, solid, swing – with my feet firmly planted in my faith, and then I’ll lay my bat down and start digging deeper into God’s Word and His Faithfulness.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” ~Isaiah 26:4

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” ~Exodus 14:14

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” ~1 Chronicles 16:11

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. GOD is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” ~1 Corinthians 10:13

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

Straddling the Faith Fence…

Photo Cred: KristinaAu

If I COULD whistle, I’d insert a :::long slow whistle::: right here! Wow! This has been a very long and difficult season, right? I know it’s not just me. With the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and circumstances alone, life has been trying, to say the least.

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve experienced especially difficult and trying situations which led me to recently “snapping off”, losing my cool, cursing like a longshore man, flipping out…you name it, I was doing it. I was doing all the wrong things. Things that are not representative of me or my life as a Christian. Good grief.

On one occasion, I was in the car and I called my husband, nearly hysterical, asking him to, “PLEASE PRAY FOR ME! I’M LOSING IT!” I was yelling, “Lord, I need patience, peace, kindness and self-control!” And as I was saying all of that, it dawned on me and I yelled to him, “That’s it…THAT’S IT! I need the Fruit of The Spirit! You’ve gotta pray hard, Davey, ’cause I need a big ol’ fruit basket from the Holy Spirit! I mean the biggest one He’s got!” At that moment, I took a deep breath and calmed down and then we both chuckled a little over my “Fruit Basket” request. Not gonna lie, I’ve actually asked him a few more times to, “Please pray for a Fruit Basket for me!”

Photo Cred: Rose Publishing

So needless to say, during this difficult season, I’ve quite unfortunately found myself straddling the faith fence. Not that I’ve ever, or would ever, turn away from my faith, but I let the circumstances that presented themselves grab me as I straddled the fence, with one foot in the Word and one foot in the world, and yank me over to the world side. What was I doing there? I’m not of this world…it’s just a temporary place where I reside until I go HOME. I don’t wanna be in the world. I was so disappointed in myself for letting things that were out of my control dictate my behavior. Once I realized that I’m NOT in control, and that I truly need to put EVERYTHING at the foot of the cross, I did just that. Jesus didn’t take my place on the cross and shed his blood for me so that I could go through this life alone, struggling, stressed, and out of control. Sometimes it’s hard for me to really “Let Go, Let GOD”. I have posted this more times than I can count, so I don’t know why I struggle with it, but I’ll continue to work on it. Promise.

Having one foot in the Word and one foot in the world will most likely be a continuous spiritual battle, and I may find myself straddling the fence, but I refuse to let the enemy pull me over. When seeds of doubt are planted in my head that I’m “not good enough” or that I’m not “worthy” of God, His love or His plan for me, I won’t give it credence. Whatever the enemy is selling, I’m NOT buying!

After realizing that I was completely over the fence, knee-deep in the world, I prayed for God to grasp my hands, pull me out of the muck and mire, and hurl me back over the fence into the Word. And of course, because He’s so faithful, He did! As I landed on my backside, I thought to myself, “Well, I guess this is how His discipline works since I didn’t land on my feet!” I stood up and brushed off the back of my pants, turning to lean my elbows on top of the fence, looking out at the world. It became so clear to me that my feet were now firmly planted on the right side of the fence, in the Word, where the grass is always greener.

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” ~Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

It all started at 1 Sand Hill Road…

I wasn’t familiar with “1 Sand Hill Road” in Salem, NH. I came across it through a mutual FB friend who had posted a video of her then 10 year old daughter being baptized. Granted, the video wasn’t taken at 1 Sand Hill Road, but at another location at 284 Kenoza Avenue in Haverhill, MA, but through that video and research online, I found 1 Sand Hill Road and what was located there. It was something I’d been searching for, for what seemed like years…decades…LOTS of decades.

On 1/28/2017, I walked through the doors of Granite United Church. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had been raised Catholic and I hadn’t been very good at it. Throughout my adulthood, I desperately wanted a relationship with God but I just couldn’t seem to figure out the best way to go about it. I didn’t want to confess to a priest that I really didn’t know, who would be tasked to absolve me of my sins, and then “pay for it with penance”. If penance held monetary value, I’d most likely have been in the poor house. There had to be another way, a way in which I could have a direct line-of-sight to the Lord…an up-close and personal relationship with him, but it was taking me so long to get there because I just didn’t know where to begin.

On that day four years ago, I stepped into a “building” but immediately realized that the “church” was the people inside. The people who welcomed this newbie with a smile, a hug and a “We’re so glad you’re here”! (in my head I was thinking, “Really? You ARE? Good grief, I dunno… I’ve sinned, turned away from God, done some stupid things, but I’ll take your word for it.”).

I was spiritual and I prayed (at least every time I swung my leg over my Harley, asking God for his protection to and from my destinations). I prayed for things I wanted, good health, prosperity, for my family to be safe and well. I didn’t know what I “didn’t know”. As soon as the service began, I KNEW that this is where I belonged! And when the Lead Pastor (Anthony Milas), wearing his flannel shirt, ripped jeans and holding two Ninja Turtle Chia Pets, was “landing the plane” as he likes to call it when wrapping up a service, invited me (not just me, but everyone) who didn’t “know Jesus” to join him in a silent-in-your-heart prayer to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins, to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior, I cried as I said that prayer in my heart. I felt it to the depths of my soul which now belongs to Him. I finally was “in the know”, understanding that I didn’t need “religion” to have my personal relationship with Jesus. All I needed was Him. People spoke of the Holy Spirit and I didn’t realize it until much later, but what happened to me that day upon my salvation through Christ was a complete transformation from the person I had been “alone” in life. I was brand new in my life with Him, no longer alone, and was literally filled with the Holy Spirit. Aaannnddd I FELT it! I blew out of that parking lot, nearly careening on two wheels and leaving a 50-foot long patch of rubber (not hard to do when I was banging gears in my Mustang GT!) as I couldn’t WAIT to get home and tell my husband.

Ah, my husband. He didn’t see THIS coming! I rushed in like I’d just robbed a bank (sans the mask), breathless and on fire for Jesus! I was yammering away in excited animation that I FINALLY found a church where I belonged! Whoop Whoop! I think his response was, “That’s nice honey”; then nothing more or less.

Each week as I’d prepare to leave for church, I’d remind him that I was going and I’d toss out an obligatory invitation to which he always replied, “No, thank you.” On June 10th of that same year, I was baptized. My daughter went with me for family support and to top it off, I was baptized with my very best friend from high school who came to Granite shortly after I did because she saw things I was posting on FB and she was intrigued. Why? Because I was “different”…she’d known me for nearly 40 years at that time and she could see the change in me…for the better.

So here I was, in my new found faith with my bestie! We were learning how to read and interpret the bible, going to service every week, attending a ladies bible study, and serving in different capacities. Wow, was my life FULL! Brimming with the love of Jesus! I was taught that the four most difficult words to pray are, “Thy Will be done”. True. I had always wanted things my way (or you could unceremoniously take the highway). But now I was putting God first in my life – above everyone and everything. I wasn’t loving my husband, children and extended family and friends any less than before; quite the contrary. I was now being responsive instead of reactive. I had patience I never knew existed within me. My compassion (which I always had) grew immeasurably and I was doing something I really hadn’t done before…I was forgiving those that hurt me, in whatever manner – in big or small ways – and as soon as I started doing that, I could feel my heart and soul become lighter and I was no longer weighed down by holding on to resentment or grudges. This is God’s Grace.

My husband noticed the change in me, too. I think that perhaps he might’ve initially thought that this was “just a phase” and that sooner or later, I’d “drop it” and return back to my “old self”. I tried to explain that the change in my life was not my own doing. That my old self had died in baptism and that I was raised in new life with Christ. So, I just kept plugging along, going to church, inviting him to join me, always knowing that his response would be, “No, thank you”. I wasn’t the only one praying for him, either. All of my church family was praying for him, the ladies in my bible study were praying for him. There were Prayer Walls and Prayer Posters throughout the church and if I wrote his name down once, I must’ve written it a hundred times. Every time I looked at them, even from a distance, I could see his name…pick it out amongst hundreds of others. My bible study teacher who was my mentor and helped me immensely in my faith walk (but has since passed away), asked me, “Terri, when you pray for your husband to come to church, do you REALLY BELIEVE that God will answer that prayer?” Much to my embarrassment, I lowered my face and scraped the toe of my boot along the carpet and whispered, “No, not really.” She lifted my face and as was her way, she lovingly but sternly told me, “You HAVE to pray boldly and with expectation that God is going to move that mountain!”. I knew she was right, and from that moment forward my prayer life changed. I had to stop being my husband’s “no”, meaning that I kept telling myself, “He’ll never come to church”, and instead, I needed to pray fervently for him. I wanted him to have what I had. I wanted him to know the love, joy and peace that comes with salvation. So I started praying…boldly…in thanksgiving, praise and supplication. A lot of times it involved snot-sob-praying on my knees, but it was good… so good to surrender to my Lord and lay this at the foot of the cross and finally, not just believing, but knowing that He would move that mountain.

Christmas service of 2017 was just a week away and both my daughter and son said that they would go to church with me. I approached my husband and told him that me and the kids were going to church for the Christmas service and I asked him if he’d like to go. He again replied, “No, thank you.” I was happy that my adult children were going with me, but I was disappointed when my husband said “No, thank you.” I texted my daughter (or so I thought) which read, “Daddy said ‘no’…he’s not going.” Little did I realize that I had sent that text to my husband, but clearly it wasn’t by accident. I believe there was divine intervention! When my husband responded to the text, saying, “Guilt works…I’d like to go!” I jumped up and practically screamed I was so excited! I immediately reached out to my campus Pastor, Court Holloway, and filled him in. He put an alarm on his phone to “Pray for Dave” every morning at 6:00 AM (he’s pretty awesome). I was pulling out ALL the stops, letting everybody and their brother (and sister) know that Dave was coming to church for Christmas! And they all continued to pray (no doubt more boldly now), with his anticipated arrival for service.

We arrived at church and I introduced Dave to a number of my church family members and at every opportunity as I stood behind him, I would catch the eye of someone who’d been praying for him and I’d point to the back of his head and mouth the words, “This is my husband!”. He met a lot of people that day who welcomed him with open arms. The service was great and when we got into the car I desperately wanted to vomit all the words in my head out of my mouth…I had so much I wanted to say…so many questions that I wanted to ask and, instead, the Holy Spirit convicted me and what came out of my mouth was, “I’m so glad you came today. I hope you enjoyed it”. Dave replied that he liked it and that he thought the people were so inviting and really nice. I had a sewing needle with some black thread in my handbag and considered sewing my lips shut so that I wouldn’t bombard him with everything I wanted to say, but thankfully I didn’t have to take such drastic measures!

During the week following his first service, Dave was in the kitchen texting someone and under no other circumstances would I ever ask him, “Who are you texting?”, but before I knew it, those words escaped my lips (thank you, Holy Spirit!), and he replied, “Pastor Court and I have been chatting”. Me on the inside: “Pastor Court? PASTOR COURT?! Are you KIDDING ME?! You’re chatting with my Campus Pastor?”. What I actually said, ever so nonchalantly was: “Oh, really? That’s nice”. Then he put his arm around my shoulder, tucking me into his chest, so naturally I took the opportunity to peek at his phone. He smiled and turned to me and said, “That’s RIGHT, I’m going to church on Saturday.” I think my knees buckled a little, not gonna lie, and I fought back tears of joy. I hugged him so tightly and told him how happy I was that he was joining me again at church. And THAT Saturday (December 30th, 2017) was THE day! The day that my husband said the “quietly-in-your-heart” prayer and was saved. He became a Warrior for Christ and our lives have NEVER been the same! Here I was, albeit not-so-humbly, thinking my testimony was pretty awesome…then along came Dave! I still cannot watch his Testimony Video without bawling my eyes out because of not only the change in him and our marriage, but because God DID move that mountain…and I watched him do it! He is such a good, good Father!

On February 3rd, 2018, just a little over a month from the day of his salvation, Dave was baptized. I was asked by the lovely woman who’s in charge of the baptisms if I’d like to read his testimony. Naturally, I said, “yes”, then bawled like a baby. I asked her to keep it a secret as I wanted to surprise him. And surprise him I did! As he stepped down into the baptismal pool, I was already standing on the platform to the far right, microphone in hand and ready to go. I knew he didn’t have his glasses on, so I stepped forward, close enough for him to see me and said, “Surprise!”. I could tell he was overwhelmed with emotion and I could not be more proud of his powerful testimony and I was humbled beyond measure to be able to share in this life-changing moment with him.

So here we are, four years later. Saved, baptized and still on fire for Jesus.

I don’t know where you are in your faith, but if you don’t “know” Jesus, you’re missing out. Take it from a way-more-than-middle-aged couple that your lives can be “forever changed”. That you will have abundant love, joy and peace in your hearts that comes from one source and one source only…JESUS! He is the HOPE of the world.

Even through this pandemic, we haven’t lost faith or hope. We are leaning into Him and His Word more now than ever, relying on His faithful promises. We’d love for you to have the same.

If you’re unsure of how to begin a relationship with Jesus, you can say this prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.”

Welcome to the Family of God!

I invite you to check out service times (both online and in person) at: www.graniteunited.com/locations

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” ~John 1:12

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

God Loves You, Whether You Like It Or Not!

I came across this pic somewhere on Facebook a while ago and saved it to my phone.  I don’t remember who posted it, so I’m unable to give credit where credit is due!

GLY

I haven’t blogged in a while, the reason being is that my writing has to come to me by way of the Holy Spirit.  There have been many times when I’ve sat down at my computer thinking, “Today’s a great day for a blog post”, and then I sit there…and sit…and sit, and I resign myself to the fact that, “I’ve got nothin’!”  When I recently poured over my previous blog posts, I realized that with each of them I was “moved” to write them.  A theme, phrase or word would be rolling around in my head (or maybe it was my heart), and as soon as I’d sit down to write, the words flowed effortlessly and that’s when I realized that they weren’t even my own.  Okay…maybe a few.

Prior to beginning my Christian walk (three years ago this month), I knew ABOUT God, but I didn’t KNOW Him.  I knew He existed – I never doubted that for one second – but what I did doubt was that I was important to Him, nor did I understand the unfathomable and eternal depths to which He loves me.  Let’s face it, I was a more-than-middle-aged woman, banging around on a Harley with a mouth that would make a longshoreman blush.  I wasn’t a “bad” person, but I was so far from God that I just figured that it was too late for me.  Too late for me to truly know the forgiveness and love of Jesus, too late for me to have a brand new start.  I was so ill-informed.

I gave my life to Christ the same day I walked into Granite United Church.  There, the Holy Spirit and I were formally introduced when I closed my eyes and prayed for Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to be my Lord and Savior.  I was forgiven, I was saved and I became a child of God, just as is promised in John 1:12 ~ “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” (NLT)  What an AH-MAZING GIFT!  It still blows my mind that with that one decision to cross the line of faith, I had a brand new life in Him!

As I eagerly delved into my new life, which of course included reading the bible, I felt somewhat hesitant, intimidated, unsure if I would truly absorb His Word and be able to apply it to my life.  I mean the “old me” was lingering around (thus, the feelings of unworthiness and self-doubt were gnawing at me), but thankfully the “new me” began to feel empowered and confident.  I was blessed to participate in a weekly women’s bible study, the teacher of which I will never be able to thank enough for her guidance, friendship and mentorship.  If someone would have told me a few years ago that I would become a Born-Again Christian, that I would put Jesus first in my life, watch Him move mountains that I was convinced would NEVER move, and that I would think the bible is the coolest book EVER, I would’ve rolled my eyes into the back of my skull and I shudder to think of what would’ve come out of my mouth!  :::Whoops!:::

But here I am…living a new life…a life filled with joy, peace, love and HOPE!

God loves you, whether you like it or not….and I LOVE how He loves me!

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)

#LetLoveLeadTheWay – TP

 

 

 

I am Forgiven!

When Jesus was nailed to the cross, broken and bleeding, willingly dying to take away the sin of the world, I paused on Good Friday to truly reflect on the immeasurable suffering He endured and my heart was heavy.   Knowing that “For God so loved the world He gave his only Son and that whosoever believes in Him will not perish and will have eternal life.” ~John 3:16… how truly blessed I am to be a “whosoever”.  Jesus not only “saved” me, he “rescued” me, so I was no longer held captive by the enemy….I was no longer hidden away in a dark cave.

In being raised Catholic, I knew that “He suffered, died and was buried and on the third day, He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures.”  I’m embarrassed to say that until now, those were simply memorized words that I recited when I attended Mass.

Easter Service for me this year (my first in my bible-based Christian Church-Granite United), was AMAZING!  My fellow church-goers (myself included) take this “Jesus-thing” pretty seriously!  There were hundreds of names on each of my church’s campuses Prayer Walls…HUNDREDS of souls that were prayed for leading up to the celebration of Easter!  Hundreds of people that had not previously attended (this) church walked through the doors and many were saved… it was awesome!

I don’t think I can ever thank Him enough… but I can, and do, put my trust and faith in Him… he is so, so good… so loving and faithful!

I AM a “whosoever”… I AM forgiven. He’s given me a brand new heart and a fresh start!  I’m not special in anyway… He does this for EVERYONE who calls upon Him.  Ga’head… call Him whenever you’re ready… He’ll always be waiting for you!

~Let love lead the way~ TP

I’m NOT a violent person, but the “Bunny” MUST die!

jcd-1

For real.  Long before I began my Christian Walk (I was raised Catholic), I never understood the concept of the Easter Bunny…filling baskets with fake grass, chocolates, Peeps, candy eggs, etc.  I was quite happy as a child to receive an “Easter Basket” filled with goodies, and I was equally as happy to see that the Easter Bunny had consumed the carrots that I left for him, along with a glass of milk (and he always left me a “note”, just like Santa Claus did, encouraging me to “be a good girl”).  I’m not gonna lie…I did the EXACT same thing for my children when they were little.  That’s all I knew, so that’s what I did.  I raised my children in the Catholic church to the best of my ability, but I was always searching for another way to connect with God… to praise Jesus Christ who died for my sins, thus, I joined a bible-based Christian church and I’ve never looked back.

But as far as the Easter Bunny thing goes…long before I became a Christian, I’ve been somewhat offended (and I’m not easily offended) that the holiest of holy days has been made a mockery of via a “Bunny”.

I was curious enough to Google the origin of the Easter Bunny and here’s what I found (info cred:  Historydotcom):

“The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.”

Sheesh.

I continued my Google research, which brought me back again to Historydotcom to find the meaning of Easter in Christianity:

“Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” (<-I can relate!), is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes “Maundy Thursday”, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.”

I’m down with that.

I guess I really don’t want the Bunny to die.  That wouldn’t be very Christian of me and I believe I’ve made my point.  Knowing that my young nieces, grandnieces and grandnephew are delighted when they get their Easter Baskets will continue to be a treasured memory of their innocence until the time comes when their innocence is gone and they know that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc., and it’s replaced with the reality of what really “is” and “isn’t”.

I will hold Easter as the most sacred of holy days in my heart, because I know what it truly means.  Some people feel that I’m “taking this ‘Jesus thing’ way too seriously”.  Hmmm… last time I checked, I think Jesus took me VERY seriously when he was nailed to a cross and died for my sins.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:14 – And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

~Let love lead the way~ TP

“You’ve Changed!” Why “Yes”, “Yes, I have!”

booksbiblecase

“You’ve changed.”

“Yes, I have.”

“You’re not the same anymore.”

“I know… and I’m THRILLED about it!”

There’s this “mystery” surrounding my recent decision to become a Follower of Christ.  Actually, it really wasn’t a decision, per se… I just knew it was time and boy-oh-boy was I ready.  The mystery is how/why I’ve changed(?)  I’ve heard that the church I belong to is a “cult”.  Really?  A “cult”?  That’s disheartening.  It’s not like they’ve put a burlap sack over my head, thrown me in a rusted out panel van and whisked me away to some secluded compound where my family and friends can’t find me.  I’m not being brainwashed, coerced, cajoled or anything of the sort.  I’m simply worshiping my Lord & Savior, attending church each week, volunteering and serving when I can.

I can think of a lot worse things that I could be doing other than loving and worshiping Jesus.  I could be a terrible wife, a neglectful mother, a bank robber, serial killer, kleptomaniac,  self-aggrandizing narcissist… truly the list is endless.

I’m curious as to why MY journey in Christ is “scary” or “disdainful” to others?  Perhaps they’re afraid of what they don’t understand or what they’re not willing to seek?  I’ve always believed in God, in the Father, Son & the Holy Spirit and so do most of my family and friends but now, when I openly honor and praise our Heavenly Father, I’m the odd woman out.  Go figure.

I’ll tell you how I’ve changed (feel free to reference my previous blog posts); I’m calm, peaceful, full of joy, hope and a love that I’ve never experienced before.  I don’t swear anymore (and I used to… A LOT); it’s not like I made a conscious decision not to swear, I just simply stopped.  I’m still me (and here comes the “tooting-my-own-horn” part — which I normally wouldn’t do — but I am now, simply to state who I was and who I still am).  I’m loving, compassionate, and empathetic.  I love my family and friends.  I love dogs immensely… my dogs, your dogs, rescue and shelter dogs.  I love veterans, the elderly and babies.  I’m a tattooed, vested biker chick…I love driving fast and banging gears in my Mustang GT.  I’m a loyal, dedicated and conscientious employee (at the same company for almost 19 years).  I’m still me… I’m still here.  I truly believe that once a person turns their life over to Christ, there’s no turning back.  It’s like when a mother gives birth to a baby… that baby’s not going back in!

If it weren’t for my beloved one, true highest God, I wouldn’t be here.  I have Him to thank for all that I am, all that I have and all that I’ll ever be.

  • Matthew 22:37-38:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

~Let love lead the way~ TP

 

 

 

 

You’d think I was pulling wings off of flies!

I must admit, it’s been a little disheartening being faced with some of the “not-so-supportive” reactions from some (certainly not all) of the people in my life simply because I turned my heart over to Jesus Christ.  It’s not like I’m pulling wings off of flies for Pete’s sake!

I came to the realization that something VERY significant was missing in my life, and it took way longer than I anticipated to find it.  Knowing what I know now, I’m pretty sure that in my heart I’ve always known what it was… I was just uncertain as to how to get there!  I’m beyond middle-aged now, and my only regret is that I waited more than half of my lifetime to get to where I am.

Here’s the good news though… the GREAT news, actually… it’s NEVER TOO LATE!

If someone had told me six months ago that I would turn my life over to Him and would immediately become so full of joy and peace, I wouldn’t have believed them!  I was always so anxious…about EVERYTHING in my life…every minute of every day.  Filled with worry and angst…I was a prisoner in my own head.  Now?  I’m calm, relaxed, and peaceful.  I’ve found great comfort in taking some quiet time for reading the bible and journaling every day.

For those that truly know me…they’ve seen the change in me.  Most notably, I used to swear…a LOT!  I never really thought about it…it was just something that I did.  The most amazing thing is that after I became a follower of Christ, I didn’t wake up the next morning and say to myself, “Well, no more swearing for me!”  Quite the contrary…I didn’t even have to think about it!  And the first time I said, “Oh my Gosh” about something or other, I immediately said out loud, “Oh my ‘Gawd’!  Did I just say ‘Oh my Gosh’?”  True story.

So for those in my life that don’t quite understand what my journey is all about, please know this…I’m still “me”… except now I’m filled with more love, joy and peace than I ever thought was possible!

Colossians 3:14 ~ “Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

~Let love lead the way~TP

 

My New Journey

I’ve been “empty” for a long time. I’m married (32 years), have two awesome grown children, and I love my family deeply, but something was missing.  I’ve lost loved ones (like everyone does), but the most recent loss of my brother-in-law, who was my best friend (5 years ago), left me so devastated, so mournful that I felt so lost, carrying a huge heartache that just wouldn’t lessen…the hurt was just as much five years later as it was on Day One.

I have suspected for many years that the “thing” that was missing was related to religion and/or spirituality in some way.  I was raised Catholic and attended church regularly as a child, raised my children Catholic, but only attended church when I “had” to.  A few years ago, I started attending my local Catholic church faithfully every week for about 8 months, then I fell off.  I tried to connect with the Heavenly Father but, quite unfortunately, I just wasn’t “feeling” it.

I believe there is no such thing as “coincidence”.  I’ve always believed that God has a plan for all of us…that everything happens for a reason; good and bad.  What I didn’t know is that it’s His plan, and it comes in His time!

I’m blessed beyond measure…to some, I may not have much, but to others I have more than I need.  I’ve always been sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, and have always strived to do the right thing… to be kind, be humble, and to pay it forward.

On January 28th, 2017, through a Facebook acquaintance, I found a local bible-based church (Granite United).  I looked them up online and checked-out their FB page.  “This looks kinda cool”, I said to myself, but I wasn’t fully sure if I wanted to step out of my “Catholic” comfort zone.  Because I have a very outgoing personality, most people who meet me would never (in a million years) suspect that I have “pre-” social anxiety (getting all jacked-up BEFORE going somewhere that’s unfamiliar to me).  While contemplating going, I became uncertain and anxious and I vacillated on whether or not I should go to the 4 PM service that was starting in an hour and a half.  I was laying on my couch with my three amazing dogs, listening to Christian music and finally, I “prayed” on it.  Next thing you know, I was up, dressed, and out the door!

The most amazing thing about my “story”, my “journey” is that I had sent a message earlier in the day to G.U.’s FB page, stating that I was interested in learning more about their church, what their service was like…that I was raised Catholic but was looking for something “different”.  My message included this:  “I just want to worship Jesus in MY OWN way; in MY OWN time”.

I walked through the doors of Granite United and was immediately approached by an older gentleman with a kind face, warm smile and a hug, welcoming me to G.U.  I told him that “this is my first time, so ‘be gentle’!”  We both laughed and he introduced me to a lovely couple (a little older than myself) and they welcomed me and asked me to sit with them.  When it was evident that her husband and I were dancing around for the seat on the far end, I settled for sitting right behind them (end seat, naturally — thanks claustrophobia!).  Before the lights were dimmed, I looked around and saw a myriad of attendees… teenagers, young families, older folks, etc., and I was impressed with the diversity of the group.

The lights dimmed and the music started.  The treble and bass were so intense that I immediately lost myself in the beat and in my head, I shouted, “Are you kidding me???!!!  It’s a ROCK CONCERT!  Whoop Whoop!!”  Geez…the pastor hadn’t even begun service yet and I was already “in it to win it”.  While the band was playing, they’re kind enough to have a huge projection screen up front with the current song’s lyrics displayed (I almost want to say it resembled Karaoke, but I’m afraid that could be construed as a little bit insulting – so just disregard that I said it).  I had my hands raised in the air and as a former singer, I was belting out the songs like there was no tomorrow.  Hand-to-God, I felt at “home”… I felt at “peace”….everything felt “right”.

Here’s the part of the beginning of my journey that (to me) is so amazing, so “on-the-money”.  The Pastor’s sermon was written JUST for me… I felt it in my heart.  Fast-forward to mid-way through service…. there was a tall table beside the Pastor on which there were two over-turned buckets.  He removed each of the buckets and seated side-by-side were two Ninja Turtle Chia Pets!  Wha…What…WHAT?!  The one on the left was stark naked, but the one on the right had green leafy sprigs sprouting out all over the place.  The Pastor stated that the “naked” Ninja Turtle on the left, after four weeks of tending to it, remained as such because the Pastor decided that he was not going to follow the All-Mighty-Chia Pet Creator’s way (instructions)… he elected to do it in his OWN WAY and in his OWN time!  However, the blossoming Ninja Turtle on the right, in full bloom, was because the Pastor tended to it (raising his bible), in GOD’S way, by GOD’S instruction and in GOD’S time. (Please reference paragraph 6 above to get the full affect as to how this impacted me!)  Are you kidding me!?  WOW!  Can I get an “Amen”!!

I believe that I had committed myself to Jesus Christ a long time ago, but I did it alone, in my heart, but I truly didn’t understand what it meant to put him FIRST.  Well… I certainly do now!  Unfortunately, outside of my church family, I only have a handful of support from family members and friends.  I knew that in becoming a Christ Follower, I would be faced with rejection, ridicule, judgment, etc.  Hmmmm…. I wonder who THAT sounds like?  I’m in this “all the way”.  For those who judge me or look down upon me for doing so, I pray for them the most in the hope that our Heavenly Father, through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, will soften and open their hearts and minds.  I hold no resentment or ill feelings toward my naysayers because I am so filled with joy, love and peace now, that my heart simply won’t allow me to do so.

Matthew 18:20 ~ “For where there are two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus, He is there with them in their midst.”

Have a Blessed Day!