"Manboys" The boys I love and the men they are becoming.

Sometimes remembering is just the piece of heaven you need.
In a world far, far away I live in a castle in the sky, the birds sing and sunlight streams through perfectly clean windows.  It is bliss, this "home" where I am seated in heavenly places. 

In the meantime, I am here in a dirty kitchen.  The sound of zombies and soldiers drowning out my thoughts.  These boys that have taught me so much, they are the "manboys" in my life.  They look like young men but they are still boys.  They still chase each other around, laugh at silly jokes, they will still on occasion hug their mother.  They play hard and when they are done they still smell like stinky wet dogs(no one tells you that in parenting classes).  These boys have been my life for over half of my existence, apart from them I am not sure who I would be.  I have had to die to self in order for them to live; meaning there have been times I wanted to kill them.  When they were young they would tell me they wanted to marry me.  Now most of the time I am their annoying, embarrassing mother.  They no longer think I am beautiful.  They don't put their little hands on either side of my face and turn me to look into their eyes so they can ask me a question.  Questions now are asked in text and to get any human contact usually involves some form of bribery.

                               Yes, you can have gas money but you will have to give me a hug. 

These are the boys of my life, each very different yet each carrying a piece of my heart.   They have shown me love and I have loved them with a love that defies all reason.  An unconditional love.  In the midst of bad behavior, bad attitudes and all sorts of other unpleasant stuff my love has not run dry.  I have battled for these boys so much that even in my dreams I would be contending for them.  Fighting off the enemy and praying protection over them.  They have taught me to love their friends and some I even would call spiritual sons because I love them so deeply.  Over and over again they have taught me.  Taught me how much flesh I still have left, taught me how little I can do in my own strength, taught me what a generous childlike heart looks like, taught me how to laugh at myself, taught me what was really important (and it wasn't cleanliness, surprise... it was time), taught me what it was to care more about someone other than yourself and mostly they taught me that love isn't easy. 

Overcoming sharpie on walls, stealing the car, destroying property, getting through school, chasing dogs down hills, motorcycle spills, seriously close calls, broken hearts, stitches, one lost boy, running from police, one who hated potty training, one who broke my heart, anger that mirrored my own, fights over toys, forts for days, messy rooms, dirty toilets, chicken nuggets, growing pains in legs at two in the morning, three night a week practices, Saturdays given over to sports, biting babies on their backs, back talk and straight talk, sleepless nights waiting up and being battle weary, all these things made me better, stronger and more thankful for a heavenly Father who still loves me in the messiness of my own life.  I feel sure there is a parallel here. 

I love these boys with the battle scars, the facial hair where it used to be smooth baby skin, the blue eyes, kind hearts, hard workers, deep thinkers and sometimes heartbreakers.  They are masters of the Zombie land and they are masters of my heart.  I look at them and see that it was all worth it, they have made me a better person with all their dirt, dogs, sports, stench, trials, smiles, baby boy giggles and "manboy" roaring laughter.  They are strong and kind, God lovers and hard workers, smart and loyal, brave and funny.   They are my boys and I think some day they shall be my best friends.

Who's heart are you carrying?

This week I read a devotional from our Divisional Superintendent, Tim Clark.  It was very good, awesome actually.  It was talking about Jehu and how zealous he was for the Lords work but how he had missed the heart of God.  He was so intent on doing the "work" that he lost the spirit and heart of the Lord.  The scripture says,
"Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. However, he did not turn away from... the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan... and Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart" (2 Kings 10:28-31).

Jehu killed many people in his quest to set things right, but somehow he missed the true work.  The work of love, grace and transformation.  He didn't lead the people back to God, only to war.  He was passionate about getting rid of Baal worship, but didn't give the Lord all of His heart.  His motivation for the work of the Lord was questionable.  He got the job done, as a leader but at what cost?  Getting the job done should always take a back seat to love and growth (in ourselves and others).  How often do we kill the spirit of another by our harsh words, impatience, desire to keep everything in order, rigid demands, unyielding demeanor, expectations, controlling manner, territorial attitude, etc?  (I promise I am thinking of no one in particular, except well maybe myself sometimes.)

We, and by we I include myself,  can be so zealous to do the work of the Lord, that we forget to keep the law of the Lord with all our hearts.  The law of the Lord is to love God with all our hearts and to love one another.  I want to be a carrier of  the heart of Jesus in all that I do.  That means pouring out love, bending to the needs of others and being zealous not about the work but about Jesus and His people. 

May God grant us the determination to carry the heart of Christ in all that we do, and to love Him with all our hearts. 

Trusting that you will make something beautiful out of me.


Debra means busy bee or queen bee, I have lived up to my name my entire life.  Slow is not in my vocabulary but sometimes God reminds me...Slow down....ssshhhhh....I want to tell you something...then He whispers sweet things into my heart and I am filled to overflowing with a deep abiding love for Him that energizes me for the next steps in this journey. 

This was my breakthrough:  I started with the girl and she was holding the umbrella.  The umbrella which is too small to even cover her and the Lord said to me,

                  Why do you look for shelter under your tiny little umbrella when you are already
                  under the shelter of the Almighty?

I immediately began to weep, My God reminding me of His divine protection, His glorious care, His perfect plan and His provision.  As long as I am building His Kingdom, for His glory I am under the shadow of the Almighty.  I don't have to be concerned about protecting myself, my reputation, my heart or anything else because my God has already done that. There will always be opposition and trials and there will always be God, my hero.   I will always be under His loving care as He makes something beautiful out of me!!  Have your way Lord, in my heart and in my struggles may you reign completely! 


Exchanging Ugly for Lovely

Recently I had the honor of an in-depth short conversation with a friend.  Someone I admire and enjoy.  She is a powerhouse, a shaker and a mover not just in business but in ministry.  She stepped into my office and I could see the turmoil on her face and then the tears started swimming in her eyes.  I quickly got up and wrapped my arms around her, a hug and a shoulder. 
A hug and a shoulder, isn't that what we all need?  She poured out her heart and I recognized myself in her struggles.  The scripture says there is nothing new under the sun, ahh how right you were Mr. Solomon.  I listen as her words reverberate within my heart.  Different problems, same heart.  Same corrupted heart, same striving in my own strength, same flesh that wants to fix, same hope for something better but seems to be just out of my grasp.  A hunger for something greater, a realization of self.  I have felt the cold slap in the face of that realization. There is ugly here, in my heart. I have seen it and loathed it and then I have embraced the realization and it is changing me, day by day.

I have lived in a well managed world, until I didn't.  Until everything changed and chaos reigned and in that utter loss of control, I learned to trust.  Deeper levels of faith come through adversity and strife.  Every problem an opportunity for overcoming flesh and setting grace free.  Deeper levels of faith realized.  I always envisioned walking into deeper waters of faith but lately I have had a different perspective.  I am a God container, the more of Him and the less of me; that is what higher levels of faith means to me.  The corrupt floating to the top, it's ugly.  There is no denying it, but I long to be filled with Him; the pure living water, the hope of the world.  She and I, linked arm and arm.  We could be any two believers committed to change and growth, committed to being God containers that allow more of Him and push out the imperfect bit by bit in a daily war with our flesh.  Asking ourselves what is really important here?  What is the heart of Jesus here?  How can I trust you Lord with everything, not just some things.  This is the struggle, this is the battle that wages within each of us.  She doesn't know that we are twins here in this struggle, sisters fighting on different fronts but the same war.  I encourage her and it encourages me.  She encourages me, and her faith is strengthened. Together we journey, pushing forward through the ugly in hopes of attaining the lovely. 

She sends me a text:

God doesn't love some future version of you, He loves you completely right now.--Matt Chandler
I respond:
That is the greatest news!  Makes me so thankful everyday, and that is why I can smile!  An attitude of gratitude. 
She is a God container, reminding me of why I love Him so.  She is a mirror to my heart and I see Jesus there and hope swells within my spirit.

This morning I arise with a word for her, a word for me, a word for all my sisters across the world.
When you come to the end of yourself, when managing your life becomes unmanageable and you have no choice but to completely trust in God, that's when you suddenly realize that you can!  When you can see that all your striving was indeed dependence on yourself and not God, then get ready because you have just opened the floodgate for the supernatural.  When you cry out; I can't do it, God answers back....I CAN!  Then God releases His peace like a river and His favor like a flood!  His yoke is easy and He is positions you for new levels of grace and freedom!  Get excited you are in a place for breakthrough and when you get to the other side you will have more joy than ever before!
As I text it to her, it encourages me.  God assignments, divine appointments all lined up to remind me that deeper levels of faith, change and growth come only to those of us who are willing to look into our hearts and push the ugly out by replacing it with the lovely.  The glory of a God who loves us completely right now in the imperfect messiness of our "right now" and is positioning us for the divine.  Calling us into being God containers of pure Holy waters, purging the ugly right out of us bit by bit and replacing it with the lovely goodness of a perfect God.  This journey; exchanging ugly for lovely, one day at a time is my joy.  Be blessed my friends and make a divine exchange today; the ugly for the lovely. 


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