Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Cloistered-in Moments

I have a tendency to isolate when I go through troubled waters.  Not too long ago, I was reprimanded by a friend for doing so.  She meant well.  But, her words gnawed at me and caused me to question myself.

We care about what others are going through and we want to help, so we have a tendency to think of isolating as a bad thing.  But, is it?

I sought The LORD about my "isolation tendencies" when going through a difficult time.

He reminded me that I withdraw so I can better hear Him because I desire true solace that only He, God Almighty, can provide me.

Even Jesus Christ often withdrew to lonely, wilderness places (Luke 5:16).  He took Himself away from His closest companions and their opinions to seek the Wisdom of His Father.  He sought the peace that came from those cloistered-in moments.

Our Father speaks in a still, small voice.  How can we hear Him in our troubled moments if our mouth is flapping and our ears are hearing all kinds of outward noise?

So, I withdraw from others to be sequestered in with my Abba.
Come to Me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest~ Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 11:28
The next time we think someone who is isolating themselves is not doing a good thing, may we realize that maybe they are teaching us a valuable life lesson.

Because of Him and Unto Him, 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How Many Zip Codes?!

Photo Courtesy of Jose Martin Ramfrez C @ Unsplash

Did you ever have a day when your brain feels something like this photo?  I seem to have a lot of days like this lately.  

When moving to a new state, all the new things you must locate and set up can be so draining.  There are days when my mind feels all over the place like the electrical wires in this photo as a train is slowly inching through the muddle trying to get me from point A to point B.  But, the mental chaos causes the train to stop dead in its tracks.  

There are days when I MUST shut my mind down by watching nonsensical TV.  There are days when I say I cannot make one more decision and so I put it off until tomorrow.  There are days when I absolutely cannot drive on another unknown road so I stay secluded, but not I'm not alone, for my God sequesters Himself in with me.

The highway system down here is so different than Long Island.  We have Sunrise Highway or the Long Island Expressway, both of which run East and West - onto The Island or off The Island.  Down here in Charlotte, there are many highways with "Inner" and "Outer" signs on them.  I've yet to find anyone who could tell me what that even means.  I have no East-West or North-South sense of bearings on these highways.  In New York, I lived on the North side of Island, so I always knew South was directly across from there.  You could always find your bearings. If someone were to ask me where Uptown (what Long Islanders would call "The City") is compared to where I live, I would have to tell them I do not have a clue.  Am I North or South, East or West of the city limits of Charlotte?  I do not know.

Even the position of the traffic lights is different.  I can't tell you how many red lights I accidentally sailed through when I first got here six months ago.  

And the medical care system is lightyears ahead of NY.  Lightyears!  But to me, it is so overwhelming.  Doctor offices are in these HUGE complexes.  I walked into one yesterday and almost cried.  I was intimidated just walking through the parking lot looking up at this massive building.  It gave me a sense that my little life on little Long Island was confining somehow, and now I've been let out into this great big, scarey world.

I had never stopped to think about how different each state in these great United States of America must be.  But, I guess they are.  To me, Earth consisted of Long Island. 118 miles long by 23 miles across at its widest point.   As one who rarely ever left The Island to travel anywhere, the East End of The North Fork of Suffolk County was the size of my world.  Little towns after little towns. Tiny compared to Charlotte, which is absolutely humungous with over 300 miles of this one town consisting of over 30 zip codes!  I'm constantly asking Isabel or family are we STILL in Charlotte?  And the answer is always the same: Yes. 

Abba surely has expanded my tent pegs:
"Enlarge the place of your tent and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords,and strengthen your stakes for you shall expand to the right and to the left..." (Is. 54:2-3a)
Enlarged.  Stretched.  Spare not. Lengthen.  Strengthen.  Expand.   

Phew...those are exhausting words to me because I'm living through it. However, taking it one day at a time, I'm learning how to truly rest in my God when I need to, which is usually daily.  And daily He meets me, and renews and refreshes me clearing my muddled brain. He gives me the strength and courage to face another unknown road, another unknown eatery, another unknown way of doing things, and many unknown people.  Oh! And those zip codes.  

Thank You, my Abba!  You have called me and equipped me and You are all the "equipment" I need.  

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Rays of the Sonshine

I am The Vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.  - Jesus, The Christ as recorded in John 15:5
Jesus goes on to tell us to "abide in My Love" in vs. 9b.  
It is ONLY when we abide in our God, do we bear good fruit in our lives.

The word "abide" means to continually stay in a place; dwell; remain; consider it your own.

With all the pulls on us from the world's system of doing and being in a 24-hour period, how do we abide in anything, let alone in God?
If you keep My Commandments, you will (then) abide in My Love, just as I have kept My Father's Commandments and abide in His Love. (vs. 10)
We can be in and out of "love" with our spouse, kids, or friends a few times over in a 24-hour period of time.  Our "love" for them is based on emotion and circumstance. That is NOT the "love" Jesus is talking about it.  He is talking about the kind of Love He has for you and I.  Agape = Love that leaves us gaping (as if with mouth wide open) with wonder, expectation, and attention; unceasing and unmerited; nothing to be gained by; deep and relenting; longevity; extravagant.  

Extravagant Love.
To live a life of extravagant Love takes work and commitment. It takes being ever cognizant of God's Presence, His unrelenting Love, His Abilities, His Attributes, His Goodness and Generosity, His Benefits, the work of The Cross in our lives.  It takes a desire to Love as He Loves, not as the world has taught us to love.  

And most of all, His most Holy Word must be a priority in our lives.  It's His Word that transforms our minds and souls and sets us free from the world's way of doing and being.

I remember the day, many years ago, when I declared my desire to experience Abba's Love and Heartbeat for people.  I desired to know what it felt like to Love the unlovables the way God loved them.  I longed to experience it.  I remember the commitment I made to that.  Little did I know then horrific circumstances that would come in my life as a result of that desire and commitment.  God gave permission for me to be put on the anvil. And through the very long nighttime of my soul, I allowed the world's way of loving to be hammered right out of me.

The result?  

Truly loving my enemies.  My husband's young lover came to live with our young family for three months where she found redemption and Love, Himself; being able to continuously and ceaselessly love on and commit myself in friendship to the most challenging to-be-around people (see Hand-held Love); to use my own resources and funds to help those needing a helping hand (CareVan) in my community.  CareVan wasn't just a non-profit, it was a representation of me, my heart, my soul, my life, MY GOD. Those in the community that I extended a helping hand to became a part of my life and an extension of my soul.  I cared deeply for the relationships I built - even the unlovables.  

As I began this post, I had no idea where Abba would take this.  As always, His Writings minister to me first and foremost.  

Thank You, Abba, for reminding me of who I am, for all You have done in transforming me into Your likeness and image, for bestowing upon me the greatest gift of all - Your Love for me and through me.  Thank You for teaching me long ago to abide in You and Your Word.  Thank You that the rays of Your Sonshine upon my life have caused such fruit to grow.  

All Because of You and Unto You, 
I am Your 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Pushpins of Life

Loss - from small to great - comes in all stages of life.  It is no respecter of persons.  It leaves a gaping hole inside your being - a deep void of what once was, of who once was.  That black hole is grief.

Loss of any kind is traumatic.  It changes us and causes us to walk around a shell of who we once were.

Grief knows no bounds.  It lashes out at us most unexpectedly in the daylight or in the dark of night almost causing the remaining parts of us to shrivel up into nothingness.

Grief knows no time frame.  Its tentacles can stretch for a seemingly torturous amount of time.  Then it can lay low, rearing its ugly head when a memory comes, when we hear a song, when we see a reminder.  It loves to catch us off guard.

I suspect that grief never truly disappears.  The black-hole-of-nothingness will shrink being filled by others or other life experiences.  It subsides as time marches on.  But, if that thing or person meant so much to us at one time in our lives, I think it leaves a pinhole as if it were a pushpin in the map of our lives.
(When I homeschooled, I had a world map on the wall with pushpins in all the cities and countries my children traveled to on summer mission trips.  Each child had their own colored pushpins.  Oh, how I treasured what that map represented.)
And one day, future tense, we will look back at the pushpin holes in our life-maps and realize what we have overcome; how much we have grown; how far we have traveled and are still standing.  Grief need not be a stop-all in our lives.  It need be a tracking point.

A tracking point that truly shows us how God was with us, that He did not leave alone in the midst of the deep, black-void-of-nothingness.  It only appeared that way because that is what grief convinces us of at the time.

Truth is God brought us out of that hole step by step. He was is in that nothingness alongside of us, healing our brokenness, causing us to be a shoulder for someone else, creating in us the ability to see Him as a speck of Light even in the darkest of blackness that surely may once again come in our lives. Pain and loss come to a knock on all doors.  It will just be another pushpin in our life-map.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Twenty-first of June

Usually, the word "anniversary" conjures up happy thoughts of something to celebrate.  But, what if, in reality, the anniversary date is not something to actually make merry about? 

It becomes a day that seems to slowly and creepily creep up on you; a day that draws you inward while duct-taping your soul in solitude; a day you must walk through if you want to get to the-day-after when life will return to normal.

Since last year, June 21st is now a double whammy.  Really, LORD?!  These two major life events on the same day?   Marriage.  Divorce.  I will always wonder if the judge signed the decree on the 21st of June, 2017 on purpose...

I've decided going forward - even though I don't understand the God-significance of this double whammy - to think of the doubleness of June 21st as a blessing.  Instead of two days out of the year when grief would shroud my heart, from here on in it will only be one day out of the year.  One day a year for duct tape and a shroud. Instead of two.  Only one day a year of withdrawing into a fetal position.  Instead of two.  Only one day a year to be introspective to the 10th degree.  One day a year of letting my heart's brokenness secrete its tears. 

Tomorrow - June 22nd - is the-day-after. Tomorrow I will be able to joke once again, "Thank you, Joe."  But, not today.  Not on the 21st.  I own this one day a year to feel as I need to feel; to be as I need to be. This day belongs to me and me alone.  And I do not feel guilty about it.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Up Side of Upside Down

As one whose life has been turned upside down for a succession of almost five years now, I've questioned God about a lot of things.  Some things I've come to understand, some are still questions.  But, this I have learned:

And in midst of relying on God's Almightiness, I've also learned as a personal Truth, what Smith Wigglesworth has said:
Beloved, God wants us to be something more than ordinary people. Remember this: if you are ordinary, you have not reached the ideal Principles of God. The only thing that God has for a man is to be extraordinary. God has no room for an ordinary man. There are millions of ordinary people in the world. But when God takes hold of a man, He makes him extraordinary in personality, power, thought, and activity.
My upside down life is not something other women have not experienced before me.  It most certainly is not unique amongst womanhood. But, I do know that my walking through this valley of darkness is a call to rise above ordinary and to a level of extraordinariness; to walk according to God's Principles and RISE UP AND ABOVE to a place where His Almightiness has Its work in me.

And maybe when I can attain that, maybe...just maybe.. this season of upside-downness will finally be over. 

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Lesson Visualized

At the meet-and-greet room at Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia, only wives, parents, or immediate family are allowed to sit next to the prisoner they are visiting.  Everyone else must sit across from them.  A few visits ago, there was a woman sitting across from another inmate.  Although her back was to me, his was not.  And I had to work hard at not staring at them. I was not very successful.  His facial expressions kept catching my eye and drawing me back.  Never once was he aware that I visually infiltrated their time together nor was he aware of the circumstances going on all around them.  As the song goes, he "only had eyes for her".

You could tell there was Love between them.  His countenance was nothing I had ever witnessed before on a man's face. His gaze never left hers.  Love exuded from his eyes.  Although it's a no-no, a few times he grabbed her hands, caressing them with his thumbs.  He had a Bible and he was sharing Scriptures with her.  

I snuck-a-peek again just as he gently cupped her face in his hands and was quietly speaking to her.  His eyes were filled with emotion as he slowly leaned in closer and gingerly kissed her forehead.  I had to look away.

I felt like I was an intruder on this deeply spiritual moment between them.  And I say spiritual because that kind of Love surely is spiritual.  And oh, so VERY rare. 

I know nothing of this man's story.  Nothing as to how he ended up incarcerated at Buckingham.  But, I could tell that this was a man who is sensitive and gentle. Possibly he never used to be. Possibly he once was completely the opposite.  Possibly, since he had a Bible with him, what I witnessed was a man whose heart had been touched by Love, Himself and transformed to be a vessel of sensitivity and gentleness in the hard, cold world he lives in.

His sensitive, gentle, and loving image is engraved in my mind.  Just this morning, he came to mind and I closed my eyes.  "Oh, Abba", I said in my heart, "In all my years, never has a man looked at me the way he looked at her.  I have never experienced that kind of adoration.  Does she know how blessed she is?  Does his love for her penetrate her being the way it did mine?"

Suddenly, I realized I HAVE experienced that kind of adoration.  My God, Who is my Husband and my faithful Companion looks at me that way.  And I believe He allowed me to witness that inmate's facial expressions so that I can close my eyes and know - really KNOW - that I, too, am deeply cherished and adored. By. The. One. Who. Matters. Most.

The LORD God Almighty Loves me. And you. He adores me. And you. And He adorns me with His Love.  As He does you. He sacrificially gave His Life for me.  For. Me.  And. For. You.  So that I would KNOW I'm cherished and adored. So that you, too, would know.

Abba, thank You for the gift of that visualization of Your tangible Love flowing through one human being to another.  I ask You to so fill me with Your Love so that It will be tangibly seen and experienced through me.  May it be a witness to the depth of our relationship.  May Your Love be personified through me to others, the way it was to me.

Because of Him and Unto Him, 

Monday, June 4, 2018

My Godsaid

Yesterday's message at Judah Church was incredible...I gleaned so much from Pastor Glenn's dynamic message about Noah and the altar he built to honor God.  One of my take away's was:  What has God said to you? Pastor Glenn repeatedly asked, "What is your Godsaid?"

When that question was posed to us yesterday, immediately The Holy Spirit brought to mind what God said to me when I went into "hiding" three years ago this month.  I was a mess.  The stress of Joe going "postal", the SWAT team, the need for and the process to get an Order of Protection, forced from my home, etc., etc. had me very traumatized. All. Over Again.  I was so alone all the way out on the East End of Long Island.  All I had was The LORD.

As I settled into my new life, My Abba lovingly and encouragingly spoke.  As He said, I journaled it down. Eventually, I printed it and framed it.  I hung it on my bedroom wall and read it every day.  Now, it adorns my living room wall.  I think it is pertinent to any life situation you may be in. So, I share my "Godsaid" with you:

I posted this Word on top of a piece
of art I was creating. There is
something "unknown" under it.
Hidden, yet still there, which is
"The Known In the Midst of the Unknown"
"Take heart, for I AM with you.  Yes, this journey is not of your choosing; not of My choosing for you.  However, I AM in the process of causing it all to be for the good in your life, My Diane.  Continue to trust Me.

"I know the unknown can be scary.  But, in the midst of the unknown is The Known: My Love for you will not be broken or defiled.  It is pure and will always remain so.

"In the midst of the unknown is The Known: I walk this journey with you.  Beside you, as a Friend would.  Friends and church have disappointed you.  But, have I?  I'm your Husband, your Friend, your Companion.  I will not disappoint you.

"In the midst of the unknown is The Known: You are righteous and therefore, My Promises are sure on your behalf.

"In the midst of the unknown is The Known: Regardless of how it looks and "seems like" Joe is winning, My Diane, you know My Provision is here.  Already in place.  Fear not!

"In the midst of the unknown is The Known:  Your voice will emerge stronger than ever because of your personal Truth.

"My Diane, thank you for coming and sitting with Me this morning.  Thank you for quieting your soul.  Thank you for having ears to hear what I whisper to you in secret.  I celebrate you, My Diane.  I celebrate you."

This rang true three years ago and it rings true today.  Thank You, My Abba!  Thank You. And thank you, Pastor Glenn, for ushering in a life-altering encounter at the "altar".  

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Oh, the Torment of Anxiety!

I think one of the most challenging Scripture verses for those of us who desire to be more like Christ is Phil. 4:6:
Be anxious for nothing
yet it carries with it one of the most awesome Promises of our God.
the Peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
You would think we would work hard at gaining mastery over it.  For who wouldn't want that kind of peace in our lives?

God Almighty even tells us the antidote for our anxieties:
but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be known to God
THEN the Peace of God will be a guard will be a guard around our hearts and minds.  The more we refuse to be anxious, the more protection we have from it reoccurring.  All we have to do is ask our Heavenly Father....that's it.  Done deal.

Sunday morning The Spirit of God told me to say specific things to say to my beloved 84-year-old friend, Rene when we go to the prison the next day.  Well...I was full of faith with a resolve of obedience.

Until we got to the prison yesterday morning.

Fear was staring me in the face and so began it's anxious thoughts:
Why do I have to tell him here, in this setting?  That makes no sense!  Why can't I tell him at home tomorrow?  We are all going to be crying so what if the guards come over and break us up?  What if Isabel gets mad at me?  I can't do this because this day isn't about Rene or me - it's about visiting Robert!  

And on and on and on and on. For almost one hour I allowed tormenting "anxious" thoughts.  Those thoughts stopped me dead in my tracks. The longer I procrastinated, the torment of anxiety continued.

My heart pounded out of my chest and my blood pressure sky-rocketed as soon as I allowed the second-guess thoughts.  I was absolutely miserable for one hour because I allowed Fear to speak to me.  So, what did I do?  I asked Abba for a specific sign that I was meant to do this.  Without hesitation, instantaneously, God complied.  Oh, man!  Really?

I am a firm believer in celebrating those in our lives and not waiting until we are at a funeral or memorial service to tell them what wonderful people they are and what they mean to us.  Well, it sure was a tear-jerker!  Robert, Isabel, and I cried through the whole thing.

And then God allowed me to see His Reasoning as to why NOW; why HERE at the prison meet and greet room: After I finished, Robert then shared his heart toward his step-father - the dad in his adult life who has shown such unconditional, Christ-like love to Robert, his sisters, and mother.  The man who faithfully drove his mother down to Virginia to visit him in prison.  Month-after-month for 24 years.  Oh, man. Who turned on the waterworks?  Did we cry!

All anxiety was gone the minute I started speaking. The words flowed from my heart like a Shakespearian sonnet.  It was all God!  And the blessing to me was that I got to witness the expression of love and gratitude of Robert toward Rene and to hear his words, "Even though I call you Rene, you are my dad".  It did my heart good. 

A few minutes later, a C.O. walked over and handed us our paperwork.  Time to leave.  Mission accomplished.  Robert and I were about our Father's business yesterday to honor this good, good Man of God.  Father's Day in May.

Did Abba not tell me to be anxious for nothing?!  Hello, Diane!  Lesson learned.  Or was it?  We shall see the next time Anxiety comes a-knockin'.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The "O" Number

I'd like you to stop and think about this statement for a moment:
If you were ONLY known for the worst thing you have done in your life, think of the labels that would come with that, and the opportunities you may lose out on in your life, and the guilt and shame you would be covered in.
Heavy isn't it?

That question was poised to us at the beginning of an orientation class I participated in at Changed Choices -  a ministry to women in prison and after their release.  That statement pricked my heart.  

I know the labels that were put on me from childhood and the labels I used to put on myself in my BC (Before Christ) years. Oh, I thank God for Jesus Christ and that I'm now label-free.  
But, what If you were ONLY known for the worst thing you have done in your life? 
Those in prison live day in and day out under the weight of labels.  The politically correct term is no longer "prisoner" or "inmate".  It is now "offender".  "Offender #12345".  Day in and day out, year in and year out, those in prison are reminded of their worst moments, their worst choices, their worst offenses.  After release, they get a new label "Ex-con","Felon", "Sex Offender" so that society knows how awful a human being they once were.

But what about the men and woman in prison who have truly repented and have worked hard a making better choices in life?  Like you and I have done.

Some Christians do not have a past to be ashamed of or a past that could have ended with them becoming Offender #12345.  And they, I'm sure, cannot relate.  But, I do.  I know what God has forgiven me for.  I know how close I came to being just an "O" number - Offender #12345.   

God Almighty does not remember our worst offenses.  Our sins (offenses) are thrown into the deep and are remembered no more.  Our American society needs to be a little more Grace-oriented and forgiving. It can only happen society-wide if it begins with you and I as Followers of Christ.  If true Believers would forgive and extend Grace - as each of us have been forgiven and covered by God's Grace - then as a society we would see positive change.  Even within our prisons.  
Where sin abounded, Grace abounded much more. ~Words of the Apostle Paul, THE SERIAL MURDERER , as recorded in Romans 5:20b
Because of Him and Unto Him,
I'm not an "O" number,

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Celebrating Father's Day - Early

Love - real Love - truly is Divine in nature. It is pure, holy, chaste, gentle, unconditional, giving.  It loosens freedom, strength, forgiveness, encouragement, and joy to the soul.

Love Divine lifts us up. It embodies God to us, cocoons us in His protective embrace, and showers our soul with a joy that truly cannot be explained.

Love Divine affords us the ability to love the unlovable one, go the extra mile when needed, and to put another ahead of ourselves once in a while.

Love Divine gifts us with the ability to forgive the most unforgivable acts, to embrace other sinners until they change choices, or even release those we so desperately want to hold on to.

And as we know, Satan is the Perverter of everything God.  Hence, we have the passions of the body and mind that we are brainwashed into believing is love.  And that is so so far from true Love Divine, which is our Father's gift to all of us.

My Daddy holds my heart and soul ever so gently, tenderly cupping me within His Hand.  He provides companionship of the God-kind in the loneliest of times. He listens intently as if I were the only human child He has.  He speaks in controlled softness even when correcting me.  And since He knows me best (cause He created me), He and I are soulmates.  He fulfills every emotional need I may have. He walks with me - next to me. Not two steps ahead or with casual-uninvolvment behind me.  My Abba makes me feel cherished and adored, which is His Divine Goal.  I've had a few people in the last few years say to me, "You look like a woman in love."  I'm so happy it shows.  For I am.  With God.  And the best is, His Love Divine spills over onto others in my sphere of influence.

Thank You, Abba.  May I forever be adorned with the residue of your Divine Love.  And when all human, carnal "love" lets others down, may they choose to know You and Your Love Divine intimately.  May they desire what You and I have - for themselves. As I know that is Your Heart's Desire for all Your children.  

I love You, My Abba
YOUR Diane

Friday, May 11, 2018

Come and Be Filled

Some Sermons-In-a-Sentence (in the same theme) 
offered as nourishment:

~ If Agape Love (God Almighty's unconditional Love) were a bank, how much would be in your account?

~ Eph. 5:18 says, "...be filled with The Spirit...(The God of Love Who has no measure).  That word "filled" means "a continuous flow".  So, are you continually being filled to overflowing with God's Character and Attributes?

~ Do you know that the treasury of the Most High God is inexhaustible?  We can never deplete it for it is a continuous flow.  We can, however, choose to never withdraw from our account.

~ Do you look at "the treasury” of God as being His Blessings or His Character Traits?  

~ If unconditional love, compassion, or long-suffering were a bank
account, do you think you need to make a withdrawal or do you look at those attributes just like we do pennies (not worth much so why bother?)?

~ I believe one of the reasons why the American Body of Christ so kicks and wounds each other, judges, points fingers, and typically does not like each other is due to the fact that we are not filled (to overflowing) with The God of Love's attributes. 

~ The American Body of Christ, for the most part, wants God to “bless” us, not transform us into His image and likeness; not have our carnal, dysfunctional minds renewed to be One with the Mind of Christ. 

~ If God's Love is unconditional, how then do we - His Body - put conditions on who and how we will love?

~ For the most part, The American Body of Christ is selfish.  We desire to be a "bless me" club that subliminally says, "You are not good enough to enter here because your sins are an 'abomination'".

~ If all sin warranted God Almighty to send His Son to pay our penalty, why then do we classify degrees of sins?  So, we feel better about ourselves, that's why.  

~ We should desire to be filled (in a continuous flow) with The God of Love, Who has the ability to transform us into a conduit for His Agape Love to reach every human being in our circle of influence.  We dam up that flow because we judge who is worthy of wrapping our arms around and loving on no matter what their lifestyle choice may be at the moment. We forget that it was the unconditional Love of God which brought us to repentance and the unconditional love we extend will do the same.  Jesus never told Mary Magdalene that her sins were an "abomination".  No, He embraced her and loved her without judgment causing her to seek forgiveness and change choices. 

~ If we are filled with The God of Love, HIMSELF, rather than just the Love of God, we would be filled to capacity and be overflowing with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, and a knowledge of right-standing with God to which no law can stand against. Why? Because we would be filled with God Himself (the FULLNESS of Who He is) not just one of His attributes.

~ Why settle for just the attribute of Love when we are offered the FULLNESS of God?  ALL of Him, not just a portion.  Why?

Have a grateful Mother's Day.  

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Soulmate One, Three, and Four: CHECK

I've been doing much thinking about soulmates lately. I've been writing, contemplating, and writing some more.

I've realized a few things:

1.  You can have a soulmate in a pet. Check.
2.  You can have a soulmate in a life partner.
3.  You can have a soulmate in a friend. Check.
4.  You can have a Soulmate in God.  Check.

I've been oh, so blessed by having a soulmate in 1,3, and 4.

"The LORD is my Soulmate God - the Essence of who I am", I wrote.  And how true that is.  Afterall Jesus prayed that I, Diane, would be One with The Father, as He was One with Him.
That they all may be One as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be One in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  ~ Jesus, The Christ, as recorded in John 17:21
I know my relationship with God is rare (in the valuable kind).  It is deep and intimate, filled with Love Divine (as Seal calls it in his song, Love Divine).

My Divine Soulmate keeps encouraging me.  He keeps on loving on me.  He keeps on fulfilling me.  The Essence of His Being is Love.  And It has melded to me causing me to be One with Him - the greatest, most value Soulmate there could ever be.  I think Hallmark should come up with a Soulmate's Day.  For surely it is worth celebrating.

The one area I've not experienced is with my husband, so if you have experienced having your life's partner as your soulmate, please share so I can feel what it is like vicariously through you.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, May 3, 2018

On My Way...Finally!

As you all know, I've been on a journey of healing and finding myself at the same time.  Finding out who I am separate from a spouse.  I came to realize that over the longevity of my marriage, I picked up some disturbing behavioral patterns - after all, we were one.  Patterns that I am consciously and diligently working on to nullify from my life. And so I share with you, my friends, a bit of who I found myself to be.

As I'm working on change, I've also come to realize, AND APPRECIATE, one of my greatest character traits over the longevity of my life has been a kindness. 

And I've also come to notice that it angers some people, causing them to judge me. I've even been berated for my kindness. It seems to cause people to "glitch" on the inside somehow.

It takes an inner strength to "be" what doesn't come natural in this world. That's why America needed a "Random Acts of Kindness" campaign. I believe that inner strength is the character of God within me. He and I are a "well-oiled machine" as the saying goes.  We flow together. As one.

And so as I come around to almost a year of being a retired wife, I'm finally at a place of starting to be able to CELEBRATE me - the me God created me to be; NOT the one I morphed into through childhood and from being one with who I was married to for so many years. I know that doesn't sound very humble, but I am most humbled.  For God is within me and it is He who I am one with.  One with Abba's behavioral patterns and character.  And since He is The Potentate of Kindness and I am my Father's Daughter, I can finally see His Kindness attribute in me.

And so with all that is within me, I thank You, Abba.  Thank You for the continual transformation of me back into the woman You knew before I was conceived in my mother's womb. I am eternally grateful that kindness is a part of my legacy. For kindness can only blossom from a heart that is overflowing with Love. Thank You, Abba, for filling me with Your Love.  My vocation, Dear LORD, is to make my life an act of worship unto You. And I'm finally on my way. May You alone be glorified and honored. 

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Pick-the-petals-off-the-daisy Syndrome

Do you remember the summertime pick-the-petals-off-the-daisy game?

"I love him. I love him not.I love him. I love him not. I love him. I love him not..."

Oh, the heart is so very fickle. In the last (almost) five-years, I've learned how fickle my heart really is. For one moment I do.  One moment I do not.

Even though this was a four-year ordeal of lawyers and courts, it's only been 8 months since I am a retired wife.  Eight months of a new life. Of retirement. So, yes, the back and forth fickleness is still very much alive and well. One minute my heart attitude is, "Thank you for setting me free into my now new life."  A little while later, I hear a song or someone says something that takes me back to the good days of life lived. Together.

Fickleness.  I do think it is a torment.  One minute I'm laughing and secure.  A moment later I can be teary-eyed for what once was. That is why James tells us to not be double-minded (James 1:6-8).  But this now new life is still a journey of inner healing. 

So....what do I do in one of my fickle moments?  I buy PacMan. For the light switch in my bedroom.  As a reminder of the husband of my youth.  The only one I will ever have.

I remember the day Joe brought home the PacMan game for our new Atari system.  He was hooked.  He loved that game back in 1980 and probably still does to this day.

I keep going over to it and touching it.  A smile comes over my face but a moment later a tear forms on my heart and I must walk away. After 44 years of marriage and 2 pre-marriage years, I don't even have to close my eyes to hear the sounds PacMan made as he gobbled up the ghosts. And I don't have to close my eyes to picture the excitement produced by those sounds Joe so loved.

But, I do have to close my eyes to remind myself that it is OK to have this kind of fickleness once in a while.  As a woman who loves with the God-kind of Love, I've chosen to allow that Love to rule and reign my life.  So, PacMan will always have a place in my heart.  As will the husband of my youth.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Empty Tomb, Full Heart

This Easter I designed a card and this was the inside wording:
His empty tomb revealed His Glory.
Our hearts reveal His Glory to each other.
During Easter week, I had been meditating on the words in that card, as was my friend to whom the card was sent.  We had an in-depth discussion on the meaning of those God-inspired words. The two of us were blessed and most humbled by what we saw of the Goodness and Character of God in each other, which has caused the both of us to know God more deeply.  More intimately. 

I'm going to try and put our 40-minute discussion into a nutshell for you:

In Exodus 33:18-19, Moses asked God to see His Glory. In response, God showed Moses His Goodness. THE GLORY OF GOD IS HIS GOODNESS.  And Moses was allowed to view the goodness of God Almighty in a tangible way.  We cannot even begin to imagine what Moses must have experienced.

As Jesus Followers, as His Disciples, our hearts - the inner essence of who we are - should reveal The LORD's Glory to each other.  SHOULD reveal The LORD's GOODNESS to each other.  

I feel we should know God in a deeper, more intimate way because of His Goodness being revealed to us through each other.  That is what the world needs to see.  That is what CHRISTIANS need to see. IN EACH OTHER.  

If we are not, why not?

"More of Him and less of me."  We say it.  We sing it.  Do we even understand what we are saying?  John 3:30 says, "He must increase but I must decrease."  What about Jesus must increase?  His Goodness, His Character. IN ME. His Goodness and Character should override who I used to be.  CHANGE.  GODLY CHANGE.  WITHIN ME.  REVEALING MORE OF HIS GOODNESS.  
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? HE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?           ~ John 14:9
If Jesus' Spirit is ruling and reigning from within us, then The Father should also be seen IN US.  I dare say that we should be able to say, "If they see me, they see The Father."  Whoa!  

We are told in the Book of Acts that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will be witnesses of Jesus Christ.  BE witnesses.  Not go out and knock on doors and witness; not go to public places and witness.  No. BE a witness.

Our lifestyle. the changes taking place within us. are to be the witness. to our families. to brothers and sisters in Christ. to the strangers in the marketplace.

May others see The Father's Glory when they observe us.  And may they be drawn to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, April 5, 2018

God's Priority

I found me a new Tom.  Ed is now the new Tom in my life.  My ever-so-needed handyman.

Ed is an older gentleman who married his childhood friend a gazillion years ago.  They had been friends from age 5.  They grew up and old together.  She is his numero uno priority in life and he is a man who deeply loves his family.  It shows.

As he shared, I got teary-eyed.  Emotional. I actually had to walk away.

I've never been anyone's priority in life.  I've never experienced the security and well-being that must come with that kind of dedication and care.  And at this stage of the game, I probably never will even though I did tell The LORD I would like to be  s o m e o n e' s  priority in this lifetime.  As a woman, I would like to know how that feels.

But, I do know that I'm God's priority.  I'm His numero uno.  And I DO know the security and well-being that comes from that deep-seated knowledge.  So for THAT, I'm mightily blessed.

So, if I had to choose between an Ed or God, God would win hands down.  No contest.  Abba DOES make me feel safe and secure, loved and cherished. Adored even.  Yes, i AM God's priority.  And so are you!  Oh, Hallelujah!

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Three Dog Night Experience

Anyone who is a leader in ministry can experience overwhelming loneliness at times.  The responsibility of your position cannot be shared with anyone.  It's just you.  And The LORD.  No one truly understands.  Except for The LORD.

I love this photo of this particular lighthouse.  I am drawn to the very desolation of this place.  Outside of the lighthouse keeper, I'm sure there are not many visitors.  Who'd want to walk up all those steps?    God bless the keeper, for this is one lonely job!

When loneliness weighs us down, what do we do?  Complain?  Sulk?  Isolate?  Drop out of ministry?  Stop serving? 

We do. But, we shouldn't.  We should take it to The LORD, Who is our Burden Bearer. 

If anyone understands bitter, unrelenting, weigh-you-down loneliness, it is Jesus, The Christ.  From birth He was different.  His own siblings didn't believe He was Who He was, never mind townfolk.  Most of the time, His own Disciples couldn't figure Him out.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, He was alone.  At His arrest.  Crawling on the Via Dolorosa.  Hanging on the Cross.  ALONE.

Therefore, He understands.  He will sustain us during the times when Satan whispers "I'm so lonely" in our ears making us think this is how we feel.  Satan makes us feel as if we have been abandoned.

If The LORD Jesus Christ - the Champion Overcomer of loneliness - is by our side willing to sustain us, why, oh, why do we not throw what we are experiencing onto Him?
Cast your burden on The LORD and He shall sustain you.  ~Ps. 55:22a 
We seem to stay - wallowing - in that feeling of isolation and self-pity.  Loneliness and self-pity go hand-in-hand.  As leaders in ministry, we must take authority over that demonic, mental stronghold.  For we certainly are NOT alone.  We have The Spirit of The Champion Overcomer dwelling in us, with us, and for us. 

I don't know about you, but I sure am "preaching" to myself.  No, Three Dog Night, one is NOT the loneliest number I will ever do.  Thank You, LORD. 

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Thursday, March 22, 2018

God's Kiss

A day without being of service to mankind for me is like living like a fish out of water - just flapping around.  If a fish is not swimming in the sea, he is not a fish. These past two months that's how I have felt.  

And because God has not yet directed me to what He would have me do, I've been told, "Just come back."  

God doesn't do "back" unless He has emotional healing in mind.  Even with CareVan.  I cannot go back to what is familiar and comfortable.  This is a new season.  A new life.  And a new assignment does await me.  And He may have already given me a glimpse.  He has shown me where society hurts.  And I pray that I might be His Kiss to those specific wounds.  I sure hope so.

The Yankee in me is not adjusted to this Southern lifestyle of slow and easy yet.  I'm like 10 steps ahead...slow down, Diane.  I'm ready to jump in.  Into what I think is the "glimpse".  But, time will tell.  Time...slow down, Diane.

In the midst of the unknown, I'm practicing patience.  And patience will have its perfect work in me.  And maybe that is what is absolutely necessary for me to be the "kiss" He wants me to be.

When I know for sure, I'll let you know.  In the meantime, I encourage you to go out and be God's Kiss to someone today.

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Little God-things

It's the littlest of God-things that bring me such joy.  Wanna hear how Abba does me?

I grew up in a German family who had corn beef and cabbage once-a-year.  Only once-a-year.  On St. "Paddy's" Day, as we called it.  When I married my Italian man, we continued the tradition of the once-a-year St. Paddy's day meal. 
(I even have a funny story about how my serving corn beef and cabbage on St. Paddy's Day one year caused the Montreal Canadians to lose to New York Rangers.  NOW it's funny story.  It sure wasn't back then, as Ken Dryden (the Canadians goalie, was family.)
So, for forty years of marriage, we had corn beef and cabbage.  The last four years, however, I didn't cook it because I was now alone.  Why bother?

This week I went to the grocery store and bought a corned beef and a head of cabbage and I thought to myself, What in Heaven's name am I doingWhat am I going to do with all this?

Last night I asked Isabel if she liked corn beef.  I thought I would cook it and share it with them.  But, her reply deflated me.  "No, why?"  I told her I was going to cook it.  "Rene just said last night that St. Patrick's Day was coming and he would love to have some corn beef."

Oh, did my heart smile.  It's the little God-things that are so very special.

You see, my buying and preparing the meal was not for me, but for Rene.  Abba knew the desire of his heart wanted to bless him

So, I'm taking my uncooked foods to their house later to prepare a wonderful St. Paddy's day meal for my Puerto Rican friend. 

I guess you can say that I have found this to be a muti-ethnical meal.  It's not just for the Irish. Even Germans, Italians, and Puerto Ricans love it. 

And God loves Rene and is going to bless him.  And I'm blessed beyond measure that Abba is using my corn beef to do so.  I love when He does little things like this.  Because any little thing God does, is really a BIG thing to the recipients and that truly makes my heart smile.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Because of Him and Unto Him,

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Wagon's Tale

A Wagon's Tale

What do you see when you look at this wagon?
Does it look old?
Well used?
"Put out to pasture"?

What I see:
Memories. Stories. Adventures.
What untold stories are chronicled within this empty,
worn structure?
What was the silly talk children spoke riding to and from?
What family taradiddles or gossip has it heard?

Does it echo with its previous life that only those 
who have ears to hear can hear?
What carvings may be branded into its wood in a secluded spot?
Oh, to Sherlock Holmes up, down, in, and out of it...

How many times did a wagon wheel break down in an inconvenient place?
How long did it take to repair?
Did the cargo need to be unloaded?  Then reloaded?
Were prayers prayed for help?

Oh, the tales the loads could tell about the owners...

What kind of horse was assigned to engine this wagon?
Did he resent the long, hard paths not of his choosing?
Did his body hurt from hauling the heavy loads?
Did he long to be liberated?

Old wagon put out to pasture. 

Does anyone care?
Does anyone have ears to hear the long-silent laughter? 
Eyes to see the long-dried up tears this wagon has transported?

Just an old wagon?
It's the history of a family. 
Their story.
Left now only to my imagination. 

Because of Him and Unto Him,