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Entanglements

About 6 weeks ago, I was at a LifeVantage Conference ( I am promoting their amazing Health and Wellness products, however that is not the purpose of this message). While at the conference, one of the ladies I shared a room with was getting ready for  our session meeting and she became frustrated because her jewelry had gotten all entangled within her luggage.

Together we took turns trying to un-snarl the ensnarled bobbles. She loosened one knot, only to find that the knots tightened more in other areas of entanglement. Finally I helped free up one of the necklaces but not enough to obtain the needed outcome. Ultimately, she knew that in order to preserve the jewelry that was most important to her, she would have to cut away the entangled necklaces that encumbered her.

This morning (December 4, 2018) I remembered a journal entry I had made years ago. I searched for my old journals and found one from 2008. As I dusted it off and opened it, I found an entry I made, get ready for this, on (December 4, 2008), exactly 10 years ago! So I will share what I wrote ten years ago today.

“This morning on my way  to work, I went to grab the necklace that matches the earrings I was wearing. To my disgust 4 of my necklaces had all become entangled. I set out to unknot them and an hour later, I learned a very important thing about entanglements.

  • With focused effort and prayer we can sometimes free ourselves from       “Lesser” knots.
  • Through God’s Grace and Mercy, He sometimes frees us with very little effort on our own, through faith, prayer and patient waiting.
  • Some entanglements are so encroaching as to choke out the beauty and even nullify the usefulness and purpose of the jewel. Those must be cut out completely.
  • All of these entanglements can take time to be loosed, so catch your breath, set your eyes and heart on Jesus and pray and praise Him the whole way through.”

Galatians 5:1
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened  again by a yoke of slavery.”

(www.nanetteehlers.lifevantage.com)

Shades of White….

Went for my usual walk along the sanctuary path, and heard beautiful music… as I made my way, I saw a small wedding ceremony taking place. It reminded me of the beauty and joy in a wedding ceremony. In fact, when I got married in 1990, Modern Bride magazine coined it “The Year of the Stable Marriage”. Of course I beamed with the knowledge that I was headed for “stability” in my marriage, but it turns out that they were referring to the other kind of stable. You know, the stable full of animals, noises, smells and piles of manure.  No wonder they call it “Getting Hitched”.

The stable is  a reflection of life really, and when it comes to the other “stable” referring to “stability”, we each have opportunity to daily move  through and choose that path. Without stability we can stumble and tumble along the way. It is notable that the God of the universe chose to enter this world He created within a humble stable. He came to redeem His Bride (The Church). The wedding ceremony and celebration is a small representation of the celebration that will occur when Jesus returns to bring His Bride Home.

I have been divorced for more than 20 years, and I don’t reveal that with any sense of pride or bitterness. Recently, I broke the seal on the box that held my wedding dress. There was an event I intended to donate it to, however I missed the deadline and there it hangs high and looming in my closet.  In fact just the other night, I got up to go to the bathroom, and almost had a heart attack as I saw the white dress hanging aloft in my path. As I recovered from my fright, I was reminded of  the movie Beetlejuice. Of course, my place isn’t haunted, and neither am I. I regret that my marriage did not last and represent the covenant made before God, but I walk in the freedom of His forgiveness.

Of course I will eventually find the right place to donate the dress to. For a season I had been saving it for one of my beautiful nieces, and then I realized, if she walks into that very vital covenant path, she will want the dress of her choosing. Wedding dresses are very personal and symbolic, as is the wedding ceremony.

Look at what The Message says in Ephesians 5:25-28 “Husbands go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole His words evoke her beauty. Everything He does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor – since they’re already “one” in marriage.”

Just pondering these beautiful Words gives me a sense of Awe and Hope. I was surprised that as I walked across the boardwalk bridge, the newly married couple passed me and said “hello” and I was able to congratulate  them and share in that precious moment of joy and promise.

I headed home with a sense of Hope and Stability, one day The Bridegroom (Jesus) will come for me, what a celebration that will be. What about you, are you in The Bridal Party????

 

Alarming…..

Has anyone ever noticed that the battery in smoke detectors always goes dead and starts chirping after midnight? Within the past 7 months, I have had this happen on 3 different occasions. Other than some lost sleep and the need for an attitude adjustment, thankfully my situation was easily resolved on each occasion.

Only a few weeks ago however, I was at someone’s villa and this  individual made the comment that they no longer saw a blinking light on their smoke detector.  I asked them if they had a ladder, and even though my childhood nickname was “Klutz”, I climbed to the tallest rung and proceeded to press the “test” button on the detector. Nothing occurred, no blinking light, no sound, nothing. so I unscrewed it and it was hardwired, but I could not find any battery compartment.

The villa was built in the 80’s, and perhaps those smoked detectors weren’t equipped with a battery backup. I kept playing with it while clenching the ladder, still nothing, no light, no sound. I suggested that they may want to communicate with their community association to learn  what the protocol was for this apparent electrical/wiring problem. Clearly this had potential safety issues, and the smoke detectors needed testing or replacing. The owner wasn’t too concerned, but said they would ask the neighbors, if they were having any troubles. Although they intended to look into it, it was not a priority, or concern, especially since there was no annoying battery chirp to nag them into action.

Less than a week later I called the individual and they had not yet spoken with anyone to uncover how to have their detector evaluated. They did, however, let me know that only 2 days after I left them, one of their neighbors, whom they share a  wall with, had an electrical fire. Thankfully the neighbors weren’t home at the time, but when they arrived home, all of their furniture had melted and the entire home smelled of smoke.

I know that if I were their neighbor, I would be motivated to get my smoke alarm  wiring and battery checked and updated or replaced if necessary. It made me realize that even though I had been very annoyed on the recent occasions when my detectors began chirping, I was grateful for the warning and call to action for my own good.

Our physical bodies can have a similar response. When we experience pain, swelling, fever, and a variety of other symptoms, our body  alarm is sounding off that something is wrong and we must look deeper to find out the underlying problem in order to resolve it before serious illness, injury or death ensue. God created such an amazing system in our body, if we ignore the initial chirping signs our body communicates to us, we may find ourselves struggling with a far more serious health issue down the road.

Taking healthy preventive measures adds to the safety and longevity of our lives in most cases and is well worth the investment of time, money and effort. Some of those measures involve eating a healthier diet, exercising, taking supplements to give you a healthy advantage, and proper sleep hygiene. Recently I have been excited to engage more fully in my healthy lifestyle choices. I have found that this even improves my social interactions, as I meet more individuals on a similar path to the best vantage point in life. And yes, healthy social engagement is also now recognized as a critical factor to life balance.

You know spiritually, we can have the same occur in our hearts and minds. The Bible is filled with God’s instruction on how to live under His gift of forgiveness, grace and mercy. He has given each of us choice and free will to seek Him and serve Him. When our heart, mind and spirit is hard wired through His Holy Spirit, we will respond to the chirping alarm when we enter a situation or circumstance that may be harmful for our physical, mental or spiritual well being.

If we do not keep our heart and mind sharpened and the battery charged through prayer and time in the Word, our spiritual wiring may grow older and we may no longer see the warning light or hear the chirping alarm of the Holy Spirit. Life circumstances and choices may seem pretty harmless, and we may not even realize that we have grown dull to the effects and influence of  behaviors and choices that move us further from His Good and Perfect Will.

I have definitely moved through seasons where my priorities have been compromised, and my attention drawn to relationships, activities and lifestyle habits that contradict God’s plan for my best life. Even though it didn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time, I have, more than once, looked back over a series of years where my heart was drained and broken, due to choices I made while neglecting my relationship with the Lord. I chose  my path, while ignoring God’s alarm system provided to guide and protect me.

Thankfully, Psalm 145:13-14; 17-18; 21, says

” The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down…The Lord is Righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His Holy Name forever and ever.”

This is Good News! Have you recharged your battery system lately???? mentally, physically and most importantly spiritually????

Gripping Fear

Had a dream last night. I was in a dark theater with a son. A large venomous snake came menacingly in our direction. I am dreadfully afraid of snakes and ran to the back wall of the theater. The son went straight after it grabbed it and with a swift action the snake was defanged and unable to use it’s deadly venom.

The son held it towards the center of the snake’s thick body. I screamed that he needed to grab it closer to the head to totally disable it, but he walked straight towards me snake in his grip.  As he drew near, the snake was moving it’s head closer to my face. I kept insisting that the son grab it and completely contain it, but he calmly continued to hold it close to me.

I was terrified, but at the same time I knew the snake needed to  be fully contained, so I grabbed it right below the head and gripped it tightly. The snake was not yet dead, so I felt it’s strength as I clenched it with my hand tightly squeezing. As I did this, my fear subsided and I felt stronger and more calm, the son and I together had completely subdued this dangerous threat.

I realized that the son had averted the eminent danger by eliminating the fangs and the snake’s power to injure or kill with it’s venom. But  he had chosen to leave it to me to complete the job and contain this dangerous creature. He had the power to completely finish it off, but wanted me to recognize that I had nothing left to fear because he had eliminated the deadly bite/sting of this slithering beast. He allowed me to push through my fear and grip the creature tightly, so that I could stand fearless and with authority in this creature’s presence.

It reminded me of some scripture verses:

Genesis 3:14-15 “So the Lord said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He (Jesus)will crush your (the serpent’s/enemy”s) head, and you will strike at His heel.'”

Luke 10:19-20 “I (Jesus) have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you. However do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

I Corinthians 15:55-58 – ” Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my dear brothers stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

When I had this dream, I thought it odd that the son, did not resemble any of my sons, but now I understand that he represented The Son ( Jesus Christ). Currently I myself along with several dear friends have some life circumstances that have the potential to elicit significant fear, financial distress, serious illness/injury, relationship division, and loss. I believe that the Word has declared that in Christ the victory over all things is complete. Instead of feeling gripped by fear, we have the authority in Christ to grip that fear tightly in confidence, strength and assurance.

Now I just have to remember that and Believe it and live it out as I go out into the world each day. How’s your grip????

 

Courage

I do not typically remember my dreams, not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, however, when I am awakened by a vivid dream, I take note.  A few nights ago, I was abruptly awakened from a disconcerting dream. I was on a trip to an urban city, I had a specific task to accomplish, but didn’t know what it was. One of my closest friends and confidants was speaking with me on the phone while I was maneuvering through dark busy streets full of people, but with no sense of community. Everyone  was busy with their own agenda. My friend on the phone was trying to give me advice, they had experience in this city and although the advice was helpful and well intended, it didn’t exactly apply to my immediate circumstance.

As the evening grew into darkness, I realized that I needed to secure a place to stay temporarily until I could make the contact and connection that I needed. My luggage was cumbersome and growing heavier and more difficult to manage through the crowd. I finally found a small place that had an affordable  temporary space for me to collect myself. I paid and got the key, but I could not get access into the building to get to the small space. I dragged my things around and covered the entire structure, but no matter which way I tried to get in, there was a blockade. Frustrated, confused and exhausted, I sat and pondered.

Finally I saw a group of young people lingering in a nearby quad, and as I approached them, I saw some stairs leading downward to an entry that was out of sight to the typical passerby. I approached it and was able to gain entry, relieved, I looked for my rented space and saw an adorable dog with its owner. The man had the most friendly and incredible smile and for the first time since my arrival to the city, I felt peace. I dropped my things off and realized that I had not eaten all day, so I headed back out with the intention of getting a quick bite to eat and back to my temporary pad.

The streets were busier and darker than ever. I did not have much money, but I saw an affordable and familiar restaurant in the distance and headed to it. Out of the corner of the darkness where the street lights had ended I suddenly saw a bear and a lion and some other darker creatures of the night. They were intense and I was in their sight. I anxiously looked for an escape route, and chose a palm tree that had no fronds or growth. I clambered up, simultaneously the bear was leaping and nipping at my feet. I clung to the top of the dead tree wavering. The lion and bear paced below. And that is when I abruptly awoke…

Of course, this dream could very well have been the result of the Mexican Meal I had that prior evening, but nevertheless, I thought about the possibility that I might glean some wisdom from it.

I am in a state of transition, and as I prepare to make decisions and move in the coarse ahead, I am acutely aware that circumstances can feel isolating, even in the midst of crowds of people. It is true that danger lurks and is even sometimes more likely to target the individual in a new environment, not connected or familiar with the surrounding group. Change, limited resources, and isolation can leave one feeling vulnerable and confused.  I Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

I am comforted by Jesus response to the prowling enemy. In Matthew 16:18-19 He said this, ” And on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.”

Years ago a friend gave me the book, The Dream Giver. It is a wonderful allegory about the Love God has for each of His children and how He has uniquely designed us with a Dream to fulfill His purpose for our lives. As I move through my different seasons of life and transition, The white feather has represented the unique Dream and purpose God has for my life. On special occasion, He delivers a beautiful white feather as a reminder to me that the The Dream Lives, and He is faithful always.

“In the U.S., the white feather has become a symbol of courage, persistence and superior combat marksmanship. A historical example of one who wore the white feather was US. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock. He was awarded the Silver Star medal for bravery during the Vietnam War. He picked up a white feather on a mission and wore it in his hat to taunt the enemy. He was so feared by enemy troops that they put a price on his head. Its wear on combat headgear flaunts an insultingly easy target for enemy snipers.”(Wikipedia)

Today on my walk in the Sanctuary, I found 2 beautiful white feathers. I have not come across any in years, and yet as is true to His character, He delivered a personal message. I am presently in a very big transitional state and if left to my own thoughts, it can feel dark , dangerous and isolating. But the Lord wants to remind me that The Dream Lives and I am SURE that He smiled as He deposited not one, but two white feathers in my path this morning.

Isaiah 61:7  “Instead of shame you will receive a double portion and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land and everlasting joy will be yours.”  Yes, there is always danger and darkness lurking, but I have every confidence in my Lord that He has provided me with all I need to overcome it and to move joyously within the path and fulfill the unique Dream He has given me.

I may just get a hat to wear so that I may flaunt my White Dream Feathers to the enemy. May it be so for you as well.

The Vantage Point in Life

I headed straight to the sanctuary after work; the Bird Sanctuary, that is. Walking with purpose, increasing my pace, clearing my mind after a long day at work. I looked at the ducks, squirrels, rabbits, and various water fowl. I listened to the grunt of the neighborhood alligator and then I looked at the marshy waters edge.

There were 3 baby Moorhens and one had clambered up a reed and sat perched, looking as though it wanted to leap and test it’s wings. But it swayed frozen at the end of the reed. Suddenly the 2 other little Moorhens saw what their sibling had done, and they scrambled from the marshy patch to the reed and proceeded to compete at the base of it, in an attempt to climb  to the top. They scrapped and wrestled and one finally got a grip and stepped on the head of the other and proceeded to climb past the catatonic sibling. Then it leapt with a few flutters of it’s wings, and plop, right onto the marshy bed below.

The other little Moorhen at the bottom of the reed then clambered up and pushed passed the still “frozen in time” sibling, and as with the other sibling, it fluttered and took it’s first crack at flight, landing practically on top of it’s brother. I watched with curiosity “What will the first Moorhen” ,still perched awkwardly in fear at the top of the swaying reed, “do?”.

Well, it sat awkwardly swaying, looking at the other two down below. It stretched it’s wings and took a firmer bracing stance and posture and then in a much more effective manner, flapped and “flew” (somewhat) to the marshy ground next to his brothers. They proceeded to run off and seek out other sport.

Of course my first impression was that this must be how the episodes of The Three Stooges were developed. It really was clumsy and comical. Second, as the mother of 3 boys, I reminisced over many such similar escapades that my sons attempted. Of course I am certain there are many escapades that I don’t know about and it is probably better that I don’t.

Third, I thought about how this is a reflection of so many scenarios in life. Leadership, ambition, initiative, camaraderie, and success. Each of these  character qualities develop through relationship, trial and error, success and failure, observation, improving a standard (Best Practices), lots of struggle, teamwork, individualism and momentum.

The first Moorhen had an instinct, an impulse, an idea. he took initiative and because he was testing it out without a roadmap, he started slowly, cautiously, perhaps even fearfully. His initiative, even though he paused into a seemingly “frozen” state, drew the attention, curiosity, admiration, envy and ultimately the catalyst that drove the other two Moorhens to follow his path.

The other two followed the path of the first, they learned from his approach and built momentum, assured that the reed could hold them up. ( while their brother flailed at the top. ) The two launched out and in haste had fluttering first attempts at flight.

The first Moorhen observed the actions and outcome of his siblings, made some adjustments, regained some confidence and flapped instead of fluttering, and ultimately had the best “First Flight” of the 3. It was an important vantage point.

In life the vantage point is often for the first one who steps out. Those close by, often gain confidence by association and collectively they each motivate one another to move towards success, growth and flight.

There are some important “Vantage Points” in life:

  • Work collaboratively.
  • Branch out as needed.
  • Learn from each other’s successes and failures.
  • Look for a soft landing whenever possible, but  if need be brace yourself and leap anyhow.
  • Most importantly, don’t stay frozen, dangling at the top of a wavering reed.
  • Leap, flap, fly and most of all have fun….

Heroic

Having lived in Florida most of my life, it is not uncommon when driving along to see a turtle lumbering across a busy road. I have always been impressed when I see a car pulled aside, flashers on and an individual heroically picking up the gentle creature taking it to safety in a nearby ditch or field. In all of my years I have not come across a scenario where I was the “First Responder” who would save the day for the distressed reptile.

Finally a few weeks back I was driving down a  narrow rural road, it was a beautiful day and as I looked ahead I saw a shape in the distance on the other side of the road. At first I could not tell what it was, and thought it was debris from a fender bender, but as I got closer, I realized it was a large turtle slowly crossing the road and there was a car moving swiftly in its direction.

This was my chance to be heroic. I put my car into park put on my flashers and jumped out waving to the oncoming car. Yes, it was dangerous, but I was the “First Responder” and finally I was going to get to save the day. I ran up to my creature in distress and as I drew closer, I realized it was a large turtle, roughly the size of a small dutch oven. I had to move swiftly because the oncoming car drew nearer and I was concerned that a car coming in my lane might not see my flashers or me. This turtle was so big, I wondered how heavy he would be as I prepared to scoop him up in my arms and whisk him away to safety.

But then I came right up next to him, and stopped dead in my tracks with my jaw dropping to the asphalt. This adorable turtle I was heroically going to save, had a hideous head and a ferocious looking face, his legs and tail were spiked like a dinosaur. It was a very large Alligator Snapping Turtle. Ugh!!! It was hideous ugly and looked fierce. So now   my excitement over rescuing this creature waned and I instantly considered leaving it be and jumping in my car and heading homeward. But I knew that if I did not act fast, the oncoming car was sure to run right over it.

I could not pick it up, it was so big and so angry, that it would have made a snack out of my fingers, so I used my foot to scoot it along. The prehistoric creature kept rearing up its ugly head in protest and digging in his  spiked feet and legs, This really was not what I had in mind as my first rescue…  There I was scooting along this angry and resistant Alligator Snapping Turtle, and all I can think of now is, “I sure hope nobody hits my car for this.”  I moved the prehistoric looking creature to safety, with absolutely no assistance or appreciation from him.

I hopped into the car and headed on my way, pondering over the fact that I was much more excited about the idea of being a hero and saving a cute helpless turtle.  Sadly, when reality occurred and the creature that needed my help was cantankerous, and even possibly dangerous, it changed the prospective ROI (Return On Investment) for me. There was much less glory in this rescue.   I almost turned away and let the turtle take its chances with the oncoming car, simply because I did not feel comfortable  based on its looks and attitude. I am not proud of that.

I thought about those people who cross my path in daily settings, such as work, neighborhood, church, check out lines, behind the wheel,etc. Some people can be challenging and cantankerous, and I find that my tendency is to avoid them at all cost. Jesus, came into a world full of complicated and cantankerous people, lumbering in the path of danger. He made Himself completely available to touch, heal and offer Words of Life and Love and the actual path for eternal rescue. Not once did He waiver or change His course and purpose for being here. He came to do His Father’s Will, to pay the price on the cross for our cantankerous  and life threatening/condemning sins . He didn’t allow our unappreciative attitudes, or our snapping protests and our stubborn wills that cause us to dig in and resist His act of selfless love and heroism to keep Him from Heroically offering the Rescue. He loves us, because we are His creation and He longs to bring us into  safety and so much more.

The day that I saved that hideous creature, I learned that Alligator Snapping Turtles are endangered species and in spite of his resistance and ugly demeanor he needed to be saved and there was no way he was going to outmaneuver that oncoming car on his own…..

At the end of the day I didn’t feel heroic, but rather humbled instead….