“She Said, ‘Yes'”

In the most recent of days, I have marveled at what enormous energy it takes to convince a toddler to do what you want them to do. To encourage her to cooperate and follow-through on a request can be … well, exasperating. Obviously her understanding of a win-win situation is very different from mine.

Maybe it’s all in the inability to see that someone who loves her and knows more than she is looking out for her best interests. Is there the remote possibility that someone greater and more knowledgeable could foresee the detriment of her doing her own thing?

Sound familiar, Girlfriend?

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message

I’ll be first in line to admit that I am really proficient — at not always getting this precept right — and especially when it really matters. If I could be so bold as to be forthright in my confession and be transparent with you, sweet Sister, that I’ve mastered messing up — a lot. I don’t say this in an attempt to gain the applause and approval of the world — that’s not my tribe. My unveiling of piles of messes could probably circle the earth several times over — some of those messes are unknown to others (at least, I hope they are), and some are so embarrassingly highlighted in my memory that I can recall all the vivid details as if they happened yesterday.

Trusting GOD from the bottom of my heart — sometimes that just takes every fiber of my being. Why? Because I tend to think that I am a reasonable woman with some fairly good foundation for knowing what’s the best thing for me. After all, living all these decades I should have gained some wisdom along the way. The problem with me thinking for me is that my knowledge is still oh, so limited by what I have learned; my mind is unable to think ahead for my better outcome — it’s just not in me to go there. But GOD, being Eternal, has already gone there for me. And He has determined that what He has purposed from the beginning of time will come to pass.

Listen for GOD’s voice in everything I do and everywhere I go — in order for me to hear His Voice, I must silence the noise around me. The distractions from people (and their opinions — even with the best intentions, they are not equal to or above GOD), the Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter chatter (that appears to agree with my flawed and biased perspective) — is still yet sourced from popular thought and not necessarily what GOD wants me to consider when it concerns specific matters of the heart and soul. Being able to listen for GOD’s Voice requires me to be close and sitting still. That’s where the wonder of communion through prayer works its miracles. I am transformed in the listening to The Holy Spirit.

He promises me that He is the one that will keep me on track. Better and more efficient than any organizational or project management tool known to (wo)man, The Lord will keep me moving forward on the right track.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what I want?

I mean let’s face it, Sister, who on this planet would elect to run around in circles trying desperately to figure out which way to go (or how and when and with whom), when we have direct access to The One Who has it already mapped out to our advantage? Who has the energy or time for that? Sadly, we do tend to choose the wrong route — because it is (pridefully) our route. Hence, we waddle around in the muck of a mess, frustrated and half out of our minds — trying to find our way out. When we could have trusted GOD from the start. After so many feeble attempts, how long before we finally realize it isn’t working?

Looking to some of the lives of the women that I truly admire and hold in high regard for their internal strength and reliance on GOD — Rahab, Esther, Ruth, and Naomi. All of these godly women have something in common: when GOD said follow and trust me, they all said, ‘yes.’ And to really earn that coveted spot in the faith hall of fame, each one of them did not hesitate when answering the Call from GOD to go.

Rahab had just moments to decide whether she would hide the spies. When she did, it was her personal declaration and open demonstration of her faith in the GOD of Abraham. Rahab, known as the prostitute, said ‘yes’ and would later become the mother of Boaz, who eventually marries Ruth. The entire second chapter of the Book of Joshua is dedicated to the details of the courage Rahab exemplifies, and it results in her salvation of her entire family.

Ruth, a recent widow, who had only known life in a pagan country, was being given the opportunity to start life anew and fresh — but this ticket could only be redeemed if she returned to her godless homeland of Moab, where her friends and family resided. It may have been the opportunity that could have lightened her load and guaranteed her both posterity and prosperity. But she had witnessed and experienced the One True GOD through her mother-in-law, Naomi, to the point that she just could not let (Him) go. He was that good. There’s an entire Book of the Bible named after this woman of faith, and the threads of redemption are evident throughout. I encourage you to read it and experience the tapestry — the events unfold as only GOD could have authored it.

Naomi, had lived a very affluent life — at least, up until she lost it all. Husband and both of her sons now gone, she has nowhere to go but back home and face the possible disgrace of becoming destitute. And yet something stirred within her soul to persuade Naomi to keep moving forward. Accompanied by her remaining daughter-in-law, she guides Ruth to her new destiny to eventually become the great grandmother of King David. Naomi didn’t wallow in self-pity — she maintained active mothering and mentoring of Ruth that led to one of the greatest love stories that shows the active work of GOD ‘covering’ the one seeking.

Esther, was an orphan raised by her uncle. Life for a teenage girl I’m sure had some similarities that echo throughout history — desires for having girlfriend relationships, meeting a decent man who becomes your husband and father of your children, and living happily ever after. But with no maternal mentor, I’m sure Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, had to wade through some complicated and challenging stages. Yet, Esther respected and honored her uncle’s directive to be recognized by the royal court when King Xerxes was seeking a new wife. This landmark decision on her part landed her the role as Queen Esther and she saves an entire nation from destruction. Courage to fully use the opportunity GOD had given Esther through her position as Queen, and the intelligence, demeanor and favor poured upon her, resulted in the salvation of an entire race of people. Once again, GOD gives place for a woman of honor and distinction and immortalizes her in the Book that bears her name.

They all said, ‘yes’ to the call of GOD. And none of them had a clue that they would participate in the lineage of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Can we say faith?

Makes me feel really insignificant as I pale in comparison to these beyond-description-acts-of-faith. And you know why I gravitate towards these women? Their past is what would have been considered nothing less than sordid and despicable — worthy of being profiled as undesirable by man’s standards. The less than perfect lives of common women — called out by GOD Almighty, to fulfill a life worth living and to be forerunners of those that follow after them. Judging a book by its cover would definitely not be applicable here. And without all the hoopla of all the social media posts and not one single ‘like.’ I would venture to say that all of these chosen women would likely have been unfriended and blocked in these modern times, for having been on display and living such unpopular lives.

Oh the redeeming love of GOD can do such a restorative work! All that needs to happen is a ‘yes.’

The same goes for me and you.

Just as we beckon a toddler, a child, a teenager, a sister, a friend, a neighbor — to trust us because we see impending danger up ahead — because we’ve (possibly) been there and done that — our Heavenly Father whispers to us to listen to His Voice and to trust Him from the bottom of our heart.

Have you said ‘yes’ to the One Who calls you out by name?

He will turn your mess into a message and your trials into treasures.

You are my hiding place. You will keep me out of trouble and envelope me with songs that remind me I am free. I will teach you and tell you the way to go and how to get there; I will give you good counsel, and I will watch over you. Psalm 32:7-8 The Voice

If anyone understands your struggle to get it right, live right and do all the right things (especially with all eyes on you) — I do. The pursuit to perfect every move, decision, project was driving me insane — and who has time for that when you have three children and a job outside of the home? Worries about what other people will think (about what I think they’re thinking) of the way I keep and decorate my house, my amateur cooking skills, manage my time — all really don’t add up to a hill of beans. Who put this ‘assignment’ upon my shoulders? I picked it up somewhere along the road of perfection — which by the way, is full of potholes, cracks and fissures. My name wasn’t on it, I placed it there. But that is not my purpose nor the intention of my life.

And it certainly is not yours.

If you have said ‘yes’ to the life of endless possibilities and victory through a personal relationship with the GOD Who believes you were worth dying for, then the best awaits you.

So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. Isaiah 41:10 The Voice.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, T2T Visionary

“Repurposed”

As I recall, the movement to recycle used material became very popular in the 70’s. After soda and beer manufacturers made the change from tin to aluminum cans, suddenly we were in the business of collecting all of these cans and responsible for taking them to a recycling (or redemption) center to have them repurposed for reuse. The incentive was to turn your trash into treasure by receiving cash in exchange for your recyclables and save the environment at the same time.

Yes, the concept of repurposing (the contemporary term) has long been part of daily living.

“Do not remember the former things, Or ponder the things of the past. Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19 AMP

It’s so much easier to think in terms of inanimate objects as being repurposed or usable for another tasks or projects. But people?

Yet, that’s very similar to what GOD does when you choose to accept His free gift of salvation. He develops you into a ‘new you,’ the person you were actually meant to be, but in order to do that you must choose to allow Him to remove the ‘old you’ and then the work begins.

It starts with a change of heart by the free will of the mind and then transforms the spirit — so your changes occur from the inside out. With aluminum cans and paper products, the changes are strictly surface, and there is no choice as to whether these objects desire to become another soda can or a new paper plate.

I love the way the Amplified translation admonishes us to forget the past — and all its red-faced and humiliating events. The verse tells us not to give those embarrassing experiences a second thought. And then GOD’S Word says it in the most heart-warming encouragement by pumping us up and providing a glimmer of hope by telling us He has already planned a ‘new thing’ with which to look forward. He even tells us to ‘look for it!’

Girlfriend, have you been in a tight spot where you felt there was no way out and no relief in sight? Maybe you are there now, alone and feeling very hopeless … the GOD of the Universe has a plan beyond your misery.

Maybe you’ve made a ‘hot mess’ out of your life … your career may not be going as you had so carefully mapped out, in fact you fear losing your job altogether. Or a very close relationship is crumbling before your eyes and you’re experiencing a slow meltdown. Finances have been squandered or due to current economic turns you’re not able to sustain your lifestyle and provide for your household. Or possibly your situation is such that you thought you were secured in your mind about the temptations that seemed to lure you (alcohol, drug, pornography, extramarital activities) into behaviors you abhor, but you are now facing the consequences of decisions that have rocked your world and have left a fallout of unimaginable proportion and impacted loved ones.

Your life may be more than a ‘hot mess‘ right now, but GOD has a plan for you — He does have a purpose for you. Because His Love for you is just that way. Unconditional with no expiration date or strings attached. You don’t even have to ‘undo’ the mess you’ve orchestrated. How’s that for starters?

I’m here to tell you that through the messiest of times in my own life, I have held onto that very Scripture verse — even if only to get to the next day. When I thought that I had gotten myself into such a pit and was reeling in devastation, GOD was right there in that pit with me with His Arms reaching out to me. And He is doing the same to you right now.

Forgiveness is a tough action word — yes, it’s a verb, not an emotion. When we forgive, we release the burden off of ourselves that holds the other person accountable for our thoughts and actions. But there is also forgiveness for ourselves from ourselves.

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 AMPC

You may be sitting in the muddiest pit of a mess, but there is hope for you. And your Creator is waiting for you to allow Him to get you through all the muck and yuck that is oozing in between your raw knuckles and swollen toes. You won’t be able to climb out of that pit on your own and move forward with certainty in the manner you consider successful. Will you let Him give you that new start and the opportunity for victory moving forward?

As I mentioned earlier, there is a measure of self-forgiveness that must also accompany the transformation that GOD will ignite within you. You must make the effort to not ponder over your confessed sins — doing this will keep you in the cycle of wading through that muddy pit.

When GOD comes to lift you out of that dirty pile, it’s much like the one who sifts through the recyclables and determines what objects will be repurposed. The beauty here is that the purpose you will actually fulfill is the original one GOD had in mind for you from the moment you were conceived. Your spiritual transformation will cause you to develop into the masterpiece original that you always have been: your best version of you. With GOD in control of your life, you will finally realize your authentic purpose and be on the road to becoming that person.

I encourage you, Sweet One, to raise and give it all up to the One Who loves you with a love you cannot comprehend.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us — who was raised to life for us! — is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.

We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing — nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable — absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:31-39 MSG

I pray that as you read this, dear Friend, you will make the decision to surrender it all to The One Who loves you beyond your understanding. If you know Him as Savior and Lord, you can be redeemed from whatever your situation is — you’ve heard far too many sermons to know this to be true. You’ve witnessed as others have attested to the victory — it is available for you, too.

If you do not know this incredible GOD, He is whispering to you right now — you have only to respond. The first step is yours to take. Your real purpose awaits you beyond the ‘yes.’

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, T2T Visionary

“Decisions”

Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust then wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. Proverbs 16:3 AMPC

We make decisions every waking moment of every day. But there are some that just exhaust the life out of us — ones that we procrastinate over, deliberate and pour hours of concentrated thought into, put aside hoping they’ll go away or somehow magically fade into the sunset. Some decisions we try to offload onto others hoping they will take on the burden and solve our issues. All of our decisions also impact others — and that’s where we can really make a mess of things.

Our Scripture verse here gives us guidance in making those life-impacting decisions. GOD’S Word says to commit and trust them entirely to Him — sounds good to me! But immediately following that directive is our requirement to understand that He will transform our way of thinking to align with His — this is the key to understanding where the real success and victory is found.

Whenever I have what I consider to be a ‘tough’ decision, I turn to look at what some of the heroes of the Bible did while going through theirs — and I must say, it tends to reduce the ‘magnitude’ of my seemingly difficult time in space.

Once such heroine I’ve examined is Ruth. A widow from Moab, who is instructed by her mother-in-law to return home to her Gentile nation and pagan gods to start her life over. It appears that Ruth did not yet have any children, so it’s possible that she was still very young and very capable of a new family. But there was something that transformed her from the inside out — something that ‘compelled’ her to thirst after the One True GOD whom she obviously experienced from and in her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth was drawn towards the GOD of Israel as a result of living with Naomi, to the point that she casted aside the thought of remarrying and having a family. Ruth wanted more of Naomi’s GOD.

Ruth’s priorities were realigned to the Will of GOD. It was her choice — she willing and freely made the decision to walk after this GOD Whom she had barely known — her encounters were only of what she saw in this woman, Naomi, and her lifestyle and demeanor. But it was enough for Ruth to say ‘no’ to what the world had to offer her and to say ‘yes’ to a life of faith — not knowing what she would have coming to her, nor where her journey would lead her.

What is astonishing to me are all of the poignant activities that occur within the first chapter of the Book of Ruth. One such occasion is when Naomi tells both of her daughter-in-laws to return to their biological families after their husbands had died. The two young women both made their decisions almost instantaneously, even though their decisions were worlds apart. Orpah says ‘yes’ to returning to her life in pagan Moab because maybe the tug on her heart to see familiar faces and visit old places feels like ‘comfort’ and might be the answer to starting life all over again. The ‘feeling of normalcy’ and things to which she was accustomed just may have pushed her over and caused her to give in to what looked more appealing and satisfying.

Ever have that experience? Where it feels safer to choose what you know from your past and what others have persuaded you to accept, rather than what GOD has whispered to you in your spirit?

Soul Food for Tho’t: What were the end results of your decision? Knowing what you now know, how would you proceed today given the same situation? Why?

Ruth, on the other hand, literally begs Naomi to allow her to accompany her back to Bethlehem. Ruth goes as far as pledging her life to staying with Naomi for the rest of her life. Whatever Ruth experienced with Naomi throughout those ten years, made such an indelible impression upon her that she was utterly convinced that it was far more valuable than another marriage, returning to her biological family or living in the country of her ancestry and culture. This was a decision of great faith and sacrifice — and Ruth was ready to own it.

What decisions are weighing heavily on your heart tonight, Girlfriend? How long have you been pouring over them? What are the circumstances and desired results of your decisions? Who else will be affected by your decisions?

Soul Food for Tho’t: Have to taken your decisions to The Lord in earnest and authentic prayer? What Scripture verses are you clinging to for this/these decisions?Have you shared your decisions with another Believer and asked her to agree with you in prayer?

He who takes refuge in the shelter of the Most High will be safe in the shadow of the Almighty. He will say to the Eternal, “My shelter, my mighty fortress my God, I place all my trust in You.” Psalm 91:1-2 The Voice

I appreciate this translation as it speaks of the one who ‘runs into’ (taking refuge) the protection (shelter) of GOD Himself will be safely covered because GOD provides Himself as a stronghold (fortress) and He promises to be faithful to caring for me and all my needs. That includes all of my decisions.

But the condition to being protected is having a genuine and personal relationship with the One Who wants to protect and provide for you. If you have not come to the realization that GOD has already extended the invitation to you through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, I call on you at this moment to respond to Him as your heart beats faster reading this message. This is your moment to begin anew, as Ruth did when all had fallen apart around her and she had but one decision to make — and it changed her world in ways unimagined.

That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. Hebrews 3:7-8 NLT

Accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is the first step of faith. Confessing your sins to Him and turning away from them (repentance requires us to cease and never return to that lifestyle) in honesty and transparency opens that door which you hear Him knocking upon (the door to your heart). Then immediately seek a house of worship where Biblical truths and regular fellowship are foundational. You need not look far — pray for The Holy Spirit to bring others into your life to surround you with love and encouragement.

Sister, if you have had a relationship with Jesus, but maybe it’s been more of wandering in the wilderness for you, I pray that you will take this moment to allow the Holy Spirit to renew, refresh and revitalize your love relationship with your Savior. Sometimes when it feels like we are walking alone or GOD appears to be silent, it is us who are either not taking the time to listen or we have not sat still long enough to recognize He has been waiting for us to commune (speak) with Him as in those former days.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties all your worries all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and care about your watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7 AMPC

This Scripture verse in this translation warms my heart and gives me the confidence that not only is GOD capable of taking charge of my needs — emotional, physical and spiritual — but He cares for me with a deep affection and is mindful of everything that happens to me. This is evidence of a personal and loving relationship with Him.

The decision to follow after Jesus Christ will far outweigh whatever decisions you have been carrying around. In fact, fulfillment of the one will help you work through the other. Becoming a Christian will not guarantee you a worry-free lifestyle. But it will open up the opportunity to have a personal and thriving (and satisfying) relationship with the One Who is desiring to take care of you and your decisions.

I pray that you will start at the beginning tonight, my Friend, and make certain you know your Savior loves you and beckons you. Then it is my heartfelt desire that you will cast all of your decisions (on a moment-by-moment basis) at His Feet and confidently trust Him for the right answers at the right times. That is faith.

My heart aches for the woman who feels that she walks this earth alone. Like Ruth, you can make the decision to allow GOD to turn it all around for you — but it begins with you.

Lastly, whatever decisions are keeping you up at night, I ask the Lord to provide you with His Best for resolving, making whole, restoring, renewing, and establishing — all of it.

You are invited to share prayer requests and praise reports — would love to hear from you.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, T2T Visionary

“Desire”

You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness. Oh, give me this wisdom. Psalm 51:6 TLB

What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life. Psalm 51:6 MSG

Girlfriend, have you taken the time to speak to GOD about the desires of your heart? Those things that are unknown to the world — that reside within the deepest recesses of your being? He longs to hear from you.

Take a moment here to write a few of those: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To articulate our thoughts and feelings can be a challenge for many of us. Sometimes we have to make a real effort to go there because we simply lack the ability to know how to express ourselves to the point that others will receive what we are trying to communicate. For many of us, we were not encouraged to speak up for ourselves, so we have become accustomed to ‘silencing our voice,’ and stuffing our feelings down into a black hole. Some of us may have been told that our desires and wants were not to be prioritized (much less verbalized) and so we find it difficult to recognize that they are equally important to those of others.

Coming into a relationship with the GOD of the universe — our Heavenly Father — gives us the knowledge that we do have the privilege to speak aloud our desires, and to have them heard and addressed. But how do we know if we have the ‘right’ desires? Is it possible to have ‘wrong’ desires?

Delight yourself in the LORD, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; Trust in Him also and He will do it. Psalm 37:4-5 AMP

Our Scripture verse here gives us guidance and a ‘benchmark’ (if you will) of how to align our desires with the Will of GOD. Delight ourselves in Him — are we seeking after Him, His Will for us? Are we immersing ourselves into His Word on a daily basis? Are we communing (prayer with the intent to hear) with Him daily for our every need?

Giving ‘it’ up — raising our desires — to The Lord to allow Him to transform them and us will align our desires with His Will. This process doesn’t happen overnight, Sister, so be willing to go through a bit of a journey — before the journey. Our heart’s desires will transform our mind and get us on the right track to want the things that GOD wants for us. We have to trust that what GOD wants for us, in spite of what we think we must have, is best. So be open to changes along the way — He just may surprise you with somethings you had not considered — and you will be delighted beyond imagination.

Now, let’s look back up at those few desires that you listed earlier. How might those ‘change’ given the guidelines mentioned in our Scripture verse of Psalm 37:4-5? Make any notations or thoughts here: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

When I researched the definition of the word desire, this is what I found: (noun) A strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. (verb) Strongly wish for or want (something).

I can recall an adolescent desire that sticks clearly in my mind. At the ripe old age of thirteen, it seemed as though all of my friends were becoming ‘women’ sooner than I was — and isn’t that the desire of every little girl? To grow up and become an adult (after all, being a kid is for kids) is the end goal. But part of that means going through all the rites of passage, and at this time of my life, I had yet to experience my first menstrual cycle. Yes, I actually desired to have that come upon me. Anyone out there relate? I chuckle as I reminisce the feelings of inadequacy and being incomplete. It seemed as though all the 7th grade girls were chatting about feminine pads and tampons and body aches and pains — with the exception of me. I had confided in my best friend at the time, who was just a month younger than I and even she had surpassed me in this sought after place in my quest to grow up. But I didn’t give up or give in. I somehow knew that GOD was not going to pass me up. Oh, but what prayers I prayed to beg Him to grant this desire of my heart! At home, down on my knees, in heartfelt longing to be made ‘whole.’ And in my adolescent mind — ‘complete.’

You’ve heard the saying, “be careful what you pray for.” MMHMM I see you nodding your head …

The rest is history. GOD undeniably granted my heart’s desire, and all the fixings that go along with it — PMS, aches and pains, headaches, mood swings, bloating, food cravings, etc. I felt that I had finally reached that next level of development. But it also taught me a valuable lesson: His Timing — not mine.

What deep desires has GOD granted you that you can recall with vivid memories? List a few of them here: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What can you remember about ‘how much’ you wanted these things to come to pass? What were the circumstances behind these desires, and what fueled them to be so important to you? Notate these things here: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What did it ultimately ‘look like’ when GOD granted these desires? Did the results look anything like your original requests? Or did GOD make a few ‘changes’ along the way? How did you feel about the end results? Record those here: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Looking back at how your Heavenly Father has filled the longings of your heart in the past, do you now have any ‘modifications’ to the actual desires of your heart today? Are you willing to give Him your expectations and allow Him to determine the ‘right timing’ for your desires to be fulfilled? Record your thoughts here: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

GOD has impressed upon my spirit to pray whenever I unexpectedly wake up in the middle of the night, or when I experience insomnia (I take this as His prompting because I can sleep under any noisy conditions). It is at this time I seek His whisperings — sometimes it’s for the sake of those He brings to the frontal part of my brain, and sometimes it’s for the longings of my heart — my deepest desires.

Be silent before the LORD, and wait expectantly for Him. Psalm 37:7a HCSB

The word ‘silent’ leaps up at me all the time because I have such an inclination to respond ‘aloud’. Then the word ‘wait’ challenges me to the core because it is part of my nature to be a ‘doer and mover.’ But the ‘adverb of advice’ to my soul is the word ‘expectantly.’ Here is where my inner man rejoices because it speaks volumes of how much better His Ways are above my own — and the end result will be heaven-sent!

“Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10 NLT

Now this is where I get into trouble — ‘stillness’ is not part of my human nature. So I have to remember that I am a ‘new creation’ in Christ and call upon His Nature within me to be ‘still.’ And isn’t that just like our flesh? We want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. Everything on our own terms. Honestly, Sister, looking back over my life and all the messes for which I am responsible, I can whole-heartedly declare that thank you, GOD, Your Ways are higher than mine!

Soul Food for thought: Give it up to the One Who knows what’s truly best — He’s been there already and has designed for everything to work out for our good — because He loves us.

It’s difficult, I know, to relinquish our yearnings and cravings and desires. Somehow we have it set in our minds that no one else treasures our prized desires like we do, much less understand the importance and value of them. So it’s even more challenging for us to consider releasing our tight-fisted grip on our desires and to place them upon the altar of faith (consider Abraham and GOD’s instruction to put Isaac on the altar of faith as a living sacrifice), so that GOD can do a marvelous work with it in us and through us. Let us not make the mistake of idolizing or worshipping our desires. That’s what happens when we erroneously put our desires before the Will of GOD.

I beckon you, sweet Sister, to speak and let your requests be made known to the Known GOD — let Him hear your voice and how you are feeling about these things. Then I pray that you will desire to let Him have His Way with all these things — the timing and the fruition and the unveiling of it all. I believe that you will have more with which to be thankful and to pass on to those coming up behind you.

Please do share here — the rest of us would love to be blessed by what Our Father has done for you and to rejoice at how this may have changed things for you as you move forward in your walk with the Lord.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson, T2T Visionary

“Spiritual Myopathy”

Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, simply means that a person is shortsighted. They suffer from the inability to see with clarity at a measure of distance; hence, the ability to only see things up close and near.

Therefore [I now see] I have [rashly] uttered that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, please, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct [and answer] me.’ I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the of the ear, But now my [spiritual] eye sees You. Therefore I retract [my words and hate myself] And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:3b-6 AMP

I’ve heard it said that we all have a particular lens or perspective with which we view the world around us. And that it is a result of our environment and upbringing, coupled with the life experiences that cause us to view certain things with negativity or positivity. So I guess you could say that our vision is a bit jaded from birth, due to the influences of our family and immediate surroundings and teachings. While such experiences are deeply rooted within our minds, we do have the capacity to voluntarily change our perspectives by changing our lens. This can also be applied to how we perceive people and their views.

Nonetheless, our Scripture verse speaks of how Job is repentant of his arrogance in the sight of GOD. Imagine that, Job — the man who declared this faithfulness towards GOD — was in need of repentance. Because he, too, fell short. But once Job was back into his loving relationship with his Creator, not only did things turn around, but Job was blessed beyond his wildest dreams. In hindsight, Job could righteously attest to faithful trust in what GOD was doing all along, even when he could not see beyond what was in front of him.

If I am honest with myself, I will tell you that my own visual impairment has been at the source of many a frustrating moments. Rushing through life, I just seem to expect things to be as I see them — at first glance. Maybe that’s why GOD has been impressing upon me to move slowly along my journey, observing and discerning everything in my path. Because at first glance, things aren’t always as they seem. In His Omniscience, GOD’S Ways are not to be compared to my own.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 AMP

Those trials (notice I put that in the plural) we are presently experiencing, may not be what they appear on the surface. Emotions and previous experiences (maybe in similar situations) may cause us to view and perceive our present state slightly out of focus. Allow me to embrace you and encourage you to not become discouraged simply by what you see, but to rather hold fast to the promises which GOD has spoken through His Word for your life.

For we live by believing and not by seeing. 2 Corinthians 5:7 NLT

My lens had been so warped from being told I was inadequate and not good enough as a child, that I became a perfectionist and people-pleaser. I would push myself so hard to accomplish something without error, that I would sacrifice my own health and safety. Growing into my adult years, I pursued to always work to be error-free; I was often labeled ‘overachiever.’ This can be a very big problem, because people like me can be our own worst enemy. We tend not to forgive ourselves; which by the way, can transfer over into not forgiving others. Our expectations for ourselves and the things we work on are held to a standard that basically no one could satisfy. It’s a form of insecurity, whereby we overcompensate for where we believe we ‘fall short.’ Being shortsighted can be a dangerous thing as an adult — because either we over-analyze or we under-estimate our efforts, accomplishments and our expectations for ourselves and others. Yes, if you can identify with me, we are the type to be frustrated with those who don’t understand our vision, much less see it. Thank you, Lord, for showing me Your Mercy and revealing this to me.

Yes, this visual impairment can be an obstacle to growth and development — and it’s our own demise. We have to come to terms with the fact that GOD has a plan behind everything that occurs, especially when we ourselves don’t immediately see it.

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. Romans 8:28 Voice

The world shouts out, “Seeing is believing!” I tend to think that what we actually do see with our natural eyes is but a tiny view of a much bigger picture. It’s like looking at the corner of the frame of the portrait of Mona Lisa and saying, “Wow, spectacular artwork!”

As Christ Followers, we are called to a wide-angle lens perspective, taking in all things that GOD has placed in our path and to allow the Holy Spirit to focus the view for us. Much like the way the optometrist manipulates the testing lens while trying to determine the right prescription for our eyes. But holy focus doesn’t always happen instantaneously. The clarity through the lens develops over time — the time that we are being nurtured and stretched — growing seasons. In other words, the more obedient and willing we are, the more likely we will come to see things as GOD intended for us to see them.

I think of Biblical heroines like Ruth. She was not born into a family that worshipped the one true GOD — in fact, she originates from a pagan culture that worshipped false gods. But because she chose to believe and ultimately obey, she was engrafted into the lineage of Christ. Her story is one of redemption; the very forerunner epic that opens up to salvation for all of mankind. Yet, she had no idea and could not see any of the events as leading up to her destiny with Boaz, the man who would change her world 180 degrees. Had Ruth decided to look at her widowed situation as being the end of her story, she likely would have returned home to her people and false gods, and she would not have experienced being in the House of GOD. It would have been a very shortsighted decision that would have ended tragically for Ruth. But she didn’t.

Contrast the devastation of Lot’s wife when she disobeyed GOD and desired to see what she felt she was missing out. The temptation was so great that her life was radically shortened.

But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she became a pillar of salt. Genesis 19:26 AMP

Lot’s wife could not get over what she tangibly experienced in Sodom and Gomorrah. By the world’s definition, it was a land of prosperity flowing with everything desirable to satisfy the needs of the flesh — and that was the problem. It satisfied only the needs of the flesh and not the heart of GOD. Yet, as detestable as it really was, Lot’s wife allowed for her shortsightedness to overtake her desire to follow after the One true GOD and it resulted in death.

Girlfriend, maybe we are in need of surrendering a current situation: marriage, career, family aspirations, financial turnaround, relationship improvements, entrepreneurial dreams — whatever personal goals we hold closest to our heart — and allowing GOD to refine and make clear the view and the way. Maybe our present moment doesn’t look anything like what we had hoped for or what we believed GOD to have spoken to us. And that’s a difficult place to be — I feel your frustration and your ache. Let’s take a moment to reflect and write those here:

  1. ________________________________
  2. ________________________________
  3. ________________________________
  4. ________________________________
  5. ________________________________

I am a firm believer that if you write your thoughts on paper you can see what’s swirling around in your head, and can give true commitment to those things.

Be specific and tell your Heavenly Father what you see. Ask Him to make clear to you what He wants you to see. Commune with Him over your heart’s desires and ask Him to make His Ways the desires of your heart. And then listen intently, wait for His response and be ready to move. Keep in mind, Sister, He is always in control. So if we don’t see it yet, the promise is still true.

As I look at the countless times that GOD took what I perceived to be weird and awkward and often embarrassing, He transformed into the most extraordinary of life experiences! At the time it was happening, I certainly could not see straight because I was so wrapped up in my emotional woes and trying to live up to the expectations of others — and worse, what the world deemed to be the ‘right thing’ to do. But as a Christ-Follower, I must remember that I have a much higher calling.

What Scripture verse will you commit to memory to get you through this particular journey? I’ve give you a few here today, but you can select others. Write it here: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

So whether I feel as though I am navigating through foggy circumstances and can’t see the road ahead of me, I am beckoned by The Holy Spirit (and my dear friends) to keep walking forward. And I know that if I do, the best is yet to come. What a spectacular view that will be!

I’d love to hear from you, Sister — as you gain greater insight to what GOD has prepared for you. Do share — it may help someone coming up behind you.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Pack Lightly”

“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, Luke 21:34 NLT

I recently embarked on a cross-country road trip with my daughter, son-in-law and three-year-old granddaughter to their next military destination. If you’ve never done this, warning: it is definitely not for the faint at heart (nor weak bladder).

The trip was planned as a six-day trek through seven states (actually eight, if you count the final state which took two days), driving at the rate of no less than eight hours each day. Now, you may be thinking, that’s far too many days — it shouldn’t have lasted that long. Between the potty trips and the varying speed limits within each state, I beg to differ. My daughter and son-in-law had carefully mapped out our journey through what were the safest areas given the circumstances of COVID-19 and the civil unrest throughout the United States (racial tensions are running mighty high right now) as a result of several incidences of human cruelty and injustice.

So we set out with two fully loaded vehicles (and that’s an understatement) plus two kitties. Determined to arrive at each planned destination to stay overnight only to pack back up and hit the road again in the morning. The packing and unpacking at each overnight stop was nothing shy of moving into an apartment. Remember, the toddler must have her favorite sleep toys and the kitties have litter boxes and food. Let’s not forget the dietary protocols for two of our travelers (they’re vegan) and enough food for the dinners we were to leisurely enjoy (hear the sarcasm?) in each hotel room and change of clothing for the next day. Oh, by the way, did I mention that we each traveled with some measure of electronic devices — each of which has its own unique charging paraphernalia? It’s a small miracle we managed to remember to pack the toothpaste!

I’m not one who travels on a regular basis. In other words, it’s usually a span of at least six months in between my long distance trips. So when we discussed the logistics of this adventure, I had not given full consideration of how to pack lightly and more efficiently. Of course, hindsight is wisdom, and all the should haves will be knocking me in the head in time for the next opportunity.

The discomfort in the car (bags beneath my feet, between my legs and on my lap) will no doubt remind me. But the most impressive memory will be my backpack — oh, how a trip to my massage therapist and chiropractor just sound so yummy right about now.

If you’re anything like me, you pack heavily into the largest wearable item — laptop (fully equipped with mouse and charging cord), journal (to capture those things for which you don’t have the option to bust out the laptop), tablet (of course to do your daily Bible devotions and free reading), emergency underwear (in case you can’t retrieve your suitcase), water flask (the one that fits just right into that side holder), eyeglasses and readers (because you know you’ll need them right at your fingertips), few accessible snacks (trail mix pouches, fruit snacks, energy and protein bars), spare contact lenses and solution, disposable toilet seat covers for those public restroom stops … oh my gosh! No wonder my back needs an adjustment! And of course, my TENS unit — for application and use each night at the hotel to address my weary back.

Remember, I mentioned earlier that this backpack was the largest among other wearable bags — the crossbody sling bag (doubled as my purse) and my lunch bag (containing the rest of the valuable snacks and vitamins) were all in tote and exited with me to each stop. My free hand held my granddaughter’s hand as she guided me into the various hotels. *smile*

Whew! Beneath my mutterings of, “I feel like a pack mule,” is the embarrassment of how crazy this all seemed (thank heaven we didn’t unload our suitcases in the hotels every night — just the clothes for the next day). Every time I experience this (as you can tell it’s happened before), I vow that the next time will be different. But there is little that changes that next time.

Here’s a different translation of our verse above:

“But be on your guard. Don’t let the start edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36 MSG

Now, why would the word shopping appear in this translation? Not being a Bible scholar it causes my mind to wander … it’s become a form of self-medicating as is the partying and excessive drinking … a distraction would you say? An innocent self-imposed vice that we choose to pick up and allow to dominate our reasoning … hmmm.

With so much stuff in my backpack, I lost track to where things were shifting. With every stop was the required pulling out of just what I needed for that night, replacing what was to be returned back into my suitcase (soiled) and stored in the trunk. It was a method and protocol established by my daughter (after all, it is her house) in an attempt to maintain organization and less clutter for a night’s stay at each hotel. Have you any idea what it’s like to not find your toothpaste for the first five days of a road trip? Thank heavens we’re all family and it’s not a big deal to share someone else’s tube.

But hear me on this note, Sister …

I quickly realized that I had packed so much stuff into my backpack, that it became such a physical (and mental) burden — and that was a realization that hit by the second day. The rest stops were few along each leg of the journey (between one and three) depending upon the length of each child-sized nap, so the ‘crammed sardine’ was my yoga pose for the trip.

Let’s look closer at this parallel to our lifestyles, shall we?

How much stuff do we attempt to take with us as we journey, this side of Paradise? Are we still toting the security of former habits, thinking that since we are now GOD Girls that they’re now okay, blessed and approved? Do those worldly philosophies and prescribed human doctrines that we promoted and rallied so heavily for during our B.C. (before Christ) lifetime still come alongside of us and add to our Christian beliefs? Are we so persuaded on being well accepted and approved by those in our community and workplace, that we will compromise our relationship with The Lord? Have we truly purged our lives of the toxicity that beckons us to look back longingly (consider Lot’s wife) — and that includes the people that contribute to it?

When the Israelites were suddenly set free from Egypt and led out of captivity by Moses, I have a feeling that they, too, tried to pack their caravans with their entire household and then some. Trekking through the desert until Ramses’ armies were hell bent on their heels to take revenge, when suddenly they are now running for their lives while crossing the dryness of the Red Sea. Part of me thinks that maybe all that stuff was instantly considered unnecessary and needed to be abandoned. What are your thoughts on this? Anyone with me here?

So let’s translate some of this to our current status. Could you possibly be carrying some unnecessary stuff in that traveling bag of yours as you journey with Jehovah- Jireh (GOD Provides)?

List the things in your bag that could be a burden to you at this moment: (This is what you write in column A.)

Column A: The Burden

  1. ______________________________________________________________________________
  2. ______________________________________________________________________________
  3. ______________________________________________________________________________
  4. ______________________________________________________________________________
  5. ______________________________________________________________________________

Column B: The Blessing

  1. ______________________________________________________________________________
  2. ______________________________________________________________________________
  3. ______________________________________________________________________________
  4. ______________________________________________________________________________
  5. ______________________________________________________________________________

Take a closer look at each one, Sister, and then ask yourself this question: What do I need from GOD to replace this? (This is what you write in column B.)

Each one of us travels through life gathering things along the road. My granddaughter is fascinated by nature and insists on admiring rocks of all kinds. She tugs on me to help her gather flowers (except for the ones with icky bugs on them). As adults I believe that we are captivated by nuances and activities that tend to overburden our lives and crowd out the breathing room that we were intended to have while trusting in the GOD who generously provides for our every need. We literally suffocate from the overwhelming extracurricular activity — and sometimes in the name of ‘Christianity’ (if I may step on a few toes) — justify our behavior.

Did not GOD provide manna in the desert when His Children were hungry? This very miracle from Heaven always leaves me breathless. They didn’t even have to worry about meals (and here I am counting the single trail mix pouches).

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will cause bread to rain from heaven for you; the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, so that I may test them [to determine] whether or not they will walk [obediently] in My instruction (law). Exodus 16:4 AMP

Girlfriend, let’s just park here for a moment. I don’t expect you nor I to completely unload the clutter within our bags all in one swoop — that’s where The Holy Spirit inspires us, in the manner we will hear and listen to His Voice. But if we are truly honest with ourselves (and that means we are speaking to our Father aloud), there are things that need to be removed and replaced. Our reasons for gathering and packing such unnecessary stuff are as infinite as we can count. All too often, I think that we dwell in a land of societal acceptance and live from one accolade to the next.

Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My instruction: do not fear disgrace by men, and do not be shattered by their taunts. Isaiah 51:7 HCSB

Our GOD calls us to a much higher calling — but we cannot experience that purposed blessing unless we unload the burden of the world’s temptations and the grip they have on us.

Is fear packed into your bag? Worry is her companion, and she keeps us stuck in the mindset that GOD may forget, neglect, not care (however you wish to perceive it) about your daily needs or the needs of your family and loved ones. Then ask your Heavenly Father to increase your faith. Be ready — He will show you what you must do to receive this, and it might require that you act on it by studying His Promises on a more regular basis.

Is bitterness taking up a part of your bag? Anger and unforgiveness are her cousins, and tend to cause her to dig her heels of defiance into the soil of your soul. Ask your Father to heal your hurts (from as far back as you can remember) and increase your love and compassion towards others. You may be given practical assignments to exercise your tiny ounce of godly strength, so be alert and ready to workout.

I’m in this with you, Sweet Sister of mine — I, too, wrestle with my own loaded bag. That’s how I know it’s a tremendous burden and a hindrance to experiencing victory and joy in this lifetime.

Is not your fear of God your confidence, And [is not] the integrity and uprightness of your ways your hope? Job 4:6 AMP

My bag is undeniably packed to bursting because of a lack of full trust. And I have come to understand its roots originate from my childhood days of intimidation and fear of speaking up. For decades I silenced my voice, thinking it was the humble and Christian thing to do. Taking humility to the wrong end of the spectrum, I suffered at my own demise. But I’ve come to (slowly) embrace what GOD has called good, and make the effort to speak (in love). For whatever warped reasons I clung to, I felt that my Heavenly Father had far more important matters to attend to (world peace, international terrorism, poverty and homelessness, etc.), and didn’t need to be burdened by my puny requests. Wrong.

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right — the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also. “So don’t worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34. AMP

At the end of the day, Girlfriend, you and I both know we are tired and need to rest these legs and backs. I have every intention of living life to the fullest and to the glory of GOD while I am on this side of Paradise. And it is my heartfelt goal to touch as many lives with the the love of Christ through the power of The Holy Spirit. But you and I also know that it’s not easy to move with swiftness if we’re carrying stuff that needn’t be part of our journey and are holding us back by weighing us down.

But the worries of this life, the false appeal of wealth, and the desire for more things break in and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. Mark 4:19 CEB

Are you willing to take up the challenge to lighten your load and repack your bag? What things do you consider to be essential necessities to your walk with the Lord? I encourage you to sincerely pray about this. Maybe your list and mine include things like honesty and transparency, authentic worship, compassion for the hurting ones in our path … the list can continue to grow as we invite the Lord to replace our burdens with His blessings. (Don’t worry — I’m sure there’s provisional room for mascara and lipgloss.)

I’d love to hear from you if this has begun a good work towards building you up in the faith and helping you to bloom and grow.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Excavation Time”

Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 ESV

I’ve heard it said that the likely places where my deepest passions to help others are founded in the worst of my painful experiences. That those secret caves, while they may contain the most excruciating times of my life — can yet also hold the nuggets that can be useful for someone else’s healing.

Question is: “Do I want to go there and dig them out?”

To relive something that I’ve thought to have ‘been dealt with’ and can now be banished to the far corners of the universe, never to be spoken of or revisited in thought — to exhume the dead, dried and lifeless bones of skeletons that often haunt my memories — for the sake of those whom are strangers to my life … paralyzes me with fear.

We all have experienced pain — if you are alive and breathing, reading this, you know what pain feels like, smells like, tastes like and looks like. Some of us can detect it with our radar as it makes its slow descent upon our quiet lives. No matter how well we try to set up the protective barriers and board up the windows of our heart, pain still finds us and attacks us in our vulnerable spots.

For some of us, it is the painful memories of childhood where we were emotionally bullied on the playground of innocence and made to feel less than loved (if at all). Maybe with no one to recognize our pain, we shut out the rest of the world and chose to inoculate our feelings with an immunity and inability to develop friendships. You continue to struggle with relationships today, but manage to camouflage it by your ‘extrovert’ persona.

Maybe you’ve buried the shame of having developed an illicit relationship with another person that started out as mere acquaintance but somehow got out of hand and billowed into a full blown affair. As it tornadoed its way into your safe sphere of home and haven, you found yourself overwhelmed with no place to escape. You survived the aftermath of the devastation and have chosen to remain on the straight and narrow, but the hauntings of your poor decisions and behavior have never truly healed.

Those early college years when you were partying and playing (of course in between studying) led to that unexpected pregnancy and ultimately the abortion which no one in your family has ever heard about. You managed to conceal it so well that you would have never been suspect of such a cruel act on another human being. You destroyed all the paperwork and evidence that may have led to you being discovered — not even your closest of friends ever knew; at best, you were recovering from a bad flu. You’ve kept this so well beneath your other layers of pain, that you sometimes forget it happened more than once. When the topic of abortion surfaces in conversation, you are sure to keep a low-key and remain neutral to avoid being ‘found out.’

Betrayed by someone close to you has left you with trust issues in your adult life. Abused and used by a confidante, they shattered your world by divulging all of your shared secrets. You entrusted your thoughts, feelings and dreams to someone who pledged to always have your back, but when the chips were down, so was their support. You were left standing in the cold like the quarterback with no offensive line to defend you. Exposed and alone you vowed to no longer seek out intimacy in relationships for fear of being vulnerable. But you manage to also hide behind the guise of being amiable and friendly — as you maintain your distance.

Girlfriend, the list is endless. Here’s your first step of faith. In the privacy of where you now sit, will you take a walk with me towards your cave and begin the process of excavating with the intent to move towards healing?

When you set foot into your cave, what is the first ‘burial site’ you encounter? Name it here: _______________________________________. “Here lies _____________________________________ that I have relegated to the deepest recesses of my existence, having vowed never to dig it back up.” As you uncover the layers of soil and maybe leaves that have fallen onto it, you sense the putrid odor of awful memories — the sights, sounds and circumstances begin to dance around in your head like a bad dream. Lord, it was such a tumultuous time in my life. I was confused and misguided … how could I have let this happen? Wipe the tears and keep walking, Sister …

Taking a few steps further, you can start to see footsteps alongside of your own. Courage allows you to move forward towards the next burial site and you find: (name it here) _______________________________. “This is when ___________________________________ occurred, and I promised never to touch this with a 10-foot pole.” Maybe you chose to try to forget this even happened, but as you brush back the cobwebs, the tears stream down your face and the memory is as real as yesterday. God, what was I thinking that I got involved with this mess? And He is listening intently …

Deeper into your cave, you now notice that there are several pairs of footprints all around you. Your view is that of several burial sites, some of which look quite ‘fresh.’ Name those here:

⚰︎______________________________________________________________

⚰︎______________________________________________________________

⚰︎______________________________________________________________

⚰︎______________________________________________________________

⚰︎______________________________________________________________

The multitude of footprints are those of Heaven’s Angels that protected you as you walked through your horrific experiences. They spared you from yourself in your greatest moment of despair and guided you out of your cave to see a new day. Because you were designed for a heavenly purpose and if you let Him, GOD will turn your mess into a message that only you can deliver.

The single set of footprints that you saw next to you as you first entered your cave were those of The Lord Himself. And He hasn’t left you.

Praise the LORD, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. In panic I cried out, “I am cut off from the LORD! But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help. Psalm 31:21-22 NLT

Sister, I have been there in that valley of pain. Maybe not in your same exact pain and sorrow, but I do know what that anguish feels like, and what the torment of isolation does to the human spirit. Sometimes we think we’ve allowed GOD to heal us regarding that incident, but in actuality we have only walked away from the burial site of our secret cave. Could this possibly be your turning point to truly let Him have His Way with your painful memories and genuinely restore you to wholeness like you’ve never imagined?

The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy. Proverbs 28:13 HCSB

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins — make a clean breast of them — he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God — make a liar out of him. A claim like that only show off our ignorance of God. 1 John 1:8-10 MSG

Brave Sister, stick with me here just a bit longer …

If the GOD of all creation can raise Christ from the dead, can He not also breathe resurrection life into the dead and lifeless painful memories of your yesterday and transform them into life for the sake of those who are presently dying today?

Consider all these dry bones and skeletons. If The Lord of Heaven’s Armies could heal someone in pain — by using your pain — would you be willing to be that instrument of peace and comfort? I’m not suggesting that you uncover to the world all of your sacred places — wisdom from above will guide you. But if you were called upon to grant a ‘cup of cold water’ to one hurting soul who is puffy-eyed and exhausted from running in the desert to find her cave, would you be willing to be used for the glory of GOD?

I think that sometimes we grab our blessings and go, without giving thought to those who are coming up behind us seeking relief from a similar woeful experience. And while it may be as distasteful as all get out, she is reaching out and seeking out a sister, a mentor, a friend — to comfort and embrace her.

Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead. Hebrews 12:12-13 HCSB.

Girlfriend, if this feels like a challenge to you this day — if your heart is beating unusually fast — the Holy Spirit may be stirring your spirit to respond on behalf of a tender soul in agony and pain.

If you have responded here with your own experiences or unearthed burial sites, I pray that you will continue to pray for the ones walking up behind you. And then turn around and listen for her footsteps — she’s not far away.

I’d love to hear from you if this has helped you. Of course, there is no substitution for professional help, and I encourage you to seek that gift of GOD if He is leading you in that direction for complete healing. But do start your journey and talk to someone.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Give GOD Your Weird”

In God, whose word I praise; In God I have put my trust; I shall not fear. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:4 AMP

Awkward as all get out — that’s the current status here. I think it’s that purgatory kind of place between having gone from the shock and devastation of new norms and lifestyle habits, to not really knowing where to go next or how to properly behave in public. Am I alone here in this place?

The Christ-following woman may be all over the place with this — she’s homeschooling her young ones while possibly working remotely from her external job. Stretched to the limit, she still finds the time to laugh, smile and let some of that messy stuff on the floor just sit there for an extra day or two. She’s got that messy bun topped on her head and she’s been living in her sweats for days, but she keeps her head up (it helps to maintain her crown and that messy bun) because she knows that royalty walks upright even in the face of weird.

Let’s face it, Sister, the unbelieving world just doesn’t sing the same tune you’re humming while you maintain your grace in the grocery stores standing 6-feet apart from the customer in front of you. Co-workers can’t go there with your hope for a bright future in the workplace returning and reopening with being greeted by a thermometer as daily protocols.

But because of who we (you and I) are in Christ, we go there … and we are considered weird.

And do not be conformed to this world [any long with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you. may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. Romans 12:2 AMP

Yes and Amen — that’s in my heart of hearts; but it doesn’t always flow through and show itself evident in my daily behavior. I must admit feeling weird at times, searching for a comfort zone (if you will) in this new way of living. Maybe it’s something that will happen over time after an adaptation period — maybe it’s to be reckoned with getting into a new groove or routine. Whatever it is, it’s calling on every ounce of me to not feel weird and awkward.

The ancients of faith must have felt some weird-ness in their day. Abram being called out to leave the comforts of middle-class living to an unknown foreign land to do the unknown and foreign things. Noah building an ark (of all things) when rain was not even in the dictionary or vocabulary at the time. Moses called out to lead and get in the face of the most powerful ruler in the known world to do the unknown and unthinkable. Brings my heart to its knees just to consider what insurmountable strength this must have required. And yet, they persevered and pursued and persisted — while they prayed.

Let your mind wander for a moment, Sister, at what that may have looked like in their time, in their seasons. If you’re anything like me, I’m left red-faced at the occasional minute complaints and grumblings I exhibit at my minuscule moments of so-called trials and tribulations.

As I ponder over the heroes of the faith, I can’t help but wonder at the spiritual strength and fortitude that the Holy Spirit poured over them. These godly individuals were as human as you and I, born with all the same frailties and weaknesses and imperfections. But they allowed for the stirrings of GOD to overcome their shortcomings and gave it all to Him when called upon to rise up and move. They gave Him their weird.

Fast forward to this chaos that we call our world, it’s no small wonder that we are in search of human perfection. We seek and desire control — of our lives, the lives of others and the circumstances around us. And to bring it to a boil, we desire to have instant results and gratification of our efforts. Any remote chance that our ancients of faith would regard this as slightly weird?

We are not wanting to subject ourselves to the process — the journey — of being transformed into who GOD would have us become. I’m sure our heroes of the faith would lovingly encourage us to press on because the time here on earth is so brief in comparison to eternity. And I’m almost certain that throughout their own individual journeys they felt tremendous weirdness in the midst of ridicule and hostility. Sounds synonymous to our modern day toxic work environment.

Girlfriend, can we get real for a moment here, and accept that we are weird in the face of a world driven on wanting to put GOD in a box and on a shelf to call upon Him on their terms? Will you agree with me that to place it all out there on the table in confident trust in the GOD of all creation that we will be cared for beyond our wildest imagination if we stay true to His Commands to obedience? Are you open to the possibilities to what He will call upon you to do, not seeing the end of your journey in sight nor the fruits of your labor around the corner?

It’s a weird way to live, I agree. But we are not of this world, and neither were those who went before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us — Hebrews 12:1 AMP

Will you join me in casting off the unnecessary burdens that weigh us down: fear of failure and rejection, fear of not living up to human standards of acceptance, fear of losing one’s place in society ranking and elevated workplace titles, fear of not attaining possessions or possibly losing possessions … this list is endless, add your own _____________________________, ______________________________, _____________________?

Are you courageous enough to boldly say you are weak (and depend on His Strength) and weird (not of this world) yet willing to forge ahead into an unknown future with the known GOD orchestrating your every step?

Let’s go, Sister, but remember, we travel lightly — pack your faith.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Mindfulness”

“For He performs what is planned (appointed) for me, And He is mindful of many such things. Job 23:14 – AMP

This Season in which we presently are experiencing has given us a new “vocabulary” — mindfulness, social distancing, face mask, quarantine, working remotely, essential work, touchless delivery — I wonder if we will be able to archive these moving forward.

One of these terms: mindfulness, has me pondering over the times when I was growing up and being reminded to practice this. But is it just me, we were taught to be mindful in the context of others. When I read today about acts of mindfulness, it seems to have taken on a whole meaning.

Somehow, today’s (worldly) definition of mindfulness infers that we are to turn inwardly and be ‘present in the moment, allowing all sensations to surface, but not to judge such feelings.’ I’m wrestling with all of this — anyone else?

And I guess it’s because my upbringing is founded on service to one another that this all seems a bit foreign to me (which is very ironic considering my family originated from another country). As children, we were taught to be considerate, courteous and mindful of other people, giving them grace and mercy — and respect for who they are as a person — because GOD made them just as much as He made us (me).

Somehow, this new age definition hits me with self introspection and consideration. Now don’t get me wrong here, I believe that GOD says to value who we are because He believed that we were worth the life and blood of His Son, Jesus. But I guess my feelings are that we’re drifting away from the holy mindfulness that Scripture highlights.

Our verse here emphasizes that GOD is the One mindful of what is going on — what He has foreordained for our lives — those things that must be satisfied and fulfilled for His Glory. I fear that if left to our own devices, we will drift from allowing GOD to be the mindful One and take that upon ourselves — causing us to become self-absorbed. I’m fully convinced that He will bring things to pass — hence, He is mindful.

Be mindful of His covenant forever, The promise which He commanded and established to a thousand generations,
1 Chronicles 16:15 – AMP

The verse above resonates for me where I believe we are to be actively mindful and how we should move forward on the topic.

Maybe it’s just my ol’ skool way of thinking — maybe I’m having a bear of a time with acclimating and adjusting to some of these new norms. I’ll own that — because Sister, this is not easy. I don’t believe we will be able to live this one down; we have lived through so much social chaos in these recent months that we must work overtime to come back to basics. To the basics that our minds must be filled to capacity with the overwhelming and never-ending love of GOD.

And that it is this which we must be mindful of — and leave the rest to Him. It is far to easy to get caught up in the “woes of me” and sulk and complain. If you’re reading this and you’ve not contracted COVID19, blessings upon you, Girlfriend — GOD has purposed to use you in that manner. But for those who are suffering from the ravages of this present-day plague, my heart ❤️ melts for you, and we are praying for you.

Being mindful of what GOD has intended for us is in His Word — and not in meditating on any new age positive quotations. His Word gives life to our spirit, mind and body. Go ahead and worship Him in nature — yes, reflect on GOD’S awesomeness (I hope that’s a word) to have provided beauty all around us. But beware to not worship nature — rather, worship the Designer and Creator of nature.

My intent today is to redirect our minds to the One Who created them — and to — for a moment, if you will — give us a place to contemplate and meditate upon His Goodness and LOVE for us — regardless of our current situation. If we look inward to ourselves, we will find mess and clutter of things we have been entertaining. Kinda like the way we suddenly see things that we didn’t know existed in our homes until we were forced to stay home and look at them. Anyone else find dust bunnies in crazy places?

It is my hope that we will take this time to be mindful of His Mercy, Love, Kindness, Forgiveness, Generosity — all of that and more to the Glory of His Name.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Peace”

It seemed as though the birds were chirping extraordinarily loud this morning. Or is that how they’ve always greeted a new day — have I missed that in the past?

Or is it that these tiny creatures were merely going about their daily routine and they were piercing the silence of the dawn because we have all been confined indoors for the recent six weeks?

It requires no special explanation — we are in the thick of a pandemic. And unless you’ve been in a coma for the past few months, you’ve experienced a ‘new normal’ that includes forced distancing in public by six feet, wearing face coverings when leaving your home, and very possibly losing your livelihood and some possessions. We’ve seemingly learned how to slowly adapt to online family gatherings and showing up to food banks (to either donate or receive). Life as we knew it is not.

So what are we all doing to cope? To what do we divert our attention so that we maintain some sense of sanity?

Those who love Your law have great peace; Nothing makes them stumble.
Psalm 119:165 – AMP

Upon first glance I’m thinking — GOD I need strength to even read those words — they seems so far from me. Peace seems so far away at times during these troubling days.

But maybe I wrestle with embracing this verse because I realize that to truly love GOD’S Law requires my earnest obedience to it. Ah, obedience … an action word on my part. It can be a tough pill to swallow if I’m truly honest with myself (and with the Holy Spirit). Oh, but the rewards – peace and stability.

Peace can be a trite word in this present global crisis — when the world is focused on medical intervention and searching for a vaccine to eradicate our viral enemy. But isn’t peace what we are yearning and thirsting for at the end of it all? Peace in knowing that we will all emerge from this chaos a stronger and better society — is it possible to even go there in your deepest thoughts?

I’ll come clean, right here and now, Girlfriend, and admit to you all that I’ve experienced some bouts with high anxiety and tension during these recent months. To the point of excessive muscle tightness and sleepless nights. But the enemy of my soul and yours wants me and you paralyzed by all these external forces to prevent us from being effective for The Kingdom of GOD.

Have you noticed any extra battles in your camp lately? Things that wouldn’t normally bother you suddenly are at the top of the last nerve list? Feeling antsy about going to the grocery store or driving at normal speed on the freeways? I’m right there with you, Sister; we all are.

I’m doing a study at the moment, about being battle ready — spiritual battles. And I’ve learned that’s exactly where this is all coming from — like a volcanic eruption, it’s all spewing out and overflowing all over the place. If I’m not careful about how I live and respond to circumstances and people, I can destroy opportunities for people to see peace of Christ standing right in front of them. Which is exactly what our world needs right now.

So this journey of mine in this season is notably a reflective one — I’m trying to not miss the chirping birds but to learn to sing with them. I’m calling on the Word of GOD to so dwell within me that I declare it in the heat of a battle and let it be my sword. I’m digging my heels into the soil He placed me upon and I am determined to be rooted in love and grace which He has poured out into me — and maybe, just maybe, some dying defeated soul will see a glimmer of hope through the peace of Christ and want some for herself.

My prayer is that all of us, Girlfriends, will find the courage to share the hope that is within us through the peace of Christ — to step back and see with spiritual eyes the ones who are coming up behind us thirsting for answers and peace for their difficult times.

None of us know when this will cease — or even if it will for that matter. We may have just stepped into a new way of living with no warning or preparation. But this we can be assured of: GOD is still on the throne and He isn’t going anywhere.

And just as He knows when one of those birds falls to the ground, He knows everything about you and all that accompanies you — and considers you worth dying for.

“Your words have helped the one who was stumbling to stand, And you have strengthened feeble knees.
Job 4:4 – AMP

I encourage you, Sister, to join hearts through the air and lift up the ones who are reaching out to you seeking peace.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend,

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary