“Gratitude”

Ever have that deep — really deep — expression of thankfulness that overcomes your entire being, so much so, that you’re left virtually speechless?

Anyone who knows me intimately, knows that I am seldom for a loss of words. (Ok, Girlfriends, I saw you throw your head back and chuckle!). So when I can’t seem to “find the words” to describe my current feelings and emotions, you know it’s special.

That inexpressible sensation of delight and joy — flooding the internal senses to overflowing — that over-the-top “I can’t believe it’s happening to or its for me” feeling. Can anyone relate?

It’s that indescribable internal somersault that I want to deliver to you this morning — on this Thanksgiving Eve.

For all the knowledge and wisdom you have all shared and bestowed upon me over the years — in the countless forms of texts, emails, cards, acts of kindness, prayers — in every moment they were poured out onto me — times of shared joys, sorrows, difficulties, mama-moments, prayer requests, illness and recovery — my heart ♥️ is filled to overflowing with inexpressible gratitude. Because you have allowed the Spirit of God to use you as His Mighty Vessel of Service.

Allow me to encourage you and uplift you to keep on keeping on in rhythm to the heartbeat of the One Who formed and designed your heart, Sister. While in Service to your Savior, you are used mightily; even in ways you are most unaware.

I have come to embrace the beauty of the fact that we were designed to remain in constant communion with God through prayer — we are designed to be just so connected to Him that there is no duality of life. And as His Temple, He dwells within and through us to touch the dying world through the unique qualities of our personality. That, my Sister, is how we can touch the ones coming up behind us; by connecting them with the Savior of their souls. Those original qualities (which we sometimes think are defective or less-than, are actually perfected by The Holy Spirit when we are being transformed into His Image) are intended for good.

So there is no need for comparisons or feelings of inadequacy — we are complete in Christ.

It is my fervent prayer, Girlfriend, that you will continue to pursue God’s Relationship with you by full immersion into His Word and fellowship with The Holy Spirit by inviting Him to breathe wisdom and knowledge and understanding through your life.

In this lifetime, I am privileged to say I have witnessed such from you. And for these things I am genuinely grateful.

Blessings upon you and all with whom celebrate this Thanksgiving!

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

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“In Her Silence”

I was driving through the parking lot of one of my favorite markets when I caught a glimpse of what disturbed my soul and ached my heart.

The scene was this: a man and a woman standing outside of a local diner. The woman frantically searching through her purse while the man was yelling at her — in her face and obviously in public.

Apparently the man didn’t care that his actions were on public display, much less that the woman with him was also in clear view of passers by.

I was not privy to their conversation, nor did I know the details of what had brought them to the place of their situation. But in a fraction of a moment, what I had witnessed was enough for me to go to The Lord in Prayer for her safety, wisdom and comfort.

Sister, have you ever been in the right place at the right time, to intercede on behalf of a total stranger? Circumstances and safety may not always permit our human touch — nonetheless, we have the privilege to pray in the Spirit for the well-being of another person.

This was just one of two incidences that met up with me in less than a week.

Days ago, I had been en route to my dental office during my lunch break. Along the journey, I encountered a young woman running naked in the middle of the street — one of the most busiest streets in town during the lunch hour. Another woman had been chasing her, attempting to subdue and assist her, but the young woman always managed to break free and continued to run. At one moment, as I called 911, the young woman ran up to my window and pleaded with me to help her. I will forever remember her face. Uncertain of her mental and physical state, I remained locked inside my car to avoid becoming a secondary victim.

As the police appeared on the scene, and traffic was now gridlocked in both directions, I watched as this young woman even outran the authorities. As I drove away from that chaotic scene, again, I went immediately into prayer for this needy woman. She desperately needed God.

In the silence of their days, these precious women may have only been familiar with their pain and anguish — which none of us have ever known. And for the duration of time which may have felt like an eternity — they’ve suffered in silence.

My heart aches for such a one — and I’m certain there are many, many more out there — some of whom are reading this — some of whom are in our midst.

But God … oh, how these two precious words just delight my soul …

Knows your pain, Girlfriend. And as our Scripture verse above reminds us: He saves our tears in a bottle. That is the most amazing and loving thing — God is genuinely concerned about our comings and goings. He knows our wanderings.

I suppose that is why I am deeply committed to the ones entrusted to my care — they say that is the Gift of Shepherding. I get it.

The ones coming up behind me.

I want to reach out to you, Girlfriend, and reassure you that if you are in such a situation — of despair or feeling hopeless — don’t suffer in silence. In your local church, I encourage you to seek out the confidential assistance of a pastor, Women’s Group, Christian counseling services or (if it’s available to you) Stephen’s Ministries.

It is the community of believers that will embrace you and love you through your dilemma.

And this is one of the reasons we love one another just as Jesus loved us — to readily support and encourage one another in our times of need.

Let me encourage you, Girlfriend, to reach deep inside of you — to that place where only God has seen your pain — and to bring forth that same comfort that The Holy Spirit poured out on you in your moment — and allow God to lead you to minister to another woman in need.

You may not always be capable of wrapping your arms around her — you may not even have the privilege to speak to her directly — but you can pray for her. The amazing power of prayer — even from a physical distance — is our opportunity to minister.

Who’s in?

Do we need a “reminder” of the loneliness that besieged our own souls when we’ve traveled down that long and darkened “hallway” of unknown certainty? I’ve been there, Sister, chained by my own thoughts — erroneously thinking that all was lost.

Feeling so alone.

Choosing to remain silent — for fear of rejection and judgement.

The enemy of our souls wants us to be isolated — it is in this cave of demise that ugly lies engulf our minds and twist the truth about God’s unfailing Love.

I invite you to join me in praying intently for the ones whom God places before you — in your “mind’s eye,” on your heart, in your thoughts — in front of your face and under your nose. The Lord has ordained you to minister to her in the manner He has prepared you.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“In Due Season”

And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

Psalm 1:3 AMP

I’m not ashamed to say I’m a ‘do-er.’ Been this way since the beginning of my time. But it’s what’s fueling that ‘do’ that can be a major roadblock to my spiritual growth.

As a child and as a result of wanting to desperately please others, I perfected my ‘do-ing’ ~~ until it was exhausting. The inner drive to compete (not so much with people, but with their accomplishments) was insatiable. Can anyone relate?

The pursuit to perfection consumed me ~~ everything I attempted had to be just so and nothing less. As an adult, I reasoned that perfection was no worldly good unless it was timely ~~ my time.

This sort of thinking was so wrong in so many ways ~~ but my stinking thinking was justified; so I thought.

Until I came to terms with what God wanted from me wasn’t even my accomplishments, much less the so-called perfection of them.

God wanted (and still wants) only me.

Stripped of my pride, this was the biggest and hardest pill to swallow. So how did I ‘swallow’ this huge pill? Sloooowly and with daily doses of living water.

Surrendering ~~ that’s the yielding part that’s difficult to wrap our minds around. But look at this, Girlfriend ~~ yielding also means to produce. Is it no wonder that God Himself would say this in the Psalms as He did?

As I strolled through our garden, stopping in front of this tangerine tree, I was impressed with the abundance of fruit draped all around her. But most of all, I was inspired by God and His workings in me.

The fruit comes in it’s due season ~~ when it is appointed to bear the fruit she was designed to produce. And when she does, it’s a magnificent sight! But did you know, this tree doesn’t have a bumper crop harvest every year? After the harvesting has been completed, she is pruned back (ouch!) so that she can bear fruit again. But as I said, it won’t occur the same exact time next year ~~ it will happen the following year. And that’s after all the watering and manure that has to be provided; and let’s not forget the obvious: heat of the sun.

Are you still with me, Girlfriend?

Pruning back is when the Lord removes the unnecessary branches ~~ the activities that prevent the growth. They may not necessarily be ‘bad’ in nature ~~ simply not needed. The watering is the daily dose of God’s Word and being in the company of other supportive Believers. The manure (holding nose) are those unpleasant occurrences that we would choose to do without, but God ordains for our growth. And the heat of the sun is the opportunity for us to endure and develop our patience as we wait.

For the right Season. His Season.

Our ‘do’ (due) time ~~ is when God has cultivated us and then anoints us with the ability to produce (whatever He deems for us).

I pray that whatever Season you are in, my Sister, that you will continue to look up and call upon the God Who lovingly designed you for His magnificent Purpose. We are all joining in with you in prayer ~~ for your time will come in due season.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Icing On The Cake”

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1 Peter 1:7 NLT

I had just shared some prayer time with a sister~in~Christ … we chatted about being excited over the the Bible Study we were about to encounter this season. A study in Prayer … was on my way home driving and praying with thanksgiving to the Lord about my expectant hope … when I made that left~hand turn and … tumbling went my purse across the front passenger seat.

Not giving it much thought beyond the contents I would now have to recover in the dim garage lighting, I simply continued to drive home.

Arriving into the garage I found more than just a cluttered mess ~~ the small bundt cake that was in my purse had somehow popped out and released a smeared mess all over the handles of my leather purse.

I had no sooner said, “thank you, Lord, for the privilege to serve you through others …” then the challenge was put before me to put feet to my faith.

It wasn’t just the obvious mess that was apparent, but Sister, it was the impression that left me: trials on this side of Paradise require a response from me and how I choose to respond will speak to the transformation that Christ has had upon me.

It’s no secret that we will walk through this life being inundated with trials and persecutions of varying degrees. And if you’ve been a Christ-Follower for any period of time beyond 5 minutes you will know this to be quite true. Setting aside any formal opportunity to give our ‘testimony,’ our life is our Testimony.

This simple incident of the tumbling bundtlet and the gooey mess reminded me of how easy these challenges can roll through our lives, but the response that flows from us is what gives life to our faith.

11 It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that defiles and dishonors him, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles and dishonors him.”

Matthew 15:11 AMP

In essence, Girlfriend, our behavior is the icing on the cake.

I could have easily made a ‘huge messy stink’ over the unexpected incident, by ranting over the whole ordeal. But really, what would that have given me other than more heartache and deeper resentment.

As I mopped up the mess, I pondered over what had just happened and actually thanked The Lord that it wasn’t anything truly serious enough to lose myself by drowning in a sea of woe. I was grateful for the blessed privilege to see that He was reminding me of the spiritual battles that lay ahead of me this season as I stepped into this leg of the Journey.

I allowed God to show me the icing on the cake isn’t always what I believe it should or will be, or even that it will look the way I think it will appear.

Thank You, Lord, for the eyesight to see the hidden Blessings in my life.”

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend,

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Choices”

I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.

Psalm 119:30 NLT

What choices and decisions are in front of you today, Sister?

Realizing that this is a loaded question, I only share with you because my spiritual eyes and ears have seen and heard from so many who express a heaviness of heart and a wearisome soul ~~ to you, Girlfriend, wherever you are in your Journey, no matter the intensity of your situation, God knows and sees your pain and anguish. And He is there with you and for you.

Over the years, having experienced the consequences of bad choices on my part I can only say that I wish that I could go back in time to undo those bad choices and decisions ~~ to spare myself from the pain that ensued afterwards.

Don’t we all?

But as time and life experiences reveal, that our Merciful Lord makes all things work together for our good …

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:28 NLT.

So even while we consciously make those bad choices, since God has already been down our Journey, knowing that we would do such, He makes a way for us to still “recover” (for lack of a better word). For me, that is beyond comprehension.

I truly believe that in all the life experiences of poor decision-making, God’s Love transcends and permeates where you and I cannot even begin to imagine. Seriously think about this: if left to our own selves, we would have simply met our doom a long time ago.

But God (savour those two words) …

In His Love and Mercy, has a Plan that includes us (yes, ALL of us, Girlfriend). And so while we even “blow it big time,” He sees fit to redeem us from ourselves ~~ and those bad choices.

So what are we to do? What’s the remedy for moving forward to lessen the occurrence of poor choices? (You know you will always need that “eraser,” so perfection and error-free are not part of the vocabulary here.)

Let’s take a look at more of the Scripture passage …

I lie in the dust; revive me by your word. I told you my plans, and you answered. Now teach me your decrees. Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word. Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. I cling to your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame! I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding. Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart. Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. Reassure me of your promise, made to those who fear you. Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good. I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.

Psalm 119:25-40 NLT

Commitment to be Disciplined by His Word.

There’s effort on my part to be taught by The Living God ~~ His Word breathes life into my soul and will keep me safe from myself (and my bad choices in life).

I have to commit to following through on what God’s Word says for me to do ~~ obedience is the key that unlocks the door to understanding His Perfect Will for my life.

Have you had enough ~~ enough pain, sorrow, anguish ~~ from bad choices? The opportunity for decisions will never go away ~~ not while we’re on this side of Paradise. But while we are privileged to see the awesome workings of God in our life, being proactive by deciding to live according to His Precepts will spare us from the fallout of bad choices.

Maybe we need to remember the Goodness of God more often ~~ to trigger how many times He’s (seemingly) fixed our ugly situations. I know that I come up red-faced when I even begin to consider the things I’ve chosen to do in the recent past (starting with yesterday) ~~ much less the far past (like last month); so I won’t even mention year’s ago!

Heaven help me ~~ I only hope that the humans within close proximity of observation have granted me a place in their “memory lapse.” And I won’t even go into the direct impact onto others in my realm ~~ hands over eyes! Can anyone relate?

The Psalmist seems to resonate my groaning ~~ he verbalizes the cry of my heart to do right by God and for God. And that’s where it begins, Girlfriend, in our ♥️.

Are you ready to commit to better choices by committing to the disciplines of God’s Word?

Let’s take up the Blessed opportunity to live life according to His Commands through our choice to being obedient, and I’m persuaded that He will not disappoint.

Allow me to close with a favorite phrase that my dear friend, Jo, always shares with me when I’m down: “Trust God to do ‘it’ (whatever it may be at the time), and He will blow your mind!

And she’s so right!

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Thought Process”

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 – NLT

It seems like I’m always thinking and processing something in my mind. And it’s not necessarily my project, it may be surrounding a friend or loved one’s concerns. Nonetheless, I suppose I make it my business by devoting time and energy to tossing it around in my grey matter.

And isn’t it just like God to nudge me ~~ remind me ~~ that while things don’t seem to make sense to me or agree to popular thinking in today’s culture, He’s ‘got this.’

Seriously Sister, I toss my own thoughts around like a well-crafted salad! And while I know that anything that ‘overly concerns’ me is candidate for The Prayer List, I don’t always openly turn things over to God for His Handling ~~ not at first.

I mean, don’t we tend to “fix it,” or attempt to fix it ~~ before we raise it up to God for His solution?

Millions of times (I say this because there’s no sense in counting) I have said to self: “I’ve got this!” Only to later look at the chards on the floor and to find myself picking out the shrapnel from the aftermath.

Whenever I’ve erroneously rushed into a decision ~~ I usually suffer the consequences; and quite soon after the fallout, I might add.

So as I move forward into my Journey of this second half of life, I (try to) commit to less of me and more of Him ~~ allowing God the true control of my life. Not always successful and certainly not always easily done. Why?

Because His thoughts are nothing like our thoughts. And while I may argue the validity of my decisions and action plans, and even claim that God “impressed upon me” (sound familiar?) to do such and such, it’s terribly difficult for these human hands to let go.

And yet still, I stand before you, Sweet Sister of mine, beckoning you ~~ to release and receive ~~ whatever you have conjured in your mind and embrace God’s Plan.

You will be Blessed.

It may take tiny steps to “practice” prying your hands from things that you continue to white-knuckle grip onto ~~ but continue to “practice” until the “practice” becomes the pathway to provision for your need(s).

I assure you your efforts will be well worth it ~~ no regrets when Trusting a Perfect God.

Commit with me Girlfriend ~~ and we will remind each other ~~ to rest our souls to the Care of The One Who breathes life into them.

I love you to Heaven and Back ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary

“Ambassador”

 

Some time ago (when I make this kind of reference it’s because I have already forgotten how long ago the thought originated), when I was communing with God about ‘what I have been Assigned to do with my time through a career,’ He Whispered into my spirit: Ambassador.

Now mind you, I knew full well that this was by no means a hint to get politically involved or to seek a public office or participate in some societal organization whose mission is to be internationally connected for a worldwide cause.  No, it was not a worldly kind of Ambassador Assignment.. And surprisingly enough, I somehow knew ‘where’ God was going with this.  (I suppose my spiritual ears have been piqued well enough to recognize His Voice better.)

Over the course of several months, I had noticed how my daily activities were intertwined and beginning to show signs of connectivity.  I recognized ‘patterns’ of similarities in what God had been placing in front of me for developmental purposes and the situations within which He was actively causing me to enter into.  It wasn’t always clear-cut and predictable; however, there were commonalities that just seemed to tie things up and make sense.  The particular choices I was ‘forced’ to make, the people with whom I was ‘forced’ to engage, the places I was ‘forced’ to venture into to participate in all of these things ~~ it all just made sense.  For lack of a better word, I use the word ‘forced’ to reflect a persuasion on the part of the Holy Sprit.  

“When you allow God the space to develop your spiritual senses, you are keenly aware of the sound of His Voice.”

Praying for career direction from The Lord requires me to humble myself to receive His Answer ~~ because I must trust that if something does not make perfect sense to my human reasoning, that God’s Will is still at work on my behalf.  

When I ‘heard’ the word Ambassador, I must admit that I thought to myself, ‘Well, of course, all Christ-Followers are commanded to be Ambassadors of the Gospel.  But this was in addition to what He meant in this context.  

Clearly in my heart of hearts, God had placed the desire to become an ‘independent’ worker.  No, not in an entrepreneurial sense, whereby I would develop my own company, but as a Consultant.  I’ve come to identify the skills and talents He has developed in me to accomplish specific tasks, and He continues to develop me for ongoing and future tasks.  But if ever the dots connected in my life, it was definitely now.

What I thought was just a passing ‘dream’ of becoming a Consultant is rolling out in front of my eyes like a movie on the big screen at the theater.  When I initially considered becoming a Consultant, it was with my definition of what that job description was going to be ~~ and that’s precisely why it did not come to fruition.  (An ‘I got it, God!’ moment smacked me square between the eyes.). It was my desire for me, and not His Desire for me.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take. ~~ Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Sometimes Girlfriend, we mistakenly ‘think’ we’ve entrusted The Lord with our concerns and cares ~~ when in actuality we’ve only Team Tagged God (does that make sense?) and still ‘control’ our decisions and actions, with the intent to determine the outcome.  Please tell me I’m not alone in this craziness.

While it has taken me more than half of my earthly life to come to terms with the fact that I actively do this, I do now see that I have been wrongfully wasting precious time.  And I humbly ask for His Forgiveness.  Yet I rejoice in the ability to begin again.

This Assignment as Ambassador has only begun ~~ I am now on to embracing the second of two Assignments where I can be instrumental from both an earthly perspective as well as a Heavenly Purpose.  And for that I give Him Glory and Praise for even considering me to be useful.

Where will this take me in the long run?  I have no idea ~~ but I also consider it a privilege to simply be called to participate.  And quite honestly, I’ve come to accept that it’s not always in my best interest to know the answer to that futuristic query as the Journey is just getting started.  

Trusting God means I don’t need to know everything that’s going to happen before it does ~~ I will simply obey Him as I put one foot in front of the other along the Journey, and when I reach my destination He will be there to welcome me.

The question came up in a recent small group Bible Study: “Are you a Destination or a Journey person?”  And I must admit, I am more inclined to be a Journey Gal ~~ enjoying the ‘scenery’ along the way and the people whom I encounter, I believe, make for a much more interesting experience.  But also along with that comes the responsibility to respond as a true Christ-Follower.  All the activity keeps me on my spiritual toes, ever mindful of to Whom I belong.

How about you, Girlfriend ~~ are you embracing your Journey, and suiting up as an Ambassador of Christ?  

We shall have more discussions about what that means in the weeks to come.  Chime in with your thoughts here ~~ I’d love to hear them and of the “close encounters” that you have with Jesus along your Journey with Him.  

I love you to Heaven and Back, Sweet Sister of mine ~~

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary