“Love and Respect”


Love and Respect.

Funny, you wouldn’t think people would get these two verbs wrong.  And yet, in recent days I’ve been front row center to some very ‘difficult’ situations.

Whenever I witness a husband and wife ‘disagreeing,’ I understand that; it simply means you have two different opinions that have met on a collision course in a public place.  Not all disagreements are bad.  One partner wants midnight blue paint and the other wants creamy lemon yellow.  One spouse wants to watch a Marvel Comics Superhero movie and the other wants to see a romantic chick flick.  I get it.  Matter of difference in taste and preferences.

But what I’m talking about goes deeper.  

I’ve actually witnessed a wife disrespect her husband in public ~~ and it hurts to see it in the making.

Whenever God allows me to see something unusual more than once and one occurrence right after the other, I always stop and ask, why  has this been highlighted in front of my eyes.

It’s to show me what disrespect looks like.  Plain and simple.  And Girlfriend, it’s not pretty.

In each instance, I saw the pain and embarrassment on the face of the husband.  I could read the humiliation in his eyes and the cowering in his body language.  And it was extremely painful to watch.  

I kept silent and almost motionless ~~ in an effort to try to remain ‘invisible’ to the husband ~~ hoping he would forget a stranger’s eyes were seeing him being torn apart.  When the dust settled, and I felt comfortable to exhale, I excused myself and prayed for the husband as I walked away.

The goal is to build up, not tear down.  

Proverbs 14:1 A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands. 

The Scriptures remind us, wives, to respect our husbands.  And from being married for over 31 years, I can tell you that showing a man respect so that he recognizes it as respect is different from showing him love and affection the way a woman would perceive and receive it.

It. Is. Not. Easy.

What we think we are conveying through our actions, is not always how he receives and perceives it.  Men are wired differently ~~ on purpose ~~ for God’s Purpose.  

Likewise, what he thinks he is saying may not be what we are hearing.

I have found that when I am frustrated with this, I have to pause, pray, and stay ~~ right where I am, and ask God to melt my heart for understanding and correction.  And then it usually helps if I actually ask my husband what he wants me to understand or know about some thing.  

And this is not easy either.

It means grab a tall glass of Holy Spirit water and swallow the pride pill ~~ wash it all down, Girlfriend.  And do whatever you can to hold back the urge to roll the eyes or fold the arms across the chest.

Pride will distract us from seeing the truth ~~ which means it will ultimately destroy us.  Don’t allow for it to destroy your marriage.

Pray for the willingness to be moved by the Holy Spirit when a difficult moment arises.  It is in these tender hearted moments that we can truly show how much we genuinely love and respect our men.  Let’s not forget: he has been imaged by God, and he did come first in the order of Creation.

Remember, he’s protecting you as though you are his own heart.  Work with him.  And you just may find that it’s a tad bit easier to understand him.  Then you’ll be better able to show him you respect him in love.

It takes practice, Girlfriend; a lot of practice.  But God will honor you showing up for practice. (Wink!)

Pray diligently for your marriage ~~ protect it ~~ guard it ~~ treasure it.  There is no other Relationship like it.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

Now, go give that man a Hug!


T2T Visionary

“God Not Only Straightens Paths ~~ Sometimes Knees.”

It was one year ago that I experienced an internal meltdown.  I finally consulted with an orthopedic specialist and surgeon about the (now increasing) PAIN in my knees.  

As the physician’s assistant hung my X-rays in front of me, I knew before he spoke a word that this conversation was going to exceed the throbbing pain in my knees.  

“Your knees are shot ~~ there’s nothing left. The doctor will be in shortly to discuss your situation and options.” 

Meltdown in progress.

“You’re a candidate for a bilateral total knee replacement.”

Did someone just suck out all the oxygen in the room?! It’s getting warm in here.

Bilateral. Doc, that means BOTH ~~ at the SAME TIME?!”

“Everything you’ve been doing ~~ for the past 20 years ~~ has made you the perfect candidate to be successful with this procedure.”

My heart started on a rhythm that was unknown to me. My hands gripping the examination table were surely leaving fingerprints in the vinyl. And with that my thoughts began to swirl in my head.

Every conceivable thought about HOW I was going to get through this ~~ WHO was going to have to help me ~~ WHEN I would be ‘normal’ again ~~ WHAT the outcome would mean to my future ~~ all of this, I knew DEEP within the quiet place of my soul, God had written a Testimony, and it was now time to experience the Journey.

Born with a birth defect, I defied all odds with the rigorous physical activities I had participated in from childhood up until the present moment. All things considered, I have had it quite good all my life, as far as my existing deformity.

Romans 8:28 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. 

Nine months post op ~~ five months post physical therapy (at 3-two hour sessions per week) ~~ titanium and hardware at 2.5lbs each ~~ I am here to declare, “God is indeed FAITHFUL to fulfill His Promises!”

Psalm 18:6 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.

And let me tell you, Girlfriend, I cried out loud.  

I’m still in the recovery stages ~~ they say the average patient rehabs over the course of one year. But I have returned to work teaching just fewer fitness classes.

In my downtime, God whispered to me through His Word. He drew me in CLOSER to Him. I learned how to FULLY depend upon Him for everything. Mind you, I required the assistance of someone to lower my legs to the floor every time I wanted out of the bed. Throughout my days, I called out to Him through my pain ~~ and He comforted me by giving me HOPE for things that I was going to participate in with Him for His Kingdom. I truly learned how to LEAN IN and LEAN ON my Savior.

 All my ‘vertically challenged life’ I lived very independently ~~ oftentimes to a fault.  The scars from mishaps are proof of my determination to do things single-handedly.  This was now a life lesson in DEPENDENCY on God for my every need.

I don’t take life for granted ~~ I treasure the “pleasure” in walking without a cane or walker. Taking the stairs is NOT pleasant, although I know it is par for the recovery course. But I am a walking miracle. In fact, I walked only 5 hours after my surgeries!  

I have MUCH to be thankful for ~~ the LOVE and generosity of my Girlfriends to provide meals and companionship and transportation ~~ the selfless devotion of my sons while mama was incapacitated ~~ the major and minor adjustments my husband made in life as I progress with each passing month.

God indeed “straightened me out.” He literally recreated my knees through the skillful hands of my surgeons. He showered me with LOVE that I had not experienced before. And He INCREASED my FAITH by giving me a HOPE for the future.  Above all, He taught me that dependency (upon Him) is exactly where He wants me.

I encourage you to lean fully upon the One Who loves you beyond your imagination ~~ and you will discover that you will learn to live fully.  


T2T Visionary

“The Pause Button”

There are some things in life that just get us all flustered, and one of them is waiting.  

The traffic light turns red after the first car goes through the intersection.  Wait.

The final decision about the job interview isn’t confirmed before the weekend begins.  Wait.

The direct deposit incurred a glitch in the system and the payroll check did not go through.  Wait.

You’re less than five minutes from work and a train begins to cross through the railroad tracks.  Wait.

Waiting is terribly inconvenient, isn’t it?  And yet we’ve all lived through to tell of a personal experience.  So I suppose that waiting through that dreadful moment in time didn’t ever “kill” us, did it? (Grin)

Philippians 4:6 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 

While the waiting itself on the surface is bothersome, when we pause to consider the purpose behind the delay, it just might calm down our anxious nerves.  Could the red light have spared us from a collision at the intersection?  Could the outcome of the job interview have ruined a family gathering?  Could the payroll glitch be the reminder to be a better steward of our finances?  Could the train on the tracks be the message to us to realign our priorities so that we manage our time well?  

I see God’s Hand in all of life’s pause moments; these I call the holy pause with a purpose.  Simply because God loves us with all His Heart doesn’t mean that He is obligated to acquiesce to our every desire for events in our lives.  If we are truly to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, isn’t that our call to confer with His timing?

Could it even be, Sweet Sister of mine, that in the dreaded silence of the wait, that He welcomes intimacy with you ~~ with me?  Perhaps a one-on-one conversation that is long overdue?  Our Loving God doesn’t stop loving us at the pause moment.  But is it possible that He desires to remove the distraction of whatever we’re worrisome about to get to the heart of Our Relationship with Him through trust?

If we Trust the God of all Creation with the ‘big things’ in our lives, wouldn’t it seem also appropriate that we trust Him with the little inconveniences and minor details ~~ believing that He’s got us covered (even from angles we know not of)?

He created us therefore He knows us.  And He knows that we need a lot of ‘practice’ with this thing called waiting.

Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles,  They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. 

This Promise says that if we wait upon God, He will strengthen us.  So then waiting becomes a resting spot.  In fact, we are rejuvenated to the point of having more ‘energy and stamina’ than when we first started!

I’m in ~~ are you?

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend!


T2T Visionary

“On Letting Go”

This was the day my heart broke in a million pieces.

I. Cried. All. The. Way. Home.

My youngest child had made the decision to attend a university a plane flight away.  He was always the most adventuresome one among the three of my children.  As a toddler he was the one to make friends in preschool so easily.  At the park, he was the one to run towards the biggest and tallest slides (much to the fluttering in my heart).    

For this one, I was a devoted track and field mom for five years straight.  I committed every weekend for 12+ hours to be at those track meets.  I attended every local competition: camp chair, portable bleacher seat, and ice cooler filled with sandwiches to share in tote.  I’ve sat through freezing temperatures with five layers of clothing, and melted under the heat of sun.

The day when I drove him to the airport to send him off to college, I thought I was going to lose myself.

I held him so tightly in front of that airport terminal.  I remember not wanting to let go.  He whispered into my ear: “Mom, I’ll be back.”  And with that, tears streaming down my face, I waved goodbye to the baby boy who was going to be coming back home a man.

In the Book of John chapter 20, we read of the account of Jesus appearing to a distraught Mary Magdalene.  Just a couple days ago, she was eye witness to the public suffering of her Savior.  She was so devoted to Him that she remained unashamed and immovable at His feet until He breathed His last breath.  Mary Magdalene loved her Jesus.  When Jesus appeared to her after His resurrection, she did not want to let Him go.  The Bible tells us that Jesus said don’t cling to me.  He was yet to leave again, and this time it would be much longer before they would reunite.

I can’t help but think of the countless times that Jesus has told me to release my grip on something.

Jobs, projects, situations, aspirations, hopes, and dreams.  Hear me now, my grip (as in control) ~~ not my faith.

When I try to control something or a situation ~~ I’m trying to direct the outcome ~~ and it’s usually for my benefit.  This is when I’m clearly “out of control.”  

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. 

Daily I must submit myself to The One Who holds my future.  And yes, while He places the seeds of dreams in my heart, and cultivates them with hope for fruition, I must take care not to assume that I am able to control everything.  Faith reminds me that God is.

It just so happened that one year earlier, our older son (middle child) had decided to live on campus of his chosen university.  Years prior to that, our daughter (the eldest) had transferred to her chosen university at the northern most end of the State.  So for two full years, we were an “empty nest.”

Well, my son’s words came to pass (thank You, Jesus!).  First our daughter relocated back to our part of the State (in fact, only 45 minutes away).  Then our older son left the dorms and moved back home deciding to commute to college.  Then our youngest transferred to the university his brother was attending and also is commuting from home.  Sigh!

While for some, empty nesting is the goal, for me it was painful.  I do know they will all eventually be on their way, but until then I release my grip and pray them into the loving care of Our God.

“What are YOU having difficulty releasing with Faith into the trusting Hands of God?”

I pray, Girlfriend, that you’ll find the comfort and strength you need in the wisdom of Scripture.  Call a Sister in Christ to help you with the clarity.  Stay in fellowship for the sake of your soul.  And pray for daily direction from the Holy Spirit.  God is faithful to get you through this.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~


T2T Visionary

“Instructions For Living”

I found this to be humorous because I have done the “push” when the instructions said “pull,” and pulled (really hard) when the instructions said “push.”  And then almost instantaneously, I look around to see who may have seen me act so foolishly.  Am I alone here in this?  Any of my Girlfriends out there willing to stand up and throw me a ‘high five?!’

Almost like going through life on cruise control ~~ making the safe assumptions that we automatically know the right thing to do ~~ in every situation ~~ without considering the instructions.

Micah 6:8 But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.  It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love,  And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously. 

When I read this passage of Scripture, four key words highlight in my mind’s eye: fair and just, compassionate and loyal.  Why?  Because these are action words on our part.  

God says right here: DO what is fair and just with your neighbor.  That’s not always easy to do ~~ most of the time, we want to be fair and just when it results in a ‘good deal’ for us.  But God didn’t say, “When it’s convenient ~~ or when you feel like it ~~ or when it’s a win situation for you.”  He just said DO.  

Then He adds be compassionate and loyal in your love.  Compassion isn’t just sitting back and ‘feeling emotionally connected.’  It’s a behavioral response to a need ~~ someone else’s need.  An example of compassion in the Bible is the Good Samaritan.  He stopped to bend down and do something on someone else’s behalf.  Loyalty in our love ~~ means it’s ‘faithfully 24/7.’  Both of these do not have conditional tags attached.  Did you catch this: Be?  That means ‘to exist,’ ‘to live,’ and ‘to breathe.’  Our compassion and our loyalty in love ‘exist’ without condition.

Here’s the clincher: “Don’t take yourself too seriously -~~ take God seriously.”

Cast aside your preconceived notions of what you think life should be ~~ push back the selfish desires to remain comfortable in your corner believing that you’ve got it all wrapped ~~ pull up close to The Word of God ~~ and let Him direct you.

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

James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 

And I’m sure if you ask Him, God will also tell you when to push or pull.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend!


T2T Visionary

“Your Mama Doesn’t Work Here, Re-Rack Your Weights!”

  Frustration can sometimes get the very best of me. I have to work really hard at NOT letting my emotions overrule what I know to be the “right way” to be.  When I show up for work and I have to clean up after somebody’s “mess” (Dumbbells, barbells, plyometric benches, 45 and 55 pound plates, etc.), I’m instantly “challenged,” to say the very least, to keep my mouth shut. Oh, the grumblings that go on in my head and beneath my breath (at least, I hope they remain there)!

I’ve tried all the “human” remedies ~~ speaking to the people in charge to give me help to “mop up the leftovers,” hoping they’ll get a HINT. I’ve even calmly suggested to a manager that MAYBE he should organize a team to routinely canvass the area throughout the day to assure it’s kept orderly and free from debris. All to no avail.

So what’s a girl to do?! This 5’1″ frame puts on her weight lifting gloves and gets in there to clean up. I daily go in with the attitude of “where is it and how much do I need to move?”

“God, I KNOW there’s purpose behind this … SOMEWHERE amongst all this iron, there’s PURPOSE and a “lesson” for me.”

The “debris;” the “aftermath;” the “fallout” of intense work. (I feel an ‘aha’ moment about to strike!)

When I’m in the midst of a trial ~~ a battle ~~ do I leave behind the “remnants” of my “mess?” Is my attitude throughout the battle a godly one, or am I making a mockery of the Word of God? Do I draw attention to myself for the sake of getting attention or for emotional support? Am I providing an environment that is “welcoming” and “receptive” to those who are seeking God in their own trials and battles? Am I being “that example” to the ones coming up behind me?

And when it’s all said and done, have I left a “mess” of broken relationships or unnecessary behavior that would destroy my Christian walk in front of the world? Have I truly shown others that The Holy Spirit, does in fact, help us in our time of need?

Philippians 1:9-11 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. 

Well, as I showed up for work today, you can guess nothing had changed.  The obstacle course had seemed to breakup and find places to retreat into.  Here, there, and everywhere.  As I maneuvered around the room hauling heavy objects out of the way, the “aha moment” struck me.

Ironically God tapped me on the brain ~~ “muscle” ~~ “spiritual muscle.”

Every “messy room” represented the fallout of tools.  All the equipment is the stuff with which we use to increase our muscle mass.  It’s weighted.  When we are strong enough to conquer our goals using the tools we have, we use different tools.  

God loads up His Child with spiritual tools to conquer those spiritual battles.  When we have shown Him that we understand how and when to use them, He loads us up with more spiritual tools to develop spiritual muscle.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 

After every battle, am I putting my spiritual tools back into my toolbelt for future use?  Or am I so eager and excited that I ‘forget’ what God has done for me and leave my stuff lying around?

We are meant to learn every life lesson that God brings our way ~~ it’s character muscle building.  But we must not forget to put away our experiences and blessings for future reflection.

“Thank You, Lord, that I have a job that I can do well.  And thank You for causing me to pause and reflect through the messiness of life.”


T2T Visionary

“For The Ones Coming Up Behind Me”

Legacy ~~ that’s a pretty huge word to me.  I guess because it feels like it carries a lot weight.

Doesn’t it almost sound like: “Let us see?”

Funny, the contrast between the two.  To me, a “legacy” requires intentional thoughts and deliberate actions; and everything woven together with threads of purpose.  Whereas “let us see” sounds like a sloppy and carefree shoot- from-the-hip sort of attitude; whatever comes, whatever goes.

Both depict an approach to how I can choose to live my life.  One requires effort.  One requires that I simply show up.

“What kind of approach have you chosen for yourself?”

“What does your decision require of you today?”

I’d love to hear from you ~~

Hugs & Blessings ~~

Linda R Johnson

T2T Visionary

“The Hard Spots Beneath Your Feet Are Buried Treasure”

Are you in a hard spot right now?

I know that feeling ~~ that awful ‘gnawing’ feeling in your soul that just makes you want to scream ~~ you wish it were all just a very bad dream and that you’ll soon awaken to a bright new day.  But it’s not a dream ~~ and it won’t easily go away.

If you were to look at me today, you would think that I’m a fairly healthy individual.  But the outward appearance can oftentimes be quite the opposite of what lies beneath smooth skin.  You would even think that I’ve always been a confident and happy person.  Deep inside this little individual are the marks of one that has lived a difficult life.

My confident exterior is the byproduct of GOD’S Divine intervention.  By nature, I’m terribly insecure.  It comes from issues of abandonment and rejection.  Believing the lie that I was unwanted, I was always fearful that people would reject me if they got to know me.  So I avoided getting to know people at a young age.  I buried myself in academics and other ‘solo activities.’

That was the beginning of my ‘trial’ in life.  My companions were fear and insecurity.  Not the kind of companions that a young girl should have while trying to make sense of the world around her.  So I made some not so good decisions.  

When I finally met up with My Savior, Jesus Christ, my life received new meaning.  But I still wrestled with my companions fear and insecurity ~~ they didn’t seem to go away immediately even though I had told them Jesus was now The Lover of my soul.  Somehow, I was not yet living as a new creation. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 

I had to walk a Journey of faith ~~ several years ~~ to fully understand who I am in Christ.  It has been a Journey that could not have happened all in one night, nor in one year ~~ because the Journey was the place where GOD developed my character.  THIS is where I came to know Him intimately.  How?  The life lessons He provided for me along this Journey enabled me to receive His strength, His love, His wisdom ~~ these became the essential tools with which I would continue on in the Journey and become useful.

Girlfriend, the Journey is often filled with hard spots.  Speed bumps, road blocks, even potholes!  But we don’t stop and stay there; we keep going.  Sometimes we weep and mourn in the hard spots; but we lean on our Savior to keep going.  There are hard spots where it hurts so bad that we don’t know where to look.  Let me help you here: ‘Look UP, Sister, LOOK UP!’  

James 1:2-4 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing

This is what happens along the Journey; we lean in closer to our Savior, we recognize His Voice, and we depend upon Him to get us through the hard spots.

And when it’s all said and done (before the next Journey begins), we will have a Testimony to share with the world.

You see, somewhere between the Trial and the Testimony lies the Treasure.  That Treasure is your Relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s in those hardest spots in our life that we cling to Him the most. It’s during those ‘I can’t go through another day like this’ times that we truly experience Who He is and how deeply He loves us.  And then with eyes wide open we see Him treasure us!

I encourage you, Sweet Girlfriend of mine, reach out to a strong Sister during this hard spot in your life ~~ pray with her ~~ let her love you with the Love of Christ, and you will be able to give Testimony of the greatness of God ~~ and you, too, will behold your Treasure.

I love you to Heaven and Back!


T2T Visionary