“Why me?”

  

Before you start to judge me ~~ just remember: there’s a baby picture of YOU laying around somewhere that’s equally precious!

Most of my life I have wondered, “why me?”

Why did I have to grow up under these ‘special circumstances?’

Why did I get the ‘short genes?’

Why do I have these limitations?

One day, I came across the story of Queen Esther.  And then God showed me a different perspective of my life.  He changed my lens so that I could see things His Way.

You see, Esther lost both of her parents at an early age.  She was orphaned as a child.  But the love of a distant relative, her father’s cousin, prompted him to step forward and take on the responsibility of raising Esther.  While we don’t know if her uncle (that’s the relationship the Bible gives it during that era), Mordecai, was married or if he had any children of his own,  we do know that he took a step of obedient FAITH to fulfill a calling he believed to have come from God.

Mordecai raised Esther as best as he could; I’m sure he made a few mistakes along the way.  But he managed to train up Esther to embrace his faith and belief in the One True God so that she made it her own.  She learned all the customs and traditions of her people the Jews.  

But part of me can’t help but think that at some point Esther may have had thoughts like, “Why did God have to take both of my parents away from me so soon?”  In essence: “why me?”

And as we find in the Book of Esther, she becomes Queen in a Persian country by the “selection” of King Xerxes.  Again, “why me?” may have echoed through her mind.

Then as the story tells us that the fate of the Jewish people are in the hands of Queen Esther.  She has to make a hard decision. (You can read all the details in the Book of Esther.). The deciding moment of her lifetime ~~ the main reason she has been immortalized.  And I can be certain that “why me” echoed through the chambers of her fast beating heart.

Who knows?  Maybe you were made queen for such a time as this.  Esther 4:14 The Message.

I embrace my Sister, Esther ~~ her obedient FAITH took her places and taught her that at all cost, rely upon God first ~~ and He will bless you.  God did not explain ‘why’ her circumstances were as they were.  But Esther continued to walk forward.

For such a time as this ~~ maybe all those painful days of yesteryear were available to me and you for character building.  Maybe God knew that we would wrestle to hang on to the very threads of His Garment ~~ but that tested us to the point of strengthening our grip.  Maybe the pain in feeling abandoned and neglected were permitted so that you and I could learn to embrace tightly around the One Who said we’re worth dying for.

For such a time as this ~~ could it be that your present struggle(s) have been ushered in to allow you to develop a greater dependence upon the One Who’s calling you out ~~ ‘come take this step with me.’

Sweet Girlfrind of mine ~~ I encourage you today ~~ examine where God has brought you and the talents and gifts with which He has given you ~~ for maybe ~~ just maybe ~~ you have been brought here for such a time as this.

“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return.  And when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”  Luke 12:48b. NLT

Why me?  Maybe because you have been blessed with so much that can be used and shared and given away ~~ talents and gifts and blessings.  It is my prayer that you will not ask why me, but rather say use me.

The photo above was taken of me at the age of 4.  I was the designated flower girl for a wedding.  At the very last second, the ring bearer bailed out.  My grandfather placed the pillow in my hands and said “go.”  

Are you being told to go?

May you have a magnificent day, Girlfriend!

Linda



Advertisements

“On Relationships”

image

Relationships are the very essence of a woman’s life ~~ she breathes and thrives and identifies her person based on her relationships.  When things are going awry, she re-examines her place in a relationship, carefully analyzing where she may be needing to enhance or build up or improve herself for the sake of  the relationship.  Oh, but when things are going well, Sister, you can bet she’s dancing and engaging and loving life to its fullest.

Friendships are God’s gifts to us ~~ He loves on us through the blessings of the presence of others in our life.  Some of us have had to ‘learn’ how to be a Friend ~~ you’re not alone, Sister, I’m in your company.  Through much trial and error, those of us in this category have had to bear down and swallow the pride pill hundreds of times to get past the self-criticisms and the judgmental attitude towards others (when we’re critical of ourselves, we are equally, if not more critical of others) in an effort to accept and appreciate the beauty of the differences and unique qualities of others.  The key here is transparency.  Be real, be raw, be authentically YOU!  And never be afraid to be genuine, for you are imaged after GOD.

Family is inherited ~~ so the choice has been made by GOD.  This is the “relational boot camp” in life.  Love ties us all together under one roof and through the branches of the same tree.  Common blood running through our veins and DNA imprints our connections ~~ most times.  Sometimes the drills and obstacle courses of the family relational boot camp can seem so intense and difficult to overcome ~~ but many times, love keeps us together ~~ most times.  Survival may have meant you successfully learned how to treat others as you would want to be treated ~~ support, encouragement, wisdom, guidance ~~ most times.

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.  This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12 NLT

But what if you squeaked through the family relational boot camp and the scrapes and wounds never really healed?  What if you never had a mentor or Friend to guide you through establishing friendships?  What if you’re reading this now and are wondering when things will finally make sense or people will want to be around you and you around them?  What if as an adult woman your struggles are still the same as they were when you were an adolescent young girl in high school?

Start small ~~ Small Groups ~~ Small Group Bible Studies.  In any church environment, the bigness of a building can often intimidate the most tender hearted and introverted spirit.  Reach outside of yourself ~~ even if it means tiny sacrifices (social activities may need to be readjusted) ~~ extend yourself in love and grace, and the same will likely return back to you.  Don’t give up ~~ don’t give in to the temptation to run the other direction.  Love is right around the corner, Girlfriend.

If any of this sounds vaguely familiar to you, if you have lived through any of the difficult times and your “scars” are proof of the battles you’ve encountered, what Step of FAITH are you being called to take today to help out a Sister in need?

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4.  NLT

Now, get on out there and love on somebody, will you?  She’s probably standing right behind you.

Linda




“What Would You Tell Her?”

  
If you could go back in time and speak with ‘your younger self,’ what advice would you give her?

I posted this question on Facebook and received some very interesting responses.  There were some responses that I’m sure were really hard to put to ‘print,’ because they resonated with past ache and pain that left deep wounds ~~ some wounds that have yet to heal.  Some responses sounded like the warning sign at the railroad crossing, especially the one that said, “Don’t marry your first husband!”  Some responses contained a bare all, unveiled conversation with the ‘younger self’ that urged her to have her priorities in place before adventuring into relationships and business deals.  In most responses, there were the scars of life lessons learned.  ‘Oh, if only I knew,’ was the theme song of many women. 

How do YOU answer this question?  What advice would YOU give your younger self?

“On Being Useful”

  
The price of vulnerability ~~ sometimes we just can’t think about it ~~ sometimes we have to raise our hand and say, “I’m IN at any cost!”  

Have you ever had to risk those precious gems: image, reputation, status, career ~~ in order to restore a Sister that was broken?  

I’m sure many of us have been there ~~ risking whatever was in front of us for the sake of One Girlfriend who desperately needed us in her time of pain.  Being transparent and authentically raw ~~ revealing our own insecurities but looking towards the bigger gain: restoration of a broken spirit.

Proverbs 18:24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

The ‘goal’ should always be to be well used of GOD.  We should strive to be that vessel He picks up for Purpose and to not worry about potential dings or dents (even an occasional crack or scratch) ~~ for such are the marks born by those who have submitted their lives to Christ.

LindaRJohnson

T2T Visionary


“Back Fat”

Lemme take you inside my quirky world for a moment …God often whispers to me in the shower ~~ in fact, I’ve had some really good conversations in there with Him. It’s the one place I am undeniably uninterrupted ~~ so The Lord and I have had our moments in there together. This morning as I was there in my prayer shower moment, God whispered to me “back fat.” So quite naturally, my mind says, “Yes, Lord, I KNOW I need to work on that ~~ so I can be a better example to those looking up to me.” But still yet, He whispered, “No, not just you ~~ others ~~ ‘back fat.'” So again, I’m pondering, and wrestling with this concept ~~ thinking, ‘I can’t go around pointing out the back fat on other women when I’ve got my own issues with it. What’s THIS about, Lord?’

As I proceeded to get dressed I continued on in this conversation with God. (Oh, if my family only knew what was happening in that bathroom!). ‘What is it about back fat that we women deplore and go bonkers over?’ (As if that were a hidden mystery!) and then it starts to download into my brain …

It’s that ‘side of us’ that we rarely see in plain view ~~ when we are made aware of it, we try to CONCEAL or ALTER ITS APPEARANCE in an effort to seem more appealing or attractive. We buy different bras or invest in what I call ‘body armor’ (those spanking contraptions that require the strength of David to pull onto our imperfect spots). We camisole, layer, HIDE our imperfections (or at least those which we know of) for fear of rejection or judgement or criticism.

But beneath it all ~~ still exists the frailty of a spirit yet screaming to be accepted for who she is and what she desires to share with the world.

If we have others in our charge, we often work overtime to camouflage our unsightly profiles and traits in an extreme effort to exude the ‘perfect image.’  

As women of God ~~ we are called to uplift and support and love on the women God places in our path (HMMM, sounds like a well built bra!) ~~ her imperfections are no worse than our own whether she knows The Lord or not. If we are in a Leadership role (whether in our local church or at our place of employment), all the more we are looked up to for wisdom and advice. Are we willing to be TRANSPARENT to the ones seeking after God ~~ back fat and all ~~ knowing that He’s got our back (fat and all)?  

Reach out to the one(s) for whom God is placing in your path today ~~ there’s no coincidence that she is there for you to love. And embrace her ~~ just as God in Christ embraced you ~~ back fat and all.

I love you to Heaven and Back, Girlfriend ~~

Linda
PS: I had considered taking a photo of my own backside in an attempt to demonstrate my own transparency with you, but quite honestly, Girlfriend, I’d rather confess my imperfection to you rather than SCARE you! ;D

“Trust Means I Believe GOD For WHO HE Is.”

  

Once I came to the realization that GOD truly has my best interests at heart, I finally let go of a lot (not all, mind you, I’m still a work in progress) of unnecessary baggage — worry about my future, anxiety about how to accomplish things on my to-do lists (notice the plural), fear about being accepted or rejected, concern about growing ‘older’ and physical challenges — TRUST in the One True GOD, the Creator of the universe, set my mind at ease.

It’s not about TRUSTING Him in my human ability, but TRUSTING Him for WHO HE is — He is I AM.  GOD is not who I think Him to be — He is far greater than my limited mind can imagine — He is the Alpha and the Omega.  

I don’t think that I will ever be able to fully grasp all of that — but I do PRAISE Him for all of that.

He has proven Himself to me countless times throughout my life — and for all the times I’ve missed out on thanking Him, I bow my heart in humble repentance.  I don’t ever want to miss out on the sweet opportunity to praise Him for His demonstrated love towards me.  He has shown me that He can take one such as myself and redeem her for the good of those who are coming up behind her.  

“In My Place”

I’ve never thought of myself as being anyone significant — just a plain ol’ gal that wants to be productive and contribute positively by impacting the tiny corner of the world that I’ve been placed. When you’ve lived a life of being ‘vertically challenged’ often times it seems as though you’re overlooked or passed up for opportunities simply because you don’t stand out.  Sometimes being overlooked wasn’t so bad — especially if it took you out of your comfort zone. It was in those moments that one could never be short enough! Whenever my insecurities challenged the life outta me I always thought I was dying a thousand deaths all in a single moment. You know, that ‘meltdown’ kinda feeling.

But God has been gracious to me — while He has indeed s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d me over the years, I must humbly admit that I’ve grown from those awkward moments of challenge. I’ve learned how to embrace being put in my place.

During my teen and early adult years, I was NOT the type of person that would have said anything like this. I’m ashamed to confess that I was was one of those little people with a BIG mouth that backed it up with a strong attitude if you even looked at me funny. It all comes from feeling the need to defend oneself — largely because I felt no one would or ever did defend me. So I felt I had to do it myself.

When I became a Jesus follower, I began to learn that humility was actually a virtue and not a cop out for the weak. And with a change in attitude towards myself after realizing that God valued me, I began to realize the value of others. When this took deep root inside of me, I allowed for God to put me in my place.

The place where He felt that I could be of benefit to others in the greatest way with the talents and skills that He had given me along the Journey.  

A place where my heart melts for the woman that hurts from her past and can’t seem to recognize her relationships suffer as a result. A place where I can feel compassion for the brokenness in parental relationships and become a potential change agent. A place where a woman struggling with direction in life can feel comfortable enough to cry or reach out and I can offer her a shoulder or time to help her sort things out. A place where a sister can feel totally safe and transparent so she can unpack her baggage and find hope.

Yes, God has put me in my place — and I’m glad He did — because I never would have found this place on my own. There was no sign hanging out front or neon lights flashing or a beam piercing the skies to say, ‘come here.’ No, I’ve had to listen for His whispers to lead me here — and I’ve had to learn how to step into this place carefully. I walk around this place with immense reverence and pray for God’s protection over the door posts and in the entrance way. I bless this place with praise on a daily basis. I ask for the Holy Spirit to anoint the walkway leading up to the front entrance, and all through the place. This place comes close to resembling the holy of holies — for it is IN this place that God is in action through me. In this place He stirs my soul to be an active and willing vessel of His outpouring of blessings onto others. In this place He grows me — He nurtures me — He loves me.

In this place God meets me daily — confronts me — disciplines me — challenges me — to continue to reach for Him — to depend upon Him — to trust Him.  

In this place no two days are ever the same. And yet, my God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Circumstances change — these are the furniture in my place — but the Resident is ever Constant; He changes not.

God has put me in my place, and I’m loving Him for it!