flashthoughts

I LET IT SLIP AWAYToday I was asked to find a poem for someone about Christ rising from the dead. So, of course, I went to Google and started searching. I found some nice ones, some really good ones, but they weren’t about Christ rising from the dead. After reading a few, I heard something and tried to dismiss it. Something – or should I say Someone – was telling me I could do this. I could write something, if I would just get quiet and listen. Search the scriptures and listen. So, I did – search the scriptures and listen, that is – and before too long, it was written. Little did I know it was only the beginning of something my Father wanted to show me.

I wanted to attend a Communion Service tonight because, frankly, it has been a while since I’ve taken Communion and I felt I needed it. I have to be honest, I believe this is the first time I have ever felt I needed it. Don’t get me wrong – I always love it when I get to share in Communion, but I think it was always just something I do because I’m a Christian. Yes, I know it is something to be done very reverently and in the right manner and attitude, but, at the same time, even though I thought I was partaking in the right manner and attitude before, I now know that I wasn’t. Do I feel ‘condemned’ about that? Absolutely not! Why? Because God knows my heart and He knows I was not aware of what I had been doing – until tonight. Tonight, He revealed to me something huge about my relationship with Him. It hurt me to realize what I had been doing and yet, even in His correction, which I was ready and willing to accept, I could feel His deep, deep love for me.

What is it that He showed me about my relationship with Him? He showed me, as much as I love Him and as much as I thought I had been honoring Him, I was wrong. He took me back and showed me I had become a little ‘too comfortable’. Yes, He loves me and yes, He tells me I can come to Him at any time with any problem, big or small; but, He also reminded me I still need to keep my awe and reverence for Him intact. I can’t let myself become so comfortable with Him that I forget what He did for me. How He sent His ONLY SON to die for ME! His Son didn’t just die for me – He died a horrible, gruesome, cruel death and He would have done it even if I had been the only person on earth!

Lately, I have started hurriedly reading through Bible passages, just so I could get done and say, ‘I did it! I got my Bible reading done! WOO HOO!” I get up on Sunday mornings and go to church because it is the ‘right’ thing to do and because I do enjoy worshipping my Father. However, even in that worship, I find my mind so easily drifting to other things and not staying focused on my Father. I know that is a tactic the enemy uses on many of us, but I am only speaking of myself here, because I am responsible for me. What I’m saying about me is I don’t even think I can blame my lack of focus on the enemy. I am the one who seems to have forgotten Who it is I am worshipping and how worthy of my awe, reverence and total focus He is!

All I could do tonight, as He was pointing these things out to me, was cry. I shed many tears of sorrow in the realization of what I have been doing. The whole time He was showing me what I needed to correct, He was also loving on me and, as I asked for His forgiveness, He was lavishly giving it, just as He promised He always would.

I know the change won’t happen overnight. My loss of awe and respect didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual change and one I didn’t even notice. I will be asking and seeking Him daily to help me regain that which I let slip away. I know He will be patient with me and help me regain the awe and reverence I lost.

All this because someone asked me to do a seemingly simple task. One thing I’m learning is to do my best to be aware when He is trying to get my attention. He got it today and then gave me that feeling of urgency to attend Communion tonight, where He knew I would be still, quiet and ready to listen to Him.

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I was reminded, yet again, of this blog I wrote back in 2007. I had no idea it had been that long since this had happened to me because it is still so fresh in my memory. I still can not let myself use this word to describe anything, unless I am talking about something God has done or talking about God Himself. I decided to share it here so y’all can read it and let me know what you think about it. I originally posted it on a website that no longer exists.

Thursday, February 22, 2007
AWESOME – Really? Are you sure?

Wanted to share something with everyone tonight that the Lord put on my heart a while back. The way I use the word “Awesome”. Now, please read everything I have to say here and don’t get your back all “bowed up” and get mad – I’m just sharing what the Lord spoke to MY heart – no one else’s. But I just wonder if some out there may be like me and never really stopped to think about it. I know I hadn’t until one day I was saying something was “Awesome” and man – I felt my spirit quicken immediately!!! It was like “Really? That’s awesome? Are you sure? Do you realize that you talk about what an ‘AWESOME’ God you serve and how ‘AWESOME’ God is? Do you realize that you are now saying this thing you just called awesome must be as good as God? WHOA! Did THAT ever get my attention! Now, I’m gonna be honest – as I always try to be – I have slipped a couple of times and caught myself saying or about to say something or someone is ‘Awesome’, but then I remember what I felt in my spirit that day and I immediately change it. It’s easy to change when I’m online and typing but it’s harder to catch myself sometimes when I’m actually talking. But I’m getting better about it. It really quickened my spirit to think that I would give anyone or anything down here on this earth the same status that I give my Lord and Savior! My Father! He is truly AWESOME!

Anyway, just thought some of you might want to think about that – it’s really scary to me how flippant I seem to be sometimes when talking about my Father. I am really trying to become more conscious of this – Yes! He loves us! Yes! He cares about us! But He is still, after all, GOD! And He deserves more respect than anyone or anything that I know on this earth.

What do y’all think?

Love y’all,
Kathryn

IN JAILI spent my first day in jail Monday, January 26, 2015. The difference between me and the ladies already inside? I would get to leave at the end of the day and they would not. I was a first-time participant in an event called ReNew Hope through the We Care Program. (Those names are in a different color so you can click on them and learn more about each)

I was nervous, not scared, as I did not know what to expect. I only knew I wanted to be able to go in and encourage these ladies, share the love of Jesus with them and, hopefully, be a small blessing to them. I’m still not sure if that happened or not, but God certainly used them to encourage me, share the love of Jesus with me and bless me beyond measure!

Monday, I told the other ladies on our team, since this was my first year to participate, I didn’t want to talk with anyone “on my own”. I was not even sure if I’d be going back on Tuesday, depending on how Monday went! Needless to say, I went back on Tuesday and again on Thursday. I didn’t go Wednesday because I was going into a different place Wednesday night and wouldn’t have been back in time. More about that later….

LESSON #1

I am so accustomed to using the Bible app on my phone, I didn’t even think to grab an actual Bible on Monday before I left, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to take my phone inside the jail! So, all the other ladies on our team had Bibles and I had nothing 😦 I thought, ‘Oh well, no big deal, I’m gonna be pairing up with someone anyway, so it will work out okay’ and it did. Almost immediately, ladies were talking with us and they were so excited we were there. Some grabbed their own Bibles and they were noticing many of the ladies on our team had lots of notes in their Bibles. They asked, “Is it okay for us to write in our Bibles?” I remember telling more than one lady, “YES! Of course! Write in your Bible. Make yourself all kinds of notes as you’re reading and the Lord is showing you things where you’re reading. Write it down!!” As I was saying this to different ladies over and over, I felt the Lord asking me, “So, why don’t YOU do that anymore?” Yes, I was definitely convicted of not using His actual love letter to me, His Holy Word, the way I once did. I went home Monday night, got my Bible out and put it in a case to carry with me Tuesday. On Tuesday, He reinforced His message to me about His Word when we were allowed to visit with the ladies in what is called the lockdown wedge. One of the ladies there had just received a brand new Bible from the Chaplain and she was holding on to it for dear life. She had it clutched to her chest and had the biggest smile on her face. She was so happy and proud to have a nice Bible. She said she had never had one like it before and she didn’t even want to put it down. That scene touched my heart in a very deep place! Since my experience there, I now carry my love letter with me to church and I am beginning to use it at home, too, as I once did, instead of the app. The app on the phone is nice and I do still use it – but I’m getting back to using my “hands-on” Bible the way I should!

Tuesday we were able to visit with ladies we had not had time to visit with on Monday. I love how God always connects us with exactly who we need to connect with. I was able to share a very, teeny-tiny part of my testimony with one of the ladies. Another volunteer shared her testimony and I felt I needed to share that one small part of mine. I knew God was prompting me to share with her because she was experiencing many of the same things I have experienced in past years.

LESSON #2

Something else I learned on Monday is GOD CHANGED MY NAME! Our team leader was sharing the story of Zaccheus and how God knew he was in the tree and called him by name and told him to come down because He was going to eat with him that day. She told them the wonderful thing is God knows their names, too, and He knows exactly where they are. I was thinking about that Monday night after I got home and God showed me, while He did not change my name from what my parents had given me when I was born, HE most definitely changed it from my nickname back to my given name because I am no longer the person associated with that nickname. I am becoming the person He always intended me to be and that is why HE changed my name. You can read more about the meaning of my name change in my story here.

Wednesday was the day I planned to stay home so I could go into Holman Prison Wednesday night for the service there. For those who don’t know, my husband is an Asst. Chaplain at Holman through the We Care Program. Some of the other wives had chosen Wednesday night as the night to attend service there so, of course, I wanted to go the same night 🙂

OH! I have to add this side note here: One highlight of Wednesday had absolutely nothing to do with ReNew Hope – well, in a round-about way it did, I guess, since it happened at We Care Headquarters – but I was able to see a friend I haven’t seen in a LONG time and it was so wonderful to see her! She has been and still is in the process of fighting breast cancer and all that entails, so say a prayer for her – God knows who she is 😉 She is doing GREAT, by the way, but all prayers are appreciated 🙂

Now – back to the evening service at Holman. What an experience that was! There were TWELVE visitors to get checked in – five in the music group, two that were speaking, wife of one speaker, three wives associated with We Care and the photographer/videographer – and it was very different from how the ladies team had been checking in at the jail! We all signed in on the paper log at 3:46 p.m. By the time the Warden had entered all the information and fingerprinted us all in through the computer, it was 5:02 when we were receiving our visitor passes and the service started at 5:30. The men were already in the chapel waiting for service to begin. As we walked in, several of the men were in prayer. They were praying for the service and for individuals. We went in and sat on the front row as we were asked to do. Sitting there, listening to the men praying also touched a special place in my heart. Hearing one man in particular praying for individuals and calling them by name, well, it brought tears to my eyes. Going through our day-to-day lives, we can find ourselves thinking the men and women in prisons and jails don’t matter. We can almost let ourselves believe they are of no concern to us, they did something wrong and they are where they should be. We couldn’t be more wrong! Father, forgive me, if I ever start to feel that way, and remind me and others these men and women are someone’s sons and daughters, possibly husbands or wives, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They are PEOPLE with feelings and emotions and regrets, just like I have every day and you know what? Jesus died for them the same way He died for me and I need to remember to love them with His love the same way He loves me!

The service was great and the time was over before we knew it and it was time to go home – or at least back to We Care Headquarters for another delicious supper prepared by those wonderful We Care ladies!

Thursday, back at the jail, was very nice. We were able to re-visit ALL the ladies we had seen during the week including the ones in the lockdown wedge. It was such a blessing to speak with them again. By Thursday, I also knew I would definitely be doing this again next year and, in fact, had even begun to think of others that I want to invite to join us!

It was a week of growing in the Lord and listening to Him and allowing Him to change the way I see a lot of things. While I shared two of the biggest lessons He taught me this week, there were many other lessons He taught me, also. Some may not be quite as ‘big’ as others, but certainly just as important. It most definitely made a change for the better in me and I pray I will continue to be teachable.

If you are interested in getting more information about how YOU can be a volunteer next year, be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph of this post or, if you want to ask me any questions about it, please do so. Feel free to leave a comment, if you are interested or have questions. I would love to speak with you about what a rewarding experience it is!

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT

What happened? The floodgates opened; but, I’m getting ahead of myself again. First, let me share exactly what I wrote in my journal… 

Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:41 a.m.

      Here I sit at the Women’s Retreat that I never planned to attend, but You, Father, had other ideas. I don’t know of a single reason, yet, why You wanted me to be here, but it doesn’t matter anyway. I may never know and, then again, You may show me later – either way is okay. I have enjoyed it. I’ve had fun and now I am truly enjoying sitting here by the lake.
          Please forgive me, if I messed up back there in the worship time. I truly felt You were speaking to me that we should march around that room 7 times to break bondages, the same way You “broke” the wall at Jericho. I still doubt myself though – and question. It’s not YOU I don’t trust – It’s ME!!! 

While writing that last sentence, the floodgate of tears opened as God revealed to me exactly what was wrong. He revealed to me what I have been battling with – unknowingly – for the last five years. This, I began to feel, was the entire reason for me being at this retreat. However, now that I had the answer to that question (Why did I have to go on this retreat?), I felt it left me with even more questions! Why was I still struggling with this? Would I ever be able to overcome it? I could write no more in my journal. All I could do was sob and cry out to my Father, the One Who loves me – yes, loves me still! I felt I should talk with a certain lady at the retreat; but, I wasn’t sure of the chances of that happening. I told the Lord I would leave it up to Him. If I was truly meant to speak with this person, He would provide the opportunity. Not only did He provide that opportunity, He provided it almost immediately! Yet, even when that lady spoke to me first, I almost didn’t take it. I answered her question to me then turned to finish what I was doing; but, I knew I couldn’t ignore this opportunity. I turned back to her and said simply, “Actually, can we talk?” So we stepped outside the meeting room and I explained to her what had happened. She spoke quite matter-of-factly to me and absolutely nailed it! The guilt, confusion and, quite honestly, almost “shame” that I felt over this HAD to GO!!! As I had said, more times than I can count over the last five years, God is a gentleman and He will NOT override man’s free will. To provide an explanation in the shortest way I know how, I had been struggling with what I guess could be called self-doubt for the last five years because of my second marriage. I was not looking to get married, but I truly felt God was in it. I was led to believe I was marrying a Godly man and I prayed about it and truly felt it was the right thing to do. Then, one month before our first anniversary, I came home to find my husband had left. For the next five years I struggled with self-doubt because I wondered how I could have missed God THAT bad! He showed me in many different ways and assured me that I was wrong in my thinking. Somehow the enemy tricked me into believing I had accepted it and moved on, when in reality, I had not. 

With GREAT happiness, I am here to tell you that, because of Him sending me on the retreat where He could get me TRULY quieted before Him, my Father has COMPLETELY broken that bondage. With that bondage broken, He has been able to do so many other things in me – in my heart, in my faith, in my strength and courage in Him – things I feel sure He wanted to do a long time ago; but, He had to wait for me to be ready. Well, now I am ready and He is awakening a great hunger and boldness in me! The feelings of self-doubt and timidness are GONE and He is replacing them with feelings that I can’t even begin to describe. 

Getting rid of that self-doubt may have been the main reason for Him taking me on the retreat; but, other good things have come from me being there, too. Remember in Part I of this story, when I shared how I didn’t even want to be at “that” church? Well, I feel it only fair to share, the next Sunday (the Sunday morning following the retreat) when we went to church, I didn’t feel as much like an “outsider”. It felt more like being in a wonderful second home. Trust me when I tell you, it wasn’t because anyone in that church was any different than when I’d started going there last December. It was because I was different. 

I would also like to share, the change I am feeling in myself today, some two weeks after the retreat, did not happen overnight. I get stronger and stronger every day and He is filling me with so many thoughts every day and showing me things He wants to do through me – YES, little old me! Does He need me to do these things? No, absolutely not! He just loves me so much, He WANTS to include me in His plans and allow me to play a small part in them. 

Since allowing Him to completely remove the unhealthy thoughts from me, He is filling me with so many HEALTHY things and revealing so much to me that I wouldn’t be surprised if y’all see more posts here from me soon. As I’ve said before, I don’t usually post much in my blog because I only post when I feel it is something God wants me to share for some reason. Whether it’s to possibly help someone else going through something similar or to give someone something to really think about and ponder on. Since the retreat, though, He has been giving me a lot to think about and ponder on and, when I feel He is telling me to share something, I will. 

I love y’all and I thank you for taking your most valuable possession, your time, to read the story of my first ever AFA Women’s Retreat – and beyond 🙂

P.S. How cool is it that in our (mine and my husband’s) devotion time this morning, He gave me the scripture that truly sums up this first ever “series” of blog posts that I’ve written……

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” ~ Philippians 1:20 (NIV)

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT – PART III

I pushed open the door to find……..my SECOND God-wink. My roommate was inside, but she was no stranger! It was a sweet, sweet lady I had met a couple of years before and she is a very dear, sweet friend to me! Now I KNOW I’m God’s favorite because here He is blessing me again! Now all that was left was to see if I was going to enjoy the retreat and to see if God was going to show me just why I had to be here. 

First thing we did was go over to the cafeteria for lunch and then it was back to our “meeting room” (that’s what I’m gonna call it in this blog post anyway). I want to share a little ‘side’ story here. Let me just say this – these ladies know how to fix some food! There was so much food there was no way we would ever be able to eat it all; but, we definitely put a serious dent in it – LOL Anyway, back to my side story, this retreat was about angels, remember? Well, I just want to say that room was either very crowded with angels or else the angels that were there got very rambunctious. We were in line to get our first fill of the wonderful food I mentioned when, quite suddenly, to our left, a picture on the wall started swinging and fell to the floor! Scared us quite a bit for a second. The glass broke and went everywhere, but, thankfully, no one was hurt. We saw it happening, but had no time to do anything about it and, I need to add, there was no one near the wall where the picture was hanging. I still say the angels were just flying around and knocked it off – LOL – and now I’ll get back to my ‘regular’ story. 

The message Friday evening was wonderful and there were a lot of people being prayed for and having bondages broken. After the service was over, we were free to go to our room and turn in for the night or we could stick around for the talent show. I think pretty much everyone stayed for the talent show and it was truly great. It sure made for a late night, especially since we had to get up early the next morning, but it was so worth it! 

My roommate had told me Saturday would be an “easy” day. Yes, that’s what she told me. However, I’m thinking her idea of an “easy” day and my idea of an “easy” day, are two different things! In her defense, however, there is a reason why it wasn’t such an “easy” day for me. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. 

First, we gathered in front of the building where our meeting room was located to have a group picture made. Have you ever tried to get over eighty women in one picture? It was quite interesting to say the least. Then we went over to the cafeteria for breakfast and afterward it was back to our meeting room. We had some wonderful praise and worship time. During that time, I felt in my Spirit we should all march around that room seven times. Why? Again I felt, the same way they marched around the walls of Jericho seven times, y’all need to march around this room seven times to completely break the bondages that ladies were receiving prayer for Friday night. My response? “No way am I going to start marching around this room. These people don’t even know me. I am not about to do anything like that. This is my first time ever being at one of these retreats. I’m not sure it’s really You telling me to do that, Lord. I am just going to stay right here and mind my own business.” That’s exactly what I did, too. After the praise and worship time, we had what they call “Lap Time”. My roommate shared some things with us and then everyone was to go off on their own, anywhere on the campsite, and spend time with God. 

I already knew where I wanted to go. I went and sat down on a bench facing the lake. I had taken my journal with me so I could write my prayer. I figured sitting by the lake, listening to the water would be a wonderful place to write and to listen for God’s voice. 

I was not disappointed. I began writing in my journal and you are going to be very surprised at what happened then. However, you’ll have to wait for Part IV to see just what that was.

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT – PART II

Now let me explain how God took care of Objection #4 and what happened afterward.

A few weeks prior to the retreat, God orchestrated it so I had a chance to sit and talk with the person I felt I was ‘betraying’, if I went on this retreat. I found that situation had been resolved and, in fact, had really just been a total miscommunication of information, which left me feeling MUCH better for that situation. However, it still left me with one objection – my weakest objection – that ever-so-simple yet ever-so-crippling “fear of rejection”. Yes, I know it should not be something I am still battling, but it does still rear its ugly head from time to time – and sometimes when I’m not even truly aware of it. I was not looking forward to riding the bus with a lot of ladies that I really didn’t know and I was getting fearful about sharing a room with a complete stranger. 

I prayed and prayed and asked others to pray for and with me about this. I know God heard and answered those prayers because He put too many different women in my path, at totally different times, telling me what a good time I was going to have. A few days before the retreat, I actually started to feel like I was getting a TEENY bit excited about it. Although, I would be lying if I said I was totally excited and ready to go. To be honest, I think I still just wanted God to change His mind and allow me to stay home, where I would be “comfortable”; but I was also okay with going, if He said I needed to go. 

I believe God honored my obedience to His invitation to attend this retreat before I even got to the retreat. The day before we were to leave, a very good friend sent me a text to let me know she was going on the retreat, too. She does not attend this church and I had actually already been told by someone else that she would be attending, but she didn’t know that when she sent the text. I found out she was driving her vehicle and no one was riding with her so I said, “Well, we can’t have you riding all by yourself. I guess I’ll just have to ride with you. LOL” So, God allowed me to go without having to ride the bus! He just loves me that much 🙂 

When we arrived at the site of the retreat, we checked in and got our room assignments. We  FINALLY located my room, and I said I was going to put my stuff down and would meet her back at the central room (where most everything took place). When I got to my room and went to put the key in, I realized the door was already open. I thought, “Okay, here we go. Time to meet someone new and pray we will be good roommates.” I pushed open the door to find…….

Be sure to come back for Part III to see what I found when I opened that door.

May I also add this was the most challenging blog I have ever in my life posted. Why? Because I posted this while riding in the car and that sun makes it awfully hard to see my computer screen and see where my cursor is – LOL

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT – PART I
(Also, my FIRST experience at sharing a blog in more than one post – LOL)

Months ago it was announced in church that it was time to sign up for the Women’s Retreat, which would take place in November. This is not something I was interested in as it is way out of my ‘comfort zone’. I never signed up because I had no intention of going – no intention at all!

And then I received a message on Facebook. It simply said: “You need to go on the women’s retreat Nov. 7/8”. That was it – not, “We’d love to have you join us…” or “Would you consider….”, just direct, blount and to the point. At first I thought, “Really? So sorry, but, not happening!” Let me explain all the objections I had for not going.

First of all, my husband is an Assistant Chaplain at Holman Prison through the We Care Program, which is much like being a missionary in that he has to raise his own support to be able to do what God has called him to do. Lately his support has been a little less than normal so we are trying to be very careful with what God supplies and I knew I didn’t need to spend money on a “frivolous” Women’s Retreat.

Second, being in large groups is not my idea of fun. It’s too much like high school all over again – “No one will want me there. I won’t fit in. I’ll get my hopes up that I’ll have fun and then be very let down and disappointed when I wind up with no one to talk to.” It’s just easier to stay to myself and not go through the hurt of rejection yet again. 

Third, this is not even my church. This is my husband’s church. It is where he was going when we married and I started attending there with him after our marriage. In fact, it was very hard for me to go there at first because of some things that happened in the past and because I already felt like “that’s the church where people go that dress fancy (nice) and have money and they really don’t want someone like me there.” Please know I am being brutally honest about how I FELT. I am by no means saying it was right, just being honest about my feelings. I know I spent some mornings in the bathroom crying my heart out because I didn’t want to be there. I knew there was a reason God wanted me there (besides the fact my husband was there) but I was behaving like a spoiled brat because I wanted to be where I knew people and where I knew those people loved and cared about me and we HUG when we greet each other to show our love for one another! 

Fourth, because of something that happened very recently, I had a very personal reason I did not want to go on this retreat. I am not at liberty to say any more than that. 

So, without going into all those objections, I simply replied to the Facebook message explaining that I would not be able to attend because we were trying to be very careful with our money. I also said I appreciated the personal invitation, but I would have to pass this time. To which this person replied, “Just let me know if you would like to go and I will get you sponsored. Love ya!” Seriously??? “Okay, God”, I said, “if this is You, I guess I won’t really have a choice.” I replied, saying I would see if I could get that Friday off and, if I could and someone was covering the cost, then I would go, IF there would be someone willing to room with me, which I seriously doubted – LOL 

Yes, I got that Friday off and yes, the cost was covered and yes, they had someone that would room with me. Another late comer and someone I did not know – but then there aren’t that many I would know, anyway.

Stay tuned for Part II to see how God took care of ALL my objections and find out what happened at the retreat 🙂

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