From Turtle to Butterfly

Posts Tagged ‘Faith

WHY GO TO CHURCHI asked this question on Facebook yesterday – “Why do you go to church on Sunday?” Now, I would like to share WHY I asked that question.

I was listening to a message and the pastor said, “I didn’t come to church for a normal service; I didn’t come to church to play church. I can’t have a ceremonial faith. I need a personal, powerful touch of God!” When he said that, I began to wonder why others go to church, so I asked the question to see what kind of responses would be given. Most were what you would expect – people giving the answer they think they should give. Not that they weren’t sincere, but, I wonder… did they really ask themselves the question and take time to get honest with themselves? Or did they just give their ‘pat’ answer? Because here is the way I would have to answer that question…

I remember a time when I got up on Sunday mornings and got ready for church because, well, it’s Sunday and that means we go to church. Not because my family went, but my older sister did. She was the pianist at church and, as a teenager, I went with her. That’s how it started for me. I’m told we did attend church as a family when I was younger, but I don’t remember that. WOW! I never even realized until I started writing this – my sister is the reason I began going to church. If it weren’t for her, I have no idea where I might be today! Praise the Lord for her “transferrable faith”. (You can listen to the message about that by clicking here)

Back to why I go to church, though – for years, that’s why I went, because it was the thing to do on Sundays. Sunday morning, Sunday night and, gasp, even on Wednesday nights! YES! Believe it or not, that was the norm ‘back in the day’ and, also believe it or not, some churches still have those three services. Personally, I think we need those three services – I don’t know about everyone else, but I leak a LOT and need to be refilled more than once a week. I am thankful to be in a church where we do meet on Wednesday nights, so I can get that mid-week refill I so desperately need!

If I am being totally honest, my reason for going to church did ‘evolve’ over the years. I did begin going to church because I love the Lord and because I wanted to worship and fellowship with other believers (I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior when I was a teenager). But, I still found that, even though I went to church on Sunday, for the most part I left the same way I went. Nothing was really different. My way of thinking didn’t really change and my lifestyle didn’t really change. I was pretty much that ‘good, Christian girl (woman) who went to work (or school, when I was younger) and went to church’ week in and week out.

Then, He began doing a work in me in July of 2006 and even more so around the year 2009. Hard to believe that’s been fourteen and eleven years ago! During those years, I’ve had some really great moments and some not so great moments. I believe He ‘bumped up’ His work in me beginning in 2012 and things REALLY began to change when He revealed some things to me in July of last year (2019).

So, today, I can answer my own question – “Why do you go to church?” (on Sunday or any other day, for that matter) – in a totally different way! In fact, this is what I found myself writing/praying in my prayer journal this morning:

Thank You for today being the day I GET TO go to Your house and join my sisters and brothers in praise and worship of You! Light a fire at Eastside Baptist this morning, Father! WAKE US UP!!! Draw us to the altar!!! Give every person in attendance EXACTLY what they need and let Your Presence SO FILL the sanctuary that it spills outside the doors and walls and draws people in who are outside! May they feel SO compelled by the Holy Spirit to come in that they can’t stay away – they can’t just drive by – they must STOP and go inside! Let Your Spirit fall SO HEAVY, Father, that it can be SEEN as a fog inside – but ALL will know it is YOU! Oh, how I LONG to be in a service like that – a service of TRUE, PURE, UNADULTERATED, ABANDONED WORSHIP OF YOU, FATHER! May it – let it begin WITH ME! If it has to start somewhere – let it start with me! Teach me, show me how to worship You with TOTAL ABANDON! Just like the old song says – I WANNA LIVE WITH ABANDON! GIVE YOU ALL THAT I HAVE!!!

I agree with Pastor Jentezen Franklin – I don’t want to go to church for a normal service; I don’t want to play church anymore; I don’t want a ceremonial faith – I want, no, I NEED a PERSONAL, POWERFUL TOUCH OF GOD!!!! And now, today, I can honestly say THAT is why I go to church. And, if Father wants to start the FIRE with me, I’m okay with that now! I sure wasn’t ready for it before, but I am now. Are you?

BEAUTIFULLY WRAPPED GIFTDid you receive any gifts for Christmas this past year that you have yet to open? What about for your birthday? Or your anniversary? Have you ever, at any time, received a gift you haven’t yet opened? I’m guessing the answer to all those questions is no.

Who receives a gift and doesn’t open it? Now, I’ve seen some gifts that were wrapped so perfectly, so beautifully, that I’ve heard the recipient remark, “Oh my! It’s so beautiful, I don’t want to unwrap it” as they are ripping the paper off. Am I right?

It’s because we are all so curious, we just can’t stand not knowing what’s inside. Why do you think it’s so hard for anyone to see all the wrapped gifts under the tree at Christmas time, not knowing what is in each one? And, the thought occurs to me, why do we only do that at Christmas? We don’t wrap someone’s birthday gift or graduation gift or any other gift and place it somewhere for the recipient and others to see days or weeks before they actually get to open it. Why do we do this at Christmas? Maybe that’s a thought for another day…

The point is, when any of us receive a gift, we like to open it right away and see what is waiting inside. Sometimes, when the gift is revealed, the recipient isn’t as thrilled with it as the giver hoped they would be. The recipient of the gift may have to suddenly pretend to be excited about the gift, when in reality, they don’t like it, don’t appreciate it or don’t even know what it is!

Do you know the same is true of the gift God has given to each one of us? God gave His Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to be the Ultimate Sacrifice, the Ultimate Gift of all gifts to each one of us. Did you also know, even though the Gift is the same for each one, it is also very different for each one? Do you know the Gift works different for each recipient?

Some open it and immediately reject it saying it is not something they need and they toss it aside. Some open it and, not wanting to hurt the Giver’s feelings, pretend to love it. They ‘make a fuss’ over it and carry on the charade for a little while before they leave it by the wayside. Some open it, aren’t really sure about it, but they accept it and, over time, it becomes more and more special to them. Some open the Gift and immediately fall in love with it and treasure it always!

What’s really special about the Gift God gave you – and me – is that you can’t keep it to yourself. You will absolutely have to share it with everyone you know! That’s what you are supposed to do, too! It’s the Gift you can share with everyone you meet and still have plenty for yourself! It’s also the Gift that gives another Gift – the Holy Spirit!

So many people have not accepted this gift yet. It just sits there, waiting for them, wanting to be opened, but instead it is ignored. If you are one that hasn’t opened it yet, I urge you to open it today! I promise it will be different for you than it is for me. It will look different to you than it does to me. It will work different for you than it does for me. Even though we have all been given this same glorious, wonderful, Ultimate Gift, it will absolutely be, look and feel different for each one!

If you haven’t already, will you accept the Gift God is offering you today? The Gift of Jesus, the gift of peace, the gift of hope, the gift of eternal life?

PRAYER: Father, thank You for this wonderful Gift, Jesus, You have given. I admit I am a sinner and I accept this Gift, Jesus, as my personal Savior. Jesus, come into my heart, wash me clean and lead me in the way You would have me go. Amen

Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ~Acts 2:38 (ICB)

PRESENCEHere we are at the beginning of a new day, a new year, a new decade! What a journey the Father took me on last year. The word He gave me for last year was DEVOTION. He gave me that word on December 28th, 2018. It had a double meaning for me. It was mostly about renewing my devotion to Him, which happened in a HUGE way! But I also believe He gave me that word because He took me on a journey last year that not only helped me renew my devotion to Him, it grew me in ways I never could or would have imagined! I’m convinced it is what made me ready for events that happened in our life (mine and my husband’s) later in the year. What kind of journey did He take me on? A journey of receiving my devotion each morning straight from Him instead of buying a devotional book to use for the year. I admit I was doubtful as January 1, 2019 drew near and fear could have kept me from even attempting the task, but I pushed through the doubt and the fear and decided to trust Him. I knew if He was truly asking me to do it, He would give me what I needed and He did! He never failed me once! And now I have a year’s worth, 366 days of devotions (yes, He even gave me one for Feb. 29th for the years that are leap years)! I don’t know if they will ever be published as a book – that’s up to Him. I only did what He asked me to do. What He does with it, if anything, is His call.

And that brings me to this year’s word – PRESENCE. I don’t know about y’all but, sometimes, I can be so dense! Father knows this, of course, and is patient with me, but I bet sometimes He’d just like to smack me! LOL A while back, a friend of mine made a post on Facebook about telling her son, since he was old enough to understand presents vs presence now, that she would rather spend time with him than spend money on presents he would only appreciate for a little while. I thought to myself, “WOW! That is so true!” Then, as I was looking back through my prayer journal a few days ago, I discovered where I had written the following on December 27th, 2018 – yes, a year before my friend’s Facebook post – “Now I want to go be quiet and see if I hear You speak any more to me about the “presents” and “presence” of Christmas.” So, though I didn’t remember it until I saw that in my journal, He apparently began speaking to me about presence over a year ago!

I guess He just used my friend’s Facebook post to remind me. Even then, I didn’t ‘get it’. But, as He usually does, He just kept putting that word in front of me – sometimes literally and sometimes in conversations with others. In fact, it was when I was attending the December Thirty-One Celebrate and Connect meeting that He FINALLY got through to my brain that PRESENCE was the word He was giving me for 2020!

So, I want to be more conscientious, more aware of being PRESENT with the people I’m around. Whether that be at work, at home, at church, wherever! I want to become more aware of His Presence at all times because He is always with me – ALWAYS! He doesn’t stay home when I go to work or to the store or for a drive or whatever – HE IS ALWAYS WITH ME!! My presence is absolutely nothing without His Presence in me!

My husband and I are facing many changes this year. Changes we didn’t ask for but we feel God has had us in a period of transition the last few months. We feel He is making a shift of some kind. While we don’t yet know what that is or what it is going to look like, I want to be especially mindful of being present in the moment, because only God knows if I will be given the next moment.

Do you have a word for 2020? If you do, I’d love to hear it and I’d love to hear how you received it. Would you be willing to share by leaving a comment here or a link to where you may have written about it?

FACEBOOK GROUP COVER - IN CHALLENGESThere are no presents under our tree;
However, HIS PRESENCE fills our home.
Our lives are full of the gifts
He’s been giving us all year long.

I jotted down that little poem in a note app on my phone Christmas morning. I thought maybe there would be more to go with it. I’ve been praying about it since then and, as I sat down this morning to see if I was supposed to elaborate on it, I felt it was complete. I mean, it really does say it all.

For some who may not truly understand, though, I will try to explain just a tiny bit here in this post.

My heart was FULL on Christmas Day just remembering how God has blessed us throughout this past year. There were a lot of changes in our lives – happy changes, sad changes, just changes in general.

In January – wait, let me back up to last December 1st, because that is when Mom got her lung cancer diagnosis. Okay – then, in January, Frank was approved to go in Bullock Correctional Facility as the Assistant Chaplain.

February 20th – God sold our house in Atmore and let us know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, we were moving to Union Springs EARLIER rather than LATER. (We had been thinking we would move in the summer – AFTER I finished my commitment to my HIPPY job)

March 10th – We moved to a rental house in Union Springs – totally provided by God because, when our house sold in February, we had no idea where we were going to stay! I would leave on Sundays and go back to Atmore to stay with Mom at her house through Thursday each week, until my job with HIPPY ended May 11th.

March 17th – He showed us the house that would become our home – even though we had no idea how He was going to do it. He did – and it became officially our home May 11th!

May 6th – Mom was promoted to Heaven.

June 14th – Jessica found out her Dad had passed away, probably the night before, suddenly and very unexpected!

August 13th – MYA MARIE KITTS was born and Frank got to be in the delivery room! She has brought so much joy and love into all our lives these last 4½ months!

Soooooooo – you can see why my heart was so full on Christmas Day and why I mostly spent the day simply reflecting on all the wonderful gifts God has given us throughout the year. Like the peace He gave when He called Mom home – it happened pretty much just as she had always said she’d like for it to happen. Sure there are days I miss her really bad; but, I know where she is and that I’ll get to see her again, so I refuse to allow myself to get caught up in the sadness. I allow myself a good cry now and then, when it hits, but I do not allow it to linger on and on. Mom wouldn’t want me to do that.

It hurt watching my baby girl go through losing her Dad only a month after losing the only Granny she ever really knew. But, again, I am glad she also has the Peace our Father gives and I know she is doing okay. She is as great a mother as I always knew she would be, by the way! She is so wonderful with Mya – it just thrills my heart to watch her with her own baby girl!

I believe the gifts of PEACE in our losses and NEW LIFE in our family have probably been two of the most cherished gifts He has given us this year and my heart is, indeed, full!

Now, let’s enjoy the last few days of 2018 and see what wondrous things He will do in 2019!

DISCONNECTEDOn August 26th, my husband and I attended a church about 35 miles from where we live. The next day this was part of a post I made on Facebook, “It’s so exciting and it feels wonderful to be “connected” again. I truly didn’t even realize how ‘DISconnected’ I had been feeling until Sunday! It’s gonna be great being in a life group again!” I had actually shared that – about realizing I had been feeling ‘disconnected’ – the night before, with some of the ladies from this church. I had no idea God was about to take me on a “journey” of the word, Disconnected!
Today, the message was about “Living Disconnected” because of how we all tend to be on our phones with social media, etc. or binge-watching Netflix or whatever. But I felt God speaking to me on a whole different level about this word, disconnected, again.I feel that I’m disconnected at this season of my life not because of electronics but because God moved us.
Some days, like today, things happen – like the message – that make me too aware of how disconnected I feel. I don’t even want to get still to take a nap, because it allows my mind to go where I don’t want it to go. No, I’m not upset about our move. I love our new house. I love being close to my daughter and her family. I especially love that my husband is serving in the prison he has wanted to serve in ever since he went into prison ministry. Please understand that my feeling disconnected has absolutely nothing to do with my husband. I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful, Godly husband who, every day, gives me a teeny, tiny glimpse of just how much God loves me!
I honestly believe God moved us when He did because He knew that, as hard as it is being here, it would be even harder being back there. He knew I wouldn’t be able to handle having to drive by Mom’s house every day, knowing I couldn’t stop and talk to her.
I can remember in my past, sometimes thinking, “I wish I could just run to the store real quick and not run into anyone I know”. Now, I wish I COULD run into someone I know. I don’t know ANYONE, so I never have to worry about that. Now it only serves as a reminder that I am a stranger in a strange land and, even as I typed that, God spoke to my Spirit – that is how I SHOULD feel no matter where I live in this world. He doesn’t want me to get comfortable in a place I don’t belong. This world is not my home, I’m just passing through! Older people (like me – LOL) will remember that song. Maybe I was getting too comfortable where I was and that’s why He had to move me. I mean, I know He has certainly been moving me way out of ALL my comfort zones over the last few years; but, this is the BIGGEST move He’s made yet, in my life. I am farther away from my family and friends than I have ever been before!
I know He has great things ahead for me; but, I’m not even gonna lie – some days it just HURTS to feel so isolated and alone and this is one of those days. It’s made worse because I can’t even pick up the phone to call Mom and talk it out with her the way I used to when I was having a rough day. I honestly believe she was my absolute best friend in the world for the last 26 years or so!
I know God has a purpose and a plan in all this. I just need to seek Him more so He can share with me, in His time, that purpose and plan. I still love Him. I still trust Him completely. I will continue to seek His face. On days like today, I will allow the tears to fall so they can cleanse whatever it is that needs cleansing and, tomorrow, if God chooses to wake me, I will take forward steps and keep moving and seeking Him!
“and He gives Kathryn the power to live, to move and to be who she is. ‘She is His child’.” Acts 17:28 CEV
This was originally written and posted by me on May 7, 2018 on Mom’s Caring Bridge site. I am copying and posting it here so it will be easy for me to find in the future.
MOM AND DAD - MINE2Our Mom started dancing on streets of gold last night, sometime between 6:50 and 6:55. She knew we were all there, except for two military grandsons, and, I believe, she knew we were all going to be okay 🙂 One of those grandsons, she got to see and talk to via Facebook messenger video call on Saturday and the other one will be able to make it here later today.

Our Mom knew she was loved by many. The enemy, most likely, thought this cancer would take a lot of things away from her; but, what it actually did, was show her just how many people loved and cared about her. She was continually amazed at the number of people who came by to see her or called to check on her or let her know by posting or messaging her on Facebook, just to see how she was doing. Our Mom touched many lives, some of which she never knew about, this side of heaven. But, she knows now!

Our Mom was granted her request of not wanting to be a “burden” to any of her children. Admittedly, SHE seemed to think she was being a bit of a burden during her doctor appointments and treatments after her diagnosis; however, I assure you (as we all did her), she most definitely was not. Through it all, she was able to continue to get around her house, even though it would take all her breath sometimes, until just a week or so ago. Then, she was mostly in her recliner, but would still get up to use the bathroom. When I (Kathryn) had to leave this past Thursday to go back home, she was still talking and joking and Alice (my sister) said she was the same Friday. Even on Saturday, she was able to talk on Facebook messenger. Late Saturday night, I believe, is when everything began to change. So, in reality, the time she could not respond to us, was extremely short! That is why I say she was granted her request. Because, while none of us (her children), would have thought of her as a burden, SHE would have felt she was.

Our Mom was truly a beautiful lady, from the inside out, and I’m glad God chose to let her see a “glimpse” of just how special others thought she was before He welcomed her home.

We all know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the second she took her last breath here, the next second she was dancing on streets of gold with her Savior and with our Daddy. How can we be sad about that? We can’t and we aren’t. Does that mean we haven’t shed tears? Heavens no – it just means the tears are because we are missing her already! But, we have this assurance: we WILL see her again one day – IF we have accepted Christ as our own, personal Savior, too.

We will be going in a few hours to make the arrangements for the CELEBRATION of Mom’s life and we will let everyone know those arrangements as soon as we do. HOWEVER, we need to let everyone know this up front – Mom said she didn’t want her funeral to be a sad occasion. She wants lots of praising, rejoicing, the Word of God given AND an altar call for anyone present that may want to give or recommit their life to Jesus! So, don’t come expecting sad and dreary – come ready to CELEBRATE!!!

BRAVE CHOICESOne year ending, a new year beginning. How will I end the old year? How will I start the new year? I could choose to be sad or angry about some things that happened in the year ending or I could choose, instead, to focus on the good and be happy and joyful. I could choose to let sadness or anger carry over to the new year or I could choose to let the happy and joyful carry over instead. Life really is about choices and not just yearly choices. How we look back on our YEAR, I believe, is mostly determined by the choices we make DAILY throughout the year.

You see, every day I am faced with choices to make and so are you, whether you accept the responsibility or not. Admittedly, some choices are because of things I have no control over. Sometimes things happen I certainly didn’t ask for – like sickness or someone else’s behavior or losing a loved one – the fact remains, it is my choice how I deal with what is thrown my way.

Do I always make the correct choice? I’m human, of course not. One thing I have noticed, though, is that since I have asked Jesus to help me recognize when I’m feeling “some kind of way” by my own choice, He has made it easier for me to correct my choice.

This past year, my husband and I made an effort to recognize and write down at least one blessing every day. I’m happy to report that we did it! Sometimes, if a day was really long and we were extra tired, it didn’t get written down in our “Blessing Jar” book until the next morning; but, I’m happy to report, we have an entry for every day of 2017!

I’m also happy to report, as I look back on the listed blessings, the ones at the beginning of the year are pretty much all I remember about those days. We chose to focus on our blessings, so the blessings are what we remember! It was a daily, intentional CHOICE!

Obviously, more recent daily blessings are still ‘tinged’ with things I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen to be going through and, yet, it is still my choice how to handle these things. Also, as more days go by, some of those things I can remember now, I won’t remember later – I will only remember the blessings listed.

As most of you know, on December 1st, my Mom was given the diagnosis of cancer and on December 26th (my daughter’s birthday) she was told it is Stage 4 and not curable, but, possibly, treatable. I could choose to be sad about this ‘report’ or I could choose to continue to put my trust in God for her complete healing. I could choose to look at 2018 and think, “this could be the year I lose my Mom” or I could choose to look at 2018 and say, “This could be the year God stuns the medical field once again by totally and completely healing my Mom!” I choose to focus on the miracle coming Mom’s way!

I may have the rudest, meanest, most hateful neighbors (I don’t – LOL) that, in my “humanness”, I could convince myself it is easier to just not like them and treat them the same way they treat me – or I could make the choice to show them love every chance I get and, whether they ever change or not, know that I did all I could to show them Jesus through my actions and words to them.

I can choose to let stress overtake me and blame it on a demanding spouse, children, job or any number of other things. Truth be told – it is my choice to either allow or deny stress in my life. Think about it? Where do you think stress REALLY comes from? The enemy!

Is it easy to make some of these choices? When I first became aware, it most definitely was not easy! However, as I said earlier, since becoming aware and asking God to help me in this area, it has gotten easier over the years. Easier in the sense that I recognize much quicker now when I am making the ‘wrong’ choice. What is the right choice and what is the wrong choice? You can answer that by how you are feeling, sometimes even physically. For instance, if you are feeling stressed, ask yourself why and most likely you will realize it’s because you are choosing to be stressed and allowing other things control in your life that have no business being in control. Give that control back to the Lord and let Him take care of it. He will 😊

Sometimes, in fact, I would even venture to say MOST times, the right choice is the hard choice, at first. We like to feel we have control of everything, when, in reality, probably the only thing we have control of is our choices. Does that make sense?

CHOICES – A word I’ve used quite a bit over the last few years and, yet, He gave it to me in a whole new light a few days ago. I knew it was to be my one word for 2018; however, I couldn’t seem to make myself sit down and capture all the thoughts swirling around in my head.

Then, yesterday, I saw a friend’s post on Facebook asking, “What’s your 2018 WORD?”. So, I commented my word was CHOICES and began reading some of the other comments. In doing so, I saw where my friend had posted a link to a site (Dayspring) and said, “If you don’t have a word, I would be interested to see what you get here”. I decided to click the link and just see what it would give me as my “word”. The word it gave me? BRAVE

2018 - MY WORD

I immediately realized it fit perfectly with the word I already knew I had been given, so my word for 2018 is not only CHOICES – it is BRAVE CHOICES!

So, those hard choices I was talking about a couple paragraphs ago? They are hard; but, they are the BRAVE CHOICES!

I am going into 2018 the same way I have gone in to the last few ‘new years’ – taking it one day at a time. After all, we aren’t promised our next breath, so why try to think of all that could happen over the next 365 days? Let’s just take this one day at a time and, daily, let’s make the BRAVE CHOICES! I’m in. Are you?

P.S. If you don’t have a word for 2018 (or if you do) and would like to see what word you are given, click here to go to the link I mentioned earlier:

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