Dealing with many changes in life

Since last summer, I have been dealing with many changes in my life.  Some good changes and some not so good changes.  Each change though was and is part of the plan God has for me, He was not surprised by any of them.  I have known that fact in my head for a long time, but getting it to my heart, well, that has not been the easiest thing to do.  Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have made for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  As I see it, going through all that I have been going through is to help make me strong, strong in my faith.

You may ask me, how can it make you strong when you are going through so much?  In my weakness, I see that I cannot do it alone.  I need someone to come along side and help me.  That does not always need to be a physical person, it can be God.  For me, I always thought I needed another person to help me out, but I am learning that I can do some things that I never thought I could do on my own.  There has been one person who has consistently told me that I need to lean more on Christ and not on people.  In my mind, I was seeing that as rejection and abandonment.  It was not.  It was his way of telling me, teaching me that I need to lean on Christ and Trust Him for all my needs and not humans.  Has it been easy?  No.  As a human, God makes us, for love, companionship, family, etc.  As a single woman, that is hard to swallow sometimes, especially when you see others getting married and having children, while you remain single and without a family of your own.  Nevertheless, God is teaching me that although I am single, I still have worth in His eyes.  He made me to be who I am.  He knew what path I would take.  He knew I would be receiving the various diagnosis I received, He knew I would lose my job, He knew the outcome of the appeal I just completed, and I know He knows what my future holds.  Did I see any of this coming?  No and believe me, I have lost it more than once at God for what I have been going through and no, He’s not mad at me, He understands the anger and frustration I have been feeling.

In Joel 3:10b it says:  “…Let the weakling say; “I am strong!”” (NIV)  As a Christian, I can only be strong when I allow God to fill me and guide me.  However, I am also human and have many human weaknesses.  I have fears and trust issues.  I have control issues.  We all have issues that keep us from fully giving ourselves to the Lord.  What are yours?  Only you can answer that question.  Only you can decide for yourself if you want to accept the Gift of Life that God so freely gives you.  His only Son, Jesus, paid the price for us.  We do not have to do anything, but accept the gift of salvation, the gift of mercy, the gift of God’s grace.

Now, I am sure you are asking yourself, how this relates to dealing with changes in your life or my life.  Good question!  Because I was there.  I did not have the faith I needed or should have had.  I have been a Christian since I was 10 years old.  I know what the Lord requires of me.  I went to a Christian University.  I took the Bible and Theology classes.  But, you know what?  I became complacent.  I became bored with it.  I started hanging with the wrong people and got my eyes off God and onto people.  People used me for their own ends.  People treated me as if I was worth nothing, a piece of trash.  What did I do?  I internalized it.  I thought that if so many people were saying and doing the same things about me, then it must be true.  For many years, I thought that.  Then, I started going back to Church, I got interested in the Bible again, not as I am now, but I was reading it some and going to church, some.  Then this last summer, my world crashed.  I had some big diagnosis and I had no job.  I fell into a depression and I yelled at God and treated some people bad.  I was a mess.  Crying all the time and just not doing well.  Then I was able to go back to church on a consistent basis and things have turned around for me.  I have gotten back in with people who love the Lord and practice that love.  I have gotten back with people who believe as I believe and are supportive of my journey, not knocking me for who I am right now, but loving and encouraging me to keep keeping on, to continue to grow and learn about God’s love.  The Bible Study group that I am in is an awesome bunch of women, who love the Lord and each other.  We support each other in whatever is going on in each other’s lives.  We encourage each other and lift each other up in prayer.  I had not had that in many years on a consistent basis.  God has brought me back to a place where I am being fed His word, learning His precepts and going back to the basics of my beliefs.  The whole church is doing The Purple Book by Rice Broocks and Steve Murrell.  This also includes our teens.  Each lesson is filled with scriptures and questions regarding those scriptures.  Questions designed to make you think and dig into the meaning of those verses.  We have some great discussions in class regarding some of those questions.  Each of us brings our unique point of view and experiences into the discussion, which helps in understanding the scripture more deeply, at least for me.

Changes in life are inevitable.  It is how we deal with them that is the issue.  If we have Christ in our hearts and our lives, He is right there with us with His loving arms around us, leading us to where He needs us to go.  If we don’t, what do we have to help us through?  Alcohol?  Drugs?  Gambling?  Sex?  Video games?  With Christ, there is hope for better things to come.  Without Christ, there is no hope.  I am not saying that Christians are better than anyone else is.  We are not.  We all have issues, but those whose trust is in God have someone at their side no matter what happens.  God does not leave us or stop loving us just because we sin.  He loves us still.  I know for many that this a very hard concept to fathom.  I guess the best example I can use to show you the love of God is from the Bible itself.  In I Kings 3:16 – 28.  It is the story of two prostitutes who lived in the same house.  They both had babies.  When one baby died, they ended up going before King Solomon.  They argued before him and he asked that a sword be brought to him so he could cut the living child in half to give to each of them.  The real mother of the child said “Please, my lord, give her the living baby!  Don’t kill him!”  The other said “Neither I nor you shall have him.  Cut him in two!” (V26 NIV).  King Solomon gave the baby to his mother.  He knew that only the true mother would love her son so much that she would give him up before letting anything bad happen to him.  God allows things to happen in our lives so that we may know His power and grace.  So that we will come back to Him.  A parable from the Book of Luke also shows us the love of a father for his son.  In Luke 15:11 – 31 we read of the son who wanted his inheritance and took off for foreign lands.  When he had used up all his money, he made his way home to his father.  We read in verses 20 – 24, “So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”  But the father said to his servants, “Quick!  Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it.  Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found.  So they began to celebrate.” (NIV)  In this parable, we see a parallel of God to us.  We are the lost son and he is the father.  When one of us comes home to Him, there is rejoicing.  He never stops loving us.

While some changes are hard, they are necessary.  How?  To bring us to where we need to be.  Even doing my jewelry and other crafts, I have learned to be flexible and make changes to the design or even the pricing.  These are good things, although, sometimes, hard for me to do.  I have a style I like, but my customers have a style they like.  I need to adjust and change with what my customers want.  They are growing pains and we all go through them!  So, the next time you face a change that is unexpected and unwelcomed, how are you going to react?  You need to look deep within yourself for that answer.  I cannot give it to you.  Only you know where you stand in your faith.

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What is the “glue” that holds you together?

The last few days have been spent seeking the Lord’s will concerning something that was asked of me.  I believe that He is telling me; not only by His word, but also by the remarks made by my friends and fellow prayer warriors that this is something He wants me to do.  This will be something totally out of my comfort zone as the ministries I have previously been involved in were with youth.  This one is not.  It is with adults.

I am now preparing myself for this much-needed ministry and one thing hit me last night as I was working on a new technique in making jewelry.  Last night I was learning how to make hooks for beads that only have a partial hole drilled in them, not one going all the way through.  To keep the hook in place, you need E6000 craft glue on the shank of the hook to hold it in place.  It then has to cure for at least 24 hours before it can be used in jewelry making.  What hit me was “what glue is holding me together when facing the storms in my life.”  Am I looking toward people to hold me together or am I looking to God?  Sadly, I have looked to people too many times to hold me together while I fell apart.  I have not leaned on God, as I should.  I guess this is why He is leading me out of my comfort zone and into a new ministry.

God impressed on me to go back over the notes I have taken during church services, to reread what He has spoken to my heart.  The things that stood out are, I AM is not finished.  Stand up against those who would deny Christ.  Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves – the abused, the down trodden, the babies, the hurting, etc…  I am to stay focused on what God says, not what the media and anyone else says.  It starts with me obeying what God is telling me to do.  Stand strong, I AM is with you.  I am yours and you are mine, thus saith the Lord.  Watch what I AM is going to do.  I Am, the breaker of bonds.  Satan has NO hold over you anymore.  Your past has no hold over you anymore.  You are full of worth.  I saved your life for a purpose.  You are special.

Some know my story.  Those that do know that some of what will be asked of me is not easy, but with the Lord’s strength, I can do it.  The Lord is going to use my story to help others.  The Lord is going to use the gifts He gave me to help others who are hurting.  I just need to get out of the way and let Him work.  Sunday Pastor Steve taught that the word of our testimony is valuable.  I had never thought about that before.  I have always seen my life as a failure:  A failure as a daughter, as sister, an aunt, a granddaughter, a niece, an employee, etc.  Nevertheless, God does not.  He is going to use all the mistakes I made to bring someone to Himself.  What I have learned through my mistakes can be passed on to others so that they do not make the same mistakes I did.  The love and compassion He gave me for those who are hurting, He is going to use for His glory.

What “glue” is holding you together tonight?  Is it alcohol?  Illicit sex?  Pornography?  Crafts?  Reading?  Games?  Does this “glue” really help in the end?  I found my “glue” did not.  My “glue” failed me more than it helped me.  God showed me that in a very painful way.  I still hurt from that lesson, but I am learning from it.  Some of the things in the list are not bad things; however, if they are keeping you from leaning on the one person who can help you, they can be.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (KJV).

I was not trusting God with all my heart.  I was holding back a portion of it.  He has patiently been waiting for me to give it all to Him.  He wants a deeper relationship with His people.  He is not the mean, angry God I grew up thinking He was.  He is a loving, patient God who wants to spend time with me.  He wants to spend time with you too.  Let Him.  He will be the “glue” that holds you together, no matter how big the storm is around you and in your life.  He will always be there to hold, comfort, and give you the wisdom you need to get through to the other side.  He will not fail you as other so-called “glues” do.

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Submission

What does it mean to submit?  Does it mean to give up your happiness for someone else?  According to Merriam-Webster.com the definition of submit is 1.)  to give (a document, proposal, piece of writing, etc.) to someone so that it can be considered or approved.  2.) To stop trying to fight or resist something:  to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing.  3.) To offer (something) as an opinion or suggestion.  The definition of submission is 1.)  An act of giving a document, proposal, piece of writing, etc., to someone so that is can be considered or approved:  an act of submitting something.  2.) Something that is submitted.  3.) The state of being obedient:  the act of accepting the authority or control of someone else.

You may be asking yourself, why is she writing about this?  Well, it is something that I need to learn to do.  No to a person, but to God.  A few weeks ago, the Lord called me back into the ministry.  Previously I had worked in youth and children’s ministry, but due to recent events, I feel He is now calling me into another area.  There are people who know what the ministry area is and are praying for me to know that this is God’s will for me, not my own desires.  I have to be willing to submit to His call and though I have been a Christian most of my life, I struggle with this, as I am sure many people do.  The Lord asked us to submit to Him (To stop trying to fight or resist something:  to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing) and He will take care of us (James 4:7-8).  This submission to Him (The state of being obedient:  the act of accepting the authority or control of someone else) is crucial if we are to enjoy the abundant life He has promised us.  Now, before you go thinking that all you have to do is go through the act of submitting, think again.  God does not look on the outward appearance of a person; He looks at the heart and motives (I Samuel 116:7).  The abundant life He has promised us may not mean riches of the material kind.  They could be in many other ways, friends, family, other blessings.

Now, I know there are people who read this that work with horses.  One goal is to get the horse to submit to the bridle.  Horses are wild, beautiful creatures who have a will of their own and quite often exert that will.  Most times when we least expect it or want it to show up.  Any equestrian will tell you that one key is to be gentle and speak with a soft voice.  That is how God is with us.  He speaks with a still soft voice that we need to be listening for.  As with horses, they have to be listening if you speak in a soft voice to get them to obey and do as you ask.

So, back to the original questions.  To submit, in the Biblical sense, is to stop trying to fight or resist God and what He has for you.  Does it mean to give up your happiness for someone else?  Again, if we are submitting to God, no.  God wants what is best for us.  He is our Father.  What father would want to see his children miserable so that he could be happy?  Only a selfish father, in my opinion.  You know, God even knows how many hairs you have on your head (Matthew 10:30)!  How awesome is that?  Think about it.  How many people are there in the world?  Billions!  God knew and knows how many hairs were and are on each person’s head.  He loves us that much.

I know I have a long way to go in submitting everything to God.  However, I also know that He is a patient and loving Father who will always be there, no matter how many times I mess up.  I am human and I will make many more mistakes in my lifetime.  If you are struggling with giving something over to God, let me encourage you to do it.  When you do, you will feel such a relief of letting go of a burden that was not yours to carry.  So, what are you waiting for?

 

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Pricing items to sell

I have heard so many people complain about the high prices on handmade items, that I want to weigh in on it.  If you are not a crafter and you are at a show, please be respectful to the crafter or artisan.  We all work very hard on our craft and to have rude comments made in front of us is very irritating and uncalled for.  In my eyes, it shows a lack of education and training.  I want you to consider this when looking at an item.  The crafter has to purchase all the materials to make the item, which can also include the cost of shipping or the amount for gas used to go to the store to get it.  The price also includes the cost for the labor and a small amount for profit.  Most crafters DO NOT make a lot of money, if any, after expenses.  For me personally, the money I earn mostly goes back into making more items.  However, I do strive to be able to use some of the money to support a place that really needs support.

Crafters enjoy what they do.  Some of them even enjoy doing the shows.  However, when people are rude and inconsiderate, it takes that joy away.  This last year many crafters have noticed that there are more and more people who go to shows just to get ideas on how to make items.  One crafter even said that she had people just about ripping apart something she had made so that they could figure out how to do it.  Wake up people!  Ask!  Most crafters love to talk and teach others how to make things.  I have mentored a few people myself.  To go to a table, pick up an item you like, and almost rip it apart in front of the crafter, that is inconsiderate of the crafter and now they may not be able to sell the piece if it is damaged.  Frankly, if you do that at my table, one of two things will happen.  I will either ask you to pay for it or I will notify the authorities regarding your behavior and have you removed from the show.  Yes, I said have you removed from the show.  I do not care if you are a vendor or a customer.  Destroying someone else’s property is wrong and you need to be held responsible for your actions.  All you have to do is ask.  That is all.  It is as simple as that.  Do not be coy about it either.  Most of us have been to serval shows for several years and we do have good memories for faces.  If you are another vendor at the show, well, once you are turned in to the coordinator, you might find that you will not be asked back again because of your behavior.  You will also have your name spread around the circuit as one to watch.  That would not be good for your business.

Now, for those of you who think those other vendors who sell similar things do not do anything like that.  Think again.  I heard, and was warned to be on the lookout for it happening at a big show this last year where a vendor came to another vendor’s tent, just behind me, and place his or her business card on top of the other vendor’s business cards.  If you are at a show and see this happening, please let someone know.  It is very unprofessional to go to another person’s booth and try to steal their business.  Stand on your own.  If you are not having any sales, figure out why.  Do not be dishonest.

Pricing formulas will be different for each vendor as well.  I may use one formula, but the next vendor may have a different one that they use.  As a customer, you also need to be aware that each vendor has their own preference for Supply Company’s and the prices on the materials may be different.  You also need to look at the quality of the work on the piece you are considering.

So, with the craft show season starting to gear up, yes, shows are being planned and they are actually starting at the end of this month, think about some of these things as you attend the shows this year, if you go.  I post where I will be and I know I would like to see some of you and talk with you.  I want to hear your suggestions and input on what I am working on.  Some of the other vendors also welcome input.

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Something interesting I read today

I read a post from Hrtwarming.com and it made me draw back and think about how I have acted and treated other people in the past.  Here is the link to the post if you would like to read it:  http://www.hrtwarming.com/woman-realizes-that-shes-been-accidentally-abusing-her-husband-this-whole-time-wow/.  Anyways, it really made me sit back and ponder on how my words and actions may be coming across to others.  While I may not mean to sound condescending or snotty or judgmental or angry or any other negative way, that may be how it’s coming across.  I really need to stop coming across as an old time Baptist hard nose.  I know I have many Baptist friends out there, do not get all upset on me now.  Please hear me out.

I was raised Baptist and it was a strict upbringing.  Now, there is nothing wrong with that.  The strict adherence to the “religion” of being Baptist I am now taking issue with.  Growing up we did not fellowship with others that went to a Methodist church or Catholic Church.  As far as Baptists are concerned, they are wrong in their “religion”.  However, being a Christian is not about being Religious.  It is about a personal relationship with Christ.  Who am I to judge the next person?  They may attend a Catholic church, but they too can have a personal relationship with Christ.  In Matthew 7:1- 2 it says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  I know many people know the first verse and use it against others.  I too have used it, but we forget about the next verse.  If we judge people on looks, piercings, tattoos, whatever, we too will be judged on our appearance.  We do not know what their life was or is like.  They could be the nicest people, but we would never know because of a preconception that is flawed.  Christ associated with adulterous women, tax collectors, lepers, etc. during his three years of ministry.  Most likely, many more prior to that.  Shouldn’t we be following HIS example?

In the post I read that made me think, the woman berated her husband for getting the wrong hamburger.  He did not see the issue, but then she realized how she was treating her husband after going off on him to the point that he looked like their child when he was being scolded.  She realized that her husband was always gentle with her, even when she messed up.  He did not hold her past mistakes against her.  She changed her attitude and thinking and what she got was a better marriage and better relationship with her husband.

There are people I know I need to apologize to and will, when I get a chance to talk to them in person.  For me it has to be in person as I have realized that sending a text message, an email or even over the phone can also lead to miscommunication.  Especially the texting or email.  These are written words.  They do not convey the feeling behind them.  During a face-to-face meeting, the other person can see the truth of the words by hearing it in the voice, seeing it in the eyes and the body language.  This is something else to consider, we depend too much on technology today, and it is causing many broken relationships that did not have to be broken.

This post also makes me see our relationship with Christ.  Christ is the husband and He holds nothing against us.  He just continues to take whatever we dish out to him.  Can you imagine what it would be like to really change our attitudes towards Him and let Him into our lives, to guide us, comfort us, and love us?  I am starting to find that out on a very personal level.  I have been a Christian for many years; however, only recently have I really hungered for His word, hungered to spend time with Him and to follow Him, no matter the cost to me.  That cost could be my job, friends, family, or whatever.  I have been learning that no matter what happens, He is right there with me.  I cannot depend on people.  They are undependable.  Those that told me that they would help me whenever I needed it are never able to be help when I ask, but they have a fit if I cannot assist them when they come calling.  There was a situation recently when all I needed was a human touch.  The person I told that to told me to buzz off and lean on God.  That was the last nail in the coffin of trusting people to care about what I was dealing with.  Then God stepped in and held me all night long as I cried out to Him for comfort.  I felt around me His arms.  His voice I heard in my heart comforting me when no one else cared to.  Do not get me wrong.  I do have friends that care but hearing someone, I trusted say that hurt me and taught me to keep those types of things to myself.  Others that I may have gone to were dealing with their own issues that were much larger than me needed a hug.  Christ used this time in my life to draw me closer to Him.  Though it hurt to hear that from a friend, I can now look back on it and say they helped me in my walk with Christ.

I know for me that I will be doing my best to change how I treat others, especially those who in the past have hurt me.  We all need to learn to let go of the baggage that is weighing us down and destroying us from within.  Yes, I am preaching to the choir here.  I have not been too good at it in the past, but that is the past and that is where it needs to stay.  How about you?  Are you willing to let go of past wrongs done to you so that you can move on with your life?  Holding onto a past hurt is only hurting you, not the other person.  Do not give that other person the power that they do not deserve.

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