The roaring lion…

This week has been crazy busy. I haven’t had time to sit down to write. Most of my time honestly was reading the Bible and praying; which is a good thing…a great thing to be busy with.

My heart was burdened with prayer requests:

Friends with sick parents. Friends giving into the world’s temptations and lies not believing the repercussions to come. Friends just struggling to get through the day. Friends with marital problems.

Family having surgery. Family beginning to walk through the shadow of death. Family awaiting diagnosis and test results. Family as caregivers struggling to balance it all.

The world. Why must we kill each other? Why must we kill innocent children? Why must our children and educators be forced to teach things against their Christian faith? Why is it wrong to stand up and believe in Christ? It is still my legal right as it is yours to believe in whatever it is you believe in. (See end of post below)

Why can’t we agree to disagree? I already know the answers to these questions. I just wanted to “speak” them.

Fear is creeping into our culture and Christianity. When I say Christianity, I define it as believers who have accepted Christ Jesus as savior. He was born of a virgin and walked this earth as God and man. He was unjustly, yet in the Father’s will, crucified. He rose from death and after walking 40 days as the resurrected savior, ascended to heaven now sitting at the right hand of God the Father. Once you accept Christ, believe he is the only way to heaven, confess that you are a sinner (and ALL people are) the Holy Spirit resides within you. You are sealed. FOREVER carved into the palm of his hand. Your name is written in the Book of Life.

We are reading each week of another Christian denying their faith and renouncing Christianity. I question they truly were Christians. The bible says in the end days there will be a falling away. I believe we are seeing that now. The adversary is working over time friends…..

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow Believers throughout the world. The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while. To him be dominion forever. Amen. 1 Peter 6-11(CSB)

John 10:10 tells us that the enemy “comes only to steal and kill and destroy”(ESV). One of the primary ways he does this is through fear. The enemy’s intent is to keep our eyes riveted on our fears and. stop us from trusting God and making wise decisions. Until Christ’s return, fear will always exist on this earth.  Remember, fear is a liar. Pray for boldness and courage. Peace and security. Trust and confidence.

The true, roaring Lion of Judah is coming again. His roar is one of Power, Might, Truth, Justice, Love and Peace.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

(The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,)

HUMAN RIGHTS
(775 ILCS 35/) Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
(775 ILCS 35/1)
Sec. 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/5) 
Sec. 5. Definitions. In this Act: 
"Demonstrates" means meets the burdens of going forward with the evidence and of persuasion. 
"Exercise of religion" means an act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief, whether or not the religious exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief. 
"Government" includes a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under color of law) of the State of Illinois or a political subdivision of the State, including a home rule unit. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/10) 
Sec. 10. Findings and purposes. 
(a) The General Assembly finds the following: 
    (1) The free exercise of religion is an inherent,

fundamental, and inalienable right secured by Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois.
(2) Laws “neutral” toward religion, as well as laws

intended to interfere with the exercise of religion, may burden the exercise of religion.
(3) Government should not substantially burden the

exercise of religion without compelling justification.
(4) In Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872

(1990) the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution that government justify burdens on the exercise of religion imposed by laws neutral toward religion.
(5) In City of Boerne v. P. F. Flores, 65 LW 4612

(1997) the Supreme Court held that an Act passed by Congress to address the matter of burdens placed on the exercise of religion infringed on the legislative powers reserved to the states under the Constitution of the United States.
(6) The compelling interest test, as set forth in

Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing governmental interests.
(b) The purposes of this Act are as follows:
(1) To restore the compelling interest test as set

forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), and to guarantee that a test of compelling governmental interest will be imposed on all State and local (including home rule unit) laws, ordinances, policies, procedures, practices, and governmental actions in all cases in which the free exercise of religion is substantially burdened.
(2) To provide a claim or defense to persons whose

exercise of religion is substantially burdened by government.
(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/15) 
Sec. 15. Free exercise of religion protected. Government may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person (i) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/20) 
Sec. 20. Judicial relief. If a person's exercise of religion has been burdened in violation of this Act, that person may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and may obtain appropriate relief against a government. A party who prevails in an action to enforce this Act against a government is entitled to recover attorney's fees and costs incurred in maintaining the claim or defense. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/25) 
Sec. 25. Application of Act; home rule powers. 
(a) This Act applies to all State and local (including home rule unit) laws, ordinances, policies, procedures, practices, and governmental actions and their implementation, whether statutory or otherwise and whether adopted before or after the effective date of this Act. 
(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize a government to burden any religious belief. 
(c) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect, interpret, or in any way address any of the following: (i) that portion of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibiting laws respecting the establishment of religion, (ii) the second sentence of Article I, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution, or (iii) Article X, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution. Granting government funding, benefits, or exemptions, to the extent permissible under the 3 constitutional provisions described in items (i), (ii), and (iii) of this subsection, does not constitute a violation of this Act. In this subsection, "granting", used with respect to government funding, benefits, or exemptions, does not include the denial of government funding, benefits, or exemptions. 
(d) The corporate authorities of a municipality or other unit of local government may enact ordinances, standards, rules, or regulations that protect the free exercise of religion in a manner or to an extent equal to or greater than the protection provided in this Act. If an ordinance, standard, rule, or regulation enacted under the authority of this Section or under the authority of a unit of local government's home rule powers prohibits, restricts, narrows, or burdens a person's exercise of religion or permits the prohibition, restriction, narrowing, or burdening of a person's exercise of religion, that ordinance, standard, rule, or regulation is void and unenforceable as to that person if it (i) is not in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is not the least restrictive means of furthering that governmental interest. This subsection is a limitation under subsection (i) of Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution on the concurrent exercise by home rule units of powers and functions exercised by the State. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

(775 ILCS 35/30) 
Sec. 30. O'Hare Modernization and South Suburban Airport. Nothing in this Act limits the authority of the City of Chicago to exercise its powers under the O'Hare Modernization Act, or the Department of Transportation to exercise its powers under the Public-Private Agreements for the South Suburban Airport Act, for the purposes of relocation of cemeteries or the graves located therein. 

(Source: P.A. 98-109, eff. 7-25-13.)

(775 ILCS 35/99) 
Sec. 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect on July 1, 1998. 

(Source: P.A. 90-806, eff. 12-2-98.)

Who is our strength in?

Well, I’m gonna be honest with you….this has been a hard week. Really hard. God has really been working on my heart this week.

This week has shown me things in my life that I’m not proud of, things I did that God called me to do (apologized and ask forgiveness), things I still need to do (still need to ask forgiveness of someone). DJ’s tombstone was finally placed. He died of lung cancer last year. Seeing his name carved into the rock, well it’s finality. It forced me to accept he is never coming back.

15 days before he died

I’ve been relying upon myself more than I have been relying upon Him. It’s great that we do things for God, for that is what we are called to do; but when we lose focus on whom we are doing it for and why, well that’s a problem. I can list all these great things I have been doing to show my burning the candle on both ends and through the middle; but that’s boasting on self and not Christ. I tend to fall into that category more often than not. If we were honest, the majority of us would be that way.

Last night I was sending a Marco Polo to my DNA group when the Spirit smacked me in the face. Zechariah 10:12 says “So I will strengthen them in the Lord, And they shall walk up and down in His name,” Says the Lord (NKJV). I (the LORD) will strengthen them; not Linda will strengthen Linda. I literally had to say how the spirit was speaking to me at that moment. I was doing for God but not with God. There’s a difference.

One of my favorite verses that I quote is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. What we fail to do, what I fail to do, is remember the previous verses. Paul is telling the Philippians that they have helped provide for him and he is grateful, but it is Christ who ultimately fulfills and provides. It is in and through Christ that he has found his contentment. In plenty and lack, in comfort and strife, Christ has given him the strength to live and be satisfied, content, with his life.

Do you struggle with contentment? I do. Do you struggle with addiction? I do. Do you struggle to just be alone with yourself? I do. Do you struggle with seeking man’s applause, man’s likes and shares, and not God? I do.

Why isn’t enough just that, enough? Why won’t I seek Christ and crave Him instead of food and LulaRoe? Why can’t I be at peace with being alone, just sitting in the quiet? Why have I always longed for, searched out and begged for the approval of man over my Heavenly Father’s? The easy answer is because I. Am. A. Sinner. My flesh doesn’t want holy, heavenly things. It wants what it desires. It listens to the enemy’s lies and doesn’t filter those lies through the truths of God’s Word and Christ’s love.

How can I lead and teach women when I am such a failure myself? Well this person I’ve been questioning and admitting to is exactly what they need to see…truth, authenticity, honesty. I am weak but He is strong. I am loaded down carrying my burdens but His yoke is easy. I am running towards the wide path, but He is leading me to the narrow.

So I ask you the question, who is your strength in? If it’s yourself, you are going to fail, burnout with flames and wake up one day asking how did I get here. Please do not think this is easy for me because it is not. I do not have it together, see above. All I know is that my Jesus is bigger than all my stuff. He is stronger than I will ever be. It is only through his power and strength that I have made it this far.

Hope

God truly does speak thru His Word.

Where is my hope? Who can see any hope for me? 
Job 17:15 CSB

Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before him. God is our refuge. Selah Psalm 62:5-8 CSB

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of JESUS CHRIST from the dead
1 Peter 1:3 CSB (my emphasis)

Personally, I find the word hope to be one of the most beautiful words in the Bible; the feeling of expectation and trust of what is to come.

I’m sharing this with you today because I know some of you think I am quitting ministries and I am not. Also, I am not leaving my church. I simply need a reset. I need to rest in this hope, The Living Hope, Jesus, for a moment. I need to take that Selah pause & breathe.

Pray; that’s all I ask this week is for you to pray. Just pray. I think it would do all of us good to simply take some moments & lift our praises, request, thanksgivings, our cries, our silence to God. To just simply rest in him. Can any of us say we truly do that?

Oh God, my Abba Father, I  need you, desperately need you. We all do. Thank you for our Living Hope. Fill me. Oh Lord, fill me till my cup runneth with your joy. Strengthen my dependence on you. As I spoke with the kids at VBS last week, I can do all things THRU CHRIST who strengthens me. It is not of myself & I rely on self too much. May I never forget your beautiful words of hope that you so graciously have given me. It is only thru your sacrifice and resurrection that I have this hope. I look forward with that expectation and trust of your coming again. In Jesus’ powerful and true name, amen.

Struggles

So the past few weeks have been very difficult for me. I do a midday devotion for women that I send out M-F. It has been wonderful and full of blessings that only God can do. I’m sharing my text from yesterday, 8/4, and today’s words I sent to the women explaining things and also encouraging them in how God truly moves and shows himself to us.

If you are interested in receiving these devotions, please email me. The address is listed at the bottom of the blog. 🙂

Today is difficult for me. I started these messages to help a couple people get into the word regularly, as a means of accountability for daily scripture reading. They grew into a ministry I never imagined possible. 

My purpose thru the messages was to help individuals grow in their faith, get into the word, to fall in love with Jesus, to see the need for Christ in their lives & the lives of others, to seek their calling & to allow the Spirit to move & work. It has been through His grace and His speaking through the words that I have done this. I pray that I have followed His will & direction. 

I don’t know how many of you are aware of my struggles the past few years, but they have been great. I’ve struggled with my faith, my health, my mental well-being, my emotions. These messages have been therapeutic for me. They have helped me navigate through some very trying times.

I thought I was in a better place of healing physically and emotionally, but this past week has shown me I’m not. There’s a gaping hole inside my heart that was ripped open again this week. My body feels as if it is breaking down. I’ve been putting on that strong, brave face and pushing through the pain, the heart ache and the physical, because that’s what I do. Both are telling me that I can’t any longer. I’m causing more harm than good. God is telling me. 

2 years ago when I had another surgery to reconstruct my chest from all the damage of prior surgeries and infections, they had to take tissue, nerves, muscle, blood vessels, literally both inner thighs & move them to my chest; which has since left me with nerve and muscle damage that’s my going to PT so much. I also developed lymphatic issues which causes a lot of swelling. It’s very difficult for me to walk right now, as some of you have seen.

When the man I loved and adored was diagnosed with lung cancer, I poured all I could into fighting for him, while still fighting myself. I tried to be his strength and comfort, whatever he needed. When it was evident he wasn’t going to make it, I steadied myself knowing he would be with Jesus. I didn’t prepare myself for the loss and emptiness to come & that still resides.

Another of the goals I wanted for this group was for it to be a place of prayer and comfort. A place where women could gather, even electronically, and know they were truly being heard, cared for and prayed over.

Every personal devotion I had this week pierced my heart and soul. Isn’t that what the Bible says it’s supposed to do? I know that God has a great work in store for each one of you, as he does for myself. We serve a mighty God. He is  full of power, compassion, mercy, majesty, strength, shelter, comfort, judgment and love.

So with all that being said, I’m going to take some time. If you think this message was easy for me, it is not. I have to allow myself to be vulnerable & admit I’m weak, which is something I don’t do. 

If you haven’t been reading these messages or the scripture, I ask that you catch yourself up. If these messages aren’t for you, that’s okay let me know. If there’s specific prayer you need in your life, don’t be afraid to share. 

Let us not be women in judgement of one another. Let us be kingdom women who see the struggle, who call upon one another as sisters in Christ for encouragement and prayer. Let us be women who believe without question that He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world. Let us not be afraid to admit we need help and that the struggle is real, even for those you perceive to be strong.

In the beginning…not in Genesis but Bingham, Illinois

So I thought I’d start with me, how I came to be (well we don’t really need to get into those details, yuck)….how I came to be me. How the journey of my life began.

I’m the youngest of 4 girls and I have a younger brother. I had a great childhood. I have great memories of being a kid. It was the days of no cell phones or video games. We actually played outside and read these things called books. They’re bound pages of printed stories. You read a page then use your finger to turn and read the next one.

We had family reunions back then. When families actually gathered together because they loved & enjoyed one another. We ate together, talked (what!), played board games or cards and just had fun. I visited my Grandma’s a lot, which was right up the road. I snuck up there a couple of times but somehow my parents always knew where I was. Grandma Elizabeth had THE BEST fried chicken, mashed potatoes, noodles, white gravy, homemade rolls & baked macaroni. Those of you who know me can now see why I was always the chubby kid. Man she could cook!

We went to an old country church called Mt. Carmel. All of my family went there. I grew up with these people. They’d have Sunday dinners at Grandma’s. We visited a lot and I was friends with some of their grand kids. VBS, church dinners, Sunday night sing alongs. Falling asleep in the pew or talking to much & getting a thump on the head from Dad to be quiet or wake up.

I think I’ll just use a few posts to tell you about life growing up. Man the memories are thick and flowing… Grandma Mary, Grandpa Louie, Grandma Grace, Aunt Marge. Uncle Gary & Kathy; Aunt Peggy & Shelly; Uncle Dick, Matt & David; Wemp, Evelyn & Mary, Cecil, Maxine & Deanna; Aunt Sharon, Uncle Bob & their nephew Brett; I mention these people because they were family or we went to church together & their kids were my age so we hung out a lot growing up.

I want to remember. I want Ashton to know these things: roller skating at Nokomis or Vandalia every weekend with Mary. All my slumber parties & sleepovers. Riding motorcycles with Brett. Riding snowmobiles with the Sanders’ girls & May kids. Going to the movies in Hillsboro. Shopping on Saturday & going to Fashion Lane, Heslov’s, the Boutique & Shermans. Getting donut holes & hot chocolate at Cordani’s bakery. During Christmas season getting dropped off at the theater to watch a matinee while Mom shopped. Some Saturdays she’d let me stay at the library & I’d just search through the books & read for hours. Being a kids club member at Reaban’s in Hillsboro & Vandalia. Going to the shoe store in Vandalia & they had a wooden animal train that you could ride. I loved that as a kid.

We didn’t have home movies & I didn’t keep a diary/journal. I don’t have tons of pictures from back then because we were enjoying the moments. I hope I can express them to you in a way you can relive them with me. This is just a taste of what I hope to express over the coming days.

This is my legacy of memories, future hopes, dreams, thoughts, advice, & spiritual counsel for my beloved daughter Ashton & others that come to take a peek.

Until next time.

My First Blog Post

A little about me

This is new for me, but I’m excited to begin this new chapter of my life.

I turned 50 this year and boy it was something. I’m a small town girl living in a lonely world who took a midnight train going….wait that’s Journey not me. 🙂 I am a small town Illinois girl, born and raised. I would take a midnight train though and I would go back to Colorado. I love it there. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it as a new high school graduate (thank you big sister, Lisa for the gift). I looked out the plane window during the evening light and the Colorado Springs back drop took my breath away.

So much has happened in just the past 5 years that has led me to start writing, sharing and figuring out the calling God has on my life. I by no means have it all figured out, but I think my path is becoming more clear. I’m going to share a lot of Jesus and Bible with you. If you are offended or don’t agree, that’s your choice, as it is mine to express my beliefs and opinions. My faith is the largest part of my life and has shaped me into the person I am today.

I hope you enjoy this little piece of me. It’s gonna get real…fast.

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.