The Journal #2

by Rhonda, October 25, 2023

Today, my dear readers, I want to give you some encouragement from the pages of my journal.  I want to share with you some of the things I've written down as I went through my divorce. I needed to hear that God loved me over and over.  

So, here's a few words of my journal through my days of crisis, I hope you find it helpful:

Remember God loves you even when you are having a rough day.  Not every day feels completely blessed, and you may have done nothing to cause all of this.  But, don't go backwards.  Continue to move forward.  When we are in love with the past, it is more difficult to go through the pain of obedience.  Did you know obedience to God often causes pain?  It does but His promise to you is that He will heal it if you can hang in there and make it up the hill.

In your pain, you will want to contact people you shouldn't, but reach out to God instead.  When you do this, He is so proud of you.  You must keep moving forward.  Pain endures for the night but joy comes in the morning.  There is joy on the other side of this.  You are making the journey from the past to the future and it hurts.  But staying in love with a dysfunctional past hurts worse.  You are on a path out of the pain.  You are on a path out of the pit.  You cannot go back to your old destructive ways.

God will gather you up in his arms.  You are not alone.  You are not unloved.  You have the heart of the Most High God.  Yes, your heart is connected to God and yes, His spirit lives in you.  He loves you dearly.  He doesn't want you settling for a pain-filled life anymore, my dear.  

God will guide you through all of this.  He loves you dearly.  You are his daughter.  He goes ahead of you and creates favor for you because He loves you so much.  You are confused over a few things, I know.  But God has much in store for you still.  Right now, simply praying "Thy will be done" is sufficient.  You don't need to reason it all out.  Simply "Lord, thy will be done".

You can rest and relax tonight.  You are getting tired, so sleep is a good thing.  When you are tired, there's no need to push harder or do more.  Rest you mind, including your thoughts,  Don't try to work through your thoughts,  You are off the clock in all aspects, mind included.  Everything needs to rest in God.  

Don't worry about what others think of you.  Just be present and thoughtful.  Connect.  Listen.  Laugh.  Love.  These things will bring you no regrets and shine your light - the light God has put inside of you.  You are strong enough to handle this and to do this.  

Be open to what God has in store for you.  God loves you.  

The Homeless Man

by Rhonda, October 23, 2023

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be completely free?  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be free of all of my failures, all of my insecurities, and all of my sin.

Jesus was never thought about a situation and wondered how he looked, or whether he performed in a way that met people's expectations.  His mind was never on himself.  He was never bound by sin, never caught up in His own ego.  He never bragged about himself.  He never lied.  He never gossiped.  He never had a dark secret in the closet.  He never wavered from who He was or what He stood for.  He refused to live in bondage to sin.  

Nothing on this earth could chain Him.  Not money, not power, not reputation.  Nothing.

We tend to think we're bound by God's rules, but think of the bondage we choose on a daily basis when we live a life differently from the example of Jesus.

  • The addictions to drugs and alcohol.
  • The guilt from an affair
  • The drama caused by gossip
  • The web of entanglement caused by lies
  • The guilt after losing your temper
  • The relationships destroyed by abuse
  • The isolation caused by selfishness
God isn't interested in imprisoning us through a life of rules.  He's interested in freeing us from the chain of despair.  He wants us to be unapologetically ourselves, not some cheapened version of who He created us to be.

A few days ago, I was waiting at a bus stop to get on a public bus in the city.  I don't usually ride the bus, so I asked the man in line in front of me about the next stop and the destination I was heading.  He was homeless (our buses are free to ride), and he was hauling all of his possessions in his backpack.

"They open at 6 p.m.," he confirmed to me.  "This bus will take you there."

I looked into his face as he spoke to me and smelled the alcohol on his breath.  He was gritty, and streaks of dirt clouded his face.  His curly hair, once brown, was gray from the dust.  He looked older than he was, but his piercing blue eyes showed kindness along with his youth.  He quickly looked at the floor after he finished talking.  He didn't want to interact with me anymore.  

As the bus pulled up, I made my way to my seat and the woman next to me struck up a conversation.  She was riding the bus as a volunteer, leading a group of elderly blind people.  The blind, she explained to me, are often depressed and lonely.  If they don't know how to get around, they won't leave their homes.  So, someone has to show them.  She gestured to the seats in front of us, and I saw at least six elderly blind people with white canes sitting on the bus.

"We have to practice things like riding the bus," she said, "because I want them to live free."

I asked her if this was her full-time job, but she shook her head.  "No, it is just something I do on the weekends."  Then she smiled as the bus came to a stop.  "I look forward to it all week long, this is my favorite day of the week."

She got up and ushered her guests off of the bus and I could hear her directing them how to walk down the street as I went in the opposite direction.

There couldn't have been a better illustration of freedom versus bondage.  Both the volunteer woman and the homeless man were kind souls.  You know, addiction is such a horrible, horrible disease.  It steals lives, and it destroys families, so I don't want to give any sort of impression that I am looking down on the homeless man.    But, I also know that at some point, something that seemed fun or perhaps provided relief now became the source of bondage that stole everything from him.  Now, he slept on the streets and lived a shell of a life.   

It isn't God's ways that steal our freedom.  

I am really just coming into a better understanding of this.  Perhaps my issues are less dramatic, but every time I refuse to forgive, every time I get angry for no good reason, every time I choose a way that leads me from Jesus, I'm handing over my freedom.  I'm choosing bondage.  I'm the homeless man on the bus, feeding my addiction, riding the bus wherever sin takes me next.

God created us to have free will.  We have the power to stand up and say no to sin.  We get to choose which direction we go, which bus we ride.  And, even more important, we can choose to change directions at any time.  Right now, even, on this very day we can decide that we aren't going to live in bondage anymore.  Just because we chose sin once doesn't mean we have to continue to choose it.  Don't go back to the old ways just because they feel familiar.  God is doing a new thing.

God is completely committed to our freedom.  There is not one single piece of bondage that He wants to remain in our lives.  We are to be a slave to nothing, instead we are to be a son or daughter to Him.  Isn't that an incredible love?  Sin that once mastered us can be defeated.  Nothing is to be lord over us, absolutely nothing, except the love of God.  

What a Savior.

The Journal #1

by Rhonda, October 09, 2023

I would like to thank both of my readers who read this blog on a regular basis.  Although you are likely related to me, it still makes me feel good to know there's an audience out there.  

Today, for my dear readers, I want to give you some encouragement from the pages of my journal.  I wanted to share with you some of the things I've written down as I went through my divorce. I needed to hear that God loved me over and over.  While I wrote these items down for myself, they apply to you, too.  

So, here we go.  From the pages of my journal to you, I hope you find it helpful:

God loves you so much.  He knows you are struggling, whether it is mentally or physically.  But you can trust Him through the process.  He will lead you, there's no need to force anything.  If something small and meaningless is bothering you, remember that you are far too important to allow something like this to trip you up.  Don't allow small things to cause any further disruption to your life.  After all, you have nothing to be insecure about.  You can rest in God's arms.  

It is time to enjoy the fruits of your hard labor rather than worrying all of them away.  Worrying is a fear-driven response, and remember that fear is nothing but a mirage.  So, why let the mirage of fear steal your joy?  That's the true tragedy, not the thing you fear.  

So, let us be peaceful.  Remember, not everyone always has to agree with you, and its okay if they don't.  You can't require that in order to have peace.  It will steal your joy one hundred percent of the time because no one is agreed with all of the time, not even the Son of God who lived his entire life without sin.  If not everyone agreed with Him, how can you expect everyone to agree with you?  You must give this up.

You are so loved by your Savior.  Your power and confidence grow as a result of following the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God not only loves you, but He is tremendously proud of you.  Look at your progress!  Your family has a joyful future because you are choosing to be obedient to Christ.  You are changing lives around you every time you obey God.  You are a hero.  You are a warrior.  It is quite an undertaking but it is who you are designed to be.  God wants to deliver you from fear, from anything that holds you back from being what He designed you to be.  

You are brave, generous, kind, and you care for others.  God designed you for this, not anxiety, depression and fear.  So much of anxiety and depression is being held back from your divine design.  God is not at all interested in his children living defeated lives.  So, run the race He has set in front of you.  Part of His design for your race is joy. 

Don't get stuck in the past.  Don't back to the old ways because it feels familiar.  God loves you.  He is going to do great things through you.  Don't listen to the naysayers.  They don't know what you know.  They don't have the joy that you have.  They cannot possibly understand what you are called to.  But God knows.  God understands.  And that's all that matters.  When those who should love you doubt you, it hurts.  No one knows this like Jesus.  But, sweet daughter, it doesn't change your calling and it doesn't change your God.  He is the same.  He loves you.  

So, let's go.  Its time to change the world.  

You've always wanted to do it anyway.

The Offense

by Rhonda, October 07, 2023

I woke at 4 a.m.  

Its been happening that way often, night after night.  Sometimes its 3:45, sometimes its 4:15, but it always comes.  I am angry over any offense my mind can muster.  I replay the day that's just finished, reliving things I did wrong.  I roll them over in my mind, cementing my disappointment with myself.  Then, I replay things other people did to me that I don't like.  If I'm not angry at myself, I might as well be angry at others.

I flip on the light and stumble into the kitchen.  I pour myself a bowl of cereal and finish the milk left in the carton.  As I ate the cereal, I pulled out my journal and stared at the pages.  I could think of nothing to write, so in frustration, I pushed the journal away and asked God what was wrong with me.  

As He began to speak truth to my heart, I wrote down what He said to me:  Don't you see Me, always going before you, always providing a way?  I grant you favor - don't doubt my blessings or gifts.  Don't defend a battle I've already won.  You get to rest in my secure and loving arms.  The battles I call you to are far more significant than this.  I don't waste my warriors on meaningless warfare.

Finally, the truth of what was happening.  All of this anger over stupid little events that offended me was meaningless warfare.  It was such a waste of my time (and my sleep!).  I began to take stock of what had happened, and why I'd fallen backwards into a world of being easily offended.  I was either easily offended by things I did, or things that others did.

I know myself well enough to know when I'm angry, I'm usually wrong.  Excessive anger, in my experience, never means I'm right.  I also know when I'm in this place, I'm usually not putting on the armor of God on a daily basis.  

I have things I do, routines that I follow, that keep my mind in a good place and stop me from being easily offended.  I read the Word, I write, I journal, and I exercise.  It may seem strange, but when you battle the mental struggles that I have, you have to find your weapons for battle.  

But, things had been slipping.  I knew it and God knew it.  I'd been strengthened by my time with Him, and I thought I could do things on my own.  I slowly fell away, deciding I didn't need to spend time in the Word, because I was stronger.  I stopped the routines that were keeping me healthy.

And then came the 4 a.m. crazies followed by a bowl of Captain Crunch and prayer of desperation.

I'm nothing if not predictable.  

God is the only one who heals my mind, over and over.

Eph 6:18 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground

When we stray away from God, we lose one of the greatest blessings of our lives.  Our joy.  Don't give your joy away for some stupid reason. Don't throw your pearls before swine.  Don't allow small offenses to take root in your life.  You're far too valuable to the Kingdom to be caught up in meaningless warfare.  

Matt 7:6 Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

God's plans are for you to be free from any ties that bind you, including offenses.  You can stop worrying so much about such things and enjoy being you!  Joyfully, happily you!  You can focus on blessings and happiness instead of perceived shortcomings.  

Jesus forgave the disloyal disciples who offended Him because He knew His father and He was loyal to His father.  His mind was on serving God, not avenging offenses.  Jesus never had to protect his own name.  So, if you're battling small offenses, you can let go and you can free your mind from the offense before deeper roots take hold.  Don't let it take hold of you and don't give it anymore power.    

Think about it.  You need calm more than you need to be angry.