Victory in Jesus

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the car, my mind began to wonder. Sometimes when that happens it’s a good thing, a creative idea will come to me or I’ll remember something I had forgotten. Other times, when my thoughts drift off, they’ll jump onboard the “Fear/Anxiety Train.” Unfortunately, I was on my way to the plush cushioned seats of Worry.

So that’s where I was mentally.

As my eyes glanced at the radio, I noticed what song had started to play…”No Longer Slaves” by Bethel. Just to give you a quick preview, the chorus of this song says:

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

Yeah, pretty awesome. I started to sing the words and the Spirit reminded me of something really awesome. Are y’all ready?

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us! Like, WHAT. I think many times we gloss over this, or don’t understand the actual meaning. But y’all, the power that raised our Savior from the grave? That brought him back to life? LIVES IN US.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you,” ~ Romans 8:11

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” ~ Acts 1:8

It made me feel so empowered! And I could feel my fear being washed away as I meditated on this thought. Life can be really hard, and once in a while it’s wise to remind ourselves of whose we are. Children of the Most High. Princes and princesses of the King of kings. Creations of the Bright and Morning Star. Co-heirs with Christ (aka God of the universe). Friend of God.

And because of that, we have the privilege of being the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s Spirit, to those who believe, resides in us. We can live in the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection! We are truly free! In the life of Jesus, we have complete confidence of triumph. When we go through trials, struggles, pain, and suffering, let us remember that at the end of the day, in God, we are victorious! As Paul said, “perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Perhaps you fight battles that no one knows, save for yourself and our Lord. Maybe you’re struggling with something that you think no one can possibly understand. Or it could be that right now your life is going perfectly. Everything is coming together exactly as you thought it would, and you couldn’t be more excited! Whether or not you find yourself in a season of waiting or one of great joy, let us never forget that in our Savior, we are VICTORS. CONQUERS. OVERCOMERS. WARRIORS.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57

As we celebrate this fourth of July, remember where the true freedom lies. Between biting into a juicy hamburger and dipping your glistening silver spoon into a bowl of cold, soft ice cream, do not forget the high price that Jesus paid. When you watch the fireworks explode in beautiful displays of red, blue, and white, thank God for saving us from a lifetime of misery and sin. He set us free, and His freedom is the most valuable kind. Because even if the world goes to hell, the government crumbles, and everyone is in a panic, as Christians, we can still stand tall and say with confidence that we are free.

We know the truth and we have been delivered. Let us never forget the priceless gift of being a Child of God. We are free.

~ Southern Dreamer

Resting In God When The World Is Going Crazy

This past year, my senior year, I duel-enrolled at a local college. During my second semester, I took Bio 2 and found it fascinating (minus one section *ahem* parasites/bacteria/etc).

Anyway.

We were learning how everything on Earth is connected and how global warming is affecting it. Here’s the short spill on it – I promise you’ll be able to understand it and I’ll try my best to not spend several paragraphs on it 😉

Because of Earth warming, the Indian Ocean has been steadily warming as well. You’re probably thinking, “ok. so the ocean is a little bit warmer, what’s the big deal?” I’m glad you asked! XD

The increasing temperature of the Indian Ocean has caused the North Atlantic oscillation (aka two air masses) to become stuck on its “intense” cycle. The North Atlantic oscillation has never been completely calm, but there are usually periods or breaks where the intensity lets down and it is more docile. However, with the increasing temperatures that has not been happening.

north atlantic

It’s amazing how the entire world is so intricately connected. In Africa, there is a body of water called Lake Chad. Wikipedia says, “The United Nations Environment Programme and the Lake Chad Basin Commission concur that at least half of the lake’s decrease is attributable to shifting climate patterns.” As Lake Chad has dried up, the dust and dirt that was beneath the water has been exposed.

You can imagine what sorts of algae, fungi, and other gross things lie at the bottom of the lake. With the dust being out in the open, the pathogenic soil fungus it contains has been swept into the air from the Saharan and blown towards the Caribbean.

Interestingly, this dust has caused an ironic increase in pediatric asthma cases and coral sea fan disease. Which is obviously not good.

Now, I’m going to be honest. I kind of started to worry, because wow, how the heck are we supposed to fix all of this. ITS SO MUCH.

God, knowing this, led me to this verse.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near,” ~ Luke 21:25-28

WOW. Like, anyone else amazed??? I mean that’s literally what’s happening! And there it is, right in the Bible. It makes me feel so much better, to know that God knew this was going to happen. None of this is a surprise to him.

Thank you Jesus for that!

~ Southern Dreamer

Darkness Fell ~ Part 1 of an Easter Story

“Die he or justice must; unless for him some other able, and as willing, pay the rigid satisfaction, death for death. Say heav’nly Powers, where shall we find such love, which of ye will be mortal to redeem Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save, dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton 

Who will step forward? Will someone sacrifice the glories and perfection of heaven for the broken and trying life on Earth?

“He asked, but all the heav’nly choir stood mute, and silence was in Heav’n; on man’s behalf patron or intercessor none appeared, much less that durst upon his own head draw the deadly forfeiture, and ransom set,” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

Silence. The golden streets and tree of life. Silence. The heralds of angels and beating wings. Silence. The majesty of the Creator and the magnificence of heaven’s shining buildings. Silence.

Silence can say so much more than words.

Would anyone step in? Would someone take man’s place?

“And now without redemption all mankind must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell by doom severe, had not the Son of God, in whom the fullness dwells of love divine, his dearest mediation thus renewed.

‘Father, thy word is passed, man shall find grace; and shall grace not find means, that finds her way, the speediest of thy winged messengers, to visit all thy creatures, and to all comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought, happy for man, so coming; he her aid can never seek, once dead in sins and lost; atonement for himself or offering meet, indebted and undone, hath none to bring: Behold me then, me for him, life for life I offer, on me let thine anger fall; account me man; I for his sake will leave thy bosom, and this glory next to thee freely put off, and for him lastly die well pleased, on me let Death wreak all his rage; under his gloomy power I shall not long lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess life in myself forever, by thee I love, though now to Death I yield, and am his due,'” ~ Paradise Lost, John Milton

All heaven silent, until the Son of God spoke. All mankind lost, until this moment.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” ~ Luke 2:11

He, who had come from heaven: perfect, beautiful, joyful, now came to Earth – to be among his creation, to do what no one else could.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” ~ Hebrew 4:15

Instead of a throne, he sat on the dusty, dirty ground. Insects crawling beneath; an ant biting him. Instead of a crown and robes of splendor, he wore the simple clothing of a carpenter. Blisters on his hands from working with wood; a splinter finding its way into his skin. Instead of angels singing praises hour after hour, he endured the ridicule of bullies. Name-calling, excluding him from activities, causing a bleeding cheek or egg-sized knot on his head. Instead of perfection, he came to the broken world. Temptation rearing its ugly head and the battle not to give in.

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“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

He had friends, family. Perhaps, he had a particular pet growing up that he was fond of. Maybe a sheep that would sneak into the house when it was not supposed to, or a baby chick that cuddled up by his bedside. He celebrated holidays with feasts and great fun. He experienced the growing up pains of being a teenager; the temptation though he did not sin.

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33 years.

And then, came the end of an old world and the beginning of a marvelous grace-filled one where death is defeated.

Let’s back-track though.

The arrest of Jesus.

“Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples,” ~ John 18:2

This one sentence has so much information. We learn two key pieces of information about his arrest, that make it so much more painful. The obvious one is that Judas – someone he had taught, ate with, and spent many hours conversing about various things – betrayed him. Secondly, let’s go back to this…”for Jesus often met there with his disciples.”

Putting it in our terms, this was their “hang-out” place. The spot they went to when they wanted to talk, escape the crowds, just be friends. So I don’t think it is too overly assuming to say that this location probably had a special meaning.

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground,” ~ Luke 22:41-44

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I’m not sure if it’s because only Luke records it, or if I’ve just never noticed it in the other Gospels before, but I find it so interesting that it says, “and there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” I wonder what this entailed. Did the angel encourage him in words? Remind him of the good that would come after? Give him something to eat or drink?

I think it is noteworthy to point out, that though the angel strengthened him…his pain did not go away. Right after, it says, “and being in agony.”

Yes, Jesus was strengthened, but his “cup” was not taken away. The struggle, the apprehension of what was to come did not leave. As the verse concludes, it becomes clear that he is under a tremendous amount of anxiousness. There is an actual, medical condition where one is under so much stress and anxiety that sweat and blood mix, creating, as Luke wrote, “like great drops of blood.”

There would still be more to come. Trials. Betrayals. Beatings – horrible, gruesome whips that came upon him again and again. Thorns – a mockery by them, shoving a crown of nature’s needles onto his head…blood pooling out. Humiliation – casting lots for his clothing, doing everything to try and destroy his dignity. Pain.

The nails. The cross. Dying the worst and most degraded form of death that could be done. How amazing of a Savior we have! I cannot compute this kind of love – unconditional, perfect, encompassing. Even as I write this, it blows my mind that someone would willingly choose to go through the most undesirable form of suffering for me.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” ~ 1 Peter 2:24

Guilt. Though Jesus had done no wrong, he took the weight of our sins. Can you imagine? All of history. All of humanity. Every person that has and ever will live. That feeling, that sense of shame and guilt that comes with sin, he felt. Him, who knew no sin and lived a perfect life, experienced the ramifications of sin. The consequences, though he was innocent.

Imagine the worst crime you can think of – murder, rape. And then picture yourself having to feel the guilt and shame for doing that, though you did not.

Horrible.

In every way, the sacrifice of Jesus was brutal. It was emotionally taxing – friends betraying him, mentally draining – enduring the verbal assault, physically sapping – the most horrific, pain and death, and spiritually exhausting – when God turned his face.

Let’s go back to that place, that hour.

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It is the middle of the day; there are three crosses. Because it is the Passover, travelers are passing by and witnessing this dismal sight. There are soldiers, who prolonged his suffering by giving him wine vinegar. There is his family, weeping and in anguish over what has been done to him.

12:00pm. Noon.

Instant darkness. The light from the day vanished and inky blackness took its place. There was no electricity, and no backup generators. Perhaps someone found a candle, though I doubt they had one close by. Who would have thought it would be needed at midday?

The hours ticked by, time moving slowly. Seconds turned into minutes, seeming to stretch into infinity. What had happened? Why was it pitch black at noon? Would the light return?

3pm.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit,” ~ Matthew 27:50

The curtain of the temple stood sixty feet high and thirty feet wide. It separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, that only the high priest was allowed to enter once a year. At this moment, this instant it was torn in two. The separation between God and humanity had been breached.

The ground rumbled – an earthquake. Rocks were broken, split into pieces. The tombs opened up and the “bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:52).

Jesus had died.

***will post second part tomorrow on Easter***

The Battle Is Not Yours

“And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s,” ~ 2 Chronicles 20:15

Back at the end of January, I was reading a book series. The writing is really well-done and I thought the characters were wonderful, but last night I hit my limit.

It started to talk about stuff that I found too scary, and I tried to push through it because I’m curious and a reader and therefore, wanted to know what would happen. But I started to worry I would have nightmares about it (see blog post about my illness here, but basically horrific dreams come with it, so sometimes frightening things can “trigger” those memories).

So I ended up crying.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not a crier – it’s just not really my personality type to be overly emotional. However, I was just so scared that I was going to have nightmares and frustrated to be worried about ANOTHER thing.

blog39I feel like I’ve been fighting my whole life, and in all honesty, I’m just tired of fighting. Well, at some point after this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of Exodus 14:14.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” ~ Exodus 14:14

This was really neat, because I was so tired of fighting, and…I had/have not memorized this verse.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you,” ~ John 14:26

I think sometimes we, as humans, get this ‘I have to do everything by myself’ attitude. We fall into the subconscious trap of not asking for help, not relying on someone, and often – at least for me – forgetting to even ask God for his help. I know I can go for so long, “battling” something, and not even remember oh, I should pray about this and go to God for help, until I’m completely exhausted and anxious.

Could this be why Psalm 23 and 46 both talk about being still?

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” ~ Psalm 23:1-3a

“Be still, and know that I am God,” ~ Psalm 46:10

I can picture God, as our Father, looking at us and being like, ‘if you will just be still in me and rest – I’ve got this.’

But of course, being our over-working, independent, forget-to-ask-for-help-selves, we run around trying to do it all on our own while our Father is waiting for us to release these burdens to Him, and let Him handle them.

As I finish writing this (I’ve written it scattered over several weeks), I find myself in that weary state again. For being a logical person, you would think that I would struggle with anxiety less. But my OCD brain loves to find silly things to attach itself to and worry on, and it can be exhausting. Maybe it’s because I had some intense anxiety and worries over the past few days and that’s all adding up to me struggling with anxiousness today. I’m not really sure.

Maybe it’s because I’m more tired today, and that exhaustion isn’t helping my mind to think clearly. I’m not going to say that I have found an all-perfect solution to this, as evidenced by this day, but I have to remind myself that even if it feels like it’s never going away, it will.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” ~ John 14:27

I love this verse. Fear and anxiety tend to zap any peace we have, and I think it’s so interesting that He says “let not your hearts be troubled.” Often, the heart is associated with emotions, and anxiety tends to send those all out of whack. I don’t know about you, but for me, I find the mental battles are much harder to fight than the physical ones.

For those of you, as well as myself, who struggle with anxiety or are at that place where you are just tired and weary of fighting, let’s remember that the battle is not ours. We are not meant to fight alone, we have a Savior who is more than willing to come beside us and strengthen us during these times. I know I forget this, and then it’s like oh right. God is here to help me, I’m not supposed to do this by myself. Sometimes, maybe, it might invoke an emotional response 😉 (shhh, don’t tell).

Image result for snow keeping secrets ouat memes

As we continue through our days, let’s remember that and determine to not let anxiousness steal our joy.

~ Southern Dreamer

My Story

Slothilda Sloth ProcrastinationWell, this is probably waaaayyyyyy overdue.

XD A little procrastination gif for all my fellow procrastinators out there 😉 But, getting down to what this post is really about…my story. More of my testimony really. Feel free to grab a coffee or chocolate chip M&M cookies *coughnotthatI’vebeeneatinganycough* and read on.

Growing up in a Christian home, I’ve always believed in God. But it wasn’t until 2005 that my relationship with Jesus went to a completely different level. We were still living in Florence, Alabama then.

My parents had started to realize that something was wrong when I began to fall asleep at random times during the day, collapse during laughter or when experiencing excitement, and being unable to make it through school hours without going to sleep multiple times. My mom believed that I had narcolepsy, but I was six years old. Children “that young” did not get narcolepsy – or that is what everyone said.

When I went for my PSG, they said all I'd have to do was show up and sleep. Little did I know...: Yet, there were really only two choices: a brain tumor or narcolepsy. I went through multiple tests including blood tests, a MRI, EEGs, and an EKG. Once I was diagnosed, I had to go through additional sleep studies at University of Alabama at Birmingham. I spent a lot of time there during the next few years that included two more sleep studies. My world was suddenly changed and I had no control or understanding to stop it.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder, falling into the hyper-immune system illnesses. It results when for unknown reasons, the body attacks the cells that create hypocretin, which is a chemical that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Unlike many other cells, it does not reproduce – when it is gone, it is gone. I could not sleep through the night – only an hour at a time at the most, during the day I would fall asleep numerous times, and could never again go into deep sleep.

Cataplexy is a common side-effect of narcolepsy, though depending on the severity of a person’s narcolepsy, they may or may not have it. I happen to have one of the more severe cases, and as such, have cataplexy. Everyone has this naturally. Normally, when people dream their body goes into a natural state of paralysis to keep them from acting out their dreams. Because my sleep-wake cycle is so disrupted, my body thinks that I am dreaming whenever I laugh or experience excitement. This means that when that happens, my body goes into a state of temporary paralysis or muscular weakness. It looks similar to a seizure, but is very different in that the person experiencing it is completely alert to what is happening, and it usually ends in seconds or a few minutes.

During the first three years, my cataplexy was extremely severe. If I just had the thought – ‘I want to run’ – and would get excited, I would instantly fall to the ground. If I laughed just a little, the same thing would happen. To me, the worst were the nightmares. Narcoleptics, because of how disrupted our sleep-wake cycle is, instantly drop into dream state. Our bodies do not have time to gradually enter into dream state; it is instant. And this causes horrible nightmares. I would wake up terrified to go back to sleep for fear of dreaming again. These were not ‘I lost my homework, my dog died, or I fell off a cliff’ dreams. Mine night terrors. I was often aware that I was dreaming in my dreams. I remember as young as eight years old repeating every name of Jesus I could possibly think, while dreaming. And when I finally said it verbally – spoke His name – I would wake up. It never failed. His name has power, and should not be underestimated.

My entire life and the life of my family changed when I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy. We all grew closer. I have a schedule for everything, every three to four hours I have to rest. My brother and I are best friends. I take medication during the day and at night. It’s better than when I first got diagnosed and as a seventeen-year-old I have learned to manage it the best I can. I have learned how to focus on the things I can do versus the things I do not have the energy to accomplish. I have grown to understand that having a medical challenge can be difficult for others to understand and embrace therefore I have concluded that the best way to reduce misperceptions is through communication and kindness.

Sometimes people do not realize the unseen disabilities or disorders. Often, it is not apparent of what I have to do just to do the normal things. Naps and rests are not always guaranteed to be fantastic, sometimes if I’ve been awake too long, I’ll immediately drop into dream state, have dreams, wake up, try to go back to sleep, and the cycle can continue. It can be frustrating to always have to take naps, not be able to do such and such things that others can do. The emotional and mental side can be difficult as well. Because narcolepsy is a sleep disorder, we do not get the sufficient amount of sleep needed. Sleep-deprivation can make anxiety or other stressful emotions feel stronger/worse.

Even though this disease can present many frustrations, I would not change it. Through narcolepsy and cataplexy, I was put into a place of forced trust with the Lord. I had to rely on Him. It was not an ‘if I want to’ or ‘when I will,’ I had to. One time my mom asked me, if they had a cure for narcolepsy would I take it, and honestly, I don’t know. I’m almost afraid of what my relationship with God would be like without it. Truthfully, I do not think that I would rely on Him as much. I wish I could say that without narcolepsy I would rely and trust the Lord just as much, but I don’t think I can.

Jesus has shown himself to me in ways that I would probably have not experienced without receiving this disease. He has met me at my weakest, even in my anger, and shown Himself to me in grace, love, and truth. There have been times when I have cried silently at night, or been terrified that I would have nightmares going to sleep. When you are put into a place where you have to rely on God to get through the day, have to seek Him out, it changes you. Through this disease, Jesus has strengthened my faith and trust in Him. While it definitely has it’s negatives, I believe that God has used what many people would see as something terrible – being diagnosed at six years old, not knowing anyone else with your disease until almost ten years later, having an incurable illness – and used it for good. Even though this probably sounds weird, I’m grateful to Jesus for how He has given this to me and walked with me through it.

Often, it can be hard for me to understand how people completely abandon their faith when hard times strike. I can understand and sympathize with being angry, frustrated, and utterly confused as to why something happens, yet, it’s difficult for me to grasp someone just…giving up on their faith. I guess it’s because no matter how furious, weary, and whatever else I may be feeling, the truth is, I need God too much to just say “screw it.”

I know a lot of people say that God can take the worst thing in your life, and make it something wonderful. And it can start sounding old, like, ok getting sick of the ‘church’ answer. But it’s true. Jesus can redeem anything to become something beautiful. You just have to be willing to stick with your faith, wrestle it out with God. Ask questions – Jesus isn’t afraid of them.

~ Southern Dreamer

P.S. March 11 is Narcolepsy Awareness Day, please spread the word so we can bring more awareness to this illness 🙂

 

My Thoughts

As some of you have likely heard, in the new live-action Beauty and the Beast, they are going to have a clearly gay character: Le Fou.

I had seen a link about it earlier, but did not think much of it. They would not do that to such a classic, well-loved story – and one for children no less. In my mind, I thought it was probably only some media station that was being overly dramatic and secular as usual.

Well, it was not. My dad showed me the article only moments ago, as I’m writing this.

I never cry, yet here I am shedding tears over it. Maybe it’s the feeling of betrayal – of someone taking something you have loved and turning it into the very opposite. Perhaps it is the fact that they have been entrusted with such a sacred character and film, and…done this – this with it? I know I should not be surprised. I know that Disney is a secular company. I know all these things; I even had figured that they would likely have a gay couple in Star Wars – however much I disagree with it. And still, I find myself feeling blindsided.

Maybe it is because everyone who has grown-up watching the animated version and identifying themselves with Belle, feels like in a way, this is their movie, their story. A classic. And you expect when someone undertakes a remaking, for them to do justice to the original, and to have them do this?

If you want to have a gay character in a children’s movie, that’s your choice. But to ruin a classic? To change what was already made? What people already loved? If they wanted to introduce a gay character, which I would prefer them not to of course, this was not the way to do it.

Perhaps it’s the sin of it all that grieves me. It angers me that sweet, innocent children may watch this new movie and see whatever scene this is, and become confused. Confused that if they have a friend of the same sex, does that mean they’re gay? If they think a person of the same gender is handsome/pretty, does that mean they’re gay? How saddening, for people to believe the answer to these questions is yes (Author note: These are my opinions and thoughts, you are welcome to disagree; I am not looking to debate anyone about this. Also, I am not going to get into the whole logistics/biblical context/etc of someone being gay right now).

Honestly, I am not even sure why I’m writing this. I guess I thought that if I wrote my thoughts down, maybe it would help me process them. Regarding the movie as a whole, I am truthfully not even sure I will be going to see it in theatre. This news has really depressed me. They have taken my favorite Disney princess – heroine, my favorite animated classic, and added something that is not in the original. And that I certainly do not agree with.

~ saddened, Southern Dreamer

And Everything Was Still

“Be still and know that I am God,” ~ Psalm 46:10

Know: be convinced or certain of, have understanding of, perceive directly, have knowledge of.

Still: free from noise or turbulence, devoid of or abstaining from motion.

Last December (I know…a long time ago, but I’m a senior so 😉 ), I felt God reminding me of this verse. I’ve never really fully understood it; I’ve always thought of it as being really serious. But I think that the Holy Spirit revealed to me, at least, part of what it means.

“I am God…”

I am…LOVE: an assurance of affection, unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the Cutest thing I have ever seen: good of another, warm attachment/enthusiasm/devotion, strong affection for another.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” ~ Romans 5:8

I am…PEACE: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, a state of tranquility or quiet, a state of security.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid,” ~ John 14:27

I am…GRACE: a special favor, unmerited divine assistance, a state of sanctification Easter Sessions with a lamb and cross, in a beautiful field of wildflowers! www.expressionsbybrandy.com: enjoyed through divine grace.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” ~ Hebrews 4:16

I am…COMPASSION: sympathetic consciousness of others distress, together with a desire to alleviate it.

“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things,” ~ Mark 6:34

I am…HOPE: to expect with confidence, trust, to cherish a desire with anticipation.I remember days like these, young and at my Grams. Such cherished memories of how magical I remember my childhood. Children are such blessings. And their lil voices have so much to offer ☀️                                                                                                                                                     More:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11

I wrote out these definitions to remind myself, yes God is holy, but He is also our father…daddy. And sometimes, or most of the time, I forget that and struggle with thinking that God is out to punish me.

1 John 4:18 addresses this. For all my fellow perfectionists out there, this is a good verse to remember 🙂

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love,” ~ 1 John 4:18

So when God says, “be still and know that I am God,” I do not think He is only referring to the literal meaning. I think this is also referring to being still, resting and soaking in God’s love, grace, and compassion.

God is righteous and holy and omniscient, but He is also our father, dad. And like any good parent, He does not want us to fear Him. We should have a respectful “fear,” of course, in the sense that He is God and it would be foolish and idiotic to mock, test, etc…Him.

JESUS on Pinterest | Greg Olsen, Son Of God and Pictures Of Jesus: With that said, we do not have to fear the Lord. Using the verse again from under the definition of grace, it says:

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” ~ Hebrews 4:16

With confidence. Not terrified or worried about coming to God. He says that we can come to Him with confidence.

Confidence is, “the quality or state of being certain, a communication made in confidence, a relation of trust of intimacy.”

The next time you and I begin to fear punishment from God, I hope we can remember His great love and the invitation to come to Him with confidence.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: The definitions for love, peace, grace, hope, and compassion along with confidence, came from Merriam-Webster.

Love

Love: a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties

barefoot Summers - mine were dirty but not THIS dirty...as I recall??: “Mommy.”

A mother looks down at her three-year-old son. Dirt is smeared across his face, though a brilliant smile shows his baby white teeth. His once yellow shirt, is now covered in splattering’s of strawberries, purple paint, and something else that she decides is better left unknown. “Yes, sweetie?”

The toddler raises up his chubby arms – asking to be held.

She complies, settling him onto her hip.

Golden curls giving him an angelic appearance (perhaps she is biased, though, she concludes humorously, her little one would certainly be one of the most mischievous of all the angels), he wraps his arm around her neck and lays his head down with a heavy-breathed sigh. “I love you mommy.”

~~~

Love:  the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration

“No.” The college undergraduate frowns at the poor, pitiful looking faces. She shakes her head, Baby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies! (Breeder: Chadwick Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's):: brown locks falling over her face. Pushing her red-rimmed glasses back up the bridge of her nose, she sighs. Why did they have to look so utterly adorable? Cute little cinnamon rolls…she thinks.

Two puppies, bounding over each other in their haste to get her attention, wag their tails impatiently. The smaller one’s chocolate eyes look up at her as if to say, pick me! I’m right here! The bigger one, not to be outdone, puts its white paws up on the glass – head cocked to the side as though it knew this made it look priceless.

“Oh who am I kidding?” mumbled the twenty-year-old, “I love you both!”

~~~

Love: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion

Tutu Dress Yellow Princess Belle: “Daddy.”

“…”

“Daddy.”

The father drags his attention away from the newspaper he had been reading, turning to look at his eight-year-old. She has on a yellow gown with a cut, pasted, and crayon-colored paper crown on top of her head. Sassy as always, one hand is on her hip – lips pressed tightly together. “What is it Bella?”

She comes closer, placing both hands on top of his forearm. Her facial expression is utterly serious as she leans in to whisper in a not-so-quiet way. “You’re supposed to dance with me. Since I’m the princess, you’re the prince.” Tone confident, she waits for his reply – dark eyes blinking.

He chuckles to himself – though quickly stops when he remembers how seriously she takes this. “Why, I would be delighted to princess!”

A bright grin stretches itself across her face, and she has to use every measure of eight-year-old self-control to retain the dignity of royalty. Minutes later, when the music from Beauty and the Beast drifts through the kitchen, and she is held in his arms – head upon his shoulder, her childish voice says, “Love you daddy.”

~~~

Love: a beloved person

“How could you do that?”  he yells, dragging a hand down the side of his face. What on God’s A grey and white kitten resting on its owner's bed.: good green earth had she been thinking? She could have been killed! Not to mention, that her car was pretty much totaled.

She huffs in annoyance. “It was nothing, and I am perfectly fine.”

“You almost weren’t!”

“But I am!”

“THAT’S BESIDES THE POINT.”

“WELL, I WASN’T GOING TO LET THAT KITTEN GET RUN OVER.”

He groans loudly, running a hand through his black hair. “How are you such an idiot….”

She glares furiously at him, blue eyes sparking despite the fact that a gash of blood is still dribbling onto her skin. The gray and white kitten, held securely in her arms, makes itself smaller as though it realizes it is the topic of this…unfortunate conversation. “Why do you even care!?!?”

Before he even realizes what he is saying, his mouth is already open. “Because I love you!” 

~~~

Love: an assurance of affection

senior photography. twins. laura benitz photography. senior portraits. st joseph mo. country: “I swear if they ever – ” The eighteen-year-old grits his teeth together, infuriated by the fact that some people seemed to think it was a peachy  idea to make fun of his sister. He had several choice words for them, and all one-hundred-percent of them were words that were probably better left unsaid.

His twin sister, glanced at him, sad smile on her face. “It’s fine, we’ll both be gone next year anyway.” She tucked a red curl behind her ear, the afternoon sun casting a glow onto her freckled face.

Suddenly, he wrapped her in a tight embrace. “Don’t believe them, ok? You’re the best person and friend I know.”

She nodded against him, pushing back the tears. “Thanks…you’re pretty awesome yourself,” she stated, adding softly, “I love you.”

“Love you too sis.”

~~~

Love: the fatherly concern of God for humankind, unselfish loyal and benevolent, concern for the good of another, an assurance of affection.“Let Me Sing Your Goodness & Greatness In Thankfulness To Your Name. In Jesus Name. Amen”:

Psalm 116:1, “I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.”

“I’m sorry Lord, I should not have disrespected You like that.” Her eyes filled with tears, fear wanting to grasp hold. Why had she said that? The peer pressure…she should have been stronger. And now, what if He did not want to forgive her? Sure, she knew that the Bible said He forgives…but this? She was not certain, why would He want to forgive her when she had disrespected Him, even after He had died for her?

“You are forgiven.”

Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”

He was angry. Angry at God. Angry at Him for taking his mother. How could someone who claimed to literally BE love do that? He sure as heck did not know. And he was hurt, pained, and angry over it.

“I know you are angry, but I see past that. I see to your hurt, your tears, your struggle with wanting to know why. My child, even if you do not want to talk to me, I am here with you – amidst your pain, amidst your struggle. My love is still here.”

1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

Stupid. Ok. Sure, she had been at school all day and then rushed to work her job after that, and then needed to complete all of her schoolwork, and maybe it was midnight…and most people would probably call it quits (or think she was crazy), but she had not read her Bible at all today. Actually. She had not read it in three days, and boy was she feeling guilty for it. Never mind the fact that she was doing her best.

My daughter, I see how hard you are working – and how much you desire to please me. Your high expectations and perfectionism are wearing you down. Rest in me and let my peace become the rhythm of your life.  

Isaiah 49:15-16, ““Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”

He threw his books down, having just returned from work. Shaking his head, his heart felt God's love for us is unconditional and undeserved. Because He truly loved us and knew that we were worth it, He suffered and died for us on the cross. All of God's children are of importance! Trust in Him, and let Him lead the way.: lonely…empty…forgotten. He felt like no one really saw him for HIM. He was just another face in the crowd. Another number.

You are not forgotten, my son. Even if other people may pass over, neglect, or cause you to feel insignificant, you are not. You are my child, part of a royal priesthood with a legacy of brothers and sisters who have gone before you. You are mine, and I love you.

Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

She was excited! And happy! For one, she had been surprised with an adorable black kitten with white paws (already named Mittens, of course) by her boyfriend. Yep. He was the best. Secondly, she had been praying for a while that she could manage to find a job – and TADA, this morning she had gotten the call. Today. Was. Awesome.

I love to give my children good gifts, daughter. Take care of Mittens, he has a bit of a mischievous streak.

John 15:9, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

For some reason, the past few days he had been feeling depressed. He shouldn’t be – by all worldly standards at least. He had a wife, two children, and a good job. What was wrong with him? “God,” he prayed, “I-I’m not sure what’s up with me lately, but I just need to know you are here.”

My son, I am here. You have been worrying and fretting over the future. Rest in my love. You are safe.

maybe I can get my brother the blacksmith to make some of these ❤ for me! #OliviaGarden #BeautyTools: 1 John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

 

 

Family. Friendships. Pets. In our world, there are so many wonderful, different forms of love. Yet, the greatest of all of this is the love of our Savior, who loved us unconditionally without receiving anything in return and to such an extent, that He died on the cross – still knowing that many would choose to reject Him.

This Valentine’s day, let us remember the true meaning and definition of love: Jesus Christ.

Note: the definitions for “love” came from Merriam-Webster.

Thousandth Generation

Over Christmas, we went to Mississippi to see family. While we were there, on one occasion, my grandparents, mom, brother, and I were all sitting around the kitchen table. My Nana was telling us that when my Papa and her were raising my mom and aunt, they had wanted to start a housing unit/apartments for single mothers and their children – who could otherwise not afford.

My mom said that that was so interesting, because now our family works and helps single mothers. How fascinating is it that God can pass those desires on to the next generation?

And that reminded me, or the Holy Spirit reminded me, of a verse in Scripture. Several, actually, are fairly similar, so I’ll list them all.

“‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,” ~ Exodus 34:6b-7a

“For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments,” ~ Exodus 20:5-6

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,”                   ~ Deuteronomy 7:9

In my ESV Bible, it says that when the Scripture says “thousand” or “thousands” here, it is referring to it in the sense of generations.

GENERATIONS. Y’all, how crazy is that?

We read the first part, like in the second passage, and think, ‘oh how could God put that on the children?’ But there’s always more to it than what we first see.

When you look at the Scripture, the whole Scripture, you begin to realize how tiny three or four generations (and at that, this only applies to those who hate God) is compared to a thousand generations.

Note: Anyone can come to faith in Jesus, repent, and start anew.

If you estimate about every thirty years – give or take – a new generation collectively begins, then this gets even larger. This means that, if you take it at its literal/face-value context, the Scripture is basically saying a period of time equaling about THIRTY-THOUSAND YEARS. 30,000.

That is amazing.

Now that we understand this, let’s recall what the Scripture was saying.

“keeping steadfast love for thousands,” 

showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments,”

and

“who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

I love the concept of the Holy Spirit DNA. Granted, when I say that I am not asserting that being in a Christian family makes you saved. It does not. Becoming a believer is a choice that no one else can make for you, but you.

Loin devant #lecarrouselparis @yo.saba.saba:

However, Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The way children are raised has an incredibly powerful impact on whether or not they will even have a walk with Jesus. Does that mean if you weren’t raised in a Christian family you will not become a believer? Or if you have raised your children to follow Jesus, that they will not turn from that? No. Free will must still be accounted for, but as the Proverb says, a child is not as likely to depart from a parent’s teaching.

I think that it’s so cool how the Lord can put a desire in the heart of the parent – to begin planting those seeds. Yet, not mean for it to come into fulfillment until the next generation.

As I’m writing this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of another incidence where this occurred. David and Solomon.

“Now when the king lived in his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.'” ~ 2 Samuel 7:1-2

Here, David is finally at rest. He is king and from the text, does not appear to be fighting. But he realizes something: while David is living in a marvelous home, the ark of God was still in a structure made of cloth. He desires to build the Lord a home for the ark. What a godly thought to have! Who wound possibly refute that? But, in God’s plan, it was not yet time for this to occur.

“‘When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.'” ~ 2 Samuel 7:12-13

The Lord, here, is referring to Solomon. Solomon will build a house in the name of God. And that is exactly what happened. King:

“Then he called for Solomon his son and charged him to build a house for the Lord, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon, ‘My son, I had it in my heart to build a house to the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth. Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.” Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as he has spoken concerning you.'” ~ 1 Chronicles 22:6-11

I think this is so cool, because it reminds me of my family. My Nana and Papa had a desire to start a housing establishment for single mothers and their children to live in. They wanted to help them. However, God did not intend for that to occur yet.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

Instead, the Lord had His plan. And my family and I became involved with single mothers and helping them, and their children.

~ Southern Dreamer

Rest

Image result for perfection memes

Y’all probably know by now that I’m a perfectionist XD

And despite my efforts, I still struggle with wanting to do everything right, everything correct, everything perfect. Logically, I know that is not possible. But for some reason, I can’t quite seem to let my perfectionistic nature go.

"Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking." ~ Brene Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection):

Often, this manifests itself around anything having to do with God: what I think, what I say, what I do.

In mid-December, I was once again worrying and feeling guilty that I did not want to read my Bible or devotional after studying for six hours.

Now, you’re probably thinking that me feeling guilty for that is crazy – especially when I had been studying for six hours straight.

Well, in my spirit I felt God reminding me that it is ok for me to just REST in Him.

Jeremiah 31:25, “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

Exodus 33:14, “And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Isaiah 30:15, “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” 

Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Christian meme:

Sometimes (or, a lot of times :P) I forget that it is ok to just rest in God. Hopefully, with the Lord’s grace and help, I can begin to grasp the concept of not being perfect and resting in Him.

~ Southern Dreamer