30 Posts Challenge: #16 The Devo Poem

7-16-17 Devotional Poem (Beyond the Ugly Distractions)
written by Gail Brookshire

Thank you for listening past the ugliness.
Thank you for hearing “me” inside.
Thank you for hearing how hard I am really screaming,
for hearing the cry that has to release sometimes
to survive the silence that protects me.
Thank you for your selfless act of mercy
in your patience, longsuffering, forgiveness, tolerance,
and most of all your continued presence…
your faithful presence,
your unmatchable love for me.

Why do you love me so? At all?
I know you gave your son for me (I love Jesus).
I know I am your creation.
I know I am made in your image.
But why do you not destroy me as you did Sodom and Gomorrah?
Why did you not cast me out like you did Adam and Eve from the garden?
Why am I not a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife as much as I STILL look back?
Why am I not nameless as much as I shame your name?
Why am I allowed to be called Holy when you had to drag me out of the gutter,
the one who is most victimized by my self loathing?
The name that is most glorious saved that which is most vile.
You are pure and righteous, God,
and yet you still knelt to pick me up off the ground,
off of the very dirt from which you made me,
and that I have wallered in.
How did you even recognize me under all that filth?
How could you possibly see any beauty?
Why did you even allow your pure and innocent hands to touch mine?
Why did you bother to reach out to me?
Because that is everything about who you are.
I may never fully understand the depths of your love,
and I may never grasp the smallest part of your wisdom,
but I will always be grateful for the breath you have breathed into my life.
I will always be in debt to you from all that you have saved me from,
and continue to save me from.
I will continue to fall in love with you more and more every day
for being willing to look through the muck and see me!
And rescue me!

Thank you that you see me despite the filth,
that you hear me despite the ugly,
and love me despite the human in me.
Thank you for your saving grace,
for transforming me by the renewing of my mind,
for making me a new creature.
Behold you make all things and people new,
including me.
I am a new thing! ❤
I have been cleansed, redeemed, and made Holy,
adopted… into an omnipresent family.
I am led by your omniscience,
and protected by your omnipotence.
I am definitely a new creature.
Only you could take vile and evil,
and mold the imperfect clay into your Holy image.
Only you could make me righteous.
Only you could see me as a child to grow in your nourishing word.
Only you could tame the untamable.
Only you complete the work you begin in me.
Only you.
And that is what it’s all about… you and you only.
What you do in me is your doing.
Your testimony.
I love you all the more.

30 Posts Challenge: #15 How a Devo Becomes a Poem

Hello to everyone who still on this 30 Posts Challenge with me. I have been so touched by the love and encouragement. God is so good. I thought I would share with you how a devotion time becomes a poem for me sometimes. This particular post is a Sunday morning after I have dropped Bobby off for Sunday School at his church. Despite a beautiful moment with God the night before after attending my own church, I was feeling pretty rough after a long weekend of pain, and just did my devo at a local fast food while waiting to go back for Bobby. No one at McDonald’s cares how rough you look. They’re too hungry. Anyway… this was what came of that day, and birthed a poem. Not necessarily a rhyming one, but it’s not always about rhyme. The reason is always more important.

Good morning, Lord. Here you and I are. We had a blessed evening last night, and this morning is just as blessed, but I am ashamed to say that there are major distractions: my brain, strangers… invading my space, those looks, whoa! whatever that smell is (while a song overhead sings, “they way you smell”, ha ha, you’re funny, God), the CO2 truck (which makes me wonder about the smell), the young family with children dressed so beautifully, the man who held the door for me, the man who held the door for those ladies then got into his truck, the funny cashier, the one who handed me my order, the guy filling supplies, the extremely wet floor (careful!), my tablet needs to charge (which it’s doing now in the car), my smartphone is at home (even though you whispered very loudly), and I “just now” realized my good ole fashioned Bible would work but then remember as I write that I intentionally left it because I was relying on the tablet.

Don’t forgot those 2 neighboring ladies on their laptops… loudly. There is so much to do Online today. Hope it’s not overload… FB, GP, WP. Where’s the rest of my egg? 😦 No wonder it’s cheaper. This monitor keeps showing something on Trump. I think I shall spare an opinion because it would be uninformed regardless of what either side said.

Lord, there are so many distractions. And here I thought it was all my own consuming thoughts. Yet maybe all of this is to distract those unwelcomed thoughts… ok maybe unwelcomed wouldn’t be fairly accurate… intrusive… yes intrusive thoughts. They intruded and instead of protesting, or at least politely excusing myself I welcomed them. They vie for my attention, but wasn’t that the goal to begin with?

Now there is the 2 on the right talking bidding games Online. There is a wall around me… literally. There is an area back in this corner that has a wall to the left, a window behind me, the wall to the right, and even the front of me has a partial wall at the right side, and those 2 on the laptop take some space on the left. There’s just enough space for someone to walk in and out. You have provided a nice hedge about me. ❤

UGH! That foul language from the lady who talks about the betting! That F word is so ugly! And now she’s singing with the music overhead that sounds like we should be in the nightclub. I would rather hear her singing instead of the other.

I can remember when I use to use the F word. MF was my favorite. It was the best way to be heard. You can ask someone to please be quiet, to hold it down, even to shut up, but they just keep on, often not even hearing you. But if you tell someone to shut the F up, EVERYBODY stops, stares, and shuts up. And the others who use the F word look at you just as much with disgust like everyone who doesn’t use the word. Thank you for taking that from me. Thank you for making it just as ugly to me as you must see it.

I never thought I would break free. Once you’re used to it, it’s a HARD habit to break even when you genuinely want to stop using it. It can even disgust you, but especially when you stub your toe, get angry, or just want to STOP getting the world’s attention. Yet that’s what you absolutely get. That look of something drastic has happened to you… as bad as it can get… some thinking that it’s permanent, some thinking it will take a miracle, but they have to wait till they get past the catatonic shock. Yeah, I used to be there… in a very bad way.

The poem will be on the next post because put together with this it would be very long.

30 Posts Challenge: #14 Designed to Follow

In Genesis 3:16 the consequences of Eve’s sin led the Lord to instruct that her desire would be to her husband. The New Testament has a marriage guide for a woman to know her husband is the head, and to submit herself to her husband (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18). Finally, in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 women are told to be silent in church, and to ask anything they want to learn from their husbands at home. I am not trying to start a submission war or a theological debate. I am using these passages to convey my journey as a single woman who believes in them, in these current times.

In the previous post 30 Posts Challenge: #12 Dying to Self, I told you my single status, and gave a summary of why I used the term dying to self. Because of the importance of not just dating to date, or marrying just to marry, I have another aspect you may not know. In trusting God with my singleness, I am also trusting Him with my design to desire and my design to follow. I am designed to submit to Him. This is my personal journey designed just for me.

There are days I do miss having someone to talk with about things, especially spiritual things, from another godly point of view. There are times I miss sharing a simple walk, a chat, or a beautiful sunset with someone enjoying one of these moments with me. God has blessed me with beautiful and strong souls, very wise hearts, and fiercly protective warriors. But as much as I love allowing a man to lead and guide me, whether into a room, or through life, I must not let my desire to follow allow me to take the wrong path.

For me, if life is not about God it is not worth living, nor dying for. If God’s will is not center, I do not want any other will centered around me. Life has daily challenges, hard strifes, and grievous burdens. It also has simple tasks, days of joy, family, and friends. Decisions made in moments little or big can make or break a life, a testimony, and even the relationship that required the choices made. Families, friends, and churches are usually most effected… your home address, which church to choose, friendships or family relationships are left out at times, and young couples decide family names they can agree on for babies.

I am not against marriage, afraid of it, or too independent. It’s being just the opposite that made it hard to stay out of a relationship since my teens. Finding a man who wants to lead, and loves a woman who will be there for him is not hard. Finding a godly man who wants this is just as possible. Finding the man God wants for me is “the problem”. I am not to find what God wants to bring to me. He wants me to trust Him that He will let me know.

This is vital because God used the last 14 years alone with Him to undo what had been done, to build up what was broken down, or simply missing. I never would have known what a healthy relationship is without this time. Learning my own relationship with God built the foundation. Watching, listening to, and being counselled by seasoned couples with God at the center of their marriage has helped me prepare. Watching marriages built on the same thing come apart has taught me marriage is not the answer to hardships. If God is not first, last, and all along the way, I will likely be as lonely, anxious, depressed, or many of the things I face with now as a single.

I do not know if I will be blessed with marriage or if I am to remain blessed in singleness. I have not made a bargain, nor a wish, nor have sought to make some great sacrifice as though I am a heroine. I am a woman of God, single, trying to get through each day and what each day brings. I am as prone to desire to follow, as God has designed me to be. I, too, am steadier, wiser, and able to do more with someone alongside me. Yet, I have someone who is all that and more. He knows my anxious heart, my darkened spirit, when I need the strength to say no, or the courage to say yes. He knows me better than anyone else on how hard I love, how deep I care, and how easily I trust. I praise Him for wanting me to desire and follow Him first and always!

Lastly, I am often told I leave a cold shoulder for someone who may be interested, or that I need to let others know I am on the market. In this generation if Jesus were here and single again, instead of lining up for healing they would line up their daughters. The man God has for me (and that’s IF God does) will not need to worry. God has His back, just like He has mine. He will thank God for helping me to stay strong and committed, knowing I am determined to do the same for him. We will BOTH want God first, even before each other. Whether it be for God, my husband, or both, I am absolutely off the market!

30 Posts Challenge: #13 Friday the 13th (A Blessed Day)

I’m a Friday the 13th baby, I had my son on Friday the 13th, and my dad’s birthday was on the 13th. That has freaked so many people out or either entertained them, but to me it was just a number and just a day until I had my son. Now it is such a blessed day to me. People use to try to scare me because of the movie, but it never worked because I had never seen it. I don’t watch scary movies. The Lord tells us what we put in is what we will think on. The doctor who was delivering my son was so excited that he wanted to make sure it happened on the 13th. I told him no. I wasn’t scared but I wanted God to decide.
Our family has had so many birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations on Friday the 13th. My mom comes from the Freck family on my grandmother’s side. The Asheville-Citizen Times used to do large articles on our family to keep up with growing chart. My grandmother kept every article she could, and use to show them to us to cheer us up if she thought we were superstitious about the date. Anthoni has grown up with Friday the 13th being such a fun day for him, that I, too, get excited a little bit when I see one on the calendar.
So we are not superstitious, concerned, and will encourage you to remember that EVERY day is a day that the Lord hath made, and God doesn’t make any junk days! He is in control of every day, every life, and stands against the evils for us. My mom used to love to say was that Jesus and the disciples made 13. A friend pointed out to me that Jacob might have had 12 sons (tribes) but that his daughter Dinah made 13 children. Lastly, Solomon built his house in 13 years. Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart, even on Friday the 13th!

30  Posts Challenge: #12 Dying to Self

Hey, Guys. Yes it’s me, but anyone who knows me knows that I prefer to keep it about God first as much as possible. The posts are aspects about me, but anyone who doesn’t know me needs to know that I want God in every part of my life. Having said that, we start the next post with a new title… Dying to Self.

Dying to self is a Christian principle that refers to putting God before ourselves, even if it means giving up our dreams, loved ones, or even our very lives. It doesn’t mean that these things are required, nor necessarily will happen. Quite often in giving our lives over to God, He gives us the desires of our hearts, and showers us with blessings for us, through us, and for His own pleasure.

However there are times that God calls us to be set apart. We are to be set apart from the “normal” things, things that may not be sinful, but could still be a hindrance, or sadly steal our first love. For example, it is quite alright for me to date, but I have remained single for 14 years because God has finally gotten through to me on how important I am to Him. If I date someone just to date, or marry must to marry, I give up the intimate relationship I have with Christ, or at least dilute it greatly. Marriage is good, but not heeding the voice of God, nor waiting for the whisper of the Holy Spirit, is the first step in creating a divide, between me and God, and me and my husband before a marriage even begins.

God has a plan for me, even if it means He wants to keep me all to Himself. That Is just fine with me. It is a sacrifice I am blessed to make. I have the best relationship I have ever been in! It grows stronger and lovelier as each day goes by. Trusting Him is a path of faith, a daily challenge of patience, and a journey… that I am willing to stay on. That is what any relationship is made of. I am set aside for Him. I have chosen to die to self for the one who died for me. It is the best decision I have ever made.

But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.
(I Know Whom I Have Believed, lyrics by Daniel W. Whittle)

30 Posts Challenge: #11 Me and Depression

This is a hard subject for me to touch on because it is so personal. Not only do I have my own struggle with depression, but I have watched it wave through our family like an ocean, flood through the rivers of my friends, and trickle into every little crevice of life it can reach. What makes it so much easier for many to drown when they are screaming for help are the voices telling them it’s all in their head, to help themselves, and either stand and watch, or just walk away. If the voices had simply reached out, grabbed a hand, threw a rope, or even jumped in with a life preserver, they wouldn’t be a statistic. Sadly, many of those voices still think, “If they would have just tried.”
From the last statement, most of you will know that this will lead to a discussion of suicide, as some lost their battle of depression. First, I want to discuss the depression because it is what we avoid. I used to think there was no such thing. We had different aunts and uncles institutionalized over different mental illnesses, but depression was never mentioned until a young cousin had committed suicide. The adults fought among them over depression and murder. Depression is so unbelievable and unacceptable in our family that there is always some other else to explain it or it’s just not put up with.
The thing is depression is a very normal thing. When I was struggling with depression in 2010 from being almost bedridden and so isolated from church, I wouldn’t even acknowledge that I was depressed because the church said if we “truly” have God than we can never be depressed. If we were anything else that was like saying to God, in front of the whole world, that God is not enough. It would mean we haven’t truly surrendered ourselves to God. The missionaries I kept in touch with on a regular basis were my eye openers to God’s words, biblical characters, and books of lamenting, suffering, and testimonies, or of God’s own in their darkest hours.
The missionaries spoke of David and all his many psalms he wrote “from experience”. They talked about Jeremiah and the harsh reasons for his lamenting. And while I had heard like many others about Job and his tremendous suffering, it was eye opening to be reminded that God rebuked Job’s 3 friends (who were fellow religious leaders) for rebuking Job. Job’s own wife told him to curse God and get it over with. They were warning me because they knew I had a son in Bible college. They were teaching me that as a pastor, evangelist, or missionary that he would be easily vulnerable to depression being so far away from home and family, working around the clock, having to live by other cultures, having such a heavy responsibility to counsel so many others himself, doing funerals, hospital tragedies, and so much more. They told me of their own struggles, and greatly encouraged me in my own.
Lastly, is the struggle of loss of so much life, and the cruelty of slow death, or just cruel death. Unfortunately death and I have known each other for as long as I can remember, which is 3. It started getting personal when I was 8. It became common as a teenager. But the chain of personal deaths that have come through, Mrs. C, my grandmother, my dad, my brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, mom, and Irene just to name a few, it has taken my constant smile everyone always said I had. I am no longer soft-hearted. Many days it can feel like what is the point? Next! People see the numbers of the losses and they say, ‘Well, you couldn’t have been THAT close… to all of them!” “You just love too easy. You’re a good hearted person, but don’t dwell on it. Get over it. Move on. You gotta look forward.”
Well I was close to every single one of them, because I absolutely loved them. We stood at the grave of a loved one, only for that loved to be there shortly after. Each time there is a funeral, there is a reminder of who all is there. And as there are less and less persons to even have a family dinner with on holidays and birthdays, and so many birthdays to NOT celebrate any more, it can’t be brushed away.
And then there’s those who have or are cruelly suffering a long death or illness, at home, in the hospital, in a nursing facility, or hospice. I have watched so many look me in the eyes and beg me to let them die, or beg me to ask whoever was in charge to let them die. When I used to do nursing home visits through church this happened often too, and they absolutely counted personally acquainted or not. The last several years they have been personal. SO many died literally believing they were burdens, some even told they were.
Maybe this is not a part of the depression officially spoken of. I don’t know. But I know that I have watched this depression become so rampant and infectious that now they are intentionally stopping or hiding their medications to cause the side effects of heart attacks and strokes, and it works. It such a frightening thing being at the mercy of others for bathing you, feeding you, changing you, and to lay in such agonizing unrelenting pain. That depression has made it’s way to me… often.
To turn and tell a joke to someone who is no longer here, when that person started the joke, and you turned to the other side to say oh I forgot they were gone… but so is the one not there on the other side of the room anymore either. Calling that friend who misses them all too… she is gone. I know I still have plenty of family, friends, church, and praise the Lord for Facebook, WordPress, and other forms of social media but it has to be said from time to time that depression is real, it is serious, and it is terrible… WITHOUT being required to end on a positive note.
I will however end with a passage, a prayer, and a thought. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. – Psalm 34:18 KJV. I know darkness can get deep, linger heavy, and try to convince me to give up, but I also know I have a God who is with me. God allowed darkness to engulf a man after His own heart. God took care of that man after His own heart, and will take care of mine. My Savior left me a note too. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27 KJV. I pray that the Lord would comfort your heart, still your restlessness, whisper quiet to your soul, and drive your fears away. Whether He chooses to do that today or tomorrow, may you ALWAYS feel His embrace and know that He truly loves you.

 

30 Posts Challenge: #10 Me and Anxiety, part 3

Hey there, you. If you noticed that #10 WAS about me as the magic girl, you are right. However, I have put that on hold, just for now. I wanted to add an extra personal note onto the anxiety issue. There is a concern on my part that I did not emphasize how much of a role that Christ has played in helping me with my anxiety. I know there were verses to reassure you that He understands our frail nature, that even scripture reassures us all, as we will all face sudden fear and desolations, and very important passages revealing Jesus’ own suffering in agony were included. I just want to make sure to give Him all of His much deserved credit.
He has blessed me with counselors, medicines, therapies, music, writing, and so many resources of comfort, ease, understanding, and calming tools; but when it is 3 a.m., darkest of night, or you have no access to any of these things, it is only you… and God. These times come throughout all of our lives. For me those times were constant and inescapable for many years, but when I finally started to learn of God and truly know Him I started to embrace the darkness and the times alone. We are never closer to God than when we are broken… in the darkest side of our mind. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. – Psalm 34:18 KJV
God would show me how to use the very thing Satan was attacking… my mind. By following His wisdom of reading His word to hide it in my heart, and teaching me to do the same in hymns, prayers for others, and prayer that draws me to hear, God renewed my mind and my fear. Fear becomes a good thing. It keeps me near to Him, and when I am close to Him all fear is gone… or at least not in control (as sometimes what we fear, like maybe a storm, is still present). My biggest physical comfort He has give me is His word. On days when I can do nothing but fear, cry, or nothing at all, I just hug Him and lay in the pages of His arms.
Thanks for taking the time to read my added note. Maybe it was necessary, maybe not, but it was for me. God has given me so much, including gifts in friends, family, church, hymns, music, His word, doctors, medicines, counselors, and the writing that lets me breathe, but it is He and He alone who can help me when there is no one there, no way to play some music, or the Bible is at home on my bed. He is faithful to help me recall verses, hymns, prayer requests, and just to talk with Him. He lovingly waits for me… just sits with me… nothing else needed. Praise His Holy name!