Tag Archives: mercy

Before Your Loved Ones Die, Give Them Jesus… Expect a Miracle!

I can’t believe it’s been six years since my friend Donna Dehart passed away. I love this photo of the two of us giggling, trying to play the Wii (and failing miserably) on Christmas Day, 2008. It’s the only photo I have of the two of us together. 

Donna’s daughters were at their dad’s on Christmas Day, so we had the blessing of having her spend Christmas Day with my family.  We enjoyed good food, love and laughter, and the fun of playing with Christmas toys! That Christmas, Donna gave me a beautiful gift. I opened a small, delicate ceramic angel box; and what was inside, took my breath away: Donna had written wise sayings on teeny tiny pieces of long paper, and she had curled them around a pencil. Then she had lovingly placed them one by one, into the angel box… just…for…ME! One of the sayings said, “Expect a miracle… Expect a miracle…”

Even though I knew Donna struggled greatly with chronic illness, I had no idea God would take my friend home just three years later. Donna was adamant that Jesus was a great teacher, and that was where it ended. She was stubborn when it came to her beliefs, so I decided to be the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus for my friend; so she could see Jesus living me! We had lunch dates, painted in art class together, met at the Farmer’s Market, shared secrets, and had spiritual conversations on the phone. 

Finally,  against everything she said she wouldn’t do; she began to attend my church, where some of my friends had been loving on her and ministering to her too. We also formed a team to help her with house repairs, and another friend fixed her vintage car; which was in the garage more than out, and ran on a few bucks and a prayer! My sisters and brothers in Christ let our love speak for itself. 

Donna didn’t have much as far as earthly possessions, but she had a contagious laugh and positive attitude that filled me up. She had a fierce love for her daughters, and great empathy for animals without a home; so great, that she gave them a home at her own house! Though we didn’t always agree, our friendship was one of respect, trust, loyalty, and love. Donna did believe in Jesus and his death and resurrection, but she would only let me witness up to a certain point. I had to trust that God would reveal Himself through compassion from our church, other godly organizations, and her Christian friends. 

When she lay in the hospital, close to death, and unresponsive; I thought of the silver lining… Expect a miracle. I prayed an intercessory prayer for her. I held her hand and whispered in her ear, and I asked her to receive Christ if she had not. I told her it wasn’t too late, and she could receive Jesus without talking. While still whispering in her ear, so she could hear me above the noisy machines working hard to keep her alive, I asked God in his infinite mercy to let her hear my prayer. I asked God to lead her to say yes in her heart, and to have peace, so she could go to Heaven. I told her I would meet her there, and I kissed her goodbye. And to this day, I… expect a miracle!

We never know how much time we have with our friends and family here in earth. Tell them about Jesus while you can, even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do! People need Jesus, and they are more ready to receive him than we realize. Out of every act of friendship, telling someone about Jesus is the most loving thing you can ever do! 

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11).


Here’s how I think of you, up in Heaven, my dear, precious friend! Peace be with you!

This is the poem I wrote and read for Donna’s memorial service:

Dear Donna, this is what I know;

that lots of people loved you so.

 

You truly had a heart of gold,

so kind to others: young and old,

 

Accepted people as they are;

It’s why you’re still a shining star.

 

Down on his luck, you’d find a friend,

Make up a bed, and take him in.

 

A dog or cat left out to roam

Could find your house and call it home.

 

I’ll not forget your loyalty…

You named a chicken after me!

 

Nature, music, animals, art:

Happy passions of your heart.

 

But even more, you loved your girls,

Who brought you pride and filled your world.

 

Long black hair, and a great big smile,

Always time to chat for a while.

 

Your hearty laugh would make my day,

My troubles would just melt away.

 

A flash of green erased my frown;

Your Ford Galaxy on the town!

 

 When my heart hurts, I’ll feel a tug,

and give myself a “great big hug”.

 

My friend, why did you have to go?

It’s hard, but now I think I know.

 

God must have had some extra paint.

He looked until he found a saint.

 

He thought He’d free you from your pain

And since you loved the sun and rain,

 

He’d give you something fun to do,

And make you feel much better too.

 

You’d paint His rainbows with His brush

To be enjoyed by all of us. 

 

When orange and purple clouds roll by,

I’ll know you’re painting in the sky!

 

 ~Angela Royse Pelleman

   © 2011

How to Give without Guilt, and Fulfill the Mission of Pleasing God

Sometimes we have the opportunity to bless a reader at The Silver Lining, by meeting a specific need. I believe God gives me spiritual words spoken in discernment, wisdom and love; meant to offer you hope, healing, and encouragement in Jesus Christ. I’d also like to be the hands and feet of Jesus whenever, and wherever he leads me. 

Therefore, in my mission to help others, I may occasionally share a need, where The Silver Lining readers might be led by God to serve, sponsor, or donate food or funds; to bless those less fortunate. These are just opportunities, which I have been led to share. I ask that you participate only if God leads you, and that you will please, first and foremost; pray for the families in need. If you are able to speak to them directly, tell them about Jesus, so you can meet their greatest need… salvation through Jesus Christ. Pray for the family to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. Your prayers are so important! God hears them and answers them! 

When we witness to a hurting, struggling family, we are attempting to meet their spiritual needs by bringing the love of Jesus to them. But as Jesus ministered to people; he also healed, fed, and clothed them. Cold and hungry people will be too busy focusing on their immediate needs to stop and listen to our witness. It’s important to meet those basic, immediate needs; when it’s in our power to act, and if God calls us to do it. God takes physical needs seriously.

I’d like to share how God might lay a couple different areas of giving upon your heart, by telling you how He spoke to me this week in two different ways: The first opportunity came about when I saw a single mom’s post, requesting clothing for her children. That was an easy one; I had what she was asking for, so I gave it.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’– when you already have it with you” (Prov. 3:27-28 New International Version).


In addition, it’s easy for me to share a message asking for donations to help a local family. That’s what I did, and I look forward to sharing more giving opportunities on The Silver Lining Facebook page.

Another opportunity to give, came from a reader of The Silver Lining, whose relatives were badly injured in a home explosion in Texas. This mission speaks loads of empathy and love to me; because the woman who posted it, is the wife of the dear pastor who baptized me when I was a little girl. This tragedy was personal to me, because it is personal to someone I care about and love. 

Though I already knew Jesus when I was five, my loving pastor made sure I understood I was taking the step of showing my brothers and sisters in Christ that I had made the decision to follow Jesus Christ. This act of baptism allowed me to fall even more in love with Jesus, and to have some security in knowing there was someone up in Heaven who loved me unconditionally. I remember writing, painting, drawing, and reading the Bible a lot after I was baptized. I seemed to have a heightened sense for the simple beauty of blue skies, little birds, sunsets, a new song, and fragile flowers. And though no one else noticed that I was blooming… God did! 

Later, I was honored to have this same pastor, Brother Jarrell Griffin, lead my husband to Christ while we were undergoing premarital counseling in his office. I had thought my fiancé was a Christian, because he believed in Jesus. Yet, he had never been offered Jesus as a gift, nor had he considered having a relationship with him. I watched as he prayed to receive Christ, and it was absolutely beautiful. Going into our marriages as true Christians, would help us get through many of life’s greatest, difficult challenges; since neither of us had an idea of what a healthy marriage was supposed to look like. 

This pastor whom I loved, officiated our wedding ceremony, and I will never forget the joy I had in my heart, to have this precious man of God be the one to marry me to my beloved husband. I’d like to think he’s smiling up in Heaven, upon hearing that I want to offer comfort to his relatives, by participating in a mission to encourage, and help them get back on their feet again. 

The Bible says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

Spruiell Medical and Home Campaign

This fund supports an elderly couple and three visitors who were sleeping in their home, when it collapsed due to an explosion. Praise God, for the silver lining: a miracle, in which all five survived! However, they have endured a traumatic event, and have sustained critical injuries, requiring a long recovery process and the need for much healing. 

The fund is to help with hospital bills and the rebuilding of their home. 

To give, click: GO FUND ME SPRUIELL

The news link is also located at the Go Fund Me page. 

May God bless this dear couple, and their three dear friends. May God bless them with a beautiful testimony, and may He fill them with great hope to bring them through this dark trial. May He bring them joy through Jesus, and may they each experience a miracle at the Hands of God! In Jesus name, we pray, Amen. 


The missions opportunities to help these families, and others, will also be listed on The Silver Lining Facebook page. 
There are many, many needs out in the world today. Your giving is always between you and God. My husband and I talk with each other, and we pray first, asking God if He wants us to give to a particular cause. Sometimes it’s yes, and sometimes it’s no. When it’s yes, we ask God to tell us the amount He wants us to give, and usually we end up with the same dollar amount in mind. If not, we are always very close; in which case we either meet in the middle, or go with the higher number. 

Once we give, it’s out of our hands, and we trust God to do with it as He sees fit. There have been occasions where we felt were deceived into giving. Yet, those occasions have lessened as we’ve sought God’s counsel more and more. We’ve learned from those mistakes, and we know God has blessed our giving anyway, because our motives have been pure. 

We’ve also had occasions where we planned to give, and God put a stop to it, and told us not to do it. It was clearly God shutting the door. Usually we find it’s because God wanted us to give elsewhere. Other times, we don’t know why. Maybe we weren’t supposed to be involved, or maybe it was simply because God chose someone else to do the giving, so they could be blessed. 

In any case, God’s direction is always clear. The devil’s direction is not. The devil nags and gives people anxiety, and false guilt. God doesn’t use guilt to manipulate us into giving. If you’re struggling with guilt over not giving, that’s not God; it’s the devil using false guilt to eat away at your self-worth. The devil likes to try and steal your day with anxiety, and make us agonize with stress over making the right decision. Don’t let him! 

If God wants you to give, He will tell you firmly, and he will use conviction. This means God will boldly, yet peacefully get your attention, when He calls upon you to give. He will provide you with clear instructions on how to give, and He will remind you to follow through in obedience. Once you give, your heart will be light, and you will feel joy at knowing you have pleased The Lord, God.

No matter where, or how we give, our mission is to first please God. We can only do this by pursuing Jesus, and leading others to receive his gift of salvation. After this, all the rest of our giving will fall in line, right where God wants it. Give the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Be a light, and ask God to direct your giving. He will!

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).


Let your mission be “Jesus First.” God will show you where to give, and He will bless you accordingly… and abundantly!

The Healing Power of an Apology

I messed up. Last week, I hurt a friend’s feelings… a beautiful friend; who supports me, encourages me, and makes me laugh out loud! I threw out some advice which hadn’t been sought, with the hopeful intention of making life a little better for her. She hadn’t asked for it though. She has before, but this time, she hadn’t. A simple, “I love you; I’m praying for your hurting heart,” would have been a much better solution, and we could have waited to chat by phone when we had more time.  It didn’t matter if my intention was good; what mattered was the effect it had on my friend. Instead of making her feel hopeful, it caused her to feel hurt and overwhelmed. And I was truly… sorry.

How would I have known though, had my friend not been honest, and told me so? But first, The Holy Spirit told me. I hadn’t heard back from my friend, and I began to feel a gentle nudge from within, that I should apologize, in case I had upset or offended my friend with my advice, which had been offered in the form of a text; a form of communication which is so easily misrepresented and misinterpreted. I began to hear the verse, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19 Holman Christian Standard Bible). I gulped, convicted. I’d probably even been aware of the verse, as I’d been texting. I’m still learning to pay attention to The Holy Spirit.

The difference in being convicted by The Holy Spirit, or plagued by guilt from the devil; is that God is mercifully gentle, but firm. You ache in your spirit for the pain you’ve caused another, but at the same time you know Jesus has already died and taken the punishment for your sins. There is a desire to fix it, and make it right; but it’s not just to selfishly relieve a nagging sense of false guilt (which can go on and on for days after already seeking forgiveness). You want to apologize, because you love your brother or sister in Christ, and you seek to be obedient to God’s commandments.  In righting a wrong, your desire should be for both you, and your friend, to be able to draw closer to God in the process. After all, our purpose in pursuing Jesus, is to become more like him, each and every day. 

When I initially reached out to check on my friend, I found out I had indeed been being prompted by The Holy Spirit to apologize. My friend was hurt and had been graciously processing what I had said, before deciding to respond, which could have made the matter worse. She could have ended up hurting me, when my intention had never been to hurt her. Wise people wait… and pray. Meanwhile, we had still been in communication about other things online. She was still being her supportive, sweet, encouraging self. What if she hadn’t been honest with me? What if she’d just decided to write me off? I wouldn’t have had a chance to humble myself, give her my most sincere apology, and ask her to please forgive me. This is what I did. 

And I can now thank God for the silver lining. For in all this, my friend offered me even more grace, by saying, “There is nothing to apologize for.” Mercy! That’s what it looks like! Of course, I needed to apologize. However, in grace and love, she completely took me off the hook… the hook of guilt, the hook of blame… and the hook of self-condemnation. With one simple act of forgiveness, she displayed the forgiveness which Jesus displays to us each and every day, for all our sins and wrongdoings. Her one act of forgiving grace, offered healing to my heart,  by filling places where forgiveness was not given to me by others. Her sweet, simple act of forgiveness further validated God’s truth; we are forgiven because He loves us, just as we are.

And it is my hope, that my apology brings healing to her heart, by showing her that my compassionate heart cares about her compassionate heart, and that her friendship is valuable enough for me to kick out pride, humble myself, and admit when I’m wrong. I believe our friendship can only grow closer, for it is based in a shared love for Jesus Christ. We have prayed for each other, shared our stories of brokenness and healing, and have enjoyed the blessing of watching our children form a godly bond of friendship too. We have watched them with each other; being kind, laughing, and running free; making childhood memories together! 

Do you need to apologize to a friend today? Don’t swallow your pride; it might come up again later! Instead, renounce the spirit of pride in the name of Jesus. Humble yourself, and apologize to your friend. Yes, you are already forgiven in Christ, but the act of an apology brings healing to hurting hearts, and it draws us all closer to Jesus! “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (Jas. 4:10 English Standard Version).

“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Prov. 27:6 New Living Translation).

Adopted by God, Never Alone! 

Many children are living on earth as orphans. They are left fatherless and motherless. Sometimes it’s because of circumstances that couldn’t be helped; sometimes it’s because of the sins of the forefathers, and the fall of man. But the silver lining is that God loves adoption! God promises to come for those of us who have been left alone and abandoned. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (Jn. 14:18 New International Version).

Jesus, Miraculous Son of God, was adopted by his earthly Father, Joseph. Joseph was engaged to Mary, who gave birth to Jesus, while she was still yet a virgin. Because of this amazing birth, we are able to be adopted as sons and daughters of The Lord God Jehovah. Only through Jesus Christ, do we have the privilege to be called children of The Most High God. “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12 New Living Translation). 

God fills us with His Holy Spirit. He calls us to adopt children who need earthly mothers and fathers to look after them, care for them, and love them. He tells us to look after widows and orphans. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (Jas. 1:27 NLT).

We can show obedience to God by fostering, adopting, supporting, sponsoring, and praying for orphans. When we care for orphans, we can be a shining example of the great mercy, grace, and love God displays for us! How is God calling you to help orphans today? Just as we need God, orphans need us. Open your heart to love. Pray for the orphans living around the world!

Find loving, daily encouragement on The Silver Lining’s Facebook page! 💙

Distracted, Rejected, NOT Dejected! 10 Truths

I learned a tough lesson this week, but God proved Himself ever Faithful! There are “Christian” ministries out there with people who claim to know and love Jesus, but when faced with Truth, people who have been wandering off of God’s path, will stubbornly dig in their heels, and refuse to budge. They refuse to invite Jesus into the middle of a controversy, and insist on being in charge. Unwillingness to follow Jesus, makes a familiar, well-beaten worldly path look easier, when God’s Word tells us the path to Him is narrow and difficult to find. ” ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14 New International Version).

Truth: Only when Jesus is invited into the middle of our relationships, ministries, and lives; will we be able to reap the benefits of his compassionate grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Sometimes there is a biblically based need for placing boundaries in order to protect our safety or well-being. Other times, we may try to mend a situation several times, without success, which results in the inability to reconcile. In these cases, we forgive in Christ, and move on. But, when Christians turn their backs on genuine brothers and sisters in Christ, who come bringing truthful messages meant to save people, help them grow, and steer them onto the right path; it is the same as turning their backs on Jesus and his message. People living in lies tend to become uncomfortably stubborn; clapping their hands over their ears, shouting at the top of their lungs at the same time; doing anything to shut out the truth. Refusing to listen to a messenger sent by God to help people avoid heartache, danger, and deceit; is the same as refusing to listen to Jesus. It is to reject God’s own Son. ” ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me’ ” (Luke 10:16). 

People like this may indeed be saved, and headed towards Heaven, but they aren’t walking the straight and narrow path that Jesus walks. They step off a little to the left, so they can allow in a small lie here, or a small lie there. They stumble to the right, so they can promote their religion or cause in the name of Jesus, yet he can barely be found among it, if at all. They might even fall completely off the precious path, because they’ve been blinded by pride. If they don’t make their way back, they stand as hypocrites do, preaching to people to walk the path, as their own feet walk in a different direction, all while leading others to destruction. For God’s Word says: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4: 26-27 New International Version).

I’ve been here before. Why God, has it happened again? Why, when I believed myself to be among sisters in Christ, did I become deceived? Were there red flags?

“Why yes, yes there were,” said God. I humbly realized He wouldn’t have allowed me to be in a situation, without giving me warnings. So I asked my God to show me the good that could come of this situation. I asked Him why I had allowed myself to become distracted again, by what I had perceived to be a “good Christian cause.” He gave me these words I’ve penned, and He revealed several truths; some of which were revealed through my family members:  

Truth: “You need to spend your time wisely; it is part of learning to be compassionate to yourself. 

Truth: “Not every work with God’s name on it, is really God’s work, though some of My truth may be there. I can work My glory through anything, but that doesn’t mean I want you there.” 

 But I thought I knew this! I don’t usually jump to get involved.

“No, my child, you did not yet quite understand. For you rushed in, and you didn’t listen to the still small voice; your own voice, that told you something was wrong. You didn’t listen to your still small voice telling you, that you’d decided on doing only certain things assigned by Me, but then you took on something else. You consulted me, but were impatient in waiting for my reply. You also didn’t remove yourself from the situation earlier, as I waved red warning flags before you. You forgot to check in with me, until push came to shove. You didn’t get out when you realized you were behind in the ministry I gifted you with; the path which I’ve assigned you to walk. You got distracted. Yet, even though you waited until the last minute, I’m not only going to help you, I’m going to make a brand new and better thing from it all!” 

God was right…as always! I hadn’t yet learned this. 

Truth: God wants me to only do just what He asks me to do.

Truth: God believes in me, and loves me, and has given me my very own ministry! 

Truth: If I help somebody else with their mission, and it even slightly deviates from the path of my own mission (where Jesus shines first and foremost ALL the time) then God doesn’t want me in that other place!

Truth: Getting involved in a ministry which does not fully align with God’s truths He has revealed to me; may distract, delay or even bring my own ministry to a halt. 

Truth: It doesn’t matter if anyone stands with me as I go forward; it only matters that God is standing beside me. 

Truth: God gives me the people I need most to support and encourage me along the way; no more, and no less. And I am never, ever alone. “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?

I’d been distracted and rejected, but not dejected. The experience of having been treated badly was nothing when compared to the relief of knowing you are headed back onto the exact path God has laid out just for YOU; that place where you find peace and joy and comfort in knowing you’re using your gifts in just the right way God intended!

Truth: The silver lining is seen by those walking the path of Truth, because in walking true, the lies are easily trampled under our feet! For Jesus says, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19). When you walk the steep and narrow path, you’re not afraid of the sharp incline that lies ahead, because God will lend you His own strong hand, and He will pull you up to the mountain top! As you stand there hand in hand with Jesus, he will look down at you proudly, and smile. I can’t wait to look up into his shining face, and nod, saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim.4:10).

Prayer: God please forgive me for when I stumble off of the path you created just for me. Help me to follow Jesus and not get distracted. Jesus, I love you! Hold my hand; I don’t want to let go of you! 

“I have decided to follow Jesus…

No turning back, no turning back…

Though I may wander, I still will follow…

No turning back, no turning back…

The world behind me, the cross before me…

No turning back, no turning back…

Though none go with me, still I will follow…

No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?”

Lyrics attr. S. Sundar Singh

Hindustani Melody

Public Domain


The Good Life…Do We “DESERVE IT?”   (Compassion Series)

The flawless looking model on TV flashes her bright white teeth, but her smile doesn’t reach her eyes. Her pretend fiancé presents her with a jewelry box containing a pair of expensive diamond earrings. She looks at the camera and says you should have some too, because she insists, “You deserve it!” But I know I don’t, and neither does she. When the world tells us, “We deserve it,” it tells multiple lies to hopeful, hurting people.

The world tells us we deserve nice, expensive things because we are all awesome and wonderful people. The problem is, not everyone is awesome, and most people are not so wonderful either. In fact, none of us deserve anything, because we are all sinners. The world also lies by placing false requirements upon us. It deceives us by telling us we need to pay a lot of money to get the things we rightfully “deserve.” Advertisers and businesses want us to believe that we will become even more awesome and wonderful people if we buy their products. On top of that, the sad truth is these items are only going to temporarily make us feel better.

We are sinners: broken hurting people, raised by broken, hurting people, trying to raise broken, hurting people. That is not so awesome. But the silver lining is that we don’t have to stay that way. We have Jesus. Jesus is NO Band-Aid. Jesus is a HEALER. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3 New International Version). Try as we may to: be a good person, do good deeds, spread goodness…we will never be good enough. We are only good because Jesus lives inside of us. If we continue to follow him, some of his awesome and wonderful goodness will rub off on us too.

We don’t deserve good things, best things, or better than best things. We deserve death: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Sin leads to death; so how can there be hope for anyone? Every day, people lie, cheat, steal, gossip, covet, blame, bully, envy, fight, cuss, and manipulate. People do these things with the intentions of being “good.” That’s because we are born with sin and will battle it until we die. But Jesus loves us still. “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you” (Psalm 39:7 New Living Translation).

In fact, Jesus loves us so much, that he agreed to sacrifice himself on the cross, as a love offering for you and me. He agreed to have our sins transferred unto himself. But Jesus was perfect! He didn’t deserve death! Yet, he took the punishment that each of us deserved, so we could have a chance to live forever! He took our punishment, so we wouldn’t be in danger of going to Hell. He never changed his mind, even though he could have chosen to save himself from torture and death at any moment. People spat on him. He took it. People insulted him. He took it. People beat him. He took it. People killed him… He died. And then… He LIVED! Why would anyone reject Our Savior who loves us so much? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 NIV).

Only with Jesus, do we become awesome and wonderful enough to enter the gates of Heaven. What if we sin? Those of us who accept the sacrifice, and ask Jesus into our hearts, are now cleansed of sin. “ ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool ” (Isa. 1:18). If we have Jesus, we are forgiven through Christ! We no longer have to fear God’s judgment. We can’t get into Heaven without Jesus, because sin cannot be in the presence of God. It separates us from Him. Besides, God has promised us a perfect paradise in Heaven. The tiniest sin would spoil it, just like it did when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Isn’t it humbling that God is willing to give us everything we could imagine, including eternal life, even when we don’t deserve it? God offers us a free gift, His Son, Jesus Christ. When we accept the gift, we are receiving eternal life, and the salvation of our souls.

I’m so thankful for Jesus. I’m only good because he lives in me. Though I mess up and make mistakes over and over again, God forgives me, erasing all my sins: past, present, and future. Having a relationship with Jesus means he will help me to become more like him each and every day. I have to be willing to pick up my cross and follow Jesus. When I do this, God will bless me along the way. God gives me good things…not because I deserve them…but because He loves me, and He wants to bless me. And when I die, I will get the biggest reward of my eternal life…a reward which I don’t deserve, but a reward which I will eternally grateful to have; a life in Heaven with God, and His Son Jesus Christ, and all those I love who know him…amazing, incredible, paradise…and it will never, ever end!

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ ” (Luke 9: 23).

Part 1 in the 5-part Compassion Series: “Being Compassionate to Yourself through Jesus Christ”

Titles in this Compassion Series:

“The Good Life…Do We ‘DESERVE  IT?’ “

“You are Worthy”

“Be Good to Yourself”

“Why Am I So Hard on Myself?”

“Battling Lies that Hurt Us”

 

 

Mama has a Sailor Mouth

“The Fourth Grade Cussing Club…” I don’t know how it really started, except that one day on the playground, I suddenly found myself a part of it…and you just had to say bad words to belong. Patti was the ringleader. I didn’t even like her; she was a self-proclaimed atheist. “I don’t believe in God,” she proudly said, with her nose in the air. But I did. I believed in God, and I believed in Jesus, and I loved them.

Somehow the ugly word came out of my mouth. I didn’t even know why. I wasn’t worried about fitting in. I had plenty of friends. Why was I even hanging around with her? But there we stood in a circle, taking turns saying words one finds painted onto cement overpasses and etched into the backs of dull gray metal bathroom doors.

A week later, I quit. I firmly took a stand. I told Patti I didn’t want to be in her stupid club, especially when the worst part of it all was that she didn’t believe in God. My nine-year-old self knew it was wrong; how she was trying to convince our joint friends about why God didn’t exist. I walked away, and the club immediately melted and dissolved into sheer nothingness.

But Patti wasn’t happy. I’d hit a nerve. At a sleepover, I awoke to her gossiping about me to two other girls. Pretending to be asleep, my ears burned, hoping that sweet Cathy wouldn’t turn against me. It was her house. Cathy didn’t talk about me, but she didn’t really stick up for me either. Patti was pretty intimidating. It felt strange and scary, lying there under the covers, not moving. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t know what to do.

Sadly, it was only a sneak peek of how people will mistreat you when you stand with your Savior. It was also a glimpse of how people are unwilling, or afraid, to stand up with you, or for you when you make a stand for what’s right and true. After all, Cathy was a believer too. Yet, how joyful it was, that I already knew Jesus at such a young age, and that he had given me the strength to break away from the sin and the peer pressure!

I didn’t cuss again until 8th grade. I’d moved all the way from Texas to Alaska, and was starting over…again. Swearing seemed the cool thing to do, but it wasn’t necessary; the kids liked me just as I was. I was a good girl, and a smart girl. Good grades came easily; excellent grades came with a little effort. But I began to let things slide, and then I’d brag about only getting a B or C, like the kids who announced they had failed a test, so I wouldn’t look “nerdy” for being intelligent. At home I wasn’t praised for being good or smart, so it just seemed right to swear with my friends who accepted and liked me.

I was fitting in well. Boys gave me their jackets to wear, and my girlfriends copied my purple eye shadow. My spot was reserved on the bus. No one “called me out” to fight me. My popularity grew and my bad mouth did too. Life away from home was good. But my spiritual life was not. I went to church youth group. I even brought my girlfriends with me. But I wasn’t getting the same teachings at home. I was on my own. The lies crept in, and little pieces of myself began to disappear, as sin took its place.

The cussing continued. I found dirty jokes to be funny, instead of being offended by them. It became normal to drop a curse word if I stubbed my toe. Enemies were called bad names. Sometimes friends were too…after all, we were “just joking.” In reality, I was never really comfortable with crude humor, and it began to disgust me as I got older.

However, the cussing remained throughout my high school, college, teacher and mommy years. I prayed for God to take it away. I could control it in public, but felt relaxed at home, where words would slip out in front of my family when I was angry, scared, frustrated, or surprised. My beautiful children learned the words. I tried to be careful, but apparently wasn’t careful enough. My lovely daughter, on occasion, has gently said with love, “Mommy, don’t say that.” Without judgment, she’s followed it with an affectionate pat on my back. They’ve all given me grace, this family whom I cherish, love, and adore. They understand that childhood trauma has contributed to my stronghold. So they pray for me, and I pray for them. We forgive each other, and we hold each other up when we fall.

There was a time when I would have said I’m ashamed to be a “sailor mama.” But shame comes from the devil, and I’m a child of God. I’m loved in spite of my sin. I’m washed clean in the blood of the lamb. It won’t be held against me, but I want to battle it, because it’s not of God.

While discussing a ministry opportunity with my wise pastor, he told me that uncontrollable cussing can have roots of unforgiveness. Though we were discussing how I could help someone else, it caused me to wonder how I could still struggle with cussing, especially if I’ve pursued Christ and forgiven, in Jesus’ name, the very people in my life who abused, neglected, lied about, and abandoned me. Though the necessary boundaries have been established, I continuously must forgive, and have done it over and over again, many times.

My pastor answered my question by adding that a cussing stronghold can also remain because of unresolved anger and pain; that there is more to it. This made more sense to me, especially because God helps me to control my mouth. After praying, and thinking about it some more, I told him I thought that rejection, abandonment, and abuse cause us to wrestle with fear, anger, and depression. The pain these spirits create, can cause a cussing stronghold. (A stronghold is a sin which has a strong, firm grip on you, and does not want to let go, even when you try to the right thing. Jesus is mighty to conquer strongholds.)

He told me I was on the right track, so when we spoke again, I told him I understood that all of these spiritual issues are intwined, causing great pain. Essentially, each needs to be dealt with, and forgiven, as it is revealed, so that we can be set free. When my pastor validated my thoughts, I was excited to realize God had been answering my questions and helping me to understand the entire relationship surrounding these spiritual issues. We have to seek Jesus for healing and for true freedom. Everything comes down to the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ, for salvation can only come through God’s Son.

We need to ask God why we are struggling with a cussing stronghold. We may need to forgive someone in the name of Jesus. We may have already forgiven, but there might be unresolved pain from childhood, which we may not even be aware we are carrying. We may have an everyday situation we are dealing with at home or on the job in the workplace. Whichever it is, we are not meant to battle it alone. God promises to go before us.

I constantly battle pain from the past, but because of forgiveness with boundaries, and the healing that only comes from Jesus, that ball of pain is getting smaller and smaller. I can feel God shrinking it, so that it doesn’t affect me the way it once did when the lies come blasting my way. It doesn’t mean it’s resolved, but it does mean that God has me covered because He knows the truth, and I know it too: He loves me, and I am His!

Even though my stronghold is based in past pain, I have forgiven much, just as Jesus has forgiven me. So I had to be honest and ask myself, am I presently harboring any unforgiveness? Then…it dawned on me. The person I need to forgive the most lives in my own house: my husband, who’s a bit of a sailor himself. Who else would a sailor mama need to forgive on a daily basis? Her children? Maybe for some; definitely for some. But for me, it’s easy to forgive my children; they are young and so precious. It’s much more difficult to forgive my husband, young in his brokenness, yet also precious in God’s sight. And of course, I love him, and God loves him even more! Don’t we need to forgive our husbands and wives for the little things that build up day after day, while also forgiving each other for the bigger, and more painful things that people struggle with throughout their marriages. Yes, yes we do.

I know my husband constantly needs to forgive me too. His childhood was no picnic either. We both have baggage. But the silver lining is that my husband and I are works in progress. We are saved by grace. Both of us are children of God, washed white as snow in the blood of the lamb. As we grow in Christ and forgive each other more quickly, the anger will wash away, and the bad words will wash away too. As an added benefit, our children are sanctified, and will struggle less with the strongholds that we overcome together.

Do you have a sailor mouth? Take heart! Don’t let it define you. Pursue God, ask Him to heal you of your pain, so your anger will dissolve, just as the cussing club melted away back in the fourth grade. Forgive your enemies, and especially forgive your loves ones in the name of Jesus. In doing do, don’t forget to forgive yourself. “What can take away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus” (author of hymn: Robert Lowry).

“Nor should there by obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” 

Eph. 5:4 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Eph. 4:32

New International Version

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, 

Please take away my pain, and in its place, fill me with your Holy Spirit and the peace which comes from your healing. Help me to forgive others in your name, just as you have forgiven me for all of my sins. Thank you for loving me, and for taking my place on the cross, so I can live in Heaven with you forever! 

I love you!