Tag Archives: struggle

Life’s A Mess, Bring a Towel

It could have been way worse this morning when my coffee slipped out of my hand. My computer was just inches away. And even though there are days I’d like to insanely chuck it in the highway and send a video to the creator of Windows, it is also my sanity through creativity. So as the coffee poured from my cup and onto the art that I’d just spent a considerable amount of time creating I wanted to walk away, leave the mess for another time and call it quits for the day. But I couldn’t. The thought process that had started the entire morning event wouldn’t leave my mind. And so I grabbed a towel. Blotted the paper dry and sat back down to ponder the direction of my day. And such is much of my life. It’s a mess. Some days I need a towel to clean the mess and other days I need a towel to dry the tears.

Not by happenstance I’ve been journaling Psalms. An ongoing saga of tragedy and triumph and always encourages my soul. Today it’s Psalm 3

Let’s talk about the Enemy

1 Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.

It seems like a never ending list of things to do, bills to pay, emotional struggles and life issues. There are words of encouragement and discouragement that battle it out in my head. It reminds me of the story of the Indian Chief who said. “There are two dogs fighting in my mind, a kind one and a vicious one. The one I feed wins the battle.”

Lately I’ve been feeding the dog of doubt and it’s eating me alive. So this morning the spilled coffee seem to be the dog of doubt, knocking it out of my hand, saying “Give up! You’re weak.”

But then I read my text. It’s not about me Satan. It’s about my God and to Him be the glory!!

Let’s talk about Encourager

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

I started just to use the drawing as it was. It seemed fitting for the way I felt. Messy. But how would that have brought glory to God? So I grabbed my tracing paper out of the drawer and cut a piece to the size of my bible. I traced the drawing that I had previously done. It turns out, tracing is so much faster! I laid out my coloring supplies and began to fill her in again. But this time with another purpose. I use the tracing paper sheets to create journal inserts in my bible; they take only a smidge of space and aren’t even noticed in the thickness of the book. Now, what the enemy had planned on foiling, would be a word of encouragement that I can turn to, or hap upon when I’m reading in Psalm.

With that exercise of creative thinking, God did indeed lift up my head and remind me that not every mess is worth crying over. Sometimes it’s a process.

Let’s talk about the Elect

I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.

Luke 18:7 says And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day night unto him, though he bear long with them?

There’s something very satisfying about the thought of God mashing the mouth of the enemy. It’s also a reminder that it’s not my job. My job is to let my Father know I’m in trouble, and then allow Him to take care of it for me.

It’s a rarity that I lose sleep, but lately (mainly because I’ve forgotten to get a prescription filled) I’m losing sleep. I wake up in the wee hours of the darkness and my mind is flooded with what feels like “ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.”  I feel like there’s about to be something upset at any moment and I don’t have a big enough towel to clean the mess. Do you ever feel that way?

I needed this Psalm today… I needed to be reminded that I am God’s elect. Chosen by Him to do what I do. I hope that what I do is encourage you. If I have, please shoot me a message and let me know. Let’s spread some of this encouragement around!

The Struggle with Social Media

I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Psalm 119:113-114

The Struggle with Vanity

By human nature we are a selfish lot, are we not? I tuned into social media this morning and the heartaches of other people overwhelmed my soul. I felt helpless.

I can’t rebuild a life that was lost in a fire.

I can’t undo the bad decision of a young man that didn’t feel there was any other way than death.

I can’t control the fierceness of nature or the devastation it can leave in its path.

I can’t un-break a heart or protect people from destruction.

It’s life. And in this day and age it’s being lived out in a very, very public way that affects so many people with the stroke of a keyboard. Social media can be a blessing or a scourge. I have a love/hate relationship with it, as I’m sure most people do. But like it or not, despise it or not, it’s here to stay. But you and I need to be careful about the vanity of it all. If we are in the mindset of Christ… as we should be. We should shield ourselves from ourselves.

One of my many, many faults is counting. Now I know it got David in serious trouble in 2nd Samuel 24. So I try not to; but remember the struggle I spoke of. It really is a struggle on social media. How many people likes my post… how many people viewed my video… how many people liked a post, or loved a post. And who were they? Oh. I’m vain. For me it’s validation as to whether or not I was a success.

That a load of lies from Satan. But I buy it like a good flea market find.

Our lives will never be defined in eternity by how many people seen our posts. But it will be defined by what that post did for the cause of the Kingdom.

The Shield of Victory

For all my vain thoughts, and they are many; God put a heart of compassion within me. It’s what drives me to share the hope of Jesus Christ that I find in His word. It’s what creates images like the umbrella in my mind when I think of how many times the Lord has shielded me from the sun and rain. The good times and the bad times that would have had a negative result in my life.

It’s not only the bad times in our lives that cause damage. The good in life can bring more vanity, more self-reliance that can destroy the good things that God wants for us.

How many people do we know with great wealth and health that have no relationship with God? Or how many do we know that have “seemingly” never struggled as we have and are so ungrateful.

Some of the worst things in my life, I am certain, have protected me from forgetting where my hope lies.

I’m so thankful that we have God’s word! It is as if I’m sitting here in my office this morning with God, and I hear Him say… “That’s my girl. Keep writing. Keep drawing. Keep serving. And by the way, stop counting.”

I Forgot to Ask

A lesson we’ve all likely learned in life is that every day can’t be a great day. And if it was we’d likely not appreciate the great days when they came. Yesterday was one such day for me. Funny thing about having your chest sawn asunder, it’ll take the wind out of your sails. I may be the world’s worst patient, and left alone to my own devices (even though help is just a few minutes away), I lift more than I should, walk more and do more than I should and then wonder why I don’t feel well. I try to be good, but then I see something minor that needs done and my 5 lb. lifting limit seems somewhat ridiculous. And then it’s not. Then I feel icky and that leads to a depressed state of mind.

Isaiah 26:12:13

Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also has wrought all our works in us. O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.

One of the reasons that I get in a depressed or anxious state of mind is because I forget Who’s in control. I begin looking at the world around me and the state of affairs and suddenly I am overwhelmed with unhealthy emotions. I feel the aches and pains in my body and the lack of energy to do the things I long to do and it makes me very conscious of humanity. Add to that a rainy over cast day and it’s an insult to the injury I carry around in my body. It’s usually then that I get into a “I show you Satan” frame of mind and I end up showing him what an idiot I am.

Ordained Peace

God has ordained (established) peace for us. It’s there for the asking, so what keeps us from having it? For me it’s neglecting the word of God when my mind gets in that state. Yesterday I should have had this scripture written on sticky notes in every room of my house and on the dash of my car. But that would have required me slowing down and asking God for help. Am I preaching to the choir yet? We all do it. We get so bogged down we miss the gifts God has for us as children of the King.

A Wrought Work

Through God’s grace He has will establish peace and do a good work in us. But that requires us tuning in more than a few minutes in the morning or a meal time prayer. We are the bride of Christ! Our conversation with Him should be at every opportunity and not dreaded but enjoyed and passionate as that of our loved ones. If I had tuned into God yesterday and simply prayed for His wisdom and peace, I’d have received it. I have no doubt. But instead I drudged on to prove I could, or I would collapse on the sofa in frustration and not once ask God for help. I just focused on what things “I” might do to make “me” feel better. Jesus Chick epic failure wouldn’t you say? I’m very human.

Other lords

Anyt0ime that we put our own agenda or others before God’s wisdom and will we’re serving other lords. We’ve allowed someone or something to have dominion over the Holy Spirit. The picture in today’s blog is a fiddle I’m working on and have just about completed. A few more touches, the word of God and a fresh coat of varnish and I’ll return it to my friend Lew who will make it into a playable instrument of peace. That’s how I feel when I play the fiddle. I love the way the bow glides down the strings and sends music into the air. When I was deciding what to paint on it, a dove wasn’t really what I had in mind. But then post-surgery, I was longing for the peace of God and it just seemed to be the obvious choice. Plus I have a Dove guitar, so now they’re brother and sister.

The last phase of project peace is the one that Satan hates the most and that is the praise of God. Isaiah said it was by the mention of God’s name only! As I’ve said before, I’ll give Satan no credit for my circumstance because I brought it on myself, but I will give God the glory for brining me through, for giving me the most amazing feeling of peace that was there for the asking. I just forgot to ask.

A Moment of Confessed Reality

Perhaps you are of the outgoing nature like myself, or perhaps you are a recluse like myself. Can you be both? Oh yes. I have to make myself step outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis. Once I get there, the Holy Spirit takes over and I can be the crazy, loud mouth chick for Jesus that everyone sees. But in reality I would much prefer to shut the doors of my home and stay inside, away from what feels like an ever condemning world with my greatest critic in the mirror.

That’s a moment of confessed reality that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared on this blog. This morning just felt like that kind of day. I have to fight the inner tent staked self who wants to stay put and get my travelin’ shoes on. Else, my share of the Lord’s work, won’t get done.

In Isaiah 54:1-5, Isaiah speaks to the children of Israel about that very thing:

The Barren Bride

Vs. 1-2 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

The Jews returned out of captivity, and this is the prophecy of their increase after settling in their own land. Our land as Gentiles is settled too, but not on this earth. It’s in Heaven above where we are seated with Christ Jesus. And yet we tend to put down tent stakes like we’re staying here. My disappointment abounds this morning in my current state of affairs. So my only solution is to write my way out of disparity by reading the word of God and listening to His Spirit in my soul. I feel as though I’m one step from captivity. Perhaps that’s how the nation of Israel felt too. Captivity was fresh, they could still smell the stench of slavery. They didn’t feel productive, they felt bound. Isaiah is there to encourage them that the Lord is not done with them. He’s really not! Never count Israel out. They are God’s chosen. Isaiah told them to enlarge the place of their tent and stretch forth.

The only way we’ll ever make a difference in this world is to stretch outside of our comfort zone and go in the direction the Lord is leading. For me it’s the local nursing home this afternoon. I’ll sing for about an hour and witness of God’s goodness. They’ll bless me and hopefully I’ll bless them. But I first must go. Tonight I’ll meet with a couple of friends who struggle as I do and we’ll share that struggle together, searching for direction and then traveling on!

The Break Through of the Broken

Vs. 3-4 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.  

Israel is still the chosen people of God, but glory to God, we are the inherited lot that God has allowed to be grafted in. I feel as though the word “breakthrough” has gotten a raw deal. Too many prosperity gospel people have used it until it now leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those who understand that breakthroughs most often come from brokenness. Not the arrogance of ‘name it and claim’ it as though we control God. But an all-out, on your face experience begging God to move. That too would have likely been the state of Israel when they came out of captivity. They knew that God was in control and they were at His mercy.

This morning, I know that God is in control. And I am at His mercy when travelin’ on. I need His presence and direction. I need to believe that I am forgiven of my failures and move on in the His strength and power. If I am to see the fruit of my labor, I must not plant myself here, but sow my seeds in Heaven and allow God to give the increase.

The Beauty of the Betrothal

Vs. 5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

The bride of Christ. Me. Shari Johnson an unworthy sinner, is the bride of the Sovereign and Holy God through His redemption on the cross. Oh, how I long to see New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven; where once and for all the wickedness of this earth will be gone and the feelings of failure will be no more! But until then, I’ll prepare for the wedding by inviting more guests to the table. More brides who will know the feeling of belonging.

Until then, I will Travel on, even on days that I don’t feel like it…


This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

Faith Is… Dancing in Army Boots

army boots

Nobody who’s been a Christian for more than twenty minutes would likely say “Faith is easy.” Getting saved is easy. That’s just a matter of accepting what Christ did for you. Staying saved is easy, that’s just a matter of accepting what Christ did as enough, because we can’t do enough. Living faith… well that’s another story. Just after the words “I can do this!” come out of my mouth, Satan drops by with words like “Or so you thought…” Dancing for the Lord is great, until you try to do it in Army boots.

That was the thot on my heart this morning as I look at my life and the lives of friends and family who struggle every day with “real life”, but keep on praising! “Real life” is heartache, financial issues, illness, death, sin, brokenness, hurt…” that’s the things that life is made up of on many days for mane people.

I’ve been continuing on in the book of 2 Samuel, slowly making my way through the life of David. He fascinates me. He was man after God’s own heart, but a man none the less. He was a lying, adulterous, murdering man. So how could God refer to him as a man after His own heart? In 2 Samuel 6, he danced before the Lord and got in trouble with his wife Michal, in 2 Samuel 11 he’s committing adultery with and impregnating Bathsheba which lead to the decision of killing Bathsheba’s husband, which lead to the death their child. David’s life was certainly “real!”

In less than a dozen chapters of life David had been a hero, a lover, a fighter and a down right scoundrel. So in chapter 12, verse 20 as he’s given the news of his child’s death, it says he “arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him and he did eat.

The staff thought that strange, to which David responded “While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

Heartache doesn’t stop in life even if you’re a man (or woman) after God’s own heart. Life happens. We struggle, we sin, we grieve, we get angry… and when it’s over we dance. The victory will come for a child of God but not always in the manner we’d like. And sometimes the outcome is beyond what our imagination could comprehend. You just can’t explain God. Only He can.

But we can dance in army boots.

Because the battle is real, but even in the battle God is worthy of being praised! ~ The Jesus Chick

 

It Ain’t Over ’til God says It’s Over

gideonLife is an uphill battle and somedays the hill’s a little easier to overtake than others. And then there are those days when from dawn til dusk it seems like my battle is on the brink of being lost. Satan is too quick to whisper “you’re goin’ down this time… there’s no way you can win.” And in my weakened state I’m likely to concede. But then there are days like today as I read a little further into Judges.. not very much further than yesterday… when I come across a scripture that sends Satan packing and me unpacking God’s word.

The story of Gideon is a great story to read when you’re having an ‘underdog’ kinda day. Gideon, a mighty man of valour he’s called, and yet we first find him hidng in the wine press from the Midianites. Well the story goes that through the power of God, a couple of signs from God, the dwindling of Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to 300, Gideon wins his battle.

But in Chapter 8 today, I find a post war story of Gideon that first had me gigling but then encouraged my soul with great hope from the Lord. Perhaps you need it too.

Gideon’s battle continued even after the victory… can I stop here and say that none of us are ever completely free of the battle are we? There’s always somone or something waiting in the balance to cause us more grief and heartache. True story for us, and for Gideon as his path crossed the people of Succoth on his way to capture Zebah and Zalmunna. He and the 300 men were tired and hungry and ask for a little kindness from the people of Succoth, who responded unkind:

Judges 8:4-7

And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them. And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?And Gideon said, Therefore when the Lord hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.

Does that sound like the guy who was hiding in the winepress? Oh no. It’s a new day for Gideon! He has witnessed for himself what the Lord can do when you give the battle over to him. And it didn’t matter if it was 10 or 10,000 Gideon knew he could whip a bear with flyswatter as long as God was on his side. His whole demeanor had changed. When these arrogant men of Succoth ask him “who he thought he was?” Gideon let’s them know that they’re about to find out, right after he whips the tar out of the Z-men. In the words of Arnold Swartzeneger “I’ll be back.” Perhaps Arnold got that attitude from Gideon.

So what was my encouragment? When I hear Satan say that “I’m done for.” I can hear my Lord say, “I’ll be back.” There is no doubt for me that Gideon drew strength from his victory even though at the present time he was feeling pretty low. In his weakened state he didn’t take those guys on. He let them go until he finished the matter at hand. But when he came through, it was new day.

In verse 16 it says of Gideon And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.”

Gideon taught those guys a lesson from God, “Don’t ever count God’s people out!”

Are you in the battle? Me too. Let’s tell the enemy it ain’t over until God says it over! Amen?

Don’t Stop in the Storm!

downpour

The image above was my drive in to work this morning. (I know… picture taking while driving is a bad idea) But the Lord gave me this thought as I was driving so I figured He wouldn’t mind if I had an illustration to go with it.

This was the second time in two weeks that I’ve driven one of the most treacherous highways in our area in a down pour of rain. I say most treacherous because every day you’ll likely face one, if not all four of the following, mudslides, rockslides, fallen trees or deer for a 20 mile stretch. Two weeks ago it was as if I was driving in an end times event movie, but it was very real. Two huge trees downed in front of my car, countless water crossings that turned my jeep into a boat, fallen rocks and water falls shooting down off the hill causing ditch lines to become swollen creek beds, it was crazy! Two inches of rain fell in 10 minutes and the hills couldn’t hold it. Today was not quite as bad but bad enough to cause me to continue on in rains I would have generally just pulled off and waited out. But there are very few places up Route 5 east where there is safety in a storm, I felt it was safer just to keep moving.

I thought about my testimony just last night in a Revival where I had praised God for making it through that storm a few weeks ago and how great it was to have the peace of God through something so scary. My thought this morning was “That’s what you get for shooting your mouth off about being brave Shari, a repeat!” And then I heard in my mind… “shshh and listen… there’s a lesson in this storm.

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

It’s sometimes more dangerous to sit and wait in a storm than it is to keep going through it. If you stop you may be taken over or swept away, but if you keep moving, in a little while you’ll see the sun again. Glory! Is what I thought. How many times have I just wanted to give up in the midst of a struggle? Stop going to church, stop serving the Lord, quit it all! After all, that’s where a lot of the heart ache came from. But I just kept going, holding on to hope that peace would reign in my life again where sorrow rained now. And sure enough it would!

Are you going through a storm? Don’t stop! Satan will have you in his snare for certain. But if you keep moving, you’ll come through and stronger for it!

I didn’t enjoy my drive in this morning. I wanted at times to turn around and go back to the house. But I feared that I’d run into worse things by turning around. I’m now safe in my office, ready to see what the Lord has in store for my day.

So two lessons for me. Keep on keepin’ on… and be careful what you testify about! Just kiddin…. I’d do it again!