Freedom to Choose

I’ve never really listened to George Jones. I know his songs, and I read a book written about him and Tammy Wynette many years ago. Back in the days when I read anything I could about people and their lives. They had a love story, not only filled with roses and sunshine, but thorns and stormy days. The same stories we all share. George Jones was an extremely talented songwriter. He was able to tell a story, draw you in, and have you laughing or crying in under five minutes. Wow!

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You are probably going to have a lot of posts from me about songs I listen to. Our son gave me a little white box this past Christmas. It sets in my kitchen where I can talk to it, asking about the weather, and recipes I need. It’s a very handy little device, and I’ve become rather attached to it. When it comes to music, all I need to do is tell it what song I want to hear, or what genre. I smile when I think back to the days when we ran miles of stereo wire through the house so we could have a speaker upstairs and get ‘surround’ sound.

This morning, I had bluegrass-type gospel music playing, when this song came on. Choices was not written by George Jones, but it was written about his life. If you know anything about country music, George Jones had a huge impact on it. He also struggled with addiction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP0oQCh_teg

It continually amazes me the way God uses people. Not only their strengths, but their weak areas as well. The men in the Bible given as examples were not sin-free. They murdered, committed adultery, and didn’t always do as instructed by God. Some even turned their backs. Those actions detoured their lives, and there were consequences to pay. We live in the same world today, and we still have choices to make.

Every one of us can think back over our lives, and see something that we should have handled in a different way, maybe a better way. We all live with regrets and guilt. I think that’s why it’s so very important to instill in our children a sense of right and wrong, and to teach them to listen to that little voice of warning when we are headed down a wrong path. There is no shame in re-routing, or admitting we are wrong. There are second chances…usually. The only shames are arrogance, and being unwilling to learn.

This song is bluntly truthful, speaking of the singer’s regrets for not making better decisions with his life. The addictions were more important than family, friends, and talents. Addictions are not only in the forms of alcohol and drugs. They can be anything that keeps us from being the person God designed us to be…the best that we can attain here on this earth. I know what mine are…how about you? I know the areas in my own life that are weak, that lead me to make unwise choices. I do want to listen to that little voice that warns me that I’m headed down a dangerous path. And I want to be courageous enough to stop, and admit I was wrong…that I need to make a better decision.

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Because at the end of my life, I don’t want to be singing a song of regrets…about all the should-haves. I want to rejoice that I was courageous, even when it was difficult to be. And if I failed, I found my feet once more and tried again. I do have choices in my life. I have the freedom to make them.

Faith Makes it Well With My Soul

I began this day thinking on one of my favorite verses. Psalm 118:24 – This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. I usually remember it each day, to remind myself that I’m here to live another day, and that I have another opportunity to see what God has in store for me. I have another day to make choices, and I always pray that I will make them in His will…not mine.

Good morning, and I pray it is for you. The sun is shining here, and that helps my outlook immensely. Too many gray, damp, and dreary days play havoc with me.

I’ve mentioned on here that our family is struggling. All of us go through good and bad times. To say the past several months has been a challenge for us is an understatement. Our lives have been uprooted, our belief system of God as the center has been stomped on. There have been so many days that it would be easier to run and hide, or play the world’s system of games. God has not only pruned us, but it seems as though He’s allowed for us to be stripped bare of all. Every area of our lives has been hit…financially, physically, and our children are struggling. And we can’t make it better. Humbling may be one way to put it…but it seems to candy-coat.

And then I heard this song this morning when I was making breakfast. Our children told me about MercyMe several years ago. I’ve probably heard this song before…and not really paid attention to the words. But this morning I did. It reminded me that all should be well with my soul, no matter what happens in our daily lives. Faith is there, and God has a purpose.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6fA35Ved-Y

We’ve all messed up our lives. We have in the past, and we probably will again in the future. As I always say, we are human. Situations we may go through may scar us for life. We may live with those decisions forever. Guilt can destroy us if we let it. But Jesus Christ paid for that on the cross. Don’t belittle what He did by taking it back, mulling it over, and damaging today. Release it…sometimes every minute of the day until you are stronger.

Pray without ceasing. Not all of the problems will go away. Some will stay to continue to test you and forge you into a strong person, not weak and swayed each time the wind blows. Some situations will cause scarring on your soul. You will live with that, and the consequences of it…but if you open your eyes on a new day…you are here. And in time, with better decisions through faith in what God has planned, the scarring will ease, the bruises will fade. The older you get in this life, the more you understand that.

As I usually do, I’m speaking to believers here. Those that have accepted Christ as their Savior. Your hope is in Heaven. Not this world and it’s system of chaos, and missed chances. Your job while here is to grow in maturity by learning His word and applying it to your life. You can’t have faith, peace, and contentment in this life without doing that. And yes, at times it’s a minute-by-minute walk.

As for me, I cannot imagine living this life without God, without Hope in heaven. To think that this is all there is, and then we die into nothingness, would be incredibly depressing. I would be seeking anything and everything to try and ease the pain, to try and make sense, and have fun before it was all over.

Thank you, God, for sending your Son to die for us, for bearing all our sins on that cross. He paid the price. Even if my entire world here on earth collapses, I have eternity with you. So today, I will rejoice for the sunshine, for my husband and five children, my grandchildren. Thank you for a Bible-teaching church and friends. Some days I have to look hard for the smile inside, but there’s always something.

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Merry Christmas!

The day has arrived! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey over the past month. I know it was a great reminder for me…the Christmas story. Christmas Month Social Media (3)

Especially remember verse twenty in the above. We may continue the Christmas spirit throughout the year…glorifying and praising God. Merry Christmas to you!

One More Week!

Children are thrilled to count down the days before any important occasion. But Christmas is probably one of the most special to them. I know it was for me. With each day that passed, the excitement built until I thought I would fairly burst with wanting Christmas day to arrive. Presents appeared in the mail from relatives, and they were stashed under the tree with strict rules not to touch them until Christmas morning. That didn’t keep us from shaking a few and trying to guess. Baking went into a frenzy that last week, and our house always smelled delicious and festive.

When all the packages had been opened, the food consumed, the dishes done, we put on our new pajamas, robes and slippers. Because that was always a gift from our great Auntie. I would go to bed and think back over the day. I would be excited about a few more days off from school, and the potential for snow to play in. But there was always a little bit of a let-down. Christmas wouldn’t come for another whole year!

Children will always look at the glitz, the glamour, and the fun. And that is not wrong. Children need a time of innocence, a time of fun and happy memories. But they also need God…and that is something to teach on a daily basis. Not just at Christmas time.

Keep the joy of childhood in your Christian walk. On December 26th, the celebrations will be over, and won’t return for a year. But we can keep the memory of Christ’s birth, His life, and death on the cross each day. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father…and that is joyous!

 

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Proclaim the Truth

When I was a child, I often wondered what it must have been like for the shepherds the night Jesus Christ was born. To be sitting outside, enjoying the evening air, resting after a hard days work. Then an angel appears…and not just the angel, but the glory of the Lord shone around them. I would have been afraid as well!

The verses I’ve included on this little journey through Luke, chapter two, remind us that God works through humble means. The shepherds were given an important job that night, and they rushed to see if the angel had spoken truth. Then they shared the joyous news of Christ’s birth.

We as Believers should be just as excited to proclaim.

 

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The Countdown Begins

Yes, I know many of you have been counting down the days until Christmas for some time now. But, I prefer to give each day, each season, each celebration its due. For me, that means no celebrating Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Then there is an entire month set aside to celebrate the Christmas season.

If you are a Believer, each day should be one of remembering what God has done by sending his Son to us as a baby. Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us. The Christmas season for me is a time to reflect, and remember those gifts that we have been given. The grace and mercy God gives to us on a daily basis.

It is fun to shop for loved ones, bake those special cookies, and decorate in order to recall Christmas memories. But not everyone has those memories. And if you don’t, you can remember that we are celebrating Christ’s birth. Our joy comes from inside, and the relationship with Him, not from our surroundings, or things.

Three more weeks until Christmas day. Enjoy the time, bake those cookies, decorate your space, listen to the songs as you shop and wrap presents. But remember why the day is set aside.

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We Thank Thee

Good Sunday morning to you! This week our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving here in America. We will gather together, family and friends, to remember and celebrate this day. This song is just a reminder of some of the things we should be thankful for in our lives. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pXzge4uhVs

Dysfunction

What was once thought of as dysfunctional, seems to be coming more of the normal these days. This does sadden me. I believe God designed a very good system, and when we take different paths, situations become difficult and murky to travel through.

But we all take different paths from time to time, and none of us travel the straight and narrow. God knew this, and yet He still loves us. He allows us that different path, sometimes for years or a lifetime. When we fall, not once, but over and over, He is there. We only need to call on Him.

My key verse that I sign all my books with is, Psalm 118:24. 

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (KJV)

This is the verse that I call to mind each day that it’s difficult to get out of bed. It’s the verse that reminds me that I’m still here, and I have an opportunity once again, for at least that day to forge ahead and make better decisions for my life. One more day to rely on Him. There are days when I forget that verse…shove it to the back of my closet full of troubles. Days that I have to reclaim it several times. But the verse, and God are always there. 

The tag-line I use for my writing is, This Life is Real…and so are the Answers. I write books about dysfunctional families. People that are struggling in their Christian walk. People that don’t always get it together and have a happy ending. Because that is not what life is about…and it certainly isn’t the Christian life. I should know…I’ve lived one for over 45 years now…and it hasn’t always been pretty. But the bottom line is, I know God is there, He has a plan for me and my life, and my hope is in heaven. And those truths are where all the answers lie. 

This past week, the third book in the Rubyville series has been FREE as an ebook. Today is the last day of this promotion. This book has jumped around a bit on the lists, but it has stayed fairly constant around this all week: #21 in Dysfunctional Relationships.

https://www.amazon.com/Rubyville-Place-Heal-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01ITR2RDI/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=deborah+ann+dykeman&qid=1574442773&s=books&sr=1-4

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Book #3 – Rubyville

At first I thought it strange based on me not listing it under keywords such as dysfunctional. I thought I had stuck with the christian fiction genre…and I talked about all that the other day in my post about algorithms. But the book is about marital abuse, and the struggles that mothers and daughters can have in their relationships. So it is categorized pretty well on Amazon. Being #21 isn’t too bad either. But more importantly, I want people to read it, and get answers for their own marriages, and relationships in families. And to remember that bitterness eats at your soul, and destroys the person that God designed you to be.

And that’s a tough lesson. It’s a lesson I’m still learning about, and an area I stay in constant pray over. It’s rather like pruning away all the dead branches after a long, frigid winter, and finding new growth.

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I’m looking forward to that time of flourishing once again. Have a great week end!

Quotes to Live By

When I think back on past mistakes in my life, there are some I wish I could change and live through again, making the correct decision. There are others that I see the need for me having to live through them in order for a lesson to be learned. And yes, I wish I could change my first decision, and do better, but I’m where I’m at now because I made it through that difficult experience. We all have those times in our lives.

The two examples above run very close together, but they do have some differences that set them apart. I think the biggest one that I’m going to focus on for the sake of this post, is the first example. Because it deals with guilt. The original sin, or mistake may be bad. But it’s the guilt we immerse ourselves in through the years that is more devastating to our souls. It can destroy us.

If we look at that first example, we can use a scenario. I will use a simple one, but you can place almost any sin/mistake into that. As a child, we decide to steal a candy bar while our parents are checking out at the store. We steal it because we were told that we couldn’t have it. We want it anyway. We may get away with it, and the guilt is there. Or we may not, and the guilt is there each time we think about how we let our parents down, and the impression we made on the store. But we make the decision to never steal again. We may wish for the rest of our lives that we could go back, and not steal the candy bar and have that mark on our record. But it probably doesn’t change our lives too drastically.

The scenario using the second example. We steal the candy bar, we may get away with it, or we may not. But instead of stopping the sin, we continue on. It may become more items stolen in a store, to a car that is stolen, or breaking into houses. The behavior is continued until you serve jail time. In this scene, the sin and wrong decisions may continue until the end of our life. We may become more bitter and angry. We may want to seek more ways to demonstrate those feelings. We harden our hearts.

But…we could decide during that first time in jail to get our act together. We could decide to change our life, and start making good decisions. We could use that time to grow spiritually, and reach others. If there is an opportunity to get out of jail and have a life again, we could be a better person because of the experiences we had during that difficult time.

Yes, I’m making this very simplistic, and with those scenarios we could go off in a million different ways. Because we are people, and each one of us is unique in how we deal with a situation.

The bottom line…we all make bad decisions, we all sin. The difference is how we each handle it, and how we travel down the paths we have to take for the rest of our lives. But if we live with guilt, and we continually live through those past mistakes and sins, over and over, we can’t heal. Guilt is something we do to ourselves.

While two of our children were at Cornerstone Bible Institute in Hot Springs, South Dakota, we had the opportunity to sit in on some of their classes over the years. One of the teachers had a way of really getting to the heart of something and nailing it. He made it very clear and easy to understand. I wrote down as many of his little quotes or quips, (and I don’t know if that is the correct terminology for his words,) as I could. This is one of them:

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Those six little words really spoke to me. They reminded me to confess the sin in my life using :

1 John 1:9 King James Version (KJV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Then stop doing that sin, whatever it may be.

Then forget it. Don’t bring it back, reliving, going over, feeling guilty.

That verse says that God is faithful, He has forgiven us, and cleansed us from that sin. Us taking it back is not trusting Him.

I’m not saying that is easy. It takes faith, lots of prayer, and a mindset to go on, not looking back at what could have been. But I am thankful for the times in my life that although I wish I hadn’t made the decision, I came out on the other side a better, stronger person.