Saturday, March 31, 2012

1000 Thanks

Continuing the THANKFULNESS once more, as always...

{64} Continued place to live through trials has been a wonderful blessing...
{65} Daylight owl the other day was a nice surprise. :)
{66-69} Several blessings related to the transportation service for which I've been volunteering.
{70} Priscilla's St. Patrick's Day celebration... where we as the ladies of the church celebrated HER. It was a great time of fellowship and care.
{71-75} Several awesome testimonies that have just blown me away.
{76} Growth Group love... :)
{77} Women's ministry team
{78-83} My DREAM TEAM... most definitely, has been a major blessing more than ever lately!! Thank you so much... you KNOW who you are. :)
{84} The joy of being in much prayer for others lately...
{85-92} Answers to prayer in recent days!!! God is always so very good!!
{93) Beautiful view of Mt. Hood the other day that was just awesome.
{94-96} Ability to bless some loved ones!
{97} Time in the WORD... always a blessing!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wings, Fangs, and Flight, Part 2

Shamanna and I remained friends for several years, and while others were there, she was a constant, for better or worse.

There were demonic presences I could sense in the house she grew up in, that were there, I’m sure, in part from the family who lived there prior. The family prior had a son who attempted to kill me with a tire iron when I was less than a year old, I am told, because he “wanted to see what the inside of a brain looked like.” This new family, I had hope would become good for the neighborhood but I sensed, even at 5 or 6 when they moved in, that things would be very different.

For quite a while, I saw her as my closest friend, though when I look back I realize that, no, I was very attached to her but that was not necessarily mutual. We hung out, went to school together, and had the bond of being bitten by the same dog, learned about massage together – inadvertently – and learned about death together when the best friend of a neighborhood girl was killed. I remember one day we found a wallet near the site the body had been found, and I had this sense that perhaps it had been related somehow… either the dead girl’s or the killer’s, I didn’t know for sure. So we took it to Shamanna’s mom… showed her… showed my mom… and for a while, it was kept, though I forget who kept it.

Photos from

I remember sleepovers, trips to the store where I ended up being the only one with money, because she had “forgotten” hers, so I would do the nice thing and get what she wanted for her… until I figured out that’s what she was trying to get out of me. I remember trips with my family together, and with hers… always within a few hours from home, but nonetheless something nice to do together. While there were other friends I was close to, for whatever reason, she’s the one that has stayed on my heart nearly continuously. There were moments with wings together, and moments where fangs came and took their bites out of me, but looking back I realize the bites she got were, often times, more than the ones I got. Because she didn’t grow up in a home where Jesus was known, though she was exposed to him, she had more to contend with on a spiritual level in terms of gaining understanding how things worked outside of the physical realm, which in my eyes, she had her handle on well…

The other main event I recall, though, was when her brother was chasing me down and I tripped on a rock, hitting my knee on the curb on the way home from school one day. There were a lot of people who were considered terrors to the neighborhood, and while I didn’t see most of them in that light, I DID have some fear of this particular kid who had already told me to my face three times before then that he hated me, and even wrote it on the light pole at the end of the block – that is still written there to this day. He thought I hated their WOLF – dog, Bear. I actually liked Bear, but just wanted to admire him from afar because I could tell he wasn’t used to a lot of people around him at once, at that point. I didn’t want to frighten him into doing something, because I had already learned not to fear dogs when I was bit. This happened before Shamanna got bit later on, and to a much worse degree, by the same dog that was later put down for attacking her.

I got stitches on my knee that day… three days after a modeling agency had contacted me and asked if I wanted to take some classes through them to see if I wanted to do some modeling. I hadn’t seriously considered it until earlier in the day, the day I was bit. I got two bites in one that day – a German Shepherd and some fangs sneakin’ on into my skin with the words, “now you’ll never be model material. Why did you ever think you could be?” Not only that, but I was awake to remember the stitches going in because none of the medications they gave to put me out worked. To me, that was the worst part of it… there had been promises made by doctors and nurses who had been made aware that I was very sensitive to needles, and so when a large woman sat on me and they put those stitches in… with me feeling the whole thing. I can still picture it if I concentrate long enough, and feel the needle threading through my skin, the weight of the lady that got paid to sit on top of my legs and hold my arms down while they sowed the stitches in under her jiggly arms. Two snake bites in one day – one to my self esteem, one to my trust of adults in charge.

When Shamanna was bit by the same dog as I after the stitches incident, part of me got proud and even jealous. Nobody had thought it was much of a deal when I was bit, though to me it was terrorizing. In reality, God spared me from having my whole stomach taken out. The dog could only get his jaws to catch into my skin and draw across, leaving a mess that was livable without needing to have stitches again. So a jawful of flesh was gashed, and one German Shepherd nail sunk deep. But when my friend and neighbor was bit more than a year later, tearing out part of her ankle and upper leg, she needed skin grafts, several days of hospitalization, and that meant plenty of surgery. I later thought about it – that could have been me. It was the same dog. The difference was that she had already begun to model before she was bit, and she kept on afterward, if I recall correctly. I had a lot of friends and acquaintances who I saw as just gorgeous at that point, but among them all, there she was, the beauty queen. That’s how I saw her: the beauty queen. Others came in with good rankings, but to me, she far surpassed in outward beauty than I or anyone else I knew possessed, and part of me was jealous because she still had that outward beauty that stunned people even after the skin grafts and etc. This isn’t what caused us to drift apart within the next two years, but I’m sure that it likely contributed some. Before the accident I had prayed for her consistently, and after we were no longer friends, I prayed for her, but in that between time of jealousy, I rarely did, to which I only have the strength to admit now because I know it’s under the blood of Jesus and I’ve made it a point to pray for her now.

But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; 

(Matthew 5:44, Webster's Bible)

Around the same time I got to know and become friends with Shamanna, I became friends with a handful of others whose influence I didn’t necessarily understand at the time for all that it was. Two were twin sisters, one was the son of a teacher’s aide at school, another was the daughter of a teacher, and then there were a brother and sister duo. I had classes and got to know the brother first. Aamon. And then, after a while, I befriended his sister Lisa, as well. To understand these dynamics, Aamon and I were into He-Man and She-Ra, while Lisa and I connected over Barbie. The twins and I – as well as my sister – connected over school, dance, and softball, among other things. I remember we used to tumble in their basement, the four of us, and rarely did we ever invite Shamanna but then again, I reasoned, she and I didn’t invite them to a lot, either. We were all friends but the relationships were all too different for there not to be side-choosing if the twin I was more attached to, Shamanna, and I were all in one place. The teacher’s aide’s son and the teacher’s daughter were two of the genuine friends I had, I can honestly say, looking back. The rest, I had things in common with and we were in the neighborhood together, but when it came to mutual agreement and respect, it was these two… Ryan and Susan… who made their mark and who I used as a measuring stick after first grade or so when new people were introduced into my life. Would I befriend them, or stay away? I believe the enemy was keeping tabs even then, because the people who are now strong Christians- who I know where are in life – are the people who I thought of a snobby then, and therefore I didn’t get to know as well as I wanted to because I figured they didn’t WANT to be my friend.

Until the end of my freshman year of junior high, that was how I looked at things, but then many changes took place that caused me to shift some paradigms. One was meeting Justin. After Shamanna, he was the next “best friend” – and in many ways, he truly was a great friend, as was the other person I met a few months later, Will. The two of them became my closest friends- along with a gal named Carrie - after things with Shamanna had been severed, and I was glad for the friendships.

My relationship with Carrie was based a lot on football and the media, as she was from a family who was in the spotlight and we both enjoyed football. We were two of only a handful of professing Christians – staff, faculty or student – at the school and this was our other tie. I was a closet girly-girl, trying at first to hide who I really was, as I’d done most of my life… and she was a tomboy through and through. Over time, as I started to embrace who God created me to be and accepted the fact that I was, indeed, not a tomboy, but a girly girl, there was more tension between us, and though we stayed friends for a few years, things fell apart partly due to this change.

As for Jus and Will,, I ended up dating them both – not ever at the same time, but a bit like a see-saw… back and forth – primarily Justin. This was while not knowing, though having a sense, that they were both dating several people while telling me it was just me, while they both knew what I was doing – dating one as primary and the other through some of the “downtime” of the other. I had already learned not to trust by then, and had been told so often that nobody would love me that I ended up with people who, spiritually speaking, were among the least common denominator. At the time, I knew God put them on my heart and I genuinely prayed that He would save them – as I do to this day though I had to say goodbye to both of them more than once through the years… but I’m getting ahead of the story.

I went to a “special school” through most of junior and all of senior high school. The long and short of it was, emotionally I was at a different place than most other kids and nobody knew how to deal with that. I was different. More sensitive. More in tune with what was happening around me in the spiritual and emotional realms, but not as much the physical one, as other people. I didn’t realize at the time that’s what it was, but looking back, it’s what I recognize as the truth. By the time I had entered this “special school,” I had already had several people call me crazy, family members try to put me away in a looney bin, and therapists say along with my family that whatever was happening wrong with the family, essentially boiled down to being my fault. I will grant that I was far from perfect, but even I knew that the world didn’t revolve around me and I didn’t have THAT much power that I caused so much damage. I had a strange way of speaking, and people often misinterpreted what I said to my detriment and to mutual pain, and I think that is what they were trying to relate, but to a child’s ears… “It’s all your fault” sounds like what it says: “it’s all your fault.” I didn’t have the spiritual discernment then to filter out all the negativity that was shooting my way with bullet fierceness.

SWITCHFOOT- Meant to Live!

On top of this, I wasn’t always sure how to handle all the emotion I was carrying because I didn’t know that was part of one of the gifts that God had given me: picking up on what others are going through and carrying some of it to ease their loads. So there were a handful of times that I acted out at school… and there was a time I stood up for myself which seemed to me to be the last straw, when at the regular junior high the fill-in for the vice principle hit on me and I refused his advances. I didn’t know until over five years later that a friend of mine had overheard the conversation and decided he would do something about it by dumpstering the guy, with some of his friends. I was in the dark on that one. So anyhow, that is what led me to meet Justin and Will, who I wouldn’t have otherwise met had I not been sent to the school for the special kids. To me, it was insulting… adding salt to wounds and mixing in some vinegar for good measure. My pride flared up because I didn’t understand why I was being sent away for refusing to be taken advantage of my yet another adult in my life who disappointed me. I held a pity party for the first month I was at the new school before finally getting over it and accepting that it was what it was. I had made some friends by that time, though not yet met Justin or Will. And the day I met each of them, another friend had been earlier removed with force due to something in their own lives: one had brought a semi-automatic to school, and another, a bomb. Had I known them better I might have sensed more about them… I knew to be nice but not overly friendly with them, and then it was revealed later on when these events occurred. God once again stepped in – both of these days – with removal of something the enemy wanted to get some glory for – and the addition of someone significant to who I have become. I got some substance to the wings I had a feeling might not be totally gone after all, despite that they were filled with fang-marks.

Other than things related to Justin, Carrie, Will, several other people were in my life in significant ways, but mostly it was specific events more than people.

For instance, Friday, October 13th – the only one during those years – I was staying with some people I knew, acting stupid but still having spiritual sensitivity turned up. We were watching movies related to the day, the only time I’ve ever seen them because I’ve never been a fan of horror, gore, etc – and all of a sudden out of nowhere I had the sense that one of our schoolmates had just died. I didn’t know why. I had never experienced that before… but it turned out to be true, as I found out that coming Monday. It was the person I thought it was; sensed it was. And the way he died wasn’t revealed in total at the assembly but I knew in my knower the missing piece because God had revealed it to me when he died. I could feel it in my body. I felt my body shatter at the moment of impact and then once I sensed who it was, I was back to “normal” again. The experience frightened me so much I asked God to take the gift away. He didn’t, but he has given me grace with it. The thing about this experience, though, is that in all honesty, it haunted me for years. See, the young man, God had revealed to me, was trying to get out of the gang he was in… and they had told him he could do one of two things… he chose the one that seemed less painful to the detriment of all who mourned his loss afterward, because it cost him his life. Three blocks away from the trainer I was sitting in, our schoolmate died, and it haunted me because for over five years afterward, I kept asking God, whenever a Friday the 13th came around, “Could I have stopped this from happening? I was right THERE, God! Three blocks away…”

I was also attacked physically and sexually assaulted while at that school. Justin is who helped me through it the first time it occurred… I told NOBODY else. I didn’t feel I could. But I acted out after that for quite a while… including in the area where the attack had occurred… because the enemy of my soul got an in that day… so I not only had PRIDE, REBELLION, and RESENTMENT/Trust Issues, I had a deeper sense of unworthiness for love than ever before. It got to the point I gave parts of who I was away to try to fill my need for love. And until I married at 21, including getting married to who I had, that was my pattern As a result of all this, I had miscarriages physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. That ol’ snake did a real number on me, and I helped him continue to bite with that one! My heart, mind, spirit, soul, and body all paid the price of listening to the wrong voice. God was still there, but I didn’t listen to half of what He was telling me, because in all honesty, I was mad at Him for allowing me to go through what I had… and then again and again to go through hard, heartbreaking events.

ASHANTI ft. Larenz Tate- Rain on Me!

At 20, Justin and Will were both taken from my life… for the long run that was a blessing but it hurt more than I knew how to express. That is when I met my now ex-husband, whom I will call JJ. I met JJ while waiting at a bus stop over at the mall… the second person I had met there, and apparently I hadn’t learned the lesson God had for me about that. Anyhow, he asked the time, and I gave it. Then as he was boarding the bus, I heard in my spirit “you’re going to marry that man.” While I had intended to board a different bus, with this bit of insight, I followed and got onto the one he was on. Part of me wondered why I’d marry a man who wore full-on wool sweaters with overalls in July, but I paid no mind. I turned my headphones on and by the time we were fifteen blocks out my eyes were closed and I was humming and gently singing along. The next thing I know, I hear clapping. And conversation starts. So, not too long – not long enough later – he was proposing and telling me he know I was the one, that God had told him we were to marry, and saying “I’ll prove it. Guess what song I’m thinking of right now.”

Let’s say I should have asked him to write it down, but I was 21, in my own place for the first time, and there was someone giving me what I thought of as positive attention who was saying the same thing I had heard in my spirit… marriage. So, I took a bite from that pomegranate, and it was sweet. I guessed the song first thing, or so he said. No way to really know. But a month later, we had a courthouse wedding… NOT what I wanted at all but I was desperate to hold on to the little bit of attention I was getting because the last thing I had heard from someone regarding who I was before I met him was the mother of someone I helped out who I caught stealing from me and had to have removed from my apartment that same thing I’d always heard: “nobody’s going to love you for who you are. You really have to be what everyone else wants, and you aren’t doing that.” Said in anger, I knew, but the words sunk deep. They left fang marks in my soul.

There were some warning signs right before JJ and I married, but I didn’t want to see them. They were evident in pieces though not as much as the same day as the wedding and the days to follow when we were in the same place, when he moved into my apartment and promptly tossed nearly everything worth anything to me that people had gifted me with over the years. In less than a week, I had seen his cheat with my own eyes two hours after saying “I do,” kissing someone else inside the courthouse; he had begun to treat me with contempt; he revealed he had tried to kill eleven people, from the time he was five years one, including his mother. He let me know he married me because I had told him God wanted to use me as a minister and he had already decided that either God would have him, or the devil would, but that he thought he’d go both ways… that he would either minister or become a serial killer. He revealed three days into the marriage that why he married me is that he decided God called him to kill ministers by becoming one himself and then nobody would ever suspect him. Threats several times a week ensued the whole year and a half we were under the same roof; miscarriages were forced… two of them, both planned for just before Christmas so that if I survived his attempts to kill me I’d always think of him at Christmas. Cheating that turned to bragging that turned to bolder and more frequent cheating, some of which I witnessed, and some found out through the Spirit of God. We were attending church, and I was gaining a lot from that… strength, new friendships, and a better understanding of God’s word. I also began to understand the gifts of the Spirit that were within me that I hadn’t acknowledged because I had listened to the enemy, and to well-meaning people, rather than to God. But the last straw for me to walk out the door was the day God said, “if you don’t leave tonight, you won’t live to see tomorrow.”

THIRD DAY- Cry Out to Jesus!

On that day, I had accidentally opened the wrong bank statement, and saw hotel bills etc. charged into his overdraft… the overdraft my Grandma and step-grandfather paid off for him because I had a handful of books on the list of back bills, too. JJ had been addicted to payday loan , and was stuck in that cycle, on top of the violence, murderous thoughts and tendencies, infidelity, intimidation, physical and sexual violence, and boasting. God revealed to me that day… four days after JJ had told me he would kill me if I didn’t turn into the best actress there was and allow him to “exorcise a demon from” me in front of the church so he would look good. That was the second time he had cowed and intimidated me with something that big: when we married, I was working and looking at houses… my finances were looking very good. To me, being told to act demon-possessed or I’d be killed in front of the whole church reminded me of when he told me to quit my job right away or he’d kill me in front of all my clients, who were children, because I had been working with abused and neglected children for a living when we met. God took my mind back to the two events, then to earlier in the day, and to the miscarriages JJ had forced, and other things that had happened, and said, “if you don’t leave tonight, you won’t live to see tomorrow.” I listened, and I left.

PILLAR- Frontline!

I had no idea what would happen when I left, or how dramatically my life would change. I just knew if I didn’t get out, I’d be like the voice I heard several weeks earlier in the park, when walking the dog. The voice who was screaming “He’s going to kill me,” preceding the image of someone being stabbed on the wall of the building. My dog barked the whole time, ran toward it, and growled at the gate between the two. I asked later if anyone else heard it and they thought I was crazy… but there was a rusty knife handle lying in that dirt. I didn’t know then if it was something past or present, but I knew it was real. I had that same REAL feeling the night I left as JJ slept. I had our finances separated and a restraining order set in place as soon as possible. That is how the year 2001 was rung in for me.

Stay tuned to find out what happened next…

UPDATE 7/16/13-- COME OVER and check out my FUNDRAISER! Journey to a Thousand Voices...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wings, Fangs, and Flight- Part 1

Have you ever wandered into something and wondered, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’

That’s been, in some ways, the story of my life.

They say babies can sense angels, and while I don’t recall, I’m sure I’m someone who did…

All photos in this post from

Born a month late and having the worst case of jaundice Mom’s doc had ever seen, I came into the world. My name was Charity. It has since become the original name my parents were going to give me: Harmony. That day, I got my first three or four bouquets of roses… among other flowers, the first gifts of my life from human hearts.

My Grama didn’t recall my name when a box showed up for me at her house, at the back gate. All it said was, ‘For Charity,’ and she puzzled a while before realizing it wasn’t from someone thinking she and Grampa needed some help. Now, she can laugh at it, but back when it happened, she was mortified she had forgotten. You see, the reason my name was even Charity instead of Harmony was because the latter would have been combined with the same middle name she carried… and she didn’t like it for years. She didn’t want me ‘saddled’ with it. So, what did my parents do? They thought back to when they were expecting my brother… they had chosen two names: a boy and a girl. Charity was the girl’s name then… so, they recycled it and gave it to me.

Makes it sound special, right? It was, but it didn’t always feel that way. Then, when I changed my name to Harmony, it was my Mom who couldn’t remember what it was for the longest time and several others refused to use it. But that’s getting ahead of the story…

The enemy has been trying unsuccessfully to take me out since I was born. First the jaundice, and then at one, a neighbor kid with a tire iron who told Mom he wanted to see what brains looked like… these early attempts on my life are pretty obvious looking back. ‘There must be something about this child’, satan thought, and tried to take a bite!
Spiritually speaking, I had been ‘born into’ the church; my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were regular Campmeeting and church attendees in the Church of God (Anderson), and I followed suit. This set the stage for a lot of their beliefs which I still cling to, and for upset of other beliefs that I have since shifted paradigm on, with the help of the Holy Spirit. The first such clash came at the age of three… before I even knew what exactly was happening. I was in my rocking chair one day, singing to God. This was pretty normal for me… music has always been a huge part of my life and heart from the very beginning. I was singing in English as well as in a prayer language… I didn’t know that’s what it was called then… but I knew God had given it to me to speak to Him. Well, one of my parents came into the room and castigated me for it, telling me I was using the devil’s language. Spiritually speaking, these are the first fangs I remember coming out from the enemy of my soul, and he used a parent. God had given me wings, and the enemy took a bite right through them.

Achy Breaky Heart - Billy Ray Cyrus.

There was a lot of negative talk about people in the media, and only a few shows and singers were “parent approved.” This went against the grain with my heart and a belief in God’s love of all people from the start… some of this was rebellion, some of it was a prayer warrior’s heart. I had what my friend Lisa calls HIT LISTS… prayer lists for people that were on my heart in the media. I didn’t write them down, usually memorizing them, and several are still on that list of prayers. The perspective of my family seemed to be that people in the media were hopeless if they didn’t already know Jesus Christ going in, and stick with Him. Now, the story is different, but then, that was the impression they gave. Then, fangs bit again. I kept the wings, but they were in hiding.

A month after I turned three, my Dad – who I now call Poppi – was in an industrial accident that changed the course of our family life forever. I have only one memory of him prior to this that stands out at all… one of three or four memories that were prior to the accident. We were at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I remember not wanting to touch the anemones – which I still don’t want to touch – but I was fascinated with the octopus that was in the tank appropriate to my own height. I reached in gently. I stroked some of the octopi tentacles. As I went to stroke and pet the beautiful and wondrous creature, my Dad next to me watching, I heard someone start to scream at me. Why? “The octopus still has ink in it, you stupid kid!! Get out of there!” My heart jumped, my hand rocketed out of the tank away from the octopus, and for the only time in my life that I ever witnessed it and recall, my Dad… came to my defense. “If there’s ink in the octopus, why is it out here in the petting area? That’s what’s stupid, not my daughter.” A protected and delicious feeling overcame me then… I knew without a doubt my Dad loved me… and then he had his accident.

The accident led to behavior change due to the treatment he needed. His whole personality became different. I didn’t recognize my own father, and after a while, didn’t even remember him other than the Octopus Incident. I still don’t. There is a hint of him being on the boat in the memory I have of ‘driving’ my uncle’s boat as I sat on his lap at the age of two… but I really recall the wheel in front of me and my hands there, inside the hands of my uncle, ‘steering’ down the Columbia River.

With Dad’s accident and the subsequent change in personality, I felt I had lost my father. Fang bite! That one really smarted!! Sensitive a child as I was, I felt my wings had been torn asunder and tossed onto the ground at that point. For years, I did what I could to avoid saying or doing anything to anger or frustrate my parents, on one hand, but on the other, I rebelled because of how confused I was; how hurt I was; I wanted my ‘old Dad.’ I wanted things to stay the way they were before the accident. I wanted life to be better… not harder. We struggled financially and relationally. I ended up having to attend alternative schools because of a combination of my acting out and their thinking I was crazy due to what they now know was fibromyalgia.

You might be asking, well, what happened in school? What happened in church? What about other family? Was there any support at all?

In terms of family, I spent a lot of time growing up with my grandparents… sometimes going to the beach and once to Disneyland, Sea World, and Knott’s Berry Farm. My parents took us (brother, sister and I) to Vancouver, BC a few times, but I don’t recall those trips. I wish I did.

I had a few friends in the early years. Some better than others in how they treated me, but each was important to me.

Lindsay was my first best friend. I don’t remember her. I remember she moved away. I don’t recall having a fit about it and freaking out that I had been abandoned, or my parents’ response to take me to see her in Idaho. I remember Idaho. Vaguely.

Shamanna moved in not too long after that, and because we were neighbors and still small, we became instant friends.

Stay tuned to find out what happened next!!

UPDATE 7/16/13-- COME OVER and check out my FUNDRAISER! Journey to a Thousand Voices...

Monday, March 5, 2012

To Honor, Respect and Love… EVERYONE

Imagine a world where everywhere you went, you were highly respected, honored, and treated kindly, in love. A world where, no matter who you ran into, they treated you well, in an authentic way.

You get up Monday morning, say your prayers, take your shower, eat and get ready for the day in your usual manner. You remind yourself that God loves you, and that you love yourself, before walking away from the mirror.

People on the highway are courteous to one another, making sure not to be rude or insensitive to others’ needs to get where they’re going. Or if you’re on the bus, the driver greets you well, and you receive hellos and smiles all around when you board. People ask you with genuine concern how you are, about your weekend, your family, the hobbies they know about, and so forth. They are genuinely interested, and you are, in turn, genuinely interested in them; in how they have been, their weekend, their lives.

At the store, the office, church, wherever you go throughout the week, there is a sense of honor, respect, and love genuinely emanating from each person you meet. No matter how surly someone might have been earlier in the day, they made sure they didn’t negatively affect others, and they apologize sincerely if they did. For every comment that is insensitive, there is automatic self-correction and asking for forgiveness. Nobody is making fun of other people; nobody is trying to disrespect their own or other people’s bodies. Movies, television, music, internet get much cleaner because people will not tolerate dishonor, will not tolerate disrespect, will not tolerate hate, apathy, self-degradation or degrading other people. Even the sense of it, the mere hint of it becomes stomach-turning because society has learned what it is to love; to genuinely care about EVERYONE they encounter, even if not in person. People treat others how they wish to be treated: with honor and respect… all the time. Not because their freedom to do otherwise has been washed away, or because anyone told them they had to, but because they genuinely wanted to.

What a world would we have then?

What if it started with you, with me? What if we decided from this time forward to work toward an ever-honoring, ever-respecting, ever-caring and loving attitude toward others in a way that Jesus would be proud of? That He would genuinely smile at. What if, instead of being selfish, we became more selfless? What if, instead of insensitive to others, we made a point to get to know and recognize what bothers others and do our best to avoid hurting them in those ways? What if THIS is part of the calling of a CHRISTIAN that we have ignored?

What if we were called to have good etiquette and manners? What if we were CALLED to treat each and every person we meet, no matter who they are, how they behave, how they dress, what they say, with honor, respect, and love? What if we have missed the mark every time we DIDN’T do this? Perhaps we have. Perhaps we have fallen short so often in this area, we forget we really ARE CALLED to honor, respect and love everyone, no matter what. And we ARE called to treat others as though they are royalty… ALL OTHERS… as though they are royalty, because they have been created by the King of Kings, the ONE TRUE KING, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and have been made in His image, whether or not they are actively in relationship with Him as their Father at the time, or not. We are called… we are called… we are called to KINGDOM RULES; to KINGDOM living; we are to behave as the ROYALTY that we TRULY ARE in GOD’s SIGHT. And we are called to do so in a humble manner; as in an earthly kingdom, the Godly Kingdom calls for a SERVANT’S HEART.

We have all seen how Princes William and Harry are SERVING OTHERS with their lives. They aren’t just there sitting in a castle, making pretty faces at people and telling them to bow down. GOD, too, calls us to SERVE… not merely to be served. He calls us to honor, respect, and love others the way HE DESIGNED for us to. And He says, don’t take sides with people; don’t treat one person better than any other… I believe that includes ourselves. We are not to treat ourselves better than other people; we are not called to treat others as better than ourselves. We all are made in HIS IMAGE; we are all IMAGE-BEARERS of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

What is a KING, but a ruler who serves? What is a LORD, but a master in whose service it is supposed to be a privilege to be under?

Rahab the Prostitute didn’t stay a prostitute forever. God took what others saw as trash, made her His treasure, and placed her in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rahab FOLLOWED GOD by saving the Hebrew spies, letting them safely leave and trusted GOD with her life, and the lives of her family. She was destined to marry one of those Hebrew spies and become a several-times-great grandmother to the Lord Jesus Christ. God REDEEMED her past with her future. He was KING and LORD in her heart before she even knew it, because of the honor, respect, and genuine un-lustful love of the spies God sent her way, and it won over her heart. She SERVED the spies, and God, rather than being selfish, self-centered, and fearful of the king of her land. She honored and respected the GOD OF THE HEBREWS before she knew she even had encountered Him.

King David had to SERVE to get where God wanted him… he had to FOLLOW the LORD’s direction and leading to go from shepherd boy to king and ruler. He paid a HIGH PRICE for that… and he wasn’t perfect, but HE KNEW THE GOD, the one and only True God, Who IS, and followed Him as well as possible. He may not have seen all the steps along the way; he likely didn’t foresee each of the twists and turns in his life that God preplanned for due to what God knew he would do, where he would fall short… but God used even his deepest, darkest places – adultery and premeditated murder – and turned it into such good that only GOD could have done it: Solomon, his son with Bathsheba, becoming the next king, and eventually, Jesus the Christ coming through his own lineage. The very GOD Who forgave and delivered him was later delivered in a stable nearby to oxen and cattle by a young Hebrew girl who descended through his line.

Martin Luther, known now as the Father of the Reformation and beginner, as it were, of the PROTESTANT movement, had to SERVE to get where God wanted him, too… he had to FOLLOW the LORD’s leading to go from Catholic priest with a hitch in his get-along to fiery reformer. He, too, paid a high price. He, too, had to FOLLOW as well as he could the ONE TRUE GOD. He paid the price of being considered a heretic to help others realize they could have personal relationships with God, as He intended all along.

Rosa Parks had to SERVE as God led her to when she PROTESTED on a bus, leading to better treatment and equality for those of African ancestry within the United States because GOD HAD FOREORDAINED her to play a role. In the process, she paid the price of being treated with disdain and disregard most of her life… and getting to the point where she was fed up with it, tired, and resolved that she would no longer be subject to the evils of racism that were prevalent throughout the South and the US as a general whole. She took a stand for being HONORED, RESPECTED, and LOVED as she was, as GOD does, so that people could see where they WERE FALLING SHORT so God could work on their hearts, and on the fabric of this nation, to help people better treat and care for one another in the long run.

Throughout history thousands and missions of people have decided it’s time… time to HONOR, RESPECT, and LOVE themselves enough to take a stand. Time to HONOR, RESPECT, and LOVE GOD with all that they are, in accord with His command. Time to HONOR, RESPECT, and LOVE their fellow man, no matter the circumstance or the cost, because it is part of the call of the follower of CHRIST JESUS. Some have been killed for these efforts; for following their LORD. Some have been criticized, others have been tortured, but OTHERS… others have garnered high respect from those around them, even if we never learn their names before reaching heaven. And many of those tortured and killed have, in their deaths and tortures, gained the respect and honor and care of those who tested them in this way, for whatever the reason was. Those persecuted have a testimony that speaks much more highly and fully than mere words ever could. And those who have been blessed to live where they can freely worship the LORD, freely share His love, honor, and respect… His grace, mercy, and message with others without prosecution, persecution, torture, death threats, and the like… don’t always take as seriously the commends of Christ. We have grown lax in following; lax in OBEDIENCE to His Word to us to HONOR, to CHERISH, to RESPECT human life. His WORD to LOVE all people as we would hope and want to be loved, not with lust but true love; phileo love; friendship and stewardship for others.

So I speak not of a utopian society when I ask you to imagine a world where there is continual mutual love, respect, and honor, but to imagine a world where, even if people neglected to follow some of the other commands of Christ, if we ALL FOLLOWED this ONE command, life would be such a better, different, and more positively heavenly thing to experience. If we BELIEVE GOD… if we EXPERIENCE HIM… why do we not FOLLOW HIM? If we KNOW His personality, His character, is TRUE… that He is Living Love, that He is ever-present, ever-forgiving, never-changing… if He proved His love for us by coming down to earth flesh-enwrapped as a baby, grew up under the tutelage of human parents, learned to serve, learned a trade, went to Temple, learned about God the Father from others, laying aside the power to know everything about everyone in His fleshly form while still having it in His Spirit form as the Father and Spirit, ministered to people, walking through mud, touching the unclean to become unclean Himself in order to heal, interceded for us before, during, and after laying down His life voluntarily to SAVE US from our SINS and our SELF… then how can so great a LOVE be ignored? How is it that we find it hard to follow His commands when He has done sooooo much for us? Just because He doesn’t wave a magic wand when we want Him to, are we going to love Him less? The Word says that if we love God, we will obey Him. That is how He differentiates between those who genuinely LOVE Him and those who only show off lip service.

What about YOU?

We are told to choose LIFE or DEATH, BLESSINGS or CURSES. One way to choose LIFE and BLESSINGS is as easy as obeying Him, come what may, Who created and knows us best, loves us with an undying love to the point of His death and resurrection in our place. Jesus became the DEATH, the CURSE, in place of us, who are sinful; we aren’t ever going to, in our own right, be good enough for Him. We are ALL sinful and ALL fall short, but the GOOD NEWS is that BY FAITH we are made RIGHTEOUS, HOLY, and BLESSED in Him Who DID die in our places. God doesn’t tell us what to do because He wants us to be His puppets. He tells us things because He wants us to have LIFE, and His words are LIFE. If we close our eyes and ears to HIM, the One Who created us, we are in a place of DEATH. Without a vision, the people perish, and without the Master Visioner in our circle of trust and relationship, there is visionless death. There is curse and death instead of life, blessings, and vision when we choose to actively disregard, disobey, or refuse to even see or hear what God is saying to us, individually, as a family, as a church, as a work team, as a nation, as a continent, as a WORLD.

Well, how does God speak to me, then, you might wonder? When do I see God at work?

Have you ever met a newborn baby? That’s a miracle right there.
Have you ever had a dream that came true? A dream that showed you the answer to a question you had been searching for?
Have you ever “all of a sudden” come up with something that you found helpful, just when you needed it? Be it an idea, a provision, or whatever?
Have you ever met someone you “knew” would be important in your life, but maybe you didn’t know why?
Have you ever wondered how someone was doing, and then all of a sudden heard from or ran into them?
Have you ever been out in nature and been captivated by something you see or hear? Did you learn something from it?
Have circumstances ever “fit into place” just right, and you didn’t necessarily understand why?
Have you ever prayed for something, or about something, and then the answer came from another person when you weren’t looking?
Have provisions shown up just in the nick of time when you thought all hope was lost?
Have you ever been invited to do something you always wanted to do, where it was to help someone else or experience something that later helped you relate to someone else?

These are evidences of God at work; evidences of Him speaking to you or into your life; evidences that He is thinking of and loves you, exactly as you are, but wants you to become even better because He knows your full potential and your destiny.

God speaks to us through The Bible, the Holy Spirit, creation (nature, other people), and in dreams and visions. He shows us things He knows we will need in order to grow, learn, and become more like Him. He ever-invites us to the dance of life, to the dance of LIVING IN HIM, in the Son, beckoning and wooing us with His love and grace. You are beautiful to Him even when your actions and words aren’t. He HONORS, RESPECTS, and LOVES you even when you do not follow suit. Love doesn’t demand its own way. It isn’t selfish or self-centered… and as God is LOVE, neither is He. He wants the very best for us, no matter what it takes. Even if it means going through some rough and painful times to get us to the place He knows we will be most blessed, most alive, most loved and fulfilling our destinies, our purposes, our callings… He will do whatever it takes, take away or add in to our lives whatever is needed, to draw us closer to Him for His glory and our good.