Friday, July 24, 2009


It must have been a few days after my own high school graduation, that I attended my friend Hopey's. I miss Hope. I haven't talked to her in over eight years. I believe she still lives in New York. I first met Hope Elaine Lee in fourth grade, we shared the same class all the way to High School, where she attended Walton, a co ed public school in the Bronx. We danced together, auditioning for the Apollo and local talent shows. We called ourselves "bug-out partners." She's part of the Undercliff Crew too; her building was across the street and we walked to school together.

When I married my former husband, he really made it difficult for me to retain past friendships. Looking back of course, I allowed him to control this part of my life. I was isolated for a while. I'll never forget her birthday - March 15 "the Ides of March." I remembered a few years ago and sent a card, but didn't hear anything.

I'm lying on the bed, listening to the second Cd Miriam gave me. Pastor Todd Skeirik is now sharing about relationships. He shared the need to find people you can share a similarity or interest in common with and get together. Get to know each other. He spoke about how Jesus reclined in the home sinners. He ate with them. My own personal digging began...

I complain at times about the full time hours of work. Oh if I could stay home; how awesome. I'm working. I'm doing what I need, to care for my kids. How can I make the best out of this? The job is pretty cool, great people and home-like atmosphere. Its been almost three years that I worked for the Health Department and I have not made one friend that I connect with outside of work. I realized that I didn't miss it either. Pretty content jogging five days a week, alone with my ipod and the park. I am inspired by this message. This challenge to get to know others and go deeper than the superficial "hi, how ya doin', now-get-out-of-my-face-I-got-other-things-to-do" routine, has got me all excited.

I have been isolated too long and its time I start venturing out and getting to know more people. It will be two years since my divorce, already five years since we separated. I know I have been through a tremendous season of finding contentment in being alone, dealing with the loss of the hope of an intimate relationship. I didn't know how much I had shut out of my life until now. I am ready to be exposed, (not too deep) to others; just enough to listen and laugh with them. I will travel at lunch time at least once per week to the clinic and have lunch with the folks there. I will seek out a coworker who loves to knit and schedule a time for me to gain a few pointers; my crocheting is much better.

The recent tragic death of a coworkers husband, began this process in me. I didn't take the time to get to know her well, so when the death occurred I was a bit cautious in my approach. The interesting thing is that I recognized my connection to her story and her hurt. I felt it. I went to the funeral and pondered heavily over her situation. At times my emotions were churned up till it reached my forehead and would just stop there-no tears, yet I could feel them backed up inside. The Lord in His mercy allowed us to talk. I was so thankful for what she shared. To hear how she was coping and moving on, strengthened me. Listening awakened my own need to do relationships. I miss that. I almost want to cry when I think of all the time I missed not knowing that I was afraid of rejection and being hurt.
"Don't give up on your friends. When you find out something bad about them, don't give up on them. Also, be empowering; not controlling. Be like God; get to know people. Love them. Don't criticize them. Don't separate yourself from them. " Boy have I done that. Praise God that as long as I am still breathing, I can make changes. Hmmm.....

Listening to that Cd not only earned Gateway a permanent spot in my "Sites to See" section of this blog, but it has allowed me to sigh in awe. This is a huge scene in that work of art He has created in me. As I allow Him to, He is making me whole.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Facebook Fallacies

Tonight I am about to join the Facebook group called "Undercliff Crew". How cool. I will get to see all my old buddies from Undercliff Avenue, where I grew up. Facebook is such a great way to find and connect with people you have lost touch with.

I am now "friends" with nearly 3o of my old classroom buds from Cathedral High School. A few weeks ago, my fascination with Facebook turned into a habit I wanted to avoid. One night I began peering into the profiles of a few of these Cathedralites. Bachelor's degrees, Masters, Program Managers, Directors, blah, blah, blah... So many turned out to be so successful. I began to bemoan all my mistakes that started my senior year. No goals and a boyfriend kind of sums it up. I began feeling quite bummed. Its been 19 years and all I have is an Associates and I'm an assistant. My grades were good. I could have gone really far with my life. Look at what so and so is doing. This one lady wasn't very good looking in high school, but now? She's a knock out! Oh boy, and the self loathing continued. I didn't want to get on the Facebook anymore. It lost its appeal.

Miriam sent a few Cd's from her new church in Connecticut: Gateway Christian Fellowship. I am so glad she has found a church home. The new pastors shared their testimonies, and I listened to this Cd at work. I had been thinking this day of how I need to stop talking about my past and my testimony, because its getting old. Its time to share something new. Wow. That was not a word from the Lord at all - definitely the enemy. The encouragement I heard at the end of this message really blew me away. It spoke directly to me and what I was experiencing. Another piece of evidence of the reality of the love of God working in my life. This is what I heard...

"A testimony breaks down strongholds. In the book of Revelation it is by the blood and the power of our testimony that we come out overcomers; we have the victory. We are no longer victims. Your testimony encourages another. Your journey, your story, your testimony is power! Use it! Don't wish that you had someone else's life. God can use your life - your testimony. It is a powerful weapon in your hands, because you are not a victim; you have overcome. Use that gift of your story to further his kingdom. It encourages Gods people. It breaks down mindsets and tears down principalities. He is faithful. No matter what place you are in, God can teach you, stay open, He can use it. Don't disqualify yourself. Don't be discouraged. Thank God. Ask God to use your life. We need each other. We need each others story."

You know, I just wanted to shout right there in my seat; right in the middle of the office! I just shook my head and laughed. Today I realized that my problem wasn't Facebook, it was me. I am so rich in what the Lord has given me. There may be a few of those ladies who don't know the Lord, yet have an amazing portfolio. A relationship with God has so much more value than any degree; however, in this reality I will not put down their accomplishments. I am proud of what my friends have achieved. I admire young people who know their purpose and have goals, and set out to fulfill them.

I am who the bible says I am. I have what the bible says I have. I am His own special creation; unique. I am His work of Art. Don't have time to be trying to live someone else's life, or redo mine. Can't. Must move on. Praise God!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dancing Trees

The routine would be different. At lunch time I'd be heading over to a staff meeting instead of taking my much anticipated jog through historic downtown Punta Gorda. Its always hot, but Gilchrist Park greets me with a cool breeze from the Peace River. I could sit and just stare at it, for hours - if I didn't have to get back to work. Along my precious route there is an amazing tree that sits along the corner of Trabue Avenue and McGregor Street. It is a gorgeous oak tree whose canopy literally swallows the entire street corner. I pause there and stare up; I see nothing but green. Its so thick, I know I could climb up there with the kids and hang out; read a book to them. When I discovered this place I asked the Lord for a tree just like that, gracing the lawn of my new home. I think we would spend most of our time there!

I usually am excited about seeing everyone from work. Yesterday I awoke melancholy and disinterested in the staff meeting. I fought this attack from its onset. I know my history and If I give into feeling woebegone it just takes on a life of its own.

Satan was using an offense, (that I felt was passively done), to steal the joy and peace that lives in me. I kept replaying this person over and over in my head. I wanted to confront her at one time, ignore her the next. I replayed those imaginary encounters in my head only to be interrupted by my third option - love her anyway. Fighting that one. My feelings just weren't making it there. I needed to take the example of David who encouraged himself in the Lord. The jogging and walking helps tremendously. Ten minutes of moving stimulates those feel good hormones. Ipod blasting praise tunes, (and an occasional slip of some Stevie Wonder; it's icing on the cake! I knew there wouldn't be time to do that. I pulled out scriptures. I prayed. I want so much to turn this hurt into a harvest! With every offense that we take, Satan wants to use it to steal from us. I remembered that I could laugh at the enemy and what he was doing. I laughed because I knew that when I came through this trial I wouldn't even smell like smoke. I'd come out on top. God's will is that we always come out on top through every storm. We are winners, and not losers, in Jesus' Name.

I knew that I was not to take this offense, or allow it take root in me. My dear friend Miriam shared that there will be people that will hurt you the most, coming from within your own safe circle of friends; from Christians. Those that you may have never suspected; the one you were most vulnerable enough to trust. That hurts. Its hard, but its true. So, what do ya do with that? Let it go. Don't dwell on it. Give it to the Lord. Don't be bitter. Let it go. Don't conjure up ways to "give it back to em" in your mind. You know it feels good though, imagining yourself hurting them back. Reject that false sense of satisfaction. Stop entertaining it, and let it go. Friends will remain forever, and there are many that will only be with you for a season. Cherish it and preserve the good memories and fruit produced in it. Find ways to bless that person, if the opportunities arise. Bless and do not curse; you know - it only leads to evil. (Psalm 37).

As the day progressed, I made it through the meeting just fine and had fun. I had my 3rd guitar lesson, and settled at home - just me and Matthew. He looked a little frustrated since Alex was sleeping over at a friend's house and BJ was at the movies. One of Hillsongs Australia's' albums was playing. The fast tunes were right on time. Instead of talking to him, I just started dancing silly in front of him, animated and in time with the music. This beautiful grin came over him - it lit up his entire face. He threw his head back and laughed. It was 10:30 pm. Perhaps he should have been in bed, but its summer, our schedule is out of whack. I grabbed both of his hands. We started to shimmy. We did the swim, the twist. We did some amateur ball room dancing. He was a bit heavy, but I managed to use him for the lift and twirl sequence. He loved that. Okay. We're hot and sweaty now. I'm thinking about the whirlwind of a day: "From mourning to dancing, my sorrow was lifted; His joy came, just as He promised. I got my exercise tonight and, it was worth missing that tree!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cast him out!

Greetings Rosebuds!

Have you ever tried to complete a project without reading the instructions? Have you ever taken a short cut only to get delayed by a detour? How did you feel? FRUSTRATED? The memory of Sunday afternoon at the ball game felt this way.

"Whenever I go to the game, they always lose. I think its me." I knew something was wrong with his statement. "You will have what you say," I'd tell Alex. "Mom, hurry up. We are going to be late," Matthew throws in. "I bet its going take one hour to walk to the field. We're gonna lose." Inside I was screaming "UGGGGGGGGGGH!" "What is wrong with these kids?" At my feeble attempts to correct them, I said "Where is your faith? This is supposed to be fun!" There was truth in my motivation to ask this, but I was still missing it. I felt opressed, tormented. Making attempts to deal with these attitudes, within my own power, was useless. Without the name of Jesus, my muscles are smaller than a peanut. Pretty tiny.

Our five minute walk to the field brought us into the "promise land", but section 146 was no where in sight. Matthew's frustration is starting to reach a boiling point. "We have to walk all the way around? Oh man!" I'm thinking for a ten year old, he surely is acting like an old man. I was having fun and Alex's began to relax, but Matthew was a man on a mission. "What's he complaining about?"
I have to pause here and share that my boys are fun loving and extremely gifted. I learn so much from Alex's simple, yet profound way of looking at the details of life which are often overlooked. Matthew is a sponge and has an ever expanding brain. He hears from God and is used by Him to encourage my own growth. They are rooted and established in love. So as you hear my thoughts, know that they were temporary and fleeting. I don't speak negative attributes over my boys.

We had corner seats -perfect. Selected by moi, these seats would allow a gazillion trips to the bathroom and concession stand without disturbing the fans. Game starts and this is where I check out mentally. Not completely. I cheer with everyone else, but it is not all that genuine - cause I don't understand the game friends. The boys, they are pretty good and explain a few things to me. No score for the first 6 innings. Alex appears sad about it. The Rays pick up the first 3 runs - all is well in Tropicanna Field!

We miss a play - there's booing in the crowd. "Matthew told me to leave him alone when I asked him a question about it." (He did other things like this to antagonize his little brother). "Matthew tell us what happened." "Just pay attention!", he says. I don't remember what I said to him; I know a threat was involved. Its the seventh inning and Rays score no more, for the remainder of the game. Alex says, "see I told you. They never win when I am there." So sad. Matthew begins his disertation on how the Rays stink, this was a complete waste of time, I don't want to wait in line for Alex to run the bases, lets go home. So I think I look like a Cherokee at this point, ready to purposely erupt some hot lava on my son. All the while I wonder, where are my kids anyway? Who are these impostors?

Alex had fun, but I was angry with Matthew. How could he say it was a waste of time? It was his idea to do this, this summer. I actually would have enjoyed myself more if he wasn't complaining so much.

The kids are light hearted on the way to the parking lot. The boys are bouncing around and I am mad. The sunshine skyway bridge appears under this beautiful sunset and I just start letting in to Matthew. Then I feel bad, because he is totally misunderstanding what I am saying to him appearing hurt. Then it hits me...well the Lord hit me, upside the inside of my head. "If you would have asked me what to do, I would have told you." In fact, he already has. In Mark 16:17 Jesus says, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;..." "Peggy, you would have been all right if you'd have just casted him out." Its true. I don't know why I didn't think of it. It certainly was all an attack of the enemy. The bible tells me that I have the power to cast him out.

So as I sat driving and marveling at a missed opportunity. I exchanged peace for futile thinking. I quickly changed my thoughts so it wouldn't spill over into self pity and guilt, although it crept at my door. I just began to speak to the devil and say "Satan, in the name of Jesus, leave my Matthew and Alex alone. Get up and get out." Just as simple as that. It took a few hours but by evening, my boys were the same joyous kids I know. Our coversation was sweet and reconciliation covered it. He even told me why the crowd booed. I said Matthew, "you know love covers a multitude of sins?"

You know what, it happened again today. On the way to vacation bible school, they cried " why are you forcing us to go? You are ruining our summer. We want to go to grandma's house and do what we want." I know, "watch foolish television shows on cable or get the Word of God in you and have a great time? Hmmm. Let's see...." Gimme a break. I wasn't falling for Satan's tricks again. I held it together. As calm as I could be I kept repeating to them that they were going to have a great time, I know what's best and they need to trust me as their mom. I would not lead them into a horrible time. Matthew screamed and cried fat tears of anguish. Alex looked betrayed with tears in his eyes. Good grief. I wasn't afraid, just a bit agitated on the inside, but not with them. So I said it again, "Satan you come out of Matthew and Alex right now, in Jesus name" (can't forget that). They cried even louder and harder. They just thought I was making fun of them and being mean. Lies, all lies, from the one bendt on stealing, killin' and destroyin'. It took ten minutes to get them all inside, but they stayed and LOVED IT. "Sorry I was mad at you mom. I forgive you. It was OK. Nah! It was awesome! It was crazy!"

Our children are precious and he can't have them. Our mind is sound, and we cannot allow the enemy to have a picnic there. Cast him out!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrate Freedom

Written July 3, 2009 for the Women of Destiny Newsletter
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. Isaiah 61:1 (NLT)
Have you ever answered the infamous icebreaker questions? "What's your favorite color, what was the last book you read? Favorite food?" But have you ever been asked this one, "What's your favorite word?" My answer would be: "Free"! Whenever I hear it, my ears perk up and my heart leaps at the thrill of being and having anything free. I salivate over a Dillard's ad containing the phrase "take an additional 75% off"; do I hear clearance anyone? "Freedom" floods my mind with visions of dancing, walking on water, birds flying, leaping off the edge of a cliff and slowly gliding. Of course, I can't neglect my ultimate vision - being on vacation. Ahhhhhhhh.....uninterrupted relaxation!
As we approach the eve of Independence Day, I can't help but ponder the freedom I have experienced in my own life. Freedom, for me is more than what it appears to mean in the natural. Let's see, I have sought freedom from fear, self-consciousness, procrastination, controlling people, being controlled by others; the list goes on.
Revelation of how much God truly loves me and meditating on His Word has strengthened my ability to walk in freedom. The Bible, as described by Creflo Dollar, "is not a book of rules, but a bag of Seed." Galatians 5:1 encourages us to remember that "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (NIV) Receiving healing from past hurts has allowed me to say, "Bye bye" to the embittered, "I aint trustin' nobody", nobody that used to exist, and greet a renewed me. I'm gaining the freedom to say no, be vulnerable, transparent, and go where I've never gone before, cultivating a whole heart.
Till next time, let's walk about in freedom as we seek out His precepts! (Psalm 119:4-5)