Over the past few weeks, I’ve been telling people, “you have to take this one day at a time.” I should have realized that God was trying to speak to me as well but I didn’t at the time. Then yesterday, that light bulb finally went on, “Hey, I need to take this one day at a time.”
What does that mean?
For me, there are times when I get so caught up on what might or could happen in the future that I get overwhelmed at the journey ahead. Jacob and Elijah have been watching the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the past couple nights we’ve been watching the final movie “Return of the King”. This is a long movie series. But what is interesting is that you have Frodo who is the main character. He has this daunting task of taking the ring to Mt. Doom and destroying it. You think that he would be the hero of the story but he’s not. The real hero is Sam. His simple friend with childlike thinking. Sam knows that the task is hard and burdensome for Mr. Frodo but Sam still believes that they will complete the task and return home.
Oh, if we could all take this kind of approach to life. One day at a time, one moment at a time, just keeping moving forward.
I know that I need to set goals for the future. Doing so allows me to prioritize things in my life. If my goal is to raise three respectful young men then today I will make time to correct my sons when they are being disrespectful. If my goal is to sell books to readers, then today I will write instead of watching that TV show because I know what will get me closer to my goal. (Doesn’t always happen but at least I know.)
We need to set goals for the future. But we must also live each moment fully alert.
God, help us to live each day. Help us not to punch in a destination and coast through life on auto-pilot but to live with intention. To live on purpose. Yes, we need goals but our ultimate goal should be to see your kingdom in the here and now. To see people as you see them. To value every person and every moment. Amen
Life never seems to go the way that we plan it. Last night, after getting off work at midnight, my youngest son came into the room saying he was going to be sick.
He had only got choked from being congested but the little guy slept in my room all night anyway. During the night, he decided to ask random question, almost always right as I was drifting back to sleep.
Why am I sharing this? To be transparent. A lot of times I hear Christians acting like they have it all together. I’ve been one of them in the past. It was as if people wouldn’t believe in God if things weren’t going well all the time.
But honestly, when I look back at my life it wasn’t the times when things were going well that people wanted to know who my God was. It was the times when I was struggling the hardest. When we had a miscarriage, when there was a death, when we were about to become homeless for three weeks.
During those times I was frustrated but not with God. I knew that God would make something beautiful from it all. I was frustrated with this broken world. Frustrated that bad things happen. Frustrated that we don’t value the lives of others as much as we should. Just frustrated.
Also during those times was when I had the most people say, “ I don’t understand how you’re so calm I’d be a mess right now.” To which I’d answer, “God.”
If you find yourself dealing with the crazy frustrations today, take a moment to read the Bible. If you don’t have one check out biblegateway.com or the youversion app. (Ephesians is a pretty good book to start on) Get to know about the God that created the heavens and the earth. The God that wants you to experience joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, gentleness, love, and faithfulness. These things will show up wherever he is. It will be the fruit that his people have upon them. But don’t stop at reading about him from the perspective of others. Take time to talk to him and listen for him to talk back. He’s not a distance deity wanting to lord over humanity. He wants an intimate relationship with each and every one of us.
God, I pray for anyone reading this today. No matter what frustrations they may be experiencing today, God, give them peace like a breathe of fresh air. Even if circumstances don’t change today or tomorrow, allow them to experience freedom from those circumstances. Freedom that only you can give us. Amen.
This scripture is often misquoted. The first half is typically omitted and people usually say, “But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”
However, it’s important to see what Joshua actually said here. He said, “Choose who you will serve.” He didn’t tell the people who to serve but instead told them that it was their decision.
I don’t understand why people would make a choice other than God. But as I get older I recognize that, like Joshua, it’s not for me to decide for them. I have to know who I serve and where I stand.
Hopefully, they will see something through the relationship that I have with God that they will want for their own life.
Don’t waste your time trying to convince people why they should serve God or arguing with them about these details. Instead, put every effort into living a life that brings glory to God, doing everything to please God. In other words, stop telling people why they should have a relationship with God and start showing them through your own life.
God, help us to seek you always. It’s not our job to convince people to serve you. We only need to set an example of serving you but giving you our best in everything. Amen.
Life’s a Trip (All This is Real)
(c) 2019 Nicole Donoho
Hey you / how’s it going inside? / I wish that I knew / if you thought that I could read your mind / that thought lied to you / the truth is that I’m kinda scared /I’m lost /what should I do / do I trust what you say to me / or is what my gut tell me true? / I don’t know how to navigate this space that I’m in / this is all quite new to me / I want it to end (want it to end?) / yeah, that’s what I feel / but it’s all just begun/ this teeter totter back and forth, this spinning around / this searching for a quick fix / but it seems no one is found / so what do we do with this life? / what do we do with what we feel? / are we just on a bad trip? / or is all of this real?/
it’s real / I tell you it’s real / how you feel deep inside / and there’s no place to hide / it’s real / all that you feel / we’re gonna get through this night / yeah you gotta hold tight / ‘cause it‘s real
hey you / I just thought I’d let you know / that I’m still here / I said I wouldn’t go (where would I go) / so many things goin’ through my mind / and I’m trin’ to find / the right way to deal / with all that I feel / but I don’t know / which way to go / you’re acting like you’re a burden / that you’re just too much to take / I guess you think you’re my problem / but see that’s your mistake / I was messed up before you got here / I just assumed I was livin’ right / something was deliverin’ a hidden beat down / but I’d forgot how to fight / I was strong (sure) / if that’s what you think / the truth is I was hanging by a thread / and you provided the missing link / and now I know that
it’s real / I tell you it’s real / how I feel deep inside / and there’s no place to hide / it’s real / all that I feel / we’re gonna get through this night / yeah we gotta hold tight / ‘cause it‘s real/
hey you / how’s it going I just gotta check in / see I found this to be a marathon / and here we thought it’d be a quick win / that’s silly, yeah it’s crazy to think / how this life means so much to us but could be ended in a blink / of the eye / you can’t deny / that the struggle ain’t fake / we can’t make the same mistake / pushin’ aside / all that we hide / refusing to share / not letting people care / how’s it gonna help when we can’t ask for help / what are we gonna feel when we bury this pain? / I’ve buried this pain for too long (too long) / and I’ve just felt the same (the same)/ I need a new heart/
Would you reach down deep inside? / find all the secrets that I hide? / mouth to mouth I need revived / I’ve yet to live I’ve just survived / breath your life into my soul / if this is real I’ve got to know/
it’s real / I tell you it’s real / how we feel deep inside / and there’s no place to hide / it’s real / all that we feel / we’re gonna get through this night / yeah let’s stand up and fight / ‘cause it‘s real/
stand up and fight (fight) / fight your life (life) / cause it’s real (real) / all that I feel (feel) / all that you feel (feel) / know that’s real (real) / real what I feel / good and the bad / happy and sad / joy and the pain / sunshine and rain /stand up and fight / this your life / this is my life / all this real / real what we feel (feel) / this is our life so hold my hand / all this is real (real) / yeah this is our life and it’s real/
So...that just happened...
I was having trouble sleeping. My mind was spinning, processing through everything that’s happened over the past seven days. Everything that I’ve seen and everything that God has revealed. From a tiny flower on the sidewalk to the emptiness that others feel inside. From how to help others without taking on their burden (cause it’s lighter for God to carry, duh, Nicole) to helping myself awake from under the walls that I’ve built in my heart. I was deceived into thinking those walls were protecting me but with every step of life they shook loose and buried me deeper and deeper under their weight.
So yeah...sleepless night + God = rap lyrics? Not sure if you’ll find the same humor as I do in God giving me, someone who can’t carry a tone not play an instrument, some AMAZING lyrics like this but you know He works all things together for good so I’ll trust He knows what He’s doing. Goodnight.
Every time I find the courage to post a video, the still shot preview always seems to capture the best picture. And by 'best' I mean a face that reminds me I am so out of my element with public speaking. But, maybe that's okay. Hopefully, my lack and inexperience allows God more room to do His thing.
I started www.goodbyechristianwhore.com to promote a book. I started this blog because I love writing and didn't want the book to end the experience. "Goodbye, Christian Whore" was a snapshot of one experience in my life. One moment of transparency sharing how I navigated through life. This blog was meant to continue that transparency because let's be honest, sometimes we want to be inspired but don't want to part with the $9.99.
I've been struggling with be a "blogger". I see mommy blogs, I see sports blogs, I see fitness blogs. These people seem to have it all together. They have a theme and they are sticking to it. My blog is all over the place. I write about writing, I write about books, I write about God, I pretty much just write whatever is going on in my life or my general thoughts about life. The lack of theme has made me feel like a failure up to this point.
But today, when I recorded this video it all came together. There's a voice that keeps telling me I'm failing the competition. It keeps telling me I'm wasting the talents God has given me.
Dear That Voice,
You are a liar! God did not create this life to be a competition. He created it to be a collective. Humanity wasn't created to compete with each other, we were created to contribute to each other. Competing requires us to be the best. Contribution allows God to be the best, like it should be. You sly little devil, you almost had me once again. Focused so much on me (my lack of) that I lost sight of God. No worries, I'll take that crap you're dishing out. But I'm done letting it stink up my life. Instead, it's going to fertilize all that God's trying to grow!
When you taunt me saying that I'll be one voice drown out in a million, I'll be a voice. When you tell me I'm not qualified, I'll be a voice.When you tell me to sit this one out, I'll be a voice.
I'll be a voice...because it's not about my voice or my story. It's about His story. When life gives you lemons...well, God didn't give me lemons He gave me words so I'm going to write them down, I'm going to speak them out, I'm going to paint them, I'm going to share them in every way that I can. Because that's what I've been given to work with.
God, thank you for growth, inspiration...thank you for being God. My rock in this crazy tornado called life. Amen.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1
I don't know about you but sometimes I forget that there is a time for everything that happens here on earth. Especially when it's time to move from my comfort zone. Change can be frustrating, aggravating, stressful, and uncomfortable. However, change can also be a breathe of fresh air.
Why is it then that most of us avoid change like it's the plague? Could that be a curse of the sin we're born into? We like things to stay the way we like them rather than embracing the freedom God offers. In fact, some of us are so stuck in the way we like things that we can't even think about buying our underwear anywhere else except "Kmart on 400 Oak Street in Cincinnati". (Yes, that was a Dustin Hoffmann quote from Rain Man.)
You might have noticed that shift happens is awfully close to the phrase sh*t happens. One of the words means "nonsense, foolishness, crap". The other means "change or move". Hopefully, you're able to guess which is which.
The past few weeks I've been circling over the first church, the first followers of Christ. What was it that made them want to profess Jesus as their Lord and follow Him even to death? Were these people a bunch of religious fanatics, had they been brainwashed, or was there something more to their passion and dedication?
Well, first of all, that's more than I can cover in one blog. But the simple answer is shift. They shifted from an earthy mindset to a heavenly mindset. That didn't mean they no longer suffered pain or heartache, it simply meant that they processed it in a new light. They began to understand "this too shall pass" was more than an empty phrase your neighbor told you when things turned to sh*t. It was a lifestyle that could be embraced through Christ.
God would be their God. Not because they were a people that He choose like Israel. Not because He was the God of their ancestors- Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. But because He took their place in an awful punishment, out of love for them, before even knowing if He'd be loved in return.
God, help me embrace the shift that you have for my life. Help me not to become so wrapped up in the things of this world that I lose sight of your will and your kingdom. You are God, not me. Your will be done, not mine. Lord, ignite a passion inside of me that burns away my selfish desires. Ignite a passion for you that consume me from the inside out. That cleanses me and flows out of me. Amen.
Sometimes, sin is simply rushed by. People say things like, "Of course you've sinned. We all have!" Which ultimately eliminates the person's guilty conscience in the matter. This one struck a cord with me. Mainly because I've heard people flippantly say, "Well, we've all sinned." almost as if it is no big deal. It's treated no different than eating food or drinking water. Sin is a common occurrence and there's no point of thinking too much about it. Or is there?
Our God is holy...
Some time ago, maybe six or seven years back, I found myself somewhere I never would have expected. I had grown up in church my entire life and at that moment I wanted nothing to do with going to church. I was desperate for God and sick of religion. I will never forget the moment that I had my 'come to Jesus' moment. God spoke to my heart and told me to go to a church that, at the time, I had come to despise. There was so much that I'd felt they had done wrong that I wanted nothing to do with it. But I went out of obedience to God.
They began singing a song about being free and dancing. As I was singing, the Holy Spirit hit me hard. Why are you even singing this song, you're not free. I was upset for being there in the first place so I stopped clapping and just thought, God, what is it that you want? At that moment, I saw myself laying face down in front of the stage. I knew that I wasn't losing my mind. I knew that God was telling me to set aside everything that I wanted and lay myself down as an act of worship. I went up to the front, terrified, and knelt down in front of the stage.
In that moment, I felt all the anger that I was holding against the leaders of the church wash out of me. I felt sorry for them. I felt sorry for the way that I had felt.
Some well-meaning ladies came up to me and knelt down by me. I was sobbing at this point and they were trying to comfort me. I didn't need or want to be comforted. All I wanted to do was sit in that moment of worthlessness because in that moment I knew how big and incomprehensible my God was.
They said something about God being able to help me through whatever it was I was dealing with and I just shook my head. I told then that I wasn't there because I wanted God's help. I was there because I was a filthy rag in his sight and that's where I needed to be. Kneeling there, worshiping Him because He was holy.
Again, with good intentions, I'm sure, they tired to comfort me and tell me that God loved me.
In that moment, I was even more saddened because they really weren't getting it.
We are dirty rags in God's sight and He continuously longs to wrap us in His arms. Who is this God we serve?
I left the church that day free from the anger and bitterness I had once felt. But burdened so much more by the reality of how blinded we, Christians, have become. Blinded from who God really is.
It is so very easy to water down the gospel message. So easy to tweak it ever so slightly to a feel-good message of empowerment. We cannot let ourselves be fooled.
Two days ago, my 11-year-old asked me what the point of life was. He said, "If we're either going to burn forever or be with God forever when we die then what is the point of our lives right now?"
I wanted a really good answer but I found myself in the same predicament that King Solomon expressed in Ecclesiastes. Everything is meaningless. I said, "Elijah, I don't really know what the point of this life is since things are going to happen whether we are here or not. All I know is that we need to live our lives to give God glory because He is God and He deserves it."
Do it for the glory of God
God, I don't know why I was simply overcome with emotion today but I thank you for this reality. Thank you for awakening my mind over and over again to how holy you are. Lord, clean my conscience daily. Show me where I have taken my own path instead of furthering your kingdom. Cleanse my heart and fire up a passion in me. Give me boldness and wisdom to speak of the sin that enslaves us and of You, a mighty God above all other gods that is worthy of our praise. That is holy and just. That has provided us salvation from our slavery to sin. That has made a way for us to be free. Amen
"The wrong things the sinful self does are clear: being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, worshiping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, feeling envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these. I warn you now as I warned you before: Those who do these things will not inherit God’s kingdom. But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit. We must not be proud or make trouble with each other or be jealous of each other." Galatians 5:19-26 (emphasis added)
*Image from brainyquotes.com
Have you ever had someone tell you that you don't pray for patience? I'm always told that the reason you don't pray for patience is because yours will be tested. Um, isn't that kind of the point? How would you develop patience unless there were situations that required you to be patient?
Obviously this is a blog for those that have ears to hear because I'm sure I lost a few readers just by featuring the yin yang symbol. The Bible constantly talks about these 'contrary' forces. I'm not saying that I embrace everything there is in the yin yang philosophy but to quote We Are Messengers, "Maybe it's ok, if I'm not ok."
I pray for patience with my boys a lot. I pray because I don't want to turn into the Hulk the moment they get rowdy. It's no good for me and it certainly doesn't teach them anything. However, me being recognized as a patient person doesn't come by everything going good and grand every moment of my life. The times that people recognize my patience most are the times when Hulk is rising up just under my collar. Times when I recognize that I don't want people to see me, I want them to see God. Times when I don’t want to be like me, I want to be like Christ.
Praying for patience, joy, or self-control and thinking that stress, sadness, and temptation will not show up is like asking a trainer to help you build muscle and then standing in shook when they bust out the weights. Resistance builds muscle, conflict develops character.
As Christians, we should pray for patience as well as the other fruits of the spirit- love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What we shouldn't do is find ourselves caught off guard when the weights appear.
God, help us understand the difference between praying our will and your will. Help us to understand forgiveness and grace did not come from a beautiful rose with droplets of morning dew but from the slaughtered blood of a sacrificial lamb you called Your Son. You make beautiful things. Diamonds don't come without extreme pressure. Remind us of your love. Remind us of your promises as we face trials. Remind us that you are God and break us free from religious lies that say, "God is good so everything should be good always." That is not what your Word tells us. We are told that there will be sorrows and trials and heartache this side of heaven but not to lose hope because you are God. We are told that the rain falls on the righteous and the wicked alike. We are bound to experience the same things that happen to all of mankind but as Christians we are no longer slaves to sin. We no longer have to respond the same as we did before we knew Christ. There is a new way to live. Thank you, God. Amen.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
This "freedom" has come up quite a few times over the past week and a half. What does it mean to experience freedom through the Spirit of the Lord? I was reading another verse last week and it said, "My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love." Galatians 5:13 NCV
Freedom. What does that word truly mean?
freedom noun free·dom | \ ˈfrē-dəm: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous
Just in case you are like me and you didn't know what "onerous" meant, it means burdensome. The weight of sin is burdensome for sure. But what does the freedom that comes with the Spirit of the Lord truly look like in our lives. Freedom allows that weight to be lifted from us.
I took it one step at a time.
What's the point?
Being a Christian is about daily making a choice to plug into God, or as the Bible says pick up our cross. Do you think Jesus wanted to die on the cross for a bunch of sinners? I'm gonna go with, no, since he asked God multiple times to give him a different task (take this cup). But, he loved the Father so much that He wanted to see His will/His kingdom present here on earth.
What shattered windows are popping up in your life to distract you from the freedom God has for you? In case you didn't get the metaphor, how are you handling the issues that arise in your life? Are you returning to default mode (sinful self) and trying to figure out everything on your own or switching things to freedom mode and putting your trust in God?
If your mode is not reflecting the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22&23 you can know that you've switched to default mode and rejected the freedom you should be living in.
God, this was one time that I turned to you and knew that things would go well. But there are so many, many, many times that I switch to default mode. Holy Spirit guide me. I don't want to live in default mode, never experiencing true freedom. I want to rejoice in the freedom that Jesus provided for me through His sacrifice. Remind me to approach situations in a new light. Approach situations with the example that Jesus set. Approach them in a way to make God's kingdom real and tangible to those watching. That onlookers would see a new way of living. Amen
"But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. There is no law that says these things are wrong. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their own sinful selves. They have given up their old selfish feelings and the evil things they wanted to do. We get our new life from the Spirit, so we should follow the Spirit." Galatians 5:22-25 NCV
"The “night” is almost finished, and the “day” is almost here. So we should stop doing things that belong to darkness and take up the weapons used for fighting in the light.
Let us live in a right way, like people who belong to the day. We should not have wild parties or get drunk. There should be no sexual sins of any kind, no fighting or jealousy. But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and forget about satisfying your sinful self." Romans 13:12-14 NCV
What was Paul's advice for the Christians in Rome? "Stop doing what you want to do when you want to do it. Start living in a new way, a way that reflects how Jesus lived. You were born into sin (darkness) but you've accepted a new life (light) so start living in it."
We were all born slaves to a defect, an imperfection, that separates us from our perfect Creator. Sin. However, Jesus stepped in and said, "Hey, I'm going to purchase that one right there. That one that everyone says won't amount to anything. That one that thinks they are good for nothing. The scrawny one that everyone overlooks. That pretty one that's damaged on the inside. That's the one I want right there. But I'm not going to purchase them with any kind of currency, instead I'm going to purchase them with my own blood."
And when he did that, he broke our bondage to sin. Unfortunately, since all we've ever know is sin we have to be taught a new way to live now that we are free. Jesus set that example for us.
While he was here on earth he didn't focus on earth, he focused on God. That is what set him apart. He wasn't trying to get ahead, stressing over his legacy, fretting about his family. His focus was on God and the kingdom to come. Christians, that is where our focus must be also.
I get it, there are days when everything is going crazy. There are days when you're tired or depressed. There are days when your anxiety is through the roof. On those days, God isn't your focus.
There are days when you're hitting the daily grind and getting things done. There are days when the sun is shining and life is good. There are days that you're relaxing. On those days, God isn't your focus.
If we call ourselves Christians, Christ is our example. Every part, good or bad, every moment of every day- God is to be our focus. Not my will but Yours be done.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14 NKJV
God, it's not easy. Sometimes I think the disciples had it easy because they had Jesus right in front of them. But then I read the Bible and see that even though they had him setting an example right in front of them they still doubted, they still forgot. Lord, help me to live my life transparently. When troubles come let me not be afraid to say, "Things are getting tough but I will stand on God, he is my rock." When things are going good let me not think it's silly to say, "God is so awesome and wonderful. All that I have is His. I am nothing without Him." Let my words and my life be a light in this dark world that points others to the freedom they can experience with You through Your Son, Jesus. That they too could say, "Good or bad I will not wavier- my focus is on God." AMEN!
A New Identity
What is this blog about? You mean, I'm supposed to have a purpose? Ok, if that's required then my purpose is life.
Better with age...
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