“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
What would we do without this verse…this truth? I think I would have given up and died, honestly. At a very specific time in my life that I had a major failure, I repeated this verse often. In the months that followed that failure, I would scribble; “there is therefore now no” on slips of paper to keep the truth constantly in front of me. It was so impactful because I did not trust myself to continue to make right choices and I condemned myself for the former choices I had made. I was very in touch with what Paul wrote here in Romans 7:15-25;
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate, that I do. If then, I do what I will not to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate, that I do. If then I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do: but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. How if I do what I will not to do, it is not longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
While I was in sin, making ultimate choices to sin, I would will to do good, set my mind to do good and then do evil. I take heart in Paul’s example and so should you. Even though he was dedicated to serving God, he fell short of God’s moral standards. He was conflicted, a place I found myself many times. But as he clearly states in verse 8:1, we are free from the law of sin when we walk according to the Spirit, remembering that we are in Christ Jesus. Jesus is who started turning to, continually, for my “escape”. I chose to agree with the truth that Jesus was the only power able to save me from all the lies of the devil would tempt me with and all the feelings that accompanied them. Jesus is where our freedom is found, one second, one minute and one day at a time.
Father of mercy, Jesus savior, Holy Spirit of truth., continue to walk with me in freedom through Jesus Christ who has made me free. I set my mind, will and emotions on the Spirit and I pray for the Spirit to keep me. I desire freedom from my bondage and complete healing. I look to You, Spirit, to provide all that I need according to your rices in glory. Help me to continually turn to You for relationship, attention, affections, strength, peace and love. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.
I wrote this story last summer and never posted it. The recent heat reminded me of it and I dug it out of my drafts- hope you enjoy!
It may be the heat that is getting to me (It has been relentless in Northwest Pennsylvania), so I want to prepare you! I am a little off topic today and this may not be your cup of iced tea! I am attempting to relay a potentially life threatening and sketchy story in a humorous way. That might sound strange, but with very close friends I naturally present situations that cause me fear and anger with a side of humor. It is how I process some things. But I understand this material may be a trigger for some readers which is why I am adding this disclaimer.
On to the story…
I had an epiphany today! I realized that guys who don’t wear shirts in public creep me out! Whenever I would see a man without a shirt on this summer, I would say out loud; “put your shirt on”!! My family has been perplexed, asking me, “why does this socially acceptable, lack of clothing bother you so much?”!
It hit me today. I drove past one of those boxy type vehicles like a Kia, Soul, and there was a man driving it who appeared to be naked because all I could see was bare skin from the window up. Double take!! Ok, Julia, breathe, it’s ok, I said to myself. He is probably really warm….it is 90 plus degrees out and further more, he is probably fully dressed where it matters! Again, I ask myself why this bothers me so. And then it came to me.
I was about 19 years old and my full time job was working for a Singing Telegram Company as a character singer. Funny, huh?! It was a really fun and harmless job. Well, while I thought it was great, my mom on the other hand worried about me constantly. (Just for the record, I would NEVER LET MY DAUGHTER DO THIS JOB!!!) At the time, I was just so excited that I had a full-time job getting paid for singing, danger never really occurred to me! Every day I got to use my singing abilities, be creative and brighten people’s day with a gargantuan bouquet of over sized balloons and I actually made a very good living at it! It was the late 90’s, before the invention of the cell phone!
Every day, I had a list of addresses to go to, costumes to wear and balloons to deliver. On my list that day was a residential party during the afternoon, dressed as a Modest French Maid. The middle of the afternoon dressed as a French Maid was a little peculiar, first alarm. Usually, TheMaid, was requested for large weekend parties thrown by wives for their aging husbands!
So, I found the street I was looking for and pulled my car up a little past the house address where this “party” is. I did notice there were not very many cars parked on the street at all. Even for a surprise party, you notice some amount of cars parked down the street. That was the second alarm that I blew through.
I gather my balloons and feather duster, and head off to the front door of the house. I quietly knock on the door because I do not know if this is a surprise party or not. The door opens and there is a very large man filling the screened door. This screen door had aluminum that went up to the chest of this man so I could see his; you guessed it, bare chest and his head, but could not see anything from his chest down. Again, that was odd, but gosh darnit, I proceeded! (I am shaking my head and rolling my eyes as I write this…just can’t believe I actually continued with this telegram!)
In my French character, I spoke my scripted salutation and the man proceeded to let me in. He opened his door for me in such a way that he hid himself behind it until I walked into the room and he shut the door and was standing behind me at this point blocking the door.
I know this story is going from humorous to scary and I understand if you need to leave. These are traumatic memories, but this one ends on good note for me.
So, when I get into the house, I am in a living room with two large couches, a few chairs, a TV and NO OTHER PEOPLE. Nothing that says, there’s a party goin’ on right here! There was a surprise and that is for sure, but the surprise was for me! So, that man that let me in… he is still behind me. Still naïve and hoping for the best, I turn around to see why the guy didn’t enter the room. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? But a 6’2”, 350 pound man and ….reign deer?…no, they would have been great! No, no Reign Deer…just a diaper. That big naked man was wearing, a diaper!
OH, my mother was so right. This will be the day that I die! This is what she was talking about; I totally get her right now! Seriously, my life started to flash before my eyes…that life flashing before your eyes stuff really happens! My throat started to close and my heart started to pound and I was like, I am going to freakin’ (we didn’t say “freakin’ back then, but if we did, that is what I would have been saying!!) pass out and no one is going to ever find my body.
PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW, because someone who I choose to call THE HOLY SPIRIT slapped me across the face (so to speak) and said; Julia! Think quickly, do not get out of character and arm yourself! My mind quickly started to think of what I had on my 119 pound person that I could harm this 350 pound man with. Back in the 90’s we wore shoes called “spikes” and I had them on my feet and I thought, if I need to, I will take this shoe off and stick this heal in the temple of your scum bag head! As I was plotting his demise, I kept on with my French accent’. Oh monsieur….why don’t you sit down on the couch…I would like to sing a song to you! He started to move! He headed for the couch, it was working! I kept up with my nasal oh’s and monsieur’s and my name is Fifi! He was buying it and settling in for some entertainment. No, fast moves were going to work; he would have only had to grab me with one arm to overpower me. After giving him his balloons and waving my feather duster around a few times, I slowly started backing up toward the door. I got right in front of the door and I told him I had a present for him. When I was sure he wasn’t going to get out of that couch quickly, I said, “Oh, monsieur! I left your present right outside!” Before he could move, I opened the door, closed the door, ran down the street, got in to my car and locked the door. Heart pounding, I started the car and sped away, not looking back.
I said; “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” all the way to a Convenience store. After I parked and breathed and thanked God for sparing my life, I called my office on a payphone and told the dispatcher what had happened. The secretary was mortified and concerned for my safety, called the police and told me to go home for the day.
A few weeks later while I was watching the news one evening, I saw a story on that diapered man! He was arrested for inappropriate behavior at a school playground. Do you think?! When I saw that news story, I reflected on how grateful to God I was that nothing harmful happened to me, that day, while I was at his house. I was also grateful that no harm came to the school children and that he eventually got caught and was put in jail.
In regards to Singing Telegrams, I changed how I did things after that day! I no longer went to any residential parties alone. Period. And even though my costumes were modest ones, I did not wear the French Maid or the Mae West costume anymore!! I stuck to clowns, tuxedos, viking women and 7 foot bananas! I became much more prepared and aware of my surroundings and much more discerning over all.
I am glad that I have finally made the connection between shirtless men and the traumatic event that happen to me so many years ago. In writing this story out, it seems to me that the connection should have been a no- brainer. But many times a day we can experience things that we strongly react to because they have some kind of tie to a past experience. I believe that we should pause and get curious with God about why we respond the way we do sometimes and what is at the root of it so that we can work through it and experience freedom.
There are always lessons to be learned and ways to grow through every encounter in life. Now that I have worked through the thoughts and feelings that surround shirtless men, I experience less shock and frustration when I see one! I can talk myself through the situation instead of being stuck in the temporary emotions …and maybe even chuckle a bit:)
Several weeks ago I went to the store and ran into a wonderful little boy! We “met” in the area where you get a cart and his exuberance with his grandmother made me smile. He noticed me and pointed out something that was recently added to the carts for baby carriers. I engaged in his curiosity with a little response and then we went on our separate ways into the store.
After about 10 minutes I ran into him and his grandmother again. He said something like; Hey, it’s you again! And I talked with him a little bit as I was picking out herbal tea, asking him if he was being a good helper. Then I said; “hey, you have a great rest of your day!” He excitedly replied; “You have a great rest of your day too!!”…in his 4 year old voice. Running into him really brightened my morning!
A few weeks after this occurred, I was teaching at a local health event. One of the participants came up to me and said; do you recognize me? And I did, but couldn’t place where I recognized her. She told me she was “the grandmother” from the store, that memorable day, weeks before. She said her grandson liked me because I smiled at him! I loved that we had the opportunity to re connect because, I kept thinking of that little boy, Tucker! I got to meet his mother at that event and tell her what a wonderful, pure and honest, little person she is raising!!
His grandmother ended up ordering some Aromatherapy products from me that she needed to stop by my house to pick up and guess who was with her ( I knew he was going to be coming ahead of time:) He is an energetic and enthusiastic boy and it felt like we were old friends catching up for a minute!!
Don’t you love when you have those “divine moments” in life? When you know, for what ever reason, things slow down and you are supposed to meet someone? That is how I feel about Tucker. I may never see him again, but we were supposed to meet. You never know why you are at the exact place at the exact time you meet the people you do. But I have been realizing if I slow down a bit and pay attention, God has a bigger picture going on..who knows what a smile can bring?:)
I had the opportunity to preach at The Oil City Vineyard Church, yesterday, on St. Patrick’s Day!
The topic was; The Idol of False Comfort, given during an ongoing series called, Counterfeit Gods, where we search our hearts during this season of reflection before Easter. It is a subject that I have learned a lot about on my own journey of good and poor choices.
I hope it is helpful to you as you, also, walk your path of wholeness! check it out, here:
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony, and let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
As I was thinking about Valentines Day this week with all of it’s chocolates, roses and love, is it just me, or do you find that the world, in all of it’s tolerance, is less sweet, less loving…less tolerant? The man who wrote these words, was himself, in chains in a prison. He is imploring a church in Colosse to forgive and make allowances for other’s faults and offenses. He is showing, with word pictures, how to walk in love toward a fellow human being. I think if he was able to do this, we must have something we can glean from it.
These words are every bit as important today as they were in Rome, back in 60 AD. This is easier said, than done, don’t you agree? Every day I have opportunities to forgive and not be offended, but because living Christ is my core value, I find ways to lean into the pain and align myself with the truth that Paul wrote here.
I have found Brene’ Brown’s books to be so helpful and practical in areas of vulnerability and relationship. We all, ultimately, want to be understood and want to keep communication going- it’s loving, it’s kind. In Dare To Lead, Brown write’s about recognizing when you are emotionally hooked by something. You know, the times where you feel like you are coming out of your skin, the times you cannot get the conversation to quit playing in your mind, the times when you are hurt, angry, confused, pissed, scared, etc, and times when you even feel sick or have other physical manifestations.
She states in her research that: knowing when you are emotionally hooked and then getting curious about it is the important first step. The getting curious piece is about asking yourself questions concerning the irritation. What is underneath my response? What am I really feeling? What part did I play?
She uses tools like, slow, metered breathing and writing in the process to slow the winds and calm the seas. I have been a long time journal- er and I have learned the value of deep breathing in vocal lessons and singing, but combining these two things in times of emotional confusion have been empowering to me.
When I combine these practical tools with wanting to do the best I can as a human, I find I am drawn to the image of clothing myself in love and tender hearted mercy. I believe we must have necessary, difficult discussions, but leaning into the pain and doing it right not only strengthens us, it sets others up for success in the process.
We are often so rushed, we do not take time to consider how we can clothe ourselves with gentleness and love. Just as you take time to pick out your clothes for the day and look at yourself with them on, ask yourself what being clothed in tender hearted mercy and love would look like on you and how you can wear them today. Maybe it is simply smiling and being cheerful. Maybe it is thanking the person who makes your coffee. Maybe it is telling your co worker when they do a good job. Maybe it is telling your spouse thank you for the little things they do everyday. Maybe it is taking care of something that someone else forgot to do and not telling them about it. Maybe it is buying groceries for a single mom working her tail off trying to make ends meet. What ever the situation, love covers and has an extraordinary, self- less aroma!
I am right here walking this road of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today<3
I just turned 51 last week and had another extraordinary facial with Doug! Thought I would re post this blog from last year as I continue to depend on the inward beauty, even when I take care of the outside<3
Wow! I used to think people were so old when they were fifty! I mean, in 5 years I could live in a 55 and over community like my parents used to…that’s so weird!
Here I am, it is what it is, I am what I am! I went to the Chiropractor the other day and he said; “Aren’t you so glad you started taking care of your self when you did, it shows! You don’t look older than 35”! I love that man!!
Seriously, I have learned that I do care about how I look but over the years…
This is a list that my husband and I have been discussing with each other and our kids lately as we walk into the new year. I love this list but would have put “Forgive” as number one to experience a positive new day let alone, new year. We have multiple opportunities to exercise forgiveness everyday, don’t we? From the smallest frustration to the closest relationship, the temptation to hold on to un- forgiveness, even in seemingly insignificant ways, is available to us. But it is not an option- unforgiveness poisons our own self no matter the size of the dose. Our relationships may be shallow or deep based on the reconciliation and trust two parties are willing to exchange but forgiveness is a non-negotiable.
From our hearts to yours, have a Happy, Positive and Healthy New Year!
The other day I got a call from the teacher’s aide in my son’s English class. Mrs. Allman, this is a good call, she began. Whew, I said! After several years in a formal school setting, we have had our share of bad calls concerning our autistic son.
She proceeded with the intent of her call which was to read me a letter our son wrote that day in class. The class was given the assignment of writing letters to a local student who has terminal cancer and whose Christmas wish it was to receive letters from other students. She told me how our son eagerly grabbed his paper and pencil and began writing away, when other students were at a loss for where to begin.
The above image is a sampling of that letter. After I sat listening and crying, I thanked the aide for the call and encouragement that she said she gave to our son. Our son, who struggles with his relationship with God, who struggles with, “why doesn’t God always answer my prayers?” Who struggles with the unseen and intangibles. This son, wrote a letter of faith and hope to another young man, about an unseen God who heals and cares, exposing his own tender heart in the process.
His faith, as faltering as I have witnessed it to be, is still extended as hope to one who is in need of it. I guess my son and I are more alike than I was aware and I see myself in this recent scenario.
This is the true meaning of Christmas even if we cannot understand it fully. Jesus was born, God’s gift to humanity, extending the light of the world to dark places and broken people.
“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace to people on earth” Luke 2:10,14
It is the now and not yet kingdom that God set up on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. We bear witness to some of it while we live this life, but we wait with expectancy for the day when He will reign and rule with loving kindness and justice. We look for the day when light will over power the darkness, when broken things will all be made whole and when sickness and cancer will be forgotten terms.
Until then, we extend hope and faith to ourselves and others even when we fail to see the witness of it. No fear, good news, great joy, glory and peace to you all today, amen.