The Yellow Dress

When I was a young girl, my favorite color was yellow.  I remember a favorite Easter dress my mother made by her own hands.  It was yellow and white.  I always said that yellow could brighten up any day.  It was reinforcement on a sunny day and became my happy sunshine stand-in whenever the sky’s big light decided to take a break.  I enjoyed wearing yellow mostly on cloudy days.

When I was in college I had a yellow outfit that I absolutely adored!  It was a solid yellow coordinate set – a button down, short-sleeved blouse with full length, wide-legged pants – made of the comfortable, soft rayon fabric that was popular back then.  Girls, it was bright yellow, and I loved it.  For some reason I felt my best and had an extra dose of happy when I wore that outfit.  It complemented my slim college girl figure well and just seemed to add a touch of lemon zest, if you will!

Sometime during the latter days of this year’s winter season (the time when clothing stores are debuting the must have fashions for spring), I strolled into a local T.J. Maxx store with one of my girlfriends.  Almost as soon as I landed on the inside of the automatic doors, there it was.  A BEAUTIFUL yellow, Calvin Klein dress, welcomed me into the store with a great BIG lemony grin!  Ladies, I tell you, my heart skipped not one but a few beats as I walked over to run my fingers across the fabric, check the price of course, and soak up some its sun shiny goodness.

“I have to try this on,” I told my friend.  I searched for my size.  YES!  It was there.  I grabbed it and raced to the fitting room.  I wrestled my way out of my warm winter clothing, exchanged them for this vision of spring loveliness, and turned to face the finished product in the mirror.

“Ahhhhh,” I sighed.

The sight added small puddles to my eyes as immediately my mind flashed back to a vision of me in my favorite yellow outfit, standing outside my college residence hall.  A picture of purity and innocence, there I stood, talking to a young man.  That young man would later receive that innocence and virtue without hesitation.  I offered out of ignorance, not understanding that at that moment I was giving the essence of who I was created to be, a “me” I had barely come to know to a “him” who knew just as little or less of himself.

From there, the days of my life began to unravel.  I spent 7 years on a tumultuous roller coaster of verbal, mental, and property abuse that was escalating to dangerous new heights by the moment.  The relationship exploited my lack of wisdom, mocked my royal standing, ballooned my college figure and whittled me down to no more than a sad existence of secret shame.

Now, many years later, there I stood in a three-way mirror with a vision of yellow beauty staring back at me.  Her figure was the closest to her college days than it’s ever been, yet just far enough away to carry the curves of the wisdom, virtue, and value she never knew was her inheritance back in those days.  On this day, my friends, she was wearing a yellow dress.  No pants!  This dress was reminiscent of the girl she was before and celebration of the girl she is today!

Yes, I bought the yellow dress!

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

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How eXcellent

His eXistence on earth eXemplified eXcellence.

That is no eXaggeration.

Still they took eXtreme measures to eXecute Him.

He bore the stripes while I, the guilty one, was eXculpated.

My record was eXpunged.

His beautiful Love eXeeds my eXpectations.

“I will eXtol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever.” ~ Psalm 145:1 NASB

Waiting for a Storm

Waiting is woven tightly into the fabric of our human existence.  We spend a great portion of our lives waiting for people, things, or events.

We wait to be teens so we can drive and date.

We wait to go off to college so we can be free from our parents’ rules.

We can’t wait to get a job so we can live on our own and play by our own rules (or so we think).

We wait to marry so we can have children.  Then, often, we must wait longer still to conceive a child.

I’ve heard that once you have children, you then can’t wait for them to grow up and move out on their own.  I know that’s what my mom always said!  But, of course, you still have to wait for that glorious day to arrive.

From there, we begin waiting for our grown children to now repeat all of the waiting we’ve already done.

The other night, I waited for a storm.  Throughout the day, as I worked from home, I didn’t want to leave my place, because a storm was coming.  I watched with jealousy as the tree outside my window swirled and swayed in the wind.  Its leaves gently tapped the panes, inviting me to come out and dance in the wind, too.  But I said no.  I was waiting for a storm.  As evening fell, I was anchored to the center of my bed, my eyes and ears glued to the continuous news coverage of the ominous threat, and I waited.  Though the sweet peace of slumber beckoned me, I didn’t want to go to bed, because I was waiting for a storm.  I spent an entire day consumed with waiting for a disturbance.

The storm never came, at least not to my small spot on the map.

My storm watch blew open a window exposing a potentially crippling fear lurking in the deep places of my soul.  You see, I’ve lived through my fair share of relational tornadoes that ravaged my heart and left behind a path of destruction.  Because of my history, when it comes to close encounters with the male kind, it seems I always find myself somewhere, hovering behind makeshift walls of protection, waiting for a storm.

I realized that while focusing so much of my energy waiting for a storm, I am missing the sweet calm and peace of the present moments in a present and promising relationship.  So what I’ve decided is simple.  I’ve decided to go to sleep and trust the Lord has given His angels charge over me.  I’ve decided to go outside and dance in the pre-storm winds.  Just like the storm from a few days ago never reached me, I’ve decided that not every disturbance will have my name on it.

I’ve decided to stop waiting for a storm and enjoy the blessings of the life in front of me.

Wisdom, Virtue & Rubies

Below are the words of my very first blog post.  It was the one that started it all, almost two years ago.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’m still writing, but by the grace of God I am.  As my precious blog baby prepares to be transformed, I thought there’s no time like the present to pay tribute to her by re-sharing her very first post.  It doesn’t hurt that I can cover the next two letters of the A to Z Blog Challenge by doing so, either.

V is for virtue and value (which the ruby symbolizes).

W is for wisdom.

I hope you enjoy, and I’ll see you with the letter X.

Woman…. I see her as a priceless work of art birthed from God’s unimaginable imagination.  Her form is of incomparable beauty, carefully hand-crafted with exquisite detail and filled with strength, intellect, courage, and creativity.

Wisdom, Virtue, & Rubies…..Proverbs 31:10 asks, “Who can find a virtuous woman?  For her price is far above rubies.”  A woman was created to be wise, to be virtuous, and to be of value far greater than the rare ruby stone.

Today, we as women are highly educated, skillfully trained, and boastfully independent.  Yet, lately, I find myself frequently asking the following questions:

–         What was God’s original design and plan for me as a woman?

–         Are my plans in line with His?

–         What’s really on the heart of God, and in what way did He design me to bring delight to His heart?

–         Am I a wise woman?

–         What does it really mean to be virtuous?

–         And what’s so special about a darn ruby; aren’t diamonds supposed to be a girl’s best friend?  LOL!

–         How do I return to the original form and character given to me by my Father?

Wisdom, Virtue, & Rubies….Is it vastly unreasonable to think that, in all of our remarkable accomplishments as women, we’ve fallen short of God’s original plan and design for His daughters?  It saddens me to see that we’re high on degrees but low on wisdom, high on vision but low on virtue, valuable in the marketplace but not in our own hearts.

Wisdom, Virtue, and Rubies speaks of the character and value of God’s original design for women.  Personally, there’s no woman I’d rather be than the woman of God’s original intent and design.  Is that your desire, as well?  I caution you to think carefully before you answer.  You may find, as I did at the start of my journey, your answer and your current life story, sadly, do not agree.  Let’s journey together, shall we.

My Ultimate Easter Story

In the Christian Church, Easter Sunday is arguably one of the busiest Sundays of the year.  I serve on the Host Team at my church, and Easter Sunday just happened to be my Sunday to serve our members and visitors.  It was my special pleasure to greet them, answer their questions and direct them with a smile on my face and the joy of Christ’s Resurrection in my heart. I tell you, me and that joy must have walked 50 women to the “nearest ladies room” this morning, and I enjoyed every minute of it.   🙂

Seriously, though, I absolutely LOVE watching the faces of visitors light up at the sound of a simple “good morning” and welcome….  You never know when a heartfelt “hello” with a great big smile is the first of its kind a person has had all week.  Even fellow members often reciprocate the greeting with a hearty “good morning, Monica” (as they read my name tag) or an appreciative “thank you for serving this morning”.  I love it!  At the end of  service, we bid the worshipers farewell and blessings for the upcoming week, remaining at our posts until the worship auditorium is nearly empty and most people have spilled through the exits and back into their cars.

On Easter Sunday, as this process unfolded, I noticed an older gentleman hovering behind me with quite a disoriented look on his face.  I turned to him and asked him if I could assist him in some way.  It turns out he was lost.  He recounted his ordeal of getting into the church (which is fairly sizable) and not being able to locate his friend, who was supposed to meet him when he arrived.  Now that it was all over, he simply couldn’t remember from whence he’d come.  Our church has quite a few options for parking, and since he couldn’t really recall which door he entered it was challenging for me to determine in which parking lot he may left his car.

After gathering some information from him, I grabbed one of the leaders on our team and explained to her the situation.  She, then, radioed to the members of our parking lot team and basically put out an APB on this man’s vehicle.  Within minutes, someone on the team had located the vehicle.  Praise the Lord!!  The next order of business was to find a way to help this gentleman to his vehicle.  You see he was a bit older, and he had already walked quite a distance on a cane to get inside to hear the message of the risen Savior.  He was sweating profusely when he reached me (probably from sheer stress), and he simply did not have the strength to walk back to wherever his car was parked.  As our team leader was searching for a solution to part B of his challenge, she left me to keep our guest company until she returned.  Let me tell you….Those few minutes I spent with Mr. Mark (that’s his name) were the most rewarding of the almost 3 hours I’d spent in the building.

I chatted it up with Mr. Mark – learned where he’s from, how long he’s been here, and what brought him to my church.  He said that he was glad he stopped over where I was, because he didn’t want to ask for help.  He even admitted that men often don’t like to ask for help, because to them it appears to be a sign of weakness.  I promise, he said this, I didn’t!  I know the Spirit of the Lord led Mr. Mark my way.  It was wonderful, because I was blessed with the opportunity to just encourage him and tell him how happy I was that he did stop in my area and that there isn’t a single thing weak about asking for help when you need it.

A few moments passed, and we continued to chat.  I wanted to do everything possible to make his transition from this Resurrection Day service and back to his home as smooth as possible.  Our leader returned with a wheelchair, and by now, this gentleman had definitely left pride at the altar.  He was delighted to oblige her offer to whisk him out to an area where someone could get him safely to his car.

As they prepared to leave, we shook hands and said our farewells.  He thanked me for my help, and I told him it was truly my pleasure.  Indeed it was.  For I felt like I was blessed with an opportunity to personally display the heart of the risen Savior to this first-time visitor who had momentarily lost his way.  After all, isn’t that what Christ has done for me.

Finally, as I contemplated the letter U and the events of Resurrection Day, the word ultimate came to mind and lingered for a spell.  One definition of the word “ultimate” is “the best or most extreme of its kind:utmost”.  Hmmmm…. It sure was my utmost pleasure to serve this kind man on Easter Sunday, so maybe I will call this my ultimate Easter story. 🙂

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

Transformation

It’s finally happening.  Several months ago I mentioned that a bit of a transformation would take place here on my blog very soon.  Well, as you can tell, very soon turned into several months down the road.  It’s been so many months until I don’t even remember exactly when I dropped that little piece of information, and I didn’t have the heart to search back through the posts that have accumulated since then to try to figure it out.

Well, I’m happy to report that the process is definitely underway at this time.  When I think about it, I guess it’s pretty fitting that it’s all happening in Springtime.  After all, Spring represents a season of transformation.  For evidence, all I have to do is behold the trees outside my window.  Their once barren branches are now filled with rich green leaves.  I’m in awe each time I look at them, because if I didn’t know any better I’d think their transformation happened overnight.

But I do know better.  Transformation is a process.  This process normally takes place for a some time behind the scenes.  Then one day the finished product is made visible for all the world to see.  I can’t wait for that day of unveiling for my new blog space.  I hope you will like it.

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

The Picture of Sacrifice

I’m late.  I’m late, because I have spent hours cautiously searching for just the right words to paint a picture of the sacrifice that believers of Jesus Christ, myself counted among them, know that He himself became just for us.  I’ve read passages upon passages of scripture like Genesis 22 – the account of Abraham’s journey to offer up the son he loved as a sacrifice and crucial act of obedience to the God he loved.  I read the account of the Crucifixion in all four of the gospels – Matthew chapters 27 & 28, Mark chapters 15 & 16, Luke chapters 23 & 24, & John chapters 19 & 20.  I even immersed myself in the extensive definition of the word “sacrifice” in my compact bible dictionary.

I read.  I studied.  Yet I felt grossly inadequate to dare even attempt to paint this exquisite picture of sacrifice with the strokes of my vocabulary.  However, I knew that God would give me the words if I asked, so I did.  He didn’t just give me the words.  He gave me something far more precious.  He gave me His word.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
But the LORD was pleased To crush Him,putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:4 – 12, NASB

The Picture of Sacrifice…

Father, thank you for sending your Son.  He came to this earth spotless, left draped in sin that did not belong to Him, but instead belonged to me, and then rose with all power over sin, death, and the grave.  He loved us enough to have our sins pinned upon Him and to become our  picture of sacrifice.  I am forever grateful, and I celebrate the risen Savior today and always!

Wise, Virtuous, Valuable,

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