A Tree Falls And The lessons Continue / Fallen But Not Useless

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The tree that fell in the playground of the apartments I lived in continues to teach us lessons. Today as I looked at the branches cut and in piles and looked at the tree that they came from I received another lesson.

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Fallen does not mean useless it also does not mean that you have changed who you are. Your purpose may have changed, and your location may have changed and you may even feel separated from the source of life with your creator but you still have purpose and you are still His creation.

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He can take the broken pieces of your life and use them for many new purposes.  One thing that you can easily do with a fallen branch is cut it into firewood. This of course would be a one time use. Yet this wood can become so much more than that. I have already gathered branches from this tree and put them to use.

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They now have my grapevine growing upon them. Supporting life that is already growing its fruit.

work in progress 1

Previously I have used a fallen branches and turned them into walking sticks like my other had done when she was alive. Here are a couple I have previously made.

The wood that is used to build homes and and furniture all came from a tree. This chair, shop, barn and home were all built from wood that was once part trees. They all serve a purpose. A place to sit and rest. A place to work. A place to shelter animals and store supplies and equipment. A home to shelter a family or even an individual.

Whether that tree was cut down or fell that was used to build these I do not know. What I know is wood comes from a tree and eternal life comes from Jesus. There is one piece of wood that was used to bring us salvation. It was used to make the cross upon which our Savior was crucified.

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This cross is not that cross but it is a reminder to us of the price He paid for us and how He has forgiven us. Another tree that gave a piece of itself to be used for the greatest purpose in any trees life.So if you have fallen or someone you know has fallen do not write yourself or them off. You are useful and you have a purpose. Let yourself be picked up and make a new start. Become something new.

Proverbs 24:16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he will rise again, but the wicked stumble into calamity.

Psalm 37:23-24 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

Psalm 145:14-16 The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Isaiah 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.

 

Being Broken

When you think of the term broken what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Here are some things that came to my mind.

  1. Ruined
  2. Trash
  3. Destroyed
  4. Unusable
  5. Worthless

I could easily list many more things and you might have some of the same things on your list. Yet these are only the negative thought about being broken. Do you like nuts? I love them. To get to the nut you have to break the shell. Some shells are easier to break open than others like sunflower seeds or peanuts. Walnuts or pecans are are not so easy to break open. You need a nutcracker to get to the good part of these nuts, and if you don’t have a nutcracker a hammer works as long as you don’t hit the too hard. It takes effort to break their outer shells to get to the good part that you can eat and enjoy.

So being broken even though painful can lead to something good for you. The process hurts and is not fun. Imagine you are the nut and you can see the nutcracker coming for you. Then you feel trapped in its grip till you crack and break open. Scary thought. Most of us would run from pain if we knew it was going to happen was going to hurt. Yet if we all ran away from the possibility of pain we would cease to exist. Women would not have babies because labor is pain! Life is going to have some very painful moments. Just as a woman who goes from the pain of labor to the joy of holding her newborn baby, life can take your pain and turn it into joy.

Look at the life of Joseph. his brothers hate him and throw him into a pit, and want to kill him. Thankfully one brother suggest they sell him to travelers passing by. Then he is bought as a slave and goes from slave to prisoner. He lived a life under pressure of attack and rejection. Yet in the end he was lifted above his circumstance and placed in a position where he was able to save not only the people in Egypt but his own people. (Look up his story in Genesis.)

Sometimes we have to be broken to get to the good part of ourselves that is hidden deep within.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

 

 

Testimony / I gave up on life and survived

This is one of the most difficult thing I have to share with the world. I am not seeking your pity nor do I need your judgment. I am sharing this only because I pray to reach if just one person who is at the end of their rope and is ready to jump of of that ledge.

I cannot say that I understand your pain or what has lead you to this point but I pray that you will stop long enough to read these words that  I am writing.

It will be five years this Thanksgiving when my world had grown so dark and the pain was more than I could bear that I did give up on life. Falsely accused and arrested in the middle of the night just a couple of months prior my world was turned upside down. After a lifetime of abuse and a multitude of wrong decisions I was alone and all the pain I had suffered over my life came down upon me like a crushing wave. I am not a coward but had nothing that I felt that was living for. Alone on  a holiday meant for family and giving thanks all I could see was darkness and feel the loneliness of being cut out of my own life.  I lost my will to live. So with what I thought was going to be my last breath I kicked the stool out from underneath me. The belt I used to hang myself did not do the job I thought it would because it stretched that even though I lifted my legs it stretched until I was literally sitting on the floor. Yelling at God and pounding my fist on my floor like a child throwing a temper tantrum that I couldn’t even do this right. I continued to yell and cry until I heard a voice. It was not harsh or condemning but loving. I heard it say, ‘Are you done yet?’  I know you probably think I was crazy and just hearing things. Obviously my mental state was impaired. (This was not the first or only time I have heard God speaking to me by the way, but the other times they are different stories.) I did just try to hang myself. Yet as I heard that voice I know I was not imagining anything. It was real, I had heard His Voice before so I know it when I hear it. Though no one was physically in my empty home but myself there was someone who was watching over me. I even knew what they meant when they asked if I was done yet. You see this was not the first suicide attempt I had attempted, but my third. So I responded, ‘Yes Lord I am done. Obviously You aren’t done with me yet.’ Then I heard Him say, ‘Get up. It is not over yet.’

So I stood up and took the belt from around my own neck. I was amazed because how long it had stretched and that not mark was left on my neck. (A little note a couple of years later I tried to stretch that same belt and it did not give an inch, so no one can tell me God is not real.) I still had a long road ahead of me and the trials did not go the way I had believed but even on the final day of court when the rest of my world as I knew it came to a crashing end and though I was innocent of the charges I was still found guilty. I lost everything but my life and my home. You won’t believe this but as crushed as I felt, I heard God speak to me again. He said to me, ‘Can you forgive them now?’ I responded with, ‘Not because I want to but because of You I will.’ Even though not one thing went well for me, I knew God was with me. That even though I was found guilty in the court of man I was not guilty in His eyes and that He did not abandon me even when I wanted to end it all. My mother died suddenly at the end of my trials, and I lost my daughter, but God was with me through it all. I won’t say thoughts of giving up have not crossed my mind since but a small still voice says don’t give up. So as hard as it is at times because the battles I still must fight wear me down that I want to toss in the towel and quit, I know that I can’t. I must finish the race. I have not yet reached the finish line.

I will never know why my life did not end that day or why my previous attempts failed, when others who have attempted the same act are gone. I know that I am no better a person than another. My life is no more valuable than anyone else’s life so why am I still here? To be honest only God knows the real reason. My only conclusion I can come to on my own is to share my story and hopefully reach at least one person who is where I was at, or inspire someone else to reach out to someone who is suffering just to let them know they are not alone and that someone does care. Call them or even better visit with them. Don’t push too hard to get them to talk but be there and continue to be there. I did not immediately share my story but a year later I was part of a church who arranged an event inspired by a number of suicides in the area that happened in a very short time period. I saw lives touched and was inspired to start sharing my story. With the holidays upon us I personally know how difficult it is for anyone who suffers from depression and anxiety or is suffering any form of abuse. You may feel unloved, rejected and alone. The pain may be suffocating and the world may be completely dark without light of hope. I was there and I survived but you may not so please don’t give up. If there is no one in your immediate life that you feel safe to turn to there are others that even though they may be strangers who will listen to you who will give you the compassion that you need and even help. Your life is valuable and you are important. So important that God sent His Son to die for you.

Call someone. Get help. Please do not give up. I may not know you but you are in my prayers and I pray you find the love of Jesus and the strength and comfort He has for you.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.  1-800-273-8255  website  http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#

HELPGUIDE.ORG

If you’re thinking about suicide, please read Suicide Help or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in the U.S.! To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention-helping-someone-who-is-suicidal.htm

1-800-SUICIDE

Always remember that there are phone numbers that you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,  from any location in the United States:

 

Testimony / I gave up on life and survived

1-800-273-TALK / (1-800-784-2433)   (1-800-273-8255)

This is only a short list of where you can find help whether you are the one who is struggling or you think you may know someone who needs help please get the help that you need and please do it before it is too late. I know my life choices have been far from right too many times and that I survived but I know that if I try again I won’t survive again. Life is precious please don’t give up because you are precious and nothing can replace you in this world.

 

Being Broken

When you think of the term broken what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Here are some things that came to my mind.

  1. Ruined
  2. Trash
  3. Destroyed
  4. Unusable
  5. Worthless

I could easily list many more things and you might have some of the same things on your list. Yet these are only the negative thought about being broken. Do you like nuts? I love them. To get to the nut you have to break the shell. Some shells are easier to break open than others like sunflower seeds or peanuts. Walnuts or pecans are are not so easy to break open. You need a nutcracker to get to the good part of these nuts, and if you don’t have a nutcracker a hammer works as long as you don’t hit the too hard. It takes effort to break their outer shells to get to the good part that you can eat and enjoy.

So being broken even though painful can lead to something good for you. The process hurts and is not fun. Imagine you are the nut and you can see the nutcracker coming for you. Then you feel trapped in its grip till you crack and break open. Scary thought. Most of us would run from pain if we knew it was going to happen was going to hurt. Yet if we all ran away from the possibility of pain we would cease to exist. Women would not have babies because labor is pain! Life is going to have some very painful moments. Just as a woman who goes from the pain of labor to the joy of holding her newborn baby, life can take your pain and turn it into joy.

Look at the life of Joseph. his brothers hate him and throw him into a pit, and want to kill him. Thankfully one brother suggest they sell him to travelers passing by. Then he is bought as a slave and goes from slave to prisoner. He lived a life under pressure of attack and rejection. Yet in the end he was lifted above his circumstance and placed in a position where he was able to save not only the people in Egypt but his own people. (Look up his story in Genesis.)

Sometimes we have to be broken to get to the good part of ourselves that is hidden deep within.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

 

 

11.Letters from God (fictional letters based on people in the Bible) Dear Dinah

My Dear Dinah,

     You are My beautiful and loving girl. You have been the victim twice. First Hamor raped you and stole your innocence. They tried to make things right and submitted themselves to your father’s decision. Thankfully he chose to forgive, and the man became your husband. His father the King and all the people of the land gave up their old ways and rid themselves of all their idols and other gods. They were circumcised to show their commitment to Me. I was now their God as I am yours.

     It was not My plan for you to be hurt, yet I was able to use what was meant to destroy you and use what was done to you to bring a nation to Me, so that something good had come out of what terrible thing that had been done to you. It was a chance for you to heal from what had been done to you. To remove the shame you felt. Yes there are those who would have blamed you, and I am sorry for the way they think about such a terrible crime. More than your body had been harmed, because he took from you what you did not give. You refused and he did what he wanted to satisfy his own desire not caring about what he was doing to you. He took your free will. I want to heal your heart and mind as well as your body from the damage he has done to you.

     Now your brothers have gone against your father’s decision and slaughtered not only your husband but many of the other men after they had been circumcised and were healing in their beds. This hurt you more because you feel that you were only an excuse for them to behave in this violent way. You did not feel the comfort of a brother’s love. They did not console you. Instead they stole from you from your husband by taking his life. Your pain did not end here. You have also lost your brother Joseph. Your other brothers told you that a wild animal had killed him. So he was dead because they said so. You have suffered such loss, your innocence, your husband, and your brother.

     I am sorry for the pain that you feel. I know that you may want to blame Me, for I am your God. I want to keep you from all harm and suffering. Yet I have given to all men free will. I could not control their actions without taking their free will away from them. As you chose to serve and love Me from your heart, is how I want them to choose for themselves. I love you and care deeply for you. I will heal you, and love you for all eternity. You will live with me one day and never suffer again. I promise you this.

Love,

Your Heavenly Father

Read

Genesis 34 & 37

Pain Hurts!

Pain hurts! Pretty simple, you would think. But what caused the pain may not be so simple to describe. Were you hurt by something big that happened all at once, or was it little things that happened over a period of time? Does any of that matter? I do not think so because pain still hurts. Whatever that has happened, or has been done to you, the pain you feel is what has your attention. You feel it. Physically or emotionally the pain is real. It may stop you in your track, or drop you down to your knees, and it may give you reason to lay down and not get up because the pain is more than you can bear. Pain lets you know that something is wrong. It is that big red flashing light telling you stop what you are doing or you will get seriously hurt. It is the warning that says this wrong and it needs to stop.

Pain can cause a tear to roll down your cheek, or you to scream in agony till you have no voice left. It can make you close yourself up into your room cutting everyone out. Pain can cause you to lash out and hit something, like putting your fist through a wall. You may pick a fight for no real reason because of the pain you feel has made you so angry you want someone else to feel pain as well. I could probably write a novel and fill the pages with what pain can cause us to do. If you have ever felt pain you already know what I would write, and let’s be honest you are alive and reading this you have felt pain, and you may even be feeling pain right now as you are reading these words.

Well my words will not take away your pain, but you already knew that. To heal from the pain you feel or have felt means you are going to go through more pain. Facing what has hurt you is not pleasant, it can get down right ugly. To truly begin to be healed from what has caused our pain we have to endure facing the pain. We need to not just focus on what was done but what we did as a reaction. We may feel guilt for things we did after we were hurt. So we are ashamed to face our pain. We should not stand in our own way though. What has been done is done, let us face it so we can move on. No more looking over your shoulder carrying burdens we no longer need to, but living free from guilt shame and pain. The One who taught me this is Jesus. He is my Savior, Redeemer, and Healer. He is the Lord of my life, my heart my everything. Jesus knows pain and He knows suffering. This does not stop Him from loving though. In spite of pain rejection humiliation being beaten and spit upon He loves us, He forgives us and He heals us. It is written  ‘By His stripes we are healed’. All we have to do is receive Him, acknowledge our sins and repent and the love He has for us we can then receive. Then you can find relief form the pain you have lived with for too long.

Take off you mask.

  Years of working in bars and restaurants taught me to put on a mask. The reason was because that customers do not want to be waited on by a sad, depressed, angry or bitter, waitress. So no matter how I was feeling, I had to cover it up with a happy mask. Concealing how I felt because I was there to do a job, and you will not get tips when you appear miserable. Even when I had to serve customers who were rude abusive, or vulgar, I had to laugh and put a smile on my face, and be pleasant to them.

Now the same can be said about people in church. I had heard the term ‘Church face’ and I thought it was an appropriate description. We cover up what is really going on inside because we are afraid of being judged or rejected. We also do not our faith to be questioned. (This does not mean when you are struggling with emotional or other issues you have lost faith, it just means you are human and we have our weaknesses that we individually have to deal with.) Yet one reason for fellowship is so that we can help each other. It is like the wedding vow, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, and for better or worse. The church is the bride of Christ. We are His body, arms, legs, hands, feet, eyes and ears, the list goes on. When we put on our masks to conceal our true feelings, our frustrations, our disappointments, etc… We are closing the door on receiving the loving help we so desperately need. God said it was not good for man to be alone. This was not just for a man and woman to be married. We need each other. Scripture tells us if two are walking and one falls into a ditch the other is there to help them out.

We need to take off our masks. I know that it is scary to expose ourselves and be vulnerable, but it is in our weakness that God is the strongest. One of God’s blessings in my life are the people He gave to me to be my true friends. These are people who I can be real with. They have seen me when I have been at my worse. When I have been so angry that I was intolerable to be around. When I was too depressed that I did not want to go on. They have listened to my screams,and let me cry till there were no more tears to fall. When I have felt that all hope is lost, they have sat quietly, showing great compassion. They do not try to fix me, or tell me what I am doing wrong. They show me they love me by just accepting me as I am. Many times they just sit quietly and listen. Their presence alone giving comfort. When they speak, they use words of encouragement. They never doubt my faith, but remind me that they know how strong my faith is, and that Jesus loves me at all times, just as they do.

I thank God for these friends, who have let me remove my mask without any fear. I can be myself with them, no masks, no pretending. God uses these people to hug me, and hold me, and to speak words to encourage and heal me when I am hurting more than I feel that I could bear. If you take off your mask you will find there are people already in your life who God has blessed you with. who will do the same for you as my friends have done for me. You won’t know these people till you take off your mask though. So take off your mask and see truth. See God’s amazing love for you.

Cracked Pots Bible Study

God uses cracked pots / A study in imperfections made perfect
Julie Sheppard

To the world a cracked pot is useless. It is broken and has no purpose. If you were to pour water into it, the water would flow through the cracks. So we can ask how can God use a cracked pot? We look at ourselves and we become our own worst critique. We see all that is wrong. We look at our past and see all of our mistakes. Yet God sees more.
God uses our imperfections and makes us perfect because He is perfect.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.
These 2 verses make me think that being a cracked pot is a good thing. Why? Because that I am cracked all that was wrong within me is released and poured out at the feet of my Savior Jesus. It also means that because I am empty He can use this broken vessel to let His love and grace flow not only into me but through me so that what He gives me pours into the lives of those I come in contact with.

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman Matthew 7:37-39Ref — Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8 7:41,42Ref — Mt 18:23-34
36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume,
38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet,1 he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.”
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,a and the other fifty.
42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet,2 but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45 You did not give me a kiss,3 but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
46 You did not put oil on my head,4 but she has poured perfume on my feet.
47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”5
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you;6 go in peace.”7

Here in Matthew you see a woman who had a poor reputation that humbles herself at the feet of Jesus. The tears pouring from her eyes cleansing the feet of Jesus.

Mark 14:3-9
3 And being * in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat , there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenarda very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said , Why * was this waste of the ointment made ?
5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
6 And Jesus said , Let her alone ; why trouble ye * her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
8 She hath done what she * could : she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever * this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she * hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

Mark writes that she broke the box of oil and poured it on the head of Jesus.
Both scriptures mention being poured, but do you see the importance of the box being broken?
It took breaking the box to release the oil it contained.
Now for those of us who have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He lives in us. It is His Light that shines through us. So He uses our imperfections to shine His Light of love through us to reach others who are lost and broken.

Can you think of ways that God uses your flaws to do something for His good?Cracked Pot

Broken and Torn

Broken and torn
Never again to be worn
Black and blue
is not my best hue
Trust is broken
Empty words spoken
Eyes
Vacant
Empty
No cure
No longer pure
Damaged beyond repair
there is no hope here
No one can help
what is done is done
My life is gone
heart pumps
blood flows cold
never to grow old
broken and torn
Never again to be worn

© By sheppaja On 6/9/2009 3:37:09 PM

I had written this poem a while back while I was still dealing with the aftermath of an abusive marriage. The view I had of myself only mirrored how I had been treated. From childhood into becoming an adult I had been abused. I kept finding myself in bad relationships, only two had actually been physically abusive but the others still did their damage. I didn’t realize it at that time that I had for most of my life felt I deserved what happened to me. Abuse warps the way we think and how we look at ourselves. We live in in fear and doubt plagues our minds, we are prisoners in our own minds. What has helped me to stop this way of existing(I call it existing because you are not truly living when you live like that) was Jesus reaching out to me. Through His Word He told me who I am, and who I am to Him. He taught me my life had purpose, and it wasn’t to be anyone’s punching bag(verbally or physically). He has a better life for me. Yes I still have troubles and face trials and temptation but I have Jesus to walk with me each day no matter what the day holds. When I look into the mirror using His eyes I see a better person than who I used to think I was. I have a lesson that is good for anyone who has doubt, unbelief in themselves, feels they deserve to be treated poorly,,this list can go on and on but the point of the lesson is to transform how you see yourself to how God sees you. I had titled the lesson self portraits. I will find it and post it and hope that it will help anyone who looks at themselves the way I used to look at myself. The freedom I found in letting the love of Jesus into my heart has definitely changed me for the better. Yes I still have bad days and get down on myself but now I don’t stay down because He is always there to lift me up. If you feel broken and torn turn to Jesus and let Him in. Look for my lesson, “Self Portraits”, hopefully it won’t take me too long to find.