Strongholds

Where is that place you run to?

What is that behavior you turn to?

Who is that person you lean on?

 

When you feel.

Scared.  Sad.  Unloved.  Offended.  Ashamed.  Less than.  Jealous.  Abused.  Unworthy.

 

But you actually want to feel better.

Safe.  Happy.  Loved.  Peaceful.  Forgiven.  Important.  Content.  Healed.  Cherished.

 

What is your “safe” place (or person) who gives you the illusion of peace when life gets hard, when “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house” (Matthew 7:25).

 

This is your stronghold.

Strongholds

My what?  You might be asking this question, because stronghold is a word we don’t use too often.

 

Dictionary.com tells us a stronghold is “a place that serves as the center”.  It’s the place we go to feel loved.  It’s the person we run toward to feel special.  It’s the behavior we need to feel important.  Because we need to fill all the holes in our heart.  To cover the pain of our hurts.  To erase the burn of our shame.

 

But here’s the problem – if your stronghold isn’t God, you are standing on quicksand.  With only a matter of time before you get sucked in over your head and possibly destroyed.

 

Because you are relying on a person or place …

To give you freedom when they can only hold you hostage.

To give you peace when they only knows chaos.

To give you security when they can only bring you trouble.

To give you hope when they can only leave you desperate.

To give you love when they only know selfishness.

 

And you are living deceived.  You have been told the quicksand isn’t deadly and won’t hurt you.  You have listened to and given credibility to the evil whisper that says this will make you important.  You have ignored the warnings that “their strongholds you will set on fire” (1 Kings 8:12).

 

Because a stronghold is an illusion.  It is the “arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5), telling you that this is how you find and feel God’s love.  But this unreal love always comes in a form that cannot fulfill you and will not sustain you.  And it eventually leaves you empty, lonely, and dispassionate.  Until one day you realize it has become quicksand.  Pulling you in.  Sucking you down.  Eating you alive.  One choice at a time.  Until you are stuck – eventually over your head.  Without hope.  No way of rescue.  The gloom of death looming.

 

And that is not the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

 

So what stronghold have you built?

God sees every one of them.

God knows the heart – and the hurt – behind every one of them.

 

And God is calling to you just as He did to David – “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart” (1 Samuel 22:5).  He wants to walk with you “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) so you come out to the other side – where He has the best version of everything you are seeking.

 

But what happens when we won’t go willingly?  What happens when we fight Him?  He will come after us and “throw down all your strongholds” (Lamentations 2:2, Micah 5:11).  He will leave no stone left standing – “You have broken down all his hedges; You have brought his strongholds to ruin” (Psalm 89:40) – so He can rebuild you with a solid foundation of truth.

 

Because there is only room enough in our hearts for one Master (Matthew 6:24).  And God wants it to be Him.

  • “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:3)
  • “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).
  • “The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).

 

So let’s go back to the beginning.

Where is that place you run to?

What is that behavior you turn to?

Who is that person you lean on?

 

Recognize it.

Own your part.

And then dominate it.

 

Because today is the day you can make a change to stop running to that unsafe “safe” place and “return to the stronghold” (Zechariah 9:12) of God.  Stop being a peasant and peon to someone or something that can never love you truly.

 

Choose instead to lean into God and become one of His “prisoners of hope” (Zechariah 9:12).

 

Put your pain and shame in His loving hands.  And allow Him to do a divine exchange – “To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3).

 

For a stronghold will strangle us.

But God will always strengthen us.

For a stronghold will entangle us.

But God will always enable us.

For a stronghold will frustrate us.

But God will always free us.

For a stronghold will confuse us.

But God will always comfort us.

For a stronghold will abandon us.

But God will always accept us.

 

So today, choose God.  And find exactly what you need.  So you won’t need that stronghold anymore to fill in the gaps and feebly attempt to make yourself feel whole.

 

Marie Fremin.   9/9/17, 9/15/17, 9/16/17

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Jonah

I’ve felt compelled for a bit to go back and look at Jonah.  And I did tonight, putting together a simple study my Facebook girls and I can do this coming week.

 

And here’s my takeaway – Jonah is a hot mess.

 

He started as a mess, crazy enough to think he could run from God and God wouldn’t see him – or care.  He plants himself on a boat, deciding to sleep away any guilt or remorse he felt.  And he winds up sleeping through a storm strong enough to toss the ship and tear it apart at the seams – without care for himself or his fellow passengers.  His denial runs all the way to apathy, until his boat mates finally force him to wake up.  And when made to face the consequences of his choices head on, he proudly proclaims “I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (1:9).  Really?  You know He rules the waters, yet you got on a boat on the waters heading far away from Him.  Makes total sense – NOT.

 

And sure, in the middle chapters, he has an upswing and seems to have gotten on track.  He starts in chapter 1 as “But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (1:3).  After a few natural disasters and three days among the rot of a fish’s belly, he becomes “So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh” (3:3), having repented of his bad choices and deciding to walk in obedience to God’s call – with the grace of three days and no other choice but to think.

But then there is chapter 4.  He gets mad at God.  Oh, yeah.  That helped his cause.  This prophet who had just sat and “remembered the Lord” (2:7) when he was down and out sees no other recourse than to beg for death (4:3,8).  He storms out of the city in a hissy fit and sits on a hill watching them, hoping God will actually strike the city and pouting at God’s compassion toward people so undeserving.

 

Maybe I am slow or confused.  But doesn’t it seem more likely that he would have begged to die after being tossed into the raging waters with his only hope being drowning (1:15)?  But no.  He seems calm and repentant in the fish’s belly, floating among who knows what.  He sees the error of his choices, being shown the garbage in his heart with the garbage floating around him – and he hopes for God’s mercy.

 

But it obviously doesn’t last.  Because he winds up alone on a hillside, frustrated to the point he either wants God to destroy the repentant city or kill him.  He won’t be happy for the 120,000 people who just heard and saw God for the first time – and it changed their lives AND history forever.

 

Nope.  Even after experiencing amazing grace personally and then seeing an entire evil nation repent in an instance – his only reaction is anger.  How dare God save those people!  Do You know how many people they have killed?  Did You count how many villages they destroyed?  Do You care how much damage they have done?  Stop and think, oh mighty God – then reconsider and destroy them.  I will be so happy when You do.

 

But Jonah missed the point.  He was Ninevah’s great fish, and they responded the same way he did.  They got it.  God did a miracle only He could do – move an entire nation, including its king, to change.  Yet, according to Jonah, God shouldn’t be so liberal and free-flowing with His grace.  “A gracious and merciful God” (4:2) should be so only within reason.

 

But God has great compassion for everyone.  He tells Jonah so (11).  Jesus tells us the same thing in Luke 15:7 – “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance”.  God LOVES a repentant heart.  God is looking for any and all hearts who cry out and turn to Him.

 

But Jonah couldn’t let God grace be big enough to accept the wayward city turning.  He refused to let God’s love work miracles for the unworthy city.  And thus he sat outside the city, being tormented by the anger within himself and the elements around him (4:8).

 

He had a moment in 2:8 when he had the truth, profoundly – “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy”.  God is mercy, and He will shower it upon us even when we deserve it least.  But this truth only lasted as long as Ninevah was consumed by wickedness.  He who so desperately needed mercy in the fish’s belly could not find it within himself to share or give it away to a city who saw their great need for it.  He who proclaimed the truth “Salvation is of the Lord” (2:9) never fully grasped its applications outside of his world.

 

So I’m left to wonder – did Jonah change?

Did God manage to get through to him?

Did he repent and go back into the city to celebrate with them?

Or did he return home to sulk and brood the rest of his days?

 

I really want his story to have a happy ending.  Because then I, as a hot mess myself, could look at Jonah and have an example to follow.  But God doesn’t give us the “ah-ha” moment David had in 2 Samuel 12.  Instead, God leaves us to wonder.  Because Jonah’s story ends with him still sitting and brooding, a seemingly bigger mess than he started – one who found grace but never grabbed hold of its truth.

 

But God is truly “a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm” (4:2).  For He shows us through Jonah the power and punishment of disobedience, the power and possibilities of obedience, and the power and pulverizing effects of emotions left unchecked.  He shows us through Ninevah the redemption and restoration that true repentance brings.  And He reminds us that we all have a great fish (1:17) and worm (4:7) awaiting us when we won’t choose Him.

 

And again, I admit that I am hot mess like Jonah.  I can only pray that I am not stubborn and hard-hearted like Jonah was.  That I can rejoice over any person turning to God.  That I balance emotions with grace and frustration with compassion.  That I can let His grace and goodness be available and abundant to all.  That when I am wrong I will turn quickly to God’s will.  That the cry of my heart is never “it is better for me to die than to live” (4:3,8).

 

Help me, loving Father, be the person You know I can be.  Let me run toward You with everything I am and everything I will be.  Remove anything from within me that will get in the way of this.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  6/1117 and 9/8/17

 

In the Middle of My Pain

In the middle of my pain ….

 

The emotions are overwhelming, like the roar of high tide.  They kick at peace, scream at hope, and laugh at joy.

 

The tears flow like a storm in the summer, heavy then scattered, as the emotions ebb and flow.  They may stop for a moment, but they are never far from being expelled again upon the day.

 

And it feels like being pushed out of a plane at 30,000 feet … without a parachute.

Complete hopelessness.

Complete desperation.

Complete sadness.

In the Middle of My Pain.jpg

I can see God beyond the desert of heart break and hopelessness, but I cannot reach Him.  I am too caught up in the storm, being thrashed and toss, to find the place of escape to run to Him.  I am trapped within my thoughts, a prisoner of grief and anger and hopelessness.

 

I cry out.  Hoping for release.  Praying for escape.  Longing for peace.

 

And then I feel Him come to me, reaching out His gentle hand with great compassion.

He wants to help me.

He wants to hold me.

He wants to heal me.

 

Right where I am.

As the storm rages.

As the skies boom.

As the rivers overflow.

 

Yet will I let go of the storm cloud I suddenly find myself grasping tightly?  Yes, I look down at my hand and find it closed against God’s goodness.  I find my mind struggling to insert His grace into any crack or crevice … but my heart is too wounded to do anything but shove it aside.  I am too consumed with justification to see His peace wanting to take me over.

 

I am a slave to my emotions.

I am a whipping boy of my thoughts.

I am a prison of my circumstances.

 

But thank God there is always another way!

 

Because in the middle of my pain the choice is always mine.

Stay and sulk.

Or release and renew.

 

I can continue to hold onto the storm that wants to submerge me and drown me.  Or I can stand still, take a deep breath, and trust God to help me out of the storm into His great purposes.

 

So in the middle of my pain, who will I be?

 

Will I be Israel?  As they stood at the edge of the Red Sea, with Egypt chasing hard after them, they allowed fear to rule their hearts and cried out for death (Exodus 14:10-12).  As they stood in the valley facing the armored Philistine warrior, they allowed fear to immobilize them from walking in God’s power (1 Samuel 17:11).  As they heard the reports of the spies, they allowed fear to blind them to God’s ability to overcome every obstacle and every “bad report” (Numbers 13:31-33).

 

Or will I be Moses? Will I hear God say “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13) and trust Him to make a way?

 

Or will I be young David?  Will I remember all God has done for me and trust Him to work in mighty power with something as simple and unassuming as a stone (1 Samuel 17:47-49)?

 

Or will I be Caleb?  Will I stand boldly and confidently in who God is and declare “we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30)?

 

So I choose to open my hand, let go of my pain, and lean into God’s grace.  Which is more than enough to calm the storm and redirect me into His unexplainable peace (Philippians 4:7).  And what started as a gruesome day becomes a glorious day!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/8/17

Hope

One of the great things about being a Christian is having hope.

 

Hope that God is in control and will work things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Hope that God is working in us and through us for good things (Philippians 1:6).

Hope that God is a God of the impossible (Matthew 19:26).

Hope that God is working out the dreams in our hearts (Psalm 37:3-4).

Hope that God’s love is as big and amazing as He says it is (Ephesians 3:18-19).

Hope that God will do amazing things we can see and know (Ephesians 3:20).

Hope that God will allow us to encourage and help others (Matthew 5:16).

Hope that God sees us and knows us (Luke 12:7).

Hope that God has a great future for us (Jeremiah 29:11).

Hope that God has created us as a masterpiece of His grace (Ephesians 2:10).

Hope that God will allow us to be with Him for eternity (John 3:16).

 

And hope is a wonderful thing.

Hope.jpg

Until we place in people or jobs or something other than God.  Because then hope disappoints.  People let us down.  Jobs only use us.  And no one thinks twice about assigning motives to your words, meaning to your actions, and intentions to your heart.  No one cares about who you really are, choosing to tell you their assignments rather than know the real you.

 

And that’s where I find myself this week.  With many tears and much heartbreak.  After being told once again about my bad intentions and hostile words.  And I have been wondering how five years have gone by without anything really changing.  In fact, it seems to be getting worse.  And I always feel like the target.  I always feel like the villain.  I always feel like no matter how good my intentions and how well I stay within the “rules” that I will never get it right.  And it broke my heart this week to realize all these things.

 

But even without hope in my fellow man, I am still thankful.  I have great friends that have stepped up to plate and encouraged me through my tears, assuring me the picture being painted isn’t the true me.  They have reminded me about God’s love and the hope of His calling.  And I am grateful for them.

 

Yes, man disappoints.  But God never does.  He is faithful and true, just like He promised.  So as I figure out how to deal with the disappearance of hope in man this week, I trust God to reveal His purposes and believe He will show me if this is the beginning of a new season.  I trust God to count and keep every tear, to be redeemed in His perfect time.  I trust God to still my tongue and heal my hurt feelings so that I can walk in with grace and dignity.  I trust God.  Period.  So now I’ll wait to see how He writes this chapter of my story.

 

Marie Fremin.  9/8/17

Isaiah 43

Oh “Lord [my] God” (3a) ….  Thank You for all that my life is.

 

Thank You for the good, which reminds me of the depths of Your care.

Thank You for the not so good, which reminds me of the grandness of Your grace.

 

Thank You for deciding before I was even born to “love” (4c) me forever and without boundaries.  And for daily declaring Your love over me, continuing to love me every minute of every day.  Through all my choices – gracious or greedy, selfish or sacrificial, angry or accepting.

 

Thank You that no matter what these choices are that You still faithfully call me by name (1d) and always devotedly say “you are Mine” (1e).  Because I am “chosen” (10b) to be Yours, no matter what.

 

Help me to remember this, that I am always lovable and always worthy.  Especially when the world shouts the opposite to me.  Because You are “He who formed” (1b) me for great purposes and with indescribable love.  Because You are the “Holy One” (15a) who creates us through and for Your “glory” (7b).  So You see me always as beautiful.

 

Help me to remember Your hand is always on me.  You never forsake me.  Therefore I have no reason to fear or be anxious.  You remind me in many ways to “Fear not” (1c, 5a), and I pray You help me keep my heart in tune to hear it.  And to remember I belong to You, so therefore “I have redeemed you” (1c) and “I am with you” (5a) are always true enough to penetrate through the humanness of my heart.

 

Help me stand confidently and surely amidst the circumstances of life.  Because they will never be bigger or more powerful than You.  When I am anxious, help me remember “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (2a).  When I am overwhelmed, help me remember “And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you” (2b).  When I am treated unfairly, help me to remember “When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you” (2c-d).  When I am scared, help me remember You are the God “who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters” (16).  Because “there is no one who can deliver out of My hand” (13b).  I am secure in the loving hands of the one true Savior (11b) who loves to redeem all things for His glory.

Isaiah 43

So I can continually stay focused on You and confidently sing praises to You (21b).  I can trust You for impossible things to become possible.  Including “a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert” (19d-e).

 

For You are my Savior (3b).  You guide me through my Egypt (3c), the world around me that wants to enslave, dominate, and oppress me.  And as I walk with You, remind me that I am “precious” (4a) to You and therefore do not need to succumb to pressure and pride. You will “honor” (4b) my obedience and faithfulness to Your will, especially when I am faithful against the dark and deadly influences trying to destroy me.  Help me to “know and believe” (10c) You are working out everything according to Your best purposes and for my good and Your glory.

 

And help me, please, to “not remember the former things” (18a) that want to encase me in shame and stop my progress.  Help me, please, to not “consider the things of old” (18b) that want to stop me from living in and enjoying the present moment.  Help me, please, remember You are “He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake” (25a) so You can draw and keep me close.

 

Let me be a witness – bold and loud – of the “new thing” (19a) You are doing in me.

Of the new life You are bringing forth out of me.

Of the new hope You are creating in me.

Of the new faith You are burgeoning in me.

 

Because there is no other.  There is no other God (10d-11).

 

There is no other love so sure.

There is no other hope so secure.

There is no other grace so pure.

 

So help me remember who I am and Whose I am.  Let me not be like Israel, who did not “honor Me with your sacrifices” (23b) and who “have wearied Me with your iniquities” (24d).

 

Let me be “waters in the wilderness” (20c) to those searching for You “And rivers in the desert” (20d) to those desperate for Your love.  Let me impart hope instead of havoc, faith instead of fear, peace instead of pride, joy instead of judgment, acceptance instead of accusation, compassion instead of chaos.  Let me be a true and faithful “witness” (10a) to all the goodness and grace You are.  Let Your love flow through me so people know it – and want to experience it from the one true “Savior” (3b).

 

AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.   4/30/17, 5/27/17, 9/3/17

Just Like Peter

I believe God when He says He knew me before I born.  Because He gave me Peter to read about.

 

I have always identified myself with Peter.  Impetuous, quick to speak, a little reckless, daring.  But always at his core loyal, loving, and lively.

 

I know, I know.  How can I call him loyal?  This is the guy who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18).  But in his defense, he was loyal up until that point.  He left his business, his home, and his family to follow a Teacher to who loved and cared for all people.  He was the first disciple to proclaim Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:16).  He was the disciple quick to defend his friend Jesus in the garden at Judas’ kiss (John 18:10).  He was the first disciple to race toward the risen Savior on the beach (John 21:7).  He was the voice of the new church on Pentecost (Acts 2).

 

And in his defense, when he denied Jesus, he didn’t know the miracle that was coming.  Sure, he had been told.  Repeatedly.  But it was impossible.  His Teacher was being tried and convicted as a common criminal – and He was going to be put to death.  It was all over, and he had a family to think about.

 

And I personally am not naïve enough to think I would have reacted any differently.  Yes, I can pridefully say I would.  But I would be a liar.  Because in Peter’s shoes I don’t have the advantage we have now – the real end of the story.

 

Once Peter realized the end of the story was different than he thought, his posture changed.  His attitude changed.  His thinking changed.

 

Almost.

 

And here you can hear me chuckle as I think how like Peter I truly am.

 

Last year we hired two shop managers at work.  The first was young and driven by disappointment in having to do administrative work.  When given the choice to be reassigned, he quit.  The second one came with experience and a work ethic.  In preparing to hire him, my only comment was this – “if he starts making more money than me, who has been here 4 years and helped built this business, I will be super pissed.”

 

Really mature, right?  Just like Peter.  When the resurrected Jesus shows up on the beach in John 21, Peter is so thrilled at recognizing Him that he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore.  They dine, and then Jesus has great compassion on Peter by redeeming his three denials before the cross.  He gives Peter three opportunities to say “You know that I love You” (John 21:15-17) and undo his previous three denials.

 

So how does Peter react to all this?  By turning to John and asking “But Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21).  Instead of glorying in Jesus’ complete forgiveness and love, he turns and wants to know John’s fate.

 

And that was me last year.  “”What are you going to pay him?” was my focus.  Because money is how your value is displayed.  I wanted my value to be denoted.  I wanted my value to be drawn out.  I was Peter, wanting to know how I ranked against someone else.

 

Maybe not the most healthy attitude.  Maybe a little immature.  But four years and the creation of the inventory system started talking for me.

 

And it still talks today.  Not as often, but a little more loudly recently.  Because I see value being assigned, and I see my value tipping away.  I have been somewhat consumed lately watching it.  Just as Peter watched the waves.

 

Peter had it.  He was in the middle of a miracle.  He saw Jesus walk on water.  And it started him thinking.  So he asked Jesus to call him, and then he takes that first (tenuous) step out of the boat.  He has one foot and then two on the water.  And he was still above it!  He gets even bolder and “he walked on the water to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29).  But suddenly his focus shifted.  Suddenly the miracle was impossible in the reality of the raging storm.  And in the blink of an eye, he finds himself “beginning to sink” (Matthew 14:30).

Just Like Peter

He let himself be distracted by circumstances instead of focusing on God’s purpose for him.  He destroyed the miracle by looking somewhere other than Jesus.

 

And I laughed at myself this week as I realized I am Peter in that moment of seeing the wind and waves.  I stopped appreciating where God has me and how God is blessing me.  And I saw myself beginning to sink into discontentment, discouragement, and disappointment.  So far from where God wants me to be.

 

And just as He was compassionate to Peter, so too is He compassionate toward me.  He didn’t turn to Peter and condemn him.  He didn’t leave Peter to drown.  “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him” (Matthew 14:31), saving Peter from himself and redeeming his fear for faith.  And as I realize I have been sinking into my emotions, He reaches the same hand to me to pull me up and out.  He doesn’t condemn me, instead offering me the same chance as Peter to redeem myself.

 

And how can I do that?  Start at Philippians 4:6-11 and focus only on God.

  1. Stop worrying about everyone else. It doesn’t matter what they have.
  2. Be thankful for what God has allowed you to have – and do good with it.
  3. You will never have peace comparing and contrasting your life to others.
  4. Change your thinking and appreciate your “lovely” aspects of life.
  5. Be content where God has you and the blessings He pours into your life. It doesn’t matter what you don’t have.

 

And get up every day remembering the Bible is full of far from perfect people.  Peter included.  Yet God still loved each one of them truly, working through them in amazing ways.  Because imperfection is the open door for God to begin doing miracles for us and through us.

 

Thank You, Father, for examples like Peter who remind us we can mess up and still be part of Your miracles.  Thank You for redeeming grace that picks us up and allows us to declare our love and fidelity no matter what we have done.  Help us each to find the Peter of Pentecost within ourselves.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/3/17

Decisions

I’ve been thinking this week about how different my life would be if I had kept my “yes” to get married back in 1997.

 

(Please give me a minute to pass out in realizing this was 20 years ago!)

 

No wedding meant I stayed in Georgia.  I didn’t go back to Tennessee or wind up on the west coast.  So my 20 years of adult life have all been in Georgia.  But what would I have missed if I had chosen marriage?

 

No Chico.  OMG, he was a butthead, but that dog knew how to love.  He didn’t trust easily, but when he did, it was with his whole being.  He helped strengthen an already solid faith in God by showing me every day what true love is.

 

No Melissa or Teri.  These are awesome women of faith who know who God is and believe He can do the impossible.  They have invested in me and engaged in my trials.  They are encouraging and supportive as each day I battle the thorns in my flesh.  And they are always willing to pray for me.  I love you, ladies!

 

No Bettie.  My life would definitely be less colorful and engaged without this sweet adopted grandmother in my life.  I definitely would not enjoy the beauty of a well-placed “bless your heart” without her.  I am grateful to be part of the love and support she has to give.

 

And so many other wonderful people who have come in for a season and allowed me to be part of their journey.

 

Plus a variety of churches to wind up where I belong – in ironically the last place I said I would be.  If I weren’t in Georgia, would I even know who Andy Stanley is?  Would his ministry have had any impact on my life?

 

What about my love of live theater?  Would I have discovered it living somewhere else?

 

And then there is the coming into my own.  Would I have embraced my gift of writing?  Allowed myself to be open to share all my bad moments?  Would this blog even exist?  Or would I have been too busy and distracted to stop and listen?

 

I could be married.  I could have kids.  I could be in another state.

I could be content, or I could be miserable.  I could be settled, or I could be lost.

 

I don’t know where I could have wound up, since those paths are untraveled.

 

But I know where I am.  I know God is using where I am for my good and His glory.  I know God is allowing miracles to happen.  And I know God will keep me and work through me as I continue on my chosen path.

 

Am I sorry about my choice 20 years ago?  I am sorry that people were hurt by my disobedience to God’s guidance.  I am sorry that pain may be the lasting legacy in the memories of those involved.

 

But otherwise, no.  I am not sorry.  I know I did the right thing for me.  I wanted more than I was getting, and I got shortchanged because it was the wrong season for both of us.  Neither of us was ready to handle together what we wouldn’t face individually.  So it didn’t work, and that’s OK.  I think God used that experience to the full extent of His grace to put everyone back into His will.

 

So I look back, and I smile.  I have learned a lot, and none it goes to waste in light of God’s goodness.

 

No, I don’t know what I missed out on because I chose as I did.

But I know who and what I would have missed – and I am so grateful I didn’t.

Decisions

Thank You, loving Father, for all of it – up to this point and into the future!

 

Marie Fremin, 8/27/17