A Slave To God’s Love 

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”-Romans 7:25 NIV

At various times, I seem to cycle through previous lessons, sayings, and promises. 

I find myself vowing, yet once again,”Now remember, don’t take for granted what you hold valuable in your life and in your heart. You’ll never know what you have until what you don’t have is what you’ll miss.”

Repeated lines repeat themselves. 
Somehow, the same goes for the lessons that I thought I already knew.

I have discovered that I can still get immersed in what is out of my control, while chasing after the unrealistic goal ahead. I get caught up in my own limitations, not necessarily living in a way that’s equivalent to my very best. 

I look over the heartache of another, a joy that should have been experienced, and opportunities of sharing that were missed. I undermine what a new day will bring and I take for granted the blessings bestowed upon my life. 
Because of my sinful nature, I FAIL. . .OVER AND OVER AGAIN. 

For the longest time, my thoughts, along with my failures, held me captive. My actions were the reflection of the wounded places filling the void in my heart. 

I hadn’t learned about the freedom that God represented, nor his power that dwelled in me. I didn’t understand how precise his mercy, righteousness, or forgiveness really was and is.

I thank God because he never gave up. By my nature I easily might have, but God loved me unconditionally, in a way that I can’t fathom or comprehend. 

Even now, when I continue to fail, his love doesn’t waiver. HE DOES NOT UNLOVE. HE LOVES YOU in the very same way. Take refuge in him today, delight in what he wants to offer you.

~ Baring His Beauty,

    Tiffany Thomas 

Advertisements

Everything Is Beautiful In Its Time 

So many times we try to rush God and do our own things.   We try to accomplish something before its perfect time. 

To illustrate this message on waiting on the Lord for my children recently I used when we have Dewberries, Southern for Blackberries, that grow in our back yard.  

When we pick them before their time they can be sour or bitter, but when we wait and allow them to ripen- wow! Now that is what is really beautiful and tastes amazing.  

Just like us- we must remain connected to the Vine- Jesus.  We must trust His perfect timing so that we too will always bear the good ripened Fruit that is beautiful and sweet in its time.  
     

              ~ XXOO Michelle Bollom 
Be sure to listen to this weeks song and check out the great lyrics.

The Vine by James Vincent

One Big Mistake 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Recently, I encountered one of the hardest experiences of one of my children. I think one of my toughest jobs [so far] maybe [forever and always] will be that of a parent.

My child, whom I love more than anything, made an error in judgement, a mistake.

It was a BIG MISTAKE.

Many emotions swirled around in my heart.  

I was angry. I was scared. I was confused. I was sad.

But mostly…. my heart was breaking for my child.

The pain, the guilt, the shame, I know what those have felt like. And the enemy was not far off from the lies he used to implant in my thoughts of myself. I knew what it was like to make a mistake that can’t be reversed or taken back.

I know the heartache and damage that comes by ONE BIG MISTAKE. And maybe, in some way, I was reliving my own past sins.

Maybe….. That is why my heart was deeply saddened for my child to have to live them out too.

I wanted to take it all upon myself. I didn’t want my child to suffer. I sure didn’t want them to experience the consequences that may be for a lifetime, possibly.

I couldn’t help but think about what it must have been like for God to love so deeply, to hurt so much, for his child/children. How much did his heart break over my errors in judgement? I thought about the greatness and depth his heart loves – despite my BIG MISTAKES.

Despite my child’s BIG MISTAKES.

God LOVES SO MUCH. He loved so much that he DID take it ALL on.

He gave because his love was for ALL.

And as much as I didn’t need to be condemned by harsh words of others, neither did my child by the critical words of his mother. My child needed me to demonstrate the same kind of love that I experienced from Jesus.

Jesus, let me be reminded of the magnitude you offer by the love and forgiveness you demonstrated on the cross. You are almighty and NO ONE is like you. Please forgive our sins, and Father direct each one of your children onto the path that was paved by your example. Walk and talk with us, comfort us, while confirming who we are in you. In every lesson, allow us to understand and know you deeper [still].

In Jesus Name, amen. 

Baring His Beauty,

Tiffany Thomas 

Crown Your Efforts With Success


In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.~ Proverbs 3:6 

I have seen this verse many times. It was one of my verses from my dreams last night and I almost skimmed right over the word and lesson God was trying to convey to me.  

God has been speaking to me for almost a year that I should be intentionally focusing and living Christ first- Christ center; In everything! 

It is not always easy living this way because the world pulls and tugs at us to distract us.  

Being in my second fast in May and removing many distractions and intentionally trying to keep Christ first and practice uncomfortable obedience,was hard.  

Here are some things I learned….

 

God will ask you to change your thinking, clear out warped perceptions, bring you out of your comfort zone, have you say no to some good things to make room for greater things.

He will have you learn to wait, trust, cling to Him. He will ask us to be bolder and braver and not sugar coat or withhold back anything because of fear. 

 He will ask us to remove, decline, and obey him in some pretty hard things while he is helping us get rid of our fleshly behaviors.  We won’t always understand what He reveals, but that is where Trust and Faith are built. 

It is such a different way to live when we stop focusing on the world and our flesh and filter everything by – is it Christ honoring? Is Christ in the center of this? Is Christ first place?  Am I being Obedient? 
When we obey Christ in everything-what God views as a success- may not be what others see. 
So through this verse God showed me:

What the world may view as success or even what I can view as success, is sometimes the exact opposite of what God views as success
The image today is the one of the beauty queen blunder where Steve Harvey announced in error the wrong winner and on a very public stage the crown was removed from one and placed on the real winner.  

Talk about Awkward! 

I actually saw the interview with the host Steve Harvey and the actual winner. It was really sad how the public reacted so ugly to a simple human error. People were calling for boycotts, some got death threats, the real winner couldn’t enjoy her success because of the threats of angry people and had to go into hiding.  

What could have been a life lesson for many- was missed in all the anger and resentments -so they don’t ever see the lesson.  
So it is with us, We can miss many life lessons because of anger, judgement, offense,negative influences, resentments, criticisms and fear.  

Those things have a way of clouding our views.  We won’t be able to see or hear clearly when those things get in the way. 

So always put God first! 
Do what is right.  Do what God says to do.  Don’t let the world change you- let the Word change you. 

If we keep God first and center, He will direct us and crown our efforts with success, even if the world doesn’t see the success in the situation.  
       ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

Easy As That 


Years ago, a surgery that was considered common and routine, took a turn for the worst. I was experiencing a lot of pain and it wouldn’t go away. Within days, I was taken back to the hospital for an exploratory surgery. It was the only answer. 

At the time, I was a single mother trying to keep life, together, within my capabilities. And for anyone who can relate to this, or to the constant juggle of life’s responsibilities, you might be able to join me in a mutual understanding when I told myself, “You don’t have time to be sick.”
I was ordered to bedrest for an indefinite time. 

Easy as that right?….Um….No…Not for me…..

Deep down, I felt a strong sense of responsibility to take on the day to day activities and my pride assured me that I could take care of everything on my own. The enemy made sure doubt would be the icing on the cake. He told me, “You can’t afford not to work, who will pay your bills? No one will take care of your children like you do. What if something happens to one of them? Tiffany, you…know….you will be all alone and life will go on without you.”

An overwhelming and paralyzing fear crept in. It imprisoned my thoughts, actions, and reactions. 
Easy as that!….FEAR took over…

After the third trip back into the hospital, I was exhausted, frustrated and done. 
I broke. 
I looked up to God and I surrendered to all of who He is.
I repented for not giving my fears, worries, and life over to him. 

Why is it, that we discover, at the end of a difficult season, there may have been an easier way to have gone through it? I made some of my difficult situations harder than they had to be. 
Sometimes…even now….I still do. 

Thankfully, God is in everything. Even when I stand in the way, it doesn’t stop Him from being ALL. Even when I took over, He was still moving. 

Jesus said, 

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:30 NIV

God wants us to go through Him. He wants us to trust and have faith in the promises He has given so that we may have rest for our soul. If you are facing a trial today, may you find rest and comfort in Him. Be reminded that His burden is light. He wants to take your burden and replace it with His comfort.

Dear Jesus, 

Help me to see when I am full of pride, not considering the strength available in you. Continue to guide me, even when I try to get in your way. Thank you for having mercy and grace over my stubborn heart. Thank you for loving me when I fall short. I thank you for all of your protection and love. In Jesus name, Amen.

 ~Baring His Beauty,

    Tiffany Thomas 

Out Of Bounds 

  
I stood before home plate, the heat from the August south Texas sun beaded upon my brow. My gut was wrenched, drawn up tight, hiding behind my rib cage. Two strikes against my oldest brother’s fast ball …… and 3 out of bounds fouls. This was the last chance for my 6 year old brother and I to have a fighting chance against my two oldest brothers. In the final inning, and potentially, the final play of the game, the ball rolled towards me, bouncing as it pulsed across the uneven surface of our front yard. I watched with great anxiety and intensity as it raced towards the dip in the ground, the one that made it bouncy and unpredictable as it barreled towards me. Four bounces once it hit the dip …. Counting, 1, 2 …… 3 … 4. A split second and it’s reached its destination.

 

I reared back my right leg, with all the severity and force my 38 lbs. could muster. It’s do or die time. This time I’m going to DO!

 

Competitive sports have never been mine to enjoy. I’ve always been scrawny, weak, the last to be picked for the team. I never really minded. I have never had a competitive, “gotta beat the other guy,” mentality. I’ve never even wanted to be best in my field. In fact, I’m so much more content to be behind the scenes, making things happen in a way that you don’t see me. I’m totally content to be the jack of all trades, but the master of none.

 

UNLESS, it involves my walk with God or my family.

 

If you’re curious, I bombed the last play of that kick ball game. Fourth foul got me out. My little brother and I lost the game because I was out of bounds.

 

Now I know I ended that game on a very undramatic note. I have always remembered that game as such …. Undramatic and lost as usual, due to my lack of strength, control, and ambition …. Nothing new to me at that age.

 

As God has been dealing with me about personal boundaries these past few weeks, this particular image from the scrapbook of my childhood has replayed over and over again in my head. At first I thought it was about the unfair odds of the two oldest boys against the two youngest, most feeble of the family. I didn’t seem to get anything from that line of thinking, although an entire novel could be written on the meanness of big brothers!

 

I started thinking about a competitive spirit. Maybe God was telling me I’ve become too competitive and wanting to win something or beat someone out of pride. Or maybe, He was wanting me to obtain that spirit of needing to win. Hahaha, yeah right. That’s not it. For 2 weeks I was stumped. All the noticeable, important factors one could see about that story were not hitting home on what He wanted to show me.

 

A few days after rejecting the idea I might need a more competitive spirit, we had storms moving through our area. I was remembering how years ago, I had warned my parents, who were vacationing in the Uvalde area one summer, to evacuate when we had lots of rain. I told them, “The little creeks are dry, low areas will flood and expand their boundaries. The river will rise quicker than you can blink. Get out now, before you’re stuck and in danger. “

 

That one thought had nothing to do with kick ball. It was irrelative to being competitive, winning or losing. It had to do with boundaries.

 

God said, “Even the mountains and seas have boundaries. How much more so, do you?”

 

For two months I have been struggling with the unpredicted situation of compromise on personal boundaries as a single parent. I’ve been fighting a stress I didn’t realize was there, until I realized how much I was compromising. The sad part is, I was compromising my own boundaries to accommodate the desires of my child. This makes it ten times worse!

 

Example: Sam loves games. All games. Card games, video games, computer games, board games. They entertain him because he is an only child. On Holly Mountain, this was curbed to a degree, because I had time and (sometimes) energy, to accommodate and play with him. Since I’ve been working and he’s been in school, there is naturally, less time (and energy) to fill the void that every child has to be entertained. And, like any kid, Sam has always pushed the limits on everything. If I say, “You can’t eat that, it’s not good for you.” He will ask, “Why isn’t it good for me? How much can I eat and get away with before it becomes NOT good for me?” Lately, he has taken this approach on video games. For months he has hounded me about relaxing my standards and personal convictions on violence and language.

 

To be true to myself and my audience, I have to tell you, I caved. Not just once, but twice. TWO games I knew I didn’t want him to play, I didn’t just let him play, I bought them ……… Thinking I would appease the need, and that would be the end of it. Honestly, I got them just to shut him up. If that’s not good parenting, I don’t know what is, haha ………..

 

Yeah right.

 

After a few weeks of hearing words that made my ears bleed, repeatedly telling him to skip that, mute this and “just put on your head phones,” because I didn’t want to see or hear ANY of it, he started asking for more. More games that offended every part of MY spirit man.

 

I became impatient. Stressed. I nagged him about the content (that I allowed him to play, mind you), and complained how he was never content when I gave in just a little. I told him his expectations were WAY out of bounds.

 

I was wrong.

 

God told ME, “YOU are way out of MY boundaries.”

 

My stress was fighting this conviction that I had violated as a parent. I did wrong. I compromised. I had to fix it. But how? I had already given consent. How do you undo bad parenting?!

 

You ask forgiveness. And you PRAY!

 

I stopped nagging Sam. It was my fault. It was, pure and simple. So, I quit blaming the kid. I allowed God to re-educate me in the boundaries of yesteryear …… how and why they were/are important. The big question was, HOW to get back to them.

 

For months I had avoided the subject, got upset at Sam for pushing the limit (literally several times every day) or simply tried to ignore it all together …… Then once I got my heart right, God came through (OF COURSE!) and I got my answer.

 

Par for the course of our evening, Sam brought up a game he wanted, but knew I wouldn’t approve. Rather than lecture or argue with him, God dropped this simple reply in my heart, which I repeated to Sam.

 

Why are you asking me? You already know how I feel. How do YOU feel about the content of this game? Do you think it’s something God would approve of?” He said, “No.” I replied, “Then why are you asking ME? Are you trying to justify doing something you know is wrong just because I said it was ok?” He said, “No.” I said, “If you are old enough to accept Christ as your savior, and old enough to know that what you are asking for isn’t something God would approve of, then I’d say you’re old enough to know it’s God’s will you should be seeking, instead of the faulty judgement of your mother. Pray about it. Instead of asking ME why I hate this stuff so much, maybe you need to ask yourself why you desire it so much. I am not your savior, Jesus is. If I have to make the final call, I will. But I’d like to see you pray through this and see where it leads you first.”

 

For the first time in months, I had silence from my son on the subject of video games.

 

As insignificant as a 3 inch sideline might seem, it can make or break the game. I’ve taken back my boundaries. In doing so, I have enabled my son to create his own.

 

Do justly, love mercy, walk HUMBLY with your God.

 

 ~ Sandra K. Yates 

Down The Drain 

  
Banging clanging and dust slanging had my nerves shot! 

Termites

Yes, those pesky critters have had a feast with my master bath tub and shower wall.

I had a crazy 2015 and I was hoping to have this all resolved before the New Year, but it turned out to be a bigger mess than originally thought so here I was day one of more contractors and repairs starting in our home.  

As the day wore on I had gone too long between meals and my blood sugar had run low along with my patience.   

The entire wall was a crumbling pile of sawdust all the way to the roof beams! 

My pockets had already been turned completely inside out and frayed with no chance of any more hidden coins when I heard the words, it is going to cost more….

More

I did not have MORE to give- no my frayed nerves were already teetering on a tight rope.

More money???? … Money has been flying out the window faster and more fierce than toto caught up in a tornado in Kansas. 

I was trying to stay in peace but was now doing the cha cha between panic and peace when my daughter calls to inform me that the sputters in the van that is now my twins car was acting up. 

I could feel the heat rising as I realized I had to call more, drive more, give more of myself … To yet something else on my already really full plate.  
As I am getting a ride home from my mechanic I just wanted to cry on the poor guys shoulder about my days woes.
He probably wondered why I was in such a catatonic state and not my usual Chatty Cathy bubbly self. 

My hubby was closing so he would not be home for multiple hours. That was probably a blessing for him. 

As I still let the time fill in with more to do’s instead of food…the perfect storm was brewing….. 


A full almost 12 hours later since the banging clanging dust slanging started and well….just too much crapola to mention, had all started and filled my day….


I snapped! 
I don’t mean just snapped…
I mean I really really REALLY snapped! 

I unloaded like a machine gun and yes there were a ton of unworthy words flying about. I screamed at my daughter, then I screamed at my son. I turned into a crazy blubbering idiot with my hands flailing in the air. If I had my van I would have run away but I just had our jeep and I was too weak to drive stick shift.  
So I just kept freaking out wondering if I started sobbing and rocking in the corner would it freak out my kids too much and how many years that would add to the years of therapy they will already need one day…when suddenly my daughter yelled –Stop!  

It temporarily snapped me back to reality and then I kept going until again sternly she scolded me with a simple, yet very loud –“Stop Mom! Stop this and go take a shower.”

So like a scolded 2 year old, shocked, I held my head and silently walked up the stairs to the extra bathroom and closed the door. I dropped all my clothes and jumped in the shower. As the hot water poured over my very greasy and dusty hair and my unstable nerves and my really low blood sugar had me twitching, I slowly poured the shampoo and wanted nothing more than to simply go right on down the drain with all the shampoo, soap, and water.   

I wanted all the days jacked up messes to just vanish right down the drain too! I no longer wanted to deal with anything. 

As I stood in the shower trying to figure out how in a split second I lost all control. I thought:

Really? Really Michelle? What in the world? Was all my great Christian witness nothing more than unworthy word wounds inflicted now on my children? Oh yeah, and how about a F Bomb dropping ordained minister? Yeah that goes over real well like a turd in the punch bowl…..How can I be living for God and doing the Lords work and completely just nut plum up? How can I serve anyone Lord when I can’t even serve my family very well? I blew it! 

So I repented to God for what I had done, what I wanted to do, and what I hadn’t done that I should have. I didn’t make excuses for my blood sugar or pretend I had no clue what in the world just happened.   

Nope, I just said “I blew it! Lord, I was not even glimmering this time. My Light was not shining for You. No it full on burned out. It was busted and shattered just like a too hot light bulb. Father, Forgive me, I chose to curse and rant and rave instead of take anything to You. It was 100% a choice I made to lose it and let my flesh rule.   

Newsflash:

I am not nor have I ever intended to give anyone the false assumption or impression that I have it all figured out perfectly because I am a Christian. I still fail and fall daily! I post a lot of encouraging and inspiring posts mostly from my own life experiences and love the Lord deeply and try to Love others well, but I still can choose fleshly sinful unworthy behaviors. But my God is big enough to handle and forgive them ALL! 

I got done and went to apologize another time to each of my kids and gave them both a great big hug and kiss and asked God not to have them spend too many years in therapy trying to undo all my messes. 

And as I prepared for bed I reflected on my stress filled day. I thanked God for not leaving me and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I also thought of the gurgling of the drain and envisioned every worry and sin of the day being all washed down the drain. Even the soap that really should have been put in my mouth!   

Thank you Lord for Your Amazing Grace and Mercy. Thank You Lord for loving this imperfect sinner perfectly. Thank You for New Mercies each day. Thank You that when we take it all to You, You wash it all down the drain too. 
        ~XXOO Michelle Bollom  

Plays Well With Others 

  
No matter what life throws at you, when you let God be in control, there isn’t a single person on this planet that can take His favor from you. 

There is no need to panic, stress out, or be hurt and angry. That’s wasted energy. It takes away from your focus and distracts from the acute, hearing ear needed to stay in tune with God’s will for your life. 

Everyone is walking their own walk. Remember, whatever is done to you, even if indirectly and you’re simply caught in the crossfire, God isn’t saying He is upset or dissatisfied with you. It’s a season of growth, and many times, it’s not specifically YOUR growth. 

Take heart in knowing there is honor in this place, where sometimes it is necessary to take one for your fellow man in order for them to come up higher. 

We are all in this together. While you are not accountable for your neighbors spiritual report card, you are accountable for your own. 

I know I want mine to say, “Plays well with others,” ….. A+!

Go with God sweet friends, and rest in the salvation of our Lord, Jesus Christ!

                ~Sandra K. Yates 

Smooth Traveling 

  
Do you struggle with finding your words?
I know I certainly have. 
I know you may be thinking, what? 

The long winded run on sentence tell you the whole back story nitty gritty detail girl, has a problem finding words?

But yes, it is true.   

What about telling the whole truth even with the risk of someone taking it wrong or fear of offending ? 

God has been speaking to me that when I don’t “find my words” and speak anything less than the whole truth, that at the end of the day it is still a lie.  

God even took me back to what I teach my children about lying: 

It is never ever acceptable or necessary to lie.  

God’s word specifically states -Do Not Lie.

Embellishing is also a lie.

There are no white or gray lies, no matter the color, they all are lies.  

Not fib, no windy, no only joking, they are all still a lie. 

Then He took me to two areas He dealt with me personally on over the years….

When answering the phone and pretending not to be you with a sales call ? 

How many of us have done that before? 

Newsflash: that’s a lie- dishonesty. 

What about “courtesy falls” when in a prayer line? 

How many have done that before? 

  God will slay you if He chooses, but courtesy falling is deception, which is still a lie. 

So why was God bringing me back around to this lesson? 
Because I was still being dishonest when I don’t tell my true opinions or reaction or feelings about something. I don’t have to offer it up when not asked, but when asked or God tells me to speak up, I better say the truth, the whole truth and not just what they want to hear. 
God has been having me practice this and “find my words” lately as I have spoken some really hard words to people. God has honored my obedience to be truthful in all areas so He also thankfully prepared them to hear the truth, which was a huge relief. 

(Some even said they wanted to punch me, but they knew it was the truth)  

We don’t have to hurt someone’s feelings, but we can be honest and let them know we did not agree or like something when asked. If God is asking you to share something to help them, we must tell the whole truth.   
For me, I may give you every detail before around and after it, but you can be sure that it is nothing but the whole truth.  

I am no longer stuffing the hard words since I stopped stuffing my face.
I am finding my words. All my words.   

As I have allowed God to guide and direct me through this fasting experience, He is showing me that I am to be guided by total honesty. 

A good man is guided by his honesty; the evil man is destroyed by his dishonesty. ~Proverbs 11:3 TLB 
Moral character makes for smooth traveling; an evil life is a hard life. Proverbs 11:5 MSG 

Lord, let complete and total honesty always guide us. Please don’t let us be destroyed by dishonesty or deception or even embellishing the truth. May we find our words and even when not easy to still speak the whole truth in love. Build and develop our Moral character so we may have smooth traveling to do all You have called us to do. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 
                     ~XXOO Michelle Bollom 

A Soft And Sweet Answer 

  

“A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.”                                         ~Proverbs 15:1 MSG
This is the scripture of the day today in my Bible app. It is so very true and one I remind myself of almost daily! And…One I use often with my girls. 
A true life lesson.

If I could really grasp this principle from Proverbs, how many arguments could I avoid? 

Sometimes I am reluctant to have this soft response because it feels like I am validating the anger not to react to it, but if I really trust the Lord that HE can make things right if I respond correctly to others, then I am capable of a soft and sweet answer in the face of nasty. 

In this aspect, may we all be fire-extinguishers, instead of kindling wood. I have to say, when I have gone and said what I felt “needed to be said!” I have never felt better afterwards. Usually a sickening feeling of regret has accompanied the sweet reminder from Jesus that now, just as he is talking to the other angry person, he is also now having to talk to me about my response and attitude. 

And true to form, He never yells angrily. He obeys his own advice and speaks sweetly and softly to stir my heart to repentance. My dad always told us that we are only responsible for our response to any situation. And not responsible for anyone else’s. 

He DRILLED that in our heads. I have had to use this advice continually over this obstacle course called life soooo many times. 

Lord, thank you for always having patience with me as I learn to speak sweetly and softly to those who are angry and frustrate me. Whether that’s to my spouse, my friends, my daughters, my family or even strangers in traffic. 😳 You never ask us to do something you don’t demonstrate. Thank you for being so amazing towards me. For your unconditional love, I love you, my precious savior.  

Never miss a good opportunity to shut up.” – Will Rogers

~ Megan Enis