debbie ring

thoughts that move my heart…

Captivated by Love

I couldn’t be more grateful for this video. I was given the opportunity to share my story for the Only God – Thanksgiving Eve Service held at my incredible Church, Cornerstone.

One day, maybe one of my grandchildren and future great-grandchildren will stumble upon it and be encouraged that Jesus Christ captivated their Grandmothers heart and changed forever the direction of her life, and prayerfully theirs.

Thank you, Jesus, for the story you’ve written in my heart!

Advertisements

Let Her Go…

Since April I have worked on this. I have written it out, then walked away from it. Typed it up and let it sit. Uploaded it to this blog, and didn’t finish it. Now it’s October and I’m thinking maybe I’ll publish it by Christmas!?

My procrastination has to do with performance I know. My self-talk will talk me right out of doing many things. For this blog, the talk goes “it only makes sense to you” – “no one will understand what you’re trying to say” – “your grammar is terrible” on and on it goes. Blah!

Here goes…

During Holy Week one thing I really look forward to is ‘Stations of The Cross’ on Good Friday. Every year this impacts my heart on some level, this year more than ever. It is a walk with Jesus through specific experiences He had leading up to His death.

One of my struggles is with keeping up with what I think I should be. Meeting weekly deadlines, quality time with my husband & family and trying to serve in ministry. Never feeling I am accomplishing what I should, always have this nagging feeling that I am a disappointment to my husband, family, co-workers, and friends.

Performance and people pleasing.

When I’m not up to what I think my par is or should be, or what I think others think it should be, it creates anxiety, self-loathing & trying harder. Even when I’m at par it’s never completely satisfying because it’s temporary, there is always more work and commitments than time.

My temporary fix of accomplishment creates the addiction, the high becomes the pursuit of finishing, the craving becomes bondage, and the fix becomes the god. It is a vicious cycle for a temporary fix.

Being held captive to all of this is suffocating. It creeps up, a slow strangling of sorts, which throws me into making sure everyone is happy with me and what I am doing; performance and a lot of “I’m sorry!” comes out of my mouth – ugh!

I think we all have that thing that holds us captive, a bondage to something that controls us. Do you have something that controls you?

Author Tim Keller’s questions help to process it:
“If ______ was not in my life any longer, would I lose my will to live?”
“If I didn’t have my _______ I’d lose my will to live.”

Maybe, you wouldn’t lose your will to live, but it would cause you to be extremely worried & anxious. You’d have to immediately try to fix, replace, purchase or control it.

Each season of my life it seems there something new I have to address. We definitely don’t ever arrive; it’s the journey that matters, day by day.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

As I enter the stations, I try to be as alone as possible. Waiting for people to get ahead of me then cringing a bit if someone comes in right after me. I get extremely distracted by other people & noise.

There are seven stations, each representing a significant part of Jesus’ journey to his death on the cross. At each you stop, read & touch the display to help understand each scene, imagining what Jesus experienced and how to apply it to yourself. Such a humbling experience.

I’ve always been so compelled by the cross itself, but always struggled with understanding Jesus dying FOR ME.

In 2004, after many wrong decisions and actions – Jesus became Lord of my life, not just what I do on Sundays. His love and grace pierced my heart through personal struggle, His word, a million other things He did, and people He brought into my life. He drew me & caused my heart response to be total surrender.

Captivated by His Love is the best way I know to describe it.

I strayed from God prior to that, I was sure He was finished with me. I gave up. I tried and failed, so my reasonable thought was He must be done with me.

If you can relate, I pray you have come to know His grace and mercy – His love never fails, even when we do. This relationship with Jesus has undoubtedly changed my life.

But, that cross. Always drawn to it, always compelled to drop to my knees in front of it.

It was station #6 that held me.
20170414_151732soft

It reads,
EVEN THOUGH JESUS COULD HAVE
given the word and overpowered all the guards, He let himself be bound and led away. Pick up the rope and hold it in your hands. Remember that Jesus was bound with a rope like this one. He chose to submit to the difficult way of the cross with every step that he took. He was betrayed so that we could be free. Thank Him for the freedom you currently experience because of what He has done in your life.

That rope – I picked it up, so coarse, hard to bend, thick and prickly. I stood there reading the words, rolling the rope between my fingers and hand.

 

One of Jesus’ disciples, Judas, betrayed Him. He guided soldiers and officials who wanted Jesus arrested and put to death, to Jesus.

Jesus already knew this, instead of fighting them, He simply asked who they were looking for. When they responded “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus said, “I am He”.

Jesus was bound and in my mind’s eye, I see Jesus just willingly holding his hands out as they tied him, took him captive with that rope – with no fight. It’s like Jesus was saying “Here I am, look no further.”

As I finished the stations, ending with Jesus’ death on the cross, I sat there praying that Jesus’ final words on the cross “it is finished” would resonate for me personally; in a way, they never had before.

20170414_153618

The papers at the foot of the cross are there to write your name and nail your burden to the cross.

What is mine? Where am I off?

Performance & people pleasing came to mind, so I confessed it with tears, signed my name and wrote ‘It IS finished’  then nailed it, with three loud bangs.

I took this picture because I knew this was a moment with God I didn’t want to forget.

Since then, it has been on my mind all.the.time.

This quote by Timothy Keller really resonates with me,

“Secularism & Religion are both all about your personal performance. The gospel is the performance of another applied to you.”

And, another

“If ________ (work, ministry, marriage, children, education, etc.) is your idol, if you are successful, it goes to your head if you are a failure it goes to your heart.”

There is nothing wrong with hard work – I work hard, the problem is letting the results of that determine my worth. Or, letting relationships, ministry, marriage, children, education, etc. determine worth.

One morning, with my journal I felt the Lord leading me to dig into all this.

That rope, I kept thinking about it, imagining it around my wrists, how painful it would be, so coarse and prickly.  Then I realized, performance & people pleasing is my rope, it binds me up, creates guilt & holds me captive.

Guilty if I didn’t get something finished at work and had to leave to be with family, guilty because I’m with family and not still working on what I left; guilty if I didn’t respond to all the emails, phone calls or text messages, guilty if I do respond because I didn’t spend that time with my family. Guilty if I’m not volunteering here or there, or guilty because I am here when I should be somewhere else.  Guilty for spending so much time on this blog, guilty if I don’t, because I feel God nudging me to do it.

Oh, my goodness, it’s exhausting! Maybe you can relate?

Jesus surrenders, willingly.
Tying his hands.
His free will.
Gave Himself up.
No fight.
No manipulation.
No pride.
No defense.
No anger.
Nothing.

As I prayed, telling God I need to get this, what does this mean to me Lord, please. I felt led to go to scripture referenced at Station 6 for answers.

Jesus said “if you are looking for me, then let these men go”, then it goes on to say that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me”.

As I was writing the scripture out, I felt God leading me to insert my name, to make it personal. Help me get ‘it is finished’, Jesus on the cross for me.

So, I did.

Jesus said, “If you are looking for me, then let Debbie go, I have not lost Debbie, the one you gave me”.

I sat there in a puddle, melted by the thought of Jesus saying my name, standing up for, and advocating for me.

Please do the same, insert your name?

Imagine that you are being held captive, with that awful rope around your wrists – then Jesus taking it off your wrists, putting it around His and saying, “If you are looking for me, then let ___________ go, I have not lost ____________, the one you gave me.”

Jesus was talking about his disciples, His followers. They believed in him, they weren’t perfect. We aren’t perfect.

Jesus will take it, we let the bondage of our lives become the lord of our lives. Instead, Jesus is saying to whatever it is that has a grip on us…

To the addiction, the expectations, the performance, the depression, the divorce, the affair, the habit, the guilt, the betrayal, the control, the ________________,

“Let her/him go, I will not lose the one that was given to me.”

Have you given up or think God has given up on you? You’re not worthy because you failed? Or keep failing? Not good enough? Or like Jesus, someone close to you has betrayed you?

He willingly was bound to free us.

Let His healing touch and forgiveness mend your heart.

I pray this is resonating with you – no matter the mistakes, the past the present – He is calling, wooing you to a freedom that only He can give. A love full of mercy and grace.

Our worth has to be found only in the finished work of Jesus Christ, His performance applied to us.

There is NOTHING we can do or have done to earn it.

A gift without strings attached.

Your value is not defined by your achievements. Your value is defined by the One who said “it is finished!” and who achieved it all.  Ann Voskamp

It truly IS finished.

Look, behind the lights!

One of many nights this season, I sat in front of our Christmas tree looking at the lights, the ornaments my kids made when they were so little, the memories of Christmas’ gone by and thinking of the heavy weight, stress and almost anger I was experiencing this year.

tree

The Rings 2016

I have always enjoyed Christmas, this year it was a struggle.

Maybe, because this is the first one without any of my girls living at home.

Empty nester?
Um, no – I can’t be that, old?

Maybe, it’s the grief we are all going through this year, especially my
son-in-law and step daughter with the loss of their son last Christmas.

Maybe, it’s because I procrastinate, then stress out with expectations I put on myself.

Maybe it’s those Christmas cards! I stopped sending them a few years ago, I felt I couldn’t keep up. When my sister-in-law in California asked for my new address I felt compelled to tell her that if she was sending a card, I  had stopped. So, basically, don’t bother.  She reminded me, she doesn’t give to get; when did I pick up guilt over Christmas cards? I’m so grateful for the exchange we had, it really turned my heart around.

Or, maybe, because Jim and I watched, and made DVD copies, of ALL the VHS tapes we own of our girls growing up. Watching them brought not only joy, but sadness, tears and laughs, missing those days when they were little, days that seem like yesterday.

How did they slip away so fast?

As I was contemplating all of this and gazing at the tree, I remembered a special ornament, a tradition for decades. It must of been a gift, I really don’t remember. It’s a tradition I look forward to each year. It is the very first ‘ornament’ hung, inside, near the trunk. I forgot it was there.

Once the tree is decorated, with all this shimmering glitter, shining lights, sparkling ornaments, brilliant ribbons, this special ornament sits tucked inside, behind all the charisma.

Nothing sparkling or shiny, lit up or painted. No bells or whistles.
Simply a long heavy, nail, with red ribbon.

nail

The Nail

You won’t see it unless you look for it.

On the outside are all these beautifully placed, shiny inviting … distractions. While just a branch in, my Savior, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Father and Friend, just waiting for me to remember Him.

Look past all the distractions, just dig a bit to find the peace and comfort your soul is craving….Debbie. Past the expectations, the grief, the loss, the stress, the cards, the procrastination and anger.

Jesus, the Gift, He came for you, for me.
YOU are the reason for the season – Craig Groeshel

As Craig Groeschel of Life Church put it, in his profound message, Change of Plans

Isn’t that the truth for us, not only during Christmas, but living day to day?  Jesus is constantly calling us to be still and listen, recognize the distractions, be with Him, get off the grid, put down the screen, look a little deeper, look past the bling, the things that so easily distracts.

Do I stop? No, I do more and more and more…
endless activity and stress that leave my soul craving…

Jim took me for a drive to see a decorated house he thought I’d really like, oh my goodness, my husband knows me!

THIS house, this scene, powerful. If you can’t tell, there is a wrapped gift in that manger.

This was a breath of fresh air, a seal on my heart this Christmas. We pulled in so I could get a picture with a silent thank you to the family.

15822753_10155553803532004_2784413126716051915_nSimple, clean, quiet, uncomplicated truth.

Thank you Jesus that you didn’t come for popularity or fame, wealth or possessions, the perfect gifts or cards, to be entertained or excessive busy-ness.

Thank you for coming for me.

She Is My Daughter

3e6b4f008c6d66abbf4e7c5426e4ad5c

Have you ever regretted something that didn’t seem that big of a deal at the time?

Monday morning, I became overwhelmed with sadness over something I did the night before.

Scrolling through facebook can be so entertaining – pictures and videos everywhere. Just one click away from laughter or tears, or both. There are things that make you smile ear to ear, cause you to seriously laugh out loud, and then, other posts make you so sad or mad. There are those that make you scratch your head in wonder, and some of my favorites, the things I die laughing over and would love to repost – but can’t. I just can’t, but oh man, they.are.so.funny!

Sunday night it was a video, a video of a young woman who was clearly intoxicated by something. She was dancing away, completely uninhibited with her stomach hanging out, flopping all over the place. The people videotaping were egging her on, laughing and making fun of her.

As I watched it I snickered myself, thinking what in the world is wrong with her? I made my comments out loud, laughed a little and thought the world is a scary place for sure.

I didn’t think anything more about it, came home, did my usual night time routine and went to bed.

Our church encourages us to do a church wide 21 day fast, starting the beginning of January. A great way to start off the new year, giving God the first of our year. Jim and I decided to do the Daniel fast together, eating mostly fruits and vegetables, no caffeine, meat, sugar, dairy or flour.

During this time, when I was hungry, I would pray. When I craved certain things, I told Jesus I wanted Him more than the craving – more than the salt water taffy sitting on the frig in the office, that I tried to cover up with a napkin so I didn’t have to look at it!

Sunday was the end for many, Monday was our last day. We started a day later than most due to a family holiday dinner we had planned months in advance.

During this fast, my prayer has been to draw close to Jesus, not anything He would do for me in regards to things I think I need or want, but that I would surrender myself to what He would want to teach me. Not my agenda, simply His way with me. Another prayer has been that my heart would break over what breaks His.

Also, I’ve been listening to messages, this one was particularly awesome, Dangerous Prayers by Craig Groeshel.

Reading more, a great devotional that specifically spoke to me this morning, Let Us Keep to the Point, by Utmost for His Highest.

Definitely praying and journaling more.

Today, my last day of the fast, was profound. I had to write about this right away, I just don’t want to forget it, ever.

As I was getting ready for work  I kept thinking of the video of that young woman. I was going to post the video here for you to see, but decided not to. Why add to the shame and embarrassment she will feel one day, if not already.

I remembered her dancing with her belly all over the place, she is someone’s daughter, neighbor, friend and maybe, mother, sister or aunt. I thought of my own daughters that must be close to her age and the people laughing and taunting her.

I couldn’t escape the thought, what if that was my daughter?

I became so overwhelmed with emotion as I thought of all these things, but most of all at my own actions, my own laughing and snickering as I watched.

Oh Jesus, please forgive me became my prayer in my car this morning. Tears streaming down my face, the heart ache I was feeling was simply overwhelming.

Over and over I was thinking of my daughters, how I cherish and love them. What I wouldn’t do for them.

It is an honor to be their Mom, a privilege God has given me that I try to walk out in integrity and love, I  fall short often I know. I thank God for them, for using them to reach, teach and stretch me in so many ways. Oh how I desire to make a difference in their lives. I am so proud of them, the adults they have become, the way they love and look out for each other, their jokes and sense of humor that is their own language. This is my greatest joy, these beautiful girls God has allowed me to be Mom to. And, just don’t mess with them – I will advocate for them in every way!

As my pastor says – the minute you become a Mom or Dad, your heart moves to the outside of your body.

What if that video was one of them, and I had to watch and hear people making fun of her. What if I was in a room full of people who were watching the video online hearing them laugh at her. I would be wrecked to say the least, heart broken, mad and so very troubled. Fairly certain I’d end up in jail.

As I processed all this I became so angry at myself for doing the same thing! I was yelling through my tears “Why don’t you just pray for that young woman!” Ugh, just a profound moment.

Then…

God really moved my heart, He was saying to me…
“She is My daughter”

“Break my heart for what breaks your, Lord” and He did, Oh how He did, over His daughter. His precious daughter that He knit together in her mother’s womb who is fearfully and wonderfully made.  It was His daughter that I was laughing at, that He created and loves, that He died for.

Undone, completely undone is the only way to describe what He was doing in my heart.

This is a life changer for me, I am so grateful for His Forgiveness, Grace and Truth deposited into my heart today.

God has used my girls over and over to help me understand His love for me. His love for me and you is so much greater than this treasured love I have for my girls, or you have for yours, or anything you cherish in your life.

A truth I’ll forever be in awe of.

In my sorrow, my snickering has turned into prayer for her. My heart has turned into love for her. Lord please protect her, bring Your people into her life, open her heart to You, send someone that she’ll respond to.

I am praying for God’s grace that instead of joining in, I will stand out and up for those who can’t or won’t. Not laughing or making fun, not pointing fingers; but prayer, for His children.

Will you join me in praying for this young woman?

God knows her name.

He knows yours, too.

Psalm 139: 13-14
Ephesians 4:29
Psalm 19:14
Proverbs 29:35

Dark Day

In my quiet time the other day, I was feeling pretty down with nagging thoughts of who I wasn’t.

I love to spend time in the absolute quiet. No TV, phone or people (this is not easy, I have to make it happen or it won’t). Just God and I, journaling my thoughts and prayers .

There is a pattern in this, after all these years, He impresses things in my mind that spur me to dig deeper.

12507672_10154426635377004_3062395079232744191_n

This is what He nudged me to look up, turning the light on in the darkness.

Through my tears, reading this over and over, He renewed my heart, He is my Friend, my Lord, my Everything.

WHO I AM!
I am a child of God, I am accepted, I am secure, I am significant, I am free from condemnation, I am the salt and light of the earth, a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life.

I am assured all thing work together for good. I am free from any charge against me. I cannot be separated from the love of God, I am established, anointed, sealed by God.

I am hidden with Christ in God. I am confident the good work God as begun in me will be perfected.

I am a citizen of heaven, I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.

I can find grace and mercy in time of need. I am born of God, the evil one cannot touch me.
I am the salt and light of the earth, I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit, I am a personal witness of Christ’s , I am God’s temple, I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

I am God’s co-worker. I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm. I am God’s workmanship. I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Turn to Jesus friends, He never fails!

Weeding Out My Heart

I hate to weed. I don’t know many people who actually enjoy it, my husband is so good at keeping up with it. I take the ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach. Just don’t look; I know, pathetic.

We have a couple area’s that were being taken over by clover, so we made a DAY of it, weeding. A whole DAY. Can you imagine? Seriously, not.my.thing.

As we were out there, I was having a conversation with myself; “What a waste of time”, “I could be doing…(fill in the blank)”, “There are so many ‘more important’ things than this.” On and on it goes, the self talk that surly wasn’t helping me get it done. The dread, the almost anger and resentment.

As I kept this up I decided to pray, have a conversation with the Lord. I asked Him if He would invade my thoughts to help me gain a better attitude as I pulled one weed at a time.

I praised Him for the beautiful day and all the rain we’ve had that made those weeds come out pretty easily, focusing on positive thoughts, then… He invaded.

I started thinking about the parables in the bible about soil, specifically the one that says
“Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and crowded out the plants.” in Mathew 13:7

This is what was happening on the hill, maybe not exactly thorns, but weeds were crowding out the plants. I’m more than half way done on this hill when all this started to resonate, so I took a picture – the bright green would be the weeds.
weeds
I’m studying Frances Chan’s ‘Crazy Love’ right now, it’s very challenging. In chapter four he says in reference to this scripture “…when the seed is spread among the thorns, it is received but soon suffocated by life’s worries, riches and pleasures.” And, might I add, busyness.

Anyone who knows me knows I am busy. I often hear “I know you’re so busy, but…” “I didn’t think you would respond because you’re so busy; I don’t know how you do everything you do….you’re so busy.”

I must admit these statements bother me, not because they aren’t true, but because inside I have this still small voice telling me the same thing … often; “you’re too busy”. But, I justify, ignore, manipulate and excuse that nagging feeling and thought.
I am too busy. I like to think I have a full life, the word ‘busy’ bugs me.

What I know the Lord was clearly showing me this day was that my busyness was crowding out my time with Him, just like the weeds are crowding the plants.

I am ‘with Him’ all day, thinking and talking to Him but being with Him? In the quiet time that I so desperately need?

If I’m completely honest, the answer is no, it is crowded out. I’ve allowed it, not purposely, but like the weed, it starts small then gets out of control.

For me, I have to turn off the noise, shut off the phone or at least the data & internet to just sit in His presence, journal my thoughts, read His word, listen and pray – those days had become slim.

My quiet time comes in spurts but not in the way it should be when you are in relationship with The One you love. If I treated my husband, Jim, the same (and I have), we would not have much of a marriage.

I am overwhelmed with God’s love and how He reminded me spending time with Him is never a waste of my time, even when I’m weeding.

What about you, what is crowding out your time?

Protected: The Stone In My Pocket

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

My Husband and Grandson

Untitled-1

Twins!

Why is it so hard to ‘Let Go’?

Reflecting on the weekend I spent with my daughter Danielle in Colorado and how much I admire her for the bravery she’s shown. She made the decision to move there this year to start a new life and j???????????????????????????ob with Southwest Airlines.

I wish I could say that I supported that decision the whole time in was in the process, but I didn’t. I didn’t want her to move so far away to an unknown place from me with unknown people in her life. I was in denial, I didn’t care to know much about it and frankly avoided most conversations.

The year 2014 has brought on so much change for my family, for me. Every single one of us has moved, all 5 of Jim and I’s children AND Jim and I! What are the chances of that?  New jobs, new locations, graduation, kids in college, new friends, conflict and so much more.

Change has been the theme for my family this year.
Change brings anxiety in me, some of it didn’t bother me much, but some really overwhelmed me.

What I’ve learned AGAIN is I want control. If I feel like I’m losing control I feel angry and start thinking of how to stop the thing I don’t like.  Manipulation? Such an ugly word.   It’s confusing because I just want to protect them, I realize it’s fear and what people think that drive me.

Recently the Lord spoke to me about this, with tears down my face I recited the words during Worship “Let all the other names fade away, Jesus take your place” [Wide As The Sky – Matt Redman] I felt like I had a teleprompter going across my mind with my girls names over and over.

How many times do I give them to you Lord only to take them back again and again? I proclaim how very much I trust you in my life, I proclaim how you’ve provided for us, you’ve been my companion, my friend, my Lord, my Provider… BUT here I am in this place again. I could almost hear the Lord saying to me “Do you REALLY trust me Debbie?”

Ugh.. obviously no, as I try to control and manipulate to keep my children near me I realize all I do is get in God’s way and the plan He surely has for each of them. ‘Letting go’ is what they call it, I might as well call it Control.  This season of life has completely changed my prayer life; my fears screaming in my ear, my God calming the storm inside… “What time I am afraid, I will trust”

In the past there are many area’s in my life I tried to control as I professed Christ. Only to surly demonstrate that I didn’t really live what I believed. Hypocrite comes to mind, on so many levels. It grieves me knowing that my actions brought contempt to so many that knew me then and watch me now.  I’m so utterly sorry.

The Lord has taught me so much over the years, His Grace and Mercy overwhelm me as I think on the past and let go of control in the present. I pray that going forward my words and actions always reflect that I truly live what I believe in all areas, including letting go of control and trusting God with my girls.

I continue to pray that any damage I caused to The Name of My Savior, Friend, Prince of Peace and Lord, Jesus Christ be blotted out, redeemed and healed for His Glory.

What names run across your mental teleprompter?

Use It or Loose It

“When we have become complacent the bible calls it ‘lukewarm’ our spiritual lives begin to have atrophy set in”

jimring

This is something I wrote a while back, after my surgery.  Hoping you find it insightful.

ATRO-PHY:  A wasting away through lack of nutrition or use; emaciation.  Also to waste away or to cause to waste away.  Atrophic, atrophied..stress-ball-carpal-tunnel-physical-therapy

This morning as I removed my arm out of the sling, I couldn’t believe it.  In less than three days there was a visible difference in my left arm compared to my right arm.  This is called “atrophy”.  My muscles are already starting to decompose for lack of use in just three days.

My arm was drawn to my side like I still had the sling on and it was smaller and kind of sickly looking.   I couldn’t believe it.  I had to show my wife.  She could see the difference too and was shocked how soon this was beginning to take place.

Then she said the magic words…”I wonder if…

View original post 500 more words

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: