Spiders & Webs

I thought today was an appropriate time to pull out a message about spiders…I hope you enjoy it.

Another misunderstood creature, the spider. There are very few of us who like spiders and don’t try to kill them or destroy their beautiful masterpiece almost immediately upon creation. Either by accidently running into one or purposely knocking it down. I am guilty of it as well. But I do love to watch them in action and see the design and details they put into their work. Unless the fresh, fallen dew has highlighted the work that went into a new web, on an early crisp fall morning, we don’t usually see them until it is too late. There is nothing like a face full of web to start your day.

But seriously, a spider has everything inside it to survive every day and provide for all its needs. The silk used to make the web has many uses. God designed it, kind of like a swiss army knife, not only for survival but everyday life.

Did you know a spider’s web reflects ultraviolet light? Some scientists believe they use this mechanism to lure other prey into the web because insects like to fly towards light. But they also use the silk to catch their prey. Since most web-weaving spiders have poor eyesight, they are equipped instead with a sense for movements and can detect vibrations on the web. (Hence the term, Spidey senses.) This allows them to sense movements as small as the width of a human hair.

The intricate details of its design not only look like a form of art but also serve a purpose that the spider uses naturally. But it comes at a cost. Silk production is made from protein molecules that take a lot of energy from the spider. (I will think about that before destroying one so quickly next time.)

There are many speculations from arachnologists who wonder why a spider uses so much of its energy to make such a design. Some theories include stability, visibility, camouflage, prey attraction, mate attraction and even to expend excess silk.  Even if the experts can’t figure out this mystery, God designed spider silk to be one of the best building materials that is both strong and elastic.  It can withstand a lot of strain before breaking, it conducts heat and has antibiotic properties.

Spider silk is also made from protein, produced by a gland in the spider’s abdomen. The gland can store silk protein in liquid form. When it needs silk, the liquefied protein passes through a canal where it gets an acid bath. As the PH of the silk protein is lowered it changes structure. The pulling motion from the spinnerets puts tension on the substance to help it harden in a solid as it emerges.

The firmer protein crystals give silk its strength while the softer protein provides elasticity. Spiders are great recyclers by eating their webs in many instances. They also use their sulk to travel, to keep from falling, to find its way back home, as a shelter, to mate, and protect their offspring.

God also puts His Spirit inside us and gives us gifts we can use in our everyday life that reflect His light. We have everything we need inside us for our everyday living. But most of us only use it or call on it when we are in survival mode. God designed us to call on Him for our every day, walking around life, to allow the Spirit to think, live and love through us, like we were designed.

How are we using the gifts and talents He placed inside us? Are we building masterpieces and creating beautiful ways to reflect His light? Are we calling on Him in our everyday life or winging it and missing the beauty of His design?

We can weave some fantastic webs in our lives, but do they serve us well or trap us? If we believe the lies of the enemy, we can get ourselves caught up in a sticky web of deceit and start to believe what he says about us. But God speaks truth- only God can define us and He helps us escape the enemy that wants to hold us back.

As I was preparing to write this message, I saw a spider in my bathroom, and I heard this message: “You have everything inside you to carry out your purpose in this life. I have equipped you for this moment.” It also coincided with the day I signed the agreement to publish my books: Beyond Yourself, A Spiritual Awakening and Quiet Moments, Mornings with the Holy Spirit.

Enjoy life, accept your lot in life, this is indeed a gift from God. Eccl. 5:18-20

Pull me from the trap my enemies set for me, for I find protection in you alone. Psalm 31:4

Hadley, D. (2018) Why Spiders Decorate Their Webs Theories About the Purpose of Web Stabillimentum Accessed October 2, 2018 through https://www.thoughtco.com/why-spiders-decorate-their-webs-1968569

Morning by Morning

Looking at my phone to determine the weather isn’t always accurate. I realized this recently when I checked my phone and saw that it said it was 57 degrees only to find a different story when I headed out the door to a chilly 30 something.

On another day, it was not supposed to rain, at all, according to my phone. But when I got outside, the pavement was wet, and a drizzling mist was falling from the sky. This didn’t deter me from running but I thought in that moment that we can’t always predict what the weather will be until we are in it. We can be prepared for it and head back in to change or add layers as needed when presented with the day. In other words, we can take the appropriate action based on the situation as it is presented.

I believe the same goes for taking each day as it comes to us and knowing God will equip us with what we need to handle any situation that arises. If we are listening, and ready to respond with courage, trusting and being obedient, we don’t have to worry about being where God wants us. He will lead us to the mission He has for us when His timing is right.

We sometimes want to rush the process or go out on our own to figure out how to get the end results we want now instead of waiting. But we can trust God and know that waiting on Him is part of the plan most of the time and His timing is perfect. He may still be preparing part of the mission or people we will need to help us on our journey.

We just need to be prepared and ready to move when He presents us with the opportunity, without fear of missing it. We can rest assured He is always working and is preparing the way before us.

We can be prepared by having faith in the One who created us and chose us for the mission. Sometimes our days don’t go as planned but we can trust in God’s plan and enjoy the journey. Every day is an adventure when we are open to His opportunities. Sometimes we just need a new perspective instead of getting upset about the changes each day brings.  

…morning by morning He awakens me and opens my understanding to His will. Isaiah 50:4

Healthy Decision Making

Now that it is getting colder again, I had to remind myself how many layers I really need as I head out the door for an early morning run.

The first cold snap and I put on way too many. I overdressed due to the initial shock of the temperatures as I had been accustomed to the warmer mornings. But from experience I knew I would warm up quickly when I got moving and be too hot. I allowed my feelings in the moment decide for me and influence my decision instead of going off experience and knowledge of the truth.

That is so easy to do in other situations of our lives as well. We take how we are feeling the moment and make a rash decision rather than looking into our past experiences to pull out a well-thought out decision.

We sometimes block out all awareness of Christ and go through life to the beat of our own song. That is when we miss a lot of blessings. Bitterness destroys lives, marriages and relationships.

Regret and resentment from bad choices can weigh on us and we start to allow it to define us and our self-worth takes a nose dive off the deep end. We sink like a rock. That’s where Jesus comes in and throws us a life-line.

I am learning to hit pause on my decision making until I have consulted God. I have found Him to be a helpful and necessary consultant. This practice has saved me from many bad decisions or ones that are made from feelings, in the moment, rather than being based on His truth and knowledge from lessons learned. If we look to Him before charging out on our own it can save us from some major catastrophes in our life.

Leaning to hit pause before I speak is also something I have had to learn over time. It has kept me from blurting out something I would regret later. A simple, silent prayer or whisper, “Help me Holy Spirit” helps me hold my tongue in certain situations and respond appropriately.

There are still times that I mess up, make mistakes and don’t know how to be honest and direct in my communications. Usually because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. God is still working on me. He gives me insight on how to respond the next time and courage to be honest and properly communicate what I mean.

Honesty is always the best policy. That doesn’t mean I have to be mean or rude. It simply means I can say what I mean in a kind, gentle way. I need to be direct in my communications, so others are clear about my stance. Not being clear has gotten me in trouble in the past. Not being able to say no is something I dealt with that I don’t want to continue. Being firm is sometimes necessary in certain situations. Boundaries are healthy and necessary.

Decisions themselves have always been a struggle in my life. It was always easier to just allow others to make them for me and not stand up for myself. (This is how I became a co-dependent, people-pleaser) I grew up in a family that didn’t communicate what they were really thinking.  Trying to decide where to eat became a major decision every time and resulted in us not being able to make any of the important decisions in our lives. That carried over into adulthood for most of my life. But God, is showing me how to make healthy choices and decisions that have changed my life and ultimately lead me to Christ.

He saved me from my bad choices and tells me that is not who I am. When our self-worth is found in Christ alone we can get our head out of the water and see the light again.

The only one I need to please is God. That makes all my decisions clearer by asking what God wants for me, based on His truth and the knowledge He gives me.

Trust the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.” Proverbs 3:5-7

An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship. Proverbs 24:26

Love Thy Neighbor

Early in the mornings as most of you know I can be found circling my block. Running is my jam. It gives me the energy to get through my day and I use the time to pray, process and be thankful.

Sometimes I see a family waiting for the wheels bus to pick up a couple of people, on the other side of the block. One of which is in a wheelchair. I think she is new to the household as I don’t remember seeing her until recently. My neighbor is a caregiver for the mentally challenged. What a sweet blessing.

This girl was very friendly and speaks to me each time I pass by. The first couple of times were a simple, “Hi.”  The third time was, “Hi again!” Always in high spirits. This particular morning the bus must have been running late as she was still there on my fourth round, when I heard, “I love you!”

Wow, how sweet is that?! She barely knows me, yet she loves me. Isn’t this how we are all supposed to be? I believe that is what God meant when he instructed us to love our neighbor. We should all be so kind with unconditional love of our neighbor. Even when we don’t know them. (And sometimes even more if we do.)

God knows everything about us, yet He loves us anyway. What a miraculous blessing to have a good Father who sees us through the lens of love with unmeasurable grace. Let’s share that kind of love and grace with others, especially our neighbors.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39

Road Map

On one of my morning runs, I saw a black and white cat run across in front of me, not just once but twice. Most of its body was black but it’s head and neck were white. It made me think about how we look at things as black and white or gray when we are somewhere in the middle.

I used to be all on the black side before I surrendered to Christ. When I began my journey, it didn’t happen overnight the day I was baptized. The bible says come as you are not wait until you are completely clean.

I then started thinking about pivotal moments in history when there were bad or good things that happened in the world. We all know exactly where we were when we heard the news about 9-11 for instance. I have also had pivotal moments throughout my journey to Christ that I can remember exactly where I was and about what date it happened. If I don’t remember the date I can look back in my journals and usually find it.

These are considered “Kairos” moments; (a propitious moment for decision or action.) Once you decide to be a Christ follower you eventually go ‘all in’- you can’t be both black and white or darkness and light. Most of us probably stay somewhere in the middle most of our lives. I started thinking about when I went all in and how long it took from the time, I had my accident and was baptized. I pinpointed several pivotal moments that I can look back on and know that God was shaping my character during those times to get me another step closer to a Christ centered life. I couldn’t see it at the time but can now look back and recognize how the important decisions I was making were better for my new life and direction.

I had just come out of an abusive relationship where I felt ashamed, unworthy of real love and blamed myself for the things that happened to me. It was during this timeframe of the breakup that I had my accident. The accident changed my life, but it wasn’t at that exact moment that I went all in with Christ. That was just the beginning.

I was still dating and made bad choices for myself. But God began to work on my heart and for the first time I realized that I didn’t have to allow a man to disrespect my body just because that is what he wants. I have a choice. I have a voice. I learned how to use it and stand up for myself. This Kairos moment was just after my accident. This was only one stop on my road map to Christ, but it was a very important one. I could have allowed this person to have his way that day, like I had done so many times before with other men. But this time was different. This time, a voice inside me told me I didn’t have to allow this.

Another important moment came the following year when I was dating again, this time to a very nice person, but I knew I had to end it because I still wasn’t entirely living for Christ. After a getaway weekend, I felt so convicted that I had to end the relationship as soon as we got back. I couldn’t hide it or hold off any longer. He could see it all over my face. I couldn’t hide it because God was in my decision. I broke it off and moved another step closer to Christ.

Recently, I was reminded of my accident and the events that happened that day. I saw each step of that day moment by moment. I saw the changes I began making in my life afterwards, but my lifestyle and focus on my relationship with God took time. 352 days came to mind. There were still a couple of bumps in the road, but He led me to where I am today.

I calculated the days to see what date that would be and then I searched all my journals until I found it. Here is what I wrote in my journal 352 days from my accident:

“A person should never put themselves in a position that they would do anything for another person when it conflicts with their morals and/or jeopardizes their character. This type of relationship should only be with God. A person should not put another person in that position or make it a condition of their relationship or love for that person on those conditions.”

It was very shortly after this that I stopped dating altogether and put all my focus on my new relationship with God. I knew that is where my focus needed to be, without distractions. This was my choice and five years later I am still very happy about it. It gave me time that I needed to grow in Christ and figure out who I was as a person and child of God.

I am now reliant only on God. He is the only one I need to please. The things in my life that I clung to the tightest are the very things I had to let go of. The things I hid from for so long are the things that are being revealed and bring me most joy because it will help others. He created me and saved me for this purpose. I am chosen by God to carry out the mission He has planned for me.

He has a blueprint for my life that is unique as I am. He connects the dots on my journey and directs my path on the road map to a Christ centered life that brings joy and peace even through the speedbumps that occur along the way. These just make me stronger and through endurance my faith grows.

Can you look back and see any Kairos moments in your life that shaped your character and brought you another step closer to Christ? Write them down. Pay attention daily for any new opportunities. God can use everything for His good.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3

No Limits

Don’t put limits on yourself or what God can do through you. Are your goals for yourself set too low? Release your dreams to God who knows His plans for you and see what He can do.

God created the sky and beyond. Keep your focus on eternity and the kingdom. It is time to soar above your perceived limitations. He put the stars within reach- all you have to do is look up. You are taller when you are on your knees.

You will discover potential where you least expect it. Get in the game. Be an MVP, throw out the first pitch without fear of failure. Expect the best (of yourself) because that is what God wants for you and He will help you get there. Be confident, not in who you are and what you can do, but who God is and what He can do through you.

His promises stand strong as He blesses your life abundantly, reverently and masterfully as only He can orchestrate. Spending time with the Spirit enriches your knowledge, refreshes your soul and brings clarity to your mind.

Don’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit which lives within you. Your body is a temple. The Father sees all, knows all and can reach all. You are a beautiful flower in the garden of the Master Gardender.

 “For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Trading Up

Trading my vehicle in recently brought up some reflection into my past vehicles and reasons for purchasing a different model. My 2011 Mazda was the best car I ever owned, and I kept it the longest of any others. Even though I really like the new (to me) one, it was hard to see her go.

That wasn’t the case several years ago. One time I traded a vehicle off in a heartbeat over one weekend simply because I thought it had been seen somewhere it shouldn’t have been or really where I shouldn’t have been. Out of complete fear I got rid of it as fast as I could. Then if anyone said they saw my car at that place- I could say I traded it off. That part would be true. A half-truth is really a lie in disguise.

I have no idea how I managed to get by without getting caught. Those days brought many sleepless nights; tears of misery. In bondage to the panic and fear of someone finding out my secrets.

It felt like I was skating on thin ice and any moment I would fall through. I avoided any subject that got too close to my situation and could potentially be turned into a direct question to me. I certainly never played truth or dare. At least I never chose truth if I did play. I was certainly in over my head and it almost drove me insane.

I don’t miss those days. I am so happy to be free from the chains. No more hiding. I can be me in public and private and not worry about who is watching because they are the same person. I don’t even recognize the person I used to be anymore.

Friend, if you are hiding the truth, lying to yourself and others, trying to manage a secret life; let me tell you something; that is a lot of work. Not cheerful work. Miserable, heart-wrenching work. But there is hope. You can change. You won’t be able to do it alone, but you can do it with God’s help.

I traded shame, regrets, lies, disrespect, abuse, co-dependency, people-pleasing, self-righteousness for freedom, love, joy, peace, faith, hope, healing, forgiveness, thankfulness, salvation by grace and so much more.

He loves you deeply. You know how I know? Because if He can love someone as broken as me and change my life; He loves you too. You can trade in your old life for a new one. That is one trade worth making. TODAY.

Those lies and hidden secrets no longer have a stronghold on me. I am a victor in Christ, and I am so very grateful that He chose to save me.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Check out my complete story of how Christ saved me from my past and changed my life forever in my book, Beyond Yourself- A Spiritual Awakening.