Write 31 Days- Day 18- Prostitutes Thieves and Murderers OH MY!


At the end of yesterday’s blog post I wrote about excuses.  And remember I mentioned Mark Hall’s quote about Christians having big BUTS.  Well after much contemplating I have decided to explore a few of the biggest BUTS Christians  seem to hold onto:

BUT you don’t know my past

This one gets me often because we don’t have to look far into Scripture to see that God takes the messiest lives and transforms them into the most beautiful servants  for his work.

She was a Prostitute

But not just any prostitute , she was a prostitute with 7 demons.

We don’t know much about her past or her family. just what she was and what she had.  Thankfully Jesus is in the business of reception.  He healed her and forgave her and she became one of the faithful women who went with Jesus.

She was indebted to Him for all that he had done.  he had transformed who she was.  She was at the crucifixion, the burial and the Resurrection.

She took a anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair.  She seemed to have an understanding of what was going to happen.  This woman. Her name was Mary Magdalene.

one of my favorite Hymns is  “In the Garden”. It has always resonated deep within my soul.  I had no idea the story behind it, but I knew I felt just as the person speaking in the song.  Two years ago I was sitting in the tabernacle of the camp we hang out at every summer and the worship leader shared the back story. I was BLOWN away.  It is the account of Mary Magdalene.  It is a picture of her deep personal relationship with Jesus.  The type of relationship I want to have with my  Savior.

Let’s also not forget Rehab the prostitue that help the spies  defeat Jericho.

He was a Thief

They couldn’t go anywhere.  they were stuck there in agony.  Their last moments on this earth…at least for one of them. All seemed hopeless.  There was no chance to have a godly influence…or was there?  The thief that hung next to Jesus on the cross had nope of life, at least on this earth.  He saw his need, he saw the redeemer and he asked for forgiveness. And in the blink of an eye the most hopeless  of situations gave the greatest hope of all….ETERNITY in Heaven.  And that man is an immense influence.  How you might ask?   well He’s the Bible!  His brief story mingled with anguish inspires hope in me.  A mom in the 21st century that it is NEVER too late for hope…EVER!

They were murderers

He grew up in pharaoh’s palace in Egypt but by blood he was an Israelite so his blood boiled when he saw an Egyptian task master beating his fellow Isrealite  He killed him, and then he RAN away from his problems and HID in another country. But you cannot hide from God and God came a calling in the form of a burning bush. And God had a job for Moses.  It involved going before Pharaoh and saying O baby let my people go….Um never mind.   (raise your hands if ya sang that song at teen retreats and Youth events). Anyway God was going to send him right back to where he had run from, Mooses said BUT BUT BUT my speech, I am not eloquent.   (Wow din’t I JUST write about all these things).  God said go He went and was used by God to save the Israelites from their enemies.

Fast forward to the New Testament and the book of Acts. Saul hated Christians and he hated Jesus.  He was passionate about this and was perhaps one of those who threw stones to kill Stephen.  And yet God is in the business of redeeming the most unlikely to be one of his Children.  It’s a miracle that these people are reached.

BUT it’s not really because God has been doing it for thousands of years. AND he still does it today.

I know a guy

Actually I know a whole bunch of guys and gals with amazing redemption stories like those mentioned above.

There are two guys who spent most of the 70’s strung out on LSD amongst other things.  The now suffer from schizophrenia, but they sing the praises of Jesus

I knew a girl whose father was murdered by an axe murderer while serving Jesus in another country.  When she returned to the states she moved to the worst part of her city and worked with the kids there.  I helped her.  It was hard, but amazing .  It was in that ministry I had the privilege of leading my  first person to Christ.  and a fire was lit.

There is this cool kid that has autism, and as folate he is struggling which means that I as his mom am struggling.  Mostly because I don’t know how to make it better.  BUT his heart, despite people being mean to him, he still wants his friends to come to AWANA and church.  His heart is golden and precious and God uses hum and all the others because of one reason alone…..


Your past is made beautiful when Jesus redeems you, You just have to let Him!


Write 31 Days- Day 17- Personality Flaws that Kill our Influence


We all have them! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US!  Personality flaws are one of the biggest influence  killers there are.  The problem with personality flaws are that we become comfortable in them and they almost become badges of honor.   OR excuses really to behave badly.

Personality Flaw #1- Flaws that keep us from being Authentic Christians

Actually I’m gonna deal with three because the are all closely related.

Being fake, being a hypocrite or being two faced.   Now you might be thinking Mary these are very separate things BUT in reality  they are all really under the guise of not being authentic.  I know It’s a huge buzz word right now BUT it is true.

  1. Being fake, being a hypocrite or being two faced.   Now you might be thinking Mary these are very separate things BUT in reality  they are all really under the guise of not being authentic.  I know It’s a huge buzz word right now BUT it is true.  When you struggle with being a hypocrite you say one thing and yet you do something completely different.  The number one place to see this, the grocery store line.  I heard a very small child use an off color word while waiting in line.  The mom reacted to the child and said don’t say that again and uttered some threat.  A few minutes later when she dropped something on the floor a string of explicative came rolling off her tongue- GET  THE PICTURE!  It’s the whole idea of do what I say not what I do!
  2.  Being fake also fits into this category as well.  Being fake means that we pretend that we are something that we are not.  Case in point: I ask you how you are doing and you say you are fine, when fine is the farthest thing from what you are.  When we seek to impress people we ted to say we like things that we really don’t, compromise on things that we would normally think was not right, or   act differently.  There was a whole section of life called college where I believed that  EXTROVERTED was the desired personality, when I had spent my entire like as an introvert.  IT was EXHAUSTING!  I suffered all sorts of consequences from this attempt be something that I wasn’t’t.
  3.  And thirdly being two faced.  That is when you tell one person on thing and another person something else.   This might look something like this, you are having dinner with a group of friends and all of a sudden somebody starts talking smack about your best friend from high school.  You chime in.  The next day you  call and make a lunch date and act as though the night before never happened.

Personality Flaw #2- Focused on Self

The next two personality flaws are liked as well.   Being opinionated and being self-centered.

  1.   Self- centered really is just caring about yourself.   I have been hashing this out both in my own mind and with hubby and with some close friends.   There are books in Christian pop culture that really urge you to take care of numero into (aka yourself). I get the premise and then there other books that tell you to serve and focus on others.  This can get mighty confusing.  So here is what I have learned so far: a) we really need to look to scripture to find the answer to this question.  And we need to look no further than Jesus Himself.  He is our example and that is what it means to be a Christian- to be a Christian literally means Christ- emulator.   In Christ we see a perfect man never knowing sin.  And we see some really interesting things about him.  He got away from groups to meet with His Heavenly Father (Prayer) and he served almost everyone he came in contact with.  We see he is weary, tired, hungry.  And in the midst of this 3 things he still puts others first.  He cares and serves others.  2). In scripture we are told that we should deny ourselves….our needs, desires all to follow and serve God (that means serving others).   when we set aside our needs, wants, entitlements (Whatever you choose to call it) God is free to use us in great and mighty ways.  But when we hold on to “what is best for me” we limit the  ways in which God can use us.
  2. Our second area is being opinionated.   It’s too hot, it’s too cold.  It’s too wet, It’s too dry,  It’s too purple , it’s too gray, It’s too soft it’s too hard.   wWe joke about some of these in. our house specifically it’s too hot, it’s too cold (especially this time of year!).   The reason being Hubby is built like a furnace and I suffer from ice cubes for hands and feet- SOOOO guess how the tabes turn in the summer!  HOWEVER being opinionated can get far more out of control than the temperature wars between husband and wife.   We are smack dab in the middle of election season (ENOUGH SAID).  the problem is that we are all worried about what is best for me.   we somehow think that even though we have a right to our opinions that we also have the right to make them known.  I’m all for open dialogue and discussion on topics (unless it’s politics and then I jus want to go take a nap).  The problem arises when we think the either our option is the only right opinion OR that we need to change everyone’s opinions to be mine.  When we do that we are just communicating it’s all about me.

Personality Flaw #3- EXCUSES

In MarK Hall’s book THRIVE, he states that Christian’s have big BUTS!  YES we do. What he is really saying is that we as Christians have big excuses, we all do.

I remember not long ago some one came to me with a problem that they wanted  advice for.  I gave them biblical advice and they answered it with BUT…..  I hear it all the time.   BUT Mary, BUT mom..but…but ….but.   Mt friends Marie has taught me this  fun little response when this happens:

What is a but?

Something we sit on!

I had to chuckle because I never realized just how many times I use “but” when I talk or write.  I’m not using it as an excuse I just never realized how ofter I have been using it until recently.

Excuses can be a good thing or a bad thing.   Like when our child gets sick and has to miss school.  When they are well again we write them an excuse explaining why they were absent.  Being sick is a good excuse.  I didn’t feel like getting them ready for school is a BAD excuse for not taking your child to school.

Many times excuses become the way we run away from our problems.   Other times excuses keep us from falling into sin.  We know what our triggers are and we  seek for ways not to be put  into situations that very well could lead us into that sin.   Alcoholics will often not go to certain places and hangout with certain friends who trigger the desire to drink.

Personality Flaw #4- Quitting or Giving Up

Have you ever met a chronic quitter.  You know that person who as soon as things don’t go as they think it should they pack it in for some new dream.

Unfortunately they don’t wait long enough to see what God is going to do in those circumstances.  So either it is too hard or it isn’t going how they envisioned it.

I can tell you right now that nothing I have ever touched in this life, whether it be directing a Christmas play, having children, street witnessing in NYC or being a pastors wife, not one thing has ever gone my way- or as I thought it should have.  Instead it usually ends up looking like some messy gross disaster. Kind of like a water color painting before it is finished.  And when I push through and finish the painting it is beautiful BUT if I quit in it’s messiest moment- it looks and is an utter disaster.

The problem is that we start to doubt God and the task he has brought us to.    The problem is that when we quit enough times people begin to not trust us. we become unreliable!

For this last one we can head to the Gospels to find the concept of expanded influence.

Luke 16:10 NIV 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

When we stick with what we have committed ourselves to and see it through, we  have shown ourselves faithful.  We have shown ourselves to be able to handle other things.

So which of these personality flaws are a struggle for you?  For me I can sometime slip into a quitting mindset and  excuses AND the whole focusing on self  thing.

Write 31 Days-Day 16- Finishing Up Esther Part 2


Finishing Esther Part 2

Ok so I know I said we were gonna finish up Esther yesterday but the post ended up longer than I thought, so let’s pick it up with our last three influencers from the book of Esther!


DUN DUN DUUUUN! the villain in our account.  Haman had a few problems that caused him to be such a negative influence.

  1. anger
  2. pride
  3. hate

First Haman let anger rule his life.  It defined him.  Mordecai didn’t do as he wanted.  He didn’t bow as Haman rode by. HOW DARE HE! Does he not know who I am ?   Look what the King has given me!

Pride: when the king asked human what should be done for someone  who has done noble deeds, Haman immediately thinks “OH BOY HE”S TALKING ABOUT ME”.   So he rattles off all the things he would like.  Oh to be a fly on the wall when the king said OK go do all that you have said….to MORDECAI!  WOW!

AND LASTLY HATE-  Hate is when you decide to destroy a whole nation because one man will not bow to you! I mean really?   No in all seriousness many think that the  roots of hate run deeper than that with speculation of  ties to a battle where Humans family was killed by the Jews.  I am not given those details with in the passage so I cannot tell. BUT for whatever the reason, the reality was Haman was controlled by hate.


We don’t know if what Vashti did was a positive or negative influence but she had a choice.  She made it. There were consequences because there was fear of the. influence she had!

All we know was that Xerxes in the middle of his drunken feast requested the presence of his Queen So he AND ALL HIS DRUNK BUDDIES  could look at his beautiful wife.  She said no!

Now there is much speculation as to what all this means. Many scholars believe that she was to parade around all his buddies with no clothses on.   Enough said.  We don’t really know other than she said NO.  and for that choice she was disbarred as queen and sent to live in the concubine residence no longer to be called to the king again.

The King’s advisors

I’m gonna call these guys a bad influence because of two things

  • they were selfish
  • they didn’t man up to Xerxes and say you crossed a line.

When Xerxes asked this men what to do there response was- PUNISH her because if you don’t all the women will think they too can rebel against their husbands. they weren’t worried about what was right but instead what was easiest.

I know I said that I don’t know what exactly was requested BUT I do know he wanted Vashti to be gawked at by a bunch of drunk men.  She wasn’t a show pony.  How humiliating.

These dudes could have said ” ya know what we blew it, things got out of hand a.  We had too much to drink and we lost control of our senses.”  But instead the took the east=y non confrontational road so as not to make king Xerxes mad.

doing what we think is the easy way out is almost NEVER the Easy way out!

Let’s Chat : have you ever considered any of these as influencers?  Who was the most surprising?


Write 31 Days- Day 15- Finishing up Esther


The other Influencers in the Book of Esther

Did you fret when you saw the title ? Oh don’t  worry I will be referencing it still throughout the rest of this writing Challenge.  But first we really need to look at the Influencers who  rounded out the rest of the book of Esther. Here are the 5 others we will be discussing together today.

  1. Mordecai
  2. King Xerxes
  3. Queen Vashti
  4. Haman
  5. King Xerxes’ advisors

Some will be assigned the title of positive or negative Influence.  We will discuss what makes them such. BUT then there are two who are up in the air- we don’t actually know how their influence panned out.


Mordecai was a positive influence for sure.  There is no doubt about that.  Though he really ruffled Haman’s feathers when we made the hard decision not to bow to him as he passed, he made the RIGHT decision because God had been clear about bowing to others bestowing honor that was rightly deserved  by only God.

sometimes when we take a stand like Mordecai did it is an unpopular decision.  It doesn’t make it any less right or positive BUT it can put a hefty price on our heads.

This can be as simple as standing up for someone who cannot defend themselves OR as life and death as taking a stand for your faith while faced with the possibility of death for doing so.

Mordecai also chose to speak up when he overheard a plot to kill king Xerxes.    He could have played dumb and never said a word.  Not standing for what is right,  would have been an active decision for the worst kind of negative influence there is.  DEATH.  King Xerxes could have been murdered, because it was easier for Mordecai to keep quiet.

And He was a positive influence to Esther.  He had helped raise his orphaned cousin and she was now a lovely woman married to the king.  She respected him and what he had today.  She followed all he told her to do, even when she didn’t want to.

And finally in Esther 8:17 b we are told, “and many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.”  COVERTS! Despite the fact that God is not mentioned in this book, you can see him working in every aspect.  None of this was by chance or happenstance This all Happened for a purpose.


When this book opens and we first see King Xerxes we see that he LOVES to PAR-TAY! And he loves his wine.  The good stuff ALL the time no matter how drunk they got it was always the best-In those days as people partied (feasted) and got drunker the cheaper and less potent the wine would get. But not for good old king Xerxes.  SOOOOO clearly he was a bad influence! BUT he most certainly did not stay there.

I think the turning point came when Esther walked in and he had a choice to make.  Hold out the scepter or consult his advisors (as he did with Vashti)He made a choice to extend grace rather than ask for opinions.  He chose grace and mercy.

Xerxes was also a very angry man.  When he was didn’t get his way when he called for Vashti he was livid.  So much so he sought others opinions.  ( not always a bad choice, especially when we are angry) However note the difference when he is angry with Haman that he sought to kill the Jews in  all the kings land, which included Mordecai who the king had just honored for saving his life and Esther his queen.  Do you remember how he handled his anger, he left the room! To think.   and he made a decision, the right one to punish Human.  >

Tomorrow we are going to hit the last 3.  Two of them will be super short and the other well, we could maybe go on about him for a whole lot longer.


Write 31 Days- Day 14- Choices


We All Have Choices

I had a professor in Bible College who is fun of quotable quotes.  I have mentioned him both in the series and in other posts as well.  Mr. S used to say “if you limit yourself to an either or decision you haven’t considered all the options. ” AND I agree with him except this one thing : Your choice (decision) to be a positive or negative influence.  When we started this week I said ” Positive or Negative that is the  question” And I am here to tell you those are YOUR ONLY TWO OPTIONS and only you hold the power to make it.

You might say, “BUT MARY…you don’t understand….”  Well  let’s save the BUTS for next week when I tell you what my friend Marie has to say about BUTS!  It won’t disappoint!!

I can tell you right now there are a few things we don’t get to choose.

  1. our circumstances
  2. our genetics/ family
  3. other peoples choices
  4. the weather

No matter what happens in those 4 things listed above  there are 3 things we can  choose when dealing with this four areas…..

Choice #1- Our Attitude

No matter the circumstance we can choose to look at life through God lenses .  I love the book and movie Pollyanna.  In one scene when Pollyanna was talking about the missionary barrels her family used to get (they were missionaries). She is talking about how she wanted a doll so they requested one and when the next missionary barrels came there was no doll but instead a pair of crutches.   At this point she was explaining that her father made up the “glad game”.  They, from that point on, would try to find the positive in the hard things.   They were actively choosing to look on the bright side. And the bright side of the crutches?  Was that she didn’t need them.!!

Later in the movie she falls from a Tree and suffers a spinal injury (in the book she gets hit by a car).  She become paralyzed.  All of her friends rally around her to help her find the good when she can’t.  Like Steak and Ice Cream!!!!   Being positive was going to help her face and recover from surgery.

When we actively choose to have a positive attitude it turns into positive influence. People see the hard stuff and see you grow and trust God.  Positive attitudes rooted in God’s word is sustainable.  I’m not saying that there aren’t days that things get really hard and I am by no means telling you to be fake – we will deal with that one next week!

Be real, be transparent, be honest about where you are at BUT choose to look for God in the middle of it.  POINT people to that.  Find things to be grateful for in the middle of the hard things!

#2- Our Words

Some days we just need to take a stand.  We need to speak up.   Staying silent is a choice too.

I don’t wear my disability on my sleeve.  Most people have no idea I have been legally blind for over half of my life.  I am what you called a “sighted blind person”. It means I have partial sight. This plays a HUGE part in my testimony and usually when the topic arises I have the opportunity to share my story.

One day I was mentoring a client at the pregnancy center  I volunteer at every week.  It was rather early on in my experience there.  I was warned ahead of time that this client was closed to talking about faith, no worries .  She was my first client and I was NERVOUS!

I introduced myself and we started into the first lesson.  Something came up in conversation and I shared that I had been legally blind since I was 13…and the door for the gospel flung wide open.  I could feel it, and I just kept reading the lesson.

I walked away determined that I was NEVER gonna miss THAT opportunity again.  I was heart broken.  I told Marie.  She said it was ok everyone misses moments but that I would remember it and chances are I wouldn’t miss another.  She was right (I think) It’s been 3 years and lots of clients later and I have had lots of opportunities and I have taken all of them that I am aware of.

My unwillingness to speak the words of hope I experienced through the years after losing my eyesight was what this young mom needed and I chose to keep silent. NO one made me, I made that choice…me alone.

There is also a second and third aspect to our words. and that is how we say them.   When anger, malice,  complaining  sarcasm, hate, snakiness and so on is what frequents out of our moths we gain a reputation of being   grumpy.   So is when we say one thing and DO another (HINT that might be the next point)   I will touch more on that third one this next week.

Our words play an important  part of what kind of influence we have.

#3 Our actions

Have you ever heard a child say BUT so and so taught me how.

My question is:  does so and so control your hands and feet?

The answer plain and simple is NO, they made a choice to follow the negative influence of another person.  NO one made them.  Even if you are at gun point you can still make a right choice.   I think of  children who have been kidnapped who choose to sing songs they were taught in Sunday school or women who  shared the gospel with their captors.  They made a choice.   Some have seen direct results while others may have had their lives taken.  Either way they knew what they shared was what the person needed.

To choose to serve, to love, to care despite the differences in those around us.  Doing things that LOOK CRAZY to everyone else.  (Remember that attribute of Esther?)

Our actions will always speak louder than our words! ALWAYS.

And you wanna know who will be there first to let you know when they don’t line up?  KIDS- they can spot a hypocrite a mile away and they will let you know too.

We are going to spend some time hashing that out as well next week

And I’m just gonna throw this out there when I was a kid there was this phrase being thrown around “The Devil made me do it”.  It was a cop out answer in hopes that the other person was gullible enough to not hold you accountable.     I can tell you right now the devil did NOT make you do it.

It was our choices and we chose to do it!