Being Real

Being Real

How you were made.”

“For I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 [1]

It is the most beautiful thing you can ever become. Real. All of us want it. The real thing, to be purely authentic, to be honest, to be true to yourself. It is a natural instinct to want the very best and to feel good about it. The interesting part is this, all of us have a different perspective of what “real” may look like. One of the most genuine things we can come to grips with is to recognize that every single one of us is different. Our thumb print is evidence of that, every snowflake is proof that God made zero duplicates. Zero. I love that about humanity and how God precisely formed us individually. Therefore, keeping an open mind to true authenticity from each individual perspective is important.

In Psalm 139:16 it says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” [2]

This verse alone is proof that the Great Master of the universe is concerned and loves each of us individually. He loves us so much that His desire is for us to be exactly what He created us to be. The answer is evident but getting there can be a challenge. The answer is “be the real you”, not a cookie cutter of someone else. I want this book to be a tool for you to become more of who God meant for you to be and less of what everyone else may expect you to become.

The Velveteen Rabbit has always been my favorite childhood story book.  It tells you, in a real way, when you actually become real. There are so many quotes that could be chosen to explain real but here is one quoted from the Skin Horse in the story, that makes a great point:

Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “But, when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

He said, “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen too often to people who break easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”[3]

“When you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.” [4]That’s a huge statement. Who likes to be hurt? Crushed. Left broken. Left bleeding. Left a mess. Who likes that? But what if you understood that it is what hurts you that makes you real? Authenticity takes on a whole new meaning and understanding. Real gives you worth. Real, may even save the soul you’re talking to but most importantly, save you. Real comes with a great price but the problem is that most of us don’t want to bother with becoming pure and authentic for that reason. We accept the mundane, the way of the gossip, the way of the coward, the crowd, we accept being cool instead of being real. We choose to follow in footprints that don’t belong to us and instead we take the beaten path, while we should be creating an original unbeaten path that God specifically designed for us.

A great depiction that has no comparison to anything or anyone, is Jesus Christ. He knew He would need to be real, to hurt, to bleed, to die, in order to save the world. He went all in. He came down to earth, robed Himself in flesh and dwelt among us, humanity. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. He is the greatest example of being real that we will ever find throughout history and the history to come but He did not let coming to earth be in vain, He gave us the choice as well:  to follow in His footsteps and become Christlike, to become pure in heart or not.  He left us the choice to leave everything else behind, follow Him and become real too, so we can change the world. But I feel that so few picks this up. That may be the reason He says in Mathew 7:14:“Because straight is the gate and narrow is the way but few there be that find it.”

The few that do find it, have the treasure of great price. All of us can have it. He made an all-inclusive invitation for everyone to receive and achieve. Let’s strive for real in everything we do and say, let’s be the honest, authentic people God wants us to be. Let’s change our world by being real.


 

 

 

 

Don’t Let it Go Missing

There is only one book that I ever remember my dad reading. I’d see it open on the kitchen table during his devotion or laying open on his lap as he was preparing for his next sermon. In pictures you’d see it proudly tucked under his arm. The Bible was his strength. It was priceless to him. His Bible is etched in my memory, and it’s left a profound impression on my life.

With Father’s Day approaching I began to think abut his Bible. I began the search to find out which one of my eleven brother’s and sister’s had inherited his brown, leather Bible, worn from many hours of reading, teaching and preaching from it. Most thought my oldest brother was the lucky recipient. It wasn’t him. We went down the line from the oldest to the youngest; all eleven of us were questioned, I was devastated to find out no one knew what had happened to his Bible nor did any of them have it in their possession. I was anxious to see how marked up it was and to look at the worn pages. I wanted to see if he had written along the margins, or left messages for his kids to reflect on. Unfortunately, his Bible is gone. Unless a miracle happens, we will never see it again, except for in pictures.

As we celebrate this Father’s Day, if you were asked, what is your favorite book, what would your answer be? With all the amazing books out there, let it always be said that your Bible is your most treasured asset. Don’t let it go missing. You will never regret it and hopefully your kids will treasure it when your life is ended and say, “my dad loved this book the most.” To my hero, my dad, thank you for leaving an example of loving the bible, and leaving memories that will last the rest of my life.

And Suddenly

 

 

external-content.duckduckgo“And suddenly there arose a great storm in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves, but He was asleep.” Matthew 8:24

I’ll never forget it. I can see in my mind, in slow motion, the incident. How many of you owned a banana seat bike? Our large family of 13 had one. It was light blue, with a white seat, big blue daisies were all over it, a perfect artistic master piece. My sister actually had the owner rights but she was kind enough to let me ride it once in a while. I was in fourth grade, loud and proud. After school was dismissed I ran to the bike rack excited to have the privilege of riding the bike home that day. My sister was on the back holding on tight, when down the steep hill we went, as fast as my little legs would let me go, our hair blowing in the wind. It was amazing! The faster the better! Then suddenly…out of no where, a bully threw a stick out in front of the bike… on purpose. The jerk! I didn’t have time to stop. It was a horrendous crash. I went flipping off the bike flat on my face. My sister about landing on top of me. We were scraped up and bleeding bad! I still have a scar on my knee to prove it! The beautiful blue bike lay in a mangled mess, like a crushed soda can. I was furious. I ran home, storming through the door announcing the incident at the top of my angry, crying lungs! In an instant, my oldest brother rose to the occasion, running out the door ready to meet up with this bully and give him a piece of his mind. It was not a pretty sight. My sister and I went to school the next day looking like Santa Claus; white bandages on our chins, knees and elbows. Everyone was asking what in the world happened!

It all happened so fast, so suddenly! How could someone be so mean? Why would he do that to us? Didn’t he realize who he was messing with? Anyone mistreating an Odum girl had to face 6 brothers and a dad who would be sure vengeance took place. What in this world happened?

We can all relate to a suddenly. Those moments that completely take us by surprise, unexpectedly. The accident that wasn’t your fault, that car that turned in front of you, totaling your car. That person who cut you off in line and sudden rage tore through you, tempting you with words that you never dreamed you would ever say. The phone call catching you suddenly by surprise, announcing the death of a loved one. Jealousy shows up on the job, and your job is suddenly in jeopardy. You are misunderstood, assumptions are made and your reputation is suddenly gone.  You post a picture on Facebook and it makes someone upset, creating havoc you never expected. These sudden moments can change us…for life. Without notice they come. They leave footprints on our heart that will last the rest of our lives. Uninvited but inviting us to make a choice. What we do about these “suddenly” moments is so important.

Spiritually, what happens to us when our suddenly comes? Will we make bitter decisions or better decisions? Will we decide to fight back or lay back and let God handle it? It’s not easy.  Our flesh was created to defend, the desire to fight back, to win. There is nothing wrong with the fight in us but if our attitude and spirit are wrong, we can fight until we are blue in the face and lose every battle. Fight, but do it with God and with a right spirit. You will always lose having a wrong spirit, period. You will always win having the right spirit, always! God has our best interest at heart whether it looks like it or feels like it or not, He does. Even when it seems as though others have won over us, regardless if we feel defeated, it is guaranteed that a right spirit always wins. Our suddenly will come. It will come uninvited, without warning, blind siding you, pushing you into darkness, into territory unfamiliar to you. With a right spirit, our suddenly’s become our greatest asset because God always has our best interest at heart.

What keeps us prepared when these suddenly’s come is so important. You want to be ready and we can be. You will suddenly wake up one morning, or run into someone, or get an email, or phone call and  in a moment, your circumstance will begin to work in your favor. You will feel the weight has lifted, doors have swung open and the promises that God had for you all along begin to unfold into a beautiful new awakening. It could take years, but regardless of the length of time, it will be worth the wait, if we are prepared. Don’t give in and fight the suddenly with your ugly flesh wanting desires, God made us to conquer, He made us for more. He wants to live through us, in us and for us but we have an enemy that realizes our potential with God. He will fight us emotionally, spiritually, physically, through our dearest friends and our loved ones, to defeat us. Our greatest enemy is playing havoc with our emotions and thought process and he will send careless people into our lives to derail us and get us off course but God will win when we choose, during these sudden moments in life, to stay calm and let Him fight for us. Continue reading

Dress for Success

“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s chosen ones (His own picked representatives), who are purified and holy and well beloved by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, (and) patience (which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive. And above all these (put on) love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness (which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony). And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts (deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state) to which as (members of Christ’s) one body were also called (to live). And be thankful (appreciative), (giving praise to God always). Colossians 3:12-15

dressI was far from anything that remotely looked anything like humble or patient. My temper was second to none. I could definitely hold my own. I had the lungs in the family as my brothers often reminded me. You never had to guess where I stood on any given subject or what I was thinking. I was not tame. One particular night when my brother was watching us, he stuffed my mouth with a dirty sock and locked me in a closet. I was obnoxious and didn’t know when to keep my mouth shut. No one was going to tell me what to do, how to dress or how to act. I was confidently “Mary Odum.” I was the representative in the family that didn’t put up with unfair treatment. There was one particular time that comes to mind when my sisters came and got me and said, “Mary, you’ve got to help us. Mom is not treating us right and we don’t know what to do.” I took the situation by the reigns, marched right to my mother and said, “we will not put up with this. We aren’t going to tolerate your behavior in this situation, it is unacceptable.” My sisters were quaking in their shoes but not me, I was going to stand my ground. I stood strong, clothed myself with confidence and went straight at the issue and that was the end!

I’ve changed through the years with how I handle my disposition and I approach life situations that need confronted differently, but it was definitely a process to get there. I had to clean out my closet, my heart. I will have to say, that girl is still inside of me, but time has taught me how to properly clothe her.

How we treat others is of upmost importance in the Kingdom of God. God doesn’t tolerate behavior that is hateful, judgemental, angry, mean, ugly or filled with bitterness and un-thankfulness. When we walk around in the molly grubs, with ungrateful hearts, and wear a face that looks like we ate a sour lemon, people will have no tolerance for it. If you are wise, you won’t tolerate it either. It’s just not acceptable. We cannot be raging tornadoes or Debbie downers and expect God to answer us! We can’t make demands and shout out anything that comes to our minds. How we clothe ourselves is so important. Flee from drama, gossip, and anyone who does not represent what they should be as a child of God. It should literally scare us to tolerate behavior like this.

We were made for so much more! We have what it takes to become powerful in the Kingdom of God and in the community around us. When we clothe ourselves with peace it will leave people and lives astounded. Our lives speak so loud without ever saying a word. Our lives are extremely powerful whether we realize that or not. Our actions and behavior are effecting people every single day. Our actions will either be powerful for the good or powerful for the bad but they can’t be both. We have the power to choose! God gives us that distinctive honor to choose how we dress both in our attitudes and in how we present ourselves to the world around us. In the scripture above it is written in the word of God to clothe yourself with perfectness and yet none of us within ourselves are remotely close to being perfect. The only way we can obtain this state of being perfect is deciding that every day we are going to give God the reigns of our life and allow Him to direct and administrate our wardrobes, our lives. He’s given us the greatest honor and privilege in the world to become “like Him.” We have to choose to be clothed like Him and give our hearts whole heartedly to him withholding nothing. When we make this decision, our lives are literally filled with unexplainable peace. We can walk into the most horrendous situations and be filled with peace. God equips us with everything we need to live the life we can only hope to have without Him.

It is said that Mother Theresa lived a life of giving her all, every single day. This comment about her life is noteworthy because at the end of her life she said she felt unfulfilled, empty and lonely. She didn’t have the peace that comes from Him. In one despairing letter to a confident she wrote, “where is my faith – even deep down right in, there is nothing, but emptiness and darkness – My God – how painful is this unknown pain – I have no faith- I dare not utter the words and thoughts that crowd in my heart and make me suffer untold agony.” (https://www.biography.com/religious-figure/mother-teresa). Mother Theresa worked hard many years of her life, advocating for very noteworthy aspirations, but left this world clothed without peace, without that perfect state of mind we are promised in Christ. The greatest thing we can ever do is get into the presence of God and ask Him to clothe us as Colossians 3 encourages us to do. When we do, we will find our purpose but more importantly, we will find the peace of God that He longs to give every one of us. When we find that, it will transform the world around us!

My hot temper didn’t get me anywhere, but looking back, I can see the mercy and hand of God on my life. He brought me to a place of humble appreciation for Him and gave me the discipline to surrender my temper. The trade brought me to a life of prayer, peace and perfect harmony. Choose to clothe yourself as God’s chosen ones, purified, holy and well loved by God. Then watch as He transforms your entire wardrobe to one that will be marked by tenderhearted pity, mercy and kind feelings towards everyone and everything life throws at you. You’ll be grateful you did! It works!

Authentic Reality

Her spirit spoke the moment our eyes connected, she was real. Her soul and heart were beautiful. And it was refreshing. Instant peace and soul spoken contentment. The kind of real you feel when your eyes tear up and from your heart and deepest emotion you feel it. You know what I’m talking about because all of us are given the chance to experience it; sometimes we have to search and stretch but we won’t settle until we find those priceless souls. I’m honestly tired of fake and the problem is, if I’m honest, “I can smell it a mile away” as the saying goes; my entire being resents and convulses at the thought of having to side-step around fake so I don’t have to face letting my facial expression show my disappointment. I hate it. Why? Because we don’t have to be fake. Its ridiculous. God created us, every single one of us, beautiful. What you have inside of you is priceless. Someone out there would give their arm and leg to have what you have and likewise you would give yours to have what they have. When will we settle into the reality of this amazing thought…we are all priceless, God gave each of us a gift or multiple gifts to light this world up. He gave His life for us to live life to the fullest, to have joy so you can know what it feels like to experience heaven on earth through His creation and all He has provided for you to live beyond your wildest dreams. Your life matters, every single day. Don’t ever forget it.

Just a Small Town Girl

The Old Button FactoryJust a small town girl wanting to encourage faith and hope in everyone I see.  With twelve brothers and sisters, I grew up number nine. Poor but so rich, I flew off for a college adventure in California and really never looked back…except to reminence once in a while of the fortune I had but truly never appreciated until I was much older. I think often of my small town and the friends I left there. Dayville was an East Coast town that didn’t seem to grow much more than a thousand. We lived in walking distance to a train track and old button factory that my brothers and sisters and I would frequently scour and dig around for rustic buttons that my mom would use to sew. The four seasons there were perfect. Spring time was beautiful, the budding trees were amazing, Connecticut was known for their tall full Oak trees. The summers were scorching hot, often I remember running bare feet across hot pavement to play kickball with all the neighborhood kids who had gathered to take on the Odum clan. At night we would use fans in open windows to give us a cool breeze. Fall left the hugest leaf piles a child could dream of, often we’d rake up a high pile and jump, burying ourselves in the rough brittle leaves, laughing and carrying on, and then creating the most human like scarecrows we could imagine. Winters left neatly piled wood on the front porch so we could keep our wood stoves burning, snow drifts would sometimes be waste high and the tobogganing down steep hills leaving us at the bottom of the hill in a huge human heap were a part of winter, as well as iceskating on the pond at Owen Bell Park. These are some of my fondest memories. But I flew off leaving those memories behind like a freight train headed on a mission to deliver cargo to a distant city. Life was sweet!

It Wasn’t Easy

Romans 8:2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

The year is marked in history as 1776, the date signifying our freedom as a nation. Long ago men fought fiercely for our freedom. Blood was shed, lives were lost and families left devastated, the price was costly, but it was worth it. We live in a beautiful country today, so much to see and enjoy, all at the cost of freedom. All because men were brave enough to fight to set us free. It was worth it!

Christ came that we would be free indeed. He too had a tremendous price to pay for our sins. It wasn’t easy, it was pain wrenching, His heart broke and stung with agony. But he knew that the outcome would be like none other in all of history, in all of time, nothing would compare to it. We all know it wasn’t easy. Thank God for our freedom! He paid the price and it was worth it!