Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hospitality is just more important than my imperfect house...

Tomorrow night I am having a Christmas party, for my adult students, at my house for the first time ever.  I’ve not had company in years, for various reasons… mostly centering around my inability to keep a clean house, or get rid of clutter, or find time and energy to do anything but the bare minimums.  But this year is different.  Moving last spring was a great time to get rid of a lot of stuff.  Admittedly, I still have a large pile of boxes I am storing for my kids.  And I still haven’t unpacked my room.  And what books are not in boxes are piled on shelves.  And let’s face it, I have a high tolerance for messes and keeping house does not come naturally easy to me.  My house is not, and will never be a showpiece.  Here’s the cool thing – I don’t care.  I grew up in a house that looked like nobody lived in it.  The place was immaculate, uncluttered, and absolutely dead.  We never had company either.  I don’t know who my mom cleaned for, but life did not happen in those rooms. 

This past year my entire life has changed.  As I evaluate the past and head into a very different future from the one I thought I had, I’ve thought a lot about what is important and what I want in life.  I want life.  I want joy.  I want to be with people I enjoy.  I want a homey home, where my kids and their friends and my friends are always welcome.  I want a home that is lived in and comfortable.  If my friends see the pile of boxes, so what?  I am taking care of my kids’ stuff.  If I have old furniture, so what?  I am not living beyond my means.  If they glance in my bedroom (gasp) and see the piles of stuff that I have not yet unpacked or put away after 8 or 9 months, well, we will all get over it (but really, it would be better if they didn’t look there).  And if they look in my refrigerator and it’s not clean, or they notice that I didn’t get around to mopping, I hope they will overlook it.  Because I don’t want to wait for it all be perfect.  It’s not going to ever be that way, and really, so many other things are more important.

So I am kind of excited about tomorrow night, not because I have a wonderful house to show off, or a wonderful menu to serve, but because I look forward to hanging out in my home with a few of my friends.  And I plan to do it more often, even while I am crazy busy in grad school working three jobs struggling to get by.

This is my home, and we live here, and I am glad to see you.  Welcome, and Merry Christmas!



©Rebecca Anne Huffman Givens, 12/13/15

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thoughts on Sunrises

I’ve watched a lot of sunrises in my life; yes, I am a morning person. A lot of mornings this past summer I’ve been up early enough to be sitting on my deck with my Bible as the sun came up. There was a morning a few weeks ago that was so spectacularly beautiful it brought tears to my eyes – every shade of red and orange and yellow imaginable. This past morning, and the last few, have not been spectacular. The sky gets lighter, the ball of fire breaks the horizon, the sky is a beautiful clear blue. Not that that’s not amazing and wonderful in and of itself – it just isn’t the light show that happened a few weeks ago.

Here’s the thing. On those spectacular sunrise mornings there are clouds. Lots of low lying clouds that reflect the sun before it rises above the horizon. The red and orange and yellow flaming through the sky before the ball of fire breaks the horizon is a feast for the eyes. But these sunrises do not turn into what we would call “a beautiful day.” Clouds are often signs of storms and turbulence.

Life is like that. Clear blue sky has a beauty of its own, and life that’s cruising along without a hitch does too. But clouds reflect the sun better than clear sky, and a life full of trouble reflects God’s glory in a way that it otherwise could not. Nobody wants these bad times in life – but look to God, cling to Him, and let your troubled life reflect His spectacular Glory in a powerful and beautiful way. This Sonrise will set the sky on fire.

2 Corinthians 4:6-11 (ESV) - For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.


©Rebecca Huffman Givens, 10/17/15

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Where will you run?

This morning I read 1 Kings 19:1-18, and was blown away by it. Great victory comes crashing down for Elijah, and he runs. They want to kill him, but what else is new? Didn’t they want to kill him before? Didn’t they have the power to kill him before? What’s different is his fear. This is a man who stood before the prophets of baal and laughed at them publicly. Suddenly he is afraid. He is crashing from the high of spiritual victory, he is exhausted, and all he can see is an angry queen seeking his life. He can’t see God in that moment.

So what does Elijah do? He runs. But get this, He doesn’t run from God, He runs to God. He runs to the Mountain of God.  He is so depressed he wants to die, yet he runs to God. Along the way God listens to him, God feeds him, God gives him the strength to continue running in the right direction. Through his dark night of the soul, in the midst of a depression so deep he wants to die, Elijah runs to God.

He ends up in a cave on the Mountain of God, and God asks him, “Why are you here?” Elijah tells God his problems. God doesn’t berate him for being depressed, God doesn’t fuss at him at all. God’s answer was “Stand before me. Look at me. Listen to me.” Did you catch that? God’s answer was to move Elijah’s focus back onto God Himself.

So Elijah waits as God’s power blows by in a hurricane force wind. The earth shakes in an earthquake as God approaches. A consuming fire sweeps across the landscape in front of the cave. It feels like God is saying, “Elijah, remember who I am. I am the All Powerful Creator. I am in control of everything.” And then, best of all, God speaks in a low whisper. An intimate loving whisper to His child. “Elijah, why are you here?” Tell me your troubles. And God listens. God is there, present with Elijah, loving Elijah, and He still doesn’t berate him for his depression. He just listens as Elijah pours out his fear.

And then, God gives Elijah the next job. Go do the next thing Elijah; you have three men to anoint, two rulers of nations, and your own successor. Elijah, you have a job, something important to do. Then God tells him what will happen to his enemies. Elijah, I am not abandoning you in your fight. And lastly, God tells him there are thousands of Believers still. Elijah, hear me, you are not alone.

Elijah obeys. He does the next thing. His circumstances had not changed in the least, the queen of the land still sought his life. But Elijah gets up and does the next thing. His gaze is now on God.

To me there are several things that stand out in this story.

In Elijah’s great distress He ran toward God, not away. He was physically exhausted, his life was in danger, he was so depressed he wanted to die. Yet he ran to God.

God’s reaction to Elijah was not, “you shouldn’t feel that way!” He didn’t even point out how much worse off someone else was. It was simply, “Elijah, look at ME.” And then, “Elijah, go do…” and finally, at the end, reassurance that God’s plan would take care of Elijah’s enemies.

Elijah immediately got up to obey. Obedience was important. Elijah trusted God and so He obeyed.

In your dark night of the soul, be like Elijah. Not the strong victorious Elijah, but the terrified exhausted Elijah who wanted to die.

Run to God. Hear Him; you have His Word to read. Look at Him. Trust Him. Obey Him. Because like Elijah, you have an important job to do. God will not abandon you in your struggle. You are not alone.


©Rebecca Huffman Givens, 09/13/15

Saturday, September 5, 2015


I am struggling today. Reality is that the future is good. I can see that, and most of the time I feel it. But today my emotions say celebrating 28 years would have been better. Clearly God had a different path, and God’s plan is always good no matter how it feels. Even in the valleys and forests and hard places God’s plan is always better than mine. Going back now would be going back to Egypt. No, I will not long for that. I will walk the road through the desert if Christ is with me. God will dry the tears I continue to shed along the way.


©Rebecca Huffman Givens

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Breaking Through

Last week we broke boards in class.  I gave an abbreviated version of this devotional beforehand.  As I did, I realized how much I needed to be reminded of it. 

Board Breaks

Breaking a board requires concentration.  It requires focus.  But your concentration and focus are not on the board itself, rather they are on the far side of the board.  A strike that ends at the board will do nothing.  You must go through the board in order to break it. 

I remember the first time I ever broke a board.  It was my 2nd test ever in karate, and I had finally begun to be able to focus on what I was doing and tune out everything else.  I was standing in the gym with Sensei.  He was holding the board and as he coached me my focus narrowed down into a very tight little circle around us.  He told me to focus on his chest.  Don’t even look at the board, bring my knee up to his chest.  I breathed and concentrated and focused, brought my knee up with a loud kiai, and heard the board break.  I never even felt it.  But there it was, in 2 pieces.  I was shocked.

Our Christian life is like that.  We are surrounded by problems and pain, but to get through those problems we have to look past them. They will overwhelm us if we focus on the problems themselves, but if we look past them and focus on God, we will suddenly find ourselves out on the other side, standing in amazement because we never even felt them come apart to let us pass.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 - 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Paul is writing this, and those light and momentary troubles he is talking about were huge.  He was stoned and beaten, arrested and imprisoned, even shipwrecked.  But he fixed his eyes on God and on eternity, and he made it through.

Don’t focus on your problems, focus on God.  One day those problems will part like a broken board, and you will find yourself standing in peace on the other side.

©Rebecca A Givens, 07/05/10


As I said, I heard these words coming out of my mouth and realized God was speaking to me much more than I was speaking to my students.  In just a few weeks’ time I had gone from trusting God in uncertain times, to physical blessings, to becoming distracted once again by the trials of the moment.  I was staring at the board, unable to break through it. 

I was reminded in church on Sunday that God has this.  He is holding the board, He is holding all my problems.  He is holding the schedule, the money, the time, the divorce, the cars, my kids, the future, every single concern I have, big and small.  I just need to look at Him instead of the board.

Forgive me Lord. 

Be my focus.

Hold me.

Give me the will to wait, to trust, to hope, to obey.

Keep my eyes on You.  Because only You can give me this blessing, I cannot manage it on my own.


©Rebecca A Givens, 05/25/15

Monday, May 25, 2015

Trusting and Waiting

A wonderful thing happened a few weeks ago.  I realized I was happy with my life and the direction it was moving.  The odd thing about that was that I had no real idea of where life was going, and at that point no control of it either.  I was waiting for other people to make decisions.  Yet I was happy with whatever the outcome of the future, because I trusted God with it.

For nine months I had been in survival mode, but suddenly I was excited about the future, whatever it might hold.  I don’t know how many years it has been since I looked forward to the future.  Let me tell you, it felt good to feel alive again. 

Shortly after that epiphany moment, good things began to happen.  I was unexpectedly promoted to Yondan (4th degree blackbelt) and given the title of Renshi (expert teacher).  I was unexpectedly given a Shodan (blackbelt) certificate to teach sword.  God blessed me with some financial gifts.  I got accepted to Graduate School.  I was offered more hours at my high paying job.
I am SO glad God’s timing brought those material blessings after He brought the spiritual blessing.  Being able to trust God in uncertain times is such a gift.  I have experienced peace and joy and life that have nothing to do with my circumstances, and everything to do with trusting my Heavenly Father.  My certainty has nothing to do with my control, because I had no control over any of those things.  Rather, my certainty is based in God’s sovereignty, in His control and power and plan for everything that happens to me - good, bad and otherwise.  And because I trust Him, I can wait for Him. 

There seems to be a cycle of trust, peace, hope, wait.  That is where I want to stay.  That is what I need to carry me through the difficult times which are always going to come.

Can you walk in light through the valley of the shadow of death?
Can you walk in abundance through the wilderness?
Can you walk in oasis through the desert?

Only if you carry the light and the abundance and the oasis inside of you.  And I do. 

I can wait upon the Lord because:
I have hope in Heaven rather than on earth.
I have peace that passes all understanding, peace with God, no matter what my circumstances are.
I trust His Sovereign plan and His Love for me.


©Rebecca A Givens, 05/11/15

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summer Camp Flier

Karate Kids

Summer Camp 

Self-Defense, Self-Confidence, Self-Control
in a fun, safe environment. 
Great introduction to karate!

Ages 6-Adult
New students welcome!
July 27-30, 10:00-12:00
Lake Crest Presbyterian Church
560 Lake Crest Drive
                                  Hoover, AL, 35226
Becky Givens, Sensei

Shintaikan Dojo
Shingo-ha Yoshukai Karate






Karate Class Flier

Karate Classes
Family, Teen and Adult Classes
Tues/Thurs at 6:00pm
Weapons and Sword Classes
Mon at 6:30pm, June-July
Summer Karate Camp
July 27-30, 10am-12pm

Lake Crest Presbyterian Church

                                560 Lake Crest Drive, Hoover, AL
Becky Givens, Sensei
Shintaikan Dojo
Shingo-ha Yoshukai Karate-do
Shoshin-ha Itto Ryu


Monday, April 27, 2015

Let it go - shame

All year I have avoided homeschool meetings.  Divorce isn’t supposed to happen in homeschool families.  We are supposed to be the solid foundation, the families most committed to – well, the family.  I guess I have prided myself on being part of that.  Now I find myself out of sync with that group, and I don’t like it.  I feel enormous shame in it.

But this past week some things have occurred to me.
Is this shame for something I did?  Was it my decision, my choice that led to this divorce?  No.  The shame I feel is due to my soon-to-be ex’s decisions and his actions.  It wasn’t my choice or my action, and it isn’t my shame.  Period.  It is time to let that go. 

Was I a perfect wife?  No, of course not.
Did I try to work through our problems?  Yes.  He refused, for years.
Did I decide to stay in the marriage?  Yes.
Did have an affair?  No.
Did I offer reconciliation?  Yes.
Did I choose divorce?  No.  Never.

So I confessed my own sin, including my pride, and let it go.  I acknowledged that my life is what it is, God is still in control, and He has blessed me greatly. 
And suddenly, I was free. 

Free to enjoy God’s blessings in the midst of this desert, this wilderness wandering, this exile.  
I went to the last homeschool meeting, and the thing I have avoided all year became a source of great encouragement.  I was reminded that I am not alone out here in the marriage desert.  Even in the homeschool group there are other hurting women, wounded warriors, and we can walk together, encouraging and supporting each other.  And we are not looked down on as inferior Christians by God or by mature Believers.  I was the one blaming myself.  My ex was blaming me, Satan the accuser was blaming me, but God was not and is not blaming me.

God, the Healer, lifts my head, heals my wounds, provides for me in the desert, leads me from grace to grace out of exile into the Promised Land.  Will I embrace this path or will I grumble like the Israelites did?
Thank you Jesus.

I will trust You as You hang on to me – to the end.

©Rebecca A Givens, 4/12/15

I feel the need to add a postscript to this.  I have some very dear divorced friends who have had a different experience.  Their ex-husbands put on a show of godliness, or if they were caught in sin a show repentance, to the outside world, often over several years.  But as sincere as these men looked on the surface, there was nothing but darkness on the inside.  People have no idea the hell these women and their children were going through at home.  The emotional manipulation and bondage is devastating, but there is no outward mark to show to the outside world.  It is even hard to understand it themselves because the manipulation is so subtle, the guilt and blame and shame so accepted by the victim.  So they faked being ok, while their husbands faked being good and even godly.  When they finally admitted their situation was truly abusive and found the courage to leave, these women were judged by their own church families and the Christian community in general.  This is doubly devastating, and I don’t know how they manage.  I am so thankful for my church family who have supported me, so thankful that I did not have to deal with a divorce like this.  A human being can only manage so much, and while God does call us to forgive and love the sinner, sometimes even to put our lives at risk for the proclamation of the gospel, that is not what staying in a physically or emotionally abusive marriage is.  Allowing that abuse to continue is not loving the sinner, it is not forgiving the sinner, it is abuse and bondage.  Don’t think these women’s problems are like your own imperfect marriage and they are just giving up.  If you have never endured emotional abuse you have no idea what these families are going through.  Pray.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray for families and marriages that are hurting.  Sometimes there is no good solution.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Shame Does

I was going to write something about this.  But dang.  Just read it.  It's so good.  Click the heading to go to the original posting.

What Shame Does

In a moment pregnant with sorrow and hope, dignity and depravity, and su”ering and glory, a grieving mother stood before the mourners who had gathered to honor a man’s life and spoke the words, “Shame killed my son, Luke. Shame kept him quiet, living in dark secrets with terrible regrets, surrounded by friends, but so very alone.” After surveying the faces of those gathered and silently recognizing those she knew who also had struggled with addiction, she admonished them. “Do not let shame win. The evil one has filled his quill with shame, disconnection, secrets, and sorrow and is writing his story of darkness. God’s story of light with redemption, hope, community, truth, and glory is written in His own blood.”
Luke Johnson took his own life last year at the end of a protracted battle with addiction and shame. Although he was a young man who grew up in a Christian home and had professed faith in Christ, he had lost all hope. He did not grasp the truth that the gospel of grace replaced his shame-based identity with an identity in Christ. Luke’s story is narrated by the voice of shame, in stark contrast to the gospel of Luke, which is peppered with stories in which shame is trumped by glory. In the gospel according to Luke Johnson, the evil one hijacked the story of glory and shaded it with shame. A person engulfed in shame will focus on self; they will isolate and blame others for their situation. Shame ultimately creates a relational style of avoidance. We want to avoid being found out, to prevent our darkest places from being discovered.
This is not only Luke Johnson’s story, because shame is a part of everyone’s story. Shame writes itself into the stories of our lives. Shame is made manifest by isolation, self-protection, self-hatred, self-destruction, self-preservation, and the illusion of control. The first dynamic is isolation, which is the relational stance of shame.
In spite of Luke’s popularity and friends, he created a world that did not know him, a world of isolation. The sin of shame has a way of distancing us from others. A simple way to define sin is to say that it separates us, most profoundly, from God; from ourselves; from others; and finally, from creation. A shame-based person will isolate themself from people who are healthy, and though they will not share their own secrets, they will be drawn into relationships with other shame-based people. They will avoid vulnerability and move toward cynicism in their relationships. The shame-based individual’s relationships are often shallow, broken, and focused on external common behaviors (gaming, music, cars) as opposed to shared emotional experiences. In order to create a stance of isolation, the energy that maintains that stance is self-protection.
If one feels as though they are about to be “found out,” they become gripped with fear. Good relationships demand vulnerability; the commitment to self-protection kills vulnerability. Much like a soldier behind enemy lines, the shame-based individual is always scanning and assessing the environment for any signs of potential exposure. Healthy boundaries are important, especially in new relationships, but relationships can only grow as deeper risks are taken to develop kinship. Shame prevents these risks from being taken. As isolation and self-protection increase, positive relationships decrease. The absence of encouraging influences and healthy perspectives propel growing self-hatred.
The motivation beneath all of the negative relational strategies is self-hatred. The level of shame that has entered into the story of one’s life correlates with the level of self-hate that is experienced. Shame-based people will rage at themselves and be offended at the thought of grace. They often live in a state of ambiguity, having both an odd sense of entitlement and a feeling of unworthiness. There is a demand for relief, but at the same time there is sabotage when it is offered. They often demand a great deal of attention while simultaneously sabotaging this attention because they feel unworthy. They are in a constant dance with the lie of inevitability: “I am a disgusting person; it is just a matter of time before everyone knows the truth of who I am.”
Satan is referred to as the “accuser of the brethren,” and he whispers and reminds us that our darkest moments will be revealed. In Jeremiah, God’s people are thirsty and in the desert. In Jeremiah 2:13, He states that they have committed two sins. The first sin is that they have turned their backs on God, the source of living water, and the second is that they have “hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water”; that is, they have stubbornly crafted their own creative ways to satisfy their thirst. It is the accuser who causes us to feel disgust for our thirst rather than being repentant for our rebellion.
God uses powerful imagery in Scripture to describe us as hungry, thirsty, in prison, in bondage, and enslaved. These descriptors are used to describe us when we are not in relationship with Him. Shame invites us to hate our thirsty, hungry desires for connection and redemption and makes us hate even the prospect of hope. Shame’s most insidious characteristic, though, is its ability to cause people to consider the erroneous belief that at their core, they are defectively designed. It is self-hate that told Luke that there was no way out and that he was too disgusting and too far gone for redemption. His “broken cisterns that can hold no water” eventually ran dry, leaving him to believe that he was alone and beyond redemption.
Self-hate gives way to desperate and self-destructive behaviors. Shame correlates with destructive behavior. Research shows a high correlation between shame and participation in bullying, aggression, and suicide. For Luke, the destructive behavior was addiction; in others, it could be soul-numbing activities. Shame operates as a filter and an amplifier. It filters out the dignity that is part of being an image-bearer of God and amplifies our depravity. Some may live a fear-based life and never take appropriate risks. The desperate soul longs to be numbed.
The fear of exposure when one is attempting to preserve the remaining shreds of dignity becomes profound. The amount of energy required to hide the growing struggle is immense. Living gives way to surviving; relating gives way to self-preservation. It is impossible to become other-focused or God-focused when one is survival-focused. In this heightened survival state, anxiety increases, there is an increased probability of depression, and we begin to hold and protect dark secrets of who we think we are, of what we have done, and in some cases, what has been done to us. When one’s goal is self-preservation, the illusion of self-control is imperative.
Shame paradoxically gives the shame-based person the illusion of control. It allows us to feel as if we are capable of digging our own cisterns—If the problem is me, I can fix it. I don’t need to be dependent upon God or anyone else. I can fix me. A principle of life is that we only fight battles that we think we can win, and shame allows us to restructure reality and believe that we are the problem and the solution; therefore, we can win. Shame invites a person to carry the weight, and in doing so, provides a false sense of control. The shame-based person is allowed to carry this weight and not trust God or others, ever again. Luke’s story of glory was hijacked by shame, whereas the gospel of Luke tells us of glory burst forth from stories that were initially bathed in shame.
The biblical gospel of Luke includes stories of the disenfranchised: the leper, the paralytic, the infirm woman. Luke’s stories invite his readers to see Christ as the transformer and healer. Luke even begins the grand story of glory in a place that many would consider shameful: a stable with shepherds. God’s great story of glory is teeming with stories of the poor, the ill, the neglected, the scorned, but His presence turns the lowly into the exalted. As believers, our stories will be woven together and end in glory.
Luke Johnson took his life, believing that his doing so would mean his story would come to an end. Yet, the Lord is using his story to comfort, instruct, and embolden others. His family is using their grief to educate and comfort others who feel as if they are losing hope. It is both sobering and exhilarating to realize that Satan’s voice will lead to shame, but God’s voice will lead to glory. Just as shame can lead to self-destruction, living in glory will lead to transformation.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Making it through... By the Skin of our Teeth

A couple of weeks ago I took my daughter to a play at a local university, “By the Skin of our Teeth”, by Thornton Wilder.  I had looked forward to it, plays there are always fun.  And it was pretty funny, until the end of Act 2.  Out of the blue, the main man is seduced by the leading lady to leave his wife and children for her.  She stops the play (this has been happening throughout) to say she’s not going to do this scene and argues with the director about it, because her friend is in the audience, and her friend’s husband just left her after however many years and she’s not going to subject her to this on stage.  Of course there is an actress in the audience who falls apart and runs out of the theater.  We sat transfixed.  It wasn’t funny anymore, it was all too real.  The scene closed with the Flood coming and the man hunting for his wife and family and getting on the boat with them.  The leading lady also got on the boat as the servant of the family, the role she played throughout the play.  The curtain closed, I still couldn’t move.  The intermission came and the audience chattered and moved around and still I sat transfixed.  Finally the thought came to me that in the end, the man on stage returned to his family.  Their family survived.  That’s not going to happen for us.

Unexpected reminders like this in the midst of what I thought would be an entertaining escape seem to come often.  Divorce is common in our culture, and not necessarily viewed as the evil that Believers associate it with.  Divorce is a part of marriage, as death is a part of life, and laughing about it helps - unless you happen to be in the middle of it.

But God didn’t design marriage to be that way.  Divorce happens due to sin, and it wasn’t the original design.  Marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church.  Something permanent.  Something sacred.  A promise never broken.

Yet here I am, in the middle of a life of broken promises.  I hurt for myself, for the loss of the future, for the tainted memories of the past.  I hurt for my own sin and inadequacies, and for the betrayal of his sin.  I hurt for the pain and anger in my children, and for my grandchildren who will not see the stability of a lifetime marriage.  I hurt because I will not be able to be the full time grandmother I dreamed of being, I will be at work. 

Somehow I sat through the last act, and I am glad I did.  The play written just 10 years after the Great Depression and in the midst of WWII, and as a whole was about the survival of the human race.  No matter what comes, the Fall, the Ice Age, the Flood, the War, man survives.  Not entirely intact, because there is the son Henry (Cain), who consistently seeks to destroy throughout the play, but the family survives and moves on with each disaster.

And so shall I, because God promises healing to His children.  He promises to make all things work together for not only His Glory, but for my good, and the good of my children, and the good of the church.  He is indeed Sovereign, and this place of exile and wandering in the desert is His Plan for me right now.  But the Promised Land is just over the horizon.  I can look back and see Him in the path I have already traveled, and I can look forward and see the future Hope of His Promise in His Words in Scripture, and I trust Him.

My broken marriage may not be the picture of Christ and His church that it should be.  But the very pain of the broken promises points me to a Faithful Father and Bridegroom, who will never break His Promises, who will never leave me nor forsake me.  And I trust Him.

©Rebecca A Givens, 4/10/15

Monday, April 6, 2015


Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I’ve been reading this one verse for over a week, and each time it gets more profound.

May the God of hope – Think about the attributes and character of God.  Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer.  Sovereign over everything past and everything future.  He planned it all before time began, every detail of me and of my life, including the disastrous parts.  He also planned the end of this story, and He is all powerful and will make it happen.  And unbelievably, He loves me, He bought me, He adopted me as His child.  This is the God of Hope.  He is in fact Hope itself.

fill you with all joy and peace in believing, - OK, this is where it begins to catch me.  Paul is praying that this God that we described in the previous paragraph, would fill me with ALL joy and peace.  ALL.  Really.  That’s what it says.  All.  All is a lot.  All is bigger than I am, how in the world is ALL going to fit in me?  Remember the verse that says, “In Him we live and move and have our being”?  So maybe that’s what being filled with All Joy and Peace is like.  Like swimming in an ocean of it, it’s in me and all around me.  Oh, but we didn’t finish the phrase.  Fill you with all joy and peace in believing.  Do you ever feel like believing is hard?  Or impossible?  Yet this phrase connects joy and peace with believing.  Maybe it is trusting that God is in control and God has a plan that will work out for my good that brings joy and peace.  Maybe that’s the peace that passes all understanding.  Maybe it’s not about a peaceful happy life, it’s about Peace and Joy in Believing. 

so that.  Don’t ignore these little words.  There is a purpose in all this.  And it takes what comes before the so that to get to what comes after it.

by the power of the Holy Spirit  – Ahhhh.  What I said above about believing being hard.  Maybe it’s hard because I’m not strong enough.  But the Power of the Holy Spirit… that’s a different strength all together.  That strength, that power, breathed life into man, caused Jesus to be born a man, and raised Him from the dead.  That is true Power, and it is by His Power that joy and peace in believing happen. 

And the end of this matter? 

you may abound in hope.  Hope.  Hope that can keep me moving in the face of adversity.  Abound in hope, not just a little hope but an abundance of it; not hope that maybe we might win, but Hope in knowing that God is in control of everything and I am just waiting for His plan to unfold.  That’s trust again.  But not trusting in myself, trusting in God.

And so abounding in hope feeds my trust and belief which fill me with joy and peace which feed my trust and give me hope.  And so it goes, circling ever deeper in the ocean of His presence.  Because in Him I live and move and have my being.

Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

©Rebecca A Givens, 04/06/15

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Make a muscle for me

Make a muscle in your arm.  Come on, let’s see how strong your arm is.  OK, now tell me, is your arm ever going to be as strong as your whole body?  Ever?  Even the kids in my karate class acknowledge that the body is stronger than just the arm by itself.  So I try to teach them to punch with their whole body, not just with the strength of their arm.

I am beginning to realize the Christian life is like that.  I try to do this life in my own strength, and I realize I have none.  In fact, I seem to have nothing but weaknesses and faults.  I beg and plead for God to take away my weaknesses and my faults but He doesn’t.  He doesn’t take away my problems or my pains either.  I can easily descend into despair at this point.  But then I read Paul.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Even though my karate students, kids and adults alike, acknowledge that the body is stronger than the arm, they continue to punch with just their arms.  I remind them over and over and over, and they still punch with just the arm.  And even though I acknowledge that God is stronger than I will ever be, I still try to live my life in my own strength rather than His.  Fortunately, He reminds me over and over and over of His power, His grace, His love, His Sovereignty, Christ in me, the work of the Holy Spirit.

Oh God, let me learn this lesson; be still and wait on You.


©Rebecca A Givens, 02/14/15

Sunday, January 25, 2015

R.I.P. Tillie

Yesterday we had to put our 12 year old black lab to sleep.  She had severe arthritis in her back, was a bit senile, and going deaf.  Her shock collar died, she wandered off Friday evening, and got hit by a car.  Was picked up by someone who saw her get hit.  This Good Samaritan was wonderful.  This is a big dog, she was traumatized and in pain, and she bit the woman (not badly).  I wonder how she even got Tillie into her car.  The next morning she took her to an emergency clinic, who managed to track me down.  Although x-rays showed no breaks, Tillie’s back legs were paralyzed, and with her age and arthritis it was clear there would be no recovery.  I spent a long time sitting in her cage with her and crying, held her head while she went peacefully to sleep, sat there with her body and cried some more.  Sat in the parking lot for a long time trying to pull myself together so I could drive home.  Cried when I called my boss to say I wasn’t coming back to work.  Cried when I drove into the driveway and she wasn’t there to greet me.  Cried when I went to bed last night.  Good grief, I’m crying sitting here writing this.  I cry not out of despair or anger or how hard it was to make the decision.  Just grief.  Saying a final goodbye to an old friend.  We took her for granted most of the time, but we always knew she was outside.  She let us know when someone drove up, she greeted us as we came in or out of the house with a thumping tail wag and a grin on her grizzled doggy face.  Even as she got to where she couldn’t manage the steps she always seemed to be happy.  Now there is an empty bed on the front porch.

God has taught me over the years to find a way to thank Him every day.  I have to admit this has been hard the past year, but the habit has probably preserved my sanity and pulled me out of the depths of depression more often than I realize.  So today I am thanking God.  Here’s my list.

1.       Thank you Lord for the life we lived with Tillie.

2.       Thank you for those puppies born during Hurricane Ivan. 

3.       Thank you that she didn’t hold it against us when we neglected her or took her for granted.

4.       Thank you for the wonderful lady who picked her up Friday night, even after being bitten.

5.       And then took her to the emergency clinic all the way up in town.

6.       Thank you for the vet tech who works there, who used to work for my vet and was able to call him to find me.

7.       Thank you that I was at work and so close to the clinic.

8.       Thank you for the pain meds they could give Tillie.

9.       And for the vet and the techs that took care of her, not knowing if anyone would pay that bill.

10.   Thank you that I got to sit with her and tell her goodbye and be with her at the end.

Goodbye baby girl.  Rest in Peace.