Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Confession #34 - A necessary evil

Today dear sisters was a very difficult day.  Our dog of 14 years, Nicolas, died.  His health has been declining for a long time but after suffering a stroke early this morning we knew it was time to let go.  The process took a toll out on myself and my husband, but it was also very difficult for our 6 year old.  She kept saying, I wish no one ever had to die.

Don't we all?  How many of us who have lost a loved one, would do almost anything to bring them back again.  Personally, the closest I've come to this kind of loss is when my Grandfather died back in 1993.  I never did get to say goodbye.  After staying strong while managing to get myself and my sister packed and on a flight to Tampa, when I saw his body lying in there in the casket I broke down terribly.  I grabbed his jacket and kept screaming, "Grandpa, Grandpa!".  His death wasn't real until I saw him.  That's why I hate viewings. 

Death is a necessary evil.  It plagues all of us from time to time and eventually we will lose to it at the end of our lives as well.  But my question to you today is, Do you know where you'll go after you die?  Can you say with one hundred percent certainty that you will be in Heaven? 

If you think yes because I'm a good person, well, the sad news is no.  The bad news is that we are all sinners and sin leads to death.  If you say yes because I've asked God to forgive me, then still the answer is no.  Just asking God's forgiveness in His eyes isn't enough.  Just being good won't do either.  We are not given the gift of salvation out of our goodness.  Ephesian 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."  Ladies the bible is crystal clear on this fact.  John 14:6, "No one comes to the Father except through me."  We can't earn salvation, we can't just be forgiven and receive it we have to receive the gift God has for us. 

Long before the first Christmas, sin came into this world.  God being holy, required that an atonement, a sacrifice must be made in lieu of sin.  That sacrifice was the death of a perfect lamb, calf, dove, essentially an unblemished or "sinless" animal.  God knew that sin was so rampant that we, his people, would never be capable of enough sacrifice to free us from an everlasting death.  So instead, our loving Heavenly Father sent his perfect, sinless son to be the atonement for us once and for all.  He sent us this beautiful gift, he sent Jesus to us on Christmas morning through the miracle of a virgin birth to later be sacrificed at the hands of evil men for our sins and to save us from death.  John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  Romans 10:9 tells us "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  Yes you will be saved!

If you aren't sure if you're going to heaven, you can be sure today!  You can know with certainty that heaven awaits you my dear sister at your end on this earth just by saying and believing the words of this simple prayer:

"Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.

I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.

You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.

Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.

Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license, but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.

Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.
Amen.

Thank you Heavenly Father for loving me so much that you sent your son Jesus.  Thank you to my precious Lord Jesus for enduring the horrible atrocity of the cross, that necessary evil to free from spending an eternity away from you in hell.  I love you Lord.  In Jesus Precious name I pray, Amen!

If you prayed that prayer, please email me at dirtychristianwoman@gmail.com.  I'd love to personally welcome you to the family!!!

God Bless you my dear readers and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Confession #33 - The Slacker....

Okay, as confessions go this is one of the most difficult ones to admit, but here it is..........I'm a slacker.  Those you who know me may find that funny knowing all that I do, but the truth is the only way I can "do" it all, is well, not to.  See, I ingore the important things I'm supposed to be taking care of. 

For example, I let laundry pile up for two to three weeks.  Yup - we do have that many clothes.... I haven't cleaned the master bathroom for quite a while.  Yuck I know, I am embarrased to admit it but it's the truth....  I don't spend any and I mean any time with my husband.  I can't always do homework with my daughter.  I don't water my plants and they die.  I have a tendency to ignore my dogs....the list goes on and on.  I rarley spend time doing things that are just for me, and worst of all, latley I have even been slacking on my relationship with God. 

Between my job, my business, the household finances, food shopping, my home, my family, my pets, volunteering at my daughter's school, the women's ministry, leading a bible study, parent's group, blogging, and serving others, I'm on overload.  Even blogging right now is taking me away from doing other more important things.

In a conversation with my husband last night he suggested that I have poor time management skills.  I agree but I don't think that's all of it.  Mostly I'm just seriously tired and have nothing left to give these so called "important" things....

Slacker is not what I want written in my epitaph, and I certainly don't want to neglect my responsiblities, or more importanly my family, myself and especially my God. But lately, I'm just not living up to the Proverbs 31 potential.  Wish I had a budget for a cleaning person...okay I'm off point.  Getting back...

Life is a delicate balancing act.  Responsiblities on one side, fun and service on the other with God in the middle.  Mine, for right now, looks more like a game of Jenga, one wrong move and CRASH!  Yikes!

While praying God gave me this verse, and it's my plan to pray this every day:

Psalm 119:33-48
"Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.  Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; perserve my life according to your word.  Fulfill your promise to your servant, so they you may be feared.  Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.  How I long for your precepts!  Perserve my life in your righteousness.  May your unfailing love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word.  Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.  I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.  I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.  I will speak of your statues before kings and will not be put to shame for I delight in your commands because I love them.  I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees."

God has spoken and I heard Him saying that my focus has to be on Him and serving my family, and keeping my eyes away from worthless things.  It's time for me to reevalute priorities.  It's time to focus on getting myself fed and taken care of before I crumble.  I love all the ministries I serve and I have a heart for it all, but it's impossible to give everything my best particularly when I've not getting what I need.  It's time for me to focus on the blessings God has given me, my husband, daughter, house, and pets.  To stop neglecting and piling up my responsiblities before things crumble.

If you too are struggling as I am remember Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me all you who are wary and burdened, and I will give ou rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the amazing blessings you have given me.  Please Lord forgive me when I fail to take care of responsiblities and fail to place my family in the proper priority.  Remind me that by serving my family, I am serving you.  Help me to always remember that you come first before it all.  And for my dear sisters-in-Christ who struggle with slacking I pray that you would give them strength and energy, focus, and the determination to rearrange thier priorities too.  In Jesus precious name I pray, AMEN."



  





Monday, November 26, 2012

Confession #32 - I'm Damaged Goods

Last post I wrote about labels and because of my experience in the Miss Teen Pageant I labeled myself "Disqualified".  Unfortunately, that isn't the only label I've owned. 

For the last several months there has been a possibility of adopting Lexi's three year old biological sister.  Ever since I knew she was born, I have prayed she would be ours.  Recently that dream has been squelched.  Although it's likely the state will terminate her mother's rights, this baby has a different father than our daughter and the state has decided to allow him to retain his.  So she will remain unadoptable.

Before we adopted Lexi I went through a painful process of infertility.  When I received the diagnosis of Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome, and was unable to conceive I had to put a name to my condition.  I couldn't accept that this was beyond my doing so instead I chose to impose a new and more horrible label "damaged goods".  Since becoming a mother that label has been erased, but recently it found it's way back onto my forehead. 

Damaged goods is the only way I could find to describe the broken state of mind I hold about my barrenness.  I know that the possibility of adopting another child is very slim, and honestly I don't think my husband and I are up to the arduous process of searching for another child mixed with the fact that he doesn't seem very willing and of course the limited funds.  So I decided to just blame myself and wear my self-inflicted label.

Those of you have struggled with infertility may be able to relate to this state of mind.  It's difficult to get past, especially when your options are so limited.  It's easier to blame yourself than to find fault in others or in process.

Worse may be the guilt because I know that I am simply incapable of fostering.  I know many foster parents and bless their hearts for what they do and endure, I could not.  I could not let go of a child I've raise since birth only to hand them back to their dysfunctional parent.  I could not deal with the sad and unfortunate baggage that comes with abused and neglected children, knowing that all the hard work we do will be for nothing when their placement is changed not to mention how difficult it may be for my daughter to adjust to.  I just don't have it in me and for that I feel terribly guilty. 

I suppose it doesn't  help that my sister is pregnant with number three.  Yet another reminder of the "damaged goods" I feel like.  It's so difficult to navigate this emotion especially with the holidays coming and my dreams of having another daughter by this Christmas gone.  I apologize for being so down this is not my plan for this blog but since I have vowed to "confess"  then I have to be honest and that's where my heart is today.

Today dear sisters rather than offering you all scriptural encouragement, I am asking for your prayers and encouragement.

I pray for those of you who have experience this emotion too.  God bless you all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Confession #31 - Tales of Teenage Beauty Queen…well, sort-of…

Many of us wear labels across our foreheads.  Some are written in washable ink, others are deeply engraved into the skin.  They tell our story.  Some may say, “ABUSED”.  Others say “ABANDONED”.  No matter what our labels say, in our minds they define us and describe who we believe we are…
In the summer of my seventeenth year, I got a letter in the mail.  It went something like this, “Dear Miss Joanne LaSorella, We are happy to inform you that you have nominated you to participate in the Miss Teen Florida Pageant.” I thought, “Me???  Miss Teen Florida?  Is this real?   Maybe some of the jerks at school are playing a cruel “Carrie” joke on me.”  But no, since my town didn’t require a preliminary competition, it was legit.  I never competed in a beauty pageant before.  Even with no experience and little talent I  desperately wanted to participate.  I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college and my grades were only fair, so I needed that scholarship.  But to be completely honest, deep down I felt like I had something to prove to myself, my family, and all of my schoolmates.  I thought if I could just come back with the title that will show them I’m worth something.
Obviously, I was very excited!   I anxiously presented it to my parents who, to my complete shock, agreed to allow me to compete.  All I needed to do is to find two sponsors and have my volunteer hours form signed by a teacher and notarized then I'm off to Tampa.  My mom found a last minute voice coach to help me practice for the talent competition.  I chose “Wouldn’t it be Loverly” from “My Fair Lady”  and I was good to go.
They placed me with four of the nicest girls and we became fast friends.  I was having so much fun and finally felt like I was apart of something worthwhile.  It was a long weekend full of practices and interviews and to my surprise I was doing well.  I really seemed to impress the judges.  I remembered to smile and thank them each time I was on stage.  In the interviews I was well spoken, insightful and intelligent.  I believed that I was close to winning. 
On judging day we were in a luncheon when all of a sudden a sharp pain struck my left abdomen.  I clutched my left side and groaned.  I maintained composure but the pain was increasing in intensity.  Finally I had succumbed to it and left the competition retiring to my room in agony.  My parents hadn’t arrived yet so I they could not call the ambulance.  A few hours had gone by, I missed my last interview and was sure I’d be going home soon.  While praying for a miracle suddenly I felt a pop and the pain and pressure were gone.  I hurried to get ready and quickly and got back downstairs.  The interviews were not yet through so I was able to finish the competition.
That evening in formal attire we were nervously listening in the hallway as they announced the winners.  All four of my roommates placed from 4th runner up to 1st runner up.  And then the announcement came, “This year’s Miss Teen Florida is……………………………………………………….…Angela Tyson.” 
What??? Okay so it’s not me.  Okay so I didn’t place.  I knew I had this.  I knew I was doing so well, how could it be that I didn’t even place?  Although I felt the tears welling up, I maintained my composure.  I was not going to show my disappointment.  I congratulated my roommates and was met by my parents who offered up a, “Hey, well, you tried….”  Yeah, I tried......I tried. That suggestion lingered in my mind when I thought…. 
No!  Wait a minute!  I didn’t just try, I had given it my all.  I sung my very best and in a perfect cockney accent.  I smiled and poised my young little heart out.  I overcome an ovarian cyst, as it turned out, to get back in the game.  I didn’t just try, I excelled beyond anything I ever did before concluding that my best wasn't good enough… 
Hanging my head low I returned home.  I found out after the competition that you could write in for your scores, so I did just that.  Two weeks later I got the letter in the mail.  I had to know.  Ripping through the envelope I grabbed the letter, in talent, poise, and interviews, I had taken first place.  At the bottom my scores had added up to a winner.  I won?  How could I have done so well and not earn the title?  But just below the scores was stamped this word in big bold print; a word that would stay with me for many years, “DISQUALIFIED”.  What??? Why???  I quickly called the pageant office. 
As it turned out the teacher who had completed the volunteer hours form wrote the wrong year on it.  Being that I sent in my papers just in the nick of time, it was too late for pageant officials to notify me.  Instead they allowed me to compete but I was actually disqualified before I even arrived.
It was years before I recovered from that disappointment.  I wanted so desperately to prove that I was worth something and all I managed to prove was I wasn't qualified.  Instead of wearing the banner of Miss Teen Florida, DISQUALIFIED was deeply engraved on my forehead.
I lived with that label for a very long time.  But you know, the thing about this label and others like them is that no matter how deep they run or how much blood was shed to carve them, when we accept Christ they are stamped over.  In Jesus’ precious blood my forehead now says, “SAVED”, “HEALED”, “FORGIVEN”, and “QUALIFIED”.  Jesus did this for all of us so that we can live beyond our labels and be whole again.
The bible reminds us, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5.   
Dear Heavenly Father, although I was never able to label myself a teenage beauty queen, I thank you Lord that no matter what label I’ve had written on my forehead they are all stamped over with the redemptive blood of Jesus.  I thank you for giving me a new chapter in my life and that I can live without feeling Disqualified knowing that in Christ I am equipped and qualified for salvation simply because of Jesus’ sacrifice.  And Dear Father, I pray that my sisters in Christ can look in the mirror and see your stamp written over their discouraging labels and know they are saved.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray.  AMEN.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Confession #30 - What a Pity and a Shame!

I clung to my mother most of my young life and this day was no different. I didn’t want her to leave me and I certainly didn’t want to be there, but my religious education had to begin so she left me in the not-so capable hands of Sister Mary Elizabeth at Our Lady of Angels to begin my weekly CCD classes. Lessons aimed at teaching us about Jesus’ sacrifice and preparing our young hearts and minds to become the brides and grooms of Christ in First Holy Communion.

Growing up Catholic I knew who Jesus was. He was the guy hanging from the crucifix on the altar of the church. He was the man I was told that I had killed because of my sins. He was the man I was to fear because if I didn’t believe in Him I would go to Hell. Back then the Catholic Church was different than today. This was the 70’s; nuns were still smacking kid’s knuckles for saying bad words or not memorizing a prayer.
A few weeks into my “lessons” a terrible thing happened. A school book from the desk I sat at had gone missing. The student to whom the book belonged claimed that it was in his desk when he left that day but it was not there the next day. The only other person who sat at the desk was me, so naturally, I got blamed. Sister Mary Elizabeth pulled me up in front of the entire class to interrogate me. “Where is the book Joanne?” “I don’t know sister I didn’t take it.” “Tell me the truth, you did take it.” “No honest, I didn’t”. “You are a thief and a liar and you must be punished.” She grabbed me by the arm and pushed me into a corner. “But I didn’t take it”, I screamed. So ashamed, I burst into tears. There I stood accused and punished for a crime I didn’t commit. I did learn a lot about my Savior that day; I learned what it was like to be mistreated and abused when you were innocent. I learned what it meant to bear shame.
Sister Mary Elizabeth may have been the target of my scorn for many years if it weren’t for my mother. No, instead I pitied her. Suffice it to say that when my mom discovered what Sister Mary Elizabeth did to me she suffered a fate far worse than I. My mother got into the face of this young “woman of God” and called her a no good, lying fill in the blank with every dirty name for a lady’s part can think of with a few more colorful words to boot. I felt so sorry for Sister Mary Elizabeth. I was ashamed for her and as I left the classroom that afternoon, I hugged her and told her that I forgave her.
My mother, on the other hand, not so much…. It was her I was ashamed of now. I’ve since forgiven her especially now as a mother myself, I realize that she was only showing the wrath of a protective mother. But as a six year old child I didn’t understand and I found it quite difficult to forgive her for the embarrassment and shame her actions had caused me. Twice in one day I had bore the shame of someone else’s actions.

What I have come to understand is that even at such a young age, God had been preparing me for His work. 1 Peter 2:19-24 reminds us, “…For it is commendable if you bear up under the pain of unjust suffering because you are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”


Jesus took the shame of our sin away from us, instead of pity God promises, But Israel (God’s people) will be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.”  Isaiah 45:17
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you today for taking away the shame of my sins Lord, even the ones I keep buried deep inside. I thank you that when I suffer persecution that you commend me father. I pray for my sisters in Christ that the shame they have suffered be turned to gladness knowing that they are considered commendable before God for suffering innocently at the hands of those who are truly to be pitied. I pray for those people who have shamed us in the past that God will reconcile them to himself. In Jesus precious name I pray. AMEN.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Confession #29 - Analyze This, that and everything else

A few weeks ago a friend was in distress.  She was going through a situation with a fellow church goer who was verbally attacking her for seemingly no reason.  While trying to offer her some Godly guidance she couldn't hear me because she was constantly asking, "Why?"  "I don't understand, why is she doing this to me?"  "What did I do to deserve this?"  She was so focused on trying to analyze the "why" of the situation she was unable to hear what God wanted me to say to her. 

We often do the same thing with God.  "Why God why?"  "When God When?"  "Who God Who?"  "What about this?"  "What about that?"  "How could this have happened?"  "Why did you allow this to happen to me?"  We want to analyze this, that and everything else until we completely understand the what, the why, and the how in an effort to avoid future pain, loss and disappointment.  I have been there, done that. 

This summer my friend's home burnt to the ground in the Colorado fires.  I was horrified for her and found myself questioning God.  My Aunt's beautiful home on Staten Island  is nearly under water thanks to the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.  I asked Him, "Why did this have to happen Lord?"   When a friend of mine confided that she had been abducted and raped last week I was brought to my knees in tears seeking God, "Lord, how can you allow this, hasn't she been through enough?"  When I read on Facebook about the 4 year old boy who lost his battle with cancer, I cried out "Why didn't you heal him?"

Like everyone I want to analyze this, that, and everything else.  I want to ask the same question that the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2.  It makes more sense that someone caused the pain through their own fault than a proverbial "just because".  There are so many horrors in this evil world that I cannot wrap my mind around them. It goes beyond understanding and my feeble human mind is left in the condition of utter stupidity.  Even with my faith, I have asked the question, "How can a Loving God allow such pain?" 

However, when we try to analyze why, we are forgetting that even Jesus himself was no stranger to the pain of this world.  Christ said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you  may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  I want you to go to your bible and in John 16:33 and write your name in after the word heart.  Take heart, Joanne, Take heart Lisa!  Take heart Pam!  Christ has overcome the world.  God desires for us to have a life filled with joy and peace.  God wants us to be content and live abundantly.  He does not want to see his children suffer.  That is why He sent His son Jesus Christ to die for us.  John 10:10 says, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." 

Jesus' reply to His disciples' question was surprising and  for those who do not have an intimate relationship with Christ well, it's beyond comprehension, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."  John 9:3.  Jesus went on to heal the blind man and as a result the man became a believer in Christ. God's glory shown through this man's pain and as a result the man gained natural and spiritual sight.  

We cannot possible understand everything no matter how much we analyze the situation.  God's word tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the LORD."  Isaiah 55:8  What I do know is that God can, does and will bring something beautiful out of your pain if you let Him."   Isaiah 61:3 tells us, "...for those who grieve...a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

For those of you who are suffering right now, please know that if you let Him, God will heal your wounds.  He will bring you beauty for ashes.  He will dry your tears and bring your strength again.  Instead of analyzing it, give it to God.  Whatever "it" may be.  Jesus loves you and He died for you to have life. 

"Dear Heavenly Father, words escape me when I consider all the pain and suffering of this world.  I pray for the starving, unloved, abused.  I pray for parents who have lost children and children who have lost parents.  Wives morning for their husbands and husbands morning for their wives.  I pray for the abandoned and homeless.  I pray for the sick and dying, I pray for those who have suffered the lost of their homes due to natural disasters.  I pray for the world tonight Lord.  Let the peace of God, guard our hearts and minds.  Bring health and healing, bring restoration, bring salvation, but most of all dear Father let your good and perfect will be done and may glory be brought to you in all situations.  And dear Father for my sisters who suffer with me let them stop analyzing this that and everything else and start just trusting.  In Jesus' precious name I pray." AMEN


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Confession #28 - That Aha Moment!

This weekend I was privileged to attend a Women of Faith conference with about 200 of the women of my church and the bible study I lead called Manna 4 Mommies.  If you ladies have yet to experience this amazing event, let me just encourage you to check out the dates in your area and get tickets!  This conference is tremendously uplifting and inspiring.  The talent is amazing with such incredible speakers as Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, and Brenda Warner.  In addition there's equally incredible worship singers such as Mandisa, Sandi Patty, and Amy Grant and Mark Lowry who adds a unique and funny aspect to the program. 

This year has been my third straight year at the conference.  Each year I get a blessing, a take-away from the experience that encourages or inspires me to keep in the faith, grow in the Lord, change my perspective, etc...  This year I prayed for another such blessing, that Aha Moment, as I'd like to call it.  I sat there for 3 1/2 hours on Friday night relating to Mandisa's struggles with her weight as well as, dancing, singing and worshipping.  I listened all day Saturday to Patsy, Marilyn and Sandi Patty tell stories and relating God's word in their own special ways. I was attentive as newcomer Kelly Minter taught from the book of Nehemiah.  All really good stuff.  But yet no Aha moment. 

The conference was drawing to a close, I felt disappointment set in.  What God, no blessing?  No take-away?  No Aha moment?  Then Amy Grant began to sing.  Through her soft low soothing soulful voice I could hear the Lord whispering to my heart, "Take a look around Joanne.  Just take a look.  What do you see?"

What I saw, this entire conference, was the beautiful faces of the women I have come to love.  I could see tears streaming down their faces when they were introduced to Brenda Warner's beautiful son.  I could see them giggle at Mark Lowry's retro TV theme song montage.  I could see their hands raised higher than I'd ever witnessed at church praising and worshipping the King of Kings.  I could see their take-aways and I realized that my Aha moment was simply their joy. 


Lisa & Natalie

As soon as I realized this, my heart overflowed with an overwhelming excitement that these ladies were so tremendously blessed.  Additionally, this particular blessing, this Aha moment, has strengthened my resolve to push forward with the vision that God has placed on my heart to be a Christian speaker and teacher. 


My prayer is that all of you will all have the privilege of attending a Women of Faith conference and receive  your own unique blessing from the Lord.  And please let me know when you do and what your Aha moment was too!  God Bless you!

"Dear Heavenly Father, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, that this year's conference was the biggest blessing of them all.  Father accomplish your will through me, whatever that may be, I am yours use me.  And dear Lord I pray for my precious sisters out there, that they too will be blessed through a Women of Faith Conference as well.  In Jesus' name I pray."  AMEN


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Confessions #27 - Learning to be a No Drama Momma

When I was young my family used to joke that I would walk into a room with a "puss" on my face just like my mom.  As I got older I was called Drama Queen.  I've been accused of making mountains out of mole hills more often than not.  And while I'll admit I do get emotional about certain situations and sometimes more emotional than I'd like, does that really qualify me to be labeled?  I recognize that I am an emotional person.  In fact my emotions are what drive me to do or not do many things.  I'm also an emotional eater which is why I have a weight problem.  But lately I've been thinking about this emotional label and I'm not liking it so much.  Felling convicted, I need to do something about it.

Although I do not consider myself to be a Drama Queen (believe me I've met a few and I'm no Drama Queen) my emotions do seem to be getting in the way of my pursuit of becoming the woman God has called me to be.  Anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, stress, loneliness, these emotions drive my bottom onto the couch, tell me to give into my temptation to eat chocolate, give up on my dreams, wallow, and feel sorry for myself.  They keep me self focused and selfish. 

Joy, peace, happiness, and excitement, they keep me motivated, driven to do the work the Lord has called me to do.  So the question is how do I stop being a Drama Momma and become the joyful, peaceful, happy, person God is calling me to be?

It occurred to me that on Sunday's when I leave church I'm recharged and useful to God.  I'm gentler in nature and generally more happy.  Yes the message does play a big part in that, but moreover, it's the praise and worship.  So I discovered that the problem is a clear and present deficit of praise.  There has been a significant lack of it in my life as of late, and I am noticing the increasing importance that praise plays in living a joy-filled life. 

King David never failed to praise God.  Nor did the prophets.  They all spoke and sang of God's goodness, strength, and mercy constantly.  They knew that having an attitude of gratitude was the way to maintain joy even in the midst of some difficult circumstances.  For example in Psalm 86 King David writes, "Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.  Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.  You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.  Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.  Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord I lift up my soul.  You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.  Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.  In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.  Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.  All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.  For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.  Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever;  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave...."

Ladies, praise polishes our hearts and minds and keep us joyful and equipped to see the world through the eyes of God.  So in an effort to be a "No Drama Momma" I vow to make praise & worship a part of my daily routine.  And in the instances where I feel those ugly emotions creeping in I'll turn on the music and start praising my Lord again!

"Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me when I allow my emotions to get the best of me.  Please continue to remind me to have an "Attitude of Gratitude" and when I'm feeling low lead to me turn on the praise and worship music.  And precious Lord for my sisters in Christ who struggle with being "Drama Mommas" get the praise flowing in their hearts as well.  In Jesus precious name I pray."  AMEN!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Confession #26 - Guess How Much I Love You

John 21:15-17 Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

My daughter has this cute little book, "Guess How Much I Love You."  Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare measure how much they love one another.  My daughter and I love this book.  As a matter of fact we always used to say, "I love you thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much!" and hold our arms out as wide as humanly possible.  Each time we'd try to stretch farther and farther, until finally she figured out she could simply say, "I love you infinity, mom."  My reply of course is always, "I love you to infinity and beyond."  Most parents agree that we love our children infinitely and somehow with each new day infinity grows.  Now I know that's how much Jesus loves us too.  There's no end to His love for us, how do I know?  The Bible tells me so.  But just how much do I love Him back?
 
I've been pondering this....How much do I love Him?  I tell Him I love Him ever day, but is saying it enough?  How do I really know that I love Him?  See God's been asking me this question lately, not sure maybe He's got me confused with Peter.  LOL!  I do love Him; don't I? 

Then I got convicted.  Saturday, I started cleaning house and gave up my quiet time.  I also passed up a great opportunity to serve His people too.  I've been grumbling a lot lately about my problems.  I've been worried about money again.  I've neglected to tithe on my last two paychecks.  I've lied to my husband.  I've screamed at my child for no good reason and I've spent money I didn't need to spend.   I've also been eating very badly.  And I took His name in vein a few times. 

If I were still a Catholic confessing to the priest, he'd probably tell me to say a few "Hail Marys, with an Apostle's Creed and that be the end of it.  Perhaps your thinking, well that doesn't mean that you don't love The Lord, it just means you've sinned.  And that is true I am a sinner, hence the name of my blog dirty christian woman.  However, I think there's a pattern here that runs below the surface and that just may be why He's asking, "Do you love me?"

See God has brought to my attention, that I've been excusing myself as just a general sinner rather than realizing that I'm really worshipping idols. My love of money, food, and lack of faith, and my self absorption are the ugly images I've been focused on instead of God's infinite love, grace and mercy.  My focus has shifted from serving Him, to serving myself.  Consequently, my eyes are on a herd of golden calf idols.

I keep praying to the Lord to take me to the next level in my walk but if I'm not truly loving Him how can I grow?  It was this thought that came to mind the other night when I decided to make an I love you list to God.  It went something like this, I love you Lord more than:

I love food.
I love money
I love my dreams for the future
I love Disney World
I love my house
I love my friends
I love my job
I love my sleep
I love you more than my free time
I love than shopping (for clothes and shoes)
I love to watch television
I love to blog
I love to teach
I love my church
I love my pets
I love my child
I love my husband
I love my life

So here it is, I Love God.  And I asked Him to remind me when I'm not showing Him my love and when my eyes get out of focus and all I'm seeing are those nasty idols again. 

What are your eyes focused on?  Do you have double vision?  Are you you focused on God or on yourself.  Do you seek Him first or your own golden calf idols? 

Leviticus 19:4 "Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God."   Deuteronomy 28:13-14  "The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.  Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them."

"Dear Heavenly Father please keep my eyes focused on you.  Give me the desire to put you first always.  Lord I don't ever want to have to guess how much I love you, but to know it as I know how much you love me."  "And dear Lord for my sisters in Christ who wrestle with idols of their own, please give them the desire to break them into little pieces, before you have to do it for them." "In Jesus Precious name I pray." AMEN!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Confession #25 - Whatchaya Waitin' For?

Brick walls.  They are ugly and block some truly magnificent views.  These "views" are blessings; they are the answers to our prayers.  So many times when we are waiting on the Lord to answer our prayers these ugly brick walls pop up.  They may come up because of sin or perhaps  Satan is preventing us from realizing a dream God planted in our heart.  In either case I don't think that God intends to keep us from our blessing.  I think many of us mistake these proverbial brick walls for God answering no to our prayers or we might even believe that He's just saying wait.  I don't always think that is so.  I believe that if it's sin that has built the ugly brick wall, then we need to systematically remove it brick by brick with confession, forgiveness, and repentance until we can get through to that blessing.  If it's Satan who's put up the wall, then by all means kick it down!!!   But sometimes that brick wall exsists because we are not doing our part to help our prayer to become a reality.

Just the other day one of the pastors from my church posted this on facebook:
"Another piece from Bob Goff's book, "Love Does": I once heard somebody say that God had closed a door on an opportunity they had hoped for. But I've always wondered if, when we want to do something that we know is right and good, God places that desire deep in our hearts because He wants it for us and it honors Him. Maybe there are times when we think a door has been closed and, instead of misinterpreting the circumstances, God wants us to kick it down. Or perhaps just sit outside of it long enough until somebody tells us we can come in."
I somewhat agree.  However this is how I see it, a closed door is God's way of saying no, but a brick wall, that isn't.  In Psalm 27:14 the psalmist says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and wait."  and Psalm 114:5 says, "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." 

Many of us Christians have come to believe that if we pray in faith and sit around waiting on God to move, eventually our prayers will be answered.  While I do believe that sometimes God works like this I tend to think that God wants us to put our faith into action. Believe it or not, we have the power and the ability to break through to the blessings God has in store for us. 

I also agree with the author Bob Goff, that God places desires deep in our hearts because He wants them for us.  God builds our faith to enable us to help realize this desire.  However, it's up to us to put that faith into action.  Too many times we think we need to just "wait" on the Lord, but honestly if God gives us a desire, we are not supposed to sit around literally "waiting"  doing nothing to accomplish this.  We have to put faith into action!   It may take a while to knock down that wall but if we do our part and allow God to do His then we can get through those brick walls eventually.
About a year ago it became necessary for me to take on a part time office job.  Anyone, who's looking for part time office work these days knows how hard these jobs are to find.  I remember feeling strongly that it would be terrific if I could just get a part time job at my church and I continued to have this desire.  I shared the feeling with my cousin and she asked, "Do they have any openings?"  "No," was my reply.  "Okay well do you know if they need someone with your qualifications?"  "I don't know," I said.  "Well do they have the budget to create a position for you?"  "I don't think so," I answered.  "Well Joanne," she said, "I think it's a pipe dream."  But I didn't, I felt like God had placed that desire in my heart for a reason.  So I decided to pray about it.  I prayed and prayed and trusted God but I didn't wait around for an answer.  I kept looking for a job.  I'd send out my resumes and I reasoned that if it was God's will for me to work somewhere other than church than I'd get a job and if not something would open up for me.  In the time I waited I actually took down a brick wall by putting my faith into action.  I did my part, I looked for a job and God did His part.  Almost a year had gone by and no job offers, however, in May the church offered me a part time position. 

Since then God has placed a new desire in my heart. I've been praying about it and trusting God.  For a few months, I've been hoping that this dream will come true but recently God has reminded me that if I am to realize this dream, I have to break through that ugly o' brick wall and actually take all the necessary steps to make that dream come true.  So I've decided that instead of just sitting around waiting for some amazing miracle to occur, that I need to do the work it takes to make that dream a reality.  If it's God's will, as long as I'm doing my part, He will do His.

So whatchaya waiting for?  Are you just waiting for your dreams to come true or are you going to break through that brick wall and get your blessing!

Father, I confess that many times I've waited around on my tookus instead of doing my part.  I pray that you would help me to always recognize when I'm faced with a brick wall and just how to break through it to receive the blessing you have intended for me.  And Dear Lord, for my sisters in Christ who are starring at their own brick walls, I pray that you would put a sledgehammer in their hands today."  AMEN!



Monday, October 1, 2012

Confession #24 - I'm Proud to be a Prayerful American

Election day is rapidly approaching.  Do you know where you stand on the issues?  Do you know which candidate you will vote for?  Many of us do.  I, unfortunately, do not.  Please don't take that as a request for more information or opinion on whom I should vote for.  My confession is that I have yet to choose the candidate who will receive my vote. 

For me this election is less crystal clear than past presidential elections.  On certain issues I agree with one party and others I agree with the other party.  I have no personal feelings toward either Republican or Democratic candidate.  I know many people feel strongly for or against a particular candidate because of religious, financial, or personal reasons, this is not me.  However, once election day comes, I'm praying to have my vote sorted out.  But that's just the point, I am praying. 

Honestly, as important as it is to be informed about the issues, the candidates, and to vote, I think it is equally important to be praying for our leaders, our election and our country.  Prayer is crucial, because no matter who wins the election, and no matter what issues our country faces, God is bigger than all of it and God can heal our Nation.  God can and will guide our leaders to take the direction He has planned for our country's future if we pray.  Let's not just be proud to be Americans let's be proud to be prayerful Americans. 

A terrific example of how God can change the hearts and direction of our leaders is found in the book of Ezra.  In chapter four the king of Persia, Artaxerxes, receives a letter from his associates warning him that the Jews were rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.  They warn the king that rebuilding the city would mean trouble based upon the history of Jerusalem's past.  The king issues a command that work must stop and the city must not be rebuilt.  However, in chapter seven, God has changed the heart of the king who says in vs. 23, "Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven."  And in vs. 27 it say, "Praise be to the Lord, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king's heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem..."

It doesn't matter what country you are living in, be it a Democratic nation, a Capitalist nation, a Communist nation, etc., God can change the hearts of it's leaders, but we must pray and trust that He will. I believe we should be praying every day for our nation and our leaders.  God's word tells us, "You do not have because you do not ask God." James 4:2b.  God expects us to ask and the more of us that ask in His name the better, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven."  Matthew 18:19

"Dear Heavenly Father, today I confess that I have yet to pick a candidate to vote for, but I pray that you would guide me in this decision.  Father I pray that no matter who wins the presidency that you will be leading them and guiding to make the decisions that reflect your will for our nation.  Father I also ask for a call upon my sisters in Christ to be praying for the leaders our nations and the upcoming American presidental election as well.  In Jesus precious name." AMEN

Friday, September 28, 2012

Confession #23 Bullies Get Back!

Bullying is a huge topic these days and rightfully so.  Too many of our children and teens have been hurt, taunted, terrified and tortured by these so called bullies.  However, bulling doesn't stop at children, lately I've begun to notice that grown ups have their own brand of this horrible behavior and it has got to stop

I just want to know why people think it's okay to spread rumors, talk behind someones back and make others feel terribly uncomfortable in their presence.  These people tend to believe that their behavior is justified but ignore the fact that in actuality they are being nothing but a no good Jesus' hating bully.  That's right I said it, a Jesus hatin' B.U.L.L.Y!   When someone tries to intimidate another person out of the environment that they spend time in whether it be a neighborhood, job, organization or church said person is playing bully.    What's worse is I've seen it happening in churches, the place your supposed to go to feel safe, feel loved, and to learn and grow in God's love.  Where's God's love, in that kind of behavior? While I realize that most of us at church are the spiritually sick and that church serves as a kind of hospital to bring healing to our broken hearts and minds, it is not okay to use that environment for a personal playground to bully.

God made us all different for a reason. And that reason was not to weed out the weak or the less fortunate nor to pick apart our differences.  God loves variety, he creates beauty with it and never did He ever intend that it become a breeding ground for hatred.   Just because someone is different does not give people the right to treat anyone poorly!!!!!  Nor is it justified to take anger out on someone else.  If one has a problem with another it should be dealt with peaceably not with ugliness.  "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."  Romans 12:19 (King James Version)

Christians it's time to unite and stop bullying across the board, but we need to start with our churches.  We cannot be so afraid that we will lose a parishioner by confronting them on this issue in love and truth mixed with grace and mercy.  But if they do choose to go, then so be it.  Jesus will find them wherever they go and hopefully bring change to their hearts.  It's our job to forgive them and pray for them; not foster an environment for their hatred.

Ladies will you join with me?  Start with refusing to take part in this ugliness.  Love thy neighbor as thyself.  When someone wants to whisper gossip in your ear about someone else, refuse to listen to it.  When others have rumors to spread, don't be a party to it.  When you see someone mistreat another, stand up and say something in love.  Foster an environment of mediation and healing.  Let's stop the spread of this behavior by showing people just how Jesus intends us to behave.  People cannot expect to conform to what they don't see modeled before them.  Lead by example Jesus lovers. 

"But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgement will be revealed.  God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.'  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  But for those who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew then for the Gentile.  For God does not show favoritism."  Roman 2:2

"Dear Heavenly Father, I pray today that we women will unite in our churches across the world to put a stop to bullying once and for all.  Teach us all to lead by example in love mixed with grace and mercy.  And Lord show these bullies how ugly their behavior is and convict them to repentance.  In Jesus precious name I pray." AMEN!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Confession #22 - I'm Sending You Back to The Future!

It was the summer of 1985  my best friend just got a brand new Nissan 300zx for her birthday.  Fast cars, and fast friends that was the crowd that I hung with; a young teen on the brink of loosing her innocence.  His name was John.  He was mildly handsome and very flirtatious and for a girl like me who was craving attention, he fit the bill.  It didn't matter that my friend had been seeing him, I liked him and I was going to be his.  By the end of the summer I got my wish.  When school started so did the pressures of being "in love".  He said he loved me too so it was okay; he was the one.  My friends pressured me too; pressed me into doing what I knew I wasn't ready for.  I gave in anyway. 

The breakup came three months later.  My parents discovered the truth and so they wouldn't let me see him anymore.  My heart broke as I picked up the phone for the last time to speak to John, "I'm sorry but my mom and dad won't let me see you anymore," I mumbled through my tears.  "Okay" was his reply.  And John quickly moved on with his life.  In fact, he immediately began dating a girl he would flirt with in front of my face while we were dating.  Then on to another, this time a girl I worked with.  Each time I would see him come pick her up after work my heart would ache.  Each time I'd pass them making out in the school halls, I'd run in the bathroom and cry.  Inevitably I would run into them at the mall, or McSugars, the popular high school hang out, that would literally bring on a panic attack.  This went on for 3 years.  By graduation, there had been other boys I dated and even one that I had been seriously seeing for most of my senior year, but I still hadn't gotten over John.  It was as if a piece of me was missing and he had it.

The years passed and I'd run into John less and less.  I married my husband eleven years later.   This was the man that God had picked out, the man that should have gotten what I gave to John.  However, I never really gave John much thought, he became a fleeting regret of the past and I felt happy. 

Fast forward to three months ago - approximately 27 years after we began dating.  I was checking Facebook and noticed that it was my friend's birthday.  This was the same girl who was seeing John, back when I wanted to date him.  I posted a Happy Birthday wish, and then my mind began to drift, reminiscing about the past.  Not a past that I'm particularly proud of.  Anyway John was on my mind and I started to panic a little as I did in the past.  All I could think about is God forbid he should see me like this, older and much, much fatter!  Here I am a grown woman married to a wonderful man, and I am freaking out at the meer thought of seeing someone I haven't seen in 27 years.  So I prayed, "God please, please, please, don't EVER let me run into John again."  "I don't think I can face him." 

Wouldn't you know it, very next day I met my girlfriend for a play date at one of the children's play centers.  I'm sitting there helping my daughter into dress up clothes, I glance up and across the room, no joking, there HE WAS!  It was John!  OH MY GOODNESS, all those feelings came rushing back.  Panic ensued, I felt like I just climbed into the Delorean at 88 miles per hour and raced back to 1985.  My jaw dropped, my complexion turned white and I stood there with my mouth open wide staring straight ahead.  My friend came up to me and asked if I was okay.  It jarred me.  My head shaking a violent no from side to side, I went to hide in a corner.  I sat there for at least ten minutes hyperventilating.  What in the world was wrong with me?  Was God telling me it was time to face my fears? 

Once I was somewhat calm, I explained the situation to my friend.  She was shocked and asked if I was planning on talking to him.  My reply, "NO! Absolutely not."  As the words left my mouth I turned around and nearly walked smack dab into John. 

"Hello John", I said with a warm smile.  He looked completely perplexed.  "It's Joanne, Joanne LaSorella, well Cuchel now."  We spoke for a few minutes catching up and then parted with a handshake. 

That was it, the panic, the fear, the loss, GONE!  It was over.  I had given John control over me for twenty seven years but now, God had forced me to face my fears to prove to me that He had healed my wounds.  He proved to me that I could be proud of who I am no matter what, and that who He had created me to be, I was. 

The point is the heartbreak and insecurity I suffered after loosing my first love is one of the main issues that led me to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the first place.  I know that God used this pain in my life for His good.  God had set me free of the bondage I had to these emotions when I accepted Christ, only I didn't realize it. The lesson here is found in John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."  When you accept Christ, you are free from all bondage, all sin; you are healed.  You don't need to live in the past you can go back to your future knowing that Christ's sacrifice on the cross broke the chains that sometimes keep us enslaved to our past sin.  In Matthew 27 verse 51 when Jesus gave up his spirit and died on the cross it says, "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom."  This is the curtain that separated the high priests from the presence of God in the temple.  The death of Christ actually ripped the curtain that separated us from God and to allowed us to be in the very presence of God.  It's God's presence in our lives that heals our broken hearts and mends our inner wounds.

"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's sacrifice.  And thank you for forcing me to face my fears and for making me realize that you did free me from my emotional bondage.  Please continue to break the chains that bind me so that I can continue to do your work and to live life to the fullest.  And dear Lord, bring my sisters in Christ back to their futures by helping them realize that they are also free indeed."  AMEN!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Confession #21 - Cheap Thrills Mean Nothin'

If you grew up in the 80's like I did you may remember a song by Planet Patrol called Cheap Thrills.  Cheap Thrills mean nothing...they will tear your soul apart.  Well I've learned this lesson the hard way. 

The school I grew up in taught me if somethings broke don't fix it just buy a new one.   Cheap Thrills.  Spend money on lottery tickets.  Cheap Thrills.  Upgrade your car every few years.  Cheap Thrills.  New Clothes for every vacation.  Cheap Thrills etc....

Growing up in that kind of environment conditioned me to think that money was the only thing that mattered.   I never really put a value on money or how much stuff cost.  If I wanted something I bought it. Now that kind of philosophy might lead one to believe that I grew up in a family with means.  Not so; I grew up in a family that had nothing, but, good credit.  We could pay if off on a cc or make monthly payments so we'd buy it.  To this day many of my dads sentences start, "When I win the lottery...." 

The the odds of winning the lottery are about one in 175 million.  But one of these days dear old dad will. Not.  Sorry folks but dear old dad like the rest of us are just chasing a pipe dream if we really believe that we will win.  Playing the lottery is such a waste of the precious resources that God has blessed us with.  And when we spend our time and energy dreaming about how to spend our windfall we are actually worshipping an idol.  Idol worship is detestable to God.  Col 3:5-6  says, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming!"  Cheap Thrills mean nothing they will tear your soul apart.

Money, sex, food, lust. greed.  God puts the kibosh on it all.  As Christians we are new creations in Christ, we don't need to worship the flesh (our earthly desires) any longer.  Our God will take care of us, He will provide for us.  Matt 6:31-34 says, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or, 'What shall we wear?'  For pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough troubles of its own."

So many years I've gotten myself and my family into financial troubles because I failed to trust God with my money.  Instead I left it up to the bank to refinance my house for more than it was worth, so I could make costly improvements.  Well once the housing recession hit, I became over $150k upside down in my mortgage.  We bought and leased new cars we didn't need because my husband and I thought the other wanted them bad enough and we did want to disappoint one another.  I racked up credit cards throwing fabulous parties, and trying to drown out my depression from not being able to get pregnant.  I chased the dollar and I lost.  What do I have to show for all of this?  Not much. 

After filing for bankruptcy in 2010 my husband and I agreed, no more Cheap Thrills!  I'm officially done with major credit cards.  If we don't have the cash, we don't buy it.  That has been a very difficult rule to live by since we haven't had the cash for much over the last few years.  It's difficult to gas up the car, purchase a new mattress, throw my daughter birthday parties, and the like, but by the grace of God we have managed.  I believe because instead of gambling on greed, I started gambling on God.  I know that sounds strange, but in the midst of my financial struggle instead of spending my last $1 on a lottery ticket my husband I decided to start tithing.  We decided to gamble by trusting God with our money and let Him provide for our needs.

It worked!  I mentioned in a previous post that I have never missed a mortgage payment to date.  We have been able to pay off both our cars.  It's been a struggle and we are still trusting God for some of our needs that have yet to come but we eat three meals a day, our daughter  has new clean uniforms for school and our dogs are fed and the list continues.  God has been faithful even though we are living on 10% less every month. 

Now we pray before we make any major financial decision and stick to a budget.  A long road, may be even longer till we see the clearing through the trees, but somehow God always pulls us through the forest.

"Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for always meeting my needs and even sometimes my wants.  Thank you for teaching me to become a better stewart of the money you have blessed our family with.  Father continue to teach me and guide me in this area, and dear Lord, for my precious sisters may still be chasing Cheap Thrills, may they come to know and trust that you are our only guarantee to happiness." AMEN