Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Confession #52 - And the Gold Medal Goes To....Me!

And the Gold Medal goes to ..........."Joanne Cuchel". 

I'm not naturally athletic but if jumping to conclusions were an Olympic Sport I'd be taking home the Gold.  Usually when someone rubs me the wrong way,slightly irritated by another, or I feel mistreated I reach for my conclusion pole vault and jump myself right into a mess! 

God has been bringing this issue to light and so it calls for a confession.  Normally, I tend to read-between-the-lines and invent meaning and intentions that people have towards me that are not necessarily true.  I love to play detective by picking up context clues and deducing motives and theories that certain people are against me, don't like me, or are jealous of me.  Then what's worse, sometimes I'll go and tell a few people to recruit them into my army of sympathetic supporters.  These supporters are appalled at what so-and-so did, said or is planning to do to me.  And then I rub my hands together while laughing maniacally as I see my evil plot unfold.  Not really...but if you think about it, what I am doing is evil.  I'm allowing Satan to use me as his filthy pawn to cause strife.

Inevitably a few days later the smoke clears, I calm down and find out or realize that there was so little merit in my conclusion.  So-and-so didn't have it in for me.  And I just told the whole world what they did.....then I hang my head in shame when I realize what I've done and the damage my conclusion jumping may have caused. 

Yes part of the reason I'm a dirty christian woman is because I keep landing in huge piles of mud whenever I jump to conclusions.  But the worse part is I hardly ever go back to that army of sympathizers and clean the slate.  I fail to explain just what a dufus I am.  I don't confess that instead of being a master sleuth like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot I'm more like Inspector Clouseau; a bumbling idiot.

Will I ever learn that conclusions are nothing more that theories based on hearsay instead of fact?  And how can I be a woman who stands on truth, the Bible, if I continue trusting in lies?

Conclusions can be relationship killers and will block us from moving forward in our walk with God.  God's word tells us, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18.  I'm certainly not living at peace if I'm causing strife. 

God warns us about this in Proverbs, "The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating." Proverbs 18:6 and in 20:3 it says, "It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel"

So I can pretty much add fool to my resume as long as I continue jumping to conclusions and gaining sympathetic supporters.  Been there?  Done that? Please pray with me:

Dear Heavenly Father, I am truly sorry for my actions.  Believing in and spreading lies just because someone damaged my prideful ego is ugly wicked behavior and not what you want for me.  Forgive me Father for this behavior and as I repent, keep my jumping limited to your lap for solace and refuge when I am honestly wounded by another's actions or words.  Keep my heart and my eyes fixed on you Lord always.  "Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good." Psalm 119:39.  And for those whom I have accused Father, please give me the courage me to confess to them my sin, seek forgiveness and I pray blessings for them.  As for my sympathetic supporters let them see what a "Clouseau" I am Lord and give them the grace to forgive me as well.  In Jesus name I pray.  AMEN

Monday, June 17, 2013

Confession #51 - Choices, Choices, Choices

Like many of you, I've suffered the pain of other's actions many a time.  Flawed people who have flawed intentions leaving nasty marks on my life.  For me, giving people a place in my life has become an honor.  Not to sound crass but I am rather selective over whom I allow and who I do not allow in my world .  And some I allow but keep at a safe distance.  Truth be told, I don't know if this is a Godly approach or just a defense mechanism but because I've been hurt many times before it's become necessary for me to weed out those who add no value in my life.

As I'm realizing, many people I know have been there done that too.  But one thing is troubling me...lately I've seen many a facebook post about how God puts people in our lives for a reason and sometimes that reason is to hurt us.  Like this one for example:

Honestly I disagree.  While some relationships are God given others are by choice.  And even when God is shouting at us to avoid some people like the plague we still choose to include them in our lives.  Then when we inevitably get burned we like to think that God had a plan in that relationship.

The bible says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28.  It does not say that God gives you the people you need to hurt you and leave you to make you who you were meant to be.  Whoever wrote this quote is not quoting God.  God gives us the right to chose.  Like it or not we get to chose certain people in our lives.  No we don't get to chose our families and many a time these are the people who cause us pain, but our friends, our lovers...these people are choices.  God doesn't not necessarily put them in our path and when we chose to include them in our lives we are sometimes asking for it. 

It disturbs me to think that some people seem to basically blame God for their choices.  Then question why would a loving God allow this to happen?  God will work ALL things for the good of those who love Him.  So that means he can turn a bad choice that we make into something good for us, but He doesn't always intentionally put some people in our path for them to hurt us. 

Maybe we couldn't hear God because the beat of our heart and the passions burning within were too loud.  Maybe we heard Him but refused to listen because they just seemed so right.  Maybe we wanted to believe the best about someone rather than listen to that small still voice of reason.  Whatever the reason it was a choice.  Sorry to break it to you but God did not intentionally plan to have your heart broken.  And remember that the people we choose make choices too.  They choose to hurt us.  God doesn't tell them to, or plan it out for them to hurt us.  The hurt comes from more choices made by flawed human beings. 

So what's the lesson here?  Confession.  Confess that our dirty heart made a bad choice.  Then, listen for God and chose to make the best possible choices we can make compared to what the Bible tells us is right.  And if all else fails and we still get hurt, realize that it's not God's fault.  Please don't blame Him.  Recognize your mistake, forgive yourself, learn your lesson and move on accepting that God will work it out for good in your life.

One more thing...the pain we feel, well that's a choice too.  We can choose to allow it to destroy us or to make us stronger.  God can only work with a willing heart.  Are you willing to give it over to Him?  Even tho we may have made a bad choice you can still give Him your pain and he will give you beauty instead.

Dear Heavenly Father, tonight I lift up all the ladies who, like me, have been hurt by others.  I pray Father that our hearts would be willing to admit our mistakes and that by confessing it to you Lord you will take away our pain and work it for our good.  Teach us to make better choices and to learn from our past Lord as you mold us into the women you created us to be.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Confession #50 - A Real Test of Faith (Part II)

Continued from Part I...

Please know that although I've put so much of myself into my home, I see it as nothing more than a thing.  It doesn't define who I am, it isn't an idol and I don't worship it.  Therefore, if God chooses to take it away I'll be fine.  My joy comes from the Lord, the gifts He's given us and the people with whom I share them. 

However, God has tested my faith with this home for the last five years and proved faithful over and over and over again.  So why should I believe that's He's not going to do any different this time???  Now normally I don't share when I think God is telling me He's going to work a miracle.  I usually just keep it to myself and wait and see what God does.  But this time, I'm not.  This time, I believe that God wants His glory to shine so brightly that there is no doubt that He was in charge.  I believe with every fiber of my being that God is going to work an incredible miracle here. 

That said, no I don't know when, no I don't know how and no I do not know if it He's going to save us from foreclosure or provide something bigger and better, but I do know that He's in control and He's going to do something AMAZING!  Furthermore I'm telling the whole world to watch my posts for this testimony because it's coming.  My faith is strong, God will not fail us and he's testing me to see just how strong it is. God keeps showing me this verse, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first."  I believe that God is going to do the same for me and I'm standing on His promises today. 

God wants to build up our faith.  He wants to prove to us that He is faithful.  The word faith comes from the Hebrew word emunah which is a verb meaning, to hold firm, hold steady, hold true.  Faith is an action you literally have to do something to have faith.  I'm doing something, I'm trusting, and believing with everything I am. 

As Christians we know that the faithfulness of God is true because of what God's word tells us.  Deut 32:4 says, "He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong,"  In other words, a strong, secure and firm God who does no wrong.  And Lam 3:22-23 tells us, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassion's fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is your love and faithfulness".  Great is his emunah, his firmness, his strength, meaning you can weigh everything against Him.  The Bible also tells us that, "with God all things are possible," Matt 19:26.  And Jesus himself said in Matt 17:20-21, "...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you."  Therefore, if we allow God through faith to be our emunah, our steady rock that holds us securely then our faith can reach heights never seen before and accomplish things never thought possible, knowing that we are securely fastened to God. 

So today I'm telling that mountain of mine, the mortgage, to move and darn it I believe by faith that it will move!

The Bible tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith, Heb 11:6.  It tells us we get faith from hearing God's message, the Bible, Rom 10:17.  It warns us not to doubt, James 1:6.  Ladies, we can move mountains with a tiny amount of this immeasurable strength called emunah, faith.  2 Timothy 4:17-18 says, "But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength (emunah/faith) so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was delivered from the lion's mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom."

Ladies, I am not professing a name-it and claim-it philosophy.  I don't believe you can just say what you want and God will act as a magic Genie in the sky to grant our wishes.  I'm saying that if you have faith to trust Him, he will save you from the lion's mouth and rescue you from every evil attack and bless you beyond measure.  So, whatever you need to do in order to trust God, do it.  Wherever you lack faith, build it up.  Wherever you doubt; destroy it because I'm not the only person God wants to prove His faithfulness to, He wants to prove it to you!  James 1:2-4 tells us, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  For us to grow in God we must face trials to build our strength in God, which is our faith. 

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  Hebrew 11:1  I am sure that this trial is a faith builder and I know that I know that I know God is in it even though I can't see it....

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the trial I am facing and the faith to see the miracle before it's even taken place.  I pray for my sisters who are facing their own mountains and praying for you to move them.  Help them to understand that by faith they can not just move them but demolish them without shedding one bead of sweat. I pray they will pass this real test of faith with an A+ and hear you say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  In Jesus name I pray AMEN!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Confession #49 - A Real Test of Faith (Part I)

Our Home
Many months over the last five years, we have been in situations where we didn't know if we were going to be able to pay our bills.  And in many a post I have professed that God has made it possible to make all our payments each and every month since our financial crisis began.  So many times I thought our home would be added to the list of foreclosures.  But always God has remained faithful.  However, since last week I believe differently, I believe God is going to perform an outright miracle that no one will be able to refute God's hand in our situation...

First, I'd like to take you on a short journey...

Back in 1999 my husband and I purchased our home.  This is our first home and we thought we wouldn't be here more than 4-5 years.  Well 14 years, and lots of remodeling later and we are still here.  For this I thank God...

I really like my home, it's small but it's warm and welcoming, it looks great decorated for the holidays and it's be an epicenter of hospitably since we moved in.  We've enjoyed the love of wonderful pets welcomed new babies, rejoiced in the adoption of our daughter, survived numerous storms including somewhat devastating effects from Hurricane Wilma , the remodeling of every single room along with countless hours of laughter and tears over the years.  It's not just our house it's our home, our shelter.  I have put blood, sweat and tears into this house to make it beautiful and I'm not done yet.  I can picture myself watching my grandchildren, retiring, spending my last breathing moments here.  It's a great house and God knows how I feel about it.

Our remodeled kitchen
Back in 2006 when the housing market was booming my husband and I were in the process of adopting a daughter from China (that never happened) and we needed money.  Money to pay for the adoption and finish some of the remodeling projects that were a must.  So we made a poor financial decision; we refinanced.  Back then interest rates were pretty low, and home values were high and raising more by the day so like many others, we refinanced our mortgage to pay for our needs and wants. Although we signed the dotted line that read our interest rate was only fixed for five years and after that it would adjust anywhere from 2.25% to 11.5% depending on the index, we thought, "No problem, before the five years is up we will refinance again."  Well as most Americans know the housing markets crashed, homes prices plummeted and many people were left in crisis, becoming upside down in their mortgages, loosing jobs, becoming victims of foreclosures or forced short sales.  I don't need to go further because many of you are in or have been in similar situations.  We just didn't have the insight and forethought to avoid such a risky financial maneuver. 

Dining Room
 But like I said, since we hit bottom in 2009 we have been blessed to make our payments.  In fact two years ago marked the end of our fixed interest rate period.  Oddly enough our interest rate never adjusted and frankly I didn't give it much though, just counted our blessings and went about life, that is until last week.  A letter came from our mortgage company stating that our interest rate was due to adjust and we should be expecting an increase in our payment.  Immediately I panicked.  We can barley afford the payment as is and the thought of an increase set my heart a-racing.  I thought, "Oh boy, this is it, it's all over we're loosing our home."  I quickly called the bank to find out what to expect, but all they said was that 45 days prior they will notify of the new payment.  I tried to figure out the formula on my own to no avail, I called a friend in the mortgage business to see if she could help, I called a friend of the family who's son just modified his loan, all in an effort to tackle this eminent threat to our livelihood.  No one could help. 

The bank that owns my loan did not take bail-out funds so they do not have to work with any government programs for modification nor will they.  Additionally they will not typically refinance a home that is worth less than it's mortgage and add to that we are in bankruptcy so it seems that we are pretty much at the mercy of the current interest rates.   Or are we?....

To be continued...God Bless you and keep the faith...   Read Part II