Sunday, December 28, 2014

Confession # 71 - "Let it Go!"

Year after year the holidays come and the holidays go.  Every year I stress, worry and get depressed thinking of what family drama to anticipate.  I stress over hosting or not, I stress if I've been fair and generous enough with gift giving.  I stress making sure my wrapping paper matches our Christmas decor.  For me the holidays are usually a time to stress.

Last Christmas I blogged "Dreaming of a White Christmas".  A video confession of all that I do "wrong" at the holidays and how I fail to focus on Christ every year. This year with the need to finally have a "White Christmas", the Lord saw fit to use my situation to bring about some much needed changes in my holiday festivities.  Changes that can only come from a Christ-centered relationship.

Although I confess, I did spend more than I had, and racked up some debt, this year has been radically different.  First I need to take you back a year.  Last year I decided to stand up for myself and have a holiday I wanted.   I wanted to go to church on Christmas Eve with my family and then host the holiday at my home with the traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes.  Sadly, my family, being less than accepting of my choices, refused to join.  My mom refers to them as "her" holidays and so she insisted she host and that we be there at a time that would make it impossible for us to attend church service.  Stubbornly rather than give in, I chose to host the holidays for friends instead and that included attending church.  Although, it may have killed me in terms of stress and energy, I was determined NOT to give in and stand up for the fact that mom doesn't own the holidays.

Do you have relatives like this too?  They have to be the one who does it all, for whatever reason.  I could probably speculate many reasons why, from wanting to be in the comfort of their own home to the martyrdom of all the work it takes.  Whatever the reason, they take over.  

And I also decided that we were not traveling to relatives for Christmas either; much to the chagrin of my father-in-law.  Years past we would make a visit a week long Christmas vacation.  I can't explain why but ever since we had a child I don't want to be in someone else's home on Christmas morning.  I want to be at  home.  We started some traditions and I like to stick to them.  This did not please my husband's family, and understandably so, but I felt we needed to be more of a family, the three of us.  Needless to say that although last year we had a "nice" Christmas and enjoyed the company of our friends, there was something missing.  I complain and get upset at all the baloney family puts us through but when I don't have their company I feel empty.

What I failed to realize is what Christmas means to grandparents.  Perhaps they are clinging to Christmases gone by with us as the little ones.  Maybe they're uncertain of their time left on the earth and want to spend as many moments enjoying precious moments with their children and grandchildren.  So this year, I didn't give it a second thought, of course we would spend Christmas with family, but I vowed we were going to do what was best for our family.  First, I threw out the window the desire to host.  Why fight with mom?  If she wants to host Christmas Eve then so be it.  Additionally my friend suggested that we spend Christmas morning home then drive to see our relatives out of town.  Why didn't I think of this sooner?  So the plan was in place, Christmas Eve we would go to church, then on to moms for dinner and presents and the next morning wake up in our own home to a Santa scavenger hunt followed by a yummy homemade breakfast then a four hour drive to the cabin in the woods.  Hooray!

But we weren't in the clear yet.  Oh no one more wrench was thrown into the works for good measure.  Mom wasn't happy with the fact that we wouldn't be there until 7 pm because of church and she got angry.  The next day she called me to let me know that dinner was starting at 5 pm and they would just go ahead and eat without us and save us a plate.  She said that if they waited until 7 then the kids wouldn't get to open presents until midnight.  Boy did that upset me!  As a Christian in a family that isn't accepting of my choice to put God first, I usually feel like an outsider, but even more so at the mention of eating alone on Christmas Eve.  And although I felt the anger and emotion welling up inside of me and a desperation to let her know how I felt, I simply said, "Okay" and ended the phone call.  I knew this was not the time to have that discussion.

After the call I was heartbroken.  Desperately, through anger and tears, I tried to figure out an alternative celebration, but not only was this Dec 23 and I had just slaved making an octopus salad and baked a coconut cake, but it was also not what I wanted.  I wanted to be with them.  After all my dad's health hasn't been well this year.  The chemo and radiation treatments have really taken a toll on him and frankly, I don't know how many Christmases we have left together.  Not to mention that two years ago we lost grandpa and grandma is 87 with failing health so all this got me thinking, it's just not worth it, I'm letting go.  Let it go, let it go the Holidays will be what they are...  Can you hear Elsa singing?  LOL!

So, we went to church at 5 and got to mom's just before 7 and ate alone.  At first I was feeling anxiety
but the Holy Spirit quickly took over, and spoke to my heart, by way of the movie Frozen.  I LET IT GO!  I decided to relax and with the help of  a single glass of white wine I was able to enjoy the evening.  I laughed at everything,  especially when my 18 month old niece climbed inside my daughter's brand new American Girl camper.  God is so good!  The kids opened their gifts together and the joy I got from the moment my daughter ran over and hugged my mom for the gift she gave was precious.  Mom had tears in her eyes..

Christmas morning we woke my daughter early who, much to my delight, wished Jesus a Happy Birthday, and as planned, we had our scavenger hunt, opened gifts, ate breakfast and hit the road to be at the cabin in time for a wonderful Christmas dinner with the in-laws.  This morning I woke to watching a bear with her cubs just outside my bedroom window and now here I sit out on the screened porch enjoying the cool breeze and typing away.

God had blessed me tremendously because I chose to put Him first and not loose my cool with my family.  This has been the best Christmas of my adult life.  It wasn't about the presents, the gift wrap, the cooking or hosting it was about celebrating God and being with our crazy, infuriating and absolutely wonderful family.  Finally!

Finally, I'm discovering the truth behind the saying, "You can't change others, you can only change how you react to them."  It changes the entire outcome of your experience.  You have the power to make it a good one or a bad one.  Ladies, if you are still suffering through family baloney at Christmastime, know that you are not alone.  But remember, whenever you make God your priority, He works it all out.  Let it Go!

"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

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you Lord for giving me the ability to "Let it Go" this year and enjoy you and my family.  I pray each and every Christmas from here on out gets better and better.  Lord I pray for my sisters-in-Christ who deal with the same Christmas struggles that I do.  Father bless them with the ability to "Let it Go" and give them a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  In Jesus' precious name I pray.  AMEN.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Confession #70 - Deep Down

Before I met my husband, I was such a different person.  I was so staunch and proper and I didn't realize I had a fun side and never could I laugh at myself.  Basically, I was so afraid of how people saw me that I kept myself in a box.  I didn't allow my personality to flourish and take shape.  I spend the first 20 years of my life trying to please everyone instead of just being myself.  I couldn't let my hair down and God forbid allow anyone see how broken and messy I really was.

That began to change when I met Vincent Cuchel.  Vince was the most down to earth person I had ever been with.  He could make me laugh at things I'd never let anyone think I found funny.  He gave me the courage to let down my guard and see who I could really be.  That's when I realized I was in love and 24 plus years later, I still am.

One of the most important things I've learned is that being in love isn't just how you feel about another person, it's also about how you feel about yourself when you're with them.  With Vince, I've been able to truly be myself.  I've learned to let my hair down and not to take myself so seriously.  I learned I could tell him just about anything and he still seemed to love me, I could let him into some of my deep down places and he was willing to bring a flashlight to help me clean it out.

After I fell in love with Jesus, I began to change even more.  But for a long time I kept God in a box of sorts.  I kept Him at this level of reverence and respect, and forgot that He's also my Heavenly Daddy; the one who loves me above all.  Eventually I came to understand that the more I get to know the true nature of God, the more I am able to let my hair down with Him too.  That must sound silly, I mean, God knows me better than I know myself.  After all, He created me.

God knows the deep down stuff inside of us, the things we don't want to admit to, the really dirty, dirty stuff.  Many of us keep these things hidden deep down and don't even talk to God about them.  We know He knows, so why  should we talk to Him about it? Because it gives us a freedom we've never known, it creates a deeper intimacy with God and most of all it changes us into the people we were meant to be.  Just as my relationship with my husband brought out the more fun-loving side of me.  Jeremiah 23:24 says, "Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord."

I pray you don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that God loves you for who you can be.  The bottom line is that God loves you period.  Not who you can be, not who your going to be, not who you wish you were, He loves you, the entire, broken, sinful, dirty you.   Psalm 139: 13-15 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth."  If He didn't, Jesus would not have died for our sins.

Beth Moore illustrated this point really well.  I recently did one of her studies, "Sacred Secrets" and I just loved the truth Beth shared with us.  She said (paraphrasing):
It's so interesting that science hasn't yet come up with a way to tell people the exact moment when a woman is pregnant.  You have to wait.  But what's so cool about that is that in that time frame before the positive result is able to show on the pregnancy test, the only one who knows you even exist is God.   You're His intimate secret.  
How amazing is that?  You are God's secret, He keeps you a secret just waiting to tell everyone about YOU.  Our lives are never a mistake!  He made you with a purpose and has a plan for your life,"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.  He just wants you to let Him get deep down in there.  Allow Him to teach you to be yourself and let your hair down so he can fulfill His purposes for you.  Likewise, let yourself love God, love Him to the point that you feel better about yourself when you're with Him.

Listen, if you've been praying for a breakthrough and hoping for a deeper relationship with God, but are not willing to let Him into your deep down places then you're blocking a blessing.  Until we really learn to grab that truth and let Him get deep down we are missing so much!  John 10:27 says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."  He knows us, we've already established that fact, but we have to know Him, we have to be able to recognize His voice and if we're not listening and letting Him inside, deep down, we may not recognize it.  But the Bible warns us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."  Matthew 7:21-24.  When we know God's voice we can discover His will for us and then are able to put His words into practice which transforms us into the person He created us to be.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you Lord that I've learned how to let you into my deep down places.  Thank you that I can be myself with you.  Lord I pray that through the process of allowing you to clean out my dirtiness and shine your light in my dark spots you will continue to reveal your plan and purposes for my life.  Lord for my sisters-in-Christ I pray that they too will allow you into a deep and intimate relationship with  you.  They will face those deep down places with you and that you will show them your will for their lives and just how much you love them.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confession #69 - Heavenly Pleasures and Treasures

Photo taken from /marianneedelacruz/8657019110/
Today I've been thinking a lot about Heaven.  It started out with an indescribable bliss I was feeling about the simple pleasures in life.  This morning my slice a pumpkin bread from Starbucks was warm and wonderful.  Later a trip to the Italian meat market brought to mind joy-filled childhood memories.  I began to find such pleasure in simple, relatively ordinary things and an appreciation for the gift of life God has bestowed upon me.

So few times do I just slow down and reflect upon these pleasures.  So few times to I just operate in monumental happiness, but today I had a few of these incredible moments which lead me to think about how unimaginably joyful Heaven must be.  To live in utter and complete joy here on earth seems absolutely improbable, still it's possible when we commune with God on such a deep and intimate level.  But in Heaven, living within this realm of joy is not only possible it's most certainly probable.  And so I began imagining Heaven and what my mansion will be like.

Photo Taken from
In the Book of Revelations John describes Heaven, "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.  The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.  The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass."

The Bible also tells us that we are also storing up treasures in heaven whenever we sow seeds in the spirit, by obeying God, giving and doing His will.  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."  Matthew 6:19-20.  And Matthew 13:52 says, “Therefore
Photo taken
every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  and in chapter 19:21 Jesus says, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  John 14:2 tells us that Jesus is building us a mansion there, "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?"

So basically Heaven is beautiful, we get to enjoy the pleasures of the treasures we store there based on our early performance and we get to live in a great mansion that Jesus himself is preparing for us.  We get to spend our days surrounded by the purest love and are able to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continually.  How incredible does that sound?

Photo taken from
After a lovely trip to the Italian market my mind began to flutter with what those treasures in my mansion would be.  This may sound silly but I believe our mansions will be filled with things that we appreciated here on earth.  If that's true, mine will be filled with elements of Italy everywhere since this is the sole place on earth were I want to be.  I imagine the smells will be aromatic with fresh baked bread and pastries, fresh cut grass, pumpkin anything, and cinnamon, apples and cloves.  Of course it will be comfortable, warm, and welcoming.  I trust that there will be a beautiful and bountiful garden filled with flowers of all kinds especially hydrangeas.  I will be surrounded by loved ones and pets and that it will hold all of the simple joys I knew here on earth only to a degree of beauty that I could never imagine.  See for me, these are the treasure I dream of.  Gold and jewels are wonderful and I know there will be immeasurable amounts of them around but each time I earn a treasure for my heavenly home I believe that these are the types of things I will be surrounded by in eternity.  Have you ever thought of what Heaven will be like for you?  Have you imagined the pleasures and treasures surrounding you in eternity?

There is no doubt in my mind that that's where I'm headed when I leave this earth, and just imagining these pleasures and treasures waiting there for me builds a determination to stop living for this world and what it holds, but to enjoy each day as a gift.  A gift to earn more treasures in my heavenly home.
I know, that I know, that I know, I'm going to Heaven.  Perhaps you don't know for sure.   So I have to ask, do you want to join me?  If you don't know for sure that you are saved you can.  Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  But God loves us so much that He had a plan, " 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."  John 3:16.  The Bible makes it quite simple and easy, "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."  Romans 10:9-10.  You cannot earn salvation, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..."

So we can't earn our place in Heaven, but we can receive the gift of salvation.  You can pray this prayer right now and know that you are saved and are going to heaven:

“Dear Lord Jesus,
I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will.
In your name, Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer please leave a comment telling me so, and let me rejoice along with you and the Angels in Heaven.   "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents"  Luke 15:10.  I hope to meet you there someday and check out your incredible mansion.  God Bless you!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the heavenly pleasures and treasures in the simple things of life here on earth, but thank you even more for Jesus Christ who paid the price for my sins on the cross so that I can live an eternity in Heaven with you.  Lord I pray for my sisters reading this right now that they would receive the gift you have for them and that one day I will get to meet them in Heaven.  In Jesus' precious name I pray.  AMEN.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Confession #68 - I will Survive and Blog on!

"At first I was afraid I was petrified, thinking I could never live without you by my side.  I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong, but I grew strong, and I learned how to get along...."  These are words of wisdom from Gloria Gaynor's hit no. 1 song  "I will survive" in 1980.  They come to mind because of a recent issue I've had to wrestle with. An issue that halted my blogging for a while.  It's got me thinking quite a bit about wisdom and how in the absence of it we tend to make ourselves look utterly foolish.
The word wisdom is used 51 times in the book of Proverbs alone, and the phase "get wisdom" is in the Bible six times.  I'm pretty sure that's much more than a hint!  So just what is wisdom?  Often people mistake wisdom for prudence, knowledge, experience, understanding. It really is none of these things. Reading books and articles on subjects may give us a head knowledge of things, just as simply reading the Bible only gives us head knowledge of the word of God.  Real wisdom comes not only from a head knowledge of God and His book, but also by allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us.  The evidence of this wisdom is when the fruit of the spirit begins to show.  Galatians 5:22-23 tells us just what the fruit of the spirit is, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  It goes on to note that, "Against such things there is no law." 

Allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest His fruits is a process of staying in daily prayer and study of His word, by practicing its principles and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in every circumstance and also by taking the advice of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:5, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God {foolishness}, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  In order to have real wisdom it must be a skill practiced by taking our thoughts captive, filtering them through the obedience of Christ and then allowing them to manifest outward through the Holy Spirit to allow His fruit to show and to grow.

Impulsively expressing "our" thoughts and criticisms without the filtering of the Holy Spirit is the work of foolishness. And please be careful not to believe that by simply holding a title in life that automatically grants one wisdom.  PhD's earners, Nobel Peace Prize winners and high elected officials have proven themselves foolish at one time or another, even pastors and preachers.  Truthfully, if we are not submitting everything we do to the obedience of Christ and allowing the fruit of the spirit to be evident, before we respond to our circumstances, our friends and our adversaries, we run the risk of being the antithesis of wise; we risk looking like fools.   “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  Matthew 7:24-27

Thankfully I will survive the foolish words of my adversaries AND my helpmates.  God has sought fit to that and given me the resolve to blog on.  This experience has taught me so much about myself and the nature of others.  It has also given me the ability to forgive them and love them anyway through the grace of God, which another example of the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Today and everyday, I choose to operate within the realm of God's wisdom by filtering my thoughts through the Holy Spirit and allowing them to manifest through love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  And in my moments of weakness, being the dirty christian woman that I am, I pray God to forgive my foolishness and set me right again.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray today for my sisters-in-Christ, who may have been attacked by the foolishness of others.  I pray that you will give them the ability to survive and the wisdom to know how to respond like women of God and not foolish subjects on behalf of hurt and anger.  Allow the fruit of the spirit to show and produce a sweet taste to those who have used foolishness to hurt them.  Teach us all your wisdom Lord, not just a head knowledge of it but a heart knowledge too.  In Jesus name I pray.  AMEN.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Confession #67 - I'm Following God and Not man

Because, I consider myself a thinking person, I don't take things at face value.  I seek to know the absolute truth.  I ask questions of those "in the know", read books on these subjects as well as reading the bible and praying, all in an effort to find out the truth.  But at the same time, I'm also a feeling person.  I trust my intuition, I follow my feelings at times and I allow  how others feel about things to sometimes influence me.  I consider myself one of reasonable intelligence that wouldn't "fall" into the hands of deception easily.  Equally, I'm also a person of faith.  I believe God is real, and Jesus is alive.  I believe in the power and movement of the Holy Spirit and I believe that what the Bible says is not only true but true for us today.

Recently I've had to use all of these gifts to decipher a problem that caused me to question the Lord.  In fact I allowed a bad seed to be planted in my mind.  A seed that nearly convinced me that since I did not understand a theology then I could no longer be a part of the body of believers that God had brought me to.

The purpose for attending church, to me, is to get spiritual food through praise & worship along with the preached message and to fellowship with other Believers.  Regardless of whether or not I have or wish to have a "religious or spiritual" experience at church, doesn't mean that I'm not getting spiritually fed. There are times things happen in church that no one can explain.  The Holy Spirit moves in and among us and things happen that are divinely inspired.  Some people seek out these "religious or spiritual" experiences regularly, perhaps not feeling complete unless they received one from a usual Sunday service.  Others are contented with a message that speaks to their very situation.  Whatever the case may be, as long as the Lord is meeting you at your point of need then you're in the right place, among the right body of Believers.   In order for me to realize that my questions were valid, normal and healthy took all my capacities, the thinking, feeling, praying, seeking, and the woman of faith.  In addition to meeting with my pastors to discuss my concerns and confusion.  Through all these avenues, finally and thankfully, I realized that God had brought me to this church body for a reason, and that this is where I was to stay put.

But what has me troubled is how easily it is to leave a church for this reason or much less.  If it was as easy for me to question where I belong, it's easier still to move on.  However, I believe this is disobedience.  By all means, if the Lord has cleared the way and put up the signs and caused you to believe it's time to move on then by all means MOVE.  But if you are following what a man has told you to do, or if you are seeking to leave because there are changes in that body of Believers, or if you can leave a church that God has called you to with the sway of the wind, then that leaves me grievously concerned.  

I myself have said on several occasions that when I walked into the church I am at now that I could feel the tangible presence of God.  After that I just couldn't go back to my usual church.  But I tell you the truth, I did.  I continued to divide my time between both churches while seeking God for His direction and plan.  Once I knew for certain that's when we made the move.

As Christians we are followers of GOD, and NOT man.  If God didn't call you away, then you do not go!  I think so many times we as believers fall into a trap, a trap between loving an individual and and an entity (i.e. church) rather than loving God.  Yes many times God does call us to leave to produce a great plan and purpose He has for our lives.  For example, if Abraham hadn't obeyed God and left everything behind him to follow the Lord I wonder what may have happened?  Would Abraham have become the Father of Issac?  Would God have made a nation from him.  On the other hand, sometimes God doesn't release us, He tells us to stay put, even though we may "feel" our season is done.  Sometimes we are hoping for some divine experience and in their absence, think we need to move on.  While others believe that the spiritual food coming from the pulpit has become stale and that's why they need to go.  Look, whatever the reason may be, I caution you not to leave until God says to go.  And staying out of church fellowship for a period of time until you find that "perfect" place is not an option.  As Christians, we need to be in church.  We are all members of the body and the body doesn't function properly unless we are all in it doing our part.

Congruently, it saddens me tremendously to know there are Christians out there not in church at all.  How can you grow and be nourished properly if you are not in the body?  A relationship with Christ also means a relationship with His people.  Christ is in the people therefore the people need each other.

I don't know where you're at, perhaps you love your church and have no definite plans of leaving, perhaps you're not happy or have unrest about your church home, perhaps your seeking a church home.  Whatever the case, I urge you to let God be your guide and NOT man.  NEVER follow a man, follow GOD.  Don't fall in love with a church so much that when God says, "Go", you say, "No".  Likewise, do not fall in love with a preacher so much that should he/she leave, you to follow in suit.  We must be praying and seeking God's direction for us.  Going any other way is disobedience.  Our role is to be obedient to Christ and to seek Him first above "religious or spiritual" experience, above a preacher, beyond a church, more higher than good works or frankly anything else that would seek to set itself up against God.

Dear Heavenly Father,  Thank you that you have given me the wisdom and discernment to deduce that your plan is for me to stay put, knowing that you have a purpose for placing me in the body of Believers you have brought me to.  Lord I lift up my sisters-in-Christ who may be struggling with this issue.  Father grant them the same wisdom and discernment to know where you are leading them.  Lord let them know that their questions are valid and healthy but their response to them needs to be carefully decided through prayer, faith and research.  Help them to know and understand how to hear from you.  Bless them and watch over them dear Lord.  And Father for those sisters who haven't found a church to call home yet, I pray that you will lead them this very Sunday to the place you have selected for them.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Confession #66 - "Go on Honey, take a chance!"

Ever see the movie "Coming to America"?  It's one of my favorites.  Eddie Murphy plays Prince Akeem from Africa who comes to Queens, NY to find a bride.  He pretends to be poor and gets a  job in a knock-off McDonalds where he meets Lisa, the owner's daughter, and falls in love.  Lisa falls for him too but when she finds out he's really a prince, she becomes apprehensive. While riding the subway Akeem proposes to Lisa.  She looks around at the passengers for advice and a lady answers, "Go on Honey, take a chance!"  Well that's what I'm faced with, sadly not a proposal from a prince, but a question, do I want to take a chance?  A big chance...

Most people in my family like to gamble.  It's on both sides of my family, mom's and dad's, and yet me, ummm...not so much.  Risk taking is not my thing, infact I can count on one hand how many times I've been to a casino and I'm not jonesing to go back anytime soon.  Perhaps it's because I can't stand the feeling of risking.  Risking even the smallest amount of money because I've never felt like the loss was worth it.  Even before I became a believer, it was never much of a temptation for me.

But this post isn't about gambling, it's about faith.  Today I'm faced with making a difficult choice.  My husband is asking for my blessing to take a financial risk in order to see our business grow and honestly,  I'm really scared.  Being that our financial state is just holding and we are about to begin our "slow time" I'm not sure if it's a good idea to go all in.  I've been praying about it and I think God's telling me that I need to show my husband that I trust him and believe in him again.  It's possible that God is using this "test" to build my marriage.

Ten years ago I left a steady job to work from home with my husband for our video production company.  At first it was great and we doubled our income in the first two years, but then it became more and more difficult to keep up the momentum and soon my husband was relying more on me than I could handle.  To make things more complicated he dragged his heels on making business decisions which resulted in a failure to market our company beyond word-of-mouth.  Our business became more of a free-lance job for him than anything else.  After a while, the man I believed in, the one I knew had all the potential in the world to be successful, seemed to stop believing in himself.  After a particularly difficult financial period my husband promised me he would do whatever was necessary to support our family.  Unbeknown to each of us we had opposing ideas of how that would happen.  Of course it didn't happen the way I had expected and since we continued to struggle, I had convinced myself that my husband broke his promise.  Consequently, I stopped believing in him, and worse trusting that he would take care of us.  That's when I felt betrayed and became very angry.  That anger grew and branched off in many facets of our marriage and slowly attritioned our love for eachother.  That was until God healed us.  In one instance at the alter my God took away the anger and replaced it with a renewed love.  And from there we began to heal.  I am very happy to say that I love my husband very much.  But I suppose it's time to trust him again. Phew this is hard, and I'm tearing up as I type.

In my devotional time over the last two weeks God's been telling me that He wants to bless me.  Actually He's saying, "If you let me, I want to bless you."  I thought, "Well that's crazy, of course I will let you bless me!"  So why now, when I'm faced with letting go of a few hundred dollars a month, am I having so much trouble allowing God to bless me?  Because I don't like to gamble!  I don't like risk.  And I can't understand why God would be asking me to give him something for it.  And to make it more challenging God is asking me to trust my husband's judgement.  It's another test of faith. I know that God can do something amazing with something so small.  And that small thing isn't our few hundred dollars a month, it's my Him and my husband.

Here I am professing that I have faith so big that I'll leave a job for a new church home and faith so big that I start a new chocolate business, and faith so big that I believe that God will bless us in the midst of our financial mess, and now that dirty christian woman is coming in and messing it all up!  This remindes me of the disciple Peter.  Peter who in one day professed his love for Jesus when questioned three times and a few hours later denied three times that he was even one of Jesus' disciples.

Peter to Jesus (paraphrasing), "I love you, you know I love you, of course I love you."  Oops they're putting you to death?  "I don't know Jesus, no I'm not a disciple, nope I'm not associated with him." (John 21:15-19 and John 18:15-18)  Me, "I trust you, I have faith in you I know you can do anything."  What?  Give away a few hundred dollars a month?  Uh no, I don't think I can do that.  No I can't."  Boy, I am so thankful that God extends grace and mercy to us, the ones He loves.

Another lesson God is teaching me is that love and faith go hand in hand.  If you love someone and you know they love you back and have your best interest at heart, then you must have faith in them.  If I love God I must have faith in Him. Psalm 85:10 says, "Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.  The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield it's harvest.  Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way."

The Lord is never a gamble because he's always the same (Hebrews 13:8) and always a good choice! Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]."  I am so thankful that we can trust God.  I supposed it's time for me to do just that.

Me and my Vincent
And let me also say this, if I'm totally wrong and God did not intend for us to take this gamble, well I also know that, " all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.", Romans 8:28.   Meaning if it falls apart I know that God will help us and support us to get back on our feet again.

Can you relate?  Are you being asked to take a chance on someone or something?  Is God asking you put your faith in Him?   If it's really God, well then, "Go on Honey, take a chance!"

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord today I trust you and am willing to give you my faith.  I trust that you will allow our business to yield it's harvest as I humbly give my husband my love and trust.  Lord I pray for my sisters-in-Christ today that are struggling to let go of something small and trust you with their futures.  Lord give them faith big enough to move mountains and show them a huge harvest of fruit for their faith.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Confession #65 - Foul Mouthed Fool

Recently my ego was deeply wounded  by way of the ugly mouthed neighbor.  Yes he's struck again, this time verbally attacking me with a barrage of "fat" insults.  I've mentioned him in the past in Confession #37.  This is a man who has proven himself to be an instrument of Satan's many times over.

But sadly today's post is not about this man; not really.  Unfortunately, it's about me.  It's a confession I feel compelled to make one of which results in many apologies.  The problem is my mouth, well, actually my heart.  "For out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks" Matthew 12:34.  Because my ego was seriously wounded, anger and hatred rose up; a decision I freely made because we all know that I didn't have to entertain those feelings.  As a result I justified my foul mouthed words and evil thoughts.  What's worse is that I was almost became unaware that I was doing so until my friend brought it to my attention.

I certainly cannot consider myself a woman of God by using bad language and thinking such things.  I won't garner respect and validity in the Christian community with such a mouth.  So why am I taking such a huge risk to my ministry by admitting this?  Because I am seeking true repentance.  First let me say to my husband and my friend I am so sorry for loosing my self-control and blurting out the nasty words and ideas.  I know that I am entitled to my anger, but I am not entitled to be saying these things.  Regardless of where I grew up and what I grew up with, there is little to no excuse.  I know better.  I am a woman of God and this not acceptable behavior.  The Bible says, "Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips."  Ecc 10:12.  Anger has caused so many of my slip-ups in life but I thought had moved past them, sadly I was wrong and I must admit I've yet to conquer the fool in my tongue.  Secondly I apologize to you, my dear friends and readers.  You have trusted me to bring you a Christian witness and biblical guidance and this recent display betrays that trust.

Additionally I have always maintained that my platform as a Christian speaker, writer, blogger and bible study leader is about "keeping it real".  We have to be truthful with one another, and sometimes be willing to talk about the shameful stuff to help minister to each other.  I would be breaking my own rules if I didn't get this out in the open.  I will be curving my tongue.  I take this seriously and will submit to my Lord in order to keep my mouth in check.  Lord knows it isn't the first time but it has to be the last.  God's put a big calling on my life so I must get right with Him and He's not fooling around with me.  So much so these are the verses He gave me today, Zechariah 7:8-14:
"8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
11 “But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
13 “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty. 14 ‘I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land they left behind them was so desolate that no one traveled through it.This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.’”
Want God to listen when you call out to Him?  Then you must obey His word!  Then God gave me these verses in Zechariah 8:16-17, 19:
"16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord...19 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “...Therefore love truth and peace.”
Foul mouth?  Clean it up - because God HATES it!  So no more excuses, no more justification.  God never justifies our sin, He forgives it.  And Christ paid a high penalty for that sin.

Ladies, I pray you don't share in my mouth issue, but if you do I will be praying for you.  Obviously it isn't what the Lord wants from us, and no one wants to be around a foul mouthed fool.  Please pray for me too, that I may stay in God's will for my life and keep my tongue in check.  The Bible says about nine times that the Lord is abounding in love and slow to anger.  I believe it's because He wants us to do the same.  He also doesn't want us to beat ourselves up for our sins.  But it doesn't mean we can continue in them either.

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord thank you that your word says you are slow to anger abounding in love.  Lord please forgive me for my foul mouth.  Allow me to be self-controlled abounding in love toward others even when they hurt me.  I forgive my neighbor for his hate-filled words and I ask that you do the same.  Lord I ask for forgiveness from my Christian sisters around the world for my behavior as well and I pray Lord for those who suffer from the same sin to be convicted and changed.  In Jesus' precious name I pray.  AMEN.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Confession #64 - I'm in a Relationship

With the atrocities that our world is facing, now more than ever people need to know Jesus.  But so many times we are too busy alienating ourselves from those who need Christ the most.  We get caught up in debates and political forums where defending our beliefs becomes more important than introducing people to Christ.  We want to stand up for the unjust treatment of our fellow believers, and take stands against the lies the world peddles against the word of God, and rightfully so, but on many occasions our approach can cause people to run the other way.  Consequently, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of unbelievers and keeping them far away from our "religion".  They ask us not to wave it in their faces and shove it down their throats.

Sisters you and I both know that we don't have religion, we have a relationship.  As Christians we have all fallen in love with Jesus Christ.  Naturally, when you're in love with someone, you want to shout it from the rooftops.  You want to change your relationship status and post pictures of this person on your Facebook page.  You want to tweet about them you want to tell all your friends about them, you want everyone to know that you have found not only someone to love, but someone who loves you.  It's interesting to me that when we fall in love, we don't go around using our loved one as our excuse to criticize everyone else's relationships.  We don't tell everyone they way they need to be living their lives, we don't say well, my boyfriend says Thou shall not eat chocolate to people we know are chocoholics.

Sadly, many times Christians, whether they are well intentioned or not, tend to use their relationship with Jesus Christ as a platform for righteous indignation towards other's sin. Personally, I don't believe God intended for us to become finger-pointing crusaders telling them about their sin.  There are quite a few verses in the bible about this, for example  John 8:7 “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Luke 6:41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

It is amazing how love changes everything.  I have a friend who I've been so blessed to witness her walk with the Lord.  This woman came to my bible study barley having read a verse from the bible.  I've seen her walk through anger and rejection from her past.  I've seen her walk through difficulties in her marriage and struggles in her parenting.  I watched as God has transformed her into this amazing woman of God, who has chosen love as her guide.  This woman is currently facing some challenging issues with an ungodly and downright evil neighbor who is hell bent on making her family's lives miserable.  Yesterday, she told me that her approach is to just sit back and watch God take care of it.  WOW!  I remember a time when that would have been the polar opposite of what she would have said and done.  When she would have taken every opportunity to fight back and get in the face of someone like this.  And now Jesus has changed that.  I am so excited and proud to see what the Lord is doing in her life.  What a privilege it is to watch your Christian babies growing up!
This has happened because she has grown in her relationship with Jesus and because He used people in her life to teach her by example what it means to be a Child of God. God sent people who chose to teach her what it means to walk in love.

It is our sin that created the need for our Savior Jesus Christ to come to earth, suffer and die a horrible death so that we can live eternally.  "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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."  John 3:16-17.  Many of us tend to focus on verse 16 and forget verse 17, God loved us so much that he died for us; He didn't come to judge us or punish us for our sin, he came to set us free from it.  Yes one day we will all face judgement, but that wasn't the purpose of Christ's sacrifice, the purpose was so that when we do face judgement our sins will be covered by the atonement Jesus made for us.  Therefore, unless we are bringing the message of love then whatever we say about others sins are just like a "resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."  1 Corinthians 13:1.  Basically a noise no one wants to listen to.

Least we forget that we are all "dirty christian women", continual sinners who are washed in the blood of Christ.  Perhaps rather than defending our beliefs and getting caught up in political forums we need to allow our actions speak to those we are hoping to win to Christ and set an example to younger Christians.  Show them love and become the hands and feet of Christ rather than the mouthpiece of righteous indignation.

Go out of your way to Love rather than criticize.  Instead of pointing out what the Bible calls sin, show them what the Bible calls love.  Show them your relationship with Jesus and not your religion because the Bible instructs us to hate the sin, but love the sinner.  Jude 1: 20-23 "But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."

We are to hate the stains of the corrupted flesh; despise the soiled or "dirtiness" of wicked sin.  But we not to hate the sinner, rather we are called to show mercy and save people from the fires of hell and we can only do this by remaining in God's love.  That's showing His love and putting it on display for others to see it.  Love is a powerful thing and we must let love fight the battle against sin to win the hearts of people to Christ and teach younger Christians how to grow in the Lord.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you Lord that you chose me to be in a relationship with.  I pray Lord that whenever I am tempted to be a defender of the faith that I remember to show your love, your grace and your mercy to those who are headed to the fire.  Help me to snatch as many souls from it as possible.  Allow my actions of Love to speak volumes over what I may say about you and your word.  Let not my religion show but may my relationship with you be on display for all to see.  And Dear Lord for my fellow "dirty christian women" have them do the same and be the hands and feet of Jesus.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Confession #63 - The Deceit of Happiness

I confess this isn't very Christ-like but I can easily become depressed.  It's as if I need an IV of happiness coursing through my veins to keep me from going to a dark place at times.  I rely so much on my emotions to get me through the day.

On complacent and lazy days I can become depressed for my lack of productivity.  When I don't feel like finishing something I started I become angry with myself and depressed.  When things are not going well and I feel hopeless and become depressed.  Whenever money starts running low, I become depressed.  When my child is continually disobeying the rules I become angry and depressed.  If my husband is in a bad mood, I can get depressed.  If work seems pointless and uninteresting I become depressed.  If I feel like no one understands me I get depressed.  If people aren't treating me the way I feel I deserve I get depressed.  When I don't get what I think everyone else is getting I get depressed.  Now isn't that depressing?

I have always worked hard to hide my depression from others.  Most people may describe me as a pretty happy person.  I like to write about uplifting subjects and make sure that there's always a "happy ending" in my messages.  But inside there's this darkness.  This heaviness that draws me down and sometimes keeps me from realizing the real happiness I've been looking for.

I have never written about this because I am ashamed of it.  It's just another part of my "dirty" soul.  As a Christian I should not be depressed. How can I be when I have the hope of eternal life?  Yet here I am admitting that even as a strong Christian woman, I become easily depressed.  Now I do snap out of it easily, but it's just as easy for me to snap back into it again.

This may be the reason I am a lover of all things Disney.  Disney World is my favorite place to go on earth.  I think it's because to me it symbolizes the fulfillment of perpetual happiness.   What's interesting to me is that I actually have more fun in the planning stages of a Disney World vacation.  You know the fantasizing about where we will go, what characters we will see, the rides, restaurants and experiences, more than I actually enjoy being there.  Because truthfully the actual vacations can become a bit of a nightmare.  Come'on Disney fans let's be honest, it doesn't matter how much happiness a place can hold, heat, long lines, lack of sleep and family dysfunction can create a cesspool of misery.  Sorry Disney I know I'm not helping you out here but I have to be honest.

This latest dive into depression has come from the fact that I couldn't go on vacation with my family or even take my kid to Disney for a day this spring break.  Frankly it's not like she hasn't been a hundred times.  I just wanted to get away, escape the reality of life for a while and I'm not able to so I'm depressed, again...

I was praying today when I heard the Lord speak.  This is what I believe He said:

Decide today your direction.  Will you be guided and led by faith or by life?  Will you be distracted by your wants and desires or be focused on what I have in store for you?  Will you let these silly dreams and fantasies take you away from my purpose?  Is your constant desire for happiness and fun going to cause you to veer off course?  Happiness is temporary.  It is emotional.  But joy is spiritual.  Joy is everlasting and rooted.  I engrave you with my joy.  Disney brings a temporary happiness to children but it does not rescue them from the sorrows of this world and the pain of their circumstances.  Bring them joy through my word which is eternal hope and faith.  For faith brings hope and hope produces joy.

Happiness, like most emotions can be deceitful.  After I wrote down the words I believe the Lord gave me I opened my bible and landed at Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?"  Years ago I wrote in blue highlighter on the side of this verse, let me not chase after my emotions.

So then I thought, "I have been deceived.  I have allowed myself to be led away by my desires and emotions instead of staying focused on my God.  Disney is not to blame, I am.  I must stay focused on the Lord above all else.  I may not be escaping the work of life right now.  This is the time to work hard for my future is at stake."  Once again God led me to another verse, the very words of Jesus in John 5:17 "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too, am working." 

Then I turned back to Jeremiah, this time verse 29:11-13, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you.' "

Can any pursuit of happiness hear you calling it?  Can it answer you and grant you a future?  No.  Only God can.  Are you being led by your feelings and the deceit of happiness? Constantly looking for it and forgetting what brings true joy?  The Lord has a plan for your life.  He wants to use you for great things.  When you accepted Christ, you were born again.  Born for greatness not an empty pursuit of happiness.  You were given an eternal joy that cannot be broken.  Break away from the deceit of "happiness" in this world and cling to God.  We all must guard ourselves against this way of thinking.  Then you will find everlasting joy, a happiness that cannot be lost.  Let God bring His light into your dark places to heal you from the heaviness that weighs you down.

Dear Heavenly Father, please Lord keep my mind, eyes, ears and heart guarded from the deceit of happiness and let me stay focused on you.  Let me find that the happiest place on earth isn't a vacation away from the cares of my life but on the pursuit of your kingdom, your knowledge and your wisdom.  For my sisters-in-Christ who too become easily depressed Father, give them the joy of knowing that you have a great plan for their lives.  Give them the resolve to pursue that rather than be deceived by the world's happiness.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Confession #62 - Older but Wiser, Maybe not...

Recently I've received some harsh criticism from some more mature Christian ladies that kinda hurt my feelings a bit.  Although I knew when I first published my blog that it wasn't for all audiences, honestly I didn't think that within the community of Christians there would be such harsh backlash.  And this backlash coming from mature ladies who's job within the kingdom it is to nurture and help mold the younger, was, quite frankly, shocking to me.

I took my sorrow to the King and here's what He so graciously showed me.  They may be older, but perhaps not wiser.  God brought me to Job chapters 32-37. If you need a refresher, basically, Job was given by God over to Satan to test his faith.  God allowed Job to walk through the loss of his children, his fortune and his health.  His wife told him to curse God and die. (Job 2:9)  Just before these chapters we read the words spoken by Job's friends, supposedly older and wiser men who basically ripped Job to shreds.  They criticized him and made him feel worse for his troubles.  Then in chapter 32 begins the speech of Elihu a younger man, who admits that he waited for the rest to speak.  He gave them all the courtesy of giving their opinions and advice to their suffering friend, but then he lets loose disagreeing with Job's older friends and criticizing Job for calling himself righteous compared to God himself.

Some biblical commentaries I read on these chapters categorize Elihu with the rest of Jobs terrible friends, but He is not mentioned in the end of the chapter as receiving the same punishment from God for their horrible words to Job.  Elihu was not asked to offer the same sacrifice of atonement these other men were.  And when God finally speaks to Job he seems to confirm most of what Elihu just said.  The older friends didn't have the best advice for Job, regardless of their experience in life and their "knowledge" of God.

I believe that wisdom is God inspired knowledge.  You know that feeling you get in your gut that tells you something is right or wrong.  That inspiration you feel when you read a passage of scripture that seems to speak to your very situation.  How God seems to give you the exact interpretation you need.  That loving friend that comes and shares something biblical with you that changes your whole perspective.  A word you hear from an everyday circumstance that instantly educates you in what you'd been asking of the Lord all along.  The take-away that seemingly only you got from the sermon on Sunday.  That's God speaking to us, He uses it all and I believe that's wisdom.  You can be as experienced and as learned as they come, but without real wisdom, be as clueless as Clouseau.  

Coming to realize that you can't please everyone is defiantly a difficult lesson to learn, and truthfully all I really care about is pleasing God.  I am not as learned as some of my fellow Christian writers, but I don't remember too many of the biblical heroes being as educated either.  I do know the bible.  I may not know it to the depths that some others have been fortunate enough to study, but God has inspired me through the Holy Spirit to write what I do and therefore, I obey.  If women are blessed then it doesn't matter what others may say, think or write about it, all that matters is that I listened to God.  Perhaps because I did, others will be blessed and inspired.

Ladies, don't be too put off with what others may say or think of you.  If you know you're doing it for the right reasons and that God told you to do it, then rest assured you are wise in your choices.  And sometimes because of that, you may be criticized.  Stay strong in the faith my friends, God is with you!

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord thank you that you are my great encourager.  Thank you for inspiring me to follow your lead to minister to women.  I pray that more hearts are reached everyday through my writings and this blog.  I pray that the direction I lead them is into your arms Dear Lord.  Please continue to instill your wisdom within me and for my sisters-in-Christ who wish to do your will as well.  Bless us Father as we gratefully serve you our King.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Confession # 61 - Now that IS easy!

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. ...So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Don't you wish life were more like the Staples button?  That was easy...Yes I wish life were easy, but the only button that works that way for me is the one that only certain people can activate.  An easy button that that launches a self-destruct sequence in my behavior.

Today while at lunch, my closest friend pointed out that there seems to be a hold some people have over me and how, like pressing the Staples button it's soooo easy to set me off course.  

Unfortunately, she's right.  There are certain people that can press my easy button.  She also mentioned that most others don't have the same effect on me, they don't have access to the easy button.  

Why???  Why do I give these people permission to press my easy button?  Why do I allow the things they say and do to effect me so deeply, where others I can simply shake off?

The answer is one word, history.  The history I have with these people seems to be a remote control for my easy button.  The past wrongs, hurts and disagreements are lurking there inside my  heart and whenever I am faced with a small reminder of these issues, the button is pressed and the self-destruct sequence is launched.

Well I can't change history.  I don't have an easy button for that now do I?  I can't go back and erase those memories, or re-write the story.  
But I can rewire that button with scripture so that when it's pressed it launches something new; it launches 1 Corinthians 13, Love.  

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
By allowing God to work love and forgiveness in my heart those hurts are healed.  Love is the only thing that protects my button from the insurgents.  1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

John is right.  I'm afraid these people don't love me.  I'm afraid they will reject me.  I'm afraid they will hurt me again and again.  And that's probably true.  They will hurt me again and again.  I have been rejected, I have felt unloved.  There's no easy button for this but John tells us, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.  This is how to recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." I John 4:4-8

If I'm not continually showing the love of Christ to all people, even the people in my history, than I do not know God.  And although it doesn't seem easy, the Bible tells us it isn't a heavy load.  "This is love for God: to obey his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world."  1 John 5:4-4.  I realize that it's going to take prayer, patience, peace and continued reliance on my God to get me there.  But now it's time rewire that easy button and make it useful for the Kingdom of God instead of allowing it to be Satan's stronghold over me.  

These people need love for without it our relationship is nothing, my witness is nothing, my life is nothing. "Love never ends. ...So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13.   Love is greater than my faith, it's greater than my hope and it is the only thing that can keep me from being a slave to my past.  

You may have people like this in your life.  Friends, relatives, exes.  Ladies, history no longer has to define you because when we allow God's love in, our past can simply refine us instead.  Like I said it won't be easy but nothing is impossible with God, and for Him, it IS easy!  "This is how we know that we love the children of God; by loving God and carrying out his commands." 1 John 5:2

Dear Heavenly Father, oh Lord, I need your love to cover the history that I've allowed to define me and my relationships with certain people.  Teach me to rewire my easy button to launch your love instead of my destructive behaviors.  Father for my sisters-in-Christ who have experienced the same issues please Lord do the same.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Confession #60 - Lines of Time

As I was putting makeup on the other morning, I noticed the lines of time beginning to form on my once soft and smooth skin.  In the past I'd always been able to excuse these as a lack of sleep but nowadays I have to come to terms with the reality that I'm getting older.  Actually, today happens to be my birthday, my 44th and with it I am reminded that fifty isn't too far away.  I didn't think I'd be freaking out about my age this year, after-all it's not a milestone birthday or anything, but to be perfectly honest, I confess that I'm am kind of freaking out a little.

I've just taken this huge leap of faith and left my job at the church because God has led myself and my family to a new church home.  I know that God has plans for my future and I know that I will be a speaker and writer working in women's ministry.  But this is still but a dream for my future, and not, as of yet, a concrete reality.  Thinking about the fact that I still have a long road to walk, time of preparation and growth, in order to reach that dream and achieve that calling leaves me a little anxious to think just how old will I be when I get there?  Honestly I have no idea why I feel this way but I do.

I'm probably not alone.  Many of you ladies can relate.  You know what it's like when you think about how much farther you have to go before you get to where you want to be.  We are always striving, climbing and reaching for more.  Like me, many of us are looking at how long the road ahead is.

On my last day at the church I decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator.  At the bottom of the stairs I looked up and thought, "What am I crazy?  There are too many steps.  I'm so out of shape by the time I get all the way up there I'm going to collapse."  Then the little voice inside my head told me to look down and only concentrate on one step at a time.  So I did.  Every time I was tempted to look up and see how much further I had to climb I heard that voice remind me to keep my eyes on the step I was at.  Before I knew it I was at the top and not as exhausted as I thought I'd be.

This birthday God keeps reminding me that it doesn't matter how old I may be when I reach my goal.  Abraham was very old when God first called him.  Moses didn't lead the people out of Egypt until he was 80.  Elizabeth had John the Baptist at an old age.  Sometimes God uses people that the world defines past their prime to display His immense glory.

II Corinthians 4:16-18 says, "Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear).  Through our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.  For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!].  Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting." AMP

The Holy Spirit is that little voice inside my head reminding me to keep my head down and focus on the journey one step at a time.  It's not so tiring  that way and I will enjoy the journey ever so much more.  In the meantime, even though the dear Apostle Paul reminds us that we are decaying and wasting away, I'm going to fight it with all the marvels of our modern world.  With that said I'm headed to the spa for a day of rest, relaxation and pampering.

If your road seems as long as mine, if you feel that time isn't on your side anymore, just remember that when we're working for the Lord age and time are defied in a supernatural God.  We needn't worry about how many steps there are to climb or how long it will take.  We just need to focus on the unseen, on our God and He will do amazing things to achieve something through us that is beyond all measure.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you granting me life and that I can celebrate this life today in particular and enjoy the blessings you have given me.  Thank you that you still have a plan and purpose for this aging lady.  Bring about your glory through me no matter my age or stage in life.  Let me keep my eyes focused on you one step at a time Lord.  And Abba Father, for the ladies like me reading this who struggle with the lines of time too, please do the same.  Grant them strength and determination and make their light and momentary afflictions achieve an everlasting weight of your glory.  In Jesus' name I pray.  AMEN