How to Win Every Fight

How to Win Every Fight

Would you believe me if I told you I have learned in the past year how to win every fight? Especially if it’s not my fault? All I have to do is picture a traffic light.

I’m sure that you have had somebody close fight with you. You don’t know where it came from, or the magnitude surprises you. Your knee-jerk reaction is one of pain and perhaps retaliation.

This is when you need to visualize a traffic light. Big time!

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Green! (Quick to LISTEN)
Stop all noise. Virtual and otherwise. Turn off your phone, get away from people, find some solitude and quiet. Especially if you are reading a comment on Facebook or a text message. Take time to come down from your initial emotional reaction. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Maybe go for a walk. Pray. Remove yourself from the situation for a minute. Perhaps you are just an unfortunate recipient of somebody’s pain and hurt, and it has nothing to do with you at all. Are they under a lot of stress? Have there been recent changes or losses in their life? What may have caused them to lash out?

Yellow. (Slow to SPEAK)
We want to answer immediately. Often, though, our emotional response is less than gracious. Giving yourself a day or two (if possible) before responding can also open an opportunity for explanation. Maybe their intent did not come through in their words. What they meant to say and what they actually said could be two different things. You can ask questions to clarify, giving the benefit of the doubt, and possibly receive a resolution immediately.

If you are genuinely upset, a vague “rant” on Facebook will stir up curiosity from many not involved. Leave them out of it. Instead, if you must talk to someone—choose only one. Speak to them directly if you can. The digital age often results in misinterpretations with lack of facial expression. Emojiis just don’t cut it compared to tone of voice.

Red. (Slow to become ANGRY)
Assume the best about this person. If you’ve had a great relationship until now, a fight is upsetting. Why? You are afraid of losing this friendship. You clearly value this person and what they think of you—which is why you feel so wounded.
Don’t throw away what you have in a moment of pain. Remember why you like them. Pray for them. Ask for reconciliation. Will this matter a month from now? A year from now?
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” ~Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)

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If you didn’t immediately recognize our traffic light, it’s found in James 1:19. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
This, my friends, is how we win the fight. We choose love.
Sometimes, we will have to love from far away, but often “hurting people hurt people.” There is a hurt inside that person that is spreading like a wildfire. You can choose to respond in love and stop the cycle of hurt.
How can we pray for you?

Tammy

The Church, My LGBT Story, and How Love Really Wins

The Church, My LGBT Story, and How Love Really Wins

I am in a unique position today. As I read and hear opinions from opposing sides of the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriage, my heart gets it…from both sides. My position is unique because I identified myself as a lesbian and was part of the LGBT community for several years, yet I am now married to a wonderful man and together we have a beautiful son.

I would like to apologize for Christians who are not acting like Christians towards the LGBT community. It is not anyone’s job to condemn. God’s word tells us we have ALL fallen short of the glory of God. I have no right or authority to consider myself better or more righteous than anyone else. For it is by God’s grace alone that I have been saved, through faith, which is not of myself. It is a gift of God so that I cannot boast for what I’ve done (Ephesians 2:10).

My Story

Because of my own past, I believe I have a great understanding of the hearts of those who are living within the LGBT community. When I read their thoughts, I totally get it, and my heart aches. They just want to be heard and want to love the person they love. They want that love recognized just as heterosexual love is recognized. They can’t help the way they were born. They didn’t choose it, it chose them. What is wrong with loving someone? After all…GOD. IS. LOVE. He CREATED it! Those are the same thoughts and words that came out of my mouth for several years. I knew I was born gay. I was the girl who hated wearing dresses and begged my mom for a San Diego Charger’s football uniform when I was 6 years old. My favorite thing to do was play tackle football, turn my G.I. Joe men into ruthless warriors, beat the boys in sports, walk, talk, and dress like a little dude. I was all “boy” yet I was still a girl.

So I get where the LGBT community is coming from because I was once a huge part of it. I lived the lesbian lifestyle for years and appreciated and valued everything it stands for. To this day, I have many LGBT friends and I adore them because they are beautiful people on the inside and out. Several have been in long lasting loving relationships with one another and have exemplified a strong commitment to each other for years. I believe it is possible to do that. But I also believe there’s more to it than that.

When it comes to my own personal journey as a lesbian, my parents and friends knew about it and I was free to live how I wanted to live. But something happened to me. I had developed into an alcoholic. I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous and was in and out of A.A. for a few years until I finally came to a place of complete brokenness and surrender. It was there that I began to rely on God in every moment of my life in order to stay sober. My sponsor in A.A. recommended not dating anyone while getting sober so that I wouldn’t shift my dependency from alcohol over to another person. She was well aware of how I identified myself and loved and accepted me anyway. I’ll forever be grateful for that. Her main concern was that I focused on God and healing. I didn’t dream where it would take me, but I knew it was working. I was staying sober. It was through that sobriety that I started discovering things about myself that I had never looked at before…ways I viewed men and women.

I saw great strength and power in the male gender and that’s what I wanted to possess. But I also rejected men because I didn’t trust, respect, or value them because of what I had witnessed in my life, different ways men had devalued women. I vowed that would not happen to me and I saw no use for men. I knew I could be successful without a man and would never have to deal with being hurt by one.

Then there was the other part of me that never felt good enough as a female. I rejected many facets of my femininity because I equated them with weakness. I held onto some of those feminine traits because I didn’t want to embarrass my family, or those traits didn’t show too much weakness, or they gave me power in some way. I came to rely on those qualities for success in many areas of my life. But when I saw women that possessed qualities I lacked, I was attracted to them…qualities that were nurturing, gentle, vulnerable, loving, feminine, and beautiful. When I received attention from those females it made me feel important. The more attention I could receive, the more value I felt within myself. Plus, it was easier. I clicked easily with women because they thought, in many ways, the same way I did…because they were women. Also, I TRUSTED women. They were SAFE. That connection also made me feel validated because of that internal rejection within myself about my own femininity. Plus, women were loyal. Not so self-seeking as I believed men to be. And I would be the protector and strong one…the one always in control.

As I continued my journey in staying sober and focusing on God, He began softening my heart towards men. As I grew in Him and my heart began healing, I was able to forgive men that I witnessed hurting others. I also made amends with men that I myself hurt and used for my own selfish gain. As that process continued I began to value men and see how special they really are and how they complement women just as women complement men. I also had the gift of witnessing Godly men around me who were amazing husbands to their wives. They displayed the biblical view of how a husband is to treat his wife. I saw their wives displaying Godly character as well towards their husbands. I couldn’t believe it, my thoughts were changing. My respect and value in men and in marriage began increasing. Along with that, I began to see myself as God sees me. The more I understood who He is, the more I understood who I am in Him. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, the daughter of the One True King. Beautiful. Radiant.

God’s Plan

I began to realize that God created men and women to BOTH serve a great purpose. We were BOTH CREATED IN HIS IMAGE, and TOGETHER, when unified with one another, we represent the full of image of God and His relationship with us. That was such a new revelation to me. I never fully understood that until I began to study His word.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

A little later in Genesis 2:24, God says, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Marriage is an earthly tangible example of God displayed among us. It also shows the beauty of how much He loves us and wants to dwell among us because He is going through US to represent HIM. God created love so that we could experience Him and use that experience to glorify Him. The way we glorify Him is using love the way He intended it to be used…to represent Him.

In Matthew 19:4, Jesus was talking to Pharisees about questions they had regarding divorce. Although the supreme court’s decision does not pertain to divorce but to same sex marriage, Jesus is reaffirming God’s divine creation. Jesus himself said, “Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but ONE. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

This was a very powerful statement by Jesus because He not only reaffirmed what God said hundreds of years prior, but he excluded any deviation from God’s original design by clearly stating man and woman. There’s no other way around that statement. He didn’t say, “A man will leave his mother and father and be united with the person he loves.” Jesus was/is all knowing because He was/is the Son of God. He knew what was to come in the future and that there would be this concept of sexual orientation. All He has to say is a man will be united with his wife and that excludes all other forms of two people becoming one flesh, and that’s exactly what He said.

There is also another divine representation of marriage that absolutely cannot be dismissed. A repeated theme occurs throughout the bible referring to the church as the bride of Christ and as Christ as the bridegroom.

A marriage between a man and woman represents the love between Christ and the church, where He gave himself up for her.

In Ephesians Chapter 5, Paul is talking to husbands and wives. He reaffirms just as Jesus did, as he repeats the scripture in Genesis stating “For this reason, man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” Then Paul goes on to say, “This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the Church.”

And in Revelation 21, this chapter refers to the coming wedding between Christ, the bridegroom, and the church, His bride.

Marriage is the communion WITH God and the image OF God and the symbolic representation of His Son Jesus’ loving union with the church, His people. This is a repeated theme throughout the bible.

Any of us can deviate from God’s sexual design in many other ways other than just homosexuality. God has given us free will to do so. The terms “hetersosexual, homosexual, transgender, and many other forms of gender identity or sexual orientation that exist, are all man made terms. God made us sexual beings who, when unified, were meant to represent Him and His relationship with us. We must be careful to respect The Artist’s design. Afterall, HE created US.

Jesus paid a price so that we could live free of shame and condemnation so that we could be of service to God. Because of that, I can live in a peace and freedom that allows me to love others just as He loves us. Loving Him also means obeying Him and respecting His word because God IS the word.

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God”

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23

Love Really Wins

edgeofrockoverwoodsIf we love Him, we will desire to keep His word. We will not be perfect in doing so because we are sinners incapable of living out a perfect life. That’s why we need Him in our lives. That’s why He gives us grace and His mercies are made new every morning. I personally will mess up every day. But as I put Him first in my life, He continues to transform different parts of me into the likeness of Him. That’s why I need Him in my life daily. He IS my daily bread. I cannot be transformed without Him. Apart from Him, I can do nothing according to His will, because apart from Him, I am a sinner and will carry out every sin I want. Today, I want Him to be my daily bread because I have experienced how good He is. The fruit of putting Him first in my life is by far greater than any other way I have ever lived.

Jesus sat at the table and dined with sinners hoping they would see something different in Him, something better, something especially beautiful, and choose His way over their own. That’s what He wants us to do today.

If you are a skeptic or not a believer in Christ Jesus as the son of God, what I’m saying may not resonate with you. God’s word tells me this in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I highly recommend you research the word of God. The more I have studied Him, the more I understand His divine plan on this earth and the more His Sovereignty astounds me.

Today, I sit here blown away by the work God has done in my life. Ten years ago, I would never have imagined I would be sitting here writing these words about who God is and how He has transformed my life. There are many moments, especially as I cook dinner with my husband or enjoy the sweet embrace of my son’s hugs that melt me to no end, I shake my head in disbelief. He can do the same in yours if you let Him.

If you are in disagreement with how God has designed marriage, please know that I love you in the midst of our disagreement. I realize this post may cause me to lose friends simply because of my stance on marriage. I hope that’s not the case. I’m not here to stir up trouble. I’m here to kick it and experience life to the fullest. For me that consists of being transformed into the likeness of Christ so that others may know Him through my example. He loves and because I love Him and want to be like Him, I love too. That means you’re included because He loves you and therefore, so do I.

Love. Really. Does. Win.

Dare to be Different (Romans 12:2)

Dare to be Different (Romans 12:2)

Dear Daughter,

The first time someone told me I was cool was in 1991. I was in the 5th grade, and a sneaker brand, LA Gear, was at the height of its popularity. By some miracle, I came to own a pair: white ones with black and purple accents. The first day I sported my new high tops at school, Michael, one of the legit trendy kids at Coleman Elementary, leaned over his desk and approvingly declared, “You got some LA Gears? You’re cool now.” I’m almost positive I walked with a good bit of extra swagger the rest of that day! It’s been decades since I first “nailed it” in the fashion world, but the acceptance I felt had a lingering effect on my psyche.

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The thing is, I am a non-conformist soul trapped in a people-pleasing body. This dichotomy presents an obvious inner turmoil: do I care what people think, or do I march to my own beat? For some people, the choice is easy. Let’s just say that, for me, the struggle is real! And the battle rages on, even as I’ve grown older and (somewhat) wiser. On the really tough days, the verse that keeps me grounded is Romans 12:2.

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I’m not ten years old anymore, but many days I still find myself seeking the approval of others.

I fix my gaze on a closet full of (hopefully) trendy clothes, trying to pick an outfit that will garner a few compliments.

I scour Pinterest for the most eye-pleasing images to add to my boards. Boards carefully crafted, presenting a refined image to my followers.

My followers. I have followers. People who like, comment on, or share bits and pieces of my online persona. People to keep happy.

I shut my mouth when confronted with an opposing viewpoint. I only speak out when I’m pushed to the point of anger. And you know those times always end well…

At least that’s what I do when I’m conforming myself to the standards of this world…

 

Then, there are those other days. The days that count for something beyond my limited earthly life span. The days I conform to who I was uniquely created to be instead of who the world tells me to be.

I fix my gaze on those around me. I notice a tiredness on the cashier’s face and strike up a conversation. I bring dinner to a friend. I give up checking Facebook for the fifteenth time and interact with my child instead.

I scour the Bible for some much needed soul-food. I feast on His truth and hide those precious, inspired words in my heart. I renew my mind. I meditate on my Savior (Psalm 119:15-16).

My Savior. I have a Savior. He created me, redeems me, and calls me His own. I worship Him. I talk to Him. He keeps me happy.

I open my mouth to speak encouraging and uplifting words. When I encounter one who opposes what I know to be real, I do my best to humbly point them to Jesus.

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And you know what? Those good days don’t happen enough for me. That’s why I keep coming back to Romans 12:2. Because the days when I’m focused on myself and what society’s standards say I should be, my mind cannot be renewed. I don’t experience the transforming, refreshing wind of the Holy Spirit. I look too much like everyone else and not enough like myself. People don’t see Jesus in me on the days I’m conforming to the world. They just see me. And it’s not about me, this life I’m living.

That’s the whole point of this verse, in my opinion. It’s like a chain reaction: fit in with worldly behaviors – corrupt your mind – miss out on God’s purpose and plan for your existence.

On the flip side: keep step with the beat God has placed inside you – renew your mind – learn what God’s specific will is for you.

If you’re struggling with acceptance, know that you’re not alone. I’d venture a guess that humanity as a whole is exhausted from all the fitting in, keeping up, and showing out we do. Maybe you’re ready to walk a path less traveled. What better time than now to do a little self-inventory…Who do you strive to please? In what ways do you conform? Are you invigorated or disheartened by the direction your life is taking? Do you want to know what the Father’s good, acceptable, and perfect will is for you?

Do not conform to this world. Be transformed. Renew your mind. Know God’s will.

Dare to be different.

A Season of Repentance, Restoration, & Refocusing

A Season of Repentance, Restoration, & Refocusing

…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

We did not celebrate Lent as a child in my Jewish home.  I remember my friends “giving up” soda and not eating meat on Fridays, but I never understood the meaning behind what they were doing.  In the church where I came to know the Lord, we did not talk about Lent, or why so many believers observe it.  However, after many years of teaching students and women about God and the beautiful mercies He has bestowed upon us, I can’t help but find these forty days prior to our Savior’s resurrection a vital element of our faith.

Although not specifically described in the Bible, Lent is a time of preparation before the celebration of the resurrection – a time for soul repentance, restoration, and refocusing. 

It is a time to prepare our hearts… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to quiet our souls… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to turn back to Him and away from anything which takes our focus off of Him… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to restore our Joy… Jesus is coming.
It is a time to refocus… Jesus is coming.

The season of Lent began last Wednesday on Ash Wednesday when we were reminded we are but dust.

 All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Ecclesiastes 3:20

The season continues for forty days (not including Sundays) until Easter Sunday.

Is your heart stirring in you to move towards this time of preparation?
Is your heart moving you to fast?
Do you feel led to let something go for forty days?
Do you feel pressed to do something different for someone or something for the next 40 days?

God calls each of us to prepare our hearts in different ways.

One year I was drinking way too much coffee, so I gave it up.  Every time I wanted a cup I realized that while my sacrifice is meaningful, it paled in comparison to the huge sacrifice my Savior made for me.  I gave up coffee for five years for Lent.  It was hard every year, yet in my small sacrifice, He gave me strength daily and I relied on Him to wake me up and give me kind words throughout the day!  Each time I thought of coffee, I thought of Him.  Each year I turned my heart back towards Him and He prepared my heart for Resurrection Sunday.

One year I had let exercise go by the wayside.  This was a big deal for me because I was a marathon runner.  So, I committed to running every day for forty days.  I got up to run at 5am each morning, but if something came up and I slipped through my day without a run, I still went. Sometimes it was ten o’clock at night when I was squeezing in a run!  Regardless, I put on my praise music and ran!  He gave me the daily strength I needed and in each run I grew closer to Him as He prepared my heart for Resurrection Sunday.

Many people give up (fast) from certain foods and they are reminded of Him each time they crave what they love.

It’s not something we have to do, it’s something we choose to do – to move our hearts back to where they need to be in Him.

Many people commit to reading Scripture every day for forty days.

Here are a few Scripture reading plans for Lent:

Why Failing at Lent May Be Succeeding at Lent by Ann Voskamp

Lent Challenge: Read the New Testament in 40 Days by Margaret Feinberg

Seeking Joy: Finding Joy in 40 Days by Mindy Hopman

You are the only one who knows what you need to do to prepare your heart for this season, and it’s not too late to begin.

Whether it’s letting something go, or doing something daily, both are hard to do for 40 days and impossible to do without His strength.

When you get to the point of being at the end of yourself, that’s when you find Him, and YOU can do all things through HIM who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).

Heavenly Father,
I praise you for this season of heart preparation.  Help our hearts come as one into Your presence.  May we repent of what we are holding onto or knee deep into, may You restore our joy, and May our focus be completely on You.  Bring us back into your presence, because we know that in Your presence there is fullness of joy.
In Jesus Name I Pray,
Mindy

Fighting The Good Fight

Fighting The Good Fight

Some statistics show that only around 8% of people that make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their goal. That seems very discouraging to me and I wonder why that is sometimes. What I’m really pondering are the positive and negative consequences of reaching our goals. Fads versus lifestyle changes… One of my ideals would be to be able to just say no to sugar. But if you know me, you know how much I love ice cream and cookies. And that this goal seems nearly impossible – it would definitely be a fad.

I started to think about how people can often be so glorified for having some awe inspiring testimony, like overcoming cancer, losing a ton of weight, finally kicking the drug habit, or being a hardcore rock star then finding Jesus and becoming a worship leader. What about the guy who’s been a steady Eddy his whole life? Or the mom who has made many a sacrifice for her children and spends an hour a day in prayer? The person who lives upright and has been rock solid always. I don’t hear those stories as much.

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This line of thinking makes me ponder on the story of the prodigal son; the lost son of whom Jesus shares about. The son I most often think of is the guy that squanders his inheritance, comes crawling back, and is welcomed by a feast rather than a shaming environment. And then there’s the son who has been there all along and experiences jealously and resentment when his dad starts throwing a big bash for the bratty brother. The dad still loves them both in the midst of the tainted history and temper tantrums. Can you relate to either brother, or maybe both? Whichever end of this spectrum you may be in, or if you’re somewhere in between, take heart and be glad. God loves us, each and everyone. He wants to bless us with parties and long-term, ongoing abundance, even through trials.

I can definitely relate to both brothers. When I came to accept that alcohol and drugs really had created damage in my life, I had to look at not only all the negative consequences that had occurred, but also at all the positive consequences that did NOT occur. It was very revealing to me to think of the things I might have done with my life if I hadn’t been so consumed with the party lifestyle.

So I bring this all the way back around to what’s going on with me today. I was researching natural ways to treat an under-active thyroid, and the results are very similar to natural treatments for many other sicknesses: cut out gluten, take the right vitamins, eliminate processed foods and sugars, eat healthy fat, exercise, practice relaxation techniques, etc. There are very few people I know that really practice ‘clean eating’. It’s a battle in our culture and society. But I think about them and the positive consequences they experience like satisfaction with their bodies, higher energy, less illness. And then I think about all the negative consequences they might NOT be experiencing, like hypothyroidism and having to take hormones – and the list could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at my issue at hand.

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So I want to strive to be the steady Eddy this go around. The other brother that’s sticking around and intentionally hanging out with God, my Father (hopefully without too many temper tantrums). And making healthy choices all the way around that include nourishing my spirit through prayer, Bible reading, and meditation,
and nourishing the body through cleaner (I can’t imagine not eating ice cream) eating, relaxation, and exercise. The body, mind, spirit connection is far beyond what we’ll ever completely comprehend and I could write another blog just sharing my thoughts on that. But I’ll leave you with one last thought: may we glorify God through each decision we make today and enjoy the positive consequences and be grateful for not suffering through negative consequences that haven’t happened.

How about you? Do you feel like the older brother? The younger brother? Both?

Kristine

Am I Enough?

Am I Enough?

As I sit tucked away in the corner of my favorite coffee shop, I’m in the midst of one of my guilty pleasures…people watching. Scanning the room I see the young college student in his jeans and t-shirt chillin’ by the window, sipping his cup of coffee, and zoned out with his earbuds while his books sit untouched. Then at the big table in the center of the room is the group of housewives dressed in the latest fashion chatting about the best restaurants in town. Over at the private corner table are the two older women who have met to talk about something deeper as one of them leans in toward the other to hold her hand and comforts her.

Then all of a sudden…time stops…SHE WALKS IN…the woman whose appearance is close to perfect. She’s wearing the latest designer heels, has seemingly perfect legs, a skirt that shapes her as if it was tailored only for her, every hair on her head is in the right place, her flawless skin and commercial smile cause everyone in the room to take notice for at least a second but for most, longer than a second. She acts like she doesn’t even notice or care that she grabbed the attention of close to everyone in the coffee shop. She scans the menu like it’s an average day and an average moment for her. I sit there in awe thinking, what would that be like?

It’s THAT type of woman that starts to mess with my head. Why? Because I know I’ll never be like that. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum from THAT woman. If I could, I would wear t-shirt and jeans, tennis shoes, and a ball cap every day for the rest of my life. And most days, I do! When I see women like that, I start to cut myself down, how I fall short of what our world tells us is beautiful. She oozes femininity and beauty….what a woman is supposed to be like, right? As if flipping a switch, I quickly fall into the trap of feeling “not enough.”

But then my spirit gently reminds me, there’s good news for women “like me”…God makes clear in His word about who I am! Believe it or not, today I’m grateful I’m not THAT woman in the coffee shop. Why?

1. BECAUSE HE KNOWS MY NAME– Let me state that again…DSC_0019

THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE KNOWS MY NAME. He knows tomboy Christy from Arkansas. From the beginning of time to eternity, He knows ME. I can hardly wrap my head around that fact alone. God took time out of His busy schedule and thought about ME…down to every intricate detail of my being.

Psalm 139:13-14 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.” Vs16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

And in Matthew 10:30 – Jesus says, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

In Isaiah 43:1The Lord says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

2. I AM CHOSEN and I AM HIS CHILD– The mere facts that HE CHOSE ME and calls me HIS CHILD makes my stock go UP…and up FAST!

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

I am a child of the King Romans 8:16 says“The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

To me, there’s nothing more valuable in this world than God calling me His child. He is declaring I am His and I get to be with Him for eternity. There is no greater gift or VALUE than that!

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.”

3. GOD HAS GIVEN ME SPECIFIC GIFTS and TALENTS I have a specific role designed by God to carry out for His purpose! That role was set up way before I ever came on the scene.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says, There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. NOW TO EACH ONE the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good.”

destroyer Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God designed me with specific gifts for HIS PURPOSE. THAT woman in the coffee shop can’t fulfill what I’m supposed to fulfill. I’m designed to fulfill a completely different role for His Kingdom than she is, and she is designed to fulfill a role tailored specifically for her as well.

I’m grateful I’m not THAT woman. God knows my name, He has given me gifts and a role specifically tailored to ME, and He has chosen ME in ADVANCE to do those works, and above all, I AM HIS, a child of the one True King.

Bravegirl Jennifer says, “A woman’s armor comes in all designs.” Today, I like God’s design of me. I don’t want to dismiss, criticize, or compare His workmanship any longer. God’s word says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Thank you God for creating ME. Thank you God for creating the person reading this right now. I urge you, reader, to dwell on these scriptures so that you don’t forget how amazing you are. You’re amazing because God created YOU. You are here because He CHOSE YOU to be here for this particular time in history for this generation. You have a purpose that no one can fulfill but YOU! Now THAT is amazing!

Will you join me? Will you tell God thank you for creating you? Will you ask Him how you can fulfill His design for your life? Let God show you what He can do with YOU, His workmanship, which is always enough.

God Bless,

Christy

 

 

 

 

Famous One

Famous One

From a very young age, I have loved to perform. I can recall the hearth in our house when I was in elementary school. It was wide and deep, with three lava-lamp looking light fixtures (gold) that had each one primary-colored bulb. Red, yellow, and blue.
My sisters and I would position ourselves under the bulbs and sing for my parents on our “stage”. We put on plays, I was often the writer, director and main character.
We did a nativity one year and used two sawhorses and plywood to create a manger scene. I was delighted to let my sister and brother represent Mary and Joseph, my other two sisters with multiple stuffed animals represented the shepherds. I, in my blue bathrobe with white lace trim, was the sole speaking part as an angel that came up behind the scene and appeared above the blanket-covered boards and spoke the “Glory to God in the highest” part.

I began to write my own songs as soon as I could rhyme words, and my mom taught me how to pick out songs on our little toy piano. It grew to six months of piano lessons before my teacher fell and broke her hip and quit teaching. I was in band and choir from 4th grade through my senior year of high school and I majored in music in college. In high school I also began auditioning for school plays and overcame a lot of my shyness. I loved above all things to make people laugh. They weren’t actually laughing at me, but at my character and that was a pleasant reprieve from real life.
I was selected to perform my original song, playing piano and singing, at our high school graduation and even had my photograph in the paper!

By the time I attended college, I was convinced I was destined to be a songwriter.
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I also dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom. How little I understood the conflict those dreams represented.

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I will soon turn 33 and I’ve had a little perspective, but a small part of me has still clung to that dream of fame, recognition, accolade, importance, pomp and circumstance. I want to know that I matter, that I am important.
The problem? I’m seeking all of this from the wrong audience. I was born to be adored, but not by my fans. I was born to be adored by my Father. I am a delight to Him and bring a smile to His face every time He sees me.

He purposed me with all my talents and gifts, and my desires are not wrong, just misguided.
In the span of humankind, we are a drop in the bucket. If we’re really diligent we might get 90 to 100 years out of these bodies, but that is not much. We have seen repeatedly the sad loss of lives at their own hands, those who had seemed to have all they could possibly want.“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” Mark 8:36 (NLT)

A dear friend shared with me such wise counsel recently as I told her of wanting to rid myself of the dream of becoming famous, knowing that it was not in line with my heart and soul which desires to please God. What she said will forever change my outlook. As I told her this, she heard in her head, “Make Him Famous.”

She told me that in doing so, my soul would find the filling renown I have sought. With every letter I type, every word I speak, every song I sing, every moment I share with every person I encounter, let my life be spent making Him famous.

The image I had this weekend was that of a vase or liquid-filled glass. When the glass is clear, you can see inside it. You will not as much focus on whether the glass is cracked or pitted or perfectly shaped. You will be looking at the contents. If instead, it is a ceramic container or vessel, you will be staring at it alone. It cannot show you what is inside, so you will meticulously scrutinize its every detail, wondering.

Imagine that inside that vessel is the one solution to your every problem. You drink of it and you will live forever and have whatever you need and you will be fulfilled and satisfied for eternity.
Perhaps what is inside is lovely, and aromatic, and you want to have it, but somehow it is masked by the container and you will be turned away if the presentation fails to meet your expectations.
Will you be drawn to the liquid or to the cup?
“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14 (NASB)


Will I be consumed with being an attractive cup or will I allow my importance to come from what I carry inside me? Will I embrace the fact that I am a cup, not a decoration?

And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:5-7 (NLT)

This year, may my life represent all that is within me and may I truly be able to Make Him Famous.
Our tagline here is that “It’s All For His Glory”. And that’s really where it’s at. When it’s not about me, there is no longer a burden of perfection that is unattainable.

 

How are you feeling after reading this?
Have you been feeling weary and exhausted and unsure what you’re lacking?
Do you seem to go up and down on this topic?
You’re not alone and we’d love to pray with you. Feel free to leave a comment!

Tammy

 

 

Photo credits via google image search:

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Healing Secrets

Healing Secrets

Deep, dark secrets.   No one has to know.    My secrets are not hurting anyone as long as they just stay here with me.
So what’s the point of sharing them?  I don’t get it.

Those were my thoughts as I sat across from my sponsor at her patio table one summer morning. I was working on what was probably my tenth cigarette of the hour– smoking like a train because #1, I loved cigarettes, and #2, we were talking about things that took me out of my comfort zone quickly.

We were discussing some things I had never shared with anyone, ESPECIALLY the people I respected the most… my parents.  They just happened to be coming into town that day to visit and celebrate with me my one year sobriety birthday.  My sponsor looked me in the eye and with a concerned, loving look said, “I think you need to tell your parents about everything. It’s eating your lunch.”

I looked at her straight in the eye and with a tone of determination and authority,  said, “No F’ing way in hell.”

In those days, the “F” bomb for me was quite common.  I was struggling in my recovery. I was depressed and couldn’t get out of it.  After throwing the “F bomb” in her face, she gently said, “Ok, how about this…go home, get on your knees before God, pray about it, and if you still feel this way, don’t talk to them about anything.”

I said, “Ok. I can handle that.” After all, I wasn’t agreeing to anything. Talking to God about it was not a problem at all. I could do THAT!

Walking back in the door of my duplex, I went straight to my bedroom and fell on my knees and started to cry. No…I actually started sobbing…overwhelmed with fear: fear of rejection…rejection from the two people I respected most in this world, full of frustration wondering why this was so important to say… couldn’t I just repent and let my past stay in the past?

“LORD THERE IS NO WAY I CAN DO THIS!  IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO, YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO DO IT.  I CANNOT DO THIS!  THERE IS JUST NO WAY!

Leaning against my dresser, I felt hopeless. Then, I heard it…coming from the kitchen: my sobriety song…the one I’d listen to when I felt discouraged.

My ipod was on the charger and I’d left it on shuffle that morning. It had been playing all morning from the time I’d left my house to go to my sponsor’s, until now. I hadn’t touched it. There were about 1,500 songs on my ipod and I was amazed THAT particular song started playing.

The next song right after that was “Happy Birthday.” It was my sobriety birthday! I sat there in awe of the two “random” songs I had just heard on SHUFFLE and hope started creeping in through those fearful tears. That defensive attitude I displayed just a short while ago started to soften.  Music is one of the most powerful ways the Lord touches me and He got my attention that day. He got me good.

Getting up, I walked into the kitchen and stared at my ipod.  The next song that came on began with these words:

I’m forgiven, because you were forsaken, I’m accepted, you were condemned. I’m alive and well, your spirit is within me, because you died and rose again. Amazing love, how can it be, you my King would die for me? Amazing Love, I know it’s true, it’s my joy to honor you in all I do, I honor you.”

If there was anything I needed to hear, it was those first words: “I’m forgiven.”
Then the next line… “I’m accepted.”

Wow, how powerful those words were to me in that moment. God was showing me that  the outcome of this conversation with my parents didn’t matter.  I am forgiven and accepted by Him.  HE is my security.  I started to cry again and said, “Ok God, I’ll do it.” I couldn’t believe how my mind had changed so quickly. All of a sudden I had total peace. I had the strength to do it.  Just leaving that small door open of praying to God made all the difference.

My parents showed up not long after. We sat and talked for over an hour and I confessed, making amends with them.  They were so gracious to me and we even prayed together when it was over.  I realize that other people do not always have the same grace given to them as my parents showed me that day and I will forever be grateful for that. But even if they had not responded in a grace filled way, walking in obedience to God was what had to take place in order for my healing to begin.  It still would have been worth it.

Because of my confession and amends, a new freedom and a new power rose up in me, leading to more healing. So THAT’S WHY His word says we are to confess our sins– so that we may be healed!

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16 paraphrased)  In other words, healing starts with CONFESSION. And you know what? The more I tell my testimony, the more freedom I receive EVERY TIME.

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There would be many more moments like this one in the years that followed and God would continue to show up and walk beside me during those steps of obedience. The more steps I took, the more freedom and confidence I would receive. I started experiencing His faithfulness, His peace, His joy, self-control, and His love. I started getting into His word and actually applying it to my life. Getting a taste of the fruit of His spirit only made me hungry for more. I realized THAT was the fruit I had been seeking for so long that I just never could find. I was just looking in all the wrong places.

 

As a result, today I no longer walk in shame or guilt over my past mistakes. I don’t have to keep secrets for fear of rejection from others. I realize that my purpose on this earth is to GLORIFY HIM. Because God is the center of my life, I’m able to accept His grace for the times I mess up and then make it right with the people I’ve hurt,  Experiencing Him overrides all my fears of not measuring up or worrying about what other people think.  It’s so much sweeter that I’ll take the risk.

Now the question remains…will you take the risk? I hope you will…because YOU’RE WORTH IT. Join me in risking it all for Him. He is faithful and waiting.

God Bless!

Christy

 

Sunshine

Taking pleasure in our weaknesses isn’t something that comes naturally to us. Our pride puts up a strong powerful wall to protect ourselves from anyone who might use our weaknesses against us. What if we set our pride aside and put our trust in Christ’s protection? God’s word tells us to boast, be glad and take pleasure in our weaknesses. When we share our weakness we are saying, “God I don’t care how people perceive me or what they think of me. I want them to see the truth of who you are in my life.”

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians12:8-9 

Sunshine

Recently I participated in a cancer fundraiser in my hometown. Every year my employer has a team at this event. We have a small committee of six people who do the bulk of the work behind the scenes to prepare for this fundraiser. One of the assignments of the committee is to decorate our booth. We brainstormed decorating ideas. Now it’s time to put our ideas into action and what happens…. not everyone helps! The majority of the work weighs on a few of the committee members. My resentments start creeping in as I begin to judge those who aren’t helping as much as the others.

As I and a couple others start working on the decorations I start to see how creative it is. I’m convinced we will surely win the decorating contest! We won last year. We can do it again this year! My competitive and perfectionist nature go into overdrive. My tongue speaks toxic words that are critical and demanding. The tasks are no longer enjoyable. To do lists get longer. There aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. To make matters worse I have brought home my frustrations and poor attitude as I work on the decorations in the garage.

Through all the preparations and turmoil I am praying to God, begging God to take away my inability to work with people. I was so consumed with my agenda I couldn’t see the depths of my actions.

The decorations went up minutes before the event started. For the next twenty-four hours there were conversational walkers, serious runners, variety of music, a busy silent auction, tons of food and most important warm weather. The fundraising exceeded all expectation!

BoothNow it was time to announce the winner of the best decoration. There was no doubt in my mind that we would win. My anticipation was building while waiting for my team’s name to be announced. The winner is……. not my team! How could this be? I worked so long. I took the time to redo things that weren’t right. I went to the store countless times. I planned the placement of the decorations. My thoughts went in every direction trying to make sense of why we didn’t win.

 

After cleaning up I drove home with a full car of supplies and the decorations. Still perplexed by the whole experience my youngest son says to me in the car, “Mom can we hang the sun in my tree fort when we get home?” It was at that moment I realized that my agenda had led me to wander off from God. I was busy focusing on judging those for not helping. I failed to notice all the times my son asked if he could help me. Being consumed by perfection I wouldn’t even consider allowing my 7 year old son to participate in making the decorations with me. My agenda was far different from God’s. God’s plan was designed to bring my family closer together after our battle we endured this year with my brain tumor.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37 

As we pulled into our driveway my exhaustion, body aches and poor attitude disappeared. Centered on God’s plan I didn’t waste another moment. We took the giant sun decoration out of the car, searched in the garage for the fattest nails, grabbed the hammer then headed up the tree fort. With a couple swings of the hammer the sun was shining brightly in his tree fort. We sat together on the wood floor gazing at this giant beautiful sun that filled an entire wall in his tree fort.

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He now had my undivided attention as he talked about the sun and anything else that was on him mind.

 

 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18

 

God allowed me to wander off for a short while. He finds me lost and confused. He shows me how weak I am without him in all areas of my life. For that I am glad to boast in my weaknesses, I take pleasure in my weaknesses. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 

Mom & Cougar

 

Do you struggle to share your weakness?

When was the last time you shared your weakness with someone?

 

 

 

Shelly

Believe

Believe

Three years ago on this very day I was at a crossroads in my life.  Miserable with a dark secret I had the plans in motion to leave my husband, job and church.  I thought that nothing could fix this mess of a life I got myself into.  Once people knew, then I would be the gossip of the town and a disgrace to my family.

Proverbs 29:25  Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.

Any direction I looked my marriage would surely fail.  All I could do was hide, paralyzed with fear and couldn’t ask for help.  Then something unexpected happened, God intervened.  I remember every detail of that convicting day, he saw through the lies, he knew everything.  I had no idea that I wasn’t going to change me but God was going to change me.  I made numerous attempts to try fixing this problem on my own. Each effort in my own strength I failed.  On May 1, 2011 I surrender to God’s way when I went in an out-patient treatment facility for alcohol abuse.

I was angry, I thought God was picking on me.  The word gratitude made me cringe.  Family life was worse due to my absence.  The storm raged on, I had a choice to quit or hold on tight trusting in God that the storm would pass.  I choose trust.  He provided me with sponsors, AA meetings, 12steps and other people who were also struggling.  As time went on I began to gain the courage to share with my church what was going on.  Then I opened up to several close co-workers.  The gradual changes God was making in me became more noticeable to my family.  Instead of resenting my absences they began encouraging me as I went out the door.   Before I entered recovery I was taunted with thoughts of how people would responded if they knew about my drinking.  None of it ever happened. It was all lies.  The more people I told the more support, prayer, teaching and encouragement I received.

Today isn’t about having a celebration for me for not having a drink in 3 years.   It’s about my relationship with Christ.  He took me as I was broken, ugly and ashamed.  Jesus didn’t require me to stop drinking before he would love, save or forgive me.  I just needed to believe in Him.

Romans 10:9-10If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

2 Corinthians 5:17 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

These last six months have been the most difficult in the three years of recovery.  Healing from a brain tumor then my husband was unemployed for 2 ½ months.  If I said that I hadn’t thought about a drink, well then I would be lying.  When those thoughts start creeping in it’s time to get to a meeting.  Most importantly I receive my strength in God’s word to face the trails in my life.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

 1 Corinthians 10:1313 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

If there should ever be a day when my pride takes over which leads to a relapse God’s word tells the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7.  The parable is about the sheep that never meant to wander off.  This one lost sheep is so important that he must be found.  Our gracious, forgiving and loving Heavenly Father finds us and there is a triumphant joy in heaven.  Once saved, always saved.  You can’t lose your salvation.

Luke 15:7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

When I started this journey I was resistant because God was going to take drinking away from me.  I knew I could never safely have another drink.    What he gave me in replace of that drink was far greater than I ever could have imaged or deserved.  He restored my marriage, taught me to enjoy being in the present moment with my children, a supportive church family, created new friendship, gave me a new position at work, financially provided for our family and the courage to share with all of you who Christ is and what he can do in your life if you believe.

Colossians 2:3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:6-7 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Do you believe Christ can forgive, heal & restore your bondage?  Are you not sure if your bondage is something Christ can free you from?  How has your faith in Christ changed your life?

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