Thursday, October 14, 2010

My past does not define my future

I talked with Leah today. I am always so encouraged by her as I hear the Spirit that is inside of me speak through me, assuring her that I am more or less on the right path, am changed from the person I used to be some 16 or so years ago since I met her. Oh my, how the time flies. Oh my, how hard I was, closed, reactive, stressed, hurting, angry a lot of the time, resentful, burdened, enslaved, cold and unloving.
I was a good person. Isn’t that what they all say? What did she see? This young woman, who seemed so innocent to the ways of the world - how could she have ever thought to consider I could be saved? After all, I was sure I didn’t need saving. I went to church, sometimes. Believed in God and thought about Him when I needed something. Why would she venture into my world, risk getting dirtied by my inequities? There is of course no answer; no earthly answer to these rhetorical questions. There is a heavenly answer though. When someone like Leah walks in the footsteps of the Savior, they see what He sees…where someone is going, not where they’ve been. They see redemption, not condemnation. They cloak the anger and pain with love and pray for a softness to take over the hardened. That was Leah’s prayer for me; that the God of all creation would soften my heart, and draw me near to Him.
I look back on the last 16 years with regret sometimes and I see how close I came to ‘getting’ it before now and also how close I came to completely falling away. Sometimes it feels as though I have wasted so much time, but I know there is no benefit from looking at my walk, my transformation, the revealing of my new self and how long it took, in a negative way. Every seed has its own germination time, every fruit it’s time of peak harvest. God knows this and I trust that while He would have loved to spare me from some of my own undoing, He allowed it as part of the process. What good is watering a seed if it is plucked from the earth before it can bear fruit? What good is harvesting the fruit if it is bitter or sour without enough time to ripen to full sweetness? Oh how I love the God who allowed me my own will in order to choose Him. Oh how I love that He chose me first. I choose my future path now…rather than wandering down ‘a’ path and sometimes veering off into brambles and thorns before stumbling on the easy path again and being moved along with the rest of the world. This path is not as easy, it is less traveled….but oh the colors. They are so vibrant, and the air is so clear and the scent of God is everywhere. This is the path I choose. It is the path that begins with acceptance. Acceptance of myself and the embracement of an attitude of gratefulness and trust that today, I am exactly where I am supposed to be. This fruit of course, is not yet fully ripened, has a ways to go to full sweetness...but the roots are on firm ground now, near running waters that give life and oh how the Son does shine!

If there are trials, they will strengthen me, when there is bounty I will share it and where there is love, my God is there and I will run to Him.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life
Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Max Lucado is the quintessential story teller. In Outlive Your Life he continually weaves a story that readers across the masses can relate to while bringing attention to the social injustices of our time. Max paints a transparent picture where he, like us, is no less tempted to turn a blind eye and allow life to go on as usual while avoiding the uncomfortableness of facing those less fortunate.

Throughout the book Max reminds us of how the 1st Century church dealt with social injustice by drawing from their eye-witness accounts of how Jesus treated the poor, the handicapped, the diseased and the unloved. Max reveals how the extra-ordinary can be accomplished by the ordinary and challenges the reader to outlive his life by allowing God to work through us. As Max puts it “none of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone”.

I am reminded through the text as I read in my warm, comfortable home that I am among the wealthy in respect to the vast majority of the rest of the world. I am average for sure, among my peers and neighbors but according to Max Lucado “In the game of life, many of us who cross home plate do so because we were born on third base. Others aren’t even on a team”.

For us, the writer points out that our biggest obstacle to outliving our lives is letting go of our biases and reaching out to those in need regardless of their background. We are called to understand the common Savior that binds us to one another. I highly recommend Outlive Your Life and join the author and his call to step out of my comfort level and make a difference.

This review was completed after reading a complimentary advanced copy of Outlive Your Life that was provided through Booksneeze by the publisher. I review for BookSneeze

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Heavens Proclaim His Glory

The Heavens Proclaim His Glory - a book review
a spectacular view of creation through the lens of the hubble telescope
created and compiled by Lisa Stilwell
Thomas Nelson publishers

This is a fascinating book where galactical images leap off of the page.

Star-studded quotes from the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to current day Christian recording artists Third Day are used to draw the reader to understand this vast creation and to bring glory to it's creator. We are spiritually lead through the eye of the Hubble and the scriptures to understand our minute existence, the infinitesimal position of humanity, in which God chooses to place his image.

Science is brought to life and the heavens are brought to earth. The details of each of the Hubble photos are presented in a way that the reader is entranced by the magnitude of it all. The reader is lead to an appreciation of the Hubble Telescope and the value it has brought to the world. Scientific facts speak to the knowledgeable background of the author and contibutors of this delightful piece of science made into art.

An awesome coffee table book that will thrill the scientist and comfort the spiritual heart. This book will entertain children and educate the adult. It is something that the reader can continue to go back to and walk away with a nugget of inspiration possible only through the majesty which is the creation we live within.

I review for BookSneeze

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Further Examination

I attended a Singles Christian Conference the other day entitled the Agape Event. Reknowned speaker Dr. Gary Smalley, Shaunti Feldhahn, Pastor T. C. Brantley of Restoration Springs Church and Rev. Dr. Arthur Rouner blessed the attendees with insightful and encouraging presentations.

While I welcomed the opportunity to be with other Christian singles and to be taught from God's word I can't help but wonder why the old hurts continue to come back in times of reflection as certain subjects are discussed. I have prayed and forgiven and put the past behind me in order to move forward but still, I have to it enough? I am lead to think: What have I left out, missed, neglected, is still unresolved? But then I wonder...are those hurts and those thoughts merely things the great deceiver wants me to believe or stay distracted with to keep me from doing the things God has in mind for me? for His Kingdom?

Dr. Smalley has a 4 Day Belief Challenge - that in essence teaches one to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" 2Cor10:5 And so I memorize and meditate on the scriptures which remind me to be humble, love the Lord, Love my neighbor and rejoice in sufferings. I replace those random negative thoughts with whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— is excellent or praiseworthy Phil 4:8 and the Spirit within me leaps for joy giving approval and rejoicing the victory over the enemy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Moving forward

First, let me say that yes, I have finally deleted the 'Sent' folder harboring my troubled emotions, wants and needs from an unhealthy relationship. I finally saw them for what they were, my troubled, repeated talking to the wind...asking for the answers that I already possessed. What closure, what a lifted weight.

I'm still sailing along on my post-cruise's kind of like the honeymoon phase I've been saying. It's interesting, usually it takes no time at all for the daily drugery and stress of work etc. to take it's toll and that relaxing feeling of vacation to rapidly fade.

I'm enjoying listening to Podcasts, audio downloads and music tracks from some of my favorite Christian ministries right now. There are the teachings of the Sheasby's, Max Lucado, Greg Laurie from Harvest Ministries, Joyce Meyer and Rick Warren, and of course those who sing about my very struggles, desires and exhistance i.e. Michael W. Smith, Natalie Grant and Matthew West among others. These people, these gifts from God are inspiring me to be all that I can be. I know, it sounds like a Nike commercial - but I mean it. All I can think about is what can I do? How can I use my voice, my talents and my resources for the glory of God and for the betterment of others?

I think that part of becoming who God wants me to be lies in the relationships I have with people. I am blessed with awesome friends, some long-standing, some very new...but I know that they are all in my life for very specific reasons and I am greatful to God for the gift that they are. They challenge me, encourage me, make me cry as I share their pain and their sorrow and make me laugh like a child. But it is how I treat and love those that I don't know that I am most interested in. It is stepping out from my comfort zone and availing myself to those who need a helping hand that I seek. Now I know that there is no shortage of people and situations that can use help...and so I pray that God will continue to transform me into the desciple that he has in mind, that he will break my heart for what breaks his and allow His love to flow through me and out to the direction of the need.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I am Legitimate

I shared earlier my need to be validated. The definition of ‘validating’ (which is necessary for validation) is: to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of.

Verb: Justify or make lawful.
to establish as lawfully born
to justify; sanction or authorize

That brings me back to the awesome book by John Sheasby called Birthright.
Through the book and the subsequent bible studies that he presented on my Alaskan Cruise we learn that we as heirs to God’s Kingdom are loved unconditionally by our Father who sent us His son to reveal his character to us. Through the teaching of Jesus we see that God is our loving Father who simply wants to be in a loving relationship with us. For us to tug gently on his nightshirt and ask for all that we need will be freely given to us as his children.

We see in Romans 8:
15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

We are legitimate…we are sons and daughters. And…we are justified.

Galations 3: In Christ we are justified by faith

Galations 3: 26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

It is sad really…to think that my Father in Heaven had to watch as I, who had been given all, beat myself up and allowed myself to be marginalized because of feelings of unworthiness and because of the pain and damage of years of not feeling validated – when in truth I am fully worthy and a legitimate heir to his Kingdom and have been all along. There is nothing that I need to measure up to…no assurance that I need to have from a person, a man, a relationship, which will validate me more than I already am!

Father, I am so sorry for being blinded by human frailty and pride and for failing to see just how worthy and legitimate I am. I accept all that you have waiting for me and am in love with the Princess that you have made, which is me - an heir to your incredible Kingdom! I walk through your creation with renewed vision and everlasting hope.

Friday, July 30, 2010


I have over 700 ‘sent’ emails that I sent to my ex-boyfriend during the time we were in a relationship stashed away in an electronic folder somewhere. At that time I thought if I communicated what I wanted, needed, liked, disliked, appreciated, respected, laughed about, was saddened by, had to offer, loved…he would eventually ‘get’ me. He would understand who I was and why I was such a catch. The responses were minimal, limited, fell short of what I was looking for. And yet, I did the same thing, over and over again, day after day. I was looking for validation and I did not receive it. In fact, I had been seeking validation for a very, very long time. So…validation – what is it and why do we need it?

Merriam-Webster says: validation is an act, process, or instance of validating.
Of course we all know that validation can be a very technical term and relate to very technical systems etc., but in this instance I am talking about emotional validation.

Validation: in psychology and human communication, the reciprocated communication of respect which signifies that the other's opinions are acknowledged, respected and heard (Wikipedia)

Merriam-Webster goes on to define validating as: to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of. Oh…we’re back to that are we? Interesting…again I discover that I was seeking what I had already be given.

In my defense, I never felt validated by my father. He was a good man who loved me I’m sure, a devote Catholic who was controlling and at the same time needy…often jealous. But never jealous about not having enough time or closeness with me, but time with my brother and later my son – that is what he held in high regard. Those were the relationships he was most interested in, the people whose time he wanted and if I came in between him and them the result was an angry, jealous man.

And so I discovered over the last year or so that as an adult I have continually sought to be validated in my relationships. Again, as I studied and allowed myself the value that I deserve I began to feel worthy. That feeling of worthiness allowed me to book that cruise which is where I began to learn about my legitimacy. To me legitimacy relates to birth and John Sheasby's
The Birthright has been a Godsend (aren't they all?). I will finish up next time with how I think his book and study is the culmination of a few years of discovery and how it is shaping my future.

Now here's a question...why do I still have those emails in that folder?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What I realize now

When I was in a bad relationship and under the bondage of fear that kept me from walking away, I was defining my worth through the way others viewed or treated me. I was treated like the pan on the back burner that gets burned because no one thinks about it. And so I came to feel that way about myself. I struggled and worried and over-compensated to try and make everyone else happy. The result was I let all of my boundaries down and everyone took advantage. My self-worth kept slipping downwards and although I was a believer, I didn't believe in myself. I didn't believe my inherent worth which comes from a much higher power.

Through the need for self-preservation I finally left that relationship, got into therapy and began bible studies with some awesome women who were going through different but equally damaging situations. Through our studies I began to think differently of myself as God revealed himself to me. We read The Shack and were shown the person of the Holy Spirit. We studied the Holy Spirit and began to feel that special connection. Difficulties in our congregation arose and we became closer and branched out on our own...starting a house church and continually seeking God's will for us.

So, the realization is that we can loose the earthly things we are given if we don't hold onto them...but, what the Father has given we can never loose. It is ours, our inheritance, our birthright, that has been freely given through grace and mercy. Our worth is immeasurable because we are heirs to the greatest Kingdom of all. No one can devalue us but if we devalue ourselves we are not walking in faith. What an awesome thought...I may not be perfect but I am perfectly made and all the riches of my Father are mine - if that's not reason to celebrate and love life, I don't know what is.

What I used to think

Do you remember being given something as a kid and told "hold on to it", "grab it"..."hold on or you'll loose it"? You can have something handed to you, but if you don't grab hold, hold it tight, it can slip through your fingers and be gone forever. Have you ever carried a small child or an animal and stopped holding on to them? Even the animal will scramble, dig its claws in...anything to keep from slipping and's a natural response to hold on.

Love can be like can be handed to you, yours for the taking....but if you don't hold on to it, clench it in your fist, it can slip through your fingers....fall out of your grasp. Maybe it will fall and break into a million pieces that can't be put together again. Maybe it will fall and a big chip will be taken out and it will never be the same, or maybe it will be like sand and it will slowly sift away until there is nothing left.

People can be like the small animal or the child, digging their claws in, desperately holding on so they're not dropped, so they don't fall into the nothingness.

But the bottom line is, if the one who has been given the item, the love, the child, does not choose to take hold, those things will eventually slip away and be lost.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stepping out of the box

I've had it in my heart for a while to take myself on a cruise. I've always wanted to go but never allowed myself the pleasure, never made the time for - me. An Alaskan Cruise was always a dream and I had wanted to go for my 50th birthday but I didn't give in last year. When 2010 came around I recommitted to looking for a cruise and was looking for a Christian Cruise as I had made a recommittment to the Lord after a downward slip following the break-up of a long term relationship. I happened upon the Michael W. Smith and Friends Alaskan Cruise with Max Lucado, Matthew West, Natalie Grant and others and knew it was the cruise for me.

I recently got back from this amazing cruise. It was my first cruise ever and I went all by myself. There was a time as recently as 2 years ago when I wouldn't eat in a restaurant by myself. I just didn't feel comfortable, felt judged, thought being alone was not okay. My kids were on the verge of leaving the nest and I was grasping at straws, in a relationship that I knew was not healthy and feeling inadequate in many ways.

And so, this solo first time cruise was a step of faith in many ways. Faith in God and faith in myself. I knew I was blessed to even be able to go on a cruise in such economic times and I prayed fervently for God to show me what He wanted me to see, to teach me what He wanted me to learn...and He did.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Where I'm going

I eased over that mid-life hill recently and feel renewed rather than aged. My faith has a lot to do with my outlook on life. My trials have brought me to a place of great reflection and to a realization that they have helped to produce in me - endurance, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness and fortitude. The 'A' personality is slowly softening and the 'hot buttons' seem to have fading LEDs lately, but only because I'm allowing my creator to mold in me what He has had in mind all along. There is still much to do, to learn, to forgive, to mend but I have only to look to my heavenly father for all that I need to accomplish. In my quest to move forward I reflect and analyze what has transpired in the past.