Brand New – FLOURISH

flourishmumspurpBrand new sure looks good on you! – Shake, Mercy Me

I simply love this song! One day, as I was singing along with the radio, the above line in the song jumped out at me and I thought it was the perfect audial to my visual. In other words, the lyrics matched the picture I wanted to paint with my words…

BRAND NEW

Brand new sure looks good on you! Most women, me included, enjoy shopping, but even if you don’t enjoy it, I think it’s safe to say that you love putting on new (I know I do!). New what? New anything, new clothes, new shoes, new jewelry, new perfume, new hair, new nails, new teeth, etc. We love NEW! You find this great outfit in the mall and you envision yourself in it and how you’ll look in it, how your hair will look, the accessories you’ll add, etc. You have a complete image in your mind of how cute you’ll look in that outfit.

Did you know that when people have on something new and they love (they must love it otherwise it’ll have the opposite result), it actually boosts their confidence? Research and studies confirm it and the outcome remains the same, “new”, in addition to them loving it (clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc.) has a positive effect on people and how they view themselves. Our society is largely dependent upon sight, therefore we are highly influenced by what we see as well. What we see has a profound impact on us, it can be mood altering and life changing.

Even as a technologically advanced society, there are some things we just cannot do, we’re incapable of doing it. We cannot go to Wal-Mart and buy a new personality because our current one is defective, we cannot pick up a clean perspective because ours is muddied, nor can we go to a service station and have a mechanic adjust our attitude.

The word of God tells us in Ephesians 4:22,23 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Basically, when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, our former way of living, thinking, and handling life in sin should end and the new way of living, thinking, handling life in Christ should start. After being born again, those old tendencies try to make numerous appearances in the new you, but you must stand your ground. Be determined not to return to your former way of life, otherwise you’ll find it impossible to personify the new you in Christ.

This is the approach I took when revamping the ministry, this is the direction I believe the Lord is leading us this year. We will always be Leading Young Women to Hope Ministries, but in this case, the key word is the last word “ministries” because multiple ministries will be birthed from Leading Young Women to Hope. I sought the Lord about what to call this newly birthed ministry, which would be the first of its kind parented by Leading Young Women to Hope. When you seek the Lord, He will indeed answer, and when He answered, He blew my mind (as He has a tendency to do), leaving me, once again, in awe of His glory.

He dropped the word flourish in my heart and it was epic, I’m talking the epitome of “ah-ha” moments, with bright glowing lights, heavenly angels singing, the whole nine. I wanted to see the definition of the word, so I looked it up and started to do some research. With everything I do in life, especially regarding ministry, my goal is to always look for Scripture references and biblical principles that support what I’m doing or saying. I’ve learned that if God is not your foundation, everything you build on top of it will surely fall.

After falling in love with the word flourish and its definition, my concern was not finding a Bible verse or biblical principle that would support it. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of a single Scripture that had the word flourish in it. My research began and just like that (snapping my fingers) it was over. The first Scripture I found containing the word flourish is the one that’s currently being used, it’s located in Psalm 115:14 which states “May the Lord cause you to flourish,” but it doesn’t stop there, it goes on to say “both you and your children.” WOW! God is the only man in the world who has the ability to knock me off my feet (no slight against my husband, lol!) but the Lord has left me speechless, quaking in the majesty of His wonder each time He graces me with His glorious presence. Thus, by the gentle nudging of God, FLOURISH came to be what you now see before you. Praise the Lord!

I’m excited to experience all that God has for FLOURISH but more importantly, having you with me on this journey is the icing on the cake. As the Lord orders our steps, let’s be ready ladies, it’s a new year, a new season in life, a new you – and the best is yet to come!

FLOURISH – Because it’s your time!®

Takiela

We’ve Come this Far by Faith – First of the Last

secondhalfoftheyearday

It is the first day of the second half of the year. That’s right ladies, today we are entering into the last 6 months of 2015 – we’ve come this far by faith!

How many of you have allowed your New Year’s Resolution(s) to fade in the wash of daily living? Don’t feel bad because you are NOT alone.

Statistics show that a whopping 92% of New Year’s Resolution(s) fail within about 30 days of making them. Why? After doing a little research I discovered a few reasons. 1. Unrealistic goals (including too vague or too many) 2. Unprepared (ill equipped, lack of faith, little/no support 3. Unmotivated (wrong/negative intentions, resolving to stop bad habit(s), actions, gestures, etc.)

Now that we know the why, let’s follow up with a why not – why not, rekindle those New Year’s Resolutions? The year 2015 is only half over which gives you 6 months to beat the odds. Let’s resolve to be counted among the 8% that don’t fail because our determination stems from the One who has never failed – God!

 

Do It Scared Pt 1

doitscared1

Starlet Ware on Encouragement and Prayer

And regarding the question friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer.  First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.  Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.  I Thessalonians 4:13-14 (MSG)

Wonderful verse to cling to when love ones step over into the presence of God and see Jesus face to face.  It has been stated my response is sometimes quite different than others in the faith.  The focus of funerals seems to have changed from sadness to home going celebrations.  It is now; “Let’s celebrate my loved one is at home!”  Yes, we will miss them but we will be there soon enough so we will keep living until we die (as opposed to being alive but walking around as though we’re dead)!

Do you find yourself in the “I can’t go on because my loved one isn’t here” or “I will live till I’m called home?”  Let me hear from you.  My brother says I am his emotional sister so there is a heart in my chest cavity.  Both categories have held my attention.  Tears have rolled for near strangers when their relationship with Jesus wasn’t clear.  I know only God knows their heart and knows if they repented just before that last breath.

Years ago, a friend’s brother was on his death bed.  She kept me informed of his progress.  One night, she called really late.  She was crying and could hardly speak because her brother had taken a turn for the worse.  I asked if I could come see him because she wasn’t sure if he knew Christ.  She said yes but warned me he wasn’t able to speak.  Praying occurred letting God know I was going even though afraid since evangelizing skills were lacking.  This young soldier prepared a list of verses from the Roman road, verses that tell of God’s love, repenting and then accepting Jesus prayer.

Armed but quaking inside, I walked in the house.  It was quiet.  She introduced her family and then led me to her brother’s room.  His room was dark and quiet.  Memory fails if she left the room or not because prayer was on the mind.  I introduced myself to him, asked if he wanted to see Jesus when he breathed his last breathe and instructed him to roll his eyes back and forth for ‘yes’ and no movement for ‘no.’  Not sure he could hear me, I kept talking, asking questions, reading scripture and praying.  I was so nervous.

Thank you God, his eyes shifted when I asked if he accepted Jesus in his heart.  Hallelujah!  I squeezed his hand, prayed out loud and I left.  In the car, emotions came flooding through, excited, unsure and thankful I had obeyed God to go in the first place.  He will be in Heaven.

Tune in next week for the rest of the story.  Father God, thank you for allowing me to be in your plans.  What a blessing you are.  You are awesome, worthy, confident and sure.  Bless each reader and let them do what you ask of them whether they are confident in it or afraid.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

Hope Courage Strength

Takiela Bynum Leading Young Women to Hope

hopecouragestrength

So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD! ~Psalm 31:24 NLT

 ATTENTION: All you who put your hope in the Lord

It’s easy to hope when you’re skipping through the roses of life. However, do you have hope when life is anything but a walk through the garden? Are you desperately clinging to hope when everything that was solid in your life has been reduced to a heaping pile of debris? Where is your hope when all that you’ve secretly feared has suddenly become a harsh reality?

There have been times that my life was devastating and as a result my hope was dashing, (and I don’t mean good looking either). My hope was shattering because of what was happening.

Most of us have a basic knowledge of what it means to hope, but the actual definition of hope gives us a clearer image.

hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had, a person or thing in which expectations are centered, to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence, to believe, desire, or trust* *Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Unknown to me the image wasn’t as sharp as it could be and the Lord stepped in with His holy Windex so to speak. He cleaned up the lens of my perspective and what was cloudy become crystal clear – He revealed a deeper meaning of the word hope. Two little words, smack dab in the middle of the definition, lit up and flickered before my eyes.

hope: await, to be patient, trust, be pained, stay, tarry, wait* *Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

Precious hearts, there are times it will be painful to hope. There will be moments that every fiber of your being will scream – give up! I’ll be the first to admit that in a few instances, I did actually give up. I’d been depleted of even the shadow of hope. Have you ever been there, has life ever mercilessly snatched every fraction of hope from you?  I remember on a couple of occasions my hopelessness devoured my well-being, my reasoning, my faith, it swallowed me whole. Oh but thank God that my Father stepped in and did not allow it to consume me. When my hope became too frail for me to hold on to Him, my God in all His glorious power held me, just as He is holding you right at this moment.

Yes, to hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had, it is a person/thing in which expectations are center, it is trust, it is being patient, but it is also being pained…and painful it is, painful indeed.

In the previously mentioned verse (Psalm 31:24 NLT) it instructs those who put their hope in the Lord to be strong and courageous. It’s an interesting fact that the writer (David) specified exactly who he was addressing.

A lot of people put hope in a lot of things, and it’s not always the Lord. Hope is often misappropriated. It’s been put in finances, self, government, society, other people, celebrities, gods, etc. Make sure you are putting your hope in the right one, which is the Lord.

Several chapters later David asks a question and then answers it when he pens this verse…

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in YOU. Psalm 39:7

When we mistakenly put hope in anything but the Lord it is guaranteed to disappoint. God alone has the power to fulfill the absolute terms and conditions of hope. If your hope remains in Him it will always be secure. Ultimately, He is the driving force (power) that enables the hope you put in Him, to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible.

Hope feeds the courageous appetite; it satisfies the hunger of strength.

For those who hope in the Lord, strength and courage are essential. It is not for the faint of heart. Although the words are similar in meaning (actually their definitions are intertwined), there is a fine line between strength and courage, and the Lord has a way of clarifying what He wants us to understand.

This is what I discovered…

Strength is measured by what you carry, however, courage is measured by what you can bear.

Without hope there is no courage. Without strength courage cannot exist.

How can you be courageous without hope? There is no need to be courageous if hope isn’t present. How can there be courage without strength? The world is full of strong cowards (our enemy, satan, for example – he has some strength with a limited amount of power but he is also a coward) however, courageous wimps have yet to be discovered. I’d venture to say that strength and courage are a few of the prerequisites to putting your hope in the Lord.

In this life you will have trouble, but put your hope in God, be strong, and courageous. For strength may be measured by what you carry, courage may be measured by what you bear, but hope is measured by the light you hold while surrounded by darkness.

May the hope you put in God be illuminated with courage and strength.

Cruise Control

cruisecontrolWhat comes to mind when you ready the words “Cruise Control?”  Two completely different scenarios came to my mind.

First, I am so excited to be writing.  I had been cruising along life ‘wishing’ and talking about wanting to be a writer.  One day, I received an email from a friend who knew nothing about my desire to write.  Her email asked if I had ever considered writing.  I answered with a resounding ‘yes, only for the last 20+ years!’  She gave me details of the requirements like the deadlines and monthly topics and here I am a few months into my journey and I love her, this opportunity, and the satisfaction of encouraging others.

Although writing is exactly what I’ve wanted to do, I got into ‘cruise control mode’ after only a couple months.  I blamed ‘too many things on my plate,’ but laziness and lack of focus are the real deal.  I had to squash my excuses in order to be an encouragement to others!  Dream big!  Get your dreams out of the trash.  When I have failed and missed deadlines, my writing mentor has encouraged me by extending my deadline.  I thank God she is supportive,forgiving, and easy to work with.

Second and last was an actual ‘cruise’ that came to mind. I wanted to go with my husband so I booked the cruise in April and reserved our flights in May (2014). We wen on the cruise in January 2015 (last month)! It was so good to be on “cruise control” those five days and four nights. What a fabulous crew to take charge and allow us to be in ‘cruise control.’ I highly recommend going and letting someone else take care of you for a few days.

Cruise control can hinder/stop you or inspire/propel you forward.  I choose the latter.  How about you?

Starlet

 

Be Gracious to Me: I’m Afflicted

struggle

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.”
Psalm 25:17-18

Over 10 years ago, I lost a very dear friend of mine and for the longest, I didn’t want to face the fact that I was dealing with an affliction called GRIEF. I didn’t know what to do.

An affliction is something that causes pain or suffering. It doesn’t just have to be a physical feeling. It can be emotional, mental, or financially. It can even be something that “most” people wouldn’t consider an affliction. At the end of the day, the affliction afflicts the person being affected by it – not those on the outside peeking in.

When people don’t understand your affliction or minimize it – that can be an affliction on its own.

To some – having children on some days can seem like an affliction.
Maybe there’s an illness or some diagnosis you received about your child that’s been afflicting you…

But to those who are unable to have children – that’s another affliction.

Maybe for you, it’s a work situation or lack of work. Maybe it’s a debt that just seems to never get smaller and the hope of financial increase looks bad. REAL BAD.

Maybe it’s your marriage or the lack of marriage that seems to be your source of pain or suffering.

Perhaps your affliction is some situation you think about constantly at night and you always have it on your mind…even while sleeping.

Afflictions can have many purposes that include and are not limited to test the character or faith of the sufferer.

The Scripture admonishes us that it is good for us to be afflicted so that we might learn his decrees – but what happens when you don’t want to learn them?

What happens when you are at a place where you have to make a choice?

  • Either bend your knee to the affliction and give in to it…
  • or bend your knee to God and give into Him.

At this time in my life when I was so angry in my grief, I chose to give into my affliction and turn away from God.
I was absolutely crushed. I didn’t trust God anymore. I was hurt and I felt betrayed by God. I was angry with God for leaving me in what I called a mess.

What about you?

I let my affliction win. I didn’t put up much of a fight at all. God’s grace is not what I sought after. Instead, I just kept it all in and chased everything and everyone on the outside…not dealing with my insides. I didn’t want to deal with the affliction. I only wanted to numb it.

Have you ever been in a place where you could use some of God’s kindness? You ever needed him to be gracious towards you because of your affliction?

Reve Walsh is the wife of John Walsh (host of the television show America’s Most Wanted) Reve and John’s six year old son, Adam was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. In a recent interview, she said that she used to say she couldn’t wait until a few years had passed so his death wouldn’t hurt so much, but after twenty plus years – she said it still feels the same.

AFFLICTED.

I can remember a time in this situation and others, asking God, “How long will this last?”

Or maybe your thoughts go like this:

“Lord, will I have this problem for the rest of my life?”
“Lord, do you plan to EVER deliver me from this?”
and if and until you do Lord…how will I make it through?

Sometimes, afflictions never seem to have ending. They just go on and on and on. We want answers on when it will end, and it never comes. What’s an area where you need grace for an affliction?

Remember – GOD WILL BE GRACIOUS TO YOU.

Beloved, this blog isn’t a step by step on how to get away from an affliction.

Instead, it’s a blog meant to encourage you to lay those afflictions out before the Lord, regardless of how long they stay with you.

Be Blessed and receive His Grace….

Katrina

Forgive? No Way!

forgivenowayWho gets hurt when we hold a grudge against someone? Who gets the pain when we absolutely refuse to even think about forgiving the one/ones who hurt us? We do.

A grudge, also known as un-forgiveness, harms the one holding on to it. Un-forgiveness works like a ‘cancer’ that can literally kill us if we don’t deal with it.

When the Lord first began dealing with me about forgiving my Dad, I wouldn’t listen. I shook my fist at Him and told Him it WAS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!!!  I refused to think about it. I did not want to hear one more word from Him about it. He was a gentleman and backed-off. I chose to stay in un-forgiveness for four long, miserable months. I got so sick and tired of being miserable that I finally gave in to the will of my Father. I surrendered. I forced myself to say, “OK, OK, I forgive Dad!” I wish I could tell you that I experienced instant total recovery it didn’t happen that way. It took time to process my feelings about Dad. However, saying “I forgive” opened the door for God to start my healing journey.

Quoting from a Mayo Clinic article:

“What are the effects of holding a grudge?

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual belief
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others”

A few of their listed benefits of forgiving are:

  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system

These are all valid points showing the physical benefit of forgiveness. However, God is the ONLY ONE who can get deep enough to heal the shattered heart of our wounded past. I pray you will try this “forgiveness” thing.  When I surrender to God, He heals my heart, my soul and my spirit. God is waiting for you just like He was waiting for me. If something doesn’t change in your life, nothing will ever change. Forgive? YES I CAN! With the help of Jesus, I can forgive all day in every way.

Valerie

Someday, I Will…

“Someday, I will go on a cruise/travel, go to school, get out of school; learn to paint/cook/skate/write/ride a bike.  Someday, I will learn to read my Bible for understanding.  Someday, I will get a different job.  Someday, I will quit this job that is killing me and start my own business.”

What is your “someday” excuse?  Each of us has one (two or more) or had one or more before we made the decision to go for it or as Nike says: Just Do It!

It has taken me a long time to ‘decide’ to go ahead and do the things I have held myself back from doing.  I took swim lessons in 2014 after years of saying “I will learn to swim someday.”  I also said I wanted to travel.  I found a company that allows me to travel with great prices and destinations.  The personal development allowed me to leave a job I was unfulfilled in for several years.  A year ago, 2014, I left that and haven’t missed it.

What encourages me to keep going after what I want is the growth and freedom I feel due to making the decision to go for it.  It’s a beautiful feeling to live what God promised in the verse: “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”  John 10:10

Please don’t read into this and think that all is roses and skipping through the sun-filled fields.  There are thorns and dung in the fields, but keep your goals in mind and remember yet another promise from God: “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Your someday may just be today…

Starlet

It’s Already Been Paid Pt2

itsalreadybeenpaid2So, remember last week when I didn’t have any money?

Now here is where we pick back up.

As I made my way back to the table, the young man I met with was packing up his stuff. I noticed that the manager I spoke to was now speaking to our server. I saw them looking towards my direction and I got a little nervous, but then I relaxed because I thought my honesty had paid off. I gathered my belongings and the young man and I said our goodbyes.

Immediately, I pulled out of the parking lot of the restaurant and rushed home to get my wallet with my ATM card.  (All the while hoping I wouldn’t get pulled over for speeding and driving without a license.) I went to the nearest ATM and withdrew some cash. I had decided that I was going to not only go to back to the restaurant to pay for my drink, but leave the waiter a really good tip. I wanted to show him how utterly sorry I was for not being able to pay earlier. I wanted to him to know that I was not some broke, foolish girl who goes around to restaurants eating and drinking to skip out on a tab. I had to make up for my mistake.

Does this behavior sound familiar to anyone? Do you often feel like you have to try to make yourself pay for a mistake, perhaps even going as far as to punish yourself?

Well, imagine the look on my face when I showed back up to the restaurant to hand the waiter a twenty-dollar bill apologizing only to discover…well, this is what happened- I said, “Here you are and I’m really sorry about that.” The waiter then says me, as he takes the money, “It was no problem. The guy took care of it.”

What?! You mean to tell me I panicked for nothing? I embarrassed myself for nothing! I ran home and to the ATM for nothing! I did things in my own strength. I broke speed limits to bring this back up here when the man already paid for it! He paid for it and I didn’t have to ask him?!   Did I add that I gave you a big tip to compensate for my mess up, you took my money anyway! And he paid for it?!

Oh man! That’s a funny story now that I think about it. Of course, I was not laughing then, but if only I knew then what I knew now! But isn’t that how we often handle situations? Too prideful to ask for help, we often take situations into our own hands instead of waiting to see that it’s already been handled.

My “Sarai” decision cost me twenty dollars when all I had to do was wait for the promise since apparently, the guy was going to take care of it anyway. All I had to do was sit there instead of pretending to go to the bathroom, looking for an ATM. Let us all learn from Sarah. Don’t manipulate situations and try to take control of them. 

In my strange situation, it really was already handled – taken care of – been paid.

Beloved, if you can’t afford it, don’t worry! Jesus paid the price for you when He died on the cross – it’s already been paid! He delivers you, saves you from a mess, and keeps on moving you to the next level. When God helps you, He doesn’t throw it back in your face. He doesn’t keep reminding you of your failures and shortcomings.

In my situation, the guy never even mentioned to me that he paid for my drink. I just assumed he only paid for his because he didn’t say anything about it when we left the restaurant. I didn’t ask him, either.

Likewise, with God, you don’t even always have to ask for his help. HE JUST DOES IT.

Katrina

Love for the Lost

loveforthelostMy healing journey began when I reached out for help for my two daughters. I was reeling with the reality of Dad molesting my little girls along with my day care children. In getting help for my children, memories started surfacing in my own mind about Dad molesting me. I remembered that Dad told me I was ugly, that I “made him do this”, and the most damaging, “God will never love you!” Seeing a counselor gave me tools to live daily life while I struggled to heal.

Over a period of five years, one memory started reoccurring. Pure terror rushed through my veins, shaking my whole body. I gagged and choked. I screamed inside my head, “l can’t breathe! NO, NO, NOl” Then everything went black. I was an emotional mess for days after. I was so frustrated to be “stuck” at this part of the memory. I begged God to let it surface, heal me, and let me move forward. I believed this memory was the key to remembering my lost childhood.

My friend told me about her Pastor who was trained in a healing prayer tool called God’s Light. I was cautiously hopeful and scheduled an appointment. We started praying and Pastor Darrel invited the Lord to be with us. I opened my heart to Jesus. Not long into our prayer session the choking memory started. The Pastor knew that this was as far as I ever got. I remember hearing him ask Jesus to keep me from “passing out”. Then Pastor asked Jesus to show me the truth. Jesus “ran” a video picture in my mind. Dad and I were in my bedroom in the basement of our home when I was six. I was lying on the bed, choking, and Dad was standing at the foot of the bed. I looked at Dad, and he became a moving double exposure picture. Dad was standing there, and Satan stepped out of him. When I reported this to Pastor he said, “Jesus, now show her where you are”. I looked up from my bed and saw Jesus standing by my right side. He was holding a “dead looking” little girl. Me. I cried out in the present time “Ohhh!” Truth had triumphed and I was finally able to believe; Jesus loves me. Jesus LOVES me!! Jesus loves ME!!!  I felt His love wrap tenderly around me and heal every wound from that episode.

I did not regain my lost childhood memories. What I received is infinitely more precious than memories of a very painful past. Jesus restored my relationship with my Father God. Nothing is more important in my life today. Jesus exchanged my pain for His peace. He wants to do the same for you. His precious, priceless love is for everyone, especially the lost.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Valerie

 

Who Are You Following?

whoareyoufollowing2The Cross before me, still I will follow. The Cross before, still I will follow. No turning back. No turning back.

I had a really stressful day today! I wanted to turn and run but I stood firm, fought the tears back, stiffened shoulders and all. I made it through my day, work finished. I walked out the building headed to the bus stop, looked for my bus pass, had to turn back around, go back in my building. Thank God I had dropped the bus pass in my office. That does it! I got home and I had powdered donuts and milk for dinner and cereal for dessert! Please don’t tell my husband. LOL

Tomorrow, I will go back to work with more vigor in my step and determination in my heart because Jesus is before, behind and on the sides of me. Who are you choosing to follow today?

John 14:6 says “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No goes to the Father except through me.”

John 15:15 says “I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me.”

I want nothing if Jesus isn’t up in and all through it! Be blessed young people. Choose Christ and shower those around you with his love.

Starlet

 

It’s Already Been Paid Pt1

itsalreadybeenpaidI love the story of Sarai because she reminds me to WAIT. Do you remember her from Genesis 16? If not, I will sum it for you.

Sarai had no children and was married to Abram. She then gets a bright idea.

She told Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

What?! Sarai’s bright idea was to take matters into her own hands. She grew impatient and wanted to give Abram a son. And guess what? Hagar eventually got pregnant. Abram named his son borne by Hagar, Ishmael. Later, when the Lord visited Abram, he renamed him Abraham and renamed Sarai, Sarah.

The Lord also said that he would bless Sarah and would surely give Abram a son by her. However, this was unbelievable because of Sarah’s old age. She was 90. Then God said, “Yes, your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.”  Sarah thought this was funny. The thought of her having a child in her old age was laughable, but the Bible says, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”

Later on we read to find out that the Lord was indeed gracious to Sarah as he had said he would be, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age. Abraham gave him the name Isaac. It was through Isaac that God established an everlasting covenant.

The beautiful point is what when we wait for anything that is of God, it’s always worth the wait.

And, HE ALWAYS HAS IT UNDER CONTROL – UNDER HIS CONTROL…

I can remember back a few years ago when I was in college, that a rather interesting thing happened to me where not only did I not know how to wait, but my lack of this ability caused unnecessary stress. I took matters into my own hands.

I had a meeting with a member of a student association from another college. We met at a local restaurant to discuss activities for students to do at special events and exchange other ideas. While there, the guy ordered something to drink and so did I. As the evening ended and before we got the checks, I reached for my purse to get my money out of it to prepare to pay for my bill. Imagine the look on my face when I saw that not only did I not have any money, but I also had no ATM card either. Where was it? Did I lose it? Then it hit me as I panicked.

I had changed purses earlier and forgot to put my wallet into the purse I was now carrying. I started to panic more than a little at this point. The guy I was with was still talking about the college projects, but I was not listening to anything that was saying. His mouth was moving and so were my thoughts. I was trying to figure out how I was going to pay for my drink. In hindsight, I could have just asked him to pay for it, but I was too embarrassed to tell him I left my wallet. Crazy, I know. I knew him already prior to this meeting, but for whatever reason I didn’t feel I knew him well enough at that time to ask for help. (There was that rebellion and pride in me, again. And for what? A full $1.75?) So, I did what most people would do -I excused myself to the ladies room! I mean, wouldn’t you have done the same?

On my way to the ladies room, I motioned for one of the managers to come meet me by the bathroom. This is where it gets really good. I then proceed to tell him the truth of how I didn’t have the money to pay for my order. He just looked at me and I said, “Thanks for being understanding,” and I walked off. Although, I didn’t give him much time to respond but it also didn’t look like he knew how to respond to me. He just stood there… Yes, this is a true story.

There’s more to this story, beloved…

So be sure to stop back by next week to see how this saga came to a climatic close. You won’t believe what happened next…

Katrina

Greatest Love

greatestloveMy Dad went to prison for molesting my daughters and day care girls. I am the one who turned him in to the law. I did not do it for revenge. I turned him in because I had to protect the children. While he was locked up the Lord started working on me about forgiving Dad. Four months later I was able to start the forgiving process. Feeling very shaky, I wrote to my Dad. He even wrote back now and then.

Dad moved in with his sister in Kansas when he got out. We started talking on the phone. I learned right away that he had walked out of prison a new man in Christ. Dad was happy and he greatly enjoyed his freedom, both physically and spiritually. I actually enjoyed talking to him for the first time in my life because our conversations were mostly about Jesus.

Three years later I received a call from my brother. Dad had been hit by a car while walking across the street. I lived closer to him than my siblings, so I was first to arrive at the hospital. A severely broken leg, three brain-bleeds, and unconsciousness were the pressing problems for my eighty year old Father. He survived the surgery on his leg. If that wasn’t amazing enough, God healed the brain damage and Dad remembered everything but the accident when he woke up!

I took on the responsibility for Dad’s health, so we transferred him to a rehabilitation hospital in my town. I received an early morning call from a nurse one week later. Dad was back in the hospital with a very high fever. The doctor told us that Dad had pneumonia. I had to tell Dad that he could never go home alone again. Dad decided he was done living here on earth. I heard his prayer as he asked the Lord to stop his beating heart. He spent the rest of the day in prayer. That evening Dad said he wanted to tell me something that he had never told another living soul. He finally shared pain he had carried alone for so long. Dad’s older brother molested him when he was a child. Dad told me, the daughter he’d tried to choke to death. He told me, the one who testified against him, who made sure he went to jail for his crimes. He told me, the one who hated him for so long. He told me his death-bed confession! Four short days later, Dad moved home to Heaven. I still miss him.

I knew my forgiveness was complete when God moved it all the way through me to compassion. Dad and I were just two pilgrims walking on the path to Jesus. It took a very special kind of love to teach us to walk it together near the end of Dad’s life. A love so big, so perfect and tender, so true, so far outside of our humanity that we will never understand it. God, Creator of the universe, God my Father is this Love! He is the Greatest Love.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

Valerie

Infallible

/inˈfaləb(ə)l/adjectiveinfalliable1

not capable of making mistakes or being wrong

never failing; absolutely trustworthy

certain to succeed

unable to disappoint

 

Dear Make-Up Industry,

I fell in love with your products! Your marketing strategy is pure genius. The way you use imitations of perfection to promote your products is almost infallible itself. It is incredible how you hire professional make-up artists to glamorize celebrities and then pass those products off as top of the (drugstore) line quality. As if that’s not enough, you then photo-shop the images to add yet another layer/dimension of flawless perfection.

Just one problem – it’s not true. You see, I have a daughter, nieces, and a ton of other family, friends, etc. who are girls and women. Some of them are so broken by life circumstances that it has left them with little or no value of themselves. They look to any and everything to “fix” themselves and your product offers a hope that it can’t fulfill.

Your products are incapable of being infallible. They will never look like what is portrayed as the unblemished models and celebrities used to promote your products. You profit from their pain, the pain of not feeling like your pretty enough, the pain of always needing someone’s approval, the pain of perfection that cannot be obtained through lipstick, foundation, or eye shadow.

We are full of flaws, we are imperfectly perfect. Covering our imperfections and blemishes further enables the pressure to be flawless at any cost – which is a set-up for failure because perfection, among humans, does not exist.

Imitations of hope produce hopeless insecurity. Girls think infallible will come through with its promise of certainty. Disappointment sets in and lack of confidence follows. The cycle repeats itself because a mother can’t teach her daughter what she does not know herself – she is made beautiful therefore she is beautiful. Period. Unfortunately, you can’t make money off that truth, therefore deception is conveyed. Tearing down her value and worth with false guarantees that your products will bring her the beauty she has desperately desired in magazines, television, and online. You see dollars signs, I see tears, depression, hopelessness, low/no self-esteem, and sometimes lost lives because it was all too much to handle. Constantly being hung up on the appearance of perfection is mentally exhausting and spiritually draining, it’s an unattainable goal.

If you aren’t on board with instilling values and morals in our girls, how is it expected of them to grow up to be women of noble character, passing integrity down to the following generations whether they’re wearing make-up or not?

No, you are certainly not the only company that operates this way, there are many. My question to you is will you take the lead in making a change?

Confidently,

Takiela

Fakery Part 2

fakery2Last week in my post, I said that I had to get honest with God about a situation I was dealing with at that time. I had to come clean with my own fakery!

Yes – I was being a phony. I was being two-faced.

How was I being fake?

I wasn’t being authentic with Jesus or genuine about the pain I felt. I tried to present myself to Him like “it” wasn’t bothering me because I wanted Him to know I could handle any hurt anyone directed towards me. I was hurting so much emotionally and spiritually that I honestly felt like a failure and that I letdown God because I thought by now, “These kinds of issues shouldn’t bother you, Trina. God expects more out of you. Get it together!” When in actuality, the issues did bother me and truthfully – I wasn’t ok.  Yes, God did expect more out of me. He expected me to be more real with Him than the way I was behaving.

I exalted myself.

I thought I misled God (even though He knows all) into thinking I had it all under control. I wanted Him to know “I got this!” and that all He had poured into me for the last few months and years wasn’t a waste. I wanted to let Him know I was “really trying to do better and be better” at things like this – when truthfully, I wasn’t handling it (which He already knew wasn’t true).
Even as I was tooting my dictionary horn about this new word I learned –for whatever ever reason, I either thought I could hide it or I thought I was supposed to push it down and pretend to be over it. After all, that’s what a good Christian girl is supposed to do…right?

I thought because admitting my disappointment and anger over a situation that I was somehow letting God down. What a lie!

I didn’t humble myself.

Honestly, what I wanted to say to God during several months of tears was something like this:

“How could You let that happen to me? I don’t understand. I needed You Lord and where were You? Are You gonna deal with those people/that situation? Why does it feel like I have to be the bad person and feel so bad? I feel like I’m being punished. Furthermore – I can’t do this. I don’t want to and will not. How can you expect me to…after all that has happened?”

There was more to it than that, but for months and months, I never said anything like this or anything close to it.  Don’t get me wrong – yes, I cried. But I just kept praying the basic prayers (Lord, help me, etc.) but I NEVER GOT REAL.

We usually don’t like to get real because getting real is too intimate. It’s too close. I didn’t want to get too real with Jesus because it hurts too much to talk about it. But yet I knew, I couldn’t continue to operate this way. It was wearing me out!!

When I did finally say to God what my attitude had been saying for months, I felt a release. But it felt like the hardest release ever! There were times in prayer that I would think of what I really wanted to say and it would take minutes to an hour for me to actually verbalize it. This took me to a deeper level with God, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. When I did finally say what was in my heart, it reminded me that I’d been carrying an unnecessary burden for too long! Instead of being honest from the get go, I tucked my pain beneath my broken heart until one day – the pain erupted.

I learned that being honest and real with God is not a sign of INFERIORITY, but rather a sign of MATURITY.  The person who hides how they really feel in many ways, is carrying an attitude that says “Because this is so hard – Lord, I don’t need you. I can handle it.” While the person who is honest carries an attitude that says, “Lord. I can’t handle it. I need you BECAUSE this is so hard.”

For a person who can bow their knees before God with hands stretched up high is one who is humbled and ready to be healed. But the one who is walking tall with pain in their heart is not only full of pride, thinking they can manage it all themselves, but one who is bound to trip and will undoubtly need a savior to pick him/her up.

Beloved, don’t let it get that far and that deep. Today is the day to start that conversation with God about that ache in your heart.

Beloved, stop with all yo’ fakery!

Because if you can’t keep it real with Jesus…who can you keep it real with?

Hoping to meet you at the cross, where I laid down my fakery,

Katrina