My Story | The Hard Middle

Fall of 2013 dawned as a time of beginnings. I still struggled with my chronic pain, but my job as a child-care worker and my growing friendship with Ben added a vitality to my life that I had left behind in the many months before. The emotional cavities in my heart were healing as Ben helped me grow and live a fuller life. We began officially dating in October. We had a magical Christmas holiday and made long-lasting memories. I really liked dating Ben, and I loved him! By December of 2013, I was certain I would marry him.

We talked about everything that was important, shared the same passions, complimented each other’s strengths, and stood by during weakness. He became my best friend. I avoided calling him boyfriend because boyfriend seemed too shallow for what he meant to me. Long distance proved hard, but fun.

Story4Enduring chronic pain seemed more hopeful alongside a best friend who refused to leave and always comforted me through the tears. The following February (2014), while I took a shower, I noticed a lump on my body. Fear stole my breathe. I had never seen it before, but in the previous months I had experienced a different kind of pain.

Continue reading “My Story | The Hard Middle”

“Do it scared” Part II

funeralLast week’s post ended with my visit to the bedside of a friend’s sick brother.

Shortly after the encounter, my friend called crying. Her brother had passed. She said her family wanted me to perform the funeral service. What? Huh? I told her I would definitely ‘be’ at the funeral. She said, “My mom wants you to officiate.” Wow. I said “OK” but got off the phone in shock.

Officiate? What does that look like and how do pastors prepare? Don’t you have to know the person in order to give a eulogy? I couldn’t share any funny stories or anything about him. I called my brother who is a pastor. He let me talk about fears and excuses, and he gave me guidance, assurance and scriptures for the ashes to ashes, dust to dust part of a funeral. He listened, I calmed down and he said I would be just fine. I prayed, sweated and knew Jesus had to be lifted up.

The day of the funeral dawned cold. I packed toys and books for my son and off to the mortuary we went. Yes, my stomach churned as we arrived. Walking in the door, I heard “There she is; we can start.” Secretly, I had hoped that in arriving a few minutes late I would find someone else officiating, like the funeral home people. Man, I love God! He will have you follow through with your assignment. I settled Brandon in a pew with his things to occupy himself. I had note cards to help me. Showtime.

Everyone came in and took their seats. The family sat behind a curtain to my right. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I set aside my note cards, looked straight into the people’s eyes and spoke from my heart. Even now, I am transported back to that room. I shared about my time with their loved one and my confidence that he stood in Heaven, reminding them that they too could join him one day if they choose to follow the Savior, and they didn’t need to wait till they their deathbeds to decide.

At the end, a few people came up and said good job. Thank God that part of the assignment was finished. We all rode to the cemetery, I said a short prayer at the graveside and dismissed the people. The family of my friend’s brother was pleased with the service. Wow, the things I have lived through. God is so good.

What is God calling you to do? Go out and do it, even if it scares you.

Starlet

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.

Your Gift: Stir It Up and Fan It into Flame – PART 2

Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)Stir-up-Sunday

 

Last week in this blog, I began discussing Paul’s words to Timothy, encouraging him to stir up his gifts.

I left off with this question: What happens when you see the fire dying down and you don’t know if it’s because you’ve lost your ability or if it’s because you aren’t using it? It could be both.

I will say that for me – it was both. I wasn’t using all of my gifts, which made me feel like I lost my ability and therefore, was useless.

I went through a phase that was nearly depressing because there were some projects I wanted to work on, but doubted that what I had to bring to the table would be enough to accomplish them. I knew what I had done (with recent tangible proof) but I also knew what I had not done in a long time, or at all. I knew what I was capable of doing and just wanted the opportunity to use the greatness that was on the inside of me; to use those gifts that had been dormant for so many years. Would what I had done be good enough to override what I lacked? Fear definitely held a tight grip on my thoughts.

“Was I not as great as I thought I was, according to God? I had believed I was smart, talented, and able and now I just don’t know.”

Then I realized too that I was frustrated for feeling as though I was in a box.

“Always a _______ but never a ____________.”

Sometimes, a fire can die out when you feel labeled and only considered for certain things, then you just eventually give up on stirring up that gift. For example, you may be a singer/dancer who is a really great administrative worker, but people don’t ordinarily see your ability to operate in any other capacity. Therefore, you are always a singer/dancer, but never part of the team that organizes and plans.

Perhaps this is you:

Maybe you are a really good event planner, but also a really good speaker to the few you have been entrusted to speak to. Now, you want to do more, but no speaking opportunities have come.

Always the event planner and never the speaker.

Or perhaps for you, it’s just the opposite. Maybe you are an event planner and you don’t know you can speak until you are asked to do so.  Then once you do it, you find out how much you love it!

Beloved, how do you know when God is stirring up a gift on the inside of you?

ANSWER: When you are able to do something you didn’t know you could…until you had to!

I can’t count the number of times I have had to learn new skills and it was mainly due to the lack of people around to get a certain task accomplished. Something had to be done and since I like learning new stuff, I was able to pick up a new skill to keep my flame burning.

Like Timothy, we don’t need to let our fires go out. We must continually keep our gifts stirred up and fan them into flame. By doing so, we impact others for the Glory of God.  Beloved, it’s also important that we have people in our lives that shake us up and stir us up when we need a reminder of what’s on the inside of us.

Little did my friend know, she was serving as my Paul (I would need that message with the picture of the shower invitation a couple of weeks later). Her text message would serve as a reminder to me from God about all of the gifts that he has placed on the inside of all of us that we either take for granted, don’t think are important, or don’t think we are good enough at to do on a regular basis. It was God’s way of reminding me that He was indeed stirring up the gift(s) within many of us and we need to be ready for the next level of responsibility he is going to entrust us with.

Let this blog serve as some encouragement to you in this season, as we head into a new year. I believe we all could use some encouragement out of our discouragement.

I believe it’s a time where we will be freed from fear and doubt.

The areas where you and I have been gifted in,  that have been asleep, it’s now time for them to awake and get to work. In Jesus’ Name.

In 2015, prepare to be surprised.

Your gifting is gonna look good on you!

See You at the Pole 2014

lilbynumsseeyouatthepole2014“See You at the Pole” is an annual day of global student prayer. It’s where children in schools worldwide come together at the flagpole and pray usually about an hour before school starts. Hands down it is one of the most powerful teen movements I’ve encountered that’s student lead.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about this worldwide event but as Christians and especially as parents, guardians, or loved ones of a student, you MUST get involved and support. If you can’t be at the poles at the designated time/date of the event, at least be in prayer at that time. We are quick to talk about this generation of children when they do something bad, instead let’s talk about it even more so, (not only) when they do something good but when they do something godly.

Today was the first time my husband, our youngest son, and I were able to participate in SYATP, however, our older two have been doing it for a few years now. God used our children to teach us, the parents, a valuable lesson and we’ve vowed to be involved with *See You at the Pole* from this day forward.seeyouatthepole2014lilbynums

Our youngest son shared with our entire family, his desire to participate in See You at the Pole. However, as he continued to talk about it, his body language and facial expressions conveyed something contrary to what he was saying. Initially, my husband and I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with him. Finally, we began to ask him questions:

Husband and I: Son, are you okay?

Youngest Son: Yes, I’m okay.

Husband and I: Are you sure you want to be involved?

Youngest Son: Yes, I really want to do it…(his head dropped down).

Husband and I: What’s wrong? Is anything stopping you from wanting to do it?

Youngest Son: Well, it’s just that, I mean, I want to do See You at the Pole and pray at my school, but I’m afraid to do it.

Husband and I: Why are you afraid? You are great at praying! The best eleven year old prayer warrior we’ve seen!

Youngest Son: I’m afraid because may get into trouble. We are not allowed to pray at school. Plus, I’ll be the only one at the flagpole.

Next, before my husband and I could answer, our two other children chimed in on the conversation.

Older Son and Daughter: You won’t be alone baby brother. We’re coming with you. If you get in trouble, we’ll all get in trouble.

There were several lessons learned from this incident:

  • we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us
  • where two or three are gathered together in my name I will be in the midst of them
  • stand strong in the Lord and in the power of His might
  • without faith it is impossible to please God
  • love the Lord your God with all your heart
  • lean not to your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path

I could go on and on. God is constantly watching over His word to perform it. He is definitely a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. I am truly grateful for orchestrated opportunities created by the Lord to instill godly wisdom from unorthodox methods – all for my/our benefit.

May we all unapologetically have faith in Him, until the day we see His face.

Unleashing the Lioness: Unanxious and Unintimidated

lionesscloseupfrontviewAhhh, the lioness, a subject that is near and dear to my heart. The Lord has spoken to me about her yet again.

To be anxious means to be full of mental distress or uneasiness because of fear, of danger, or misfortune; greatly worried. www.Dictionary.com

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6,7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

At the beginning of that Scripture, specifically, the first four words commands…do “not” be anxious. It then goes on to explain…about “anything” (in case you had questions regarding what “not” to be anxious concerning). God purposely used the word “anything” (and “every thing”) in this passage of Scripture, we’ll discover why momentarily. Next, the Lord inserts a conjunction and continues…but in “every thing” by prayer and supplication….

While researching some of the information for this article I discovered the following: The difference between “everything” and “every thing” is quite simple, and there is an easy rule of thumb that people can use to determine which phrase would be suitable. In short, “everything” describes something ordinary, commonplace, the average, mundane, quotidian, run-of-the-mill, daily, and so on while the phrase “every thing” means “each thing.” www.WiseGeek.org

This is how God spoke to me regarding this Scripture. God used “anything” instead of any thing when informing us what “not” to be anxious over. He is instructing us not to worry about the daily, mundane, ordinary issues life throws at us. However, later in that same Scripture He uses “every thing” instead of everything. He wants us, in each single situation to pray and supplicate. Supplication simply means to request something desired with humility. www.Dictionary.comlionessfrontview

The Scripture continues…with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. In other words, God does not want us to get stressed about average, daily, run-of-the-mill issues, however, He does want us, in each situation we face, to pray and ask Him for what we desire with humble hearts, being grateful as we hand our needs over to Him.

The next Scripture goes on to say…and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding…. To transcend is to rise above or go beyond; overpass; exceed in excellence, elevation, extent, degree, etc. www.Dictionary.com God’s peace will take you far above and beyond human reasoning or comprehension. His peace, will guard (protect, defend, or shield) our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Even the peace of God has wonderful miraculous power!

Have you ever seen an anxious lioness? Although, I’m sure she has her moments, they are probably far and few between.

The next Scripture I’d like us to examine is 2 Timothy 1:7 which says…For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

This Scripture is self-explanatory for the most part. It conveys to us that God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

Lionesses aren’t exactly known for being the timid type. It’s not in her nature and it’s certainly not how God created her. She is the embodiment of both beauty and beast simultaneously. The lioness is graceful, yet fierce. She is neither anxious nor is she timid. She walks confidently in her calling, she doesn’t know any other way.

Arise lioness, be anxious no more, be timid no more. Arise and walk confidently in your calling. Arise. Unleash the lioness.

More Than Conquerors

morethanconquerorsShe was excited to bring in the New Year with her cousins. It was the first time she had spent a holiday without her mom and although she was a little nervous about it she knew she would have a great time.

They planned their own little New Year’s party with plenty of snacks, sparkling grape juice, streamers, and noise makers to celebrate. They all counted down and cheered loudly at midnight. Loud music, sweets galore, and dancing the night away. She had a blast!

Around 2:00am she fell asleep along with everyone else. But someone was watching her, silently waiting in the background.

Sticky hot breath hovered over her ear and she woke instantly. She felt slimy drops of sweat sink into her cheek, fear paralyzed her.

I was in third grade and he had just graduated high school. My life would never be the same again.

It took years for me to overcome this hurdle in this Christian marathon I call my life. My heart had to be conditioned, just as a runner has to condition her body to physically prepare for the race.

That terrible incident continued to torture me throughout my childhood and followed me into my adult years. Flashes of that night constantly harassed me. Sounds and smells sometimes triggered the unspeakable images of that awful night. Those disgusting memories even pursued me in my sleep and tormented my dreams.

I became tired of being a prisoner of rape. It wasn’t enough that my innocence was brutally stolen from me but now I was being held captive by it and reliving it over and over again. I sought help from the only one who has the power to free me forever – my GOD.

Have you ever read about Tamar? Tamar was King David’s daughter, (David as in David and Goliath). She was raped by her stepbrother (King David’s son) – read 2 Samuel 13. She had a story similar to my story, someone in her family, someone she loved and trusted betrayed her with such disgrace.

In 2 Samuel 13:20 the verse ends by saying that Tamar lived in her brother’s house, a desolate woman. A desolate woman! She was a princess for crying out loud and she lived the rest of her days hiding out in her brother’s house a desolate woman?!

I determined in my heart that I would conquer rape and rape would NOT conquer me. The Bible agrees in Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Because of Christ’s love and because He already conquered the world, He made us MORE than conquerors! You are MORE than a conqueror!

Let’s pray…

Lord, King of kings, I thank you for everything you are doing in my life. I am forever grateful for the life of your son Jesus Christ. You are all powerful o mighty God! I ask that you strengthen me today. Free me from this prison. I know that situation was not my fault. Guilt is a trick from the enemy. It is not Your will for me to be a desolate woman. You are my Father, my King, which makes me your daughter, the princess, more than a conqueror. Thank you for revealing to me that I am more than a conqueror. From this day forward I will no long live like a prisoner but like a princess, who has been freed and because of the love of my Lord I am able to be more than a conqueror. I love you forever and always. Amen.