Forgiving Yourself

Valerie Hayden Dropping Jewelsself

A few years ago, our local City Mission ran a program to help women get a fresh start in their lives. I was blessed to teach a class in the program where we dealt with the issue of abuse. Some of the women had just gotten out of prison and had nowhere else to go. Some were dealing with and trying to overcome drug and alcohol addiction. Some were escaping abusive relationships. Some were dealing with all of the above. I have to tell you, I thought my childhood was hard until I heard some of their heart-wrenching stories of loss. Though each story was different, they all had to deal with one issue – forgiving self.

It didn’t take them long to forgive everyone else. It wasn’t impossible to think about forgiving God for something. Their problem was “I just can’t forgive myself!!!”

Self-hatred, or un-forgiveness of self, is common in our society today, especially in those of us who have been abused. I’ve ministered to many women from all walks of life. The issue is the same no matter where they came from or what they’ve done. Some women believe that hating self somehow pays for the damage they did to their families and loved ones, or to themselves. They beat on themselves over and over with this kind of negative self-talk: “If only I hadn’t done (fill in the blank) “If I didn’t ________ I wouldn’t have lost my kids forever!”  Or “I was such a horrible mother, I beat my child!” The list goes on and on and on. I’ve been ministering to my friend for the last twenty + years. She’s finally willing to talk about forgiving herself for the hurt she caused her children. She is not willing to forgive herself yet. The pain is real. The hurt is so deep we can’t see a way to ever let it out, even if we want to. However, our reality today is that we can NEVER go back and undo the bad choices we made in the past. Self-hate harms our self. It can never pay for the damage we did to others.

Something I deal with today is forgiving myself for the abuse my daughters suffered from their Dad. And for my grandson and granddaughter who were abused by their Daddy. I didn’t stop the cycle of abuse in my family. It continues through four generations. But the love of God heals my children and grandchildren, just like it heals me. They are all believers. I know God has a plan, hope and a future for each one of them.

Many years ago I learned to “walk in forgiveness”. Forgiving everyone of everything every day was a long, long process for me. It started with the baby step of being willing to want to forgive Dad who hurt me so deeply. What makes forgiving so worth the pain is the freedom I experience. Each forgiving step I take brings that much more relief. I walk in forgiveness every day, especially forgiveness of myself when I make bad choices. I love myself in the appropriate way God wants me to. I get my self-worth and value from my relationship with Jesus, and it is an amazing thing!

I end with one question for you today, dear reader:

What is the worst thing that can happen if you forgive yourself?

Forgiving God

Valerie Hayden Dropping Jewelbe still and know

Early in my healing journey, I ran into a big problem. It was something I couldn’t blame anyone else for, it was all mine. I was just too proud to admit I struggled with it. The name of my problem is pride. Not the proper pride if there is such a thing. Mine is the pride that will not bow before Jesus unless I deliberately force it with my will.

The depth of my pride was revealed in one of the two memories I have of Dad molesting me. I  begged God for years to ‘PLEASE make Dad STOP!’ I knew God could. I believed He should because I asked Him to. By the time I was nine or so, I was done begging. I remember screaming at Him in my head, “Fine, God, if you won’t make Dad stop, I’ll TAKE CARE OF IT MYSELF!!!!” Living in marriage number five today shows how well THAT worked for me. However, I will share what I have learned about my Father God after all of these years. Are you ready? Here it comes!

God doesn’t think like we do.

Isaiah 55:8 gives us a very clear picture about God’s thoughts. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.”

Standing in my nine year old pride I couldn’t see the end of my Dad’s life like God did. I couldn’t see suffering as a child meant I would turn Dad in to the law as an adult. I couldn’t see that after ten years in prison Dad would surrender to Jesus. I couldn’t see God’s perfect timing in restoring the relationship between Dad and Jesus, between Dad and me, between Jesus and me. But God sees my end from the beginning, before I was ever born. His ‘timetable’ is for all  eternity. Yes, there is pain in this world. Yes, there is suffering in this world. Yes there is evil in this world. However, from God’s perspective, evil will be dealt with once and for all in about six of His days. “… beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8

Somewhere in my healing journey, I chose to forgive God for not stopping Dad. Maybe it happened when I finally realized that God used my suffering to bring one of His children home for all eternity. I also realized that, while shaking my fist at Him in pride, God still loved me. He saw me healed, strong and whole. He saw me writing this story. He saw it going out to you, the hurting woman reading this, to tell you He loves you. It’s impossible for Him to stop loving you because God is love. He wants you to know He has a plan for you, to give you hope and a future, even if you can’t see it today.

Will you let God reveal His love to you right now?

 

 

 

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.

He Called My Name

Picture1Katrina Hunter – Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)

 During my college years, I was a very active member in the campus ministry that was connected to the church I attended at the time. As long as I live, I will never forget the students within the ministry nor one particular incident that brought about many laughs but taught me a lot about myself. The church we attended was a small church and I would guess about 75 people, maybe less, were in attendance that day.

I don’t recall if this particular day was a special service or if the campus pastor was ministering – but I do know that at one point, our campus pastor was in the pulpit speaking and then we were also acknowledged later. Sometime after that, our campus pastor began to give thanks to someone who he knew, who had done some things for him, etc.  I don’t want to put words into his mouth since my memory of his exact words escapes me now, but let’s just say whoever he was thanking at the time – they had done a lot for him and the ministry.

While he was going on and on about this “wonderful person” he threw in a name.  He said his last comment of thanks and somewhere in there, towards the end was the name…”Katrina….”  That’s all I heard – my name and I didn’t hear anything else after that. So I began to stand up (nervously).  As I am taking my stand, I notice there’s a woman in the pew in front me of who is also standing up at the same time I am.  Who was she?  She was his wife…who was also named Katrina! He was not talking about me at all. He was referring to her the entire time.

This is a very unfortunate…but true story.

As I stood there – embarrassed, I laughed as did everyone else in the church, including him and my fellow students. If you caught me after church to ask me, “What were you thinking?  What made you think he was talking about you?” I would have probably laughed it off or just said, “I don’t know.”  There was absolutely nothing inappropriate going on at all to lead me to a conclusion of sorts that he meant me – except for the issues of my own mind.

If you were to ask me today, “What was I thinking?” I could now tell you honestly: “Because I THOUGHT he was talking about me,” or even more honestly: “Because I NEEDED him to be talking about me.” At that point of my life, I needed anyone to be talking about me…telling me my value and how important I was.

Not only did I want to exalt myself, in my own time; but I also refused to cast all of my anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:5-6). On that most interesting day I could tell you, in my pride – it seemed logical that he was referring to me.  According to me, I had all of these great qualities he described. My pride would have said, “Why wouldn’t he have been describing me? Who else could it have been?”

One minute I was “doing it all,” (school, work, activities) and the other minute worrying it would never make me good enough or as good as the others around me.

Beloved, can you relate?

Sometimes we want someone to recognize us so bad by our names, know our true traits inside and out – and love them all; that we will take anyone who calls us whoever, however many times.   We, in desperation, will sell or throw away our identities just to be called something, or worse – we will let people mold us and our minds into what they want, because we lose the desire to think for ourselves.

The Bible speaks of not being led astray and in your hearts to set apart Christ as Lord. When we go looking for things out of a need and longing to be called and recognized – we can easily lead ourselves astray, and very quickly forget who the Lord is. We can set apart Christ as Lord – or just set Him aside and take matters into our own hurting hands.

What choice will you make?

My prayer today is that you would let God call you by your name, and when He does – you better stand up!

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

Hope For The Hurting

hopeforthehurting1“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 How can we think about hope when our hearts are shattered into a million pieces? All we know is the pain. All we feel is the pain. Pain that consumes us until we’re convinced that even God can’t take it away. Pain that makes us plan to end our life so we don’t have to feel it any more. Who can think about hope in such dire pain? Not me. I had a plan to make the pain go away. I was going to take enough of my migraine pills to put me to sleep forever. God stepped in at that moment.

My two girls were in bed, my husband was at work. It was time. I went to the kitchen cupboard to find my pain killers. My bottle was not there! I searched high and low. I looked in places they wouldn’t normally be found. Where are they?!! I know I took one last night, so they should be right here! I finally gave up the search, went to bed, and somehow slept through the night. The next morning I opened the dishwasher door to put dishes away. There, right on the top shelf, in the middle, upside down, was my empty bottle! No drugs left, not even the lid.

Twenty-six years later in God’s perfect timing, I get to share my story with you. I believe, I know that God, the Creator God of the universe, sent His angel to dump my drugs down the drain to save my life. When I was at the end of my rope and let go, the Lord’s hand was there to catch me. He is ready to hold you right now. He is there to give you hope when you feel you can’t go on. All it takes is one wobbly little baby step toward Him, believing that He might have your answer. He is waiting for you right now with His arms open wide.

Will you enter into His loving embrace?

Valerie

Sparkles in the Son

sparklesinthesonI don’t like snow. It’s messy, cold, and such an inconvenience.

As a child, I enjoyed it. Making snow angles, snowmen, and having snowball fights were all some of winter’s exciting benefits.

Now, as an adult, I have little to no tolerance of it.

Until one day, things changed.

We had a blizzard on a Sunday night. Because I jump at every opportunity to spend time with my children, we all hoped Monday would be deemed a snow day by the school system.

Bright and early the next morning, our kids jumped in our bed, rejoicing over the closing of the schools. Right when my husband and I joined in the celebration, we heard the phone ring. It was my husband’s co-worker notifying him that the Air Force Base had shut down due to weather and only emergency personal were to report to duty. We cheered and praised God for a snow day for my husband too. We were all screaming and jumping on the beds, thanking God for snow days.

As the day progressed we knew our little ones would want to go outside and play in the snow. Sure enough not a minute later they came down the hall toting snowboards, sleighs, and snow-boots.

Secretly, I wondered if this snow day was going to be as fun as I hoped.

Okay, okay…I grabbed a book and jumped in the truck with my family. They were giddy and I was…blah. We arrived at the infamous “hill” all the kids in the neighborhood flock to whenever it snows. Terry and the kids jump out of the truck. I opened my book and started to countdown 3…2..1…”Mom, you’re not playing with us? Nooo. Awe, Mom please? Daddy’s going to come (as if that mattered)” and the numerous other complaints came as expected because I refused to get out the truck.

“I’ll watch and take pictures” knowing this would not appease them, I closed my book and took out the camera as proof. It worked. Inwardly, I celebrated.

I watched and waved as my husband pushed and pulled our children around on the fresh blanket of snow as I snapped pictures. When I thought it was safe, I returned to my book.

A few pages later, I looked up. The sun was shining. The light from the sun reflected off the snow. I squinted as my eyes adjusted to the brightness. When I felt it was safe to return to my gaze, my eyes revealed something that went completely unnoticed over the years – the snow was actually sparkling. That picture perfect view left me in awe of the Lord’s splendid creation. It was as if God blew heavenly glitter from His glorious throne and I had a front row seat to the revealing of His masterpiece.

Anything that was in the path of the fluttering flakes when they landed now glistened (including my family).

Immediately my mind compared the sparkling snow to the mercy of God. Although each of us was created in His image, sin caused us to lose our luster. However, when Christ took our place on the cross, He died for us to shine…in Him. We were dull, inevitably doomed but God drizzled His mercy on us, now we shimmer, infallible sparkle. We absorb His light and reflect it to world – sparkles in the Son (of God, Jesus Christ).

Needless to say, my perspective of snow changed that day. I gladly got out of the truck and enjoyed the snow with my family. When the Lord uses trivial situations to teach critical lessons, as He did in the Bible, it should reassure us of the love He has for us. He wants us to “get it,” His desire is that we learn of Him and walk in His ways. God used a rooster to get one disciple to repent; He can certainly use snow to help us grow (gracefully in Him).

My prayer is that as He shines, you sparkle.

Takiela.

Tis the Season

tistheseasontobejollyDeck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis’ the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Tis the season to be jolly, right? Yet in times past, the month of December was reported to have depression and suicide rates peaked. However, as I’ve researched this topic, I’m finding that what was previously reported is now being deemed as a myth. It seems that depression and suicide attempts (or actually committing suicide) rise during the Spring and Summer according to about half of my sources.

Honestly, I can’t say that I agree with my collogues’ recent discovery of declining numbers among the depressed and suicidal in the winter months or around the holiday season. On the flip side, other sources and collogues agree that there is a definite increase in cases of depression and suicide during this time of year. This won’t turn into a debate of who’s right and who’s wrong, my goal is to help snuff out depression and suicide altogether.

Through personal experience and knowledge gained by working with the depressed and suicidal I can attest to the multi-facets that are attached with the holiday season – The good, the bad, and the ugh.

The Good: Don’t’ get me wrong, I enjoy the holidays. It’s the time of year when we come together in celebration of our Savior’s birth. During this season we tend to be a little more open to receiving Christ as well as sharing Him with others, more giving to those who are less fortunate, and more caring to our fellow man in general. It’s a time to gather with loved ones (family and friends), remembering those we’ve lost along the way while reminiscing about the good old days. We eat (boy do we eat) and we are merry. In addition, some of us are more excited about giving than we are about receiving during this time of year.

The Bad: The holidays also trigger a temporary “feel good” sensation, and for those of us who struggle with depression – that’s a welcomed feeling (even if it doesn’t last). However, if you battle with depression or feelings of prolonged sadness (or worse) without apparent reason (and I use that term loosely), you are painfully aware that temporary good feelings simply won’t cut it.

Please understand that the holidays will no more cure (or contain) depression or suicidal tendencies than a Band-Aid will cure (or contain) a deadly disease. Don’t be duped by the holiday hype because it will not  last. Santa will never be able to do what the Savior has already done, there is actually no comparison whatsoever between the two.

Now, although Christmas is the most popular and widely celebrated holiday, the meaning of Christmas has been diluted with sugar-plum visions that give false hope based on materials. If your hope is in anything outside of Christ it will be dashed.

The day we celebrate the birth of the Savior has been reduced to a mere profit making opportunity which also happens to be the largest revenue generating contingencies in the industry. The Christ in Christmas has been replaced with the commercial instead.Our media outlets are flooded with countless advertisements bombarding us with innuendos that a product (disguised as a “gift”) will bring us some level of instant gratification and happiness, when in fact it will never satisfy our needs. No object can fill the role that was solely meant for God. Note that the ultimate gift is Christ Himself – He gave His life for us to live. He is truly the gift that keeps on giving (all year round).

The Ugh: Bah Hum B-ugh! If you or someone you know is fighting with depression or is suicidal your/their demeanor during the holiday season may be sort of *shrugs* blah. Sometimes, it’s hard to pretend to be jolly on the outside if you feel like everything is falling apart on the inside. The expectations add pressure to the person who may already feel like they’re about to break under the weight of it all. Also consider that some people are hiding tragic situations they are facing and are suffering in silence. The simple act of getting out of bed is like pulling teeth and the holidays alone cannot penetrate the walls created by their present dire circumstances. However, there is One who has the power to annihilate every wall with His amazing love. It is He alone who is able.

In spite of the good, the bad, and the ugh that are sometimes accompanied with the holidays, be comforted in knowing that our faithful heavenly Father is our emotional stability. He wavers not. No matter the rhyme or reason, He is the same in every season.

Praying that you remain steadfast in Christ, both in and out of season,
Takiela

[gĭv] [thāngk]…BIBLE WEEK PT 3

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV – 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

bibleweekpic2rvsd

Well ladies, we have come to the end of our journey in dissecting these three verses in this passage of scripture in Thessalonians 5.

So far we’ve discussed “16 rejoice always”,“17 pray continually”,  and now we’re at “18 give thanks…”

How befitting is it to end with this scripture during this time – Thanksgiving. This happened because of the Lord’s guiding, please believe me when I say that it was no planning on my part whatsoever. These verses leaped out of the page and into my heart as I sought the Lord on what to write about during our celebration of Bible week.

Without further ado, let’s get to it ladies…shall we?

The 18th verse of Thessalonians 5 starts off with “give thanks in all circumstances…” there’s more  in this verse but we’ll discuss the last portion of this scripture momentarily. As I read this, I pondered the question: Is there a difference between saying thank you and giving thanks? Here’s what I learned…

Thank-You: a verbal expression of gratitude or thanks (lip service). www.dictionary.com

Give Thanks: the act of giving thanks, grateful acknowledgement of benefits or favors, especially to God. www.dictionary.com

What a blatant difference between two phrases that seem interchangeable at first glance. Praise God because He wants to reveal His word to us and His desire is for us to go deeper in Him.

Needless to say that our God has given us benefits and favor that we can’t fully comprehend because our humanness is no match for His highness. His unmerited favor and daily benefits alone leave me (personally) in awe, not to mention His mercy, grace, and love, etc. Somehow saying “thank you” to the Lord doesn’t quite suffice in and of itself. Mere expressions of verbal thank-yous simply aren’t enough in comparison to our acts of giving thanks, especially to the One who gave His only Son as a ransom for us all. In addition, when expressions migrate to actions (in God) the result is far beyond what can be imagined.

Please don’t misunderstand me in regard to saying “thank you” to God (or to anyone else for that matter), we should say it because not only is it the right thing to do, it is the polite thing to do as well. Also “thank you” is a natural response we were taught as children to say after being shown kindness, over time it can become automated, mediocre, and lack sincerity. It ultimately loses the value of its meaning in the vastness of repetition. Our heavenly Father is thank-worthy. He deserves more than verbal expressions with our mouths, but the act(s) of giving thanks with our hearts. Having said that, today, I challenge you to delve deeper in Him with a heart of thanksgiving >>> Well, are you up for the challenge?

Since the “thank-you” and “give thanks” phrases have been clarified let’s tack on the next words…all circumstances – give thanks in all circumstances. A circumstance is a condition, detail, part, or attribute, with respect to time, place, manner, agent, etc. that accompanies, determines, or modifies a fact or event, or influencing factor.  In addition, it is the current condition or state of a person with respect to income, material welfare, etc.

Let’s break that down for people like me to understand – give thanks no matter what situation (circumstance) you are facing, give thanks when you are smack dab in the middle of life’s raging storm, give thanks in good times and bad, in joy and sadness, in life and death, in anything and everything. Give thanks in ALL circumstances.

The latter part of this scripture explains what was said previously: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. It is God’s will for us to 1.Rejoice always. 2. Pray continually. 3. Give thanks in all circumstances.

I’ve heard it said that the safest place in the world is in the will of God – and I wholeheartedly agree. The will of God is His desire, plan, purpose, etc. for each of us. As godly women, as Christians, our desires, plans, purpose, etc. should be in line with the will of our Lord and Savior. If it’s not in His will it’s not from Him. If your will is not a reflection of His, you are not in harmony with Him and an evaluation of the source of your will is vital. God will never contradict His will (nor His word).

Our all-powerful Lord has given us instructions on how to live on Earth as we journey towards home in Heaven. As we bring this celebration of God’s word to a close, I pray you each remember that reading the Bible should not be confined to a week,a month, or a year, etc. but something we strive to do on a daily basis. The more you know, the more you’ll grow (in Him). We learn about Him by studying Him, by studying His word.

Until we meet again lovelies…

May you rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks all circumstances – for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!
Takiela

The ONE and ONLY

psalm62.5-6Outside of Jesus, the life -story of David (in the Bible) is my favorite. David is known for his victory as a teenager in his one on one battle to the death with the giant Philistine Goliath. Logically the odds were mounted against David, which tells us that faith and logic have absolutely NOTHING to do with each other.

Goliath was a bully and used fear tactics to intimidate the people of God (the people of Israel). He basically dared someone to kill him, then he sweetened the pot by adding the surrender of the Philistine army upon his demise. (Side Note: Goliath gave us an example of the saying: Be careful what you say.) No one, not even King Saul would go against Goliath. Well, no one except, (you guessed it) David, the teen who had enough faith to believe God for the unbelievable. One rock (out of five) and one sling shot later, Goliath was on the ground…lifeless.

David had many trials and triumphs in his life. He was imperfect, but he loved God with all his heart, so much that the Lord refers to him as a man after His own heart.

Although not all the Psalms were written by David, most of them were written by him at various stages in his life, various stages in his faith.

Psalm 62 is also known as the “Only” Psalm because here David mentions on several occasions that the Lord is his “only” salvation, his “only” refuge, his “only” fortress, his “only”…! Don’t misunderstand or assume that David is superficial with his writing, heaven’s no, as he writes this passage of scripture, he’s on the run for his life. He is completely reliant upon the only supernatural God he serves to protect him. David was tired of running, tired of people plotting his murder, tired of his life being in danger…tired! While tears covered his face, God covered David with His amazing grace.

It the middle of (one of many) raging storms in his life, David told the Lord that He was his One and Only. Demonstrating a power-packed faith in God that brings Him glory only – Him alone who is worthy!

How does the Lord know that He is your One and Only? Have you told Him lately, or better yet, have you shown Him?

Lord, through every gut retching heartache, all the searing pain, and the countless tears You are my One and Only. #salvation #refuge #fortress

Takiela

*a woman (desperately) after the Lord’s own heart*

Be More Kind

kermitbemoreKIND-natlkindnessweekThis is National Kindness Week! This week, let’s further spread the love of God by being kind to someone. As Christians, we should already be expressing kindness to others however, with all life’s distractions it’s easy to forget. I don’t mean saying please and thank you (although that is important too), I’m referring to intentional acts of kindness.

Some examples would include:

– Posting a sticky note on someone’s desk, locker, the windshield of their car that says  You. Are. BEAUTIFUL.

– Offering to help carry groceries for a tired mom with fussy children or an elderly  person.

– Saying “hi” and striking up a conversation with someone who feels like an outsider at  school, work, church, etc.

– You and a few friends get together and make a meal, do some housework or yard work  for someone who is sick.

– Give someone a card with encouraging words or a Bible verse to brighten up their day.

– Visit with or call someone who may be lonely.

– Compliment the employee while you’re waiting in line for them to service you (they are  so often treated poorly and work really hard).

What’s great about kindness is that it is absolutely free – it costs you nothing to be kind. In this case a little really does go a long way. Think for a minute how it would affect the entire world if EVERYONE was kind. WOW! For some it could make a world of a difference in their life.

An athlete walked passed a classmate during high-school one day and felt a nudge to say hello to the kid. He dismissed the notion and continued to walk to class. Later, this same athlete was informed the kid committed suicide. The kid left a note that explained if one person said hello to him, he wouldn’t have followed through with his plans. He desperately needed someone to be kind to him. No ulterior motives, no hidden agendas, simply kind – that’s it.

With this story in mind, please, let’s all strive to be more kind.

Be more kind, indeed,
Takiela

Listening to the Voice of the Lord

Divination Will Not Heal Your Broken Heart

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I couldn’t wait for the funeral to be over! The service was really nice and thank God, I didn’t pass out. I was actually a little smiley and perky, but still thought several times about jumping into the ground at the burial. The night of the funeral, I went to a club and stayed out until at least 5 a.m. the next morning. I didn’t want the day of my friend’s funeral to end because as long as the day was going, it was like he still existed. The next day, I would have to face the fact of no phone calls, no more programs and caskets…just life.

Days turn into weeks, and weeks into months and I found myself slipping away.  Going to church was not enough to help me through my grief. In fact, I just stopped attending church altogether because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I just couldn’t say the words “God, I love you. You are worthy” without flinching or anger arising in my heart. How can God be so wonderful, yet I felt I was dying on the inside?

The Bible says that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” and yet, I did not feel Him. I was angry, and honestly, did not want to feel Him.

My heart was broken.

Beloved, when your heart is broken and hardened and not open to God – it’s setting the stage for anything and anyone to come in your heart.

When you don’t communicate your heartache (towards God) to God, your heart is no longer guarded FOR GOD. Instead, you begin to guard your heart FROM HIM.

I tried everything and did everything after my friend’s death to null the pain. You name it I did it. I did it all including going to someone I would pay to see whenever I wanted to. I liked talking to her because she was someone I didn’t know. No – she wasn’t a counselor.

She was a psychic.

I was in a really hard place and I needed a place where I could be free and the devil took advantage of that because I opened that door.

When you close God out from your heartache – you will let anybody in and listen to anybody but God.

I DO MEAN ANYBODY.

The few people that I did manage to tell this to asked:  “Did she tell you anything that was true?” My response “Perhaps. I don’t really know or remember.”

And then I say, “I honestly didn’t go to her because I thought she could tell me the truth—I went to her because she didn’t judge me or try to make me feel better . She just listened.”

Gotquestions.org says,

“… it is undeniable that psychics sometimes know things that should be impossible for them to know. Where do they get this information? The answer is from Satan and his demons. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Satan pretends to be kind and helpful. He tries to appear as something good… It appears innocent at first, but soon people can find themselves addicted to psychics and unwittingly allow Satan to control and destroy their lives. Whatever the case and wherever the source of the information, nothing connected to spiritism, witchcraft, or astrology is a godly means of discovering information. How does God want us to discern His will for our life? God’s plan is simple, yet powerful and effective: study the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and pray for wisdom (James 1:5).

When I went to go see the psychic, talking with her made me feel at ease and I needed that,. but because of my decision to entertain her and others, I paid dearly and spiritually for years. I spent years dazed, confused, and in utter despair because I refused to bend my knee. Eventually, I was able to make a confession about this to a pastor in 2008 and praise the Lord I have not been back since,  but it also took me being willing to surrender to His (the Lord’s voice) and casting down the evil and distracting voices I was hearing. I had to position myself to hear from Him and ask for the desire to want to hear from Him, which wasn’t easy – but I did it.

Sometimes hurts can go so deep that it appears to take the very breath out of us. We have things that happen to us. It damages us and if it keeps happening enough times or hits hard enough, it can kill your hope. It will kill your faith. It will try to kill your trust in people and even God.

As I encourage myself, let me also encourage you. We can’t hide our pain or our disappointments from God. Nor, should we feel guilty or bad because we feel pain. He can handle the truth.

Divination and any form of manipulation won’t heal your broken heart.

Only God can.

Katrina.

www.CallMeSetFree.com

Run. RUN!

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You don’t have to be a child to run away, teens do it, and adults do it as well. Running away doesn’t always mean to physically remove yourself from a situation…you can run away emotionally, spiritually, mentally, etc.

Let’s define the word runaway – a person who runs away; fugitive; deserter; escape; unchecked; rampant. deserting or revolting against one’s  group, duties, expected conduct, or the like, especially to establish or join a rival group, change one’s life drastically, etc. www.Dictionary.com

Wow! That about covers it all, don’t you think? In the Bible we have many examples of runaways. Moses (he did eventually return), Jonah, and Peter ran away too (denying Jesus three times). Have you ever ran away? Have you ever felt like running away? I have, many times, sometimes, I think if I would have ran track I would have been an Olympic Gold Winner.

Sometimes it seems as though life has a way of completely dumping on you. Some things are in your control but some things you have no control over whatsoever. Like a garbage truck to a landfill, it keeps dumping, it becomes too much and all we want to do is escape.

We become consumed with thoughts of running away, escaping, etc. In the midst of the chaos we fail to realize that if we are not running to God, we’re not escaping at all. The Bible tells us that even the very name of God is a place of protection and those who run to it will be safe. Proverbs 18:10 MSG *notice that it didn’t say run away from it will be safe*

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not advising anyone to remain in a place where they are in danger. Your life is valuable.

We also have some examples of those who decided not to run away in the Bible as well. David (as a teen he fought Goliath), Job, and the most important Jesus.

Jesus prayed to God that if it were possible to let this situation (cup) pass from Him. Matthew 26:39 He was referring to the situation in which He knew was coming, His betrayal and each painful and gruesome event leading up to His death. He knew it would be hard to take away the sins of this world and momentarily be separated from His Father. However, He also knew it had to be done to save runaways like you and me. He knew it was God’s will to sacrifice the life of Jesus to save us. He died to prevent me (and you) from being a runaway, to provide a way for us to remain in the unfailing love of God.

Lovies, my prayer is that you simply remain in God.

Starlet on Encouragement and Prayer

Depression, who knew how it affects a household? I certainly didn’t. I wasn’t prepared. I don’t know the statistics and I haven’t done any research. I can only offer my experience with family including most recently, my dear husband.

starletwarequote2In 1985, George started at the same restaurant I worked. He had recently returned from serving the USA in the Marine Corp. He was strong, handsome, hard-working, confident and friendly. I told my best friend George everything including what ‘J’ had done. He wanted to beat ‘J’ and report him. I didn’t choose that route. He supported my decision.

George and I dated about a year, no sex and no pressure from him for it. I remember telling him “I don’t want to have sex because I believe it would mess up our friendship.” He honored my decision. George wasn’t ready to commit after a year so I ended our relationship. He informed me years later he was devastated so he drank heavily, did a few different drugs and was very promiscuous.

Fast forward 20 years, we reconnect and marry after only six months. A month into our marriage, George confessed several devastating acts he had committed. I told him he needed to get help. When he went to the doctor, VA counselor, and Pastor, he was diagnosed with depression. He was prescribed an anti-depressant which has helped greatly.

These 7+ years have been rough but my George is still handsome, strong, confident, funny, hard-working and alive. We know we are not alone as many suffer from depression and are living great, prosperous, Godly lives. I love my dear husband and I even like him today. We continue to work on our relationship, communication skills, and becoming one.

At the Women of Faith conference this past weekend, I listened to their encouraging testimonies. I related most with the speaker who said she still takes medication for her depression. She is an author, speaker, mother and wife serving God proudly.

I pray you believe that God depression looses all power, under the authority of God.  There is hope for those hurting.

May you be encouraged because you are enough, 
Starlet

Armed and Dangerous

lifeanddeaththepowerofthetongue2 Words can kill or heal. They can selfishly rob or sacrificially give, destroy without mercy or edify with grace. Our verbal expressions can be sweet and decadent or bitter and foul. As seeds are planted so comes the harvest and what is grown is determined by what is sown.

Like bullets from a gun, so are words from the tongue, once fired the damage resulting from it cannot be undone. Physical assault with a deadly weapon can have fatal consequences, but most people don’t realize that verbal assault can be just as deadly. Verbal assault with a deadly weapon (the tongue) can lead to not only emotional but spiritual assassination as well.

As parents, youth group leaders, etc. we play vital roles in the lives of teens. We are a powerful influence but unfortunately we are not the only influence. In most cases, we are outnumbered by the legions of tactics and schemes trying to pull our teens’ hearts away from God. We may be small in numbers but through God we have the power to claim our teens for the Lord and to do so victoriously!

I’d like to challenge you to be intentional in regards to speaking life and hope into the lives of your teen. For example, create a calendar and specify an allotted amount of time each day for the length of your choosing (three days, two weeks, one month, etc.) and speak words that will heal and uplift your teen (in spite of their behavior during that time). This will help you develop the habit of speaking hope into the lives of your teens and as you do so they’ll heal in the process. It may take time and you may not see results right away but don’t give up because in due season, you’ll reap what you sow.

Blessings to you,
Takiela!