Life Changes After 40 (Ladies)

I have always loved birthdays, mine, and other peoples. I enjoy buying gifts and celebrating. I never thought about getting “old.” I have a cousin who cries each year. Not me, I was never one to dread growing older.

I remember as a child playing house with my baby dolls. My cousin and I spent a lot of time together and we would break out the dolls, the toy dishes, plastic food, and dress up. Then in my teen years, I was in a hurry to be “older,” so I can do what the “older” people do.

In my 20’s I was on my way to my 30’s, then my 40’s, and still, I was feeling young. Then along came the big “five-oh.” No amount of childhood imagination prepares you for the changes that come with each new season of life.

For the record, I do still enjoy birthdays.

In our youth, we are filled with dreams, hope, and expectation. Playing house, feeding our dolls that never grow up and leave the nest, plastic food that never rots in the refrigerator, always glamorous in our dress-up, paper play money that flows like confetti and never runs short, and a prince charming who loves and adores us and never leaves us through death or divorce. Everything is bubbles and butterflies in the imagination of youth.

As we go through our spring and summer of life, setbacks, and disappointments are not that devastating because we are still young, and even if we must start over, there is still time. We are still dreaming, hoping, and expecting.

But then comes the Autumn of life.

Our perspective starts to change because we know winter follows autumn. We may look back and wonder where all the time went and how did it fly by so fast. If we experienced loss, or we made foolish choices in our youth, we may be tempted to regret and grieve. Our thoughts may turn into “If only I…”

When we are young, we are filled with energy and life. We are still cool and relevant. But what about when we no longer feel cool or relevant? What if we are entering this season of our life alone? What if we are watching the clock and panic and fear are just a step behind us and desperation is breathing on the back of our neck? Then what?

Dear sister, stop, take a breath, that’s right… breathe. You are going to be alright.

A friend once asked me why I enjoy my birthdays. “Don’t you worry about getting old?”

No way! Age is a right of passage. And it is a path we must all walk. And we should walk it with dignity, poise, and class.

Sure, there are things we can no longer do now that we did when we were young. Like stay-up all night, wear daisy dukes and halters, eat whatever and however much we want, and not worry about our tummy that is no longer firm and flat, and perky ta-tas that need no assistance with underwire (or padding). By the way, if you do not know what daisy dukes are then you are too young for this post.

Let’s step out of our feelings so we can understand what is really happening. Let us embrace this season of our life with confidence, boldness, and understanding. Let us quit fighting the inevitable and shrinking back in fear.

Do you know what will age you faster than a birthday? Worry, fear, anger, unforgiveness, and downright unhealthy choices. C’est la vie! (That’s life!)

After age 40 our metabolism slows down.

But this does not mean you have to give up. You are still alive! It may be a natural process, but there are things you can do to fight it and to boost it, like diet and exercise.

No, I am not suggesting you begin starving yourself, just make healthy choices when it comes to the food you are putting in your body. Remember, we eat to live, not live to eat. There are so many informative articles out there about foods to boost metabolism. (I know because I have read them.)

A body in motion stays in motion. Get those endorphins flowing, girl! Exercise gets the blood flowing and firms the tummy, arms, legs, and booty. Sure, it may take some discipline and a lot of willpower to get started, but I guarantee if you stick with it, it will give you a bounce in your step and you will walk taller, firmer, and with confidence. It will also fight the brain fog that comes with age. It is a win-win!

Remember, you aren’t competing in a body-building competition (unless that’s your thing), you are staying active and taking care of your body. Take those walks, ride that bike, do those squats, turn the music on and dance in your living room. Get your body moving! I repeat, a body in motion, stays in motion.

I was talking with a woman recently and her fear was about when she got older, who would take care of her, and what nursing home she would be in. Whoa! Slow down, girl! Put the breaks on that thought! Where is it written that it is a given that age must bring frailty? I have not read that book. The book I read says:

Because he sets his love on Me, therefore I will save him; I will set him securely on high because he knows My name, he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never. He will call upon Me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him, with a long life I will satisfy him and I will let him see My salvation.

Psalm 91:14-15
You are probably noticing changes in your hair, too

I have always had thin hair, that’s why I have always had short hair. As I get older, I notice changes in my hair. Sigh…the luck of men to be able to just shave their head, huh?

Again, this comes back to nutrition. There is so much information out there, check out this article from Healthline. And here is a read for the 6 ways your hair changes after 40 and how to fix it.

Remember, you are beautiful! You are you and there is no one else that is you. God created you and He called you beautiful! You have purpose!

Indeed the very numbers of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you are far more valuable than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)

Age and menopause is nothing to be feared.

OK, so it might feel like you have an oven inside of your body, and you sweat through the night, and your mood changes like the weather, and your body changes, but there are positives, too, like buh-bye Aunt Flow.

But seriously, I am not making light of the changes that come in our bodies. I have been cold one minute and stripping my clothes off the next, I have been just fine one minute like a normal human being and then a raging lunatic the next, crying over commercials, wondering if I am still pretty, and when did I stop being “cool.” The time of menopause can almost make you feel like a stranger in your own body. And while diet and exercise are beneficial, a visit with your gynecologist may be in order. So go get that check-up!

No matter where you are during this season of your life, you are going to be OK. Happily married or broken and alone, you are going to be OK.

I look back on my life and I think there are lots of things I would have done differently, people I would have steered clear of, mistakes I wish I would not have made, and I am faced with a choice. Do I forgive, let go, learn, move on and live? Or do I wallow in pity, regret, anger, and depression? I choose life!

People say that with age comes wisdom. I don’t think that is always true. I think we all know at least one person who is “older,” but not necessarily wise. Age may bring learned lessons, but it doesn’t bring wisdom. True wisdom comes from God, the Bible says in Psalm 11:10 that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, it is the true foundation.

My friend, maybe aging in years does not bother you, maybe you are in the best physical shape of your life, and maybe your youth did not leave you with regrets, and if that is so, then I am happy for you. But one thing most important, is your spiritual health, your heart health. One day, no matter our age, we will all close our eyes for the last time here on earth, in all your caring for your physical health, be sure you do not neglect the source of eternal life. Take your vitamins, eat your veggies, do that exercise, AND nurture your relationship with the One who created you and truly loves you, wrinkles, gray hair, and all. Without Jesus, it is all for nothing.

I hope as you step into the autumn and winter of your life, you will do it with gratitude and wisdom. And when the final winter breeze blows across your eyes you will step into eternity and into the arms of our Savior who calls you Beloved and welcomes you home.

Be Free & Stay Free

Pentecost is for ALL Believers

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place,  and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit]. And they were all filled [that is, diffused throughout their being] with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (different languages), as the Spirit was giving them the ability to speak out [clearly and appropriately]. -Acts 2:1-4

The promise of the Holy Spirit is a gift to ALL believers in Christ.

Jesus said, “You will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses (to tell people about Me) both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Jesus also said, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you (to be in close fellowship with you). (John 16:7)

And in John 14:12, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me (as Savior) will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these (in extent and outreach) because I am going to the Father.”

You see, Jesus came to save those who are lost. His work was finished on the cross when He said “It is finished.” Because of His sacrifice for our sins, His death and resurrection, we can be reconciled with God the Father through His Son, and we are empowered with His Holy Spirit to be bold and courageous witnesses for Him.

When He said it is finished, our work (purpose) began. Jesus did it all! He paid the price and He empowers us through His Holy Spirit. We just have to believe, obey, and open our mouth. The world did not end at the cross, but eternal life began for those of us who believe and are saved through His blood.

For God so loved the world…

Do you know Jesus? Have you been baptized in His Spirit? His Holy Spirit is a free gift for ALL who believe.

Do you want to know if you have His Holy Spirit? Look for the fruit!

Ask and receive and then go… “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo….

I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, remaining with you perpetually, regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Thank You, Jesus, for Your Holy Spirit, for not leaving us alone without a Helper.

Be Free & Stay Free

What’s Blocking You?

You were created for greatness. Yes, you! Do you believe this?

The Bible says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you and I approved you as My chosen instrument, and before you were even born I consecrated you to Myself, as My own. I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

You may be thinking, “Yeah, but this is what God told Jeremiah, it doesn’t apply to me because I am just a (you fill in the blank). Jeremiah had the same thought, in the next verse we read his response: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a young man.”

As if…

Did Jeremiah think God did not know or consider, his age? Seriously? Do you think God does not know your age, or your status, or your past or your present, or whatever hang-up you think you have that disqualifies you?

Consider this; God’s own words, He knew you before you were even born. Before He formed you in your mother’s womb, He had intimate knowledge of you. He did not create you just for giggles, but for purpose. He knows your end from your beginning.

The Lord knew Jeremiah’s age, and He also knew his “smallness” in his own eyes would cause him to be afraid and to doubt his abilities, but God already made provision for Jeremiah. He comforted him with a promise to ALWAYS be with him and to protect him.

Do not say I am only a young man, because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them or their hostile faces, for I am with you ALWAYS to protect you and to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:7-8)

What talking heads are you listening to? What voice is holding you back from stepping into your purpose? Is it fear? Shame? Insecurity? Unbelief? Discouragement?

Friend, God’s promise to Jeremiah is His same promise to you; He will NEVER leave you, He is ALWAYS with you. Jesus said in Matthew 28:20(b), “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We know from reading His word that He knows us, He created us, and He calls us. Nothing escapes His eye; He sees all, and He knows all. So surely, He knows you and there is nothing that catches Him by surprise, or that He has not considered.

And we know with great confidence that God who is deeply concerned about us, causes all things to work together, as a plan, for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Failure is not a part of God’s vocabulary for you. If you believe, if you trust Him, and if you say yes to Him, then together with God, all things are possible for you.

Now, I want you to slow down and read the following verse as if it were spoken directly to you, because, Beloved, it is.

For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear your voice and I will listen to you. Then with a deep longing you will seek Me and require Me as a vital necessity, and you will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” says the Lord, “and I will restore your fortunes and I will free you and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” says the Lord, “and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

The Lord is calling you to come out of hiding. Are you ready?

Be Free & Stay Free

Isolated, but not alone

I know this past year has been a struggle for most of us. I know it has for me.

A lot of things were shaken and in the shaking there was loss. But I would rather think of it as pruning.

Spiritually, there are two choices: Give in and give up or press in and believe.

For me, this time gave me a greater appreciation of God’s faithfulness and provision. Even in the deafening noise of depression and fear, God’s peace broke through and carried me.

The slogan “we are all in this together” is an oxymoron, but I can say we are not alone because God is faithful and always with us. He does not abandon His own.

If you are feeling like your faith is weak and you have quit praying because you don’t believe He hears you, then I want to share this with you. Take your time, quiet yourself, and read this truth from 2 Peter 1

To those who have received and possess [by God’s will] a precious faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has bestowed on us His precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value], so that by them you may escape from the immoral freedom that is in the world because of disreputable desire, and become sharers of the divine nature. 

For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising] your faith to, develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding),  and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly affection, and in your brotherly affection, [develop Christian] love [that is, learn to unselfishly seek the best for others and to do things for their benefit]. 

For as these qualities are yours and are increasing [in you as you grow toward spiritual maturity], they will keep you from being useless and unproductive in regard to the true knowledge and greater understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is blind—shortsighted [closing his spiritual eyes to the truth], having become oblivious to the fact that he was cleansed from his old sins. 

Therefore, believers, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure that your behavior reflects and confirms your relationship with God]; for by doing these things [actively developing these virtues], you will never stumble [in your spiritual growth and will live a life that leads others away from sin]; for in this way entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly provided to you.

Let us take full advantage of this time that we have to draw closer to Him. Do not be isolated, but close yourself in with Jesus. Open your Bible and study His word. Develop a rich prayer life and enjoy the privilege He has given us to go into the Holiest place and commune with our Father. If you struggle, He is there to help you. His Spirit will lead, guide, and teach you.

My friend, this is the time to press into Him. The world is in upheaval, but you do not have to be. Get ready, Jesus is coming.

Be Free & Stay Free

Willful Ignorance

image from iStock

Willful Ignorance: Choosing to be ignorant. Not heeding warnings, unbelief, ignoring the signs of the time, unrepentance.

It is like watching a movie, a good movie, full of action and drama, and it moves you. After the movie you talk about it, “Hey, did you see…” For awhile you think about it, feel it.

Then life happens, and you are no longer wrapped in the emotion, or feeling, of the movie. You were a witness to the movie. You were an audience to the movie. But it was just a movie.

The actors in the movie may have won awards for their portrayal of the character they played, but after the accolades quiet down, the award will sit on a shelf and gather dust. Maybe once in awhile they will look at the trophy and remember the character, their 7 minutes of fame, but it was just a character they played on the screen.

The day is coming, and for some that day has already come…

Willful ignorance, especially in the western church where we are able to freely assemble together (although even this right is being stripped away), pray, read the Bible, and serve, will be the demise of many.

The self-professed “Christian” will go where they are comfortable, noticed, recognized by people, coddled by big screens with the lyrics and verse in big print so they do not have to look in their own Bible (assuming they even have one). As if salvation comes through osmosis. They show up on Sunday morning and leave unchanged, never reading the Bible on their own, never searching scripture for themselves, always taking and never giving, even their offering in the offering plate is a mere “trophy” as evidence they were present, but their heart is far away.

Their willful ignorance will leave them grinding and gnashing their teeth, because they did not search Him while He could be found.

If you can spend hours scrolling through social media, reading the news, debating politics, copy paste and share the days debauchery, but will not pick up your Bible, or share your faith beyond a meme, and/or you can stay up all hours of the night with Netflix but are too tired to pray… then this post is for you.

Turn back now. Repent. Do not waste the gift He has given you. Jesus is coming back soon; I hope you are ready.

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate morally weak and spiritually-dwarfed women weighed down by [the burden of their] sins, easily swayed by various impulses, always learning and listening to anybody who will teach them, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (Amplified)

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will wander off into myths and man-made fictions [and will accept the unacceptable]. But as for you, be clear-headed in every situation [stay calm and cool and steady], endure every hardship [without flinching], do the work of an evangelist, fulfill [the duties of] your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure [from this world] is at hand and I will soon go free. I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error]. In the future there is reserved for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:3-8 (Amplified)

Be Free & Stay Free

Open Our Eyes

On Monday evenings I gather with a group of ladies for a Bible study and prayer. It is such a sweet time of fellowship with my sisters when we lift each other up, encourage each other, and pray for our nation, our unsaved loved ones, and each other’s needs.

The consensus in prayer this past Monday was to know Jesus more and to go deeper in our relationship with Him. We had a wonderful time in worship and calling out to God. It is a wonderful promise, when two or three of Jesus’ followers are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of us.

For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them.”

When we hunger and thirst for Him, we are hungering for spiritual nourishment that only He can fill, and it is His good pleasure to satisfy our hunger.

We are living in an age when the enmity of the world against God is loud and clear. It is as though the devil is not even afraid to show his hand anymore. What use to make man blush is now paraded down the street, across the television screens, in our social media feeds, and written in bold headlines across the evening news. Isaiah speaks about these days when he says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; they put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

May God give us eyes to see.

Mathew tells us about two blind men who wanted to see. (emphasis mine)

As they (Jesus and His disciples) were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him.  And two blind men were sitting by the road, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David (Messiah)!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David (Messiah) have mercy on us!”  Jesus stopped and called them, and asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They answered Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.”  Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him [as His disciples].

We are the blind men sitting on the sidelines. We want more of God! We are tired of crumbs and we are starving for the Living Bread to fill us. We want to know and see Him! We know we are called, we know He is near, and we know there is more.

We call out to Him, “Lord, don’t pass us by, we need You!

But the crowd… the social obligations, worries, fear, family, government, political correctness, lack, the past, insecurities … you get the point, right. What (or who) is it that is hindering you from calling out?

I believe Jesus heard the two blind men call out the first time. I mean, they had to be kind of loud for the crowd to try to silence them. But it wasn’t until the two men refused to be silenced and called out even louder that Jesus stopped. Even the blind men knew who Jesus was, they just couldn’t see. They heard Jesus (or heard of Jesus) and they BELIEVED He, and only He, could give them sight.

Their persistence moved Jesus with compassion. Obviously these two men were serious. They were not satisfied with just hearing about what God was doing. They may have even been tired of going to cold prayer meetings and stoic churches and being entertained with lip service and messages that had no power. These men were hands down going after Jesus for themselves.

Listen! God is not hiding from us. He has gone through great extremes through His death and resurrection so that we may know His compassion, His great love for us, that we may know there is real power in His name, so we may call on Him and He will answer.

Jesus is not fooled. He knows when we are truly seeking Him. His kingdom is for those who will lay down their life and trust in Him that He will give you eternal life. Look around you, everything you see is temporary. Pinch your skin, even that will be buried in the ground one day. But YOU! It is YOU He came for, to give you eternal life, with Him, and only through Him.

Take note, after Jesus touched their eyes, they immediately regained their sight and followed Him.

That is the difference. He opened their eyes, and they became His disciples and followed Him.

Dear Reader, are you calling out to God? Are you hungering for Him? Do you want to know Him more? Do you want to follow Him? Are you willing to go against the crowd and refuse to be silenced anymore? Because if you are then you are seeking a good thing. And yes, He will answer you!

Go after Him, my friend. The harvest is ripe and the laborers are few.

But How Do You Find Him?
  • Through His word. You MUST read your Bible daily. It Is food to your soul. You can not live without eating. What? You don’t like to read? Then ask yourself just how much do you want to know Him? The blind men couldn’t see to read and yet they cried out even more. You MUST read your Bible. Only through knowing His word will you know the truth. In a day when lies are called truth and truth lies, you MUST know for yourself.
  • Pray! The Bible calls us His Bride. Now, think of marriage here in the natural… if the two do not communicate on the regular then that relationship is weakened and you will not know the gift of oneness. The marriage may not end in divorce, but I guarantee you the couple will never experience the beauty of pure love and knowing each other. Through prayer we grow closer to Jesus. We talk and He listens, then He talks and we listen, it is a fellowship, a love relationship, and it has the power to transform us into His image, we truly become one with Him. Think about it, the God who created EVERYTHING, knows you and wants you to know Him.
  • Fellowship with other believers. There is benefit to being together with the family of Christ. We edify one another. We watch out for each other. We strengthen each other. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
  • Serve! Yes, that’s right, serve. Be His hands and feet. Can I share something with you, anytime you serve, help someone, it is really you that reaps the benefit. Yes, God may have used you to help meet the need of another, but you are never more like Jesus than when you serve, when you love, and when you give.

So, are you ready?

Father, I thank You for Your Holy Spirit who calls us and gives a hunger to know You more. I ask You to open our eyes so we may see Your glory and grant us the honor of serving You and taking part of the work You are doing. Breathe on us the breath of revival and may all come to know You as Lord and Savior. We do not want to sit on the sidelines, we want to be active participants. Baptize us in Your Holy Spirit so that we may be empowered to be bold witnesses for You. Let Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Do you want more of Him? Let me know in the comments.

Be Blessed!

Be Free & Stay Free

Breaking Free from the Narcissus

There is a story in Greek Mythology about a handsome hunter. This man was so good looking, but apparently lacked integrity in his character. When he came across a stream one day, he saw his own reflection and fell in love with himself. Yes, Narcissus was so smitten with himself, he didn’t need a boo, he had no desire for romantic relationships, he only wanted to be admired, just as he admired himself. As you can probably imagine, Narcissus was so enamored with himself, he lacked empathy for any other, because it was all about him, after all.  

Along comes Echo, she was a chatty Cathy, and crafty with distractions, and this caused her to be cursed. So, the only words she could speak was to repeat the recently spoken words of another person.

She saw Narcissus hunting with his companions and she fell in love with him. Infatuated with him she followed him, longing to call out to him, but because of the curse she could not.

One day Narcissus sensed someone following him, he called out, “Who’s there?”

Echo repeated, “Who’s there?”

“Come here!” Narcissus called out.

“Come here!” Echo answered.

Narcissus assumed whoever was answering him must be walking in the opposite direction, so again he called out. “This way, we must come together.”

Echo, in her excitement and misunderstanding, she repeated, “We must come together.”

She ran to Narcissus, threw her arms around her beloved, only to be rejected by Narcissus. Appalled, Narcissus pushed Echo away, and said, “Hands off! May I die before you enjoy my body!”

Scorned, humiliated, and ashamed, all Echo could respond with was, “Enjoy my body,” before she fled.

Despite his rejection, Echo’s love for Narcissus only grew stronger.  When Narcissus died, gazing at his own reflection, his final words to himself were, “Oh, marvelous boy, I loved you in vain. Farewell.”

“Farewell,” Echo repeated, as she mourned over his body. Eventually, Echo, too, began to waste away. Her beauty faded, her skin shriveled, and her bones turned to stone. It is said, today, all that remains of Echo is her voice.

Although the story is Greek mythology, it is a classic tale of a narcissist in any relationship, and what could happen to the unfortunate soul who is on the receiving…er, non-receiving end of the relationship.

Have you ever loved someone who could not reciprocate your love? Perhaps in the beginning of your relationship as things began to progress, and you became entangled in the “relationship,” you heard what you wanted to hear, and ignored what would appear obvious to outsiders looking in, to the cost of your own injury?

Most of us want to believe that we are good judge of character. We tend to take people at face value, and we trust them. We know there is evil in the world, but we never want to believe that we could ever be fooled, or that we could fall in love with someone who is evil, or at the least “controlled by evil.”

It usually isn’t until the relationship has ran its course (several times) that you realize you have invested yourself in something that will never bring you a return. This kind of relationship is doomed from the beginning, but you just did not want to believe it. You hold on, believing your love will melt the ice in their heart and they will soon realize you are “worthy” of their love and affections. As if you need to prove your worth to anyone (I will talk about that in another post).

Sadly, when the relationship has finally ended, you discover the only one who changed was you. You are no longer the person you used to be, rather you have become a shell of empty, numb, confusion, and grief. Does this sound like you? If it does, you are not alone and there is no need to feel ashamed, I have been there, and I hope what I have learned through the journey of healing will help you.

Over the past couple years, I have noticed an increase in the word “narcissist” when someone was describing the breakdown and break-up of a relationship. I usually take things with a grain of salt, there are always two sides to every story, and people say and do stupid things when they are hurt. I mean, just because the relationship ended, or someone was rejected, does not necessarily mean the other person is a narcissist, right.

When you keep seeing something over and over again, there must be something to it.

This I can say, through experience, narcissism is real. If you have ever been caught up in a relationship with a true narcissist, then you know the damage it can do to your soul. No one wants to believe the person they love could be so… twisted, evil, uncaring, unempathetic, calculating, cruel. In the beginning you didn’t see it, or if we are honest with ourselves, you didn’t want to believe what you were seeing, because the signals were so mixed. The continuous cycles of love bombing, devaluation, gaslighting, ghosting, and discard, can utterly destroy you.

The Bible has something to say about this in 2 Timothy 3:15:
But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane,  [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good,  traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God,  holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.

Now read that again. The warning in this scripture is not just about people in the world, it’s also about people in the church.

If you love the Lord and are called by God, then you better believe the devil wants to kill, steal, and destroy EVERYTHING in, around, and about you. We know the devil is no match for God. And we also know the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit within us is greater than the devil. But on your own, the devil will annihilate you. He has been studying you from day one and he knows your weakness, and he will use it to gain entrance.

This is why you must be vigilant and pray God give you discernment. Not everything that glitters is gold, and the devil can appear as an angel of light, or a sweet talking, Bible thumping, good looking, man (or woman). You do not want to get tripped up.

Narcissus was so enamored with himself, the only use he had for Echo was to repeat back to him his delusions of grandeur. Of course, to keep Echo in her place he had to cut her down to size, make her question her own reality, and work on her already broken self-identity. Eventually, Echo had no voice of her own, even after Narcissus died (or discarded her) she was still tied to him (his image) and she was just a shell of a person.

All of her dreams? Dead!
Her gifts? Forgotten!
Her youth? Shriveled up!
Confidence? Replaced with fear and insecurity!
Joy? Strangled by depression!
Friends and Family? Distanced or gone!
Prayer Life? Non-existent!

Does this sound like you? If it does, look up, because I have some good news for you.

Narcissus never could have loved Echo. It was not in his make-up. We don’t have to psychoanalyze him, wonder what happened to him to cause him to be this way, feel bad for him, or even try to fix him. No amount of love, affection, words, adoration, or a hundred second chances will ever change his heart and mind. Only God can change him.  So, if you are holding on and hoping… stop.

You can’t change another person, but you can change you.

You can wreck your brain trying to figure out what went wrong. Ruminating thoughts will cause you more injury. I know, believe me, I know.

Steps to healing from a narcissistic/toxic relationship:
  1. Admit to yourself it is over. It is done. Even if you don’t feel glad about it, remind yourself it is a good thing that it ended, because now you can begin the process of healing and wholeness. Remember, you are a whole person, you do not complete someone else and someone else does not complete you.
  2. Journal. Write it down. Get it out! Journaling, especially prayer journaling, can help you. After you have wrote on the pages, close the book for the day, and purpose to not carry what you wrote down around with you. Leave it in the journal.
  3. Pray! Jesus never stopped loving you. In fact, you could even consider it a gift from Him that the toxic relationship ended, and the person was removed. Be open and honest, God knows anyway. The Bible tells us to cast ALL our cares on Jesus because He cares for us.
  4. Repent for sins you have committed, because let’s be honest, none of us are completely innocent. Maybe you said or did some things in the relationship that you know are not right. A toxic relationship can cause even the kindest person to lash out and be hateful at times.
  5. Forgive. This may be a hard one. You may have to forgive the person seven times seventy times. But I promise you, it is worth it. It doesn’t justify the abuse you endured, it doesn’t make the other person “right,” but it will free you from the ties that keep you chained to the emotional injuries. And it’s what Jesus tells us to do.
  6. Get help. A break-up, or divorce, from a toxic narcissistic relationship/marriage, is not like a “normal” dissolution. Unless someone has experienced the very real assault against your soul, they may not understand why you can’t “just get over it.” They will not understand what a trauma bond is, how it was formed, or how to break free from it. Seek help from a therapist who has experience in narcissistic abuse recovery. For true and lasting help, seek help from a Christian therapist, because the trauma you experienced from a narcissist came from the demonic and only God can free you from that.
  7. Do not isolate yourself. Get connected with the church again. There is a reason why Hebrews tells us to not forsake gathering with other believers. We need each other for comfort, encouragement, accountability, and safety. The relationship you escaped from already separated you from those who care about you. Get back out there! Reconnect. The people who love you will understand and be happy to welcome you back. Do not be ashamed.
  8. Take care of yourself. Get rest but be careful not to sleep “too much.” Make healthy food choices, avoid the comfort foods of sugar. Wake up and get dressed. Exercise and let the endorphins do what they are supposed to do. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. It will take time, even a small step is still a step, just keep taking those steps.
  9. Read your Bible. The Bible is God’s word to us. In the Bible you will find strength, instruction, and encouragement. His word is food to our hungry souls. His word will show you who He is AND who you are. When you know who you are in Christ and how much He loves you and values you and has given you great worth, then you will come through this whole and healed. He will renew your strength and restore your joy. And you will never be easy prey again to the narcissistic spirit.  
  10. Examine yourself. Through prayer, reading your Bible, and counsel, ask God to show you why you were susceptible to the narcissist. In most cases, if we have an injury from the past, it does show up in our choices of who we allow close to us. This does not mean there is something wrong with you, it means there is something that made you vulnerable, and God will show you and He will walk (carry) you through the process of healing that old wound.
  11. Choose your inner circle wisely. Not everyone will understand what you have just come through. Surround yourself with people who speak life to you. You don’t need a group of complainers who will agree with your hurt or tear the other person down. You need people who speak life into you and gently move you forward.
  12. Go and stay no contact. I know, easier said than done, but it is for your own good. You can not go back to your place of injury and expect to find healing. If you did cave to a moment of weakness, don’t beat yourself up, recommit to no contact and move on. It may mean deleting phone numbers, changing your number, erasing emails, blocking him/her on social media, whatever you have to do to put a barrier between you and the person, do it.
  13. Forgive yourself. This is just as important as forgiving the other person. When you have been in a toxic relationship for any length of time you may have hurt other people or done things you are not proud of. Apologize to anyone you may have hurt, and then let it go. If God forgave you, then you can forgive you. The Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Unforgiveness aligns you with the destroyer. So, break that agreement now and come under the umbrella of Christ and walk in freedom.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming back soon. This is why we are seeing an increase of the narcissistic spirit. It is in our churches, our families, our government, on the streets, social media… it is everywhere. It is an anti-Christ spirit, and it has launched a full-scale attack on God’s people. It is destroying marriages, families, and ministries.

My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you may find your source of comfort, peace, and purpose in Jesus. I pray that you stay so close to God that the enemy cannot come near you. I pray your heart stays tender in the face of a world gone hard and hateful. I pray you answer the voice of Wisdom and God grant you discernment, and you rise up and take your place in the kingdom of God in all His righteousness and fight the good fight of faith.

I hope this helped you. If you need prayer, I would be happy to pray for and with you. You connect with me by clicking HERE or email stacey@crookedplacesstraight.com

If you are a survivor of a narcissistic relationship, please leave a comment and share with us your experience and how you overcame.

Be Free & Stay Free

A Runaways Journey to Salvation

I wrote this story for women, young and old, and youth, who have experienced rejection, especially by those who are suppose to love them. Rejection can leave a scar not seen by the human eye, but is felt in the soul.

The young girl in this story is longing to belong, to be loved and accepted. Just like this young girl, in the search for a place to belong, the fear of rejection will rob you of your true identity.

No matter what, or who, you are running from, there is One who calls you to Him. There is One who’s love is so pure it can heal your deepest wound, and restore your hope and joy.

My prayer is, if you are running, you come home.

I am happy to take part in Read An Ebook Week, sponsored by Smashwords. You can purchase my story by clicking HERE, for just $2.50, The sale ends March 13th. Buy it for yourself, or as a gift. Help me share a young runaway’s story to salvation.

Be Free & Stay Free

A Dying Nation

What if the condition of our nation is not the fault of politicians, political parties, China, Russia, Antifa, media, racism, or rigged elections? What if we are the problem?

A lot of people quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, but I wonder…

Let’s start with verse 13: “If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people…”

Who is the “I” in this verse? This may surprise a lot of people who do not actually read and know the God of the Bible, but it is God. God said this.

“What do you mean that God will send locust, pestilence, and plague? That doesn’t sound like a loving God.”

God is more concerned about your soul and the soul of a nation than He is about our comfort. You see, we have it backwards when we think God only loves us and is good to us when everything is going the way we want it to.

We get all wrapped up in our own little worlds we built for ourselves, guarded by the walls we erected of entertainment, solitude, our own agendas, money, you fill in the blank. All of these distractions are just that… distractions. Isn’t the devil a sly one?

How is this for distorted thinking:
Things are going bad and we feel the pressure. It must be the devil.
Things are going good and I’m not feeling any demands. It must be God.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

If My people. You hear that? God says, “If MY people.”

Verse 14: “and My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways,” …

This is the same God who delivered His people from the bondage of Egypt, led them by a cloud by day and fire by night, fed them Manna from heaven, parted the sea so they could cross over on dry land to escape Pharaoh’s army, gave them water from a rock, wrote with His very own hand His 10 Commandments…

This is the same God who after delivering His people, let them wander in the wilderness for 40 years because they couldn’t quit complaining and doubting Him. Kind of sounds like us, huh?

We can quote scripture all day and every day, but until we embrace the Spirit, humble ourselves and repent… well we are just going to keep on walking around the mountain, in the wilderness, and never come close to receiving His promise to us, His people.

The world is doing what the world does. Are we so in the world that we forget we are not of the world?

Aren’t you glad the condition of the world is not a prerequisite for God’s promises fulfilled?

The condition of His church, His people, those of us who ARE called by His name, WE are the one’s who are blocking His blessings on our nation. It’s not the politicians, the government, the far-left, China, Russia, the media, covid 19, the president, etc… 

It doesn’t matter who the president is, as long as God’s people continue to live like the rest of the world, then we should not expect anything to get better. If our hearts are not right, then we should not expect that the times will be any less dark. We can get mad all we want, we can point fingers and place blame on everyone else, we can form committees and even march the streets of Washington DC, we can hold rallies, and quote scripture all day long, we can even post cute memes on our Facebook, but until we are ready to lay down the idolatry of self-comfort, self-importance, pride, bitterness, stubbornness, hypocrisy, then we are in great danger.

Of course, His Holy Spirit is the One who leads sinners to repentance for salvation. But in this verse, He is calling for repentance from His people.  

Verse 14 continues… “THEN I will hear them from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.”

IF and THEN! You get it? Do you understand? IF and THEN!

Church, the days are growing short and it is getting dark. Take inventory. Ask Holy Spirit to grant you discernment to know what is hindering you from truly seeking the Lord. What is stopping you from loving God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, and ALL your mind. Unless you can give Him ALL, you can give Him nothing.

We can not change the direction our nation is going on our own. We need help! Our only help comes from the Lord!

Look again at verse 13: “If I shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence and plague among My people”

Does He have our attention yet?

Be Free & Stay Free

Resist the Enemy, Not the Storm

You can not fight a storm. But you can prepare for a storm and you can survive a storm.
I lived in South Florida for a few years, so I know how to prepare for a storm, especially in hurricane season.

I take stock and be sure I have plenty of water and food to hold me over, I check my batteries incase power goes out, I secure anything outside that could be caught in high winds and cause more damage, I secure my windows, fill my car with gas incase I need to evacuate, have a go bag ready, let family members know where I am, and plan an exit strategy. Then I hunker down and wait the storm out.

I don’t think there is ever an opportune time for a storm, but it is always best to be prepared and keep your calm. No amount of panic or complaining is going to stop the storm. It is a force to be reckoned with.

BUT! At the end of the storm the clouds do go away, the sun does come out, and even if there is some clean-up to do, you survived.

It’s interesting how we are prepared for the natural storms, but not the spiritual storms.

Different areas are known for certain storms, whether it be hurricane, tornado, flood, or fire. You know what to expect for the region you live in.

Likewise, if you are human then you are going to have some storms in your life. Your storm is going to be personal, but not limited to just you; we ALL have storms. Storms come in the form of an illness, death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, a wayward child, loneliness, depression, confusion, fear, anxiety…

Even change can be disconcerting and cause its own type of storm, like a change of life, a new job, a move, new school…

I am going to share something the Lord spoke to me during a personal storm. I was in my favorite chair, reading my Bible and devotional, and then BAM!

“Resist the enemy, not the storm.”

If you have ever been caught in a rip current, then you know the feeling of panic and fear. An inexperienced swimmer tries to swim against the flow of the current, exhausting themselves and increases their chance of drowning. It is a scary thing to be pulled away from shore, but if the swimmer swims at a right angle, across the current, parallel to the shore, they will survive.

Storms in life can feel like you are caught in a rip current; and the current is carrying you away from what is familiar.  You may try to hold on to what (or who) is being pulled away, and you panic, setting your focus on the storm rather than the One who controls the storm. Big mistake! You can no more control a storm than you can catch the wind in your hand. But there is One, and only One, who can control the storm and is never caught off guard. You can be sure no storms come unless He permits it.

“Resist the enemy, not the storm.”

I am thinking about the disciples in the boat with Jesus when a storm broke out. Can you imagine? Waves crashing over the boat, the swells in the sea rising and falling, the sky so dark not a star can be seen, I would be terrified. The disciples were afraid, too. But where was Jesus?

In the Amplified, Matthew tells it this way:

When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves; but Jesus was sleeping. And the disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us, we are going to die!”

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was [at once} a great and wonderful calm {a perfect peacefulness}.

The men wondered in amazement, saying, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Wow! The disciples were caught in a storm, Jesus was in the boat with them, and Jesus calmed the storm.

“Resist the enemy, not the storm.”

When we are in a storm, we are tempted to doubt God’s promises. We are tempted to think He does not notice the storm and we must take matters into our own hands. Or we get scared and think God has abandoned us. Maybe the storm has caused so much pain you look to other supplies of comfort, or you get angry and open your mouth and start acting… well, you know.

You would do well to remember this:

  • The thoughts you are having; you know the ones, the thoughts that paralyze you with fear and doubt, and go against what the word of God says; they are coming from the enemy of God and your soul. You must take captive your thought and resist the enemy.
    2 Corinthians says “The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.

The Bible says it this way in James 4:7, “So submit to {the authority of} God. RESIST the devil {stand firm against him} and he will flee from you.

  • God will not leave you alone in the storm. When you are in a storm, this is when He is the closest to you. Do not measure your circumstance by your feelings. Psalm 34:18 encourages us with this promise, “The Lord is near to the heartbroken and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in their heart, truly sorry for their sin).
  • Just because you are going through an uncomfortable season, and yes, it is painful, but it does not mean that He loves you less. God is a good Father, and if a storm comes it is because He allowed it. You can believe that He will use the storm for your good and His glory, if you let Him. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know {with great confidence} that God {who is deeply concerned about us} causes all things to work together {as a plan} for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.
  • Even Jesus had storms in His life as He walked the earth as man. It would do us well to remember He said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have {perfect} peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous {be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy}; I have overcome the world.” {My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.}

Friend, no matter what storm you are in, you are not alone, He will carry you through. Do not give in, do not give up. Stand! Make the devil pay for messing with you. Do not give in to your emotions. You will feel the emotions, the emotions are not bad, feel them and give them to Jesus. He knows. He understands. Resist the impulse to do what seems natural, and move in the supernatural, and you can only do this by keeping your focus on Jesus and not the storm.

How do I keep my focus on Jesus?’

Consider Psalm 27, written by a man who had fearless trust in God even when the armies were encamped around him. David knew that only God alone could save him. I recommend reading the whole Psalm, but my favorite verse is 8. David must have asked God the same questions we ask Him, and this was His answer, and this was his response…

“When You said, “Seek My face {in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need},” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek {on the authority of Your word}.”

Do not try to swim against the current, you will only wear yourself out. Instead, lay back, look up, and let God carry you through. I am not suggesting you sit there like a tree stump, because faith is a verb, I am saying to posture yourself before your God and King, submit yourself to Him, and wait for His instructions and His victory to manifest.

Again, I say, resist the enemy, not the storm.

If this post encouraged you, please hit like, share, and leave a comment below.  

Be Free & Stay Free