The Most Precious of All

I especially appreciate that we celebrate the birth of our Savior at the end of the year. No matter the struggle we may have endured during the fist eleven months, we can end the final month with the reminder that we are never alone, for Emmanuel, God is with us! 

Christmas is my favorite time of year. This is the time of year when families come together, Christmas music fills the airwaves with glad tidings, homes are decorated with lights, kitchens are warm with baking, and nostalgia of Christmas past lends to the hope of Christmas present.

Every Christmas Eve I turn the lights out, save the tree lights, and I breathe in the peacefulness of the evening. The living room is illuminated with the warm glow of tree lights, twinkling and reflecting off the ornaments I have collected over the years; each one unique and carries a memory.

My favorite are the ones that were handmade by my children.  The untrained eye may not recognize the preciousness of each ornament, but this mothers eye sees the love each ornament represents. The smudges of paint and excess glue  are reminders of pure love, joy, and the glowing face of my children. I hold each one in my hand and I remember. It is this hodgepodge, mismatched, and sometimes misshaped, tree trimmings that I cherish the most.

In many ways we are like the hodgepodge of handcrafted ornaments. Each one of us crafted by our Fathers hand, fearfully and wonderfully made in His very image. With great care and detail He created us and He cherishes us.  And like the worn ornaments on my tree, we have somewhere, along the way, lost our luster; our shine. Yet, that doesn’t make us any less precious in the eyes of the Father. 

My children are grown now, but I still hang their ornaments on the tree. Some of them are really showing their age and should be retired, but I can’t bring myself to pack them away. I suppose, by holding on to them, I keep the memories alive a little while longer. And maybe, just maybe, it keeps a part of my children home with me.  Of course, I understand not everyone shares my appreciation for my old handmade ornaments, so I gently place them deep into the tree, just enough so I can still see them. 

I wonder how many of us sometimes feel like the old ornaments? Once shiny and new, full of sparkle, vying for the front of the tree to reflect the lights, but now shrinking back into the shadows of what used to be. 

Life can do that, ya know. Ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs, until it feels like you are going down for the count. You hold things deep inside; every broken promise, cruel word, rejection, abuse, heartbreak, loss. The shell you wrap yourself in becomes hard and you determine to be untouchable. That is called self protection. 

Or maybe you have done or said some things you are ashamed of. It started off as a little thing, a slip up here, a slide there, and then before you know it you can hardly recognize yourself anymore. Of course this is compounded by the lies you have to tell to cover your tracks. Then you start hearing the voice in your head that tells you really blew it this time. Even though you want to make it right, the more you try the deeper the hole you dig. You give up because you can’t do it yourself, you can’t make right the wrongs, you can’t clean the filth you feel, you can;t shake off the guilt and the shame, no matter how hard you try. And you are right, you can’t. 

But there is good news! 

The Bible tells us that long before He formed us in our mothers womb, God knew us! It’s true! Click here to read it for yourself. In the hands of our Maker, Creator, Father, we were created to shine! Our omniscient God knew we would lose our luster and drift from Him.  So, He, Himself, made a way for us. This is why we celebrate Christmas! 

Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us. Matthew 1:23

Do you understand what this means? It means God came down for us! Our God, our Heavenly Father, came down to us in the flesh and dwelt among us for 33 years as a man. He was born of a virgin and died on a cross. You see, we celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of our Savior, but He came to die for us. 

More Good News!

The grave could not hold Him, death was defeated!  

“Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 5But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Beloved, our minds can not comprehend the love God has for us. For God so loved us that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16  

I may not be able to make my ornaments look new, as much as I would like to, but even so… I will continue to display them on my tree with love. 

But YOU, Beloved, you are a new creation! In the Fathers hands you are made to sparkle! Let your light shine, because your light is HIM! And know that when He looks upon you, He smiles, His heartbeat is you and NOTHING can change that! 

This Christmas let your gift be you, all of you. Take time to thank Him for the greatest gift of all, His Son, Jesus! 

Merry Christmas! 

Be Free & Stay Free 

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No More Self Loathing

forgiveness

We know God forgives us, because He says if we repent, He forgives us of our sins.

We even forgive others (with His help).

Yet…

We struggle to forgive ourselves.

Living in regret and shame keeps us in bondage. This is not God’s will for us.

We start getting ahead and then that ol’ lying devil comes and reminds us of all of our failures, our past sins, bad choices, and the people we have hurt along the way. Our minds get filled with “if only I’s…”

My friend, please hear me when I say this…

God is BIGGER! He knows where you have been. He knows how you have been hurt and who you have hurt. He knows, He knows, He knows… But that did not stop Him from redeeming you! It does not stop Him from loving you! It does not cause Him to reject you!

Are you tormented by your past? Is your heart still breaking for those you have hurt? My dear friend, His Holy Spirit is able to do far more than anything you could ever do. Do you not know He cares for you AND those you care for?

You can not back track. Nothing you can do can change where you have been.  But, if you  forgive yourself, make restitution if you have to, but do not be bound any longer to the past… if you will do this, then you will be free and healed.

You are not the same person you were before. You are a new creation! You are redeemed! You are His now!

Call on Jesus, my friend. Cry out to Him. Give it to Him. Open your mouth and your heart and just lay it all down at His feet and trust Him to work it out.

Be Free & Stay Free

 

Love-O-Meter

 

 

 

faith-hope-love-vinyl-wall-quotes-ebay-faith-hope-and-love-wall-art-l-5cfb7c244cecce4f

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction].  And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new homeless-dogs-unconditional-love-best-friend-361__700message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing.  If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not man-holding-woman-armsjealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant.  It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail].  Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and da738a2e672662c87d25e6520b7e7a44--black-white-photos-black-and-whiteincomplete].  But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].  

And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love. 

Three+crosses

 

1 Corinthians 13

 

Choose Life

baby-in-womb

At the risk of being vulnerable and judged, I am going to share something personal and trust God will use this part of my testimony to help someone; even if it is only one person. I have always tried to be true and honest with my writing. My heart is to reach and minister to the lost and hurting; but to be completely honest we must share our testimony and not be afraid or ashamed. When we can be open, transparent, and fearless, then we know we have been healed.

I am in a group of wonderful ladies from all walks of life. Everyday I read their posts, some make me laugh, some I cry, and some I learn from.  The other day a woman posted requesting prayer for her daughter as she was having a rainbow baby.

A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss.In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. … A rainbow baby brings light but by no means replaces the angel baby. (kickscount.org)

Suddenly, without warning, I felt a knot in my stomach and a grief. This caught me off guard. The realization hit me; I have four (grown) children and three of them were rainbow babies. Every other pregnancy I had ended in miscarriage.

With the exception of one (I had a friend come alongside me), I grieved alone and silently for each. I was pregnant and then suddenly I wasn’t. I was carrying a baby and then suddenly I wasn’t. It was surreal. I mean, what do you do with a miscarriage? You never held the baby in your arms, you don’t even know if it was a boy or girl, so the baby has no name. For everyone else the child never existed, but for a mother carrying the baby in her womb, no matter how short, there can be no denial a life was lost.

This is where I am going to be real with you. In addition to the sadness of losing a baby, I also had guilt. I suppose in a way I didn’t feel I had a right to grieve and I probably deserved what happened. Maybe this is why I grieved alone, because I didn’t want anyone else to know why I felt so guilty and condemned.

I married my first husband very young and was a young mother. After my first baby was born, we found out I was pregnant again. My husband didn’t want another baby, things were not going well between us, I was young, he and his family were in the medical profession, so I believed them when they told me “it” was not a baby and I should have an abortion.  I was young, I didn’t know Jesus at the time, and even though it did not sit right with me…

“Pro-choice” (and I use that term loosely) people will tell you the life inside you is not a baby; in fact “it’s” not even life. They will paint the picture of just a “blood clot” to help you make the decision to have an abortion. After all, we are a modern day society and women have “choices/options” now.

I remember sitting in Planned Parenthood waiting for them to call my name. I was alone. Apparently the pregnancy was so insignificant that (my then) husband would not even go with me. There were other young girls in the waiting room, some alone, some with a boyfriend, and it almost seemed as though we were waiting at a dentist office to get a tooth pulled. Still, inside, my stomach was turning, it didn’t seem right.  I wanted to run out of there, but my husband…

So I allowed myself to believe “it” wasn’t a baby. I pushed it out of my mind. I blocked any feelings. But, privately, I felt… sad.

After this I had three more babies; beautiful and healthy daughters. In between each baby after my first, I had a miscarriage. I never really felt I had a right to grieve because of what I had done. I felt it was a rightful and deserving punishment for me. How could I possibly have a right to grieve when I participated in the death of the baby I was suppose to protect?

You see, I have shoved this so far down and denied it for too long. I never allowed myself to feel any kind of grief or loss, because I was afraid. I was scared of my feelings, regret, and truth. I was ashamed.

Why after all this time was I hit with this? It does debunk the myth that women who choose abortion will heal and will not have any residual emotions, doesn’t it?

Perhaps this is Gods way of saying to me, now is the time to share my testimony and receive complete healing. Healing is not only for the physical, it is emotional and spiritual. When we allow God to come in, He wants to heal us completely.

What I did not know then (30 years ago), I do know now; and that is Jesus came to set us free!

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 

 This I can say confidently, it is well with my soul. I know when I get to heaven I will see my babies who have grown up before the Lord. 

If I could do it all over again, of course I would choose differently, but God knows.

baby

My dear friend, does this speak to you? Perhaps right now you are facing some tough choices. Can I tell you, a pregnancy may not have been wanted or planned, but there is no baby that is a mistake. We may sin, but a baby is not the sin, a baby is a blessing. You have other options besides abortion. Choose life! If you are not in a position, or want to be a mother right now, please know there are people out there who can and want to provide a loving home for your baby and support for you.

Every life is precious. Jesus has this to say about you and about your baby…

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

If you have already traveled the dark path of abortion, there is still hope. There is forgiveness and healing in Jesus. You do not have to hide from Him. Come to Him and let Him cleanse you and make you new. You have not committed the unpardonable sin. Healing comes with repentance, my friend.

If you are struggling and you feel alone please reach out. There are Pregnancy Support Centers across our nation with wonderful loving people who want to help you.  They will come along side you and walk the journey of life with you.

A baby is a blessing. Choose life.

Be Free & Stay Free 

Mercy Over Judgment

merciful-Jesus

Straightening up, Jesus said to her,“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said,“I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]  John 8:10-11

A woman was caught in the act of adultery and the religious people of the day thought they would just march her right on down to Jesus. They were certain they had the law on their side and if Jesus was who He said He was then He would agree. They were testing Jesus.

Imagine the woman was trembling inside. She knew what the law required; she was to be stoned to death. They stood her in front of the crowd, in  public humiliation, announcing her sin. Can you imagine the whispers and shaking of heads that must have been going around the crowd? I imagine the pious religious men, chest puffed up and standing tall in their own self righteousness, believing they finally caught Jesus.

stone

You see, the scribes and Pharisees knew the law, but they did not know Him. If they knew Him they would have known God desires mercy over judgment. Religion wanted to condemn this woman and the law wanted to stone her; but Jesus stepped in.

For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; but [to the one who has shown mercy] mercy triumphs [victoriously] over judgment. -James 2:13

When we use your hand to point at someone, our finger is pointing forward, but the other fingers are pointing toward us. Try it, use your hand, point at something. What do you see? What are the position of your other fingers? That’s right, they are pointing back at you. How easy it is to see another persons sin out and ignore our own, huh? We have all been guilty.

The woman had no defense. She could not deny her guilt. All she could do was hope for mercy. I have been there. Have you?

Our sin not only affects us, it affects our relationship with God, and with others. The world says if it feels good so do it, it’s not hurting anyone; this is a lie.

Let’s read the rest of the story.

Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger. It is not recorded what He wrote, although some speculate it was the sins of her  accusers. While He was writing in the dust her accusers kept  on ranting and demanding an answer from Him. When they persisted with their question, He raised Himself up and said, “Let him who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her.” Then He bent back down and continued writing in the dirt.

cfee1df0aef1bf88281266898fc4ff19_L

Can you hear the silence as each one of her accusers were dismantled of their own self righteousness? Do you hear the stones dropping  as they turn and walk away? Their conscience was pricked, one by one, from the oldest to the youngest, until there was no one left standing in the center of the court but Jesus and the woman.

Jesus raises Himself up and say’s to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?”

No one, Lord.” She answers.

“I do not condemn you either. Go your way and from now on sin no more.” And with these words, she is free, made new, and forgiven.

Jesus-HH

Did you hear that? Jesus said to her and He says to you, “I do not condemn you. Go your way and from now on sin no more.”

Yes, God desires mercy over judgment. His heart is for us. For this reason He came down as a Man. He was fully man and fully God. His great love for us encompasses us and covers our sins and the affects of sin in us. Do you understand this? The guilt and shame you are tempted to carry because of sin, He has freed you from it!

Beloved, perhaps it wasn’t adultery you were entangled in. Sin is sin, and the accuser stands at your door waiting to devour you with condemnation, guilt, and shame.

Let this Psalm be your prayer. Then receive His forgiveness, His mercy, His love, and go and sin no more.

Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24

Be Free & Stay Free

Lily of the Valley

lily of the valley

I am sitting at my laptop and wanting to write a post to inspire and encourage. You ever have those moments where your thoughts are being so consumed with the love of God and you want to share it? Such love can not be contained.

I can not put my thoughts into a single coherent post, but I know there is someone out there who just needs to be reminded how much He loves you.

I submit this to you and I hope as you listen to this, you allow yourself to meditate on our One Hope and Redeemer and Lover of our souls.

 God [in His eternal plan] chose to make known to them how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in and among you, the hope and guarantee of [realizing the] glory.

Colossians 1:27

Be Free & Stay Free

Clouded By Insecurity

mind-prison
Prisoner of the mind

 

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, but not yet seen. Insecurity is the substance of things dreaded/feared, seen or not.

Our minds are always on. We have constant thoughts. Sometime the thoughts flash without too much consideration. Sometimes a thought grabs us and we linger. When we catch ourselves lingering on a thought (or an imagination), the attention we give to it causes a reaction. If the thought is positive, then the reaction is positive. The same is true for negative, fearful thoughts; if we dwell there, then the effect is negative.

If we give voice to our thoughts, then our thoughts become action and will produce fruit. Scripture says there is power of life or death in our tongues. If we meditate long enough on a thought (germinate the seed), it will eventually come out of our mouth and the fruit of the seed will grow.

Fear is the breeding ground of insecurity. I do not believe we were created with a fear gene; rather it was learned through negative experience. Since we know we were created in the image of God, and God is not fear and confusion, then we can be certain that fear is not from God. Therefore, since fear is not from God, we do not have to accept it.

Insecurity has been the demise of many relationships, opportunities, and dreams. Insecurity has silent partners called “what if” and “yea, but.” What if and yea, but has a relative named “remember when.”  They are counterfeit imitators and reside in the mind of reasoning; they are enemies of faith and they set up camp in depression and discontentment.

Our minds are conditioned by experience; starting from childhood.

The brain contains billions of nerve cells arranged in patterns that coordinate thought, emotion, behavior, movement and sensation. A complicated highway system of nerves connects your brain to the rest of your body, so communication can occur in split seconds. (CLICK HERE)  Truly a fascinating creation!  I am not a scientist, so I wont even attempt to explain the intricacies of the human mind, but I do know our brains are able to store information we have learned, through experience; intentional and unintentional. It is like a Rolodex, when faced with situations our mind quickly goes through the old files and says, “Aha! I have been here before!” and then it triggers the response based on previous experience. To the unregenerate mind, this can lead to a road filled with debris of broken relationships, dead dreams, and wounded souls.

Here is an example of what I am talking about:

I grew up with an angry father. In my home it was like constantly walking on egg shells, because we never knew when his  temper would spark.

walking-on-eggshells

This experience has caused me to have fear of confrontations. To avoid confrontations I would operate under the fight or flight mode; usually it was flight. If I was around anyone having an argument, or heated discussion, I would exit quickly, because it made me feel very uncomfortable and fearful. Or if I sensed someone was not in a “good” mood and they were silent, I would become tense and begin to mentally look for a place to take cover when there was an explosion.

nuclear-explosion

And because I not only grew up in a home with an angry parent, I was also rejected by my father. As you can imagine, as a child I was torn and confused between the two fears; I was afraid of doing or saying something that would cause his wrath and at the same time, I so wanted to please him and to be accepted by him, incurring a double whammy, his wrath of anger and his rejection.

Fast forward into my adult years…

Even as an adult, I still had to contend with that fearful child inside of me. I was like a turtle, I would walk and talk confidently, but as soon as I sensed “trouble,” I would retreat into my shell. The end result would cause even more fear and insecurity. Grief! What a vicious cycle, huh? How many failed relationships and lost opportunities must we have before we understand the past does not dictate our future?

Just like Pavlov’s dogs, we have triggers.  The triggers may not be bells, it could be a word, a look, a place; or anything that brings into remembrance the thing that caused us pain. Sometimes the triggers can go unnoticed, we may just find ourselves feeling or acting a certain way and not understand why. Have you ever done or said something and then later think, “Wow! Where did that come from?”

Let’s use marriage and remarriage as an example. I read the rate of divorce in a second marriage is higher than a first marriage. Again, I am no expert, but I submit the reason for this is because people enter into other relationships before being healed from the soul wounds. What we do not see, is while we are packing the boxes and suitcase to move on, we are also carrying with us the disappointment, anger, and rejection. Then when we meet someone else, fall in love, get married, and set up a new home, we are unpacking the luggage we brought with us from the past. Inevitably there will be a trigger, our fear of the past happening again causes insecurity, and we act on the fear.

Our minds begin to fixate on the what ifs and the yea, buts. You know, the “what if I made a mistake and he/she isn’t the one?” Or “what if he/she does the same thing my ex did?” Or “Yea, I know this is what they said, but they really meant this.” The past plays over and over again in our minds like a broken record and we get stuck there. Meanwhile, the present looks at you, scratches its head and moves on without you.

There is only one way to get off the treadmill of insecurity and that is, faith. But, to truly have faith you must be perfected in love. What do I mean? Glad you asked.

1 John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].

There is freedom in Gods love. Knowing His love, goes further than just quoting scripture. A person can know the Bible word for word, can even be a Christian, and still be bound to fear and insecurity. Only intimately knowing God the Father, through Jesus the Son, can we walk by faith and security, knowing our destiny does not rely on other people or things. Only through an intimate relationship with Him can we believe that no matter what, this will work for my good. When we know His love (experientially), then we do not have to be fearful and insecure.

The more intimately we know Him, the more we are conformed into His image and our hearts and minds are regenerated, made new. Then we do not make decisions based on the “what ifs” and “yea, buts.” We are able to discern the will of the Father and act on it. We are not moved by what our eyes see, we are moved by faith, knowing it is the substance of all things hoped for, yet not seen. The more we are like Him, our thoughts line up with His thoughts, and our hopes are in sync with His promise.

christlike

The more we trust in His love and care, the more we are able to extend it to others. When we grasp His mercy in forgiveness and His grace , then we are able to extend that same mercy in forgiveness and grace to others. And this, my friend, is where true freedom is found.

Forgiveness is not denial that something happened. It is not excusing someones actions that has caused you hurt. Forgiveness releases the person to God and frees you from the ties of the past. It frees your mind from the lies that try to hold you captive to the prison of defeat, fear, and insecurity. Forgiveness releases you to walk in your purpose, your destiny, and lets you experience real healthy relationships.

So, you see, there is no need to be insecure. God has you and He loves you. He is here, and His heart is that you believe Him and receive His love to the fullest measure. He has been here all along.

Be Free & Stay Free