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October 29, 2015

Are You Lonely?

Looking out the window

Written By Tina Cobian

Have you ever been in a room full of people, a party, or even at a table in the midst of many conversations but you are disconnected and you just feel lonely?  There was a time when I felt just like that.

A while back I realized I was feeling very lonely. Even though I have a husband and four children always around me; I felt alone.  Friends weren’t calling and my social life was really very superficial, in fact non-existent.  There were no meaningful conversations or even just fun daily banter taking place.  It was a difficult time, but one that taught me a lot about myself and especially about my God.  At first when I started feeling this way I wasn’t sure what was happening.

I would see people going off to lunch together after church, and inviting each other to their homes

I realized I was walking through a season.  It was a season where God was calling me to His heart.  It was time to draw closer.

and on fun outings.  But that just wasn’t happening for me.  When things like this occur in my life I usually do some self-reflection.  Be careful it can be a slippery slope between self-reflection and self-abuse.  I started wondering what was wrong with me and at times acted defensively towards others because of it.  I tried being more friendly and outgoing.  Nothing was working and my situation didn’t appear to be changing.  I started to pray.

I love praying on the way to work.  When I leave in the morning it’s dark out and fairly quiet.  Even the freeway doesn’t seem to be as noisy as it does at four or five in the afternoon.  There were many times I would be praying on my way to work, tears streaming down my face crying out to God about how alone I felt.  I would ask Him to come to me, cover my and comfort me.  It was in those times, I felt His tender hand wipe away my tears.  He would touch my heart and say, “I am here.”  It was then that I realized I was walking through a season.  It was a season where God was calling me to His heart.  It was time to draw closer.

It’s important for you to know that if you are feeling lonely; if you aren’t already, you need to begin to guard your heart.  It’s very easy to mistake this season of growth for a pitfall such as rejection.  The enemy would love for you to believe you are not wanted, less than, or not accepted.  It’s a lie, plain and simple.  There were times where offense tried to rise up in me, but I had to recognize the lie and liar and squash it right away.  Make sure that you are praying and most importantly, listening.  It’s the voice of God that will carry you through the valleys of this season.

I began to hear God’s voice often and sought after knowing Him in a closer way.  There were even times when I would be at work and songs would pop into my head.  I would hear them over and over again.  One day as I walked through the hallway at work I heard Him clearly say, “I am singing my song over you.” It’s so hard to physically stay in control of yourself in those moments when you just want to crumble to the floor and weep in His presence.  Not for sorrow, but in gratefulness.  Thank God for the large stall in the ladies restroom!

These are months I wouldn’t trade for a hundred close friends.  I don’t know how many times I have said and sang the words, “He is Everything to me.” But during this time I learned to live them.  I couldn’t look to my husband, friends or children for fulfillment.  It had to be God first now and always.  Proverbs 18:24 says that a man with too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.   I would often think about Moses and how Exodus talks about the Lord speaking with him face to face.  The dark place of loneliness quickly disappears when you are surrounded by His light.  When His breath is on your face and your heart begins to beat in sync with His heart.  There is absolutely no one and nothing in this world that is better than that.

Recently, I have had waning relationships that were put aside return in newness and in health. They are simply the bi-product of putting HIM first.  Matthew 6:33 can be applied to so many areas of our lives, but it has really come alive to me in the area of friendship.  I sought after a real friend and there He stood before me.  I was sinking into loneliness and He carried me out of it.  I needed someone to talk to and He listened and even answered.

You see it is NOT good for man to be alone.  That’s basic bible.  It was never God’s intention for us to live closed-off, shut- out and alone.  He created us to commune with others but He intended for us to look to Him first.  So if you are feeling lonely; look to Him to fill your heart.  If you don’t feel like you are connecting, you can connect with Him.  If you need love, love on God.  I can tell you right now, it’s not going to be an overnight process.  But building relationships with anyone never is and HE isn’t just anyone…this is the King of Kings we are talking about.  Remember, relationships work both ways.  So spend the time, build the relationship.  You won’t be disappointed.  I promise.  I’m not.

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October 22, 2015

Watch Your Mouth

Portrait of beautiful young cheerful woman on a white background

Written By Tina Cobian

Have you ever had one of those moments where you are going about life, minding your own business when you are suddenly hit with a thought or revelation?  At this point you stop, do a double-take and look straight into life’s camera as if to say, “Really?  Well that only took me fifteen years to get.”  Well, I had one of those moments while reading Psalm 59.  I need to rewind a bit to the beginning of my lesson called, “Watch Your Mouth.”

I was at work when my boss pulled me aside and started talking to me about promotion.  This would not be the last time he would spend moments speaking to me about future plans for our organization and how I was going to fit into that.  I was excited about the prospect of promotion and worked hard daily to keep moving forward towards that goal.  Soon after my initial conversation with my boss I became very ill and put out on medical leave for two months.  When I returned things at work had drastically changed.

The department I worked in had been split and some individuals had been promoted into a new department, not me.  However, there was one spot left that and I was sure was being held just for me.  A couple of weeks after returning to work, I went to see my boss and told him that I would love to move into the vacant position and I casually brought up one of our previous conversations about promoting me.  He looked at me it was as though while I was out on leave, he had also fallen, bumped his head and could not remember the last three months of his life.  He told me that he couldn’t remember those conversations and he would have to, “Check his notes.”  I was stunned.

The next few weeks were difficult for me because I felt so disenfranchised.  I started nit-picking

At this point I had convinced myself that it was ok to speak badly about him… It was an ugly moment in me.

everything and becoming bitter over what had taken place.  I tried to still do my job with pride but I found myself complaining quite a bit and even stirring up others by the negative things I would say.  At one point I sat down to “unload” on a co-worker who had been with the company for 15 years.  Surely, I would receive sound council from this older, wiser woman.

I mumbled, griped, complained and even gossiped about my boss.  I was so upset and felt it was my right to say the things I did.  Picking and choosing what we will call sin is a dangerous game; and it is one that we will lose every time.  At this point I had convinced myself that it was ok to speak badly about him since he had done me wrong.  After all, he wasn’t in “church” with me. I knew it was sin, the Holy Spirit lives in me… Just confessing this part makes me cringe.  It was an ugly moment in me.

Very soon after I was praying and I heard the Lord so clearly say to me, “You have a choice.  You can let me handle it, or handle it yourself. Or will your friend do more for you than I? There are those moments when God speaks to you and He is the Lover of your soul, your heart flutters and you rejoice at the sound of His voice in your ear.  He can also speak to you and be Daddy, or Papa loving and tender.  At this very moment He spoke to me as Father and Lord.  The sound of His voice commanded me to attention and I knew there would be no more excuses or justifications for my behavior.  Plain and simple, I was wrong.

From that moment on, I let it go.  (I wonder if Queen Elsa knew she was going to release a song of deliverance.) I asked God to forgive me and I moved on by making a decision to change my attitude and chose the high road at every turn.  Every time I wanted to remember what I thought had been stolen from me, my mind returned to God’s words over me and I was empowered to return to peace…His peace.

Our organization shifted again and this time because of the changes a large amount of the work load swung over to my group.  Coupled with the growing industry demand our department found itself heavily bombarded with more work than we could handle.  We were all working ten to eleven hours every day.  I kept a good attitude about it all and was determined to be God’s instrument of peace amidst the chaos and complaining.  Every day, He put a smile on my face and gave me a reason to laugh out loud and enjoy my job.

One day my manager called me in to her office and told me that we were hiring a new group of representatives and they were starting the next week.  She had recommended me for a mentoring position.  It was going to be my responsibility to train a new employee.  I was ecstatic.  I love teaching and this was an amazing opportunity being trusted with a new hire.   If I had been promoted those months ago, this opportunity would not have been available for me.  I would have been operating in a different capacity and not in the place I was called to be.

Current day…I am reading Psalm 59 and I am looking into life’s camera dumbfounded.  I hear the words of David.  He is crying out for deliverance from those who seek to destroy him.  He is pouring out his broken heart before God and waiting on him to move on his behalf.  The man who had become a father figure to him, Saul sought to kill him and yet he waited.  What I found most profound about David’s Psalm was that he hadn’t gone out gossiping about Saul telling his woes and troubles to whoever would listen.  He took all of that to God and at the end of Psalm 59 in verses 16-17 David praises and worships God, while he waits.

David, in the midst of this great trial and grief, remembers the Lord and how worthy He is.  He draws his strength and resilience from Him.  He remembers that there is nothing more important than his bond, heart to heart with God.  As I came to end of this Psalm I heard the Lord speak to me again and although the scripture may seem harsh to some; at that moment his voice was like gentle rain on my face.  It brought refreshing and renewal to me.  He said, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life.  But he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction and I have come that you may have life.”

I close my eyes and He is nearer to me than the skin that covers my flesh.  He is my breath and the life that moves through me every day.  In Him I live…I move…I exist because of Him.  Once again he has lovingly taught me a much needed lesson about trust and honor.  I sense the chuckle in His voice as He speaks again, “Are you ready?…New level, new lesson.”  I can’t help but giggle with Him.  Never a dull moment with our God.

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October 15, 2015

Recognize Your Season

Know Your Season

Written by Tina Cobian

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.  A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

It is 5:10 on a Monday morning and I‘m headed out the door on my way to work.  My drive in is usually dark due to the early morning hour but today the dawn is quickly breaking through the night sky and the asphalt of the usual dark streets has now begun to reflect the early morning sunlight.  The transformation of daylight is only one of the marks of the season’s change.  The weather is also changing and the green leafy trees have begun their makeover into an array of browns, orange, red and golden yellows. On this particular morning I can almost see the finger of God pointing to the horizon as the sun begins to peak though.

My heart races, my eyes are open and I sense this season of change is more than just an annual event written in the almanac.  His voice is clear although it is a mere whisper in my ears.  It is as loud as thunder and as gentle as a soft warm breeze.  On mornings like these I wonder how I arrive at my destination. I am completely captivated by His voice and He has all of my attention.

He shows me the beauty in the colors of the leaves and I realize that although lovely to behold these changes signify the death of the leaf.  Soon they will dry, wither and fall from the branch.  It is a necessary cycle preparing the tree for the next season of life.  As the season continues, the rains will come.  Each drop of water will aid the process gently removing the unfruitful parts of the tree to make room for the newness and life that will soon come.  I see myself and what I have walked through so clearly.  I had not relinquished the unfruitful leaves in my life so willingly at first, but as I have surrendered each and every fruitless branch, He has been faithful gently prune it in preparation for new areas of life.

This has been a season of transformational change for me in so many ways.  There have been areas in my life that were dead and fruitless.  Those areas seemed so beautiful to my eyes and yet it was time to allow the removal to take place.  Just like the gentle raindrops washing away the lifeless leaves from each branch, He has washed away these areas in my life.  Some of the changes were painful and there seemed to be a time where I even mourned the loss of these areas.  God walked me through this too. He allowed me the time to process and when it was time He called me to stand up, and grow up.  I would not have come to this place of thriving life if I had not allowed the pruning process to occur. 

A time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.  Ecclesiastes 3:3-4

When the dead leaves fall to the ground they are transformed further.  They break up and become nourishment to the tree, bringing it strength and feeding it for the next season.  The leaves go into the ground and become a type of fertilizer which is then absorbed by the root.  The useless, dead leaf is now once again part of the tree, but this time in a way that gives life.  Those things that have been removed out of my life are areas where I have gained strength.  Each learning process will forever remain in my memory, not as a source of pain, but as a remembrance for growth.  I share with you these areas of victory because God has the ability to transform every dead thing that was cut off into an instrument of change and seed for new life.  I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures.  It was one of the first ones I learned and it has carried me through many situations.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

I arrive at my destination and I am about to enter the building I see a tree at the entrance.  There are benches and tables under it.  Sometimes at lunch we sit under this tree and it provides shade from the sun.  Even during the triple digit heat of summer, it provided shelter and a cool place to rest.  I study the trees structure. The trunk is weather and time worn, but wide and strong reaching past the three stories of the building’s height.  Its branches spread out across the yard and stretch towards heaven in a stance of praise and surrender.

Breakthrough has come and the new season is here.  I see it, feel it and every fiber of my being is alert to what is breaking forth right now.  It’s time for me to embrace this newness and walk in the fullness of His plan for this season of my life.  My heart is surrendered to Him and all that He desires to do in me.  I sense His nearness and I know that His plans for me are good.  I can’t help but smile, because I know He is with me here, now, and always.

October 5, 2015

A Season of Change

A Season of Change

Written By Amber Lawton

I am enamored with autumn. The change in weather, captivating colors, warm sweaters, and intimate gatherings make this the best season of the year. Even the fragrance of autumn invokes warmth and friendliness that the other seasons do not share. You see, spring carries the excitement of new life, and fresh blossoms. While summer is about the outdoors, cook-outs, and travels. Winter may be cozy, but is so over-chilled any reason to stay indoors is welcomed. This brings us back to autumn. Autumn, in my opinion, is the centerpiece of community. We can once again gather to drink hot coffee, pumpkin flavor of course. We hold dinner parties, and engage in meaningful conversations because we are less likely to be distracted by a beach ball flying in our face. If married with children, this is the season where our children have returned to school, which means bedtimes, routine, and order are back in place. In the movies, this is the season when couples really fall in love.  I could go on.

Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us, we don’t consider all that is being removed.

 Instead I would like to consider something this season also represents, but is to some extent ignored, and that is transition. Foliage fades from vibrant greens to serene oranges, and browns before floating to the ground. The bright scorching sun is overshadowed by clouds. Gardeners prune back the once brilliant landscape as plants are no longer producing. This cycle of death is what leads us into the serenity of winter. Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us we don’t consider all that is being removed. One day I was in what was an intense study for me.  The words “intentional, deliberate friendships” had been playing over and over in my head. Partly because I realized I have a smaller group of close friends than I used to, and partly because I questioned my decision to decline an offer to “hang out.” Saying no has become fairly new for me, and lately I have used the word more than I have in the past 5 years. So I asked God, “Show me characteristics of what being intentional looks like. Show me how to receive others well, and to be deliberate in my actions towards them.” He showed me many different aspects of relationships through different individuals in the Bible. Then, right in the middle of the lesson I asked for, was a lesson I needed. It was after putting together the list of characteristics that He then showed me Autumn.

 Autumn is significant to the season of friendships or relationships falling away. The desire to be a well-liked person can overshadow what God is doing in your life, pushing you into a place of loneliness. We are surrounded by beauty as change is manifesting, but if we don’t allow ourselves to embrace the pruning we will miss it. In order for new plants or fruits to grow the lifeless and fruitless must be removed. Autumn is a season of transition because it is a season of cleaning out or making room. That transition brings winter into a cherished space. The winter is where we can sit in His serenity. In the winter is where we find His peace. In the silence of our alone time we can hear His voice clearer, and feel Him strengthen us. Below the cold desolate surface, in the richness of the soil He has planted us in, are new seeds waiting for the time to spring forth and bring fruit.

 Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b (HCSB) says “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven… a time to plant and a time to uproot;”

 My prayer is that you find the beauty in the uprooting.

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September 24, 2015

Walk With Jesus

woman praying

Written By Judy Smith

In John 16:33 Jesus “these things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Tribulation can be defined as pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing or distress.  To me, tribulation is like putting a lot pressure on the freedom Christ has given us. It feels like bench pressing a weight you can’t lift without putting everything you have into it. So I start my day praying, petitioning, taking authority, binding, loosing, and committing everything into the hands of the Lord. And He truly has given me supernatural strength and peace in the midst of the storm.

 1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  I know in whom I believe in, and I know I am an overcomer. I know this too shall pass. The hard part is saying strong and walking through it. It’s not by might nor by power but by His spirit.

 We are more than conquerors through who Him who loved us Romans 8:37. I know that in this the enemy is trying to wear me down and get me frustrated and discouraged enough to make me give up, but instead I choose to allow the Lord to use all this to make me stronger than ever and to come out on the other side of this with an even greater faith. Thank you Jesus!

 Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Thank you Jesus that when you are on our side, we have nothing to fear!  My hope is in the One who overcame so that I could become an overcomer.

 Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. True hope begins with the daily pressure we face, through tribulation we grapple with the truth of God, who He is, and what He has promised. Pressure produces perseverance- the ability to keep going and be patient because we see that God had never let us down. And perseverance produces character because our lives are not based on daily challenges, but on God’s eternal truths.

 That truth produces hope which does not disappoint because you have seen His goodness. Through it all we know Him and love Him more. And that is what is truly a reason to feel encouraged and hopeful. We need to praise Him and hope our way through our tribulations because in them, He is doing wonderful things.

 His love helps us endure all things. God wants us to be assured of His love and never allow anything to separate us from it. With a heart full of gratitude, we can rest in the knowledge that God loves us in good times, and He loves us in the hard times. God loves us on the days we act right, and He loves on the days we don’t act right. Thankfully His love is unconditional!

 He loves us based not on what we do, but on who we have become through The blood of Jesus. In other words we need to know that we are God’s beloved children and how to separate our “who” from our “do.” We won’t do everything right all the time, especially during tribulations, but we are still in right standing in God through Christ. I can celebrate through my tribulations because He loves me through them.

 Even though I want to please Him with my actions and my attitude through it all I know that His love for us is deeper than that, I know that through this troubling time in my life there is a mighty battle going on for my peace of mind but I when I shut out the world and focus on His presence, I can enjoy sitting with Him in heavenly realms. My greatest strength is my desire to spend time communing with Him.

 As I concentrate on Him, His spirit fills my mind with life and peace. I choose to stay in constant communication with Him as I walk through this season of my life. I refuse to worry, because worry is not faith.

 Psalms 5:3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You,

And I will look up. 

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April 2, 2015

Are You Thriving?

Written By Victoria Aguila

I wanted to talk a little about what it means to THRIVE.

According to Webster Dictionary, the word THRIVE means, to grow or develop successfully;  to grow vigorously;   to gain in wealth or possessions (prosper);  to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances. My favorite definition was, “to grow vigorously”.  In this season, that is my goal, to grow vigorously, to grow radically. Any growth, however, is good growth. Even if I am growing in small increments, growth is growth BUT let’s ponder on THRIVING.

In Proverbs 11:28, (NIV) the scripture tells us that “those who trust in their riches will fall, but Succeedthe righteous will THRIVE like a green leaf.”  We must always trust in the Lord and His riches and glory, not our own. We must remain righteous in the eyes of God (not man) so that we can THRIVE like a green leaf.  When I think of a green leaf, I think of watered, refreshed, liveliness, growth. What about you?

Jeremiah 17:7-8 gives us a great description of a growing tree with green leaves and compares this to a man who trusts in the Lord. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” This portion of scripture is so rich. As we trust in the Lord, we will be blessed and we will be like that tree that is firmly planted by the water and our roots go deep into the fresh wet soil and our leaves remain green and fresh and alive and growing and we will not stop growing fruit.

Psalm 1 is a great chapter. I would recommend reading through it. I enjoy reading the VOICE version but of course you read it in any translation that speaks to you. Psalm 1:3 Voice says this: You are like a tree, planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry. Your fruit ripens in its time;  your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun. No matter what you do, you prosper. I would say these scriptures depict THRIVING.  “The righteous will THRIVE like a green leaf.” (Proverbs 11:28).  So that means to me, like a leaf that is watered, like a leaf that is alive, like a leaf that is growing.  Let us plant our roots by the streams of Living Water. Water our leaves with the Word of God that refreshes our spirit and progress towards our goal of continued growth. We cannot wither away or dry up but THRIVE both despite and because of our circumstances.

Don’t strive trying to reach perfection; thrive in the preparation.  If we are striving (simply making the effort) then we probably won’t achieve the result BUT if we are thriving, we ARE progressing and prospering, and reaching success.

 Maybe today you find yourself withering away or as if you have dried up. Maybe you are feeling the thirst for the Living Water to refresh your leaves once again. I have been there!  It’s a good thing if we are able to discern that we are withering away or drying up and in need of drawing closer to the stream of Living Water to get refreshed and renewed.  We must continue to Thrive. Ask yourself if you are you THRIVING or withering away and then let’s make the necessary changes to be back in alignment and THRIVE.

Let’s pray:  God we praise your mighty name and we thank you for who You are. I ask you to increase our thirst for Your Living Water. I pray that you will refresh each and every one of us. As we draw near to you, we thank you that our roots are going deeper and our leaves are getting greener and we are growing in this season.  Thank you for the grace and the mercy that you have for us and thank you for your love that draws us to the Sweet Sweet Stream.  Be magnified Oh Lord. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

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February 12, 2015

Not Alone

Written By Remaliah Evans

I’m single and I take full advantage of my singlehood. I never have to rush home, worry about dinner, coordinate schedules with the hubby, or try to help my kids with homework that I don’t understand. However I do look forward to the time when my life does include these activities. In the meantime, I’m single and most days I’m fine being single…..  until Valentine’s Day rolls around. The minute I see the Valentine’s Day aisle at Wal-Mart, (which is now fully stocked by December 26th!)  and the never-ending commercials pushing flowers, jewelry, and heart-shaped fruit, I start rolling my eyes. Here we go, the season where I am reminded that I am alone. As tempting as it may be to throw the woe-is-me-cause-I’m-single pity party, I’m all pity partied out from Valentine heartValentine’s Days pasts. Plus, it turns out, I am not alone.  At times I feel alone because it seems I am the only person I know without special plans for plans for Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to get married, like, yesterday. But I am trusting God with my life and for His plans because He understands me, He delights in every detail of my life, (Psalm 37:23 NLT) and He is always with me. (Joshua 1:9)

 I am not alone because the Holy Spirit is with me all the time and He is my comforter and ever-present help. The Holy Spirit even shows up to my pity parties! He does not join the party of course, but He encourages me and reminds of the Word and the promises that God has for my life. The times when I’m crying my eyes out about failures, shattered dreams, or a broken heart, He has been there. Not only has He been there but He has healed my broken hearts. There was one particular heartbreak that caught me off guard. I think because I did not realize how much I cared about this person until it was over. So when the relationship ended I told God, “I don’t know how many times I can I have my heartbroken.” And He responded, “I heal your broken heart and each time that it has been broken, I have made it stronger.” Wow. I was stunned and comforted. My natural propensity and defense mechanism was to try not to feel anything. Despite this, God has been healing my heart, helping me to forgive, and teaching me how to love. Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted. (Isaiah 61:1)

When I am still and I listen to the Holy Spirit, loneliness and heartache begin to dissipate because I am in the presence of the One who knows me better than I know myself, the One who knows what I’m going to say before I say it, and the One who FIRST loved me. If wanting to be married is important to you, then it is important to God. If restoring your marriage is your heart’s cry, this is important to God. Luke 12:27 tells us that the hairs on our head are numbered. If God cares about the number of hairs on your head then surely He cares about our relationships. He loves you! I urge you to seek Him and hear his heart and direction for you; you will be encouraged.

 God did not design you to be alone. Hence your relationships with Him, family, and friends. If you look at the people in your life, chances are that you will find God has blessed you with at least one or two people who love you and support you. It may be your husband, friend, mom, dad, sister, brother, pastor, teacher, or mentor. So don’t believe the lie that you are alone. Embrace and appreciate those who love you, and love them back. Let’s not be so consumed with who loves us and who doesn’t, that we forget to love as Christ loves us.

 Romans 12:15 says to rejoice with those who rejoice. This is some good advice because 1) we all know how it feels to be so excited you think you might actually pop… and then you tell someone your good news and they just burst your bubble. Let’s not be that bubble-bursting person. 2) We also know how good it feels to share good news, and the person you shared with is genuinely as excited and happy as we are. It feels great! I believe that this is another way to give love. Rejoicing with those who rejoice increases our own joy and keeps us connected to others. It also reminds us that we are not alone.

 As we approach this Valentine’s Day let’s celebrate each other, and let’s celebrate God’s unfailing love.

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December 4, 2014

No, I am NOT Thankful

Looking at things from another Perspective can make us more Thankful

I have been an office manager for several years at the same company and I could see that change was coming. So I prayed against it, and I was too scared to pray “Lord, Your will be done”, because I did not know what His will was. Although I suspected that it did not match my will. Instead of seeking His guidance, I prayed for exactly what I wanted, which was that I would be able to continue managing my same location. I told the Lord, “I really can’t handle a transition right now. I have been through this a few times over the years and a transition would simply snuff out my last bit of enthusiasm for this job.”

Lo and behold my boss tells me that they are not transferring me to another center. They are transferring me to two centers! Two centers which I have worked at in the past. Two centers that I do not like. “Ok, Lord we have a problem. Did you not hear my prayers? I specifically asked not to be transferred. Not only am I being transferred to one center that I don’t like, I’m being transferred to TWO centers that I don’t like! TWO! Lord, what is going on?” Within in my spirit I hear “Trust Me.”

Alright ladies, look: I love God, He has been faithful to me, and He has preserved me throughnot thankful some very dark times. Even so, trust is a real problem for me. So when He said trust Me, I was livid. I said, “Trust You? I trusted You when I prayed about this job, and You ignored me. This is transfer is counterproductive, and this does not make me want to trust You. This is the worst thing that could have happened aside from being fired!” I may seem dramatic but believe me this was exactly how I felt.

Then I hear, “What if there is someone there who needs Me? And I immediately shot back, “I don’t care, I don’t want to go!” (If I were, God, I would have struck me dead right then and there) At that moment my pride, selfishness, and immaturity became blatantly clear to me. I repented and decided I would do my best to trust God during the process. However I was still disappointed and distressed about the situation. Ultimately, I decided to suck it up and do my best during and after this transition. I received godly advice from a few friends and I began to pray. A few days later my boss says, “One of the locations is being remodeled soon and I don’t want you to have to go through that again. So for now we’ll just transfer you to one location.” Hallelujah, thank you Jesus, you heard my prayers!

I’m driving to work the next day and I said, “thank You Lord for hearing my prayers.” Then I started mulling over my life and said, “My life sucks.” To be perfectly honest with you, I say this to myself from time to time when life gets rough, but for the first time, I heard something back. “Why do you think your life sucks?” And it is hits me. I’m NOT thankful. Why am I not thankful for my life? Being in a pity party mood, I decided to answer the question. “Lord, my life sucks because my job sucks, my Mom died, I can’t seem to get certain relationships right, I’m not good at this, I’m not good at that.” I listed quite a few other things and then I realized all these things are circumstantial yet, I had allowed circumstances to steal my thankfulness.

Imagine giving your friend a sweater for her birthday and she exclaims, “thank you!” But then, “you know this is really not the color I would’ve chosen for myself, it’s a little long for my taste. Oh and is this Anne Klein?… Calvin Klein is really my favorite.” Can you imagine?! You might be tempted to snatch that sweater back. This is exactly how I was with God. “Lord, thank you for my life…. but my life sucks. My life did not turn out the way that it was supposed to. Yes, God, I’m so grateful for my life… but I really wish I was married, and that I didn’t have to work, and that I didn’t have any problems.”

Does that sound thankful to you? I was NOT thankful! But check out how GOOD God is. He did not condemn me for my ungrateful attitude. He changed my mindset. My Mom is dead. I miss her, I am still mourning, and my heart aches knowing that she will not be at my wedding or see my children or be there for any more holidays. When my Mom died, my world stopped. I wanted to stop. I don’t think anything can prepare you for the death of a loved one. Through all that God made sure that I was surrounded by people that prayed for me and my family during that time. It’s hard, but those prayers have been answered, and by His grace I am able to grieve. Yes, I wish my Mom was here. However it would be a mistake to be so consumed with her death that I refuse to appreciate those who are still here. I still have my Dad, my Grandma, my siblings, and many others.

As for the rest of my woes, well, they are circumstantial. Temporary situations. They may be difficult situations yet God is with me in every problem. I can give God my concerns and disappointments, and I can still be thankful. I do not understand how certain things could possibly be working for my good, but I can still be thankful. I choose to trust Him and be thankful.

 
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November 6, 2014

Walking in God’s Redeeming Love

Examples of great women who weren’t looking for Jesus…but were found by Him

Written By: Yvonne Galindo

When I began to write this blog, I thought about how shoes have always played a role in history and culture. Shoe design can indicate a person’s wealth and social position, as reflected in the quality of material or the complexity of workmanship used to make shoes. Many cultures and belief systems do not allow women to have a say in their circumstances. We are so fortunate and blessed to have the freedom to make choices through our journey in life.

The photo of the shoe in this blog shows a memorial of a shoe worn by un-known women who died during Shoethe Holocaust. These women had been violated, dehumanized, tortured and forced to walk to their death. The pain and heartache these women felt knowing that their dreams for the future had been shattered is unfathomable.

I began to think about the women in the bible and their shoes/sandals. These women were the un-notable women of the bible who struggled through their journey and walked a path that I could not fathom.

Let’s begin with Hagar who was a slave girl then a mistress. Hagar was rejected and disregarded. She was sent away to wander in the wilderness. Hagar was alone, full of hopelessness, and crying in the desert. Genesis 16:1-16 Imagine walking in her sandals; a single mom walking through the hot desert, feeling rejected, thirsty and abandoned.

Gomer is another example of a woman violated from her youth coming from a life of prostitution. She is dirty, broken by sin and the subject of slander and gossip. (Hosea 1:1-11)

One of my favorite stories is of the Samaritan woman, who probably was ostracized by other women in her village because of her checkered past. (John 4:1-27)

In these stories these women were walled by religion gender, race, and moral values.

So what do Hagar, Gomer and the Samaritan women have in common? Hagar, Gomer and the Samaritan are the champions of the hidden, the helpless, the betrayed and the needy. These women weren’t looking for Jesus; they were thirsty, feeling empty and all they wanted was water. Our God found them … and they found him.

God used Hosea to rescue Gomer from her life style; of course this was not an easy task. How many of us have had trouble letting go of past relationships or a lifestyle that we know is not the best choice.

Hagar went from bottled water to a well of water; God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and both she and her boy were saved from death. And finally the Samaritan women who encountered Jesus who I am quite sure in all her curiosity talked his ear off searching for truth and found it. I am sure we have all been there.

During my struggles with feeling emotional distress, wondering where the next meal would come from or where we would lay our heads for the night. I thought about my mother and realized these were the same struggles she went through raising our family. I did not want that life for my children and me. Like the Samaritan women, I sought men for provision. I realize now those relationships left my spirit wounded and blinded to Gods plan for my life. Christ provided a way out; He provided a spring of water for me- it was up to me to drink of it. All I needed was a sip, a small taste; Faith of a mustard seed and found He would turn my pain to passion; I now know my purpose. Yes! I have to say there are bumps along the road; Have I stumbled? Yes! However I have to say God smoothed out the path and I learned that no past sins can bar my acceptance with him. Not one! I stand grounded and find strength, comfort and encouragement with my Faith in Christ. I choose not to walk any other way.

 
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October 2, 2014

Loneliness

How to break cycles of loneliness and depression

Written by Yvonne Galindo

I wrote in my previous blog “Intimacy I” with regards to being a single Christian Women in the church today and your relationship with Christ. It’s no surprise that more and more people define themselves as being lonely. Some suffer from loneliness because of losing a spouse or child. In most cases it’s divorce; someone you have been intimate with for years of marriage and then one day the happiness you both have shared is gone! I believe we use the word lightly, and don’t realize loneliness can be a serious ailment for some. Loneliness will manifest itself in many forms like using drugs to try to cope with your depression which sometimes can lead to suicide. This truly saddens my heart because I experienced the loss of a loved one who truly suffered from loneliness and depression. It’s not that she wasn’t loved it’s staring_out_windowbecause she never loved herself or forgave herself for her past mistakes. Women not learning to love or forgive themselves are a number one cause of loneliness in the church.
Mother Teresa said it best ~ the most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved ~ anyone who has been divorced knows the feeling of inadequacy or feeling incomplete and unloved which sometimes can lead to unhealthy relationships. I myself have experienced feeling incomplete and unloved, because of those feelings I made some BIG mistakes, some that I have learned from and others I have regretted terribly. I needed to stop looking for someone and find myself in Christ. I needed to seek Greatness and find the good in myself by the renewal of my mind-Rom 12:2. It was a difficult process and I learned to place all my desires before God; to pray about them and trust God to give them to me if and when they’re right. Remember place all the good, bad and the ugly in His hands. There is no room for shame at the altar of God.
The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end of the book.

For more from Yvonne, visit her blog.

 
 
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