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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.
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.
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.
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.
Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us, we don’t consider all that is being removed.
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.
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.
What would happen if day in and day out you just never tried to do anything? By anything, I mean ANYTHING. You don’t pay attention to clocks and rise when you feel like it. You don’t go to work because you don’t feel like it. There is no showering, or grooming for you of any kind. You simply “step over” the trash in your home because you don’t want to take the time to throw it out and cleaning is just too much work. During the day you lay down some more, nap a little and watch TV, while of course sitting down on your trash ridden sofa. You eat whatever makes you happy for the moment and at night, or in the wee hours of the morning you retire to your disheveled, smelly bed to sleep until the next day begins…whenever you decide that is.
Some of you may be completely disgusted by the picture I just painted. But can I say that some who may be meticulous cleaners, organizers, and hard workers who never miss a day of employment sick or not, may also be living this kind of lazy-life existence? Sound funny? Well what if I told you that it is possible to suffer from emotional, spiritual, mental and even relational atrophy? It is. Proverbs 29:18 very clearly tells us that without a vision the people perish. So it is possible to neglect ourselves in the areas where most people don’t see. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it!”? It’s true. Just like our natural muscles suffer and degenerate with disuse so does our spiritual, emotional, and mental strength and acuity.
Atrophy does not only occur after disuse. It can also occur as the result of an injury. Have you kept yourself separated from others because you are “too busy” to make time for family or friends? Or is the real reason you avoid too much time with people because you have experienced hurt in past relationships and you fear opening your heart again to others. If you are nervous or anxious about building relationships here is a solution Paul gives us in Philippians 4:6 & 7. He says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So in other words…Seek ye first… Matthew 6:33
Atrophy does NOT have to be permanent. Exercising the atrophied areas can build you up and make you strong where you were once weak. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be pain along the way. It happens, but we can grow through it and emerge stronger. When you work out for the first time in a LONG time you get sore. Even if you are normally a physical person you may have switched up your exercise regimen or done something that you normally don’t do. In the fitness world this is referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This pain can be alarming to a person who is new to exercise but someone who is used to exercising knows it and will be able to skillfully work through it because they know the soreness is part of a process that will lead to greater stamina and strength in that area.
Daily life makes it easy to neglect our health and growth in areas that we think are “unseen”. We are all busy but prioritizing is the key. For instance, how much time is spent watching television or trolling the social media sites? Could Facebook or Instagram stand a little less attention from you? Think about it. Could you replace ONE hour a week of social media time with actual human interaction? Could you attend a bible study or even sit down to read or pray by yourself in an effort to grow spiritually? These are the areas you can explore and only you (and God) know where you can give a little more.
Those who run marathons must train for this even if they are normally very physical. They must discipline themselves on a daily basis, watching what they eat, how much water they drink, and of course building their stamina for the race ahead of them. They push themselves to the limit and stretch the boundaries of their muscles and mental status keeping their eyes on the prize, the goal, the finish line. For some winning that race means crossing the finish line, no matter what number they are.
Others race against their own previous record. They want to push past what they were able to achieve before. For you and I…putting on those tennis shoes and making it to the starting line may be worthy of a gold medal.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
You can do it…Flex that muscle…It’s time to DO WORK!
Written By Amber Lawton
Standing at the barre, facing my reflection in the mirror, I gaze at the beads of sweat dripping down my face. “Plie, and revere,” I hear the instructor call out. I quickly look to my neighbor’s feet in an attempt to catch on to the movements. The instructor continues, “Stay there, and pulse.” I quickly scan the room of 15 women to see if I am the only one struggling. There is nothing more comforting than knowing you are not alone when it feels as if you are failing. On this occasion, however, I am not fortunate to find my ‘fail-mate’. With pensive faces, each woman continues her gaze in the mirror as we change from one position to the next. Our limbs pulse to the upbeat tempo of the music as the cheerful instructor, a petite brunette with a dancer’s body, walks the floor. “What did I get myself into?” I think, as we move to mats on the floor to do planks.
Only 10 minutes into a 55 minute Xtend Barre class and I was ready to give up. But right in that moment when I wanted to drop my body to the floor and roll over on my back I heard: ‘I DO Hard Things!’
I wish I could tell you that I elegantly continued as a graceful ballerina; as if out of a scene from the movies I could magically bend and stretch effortlessly with the rest of the class. Not quite. At almost 5’ 1” and approximately 90 lbs. overweight, I tilted, wobbled, and careened my way through the class to the very end. When the burn became unbearable, and my thoughts tried to turn to embarrassment I thought: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
For most, finishing a morning workout wouldn’t require much thought, or scripture for that matter. I am definitely not like most. Walking out of the studio I felt empowered. My thoughts turned back to ‘I Do hard Things’. Why in that moment had that particular statement come to mind? What does doing “hard things” mean to me?
For me, a hard thing was being able to try anything unfamiliar, surrounded by people I did not know. The former me would not have been able to make it out of her bedroom. Too wrought with depression, and overcome with anxiety, if she did make it to class she would have burst into tears 5 minutes in. You see lovely, I had the desire to be alive, but was crippled by fear and uncontrollable thoughts. Paranoia, skepticism, nervousness, and emotion hindered me from wanting to actually live. Living requires going, doing, and trying. None of which I had the courage to do. Thankfully God has a bigger plan for me. With the help of His word renewing my mind daily and years of therapy, I was able to take control of my thoughts. As I regain focus on what is important I am able to overcome my past and live in the present, as I become who I am created to be in the future. I am sure many of you know this is hard work, and tiresome at times.
Quite possibly these are the reasons the theme of the upcoming Life Builder Conference came to mind while I was mid-exercise in a classroom full of strangers. “I Do Hard Things” is a statement, not a question. There is a call to action in the “do”. I have no idea what is on the agenda for the conference, but with a week away I am in great anticipation for some “ah-ha” moments, and inspired revelation.
Maybe you are not like me; eager and hopeful. Maybe you are saying right now: “your hard things are not anything like my hard things.” I would say you are absolutely right! That is what makes this conference so great. If Pastor Cathy did not grab hold of her God-given courage, talents, gifts, and wisdom to build safe learning environments to unlock every woman’s potential we would not have Life Builder Seminars or this conference.
From the founder to volunteers and attendees, we each have our own “hard things” to accomplish.
So lovely, what “hard things” have you faced or are facing? Share in the comments below! 🙂
I was so consumed with unforgiveness and denial that I would not accept a sincere apology when my Mom apologized for abandoning me during my childhood. I dismissed her apology and told her it was not a big deal. Unbeknownst to me, I was in denial. Looking back, I believe that I was not ready to face the pain and my true feelings regarding her not being there. Instead I lied to myself and minimized the issues. I wanted to believe the lie that it was no big deal, so I did.
Fast forward a few years and my brother apologized. This time, I was all too aware of how I felt. Truth be told, I should have apologized for my behavior as well but I didn’t. Instead I was bound up in unforgiveness and I refused to accept his apology. I thought to myself, “how DARE you think you can just say I’m sorry after the hell you put me through!” I was livid and scared of what might come out of mouth so I just said “ok.” Except it was not ok because I refused to forgive him.
Sometimes people can do the most horrific things and never apologize. Whether they apologize or not we have a choice to make. We have the choice to do what God commands us to do: forgive, and forgive, and forgive again. Or we can hold on to unforgiveness. I chose unforgiveness for years. It turns out unforgiveness has some close friends- their names are bitterness, rage, and resentment. When I chose not to forgive I placed myself in a prison of rejection, self-pity, and victim mentality.
Whether or not we receive an apology, we can choose to forgive. God has blessed us with free will and that means that we have the power of choice. “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days;” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) When I refused to forgive, I chose death. There is a saying refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die.” While I clung to unforgiveness my peace died, my joy died, and my hope died. My relationship with God suffered because everything He said or showed me was filtered through my heart of unforgiveness and bitterness. The person most affected by our unforgiveness is usually us.
When we choose to forgive, we choose life. Sometimes the wound is so deep that true forgiveness seems nearly impossible. But with God all things are possible. God empowers us to forgive through His Spirit. It’s not by might, nor by power, but by HIS Spirit. (Zechariah 4:6)
God is faithful and because He loves us He brings conviction when we are harboring unforgiveness. I had repeatedly asked Him to help me forgive over the years but I was unwilling to let go. I remember someone told me that I had to forgive my Mom even if she did not change. I wanted to slap that person for suggesting something so asinine. Like I said, unforgiveness’ friend is rage. That person was right; I simply refused to accept that truth. During those years of unforgiveness I decided that I would not forgive my Mom unless she changed. I lived with unforgiveness for several years before I was finally willing to let go. At that point, I went to God and earnestly asked Him for help again. This time, when I asked God for help I let go of my vow not to forgive unless she changed.
Forgiveness must be unconditional. If I say I will only forgive if she does this or if he stops that, then I am saying that I only have to forgive sometimes. The Word says that we are to forgive every time. Forgiveness is not condoning the behavior or subjecting oneself to abuse. Forgiveness is letting go of the resentment and the belief that they must pay, and cancelling the debt. Forgiveness opens the door to healing.
Written by: Lynn Waters
On New Year’s we make decisions to lose weight and make changes in our lives. In Spring we make plans and clean our homes thoroughly. I always can’t wait to do my Spring Cleaning. I make lists of things I need to do for each room, and then check them off when I have accomplished them. Some of us go through our clothes and get rid of things we can’t wear any more or don’t like. Some even rearrange their closets. We all have things we do to change our surroundings.
What if we did the same things with our lives? We can look at our lives and decide what we want to change. Do we like our job or do we dislike going there every day? If we don’t like it, what do we want to do to change it? Do we
need to take classes and get a degree? My nephew is doing that, online. He doesn’t even have to travel to attend class. He left the job that he no longer enjoyed because his wife was transferred, and he was happy to do this. Now that he is earning his degree, he is able to and then planning to look for a job in their new location. What other changes can we make to in our lives? Some of us have a lot of credit card debt because we spend more than we make. It would benefit us to look at why we spend this money and decide what we are going to do about it.
If we have bad habits that are not good for us we can look at them and decide which healthy habits we want develop, while we do away with the bad habits. Myself, I decided to eat healthier and to lose weight. Not just go on a diet, because most dieters regain the weight. I decided to change my eating habits. This is harder, but I know by doing this I will lose weight, probably slower, but I will keep off the weight because of these healthier eating habits. I also decided to a spend time reading the Bible daily, and to pray more. Maybe you have a lot of clothes, but nothing to wear. Look at what people around you are wearing. It used to be that you never wore black and brown together, but people are doing that today. Also, people wear things that don’t exactly match. I’ve noticed women that wear a big necklace that doesn’t match anything they have on. I have expanded my wardrobe by wearing different items and scarves, which are very in right now. If you go through your wardrobe you will find out that with 10 items of clothing you can create a month’s worth of wardrobe.
I went on a trip and planned my clothes so that I could wear most of them with each other. I had the smallest suitcase of everyone on the trip and they didn’t see how I could do it. But I had planned. I had a pair of pants and a skirt that were the same color. Then I had tops that were different, but went with the skirt and the pants. Plus I had some clothes that were not paired with these so I looked like I had more in my wardrobe. I spent three weeks wearing these clothes and felt quite well dressed. Many of us have a large wardrobe, but only wear a small part of it. Look at the items you don’t wear and decide what you can wear with it. If nothing works, get rid of it. We can look at our lives, just like we look at our closet, and decide what stays and what goes. It is good to look at our lives and make changes.
Written By: Judy Smith
I was the champion of worry. I was raised by my grandparents on a very poor farm and I didn’t that know I was poor until I started school. When that realization hit me, it produced many negative feelings in my life. I was already very insecure and afraid of what was going to happen to me. Fear came flowing into me and I began to worry about everything. This continued throughout my adult life.
Philippians 4:5-9 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.” If we do this, there won’t be room for worry.
FACTS ABOUT WORRY
40% of the things people worry about never happen.
30% of our worries are related to past maters, which Are now beyond our control.
12% of our worries have to do with our health, even when we are not actually ill.
10% of our worries are about friends and neighbors, and are not based on evidence or fact.
Only 8% of our worries have basis in reality, which means that more than 90% of the things we worry about never may never occur.
There are three areas of a Christian prayer life. 1) The prayer area in which “nothing” is written because the Bible says be anxious for nothing. 2) The prayer area with the word “everything” because the Bible says, in everything let your requests be made known to God. And 3) is the thanksgiving area where we are thankful to God. When we live within those three areas, we overcome worry. Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you drink; not about your body; what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Worry is worthless! Live in God’s peace. John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Once we realize that we are struggling with something and we feel upset, we need to start praying and immediately turn the situation over to God, thankful that He will provide according to His will and offer us peace. You and I are not called to a life of frustration and struggle. Jesus came so we could have righteousness, joy, and peace!
Seek His face. Let Him displace worry from the center of your being. Let Him shower peace into the pool of your mind. His nature is to bless, so we must receive with thanksgiving. It is not His will that we function alone. Include Him in all your moments. Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
“Sometimes the Lord calms the storm; sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.” Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. I used to sing of praise that went like this: If I know the Lord is taking care of me, what do I have to worry about? And if I know the Lord is going to see me through, why don’t I sing and shout! Glory Hallelujah Praise His Name. Jesus you are forever taking care of me, what do I have to worry about hmmmmmm? What do I have to worry about!