Monday, September 26, 2016

How Are You?

No. Really. How are you? Please know that I am not asking out of obligation but of a genuine interest in how you are doing! I really want to know.

I've noticed, more and more, that our society seems to operate at an arm's length. That some people, while having the best intentions, ask the above question not really wanting an answer. A real answer.

The kind of real answer that could be messy or uncomfortable for the person who asked the question in the first place.

An answer wrought with pain, hurt, isolation, rejection, or loneliness that may even cause fear in the questioner because it's now becoming a commitment.

A commitment to sit down and listen to someone who feels like their life is falling apart. Someone who might see you as their only source of hope, empathy and compassion.

Their only lifeline to getting through the pain and another day. So why do so many people ask the question if they are afraid of the answer? Why are people so afraid to ask the question in the first place?

In the Bible, there is a verse that talks about being in the trenches with another person during difficult times. It talks about weeping with those who weep, mourning with those who mourn but also rejoicing with those who rejoice or celebrate.

To have compassion and empathy. To walk in the other person's shoes, telling them that you are there for them. Truly there.

While their hurt may not be similar to anything that you have experienced, being hurt is universal. Shouldn't care and compassion be universal too?

Unfortunately, it isn't and there are many who choose to remain at arm's length. I am not one of those persons.

I know what it's like to hurt beyond the ability to describe the intensity and excruciating nature of the hurt.

I also know what it's like to be walked past by others who never ask how I am. That hurts too but I don't judge or condemn anyone who may not want to ask the question.

Instead, I make a conscious effort to seek out the lonely, the hurting, the rejected. I choose to stand in the trenches with those who are feeling pain beyond anything they've experienced before.

I choose to be there with them and pray for them when words fail me or my words fail to comfort them and, instead, I sit with them sharing in a dark piece of their world.

I choose to be a compassionate, empathetic, and caring woman because, for me, it's the right thing to do.

At one time, I was a child who loved to play in the mud. Okay, even as an adult, I still love to play in the mud. I don't mind being in the muck or getting dirty.

I don't run or shy away from the messy or the uncomfortable because I've been in the mud of life experiences and the hurt that can erupt out of some of those experiences.

Long ago, I used to be a very off-putting, cold-hearted, and evil-minded woman. Never again. By the grace and love of a good God, I have been saved from that.

As a result of that change, I want to walk alongside those who feel hopeless and frayed. I want to be someone who is never afraid to ask the are you?

So, how are you, really? I want to know. I want to hear from you. Let's talk!

Monday, September 19, 2016

To Hell And Back

Growing up, I knew there was a God and Satan. Good and evil. Heaven and hell.

When I became a Christian, later on in life, I came into a greater understanding of the above and what it all really meant.

When I accepted Jesus into my heart and life, and began a personal relationship with Him and God, my perspective exploded.

Not only did I know and experience evil around me but I knew it wasn't the individual committing evil. It was the heart behind the individual.

As a result of wrong doings committed by Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, everyone born after them would have a heart prone to do wrong rather than right. This wrong is also known as sin.

However, a belief and acceptance of Jesus and all He did, an asking for forgiveness for our wrong doing, and asking Jesus to come into our hearts and lives to help us, would change us to want to do good.

I believe, deep within each of us, is a  desire to do what is good and I believe that there is good in each person even though they might do what is evil or wrong.

God never created evil. God did create each of us and gave us the gift of free will.

Free will would be our tool to choose between what is good and what is wrong or evil.

I used to enjoy doing evil until I came to know Jesus and develop a relationship with Him.

Once I got to know Him and God, I realized that they were good, loving, merciful, gracious, patient, and so much more.

However, I also realized that while I was cultivating this relationship, there was also someone very strong and determined to do everything in his power to stop me from getting closer to God. That someone being Satan or the devil.

Satan used to be good. In fact, he used to be one of God's favored angels until he got prideful and arrogant about his position and wanted, instead, to be God.

As a consequence of the evil or wrong held in Satan's heart, he fell from heaven and ceased to be a member of God's army. So, he forged his own army and became bent on attacking people. Especially those who chose God over himself.

Last week I was attacked. Viciously and relentlessly, for four days. It was hell.

It wasn't an attack on my physical self like assault, rape, or robbery which are equally hellish for anyone who has been a victim of these crimes. The attack, while very personal, was also very real to me. It was an attack on my mind and heart.

One of the things Satan is 'famous' for is being the father of lies. He likes to mess with our heads and hearts to beat us down.

In the Bible, Satan is described as a lion that prowls around looking for someone to devour (destroy). He does this subtly and, often, without our full awareness.

We may think what is happening in us is just a bad day or a foul mood but it's actually Satan working in our minds to think and believe failure, inadequacy, doubt, fear, loneliness, and more.

Working in our hearts to have bitterness, anger, resentment, gossip, grudges, hatred and more toward others.

Often his tactics work. They did on me. I was completely unprepared. So when a small change happened within a situation I was in, I unknowingly opened the door to feelings of rejection and, next thing I knew, my mind and heart became a battleground. My own personal hell.

A hell that Satan used to remind me of all my deep insecurities and fill me with feelings of inadequacy, fear, pity, resentment, anger, and more. For several days, Satan used my weaknesses against me and I became a pool of tears who was barely able to pray.

It took a close friend, who came to my aid, reminding me that because I am a Christian and a follower of Jesus, that Satan wants to stop me from having great things. Great things that God has planned for me.

That Satan will try to stop me any way he can, whether in making me believe I have innumerable faults or that I'm to have ill will in my heart toward myself and others.

I've never been in such excruciating pain like this and I had never felt so alone in my life, while trying to fight against the lies I was struggling not to believe.

As my good friend continued, I became reminded of many things I had forgotten in those days of hell. That God was my strength and my help, that He loved me, that He is good and that He has the very best for me.

In absorbing those words, no truths, I fell to my knees and wept harder than I ever had in my life while praying equally hard for the hell to end and asking God to help me.

It was in those most painful moments and feeling so alone and so abandoned that I suddenly felt the presence of God.

A presence that came in the form of peace and quiet inside of me. A presence that enveloped me in love and said that I would be okay. I felt held.

In my loneliness and darkness, I felt God and Jesus with me and I cried even harder because not only did my girlfriend care enough to help me but God and Jesus, my Creator and His Son, cared even more.

I had been in my own personal hell but God reached down and brought me out of that hell. He loved me and helped me.

This is why I can't and won't go back to my old life. I didn't have help back then. I just kept drowning. I needed help.

Whereas last week, even though I felt like I was drowning, a helping hand reached down and saved me. The hand of God.

I need God, all the time. I can't get through a day without Him. In my loneliness, fear or hurt God is with me and saves me every time.

Who pulls you out of the darkest times of your life, when it feels like hell? Did you know that in addition to being loving, that God is also our helper? I'd like to hear from you! Let's talk!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire!

The truth hurts. Lies hurt even more. So why is it easier to tell a lie than it is the truth? And why is it easier to believe a lie than it is the truth?

It's been my understanding and experience that lies are negative, hurtful, and destructive. Whereas the truth, when spoken with a heart of love, while sometimes painful, is actually beneficial and often a source of relief for those who speak and receive truth.

Truth, in its definition is that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality. Yet it seems to be much more acceptable, these days, to spout lies. A lot of them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect. For years, I used to make a career of lying, manipulating, and controlling.

I lied so much that I had to stack lies in order to cover up the previous lies I forgot I told. My life was a train wreck, my heart was as black as coal and cold as ice. I was a good liar. The greatest oxymoron.

So when did the line between truth and lying become so blurred? When did it become permissible to lie through our teeth instead of 'tell no lies'?

I'd honestly like to know. The person I was, a liar, had no integrity. There wasn't an ounce of honesty, humility, or sincerity. I lied to get ahead, ridicule others, and cover up my mistakes.

It was a horrible cycle and my own soul suffered for it. There was a point when I believed that there was no way I could change my ways.

I had gone too far. Pushed the limits and gone past the point of no return too many times. I was hooped, or so I thought.

However, nine and a half years ago I met God face to face and my lying ways stopped, my record expunged and I was set free.

In God, I gained a new lease on life and I didn't look back. My years of lying, manipulation and control were over and I became a woman who wouldn't compromise telling the truth for anything.

My heart filled with a great desire to be a woman of integrity, character, and humility. Now I live each day striving to be that woman, more and more.

Like I said before, I'm not perfect and I am prone to make mistakes but my relationship with Jesus compels me to be humble enough to own my mistakes and be truthful about my imperfections and mess ups.

Being truthful, whether to myself or others in a spirit of love, has brought incredible freedom and a peace I've never before experienced. Those kinds of highs I can handle!

Though the truth may hurt sometimes, I won't shatter when being told the truth by others and I won't shy away from speaking the truth, in love, to someone.

Truth is good. VERY good. Lies are not and as much as we may think they won't catch up with us, they will. They always will. I can attest to that.

So, own up to the lies and make a decision, today, to speak truth because it will set you free and it will set you up for success and set you apart from a world that appears to accept lies more readily than the truth.

Nowadays, I have a zero tolerance for lying. Whether in relationships, business or otherwise. For me, lying is a deal breaker. Always will be.

How do you feel about lying? Is it a deal breaker for you too? I'd like to hear from you! Let's talk!

Monday, September 5, 2016

I Have A Dream

You may know this statement as part of the famous speech made by Martin Luther King Jr., an American civil rights activist, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. His speech was for an end to racism in the US and called for civil and economic rights. He delivered his speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is considered a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. (Wikipedia)

I wonder how long this speech was a dream in his heart before becoming his destiny to deliver the message, changing the course of history. I wonder if he doubted the dream of this message within him. Like Martin Luther King Jr., I think it's safe to say that we all have dreams that reside in our hearts. Some have been there for a long time. For me, I have a couple dreams that have made a home in my heart. One for over 9 years and another for 19 years. The longing I have for these dreams to be fulfilled has been crippling at times and completely consumed my every thought.

There is a story in the Bible about a man named Abram and his wife, Sarai. They were both up in years, okay a nice way of saying old, and had a dream of having a baby but Sarai was barren. Barrenness, in that time, was considered shameful because of the important social status of both bearing and raising children. God, the giver of the Bible, visited Abram one day telling him that he and Sarai would have a son. Not just any son but a child from which nations would be established.

This news excited them! Understandably so. To be told this kind of news would be, at the very least, mind-blowing information in light of their circumstances. After all, as I mentioned, these folks were old and WAY beyond having children. But they held on to that dream, thinking and hoping I'm sure, that it would happen right away. I would have thought the very same but it didn't. I can't even imagine the sadness, disappointment, and disbelief they felt as time kept passing them by and no child. I feel their pain.

When you have a dream that feels so real and strong in you and your heart, it's hard to let it go. At times, I've had to let go of my dreams because the pain of waiting to see them fulfilled was, often, more than I could bear. I tried to forget them, tuck them away, stop hoping, and move forward without them.

As much as I tried to forget and dismiss them, the dreams remained deep within me. To this day, they still remain, after all these years. There appears to be something greater in me that won't let those dreams go. I believe that something is God. That He keeps cheering me on to keep my dreams alive, wanting my heart to beat with them and with hope that the dreams will become reality. Sooner rather than later would be nice.

Well, 25 years later, Abram and Sarai's dream DID come true and it was such an incredible fulfillment that God changed their names. They became Abraham and Sarah who gave birth to a son named Isaac. Of course, this happy ending didn't come without struggles. Namely that they went off track in their waiting and tried to make the dream happen by their own unsuccessful methods. I understand that, completely, as I have tried the same only to have it bite me in the butt.

So, I'm back to waiting and believing that because I still have these dreams in my heart after all this time, that they will be fulfilled. It's just a matter of when. Now I have a dream that my dreams will be fulfilled when the time is right. Um, today would be good. I'd be fine with today for the dreams to be reality. No pressure. None. Did I mention that today works for me? Hahaha

What are your dreams? Do you find it painful to dream? Let me encourage you to keep dreaming and let your heart beat with those dreams. I want to hear from you and what your dreams are. Private message me if you prefer. Let's talk!!