Her eyes furtively stole a glance at him, sitting rigidly upright with both hands on the steering wheel. His firm young jaw line was tightly clenched, while his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed, trying to rid himself of the lump in his throat that signified how close he was to tears. She quickly returned her gaze to the passing fields, fighting just as hard as he fought, not to cry. Continue reading Blow Wind, Blow→
My mother passed away on February 15, 2013, just a few short months ago, and I miss her more than I ever dreamed I would. She wasn’t a perfect mother, just as I am neither a perfect mother, nor a perfect daughter, but she loved me the best she could, and that was good enough for me!
“There’s a story behind everything… but behind all your stories is always your mother’s story… because hers is where yours begins.” ― Mitch Albom
Mama, the quote above says it all… your story is the beginning of my story, but I’m not strong enough or ready to write your story yet, so, I settled on these acrostics to give a brief, though incomplete glimpse into your life… God alone, knows how much I love you. Continue reading M is for Mom→
“Here is yourFWF prompt… I found this quote yesterday and posted it to my Facebook page. I liked the snarky feel of it and so did a lot of others. So I thought it would make for a great prompt! Here is your opportunity to vent. A chance for you to ‘write the wrongs’. Share a time that you have felt wronged or treated unfairly, either by way of a situation or another person.”
When I saw this week’s prompt, I felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think it would take me days and days to write all of the wrongs in my life. I could write several books about those wrongs — maybe even several volumes. Shoot — I could probably write a library of the wrongs in my life!
But what would that accomplish? If I write the wrongs in my life, would it right the wrongs? I don’t think so.
If I write the wrongs in my life, would it help anyone? Would it make anyone else feel better? Would it make anyone happy? Would it change the course of history? Probably not.
If I write the wrongs in my life, will the ones who wronged me be sorry? Will they even know I’m talking about them if I don’t use their names? Will they even remember wronging me? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
If I write the wrongs in my life, will it bring me joy? By writing the wrongs in my life and thereby hurting the wrongdoers, will it bring them or me peace? By writing the wrongs in my life, am I seeking vengeance? By writing the wrongs in my life, do I become like those who wronged me?
I wasted many years of my life living and reliving the wrongful, hurtful things that were done to me throughout my life, and do you know what it got me? Pain… and more pain.
You see, the more you dwell on the wrongs that have been done to you, the more you become entangled in them. When your focus is on your pain, every movement you make causes more pain, and each time you relive that pain, the wound is ripped open again, so that it never has a chance to heal… and as that wound continues to fester within you, it becomes infected, and that infection then begins to spread into other areas of your life, infecting them as well. Before you know it, other relationships become contaminated, and you are unable to fully trust and fully love…
Beloved, I don’t want to be tormented by the wrongs that have been done to me. Therefore, I choose to right the wrongs in my life…
I choose to forgive those who have hurt me…
I choose to love my enemies and bless those who curse me…
I choose to turn the other cheek…
I choose to think about the good things in life, rather than the wrongs…
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Hallelujah! As soon as I saw this word, the spirit within me rose up, and I knew that I had to respond to this#FWF Free Write Friday: Word Prompt… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Do you know what it’s like to spend your whole life longing for purpose? Did you ever long to know that there was some reason for your existence? Yes, some people believe that we’re here by accident, but I’ve never bought into that theory.
You see, I’m one of those people who believe in absolutes. I believe in black and white… I believe in the existence of good and evil… I believe in absolute rights and absolute wrongs…
I believe that every man, woman and child was created and placed here on this earth for a very specific reason. I truly believe that every human being was created by God Almighty, and that before He even formed us in our mother’s womb, He had a plan for our lives, and I would like to share His plan for my life with you.
You see, while I have always believed in God, I didn’t always believe that everyone was created for a specific reason. I didn’t believe this, because for much of my life, I felt that I was a mistake. Indeed, there was a time that I hated to even look in the mirror, because I did not like the person looking back at me. I thought that person was an ugly mistake, and I tried for many years to mold myself into someone more acceptable.
For many years, I tried to be the person my parents wanted me to be, but I was destined for failure, because that was not who God created me to be. When I would meet people that I admired, I would try to take on the personality traits that I admired. I have a friend who is very meek and soft-spoken, and I tried very hard to be like her. The problem with that was that I am neither meek nor soft-spoken. I can be very loud and opinionated, which does not work well when you are trying to be meek and soft-spoken.
For so many years, I didn’t know who I was, or what I was here for, and I envied those who had purpose in their lives and walked confidently and comfortably in their skin. I spent so much of my life trying to be acceptable to my family, to the people I looked up to, and to the people that I went to church with, and the truth is, I was miserable, though I was very careful not to let anyone see it.
Then, out of nowhere, as I was preparing for a Sunday School lesson that I was about to teach, I had the serendipity of discovering a truth that changed my life forever!
13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. ~ Psalm 139:13-16 NASB
God choseto reveal the answer to this problem of my existence that had haunted me all of my life serendipitously, as I prepared to teach a Sunday School lesson to teens. He revealed to me that He formed all of my inward parts, and that He had skillfully woven me together…
That meant that He had deliberately given me buck teeth, which required braces when I was younger. I wasn’t just some ugly freak. He had skillfully created me like that for some reason that I didn’t understand. And the scoliosis that caused me to wear a back brace as a young teenager, He had deliberately created that curvature in my spine. Again, it wasn’t just the result of some freakish accident – this was a result of His divine plan…
Now, here is the most amazing part of all of that:
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. ~Psalm 139:14 NASB
I am fearfully and wonderfully made… With all of my physical problems, my back problems, the arthritis, the crooked teeth I had as a child, I was and am still fearfully and wonderfully made. I was created in His image. I wasn’t a mistake. He deliberately created me, with my loud voice (it’s the voice of a prophet and preacher), with my strong, uncompromising beliefs (a prophet cannot back down from what the Lord commands him/her to do, no matter what the cost).
He wasn’t surprised by all of the suffering that I’ve gone through in my life. I’ve been abused, rejected and lied about. I’ve been cursed and ridiculed and belittled. And God not only allowed these things to happen to me, He ordained it!
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance ; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. ~Psalm 139:16 NASB
That’s a hard thing for many people to swallow, and you may wonder why I would find comfort in knowing that He ordained all of the painful events in my life, so I will try to explain it to you.
I was a prison minister for almost ten years, and God allowed me to love and minister to those women because of what I had experienced in my life. You see, if I had never suffered rejection, abandonment, and abuse, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to those women as well as I did. If I hadn’t had those experiences in my life, I may not have had the love and compassion for those women that I have. You see, when I went in the prison to minister to them, I never felt that I was above them. I knew the truth — that it was only by the grace of God that I wasn’t an inmate.
If I hadn’t suffered the things that I’ve been through in my life, I might never have known the love of Christ. I might have never realized how desperately I need Him, if I hadn’t suffered as I did. If I hadn’t suffered the things that I’ve been through in my life, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing as I do.
You want to know something? As I write this, I’m not even sure this is a good example of serendipity, because the truth is that I didn’t just find this wonderful news without looking for it. The truth is that it found me. God sent His only begotten Son to find me, and if He hadn’t purposefully sought me out, I would never have discovered these wonderful truths.
Can I share just one more thing with you? Did you know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? Did you know that God skillfully knit you together in your mother’s womb? Did you know that God has an ordained plan for yourlife? Please don’t let what I’ve shared with you scare you off, because I saved the best news for last.
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28 NLT
Isn’t that wonderful? Because I love God and I’m called by Him, He makes every bad thing in my life work out for my good! Do you love God? Have you heard Him calling you? If your answer is yes, rejoice! Because He will cause everything to work together for your good too!
If your answer to that question is no, then I pray that God will open the eyes of your heart, and that He will reveal Himself to you. I pray that you will believe in Jesus, His one and only Son, who died to pay for my sins and yours, so that we would no longer be bound by them. I pray that you will know that even though Jesus suffered, bled and died for the sins of all mankind, He rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of God, and that He is coming back again to reign and rule over all the earth. I pray, in Jesus’ mighty name, that as you read my post, you serendipitously come to know and love the Almighty Creator of the universe, and that you know that you are no accident.
I was filthy. Though I scrubbed and scrubbed… and scrubbed and scrubbed, I couldn’t rid myself of the stains without and within. Closing my eyes, I grimaced in pain. With just one glance, He had captured my heart.
I sighed mournfully, saddened because I knew that He was pure and holy, while I was unclean and vile. He was faithful and true, while I was unfaithful and corrupt. He was merciful and righteous, and I was unforgiving and immoral. He was everything that I wasn’t… He was everything that I longed to be.
“O Jesus,” I cried out in my pain and misery. “How I long to see You, to touch You, to be with You, but I can’t, for I am vile and murky. Though I’ve tried and tried to cleanse myself, it’s no use, for the sin and guilt run deep within me,” I whispered as I felt the darkness closing in on me…
But then I heard a still small voice calling my name, “Cheryl,” He whispered, “My beloved, I have heard your cries, so come now,” He gently said, “Let us reason together. No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”
“You would do this for me?” It seemed too good to be true…
“I would do this and more,” He replied. “Come to Me, My weary one, and I will give you rest. Cast all of your burdens and cares upon Me, for I care for you,” He spoke with a smile.
“But, I am not worthy,” I said sadly, as I hung my head in shame.
“Cheryl, My love covers a multitude of sin. If you will confess your sins to me, I will be faithful and just to you, and I will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. My beloved one, I will make you worthy, and I will clothe you in My righteousness. Come now,” He said with authority.
“It is time for you to cross over from the Sea of Death, and step into My Living Waters,” and as He held His nail scarred hand out to me, I made my decision, placing my hand in His. In that place where life and death collide, I left the murk and mire behind me as I stepped into His pure and holy life giving waters.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1 NIV)
In order for someone to truly grasp just how precious freedom is, he/she must also understand how dreadful bondage is. There are three types of bondage, physical, emotional and spiritual. Slavery is a horrible, despicable crime against mankind. Many people wrongly think that slavery ended with the civil war, and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, they are wrong.
Slavery is rampant throughout the world. In Sudan and other Muslim countries, Christians are beaten, tortured, murdered and kidnapped to be sold as slaves. Men, women and children throughout the world, on every continent are forced into labor against their will everyday. Men, women and children throughout the world, including the United States of America, are sold into prostitution against their will.
In addition to that, we must also include men, women and children from many dysfunctional families, who are enslaved by an abusive parent, spouse, or child. These people can be living right next door to you, and seem like very nice people, while behind the closed doors of their home, they hold their very own family members, the ones that they are supposed to love and care for, as their personal slaves who must cater to their every need, and if they don’t do as they are commanded, they are often tortured, both verbally and physically.
And let us not forget those who are held in spiritual bondage, as our nation has become the breeding ground for people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church. The list goes on and on.
So, what does freedom mean to me? I’ve lived in bondage and fear. I know what it is like to walk in constant fear of being molested, of being beaten, of losing all that you love and hold dear. I know what it’s like to hear the footsteps coming to your door, as you pray that they will just pass by and leave you alone. I know what it’s like to try to please the one who rules over you, and I know what it’s like to suffer the consequences of falling short of his/her expectations of you. Being enslaved is to live in constant, tormenting fear.
I know what it’s like when you break free from your slavery, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, you are still bound, as you live in constant fear of someone discovering the truth about you… Sadly, you want to be free from all of the pain and the fear, and yet by keeping the secret, you subject yourself to remain in that vicious cycle, because although you are now physically free, there are still invisible chains around you, that have to be broken. You see, even though I was physically free from the abuse I suffered as a child, once I got married, I still had a slave mentality that kept me bound.
But praise God! Though I once was enslaved, I have been set free. You see, when I came to know Christ, and His word, He loosed the chains that bound me, with these words…
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NLT)
You see, people who are enslaved to other people are often enslaved by lies. I was told that I was stupid, that I would never amount to anything, and that I was too lazy to breathe. I was called all sorts of names that I don’t care to write, as well as being told that I was worthless. And I believed every single lie that was spoken over me, because Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t lie, would they?
But the Lord spoke the truth over my life, telling me that I was fearfully and wonderfully created in His image, therefore, since I am the image of Christ, I cannot be stupid, because the Creator of the universe is very intelligent. He told me that I can do all things through His strength, therefore, I would amount to something. He told me that the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life,therefore, I can’t be too lazy to breathe, because I am alive. He told me that I am more precious to Him than jewels, and that Christ died for me, therefore, I am not worthless. I am worthy of Almighty God’s love and affection. As the Lord spoke life over me and broke the chains made out of the lies that I had once believed, I began to taste freedom for the first time in my life.
What does freedom mean to me?
Freedom means that I can sleep at night, without worrying that someone will come and wake me from my sleep to beat me and curse at me.
Freedom means that I don’t have to live in fear anymore.
Freedom means that no matter what my circumstances are, I can be at peace, knowing that God makes all things work together for my good.
Freedom means that I can breathe.
Freedom means that I can worship my God, anywhere and anytime.
Freedom means that I don’t have to worry about my children being victimized and enslaved.
Freedom means that I don’t have to carry the weights and burdens placed on me by other people.
Freedom means that I can live.
I praise God for all that I’ve been through, for it is because I have lived without freedom, that I can truly appreciate the freedom I now have.
O Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood? Don’t you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; He offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
(Isaiah 40:27-31 NLT)
Do you ever feel as though you’re in the midst of a storm like the little bird in the picture? When I saw the picture of this little guy, it just touched my heart — probably because I feel just like that sometimes… When the bills are mounting, but the income has dried up… When the pain is great, and the medication doesn’t touch it… When it feels like you’ve lost your very best friend… When fear surrounds you… Sometimes the storms just rage against us and we have trouble on every side.
Have you ever been there? Are you there now? I am. The winds are raging and howling all around me, and like that little bird, I’ve hunkered down and bowed my head, as the rain, the snow and the sleet pelt against my skin like shards of glass, cutting me and tormenting me.
And it’s right there, in the midst of the storm, as I bow my head, that something begins to change, though the storm still rages on every side of me. In the instant that I bow my head to my God and my Savior, and admit to Him that I am weak and unable to survive this storm on my own, that He begins to softly speak to me, encouraging me, blessing me and giving me hope.
“… “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
(Isaiah 43:1b-2 NLT)
Do you see that? Even though I may feel as though I’m all alone, like that little birdie, He is with me, loving me, ransoming me, protecting me from the storms of torment, the rivers of difficulty, and the flames of destruction. He’s there for you too, if you will call upon Him. He continues to speak to me, telling me that He never grows faint or weary, and if I will just wait on Him through this storm, that He will renew my strength, and I will mount up with wings like eagles. Ha! Did you catch that? If I will just wait on him, this little birdie will mount up with powerful eagle’s wings, instead of my puny little sparrow wings.
He tells me that I will run and not be weary… It’s been a long, long time since I could run, but I sure would like to run again. He says that I will walk and not faint… It’s been so terribly long since I could walk without it sapping every bit of my strength, leaving me crying out sometimes because of the pain… And all I have to do is wait and ride this storm out, keeping my head bowed to the One who made me, like the good little birdie in the picture.
As I keep my head bowed in the midst of this storm, I’m honest with my Lord. He tells me that He is renewing my strength, but I tell Him the truth of how I really feel, “Lord, I know You said that You are renewing my strength, but I don’t feel strong. In fact, I feel very weak.” He’s not insulted or angry when I tell Him this, not at all. He just gently smiles at me and says:
“Beloved… My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…”
(2 Corinthians 12:9b NKJV)
Salvation is not just about going to heaven. Salvation begins here and now, on planet earth. Salvation includes healing and deliverance. Sometimes He heals us physically, and sometimes not. I don’t know why. His ways are not mine, and neither are His thoughts. You see, He’s much smarter than I am, and much more loving and kind than I am. He sees the big picture in the whole scheme of things, while I only see tiny fragments of it.
I do know that He is always willing to heal our spirit and our soul, if we will allow Him to do so. The problem with that is that oftentimes, He has to lance our wounds, which is very painful, so that He can squeeze the infection of sin (both our sins and the sins others have committed against us) out of us. In order for us to completely heal, we have to be willing to walk through pain and suffering again, as we face those things that have long tormented and battered us… That’s why the waiting is so difficult.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself that all of this is okay for some people, but God doesn’t really care about me. Oh Beloved, I understand those feelings, because that’s how I thought and felt for many years, but I was so wrong about that, and so are you. He does love you. That’s why He led you to read this post about the little birdie. Read these words that Jesus spoke to His disciples over two thousand years ago… the words that He is speaking to you right now:
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows.
(Matthew 10:28-31 NLT)
Beloved, look at that little bird in the picture again. God loves that little sparrow, and He made it strong and resilient, so that it could withstand the storm that is pounding against it. Now, if He cares that much about a little sparrow, how much more does He care for you? Jesus said that YOU are more valuable to God than a whole flock of those little sparrows!