Thursday, December 17, 2015

For From Him And Through Him And To Him Are All Things



Tomorrow, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens in the United States. Personally, I, and my children, are very excited. We have tickets to catch a showing and I am hopeful it will not be a COMPLETE madhouse filled with chaos! The last thing I want, of course, is for anyone to get hurt in the “Star Wars” fun!

I was fortunate to get extremely, decently priced tickets! Further, this counts as one of mine, and the kiddos, Christmas gifts.

I am so thankful to God, the Provider of all things, that “Star Wars” is our gift. That means we have food, clothing, shelter, and every necessity, plus luxury items, in our life. But what about those in other walks of life and/or parts of the world who need greater things than a movie? This beautiful video showed up on my “news feed” and it just melts my heart! Look at how excited they are to receive a shoe box sized gift for Christmas! It drives home the fact of how much I have, the amount of gratitude I should show, and how often I should thank God for all He provides!



16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:16-20. ESV.)

16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16. ESV.)

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8. ESV.)

4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4. ESV.)

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13. ESV.)

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36. ESV.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Even the Darkness is Not Dark to You

Have you ever been placed in a situation and you were not quite sure what God wanted you to do with it or why He even put you there in the first place?

On Thanksgiving my family and I were visiting others. That evening, I witnessed a man attack another man. It was horrible, unnerving, and quite upsetting. The victim was a mentally disabled man who was also smaller than the attacker. My children were with me so I was in a position where I had to protect them and try to assist the disabled man at the same time. Thankfully, my husband came running and was able to intervene on behalf of the victim but not before damage was already done. The handicapped man sustained injuries and the sheer brutality of it all was very unpleasant for me and my children. We could not get away from the situation fast enough but I also had great concern for the victim and did not want to leave without knowing he would be safe from his attacker.

So, why? Why, Lord, was I in that place at that time?

As Christmas and the holiday season has approached and is in full swing, I am once again feeling like I am in a boat, on turbulent waters, during a storm. I feel conflicted quite a bit at Christmas time. I think mainly because I want to be a good steward of all God gives me. So here begs the question, “What is most important about this holiday season?” Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, etc. that is celebrated, what are the priorities in your household?

When considering gifts for others, I want to get them something they NEED not just something they WANT. Does that make sense?

I feel God, our Heavenly Father, does likewise for us. I believe all those prayers that seemingly go unanswered are not falling on deaf ears. They are being accepted and sorted. As I stand before the throne of grace I can just visualize God nodding His head and smiling at me like a loving parent…listening to my heartache and/or requests, as I sort through any confusion or misunderstanding rolling about in my mind.
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
(Psalm 139:12-18. ESV.)

I repent of my uneasiness. I leave my anxiety, apprehension, uncertainty, and restlessness at the foot of the throne. Please, Lord, change my heart. Give me wisdom for every moment of each day. Give me words of encouragement for those You place in my life. And, above all, allow those who look at me to see a reflection of You! Fill my heart with endless love. Keep me unstained from the world. Allow me to know You fully and to serve widows and orphans well. Thank you, Lord, all honor and glory are Yours!
25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:25. ESV.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

When the Next Stumble Comes

(The following post was written by Tamera.)

My dad passed away on December 8th and it is one of those bittersweet memories.

After years of trying to figure out life, he was tired of the fight and committed suicide.

I remember getting the email that something was wrong. I JUST got a job a Sprint and looked like a crazy person sobbing in the middle of the cafeteria floor.

I called the ICU in TN and Sharon, the nurse (ironically my mothers name) told me it would be wise if I got there soon. I was living in CO at the time, so I dropped everything and went to see him....really to see him off.

I take after my dad in soooooo many ways and by no means am I judging his choice. I have his humor but I also have his darkness with depression and former substance abuse.

His death brought me to life. It taught me that I have to fight the battles or the battles will win.

I refuse to be mediocre and even though I can be a hot mess, feel hopeless, doubt myself, sabotage myself and temporarily "throw in the towel".....

I know on the other side of the stumbles, even if I just crawl past them....

Life is awesome and I can be stronger when the next stumble comes.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Another New Added Contributor

I am so excited to get to say another new contributor has agreed to write for this blog! I am beyond stoked! It is amazing where God leads us and when. His timing is perfect and His plan so much better than my own. I have known this fabulous lady for over a year, now, and she is so encouraging! I cannot wait to see all of the inspiring things she writes! I am currently finishing up a semester of studies so I have to run for now. But, I did want to quickly let you know to keep an eye out for our new author!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Elf on the Shelf Shenanigans


Do you "Elf on the Shelf"? What kind of mischief does yours get into?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Once again, the past few days have been an emotional roller coaster.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15. ESV.)

First, I rejoiced with a lovely lady celebrating her beloved child’s first birthday! Next, I delighted in the arrival of another wonderful lady’s beautiful infant. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, I wept for a cherished tiny soul that left this world on Tuesday evening.

Three little lives. All three, so very precious.

I cannot help but think of Revelation 21 which says,
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4. ESV.)
My hope is in the Lord.

Is there any doubt as to why? Who would not want no more pain, suffering, sadness, and death?

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
(Revelation 21:1-8. ESV.)

A year or so ago, I wrote a piece which was faith based. And, I posted it to a public site. Within seconds, nanoseconds, it was flagged. When I read as to why it got flagged it said, “This may be offensive to some.” What? Why? I did not bash anyone. I did not compose hateful words. I did not call names, slander, or use profanity. I did not write a graphic, provocative love scene. They were soft words. Why is the amazing grace and love of God and Christ Jesus, which are so insanely beautiful, so offensive to some? I do not understand. Nor will I…ever. God, and His miracles, are breathtaking and indescribable. I have seen them first hand.

Adalie Grace. I love you! I never got to meet you, in person. I was hoping to in the next few days but God called you home…and His timing is perfect. I knew you in your mother’s womb. So, I guess we did meet in person, actually. And, I look forward to seeing you, again, one day. Your incredible family shared you with me, and others, for the miraculous 111 days your light shined on this earth. Most of those mornings, for me, began in God’s Word and then seeing your sweet face in pictures, and sometimes video. My life is all the better because of it. I am truly thankful I got to know you…even though my heart is sad now. You are, and always will be, dearly missed. So, for now, I say, “See you later, gator.” Until we meet again. I love you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15. ESV.)

Emotional Outpouring: Tossed To And Fro By the Waves

There has been so much emotion floating around the past five, six days or so. I use Facebook to keep in contact with family and friends, who mainly use that social network to stay in contact, and it has been flooded with an outpouring of sincere feelings. I always find it interesting, though, how Facebook seems to be the only social network that is so charged and dare I say, heated. I honestly do not find that on Google plus or Instagram. I cannot really speak about Twitter because though I do have an account, I do not check the stream often. Perhaps it feels this way because on the other networks, there are more lurkers and less commenters? Or it could be because I have heard Facebook described as being engineered to feel like a “college experience” and my university years, the first time around, were a bit more intense I guess you could say. I am not saying anything is “good” or “bad”…just different. For that reason, I generally limit my Facebook time and stick to Google plus and Instagram when things get a little too heightened for me, personally.

Otherwise, I almost feel tossed by the waves in the ocean…pulled or pushed one direction or another. This, of course, brings Ephesians 4 to my mind.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16. ESV.)
Do you ever get that feeling? It may be you are more solid than I am.

Monday, November 16, 2015

It was Just a Friday Night at a Rock Show: Isobel's Account of Her Experience in Paris

Have you read Isobel's post on Facebook? Admittedly, I am not a big fan of Facebook but this, that Isobel has written, I want to share with you. It ended up in my "feed" when a friend of mine saw and reposted a "condensed" version. Here is the link to the original in its entirety. I did not seek permission to place it or her picture here, otherwise I would.

Isobel, thank you for sharing your heart with us. I am so sorry for your heartache. My words are so inadequate but my heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you, your family, friends, and those you love. Best wishes.

Isobel , merci pour le partage de votre cœur avec nous . Je suis tellement désolé pour votre chagrin. Mes mots sont insuffisants mais mon cœur , les pensées et prières sont avec vous , votre famille, vos amis, et ceux que vous aimez . Meilleurs voeux.

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16. ESV.)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spirit Fest 2015 in Pictures

Today, my children and I had the pleasure of attending Spirit Fest, Austin 2015! We arrived after the performances already started. We got to see Danny Gokey, Brandon Heath, Mr. Talkbox, Francesca Battistelli, Matthew West, Matt Maher, and Crowder. The lineup was amazing, though, also including Hannah Kerr, John Guerra, Dan Bremnes, I Am They, Sidewalk Prophets, Peter Furler, Trevor Morgan, Tenth Avenue North, and Third day. I believe it is safe to say we thoroughly enjoyed our day with some of the body of Christ's finest musicians and singers!


Our seats were fairly close.

Danny Gokey

Brandon Heath


Francesca Battistelli


Matthew West

Matthew West

Matthew West

Matt Maher

Crowder

Friday, November 13, 2015

Please, Pray for Paris!

Please, stop whatever you might be doing, this very moment, and pray for Paris!!! Thank you!

Paris attacks: 60 reported killed; hostage situation ongoing
http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/13/world/paris-shooting/

Photo by @sarabethmusic via @RepostWhiz app:
(#RepostWhiz app)

Praying for My Children: My Father, Who Has Given Them to Me, is Greater Than All

I am definitely crazy about my kids! The good Lord blessed me with four of His little lambs after who I feel entrusted to watch and guide. I pray for them each day…that God will place His hedge of protection around them and about each one’s heart, so sin cannot take root. Most importantly, however, I ask that each one may know God fully, hear His Son’s call, recognize His voice, and follow Him through the door (John 10:3-18). My heart is heavy for them as they maneuver their way in this world. It can be so difficult, at times, and I ask no one and/or nothing be able to pluck them from His hand, once they are His (John 10:28). Which, of course, is one of God’s promises in His word.
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30. ESV.)

This morning, our oldest sprang forth in my mind as I was driving home from dropping off the younger ones at school. I was beseeching God, in my usual fashion, regarding the salvation of my children and she was foremost in this moment. They rotate around in my thoughts as I implore God at His mercy seat. I bring each of them with me before His throne of grace. And there, in this minute, she was front and center.

Each of my kiddos is uniquely wonderful! All four of them, of course, have their strengths and challenges. Her vulnerability, to the disheartenment of my heart, is her belief in God. Once so on fire for Him, one of His biggest advocates, lover of His word and singing praises to Him, she has given way to doubt and perhaps even anger toward Him. Her proclamation of, “Our God is an awesome God!” has become one of, “There is no God.” And I stand, convicted that I could have/ should have done more or better, humbled before God.

But, I know God is the only one who changes hearts.
26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27.)
And, the words to the Hillsong ballad "I Stand in Awe of You" play in my mind,
And I stand, I stand in awe of you.
Holy God to whom all praise is due.
I stand in awe of you.
And, all I can do is plead harder and thank God for his wisdom, blessings, mercy, and abundant grace!


"Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains)" by Crowder


"I Stand in Awe of You" by Hillsong

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Introduction: Additional New Contributor

I promised to introduce you to the, hopefully, new contributor to this blog.

She has such a beautiful love for God and her family. And, her encouraging words of wisdom and experience are sure to inspire you! I have had the pleasure of spending a little over a week with her, recently, and the conversation and fellowship was amazing!

As we speak, she is preparing to embark on an awesome adventure of traveling around the United States. She feels God calling her and this is just the first step in the direction of where He is leading.

I am not quite sure what she will write, here. But, I can tell you, it will be incredible, supportive, and uplifting! I am very excited for her to get started but I know she is quite busy, at the moment, starting her new trip and season of her life.

But, I did want to introduce her to you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Steadfast Under Trial

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:12-15. ESV.)

“It’s not enough!”

Do you ever find yourself thinking that?

I do not believe I ever do enough. There is always more I can, and should, do. I had a law student relate that to me about how she feels doing law research.

“You will never feel ‘finished’,” she said.

I assume that pertains to most of us about some areas of life. Which raises the question, “How much is enough?” Do I hug my children bountifully? Do I tell people, “I love you!” abundantly? Do I look after widows and orphans sufficiently? Am I in God’s word and communing with Him adequately? Do I give to others generously?

The above scripture was yesterday’s bible study with my kiddos. Admittedly, James 1:15 has been one of my favorites since the first moment I read it, years ago. “Desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” What a heavy passage! My earthly body almost buckles under the weight of it. How many times have I entertained thoughts of desire?! Too many…which easily could have grown into sin…and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)! I must re-enforce taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Irrational Hope

Isn’t it funny how irrational hope can be? (http://www.averagemeetsamazing.com/blog/i-made-breakfast)

The above quote came from a blog post I read over at the “Average Meets Amazing” blog. Writer, Debra, posed the question in reflection of a trial she is walking through. This particular sentence stopped me in my tracks. “Isn’t it funny how irrational hope can be?” You said it, sister!

I cannot help but think of my own trial…one I have been battling for many years. I once asked an acquaintance of mine, regarding my situation, “I feel like I am standing in a dense mist. How am I supposed to see through the fog?”

“You rise above it,” she answered.

It has taken me nine years since then, and her morsel of advice, but I am now “rising above it”. And the best part is, God has placed some pretty awesome ladies in my life who rotate around in a God orchestrated dance of mercy and grace and help keep me sane. Each of them has her own AMAZING story of God’s indescribable work in her own life. And, they individually encourage and bless me beyond words. Almost every day, it seems, I hear from or think of them. They touch my life in person, through text, or even social networks. They give me love and God’s word when I am tired and/or feel discouraged or defeated. Further, every single time I pray for assistance, God sends one of them to my side.

Last week, as I was researching something for one of my university classes, I stumbled upon a documentary about the 2004 Tsunami. It was mainly video footage and stories from survivors of the events of that day, those leading up to it, and the aftermath that followed suit as they picked up the pieces of their broken lives. One man, Stu Breisch, spoke of the loss of two of his children in the tsunami and the hope he held as he looked for them each day afterward. He persevered even though the reality of his situation convinced him his children were dead. Hope carried him onward and he eventually found both of his kids (https://youtu.be/E8evwWIigFQ).

The haunting telling of this horrific event stopped me cold with another quote, like Debra’s above, that also went straight to my heart. It was by Tsunami survivor, Christmas Day 2004, Amanda Robins who said,
“What am I going to do in my life that’s going to make up for their life as well because I made it and they didn’t.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ0tmHxXey8)

When we are faced with trials, what seem like impossible odds, and heartbreaking challenges, I feel there are moments of numbing stillness, disbelief, anger, hatred, sadness, confusion, failure, etc. all mixed with “irrational” hope. There is faith, the “body of Christ”, iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17), and, above all, God’s will.

1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
(Psalm 30:1-5. ESV.)

(Photo Information: Bing Public Domain)

Friday, November 06, 2015

A New Contributor and New Post Coming Soon!

I am very excited to say I have invited a new contributor to also write for this blog, for as long as she feels called to do so. I cannot wait to introduce her to you, soon! Also, I am working on a new post, I just have a few university assignment deadlines to submit before I can finish and publish it, here.

For now, I leave you with the below video, which is one of an eight part series spanning about 90 minutes. It is an amazing account that has captured my heart and attention. Further, I will be mentioning it again in my post, which is coming soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Road Trips, Writer's Block, and the Road to Recovery: The Testing of Your Faith Produces Steadfastness

How long has it been since you have been on a great adventure? My cousins are on their way here for a visit. They have just started an amazing opportunity of traveling the United States (U.S.) for a year! I feel moving is relatively stressful. Sorting through stuff, deciding what gets donated, thrown out, or packed up, and fitting everything into a moving trailer or truck. That is where their new season in life began. Yesterday, they got everything out of their residence and into their travel vehicle. Now, they are on the road and on the lookout for a motorhome to call their household for the next 12 months. What a magnificent time in their lives! It is going to be hard for me to not hitch a ride with them and join them on their venture!


I am so excited they are coming for a visit with me! Usually, I am the one who goes to see others but this time, I am receiving the great blessing of someone coming to spend time with me! Yay!!!

Do you ever feel like you have so much to say yet the words or thoughts just get trapped in your mind? I finally have a moment to sit down and write and I am all blocked up! Nothing is flowing nicely or easily.

Nope...I’ve got nothing.

The day before yesterday (Monday) I was working on a health assignment for university and I came across something which I found to be interesting, and had never heard of before then. Have you ever had a difficult relationship in your life? Perhaps it was with a boss, neighbor, co-worker, family member, etc. Regardless of the situation, alcoholism, addiction, abuse, etc., I found these steps to be insightful and a piece to the confusing puzzle of how to manage such a relationship. They are from “Using Al-Anon’s Steps in Our Personal Lives” at http://www.al-anon.org/TheSteps/. Further, there is a podcast to go with each one. They include:
Step 1: “We admitted we were powerless over [alcohol, drugs, abuse] –that our lives had become unmanageable.” ...how...Step One help[s] overcome the impacts of a loved one’s [drinking, addiction, abuse].

Step 2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Step 4: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Step 5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Step 6: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Step 7: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

Step 8: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

Step 9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

Step 10: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Step 12: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

There is strength in Jesus no matter what the challenge may be that is causing struggle (Philippians 4:13).

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
(James 1:2-6. ESV.)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Love, Abuse, and Stockholm Syndrome

Is love important?
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:7-21. ESV.)

I was reading an article, yesterday, about a girl who had been kidnapped as a preteen, was held captive, sexually abused, etc. for numerous years and at one point seemingly loved her abusers. But, how could that be? Is it too difficult to understand? I think not. Secularly, the term “Stockholm syndrome” is used. There are many articles on the subject if one searches it on Google Scholar. As Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist describes it,
On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees “The party has just begun!” The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th .

After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees. Clearly, the hostages had “bonded” emotionally with their captors.
(Carver, Joseph M. Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist. “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser”. Christian Social Network. 2007. http://www.christiansocialnetwork.net/uploads/2/3/8/0/2380803/love_and_stockholm_syndrome_-_the_mystery_of_loving_an_abuser.pdf
But why? Carver goes on to explain,
In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The “Stockholm Syndrome” reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages.
It is for survival. The article goes on to say more but my question in this post is about “love”.

Is love important? Yes. God’s word says so. Further, in an effort to survive a horrible situation, those who are abused, threatened, held hostage, coerced, violated, neglected, oppressed, controlled, manipulated, etc. see their captor/abuser as loving them just to survive. Therefore, I feel love is very essential.

But does the offender actually love those he/she hurts? God’s word says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love…. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” And, what about the one who says with his/her lips, ‘I love you,’ but whose actions show differently? Is God there? The girl I mentioned above, who was kidnapped, reported her captors/abusers as crying and apologizing on various occasions yet they continued harming her. Were these tearful amends just empty words? Love cannot be feigned. The truth always comes out.
9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.(1 John 2:9-11. ESV.)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Who Are You, O man, to Answer Back to God?

There is never a time when I do not feel like praising God and Jesus. There are times, however, when I am questioning, impatient, agitated, and dare I say, even annoyed...not in worshipping or honoring God but rather in understanding and accepting His will for my life. Does that sound blasphemous, ungrateful, or rebellious? It is hard for me to process why believers suffer at the hands of unbelievers or even individuals characteristic of Saul who feel they are upholding God’s law...legalistic. Am I being too harsh? My intention is not to point fingers and/or offend. It is mainly to preach to myself and sort through the challenges of this world.

A couple passages come to mind, here.
20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.(2 Timothy 2:20-21. ESV.)

19You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— (Romans 9:19-23. ESV.)
And,
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39. ESV.)
Why not save the whole lot and call it a day? I do not wish to sound flippant and perhaps I fall into the same category as Job and the one to whom God replies, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” Please, forgive me, Lord, for my questioning and frustration.

Who am I to be ungrateful? God has and continues to provide for me and my family. We are never hungry, never without a roof over our heads. We are closer to family. I have my children with me. I am never apart from them. We have our health and even luxury items that are beyond necessity. So, why in the world would I grumble and complain?
I will give free utterance to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me. 3 Does it seem good to you to oppress, to despise the work of your hands and favor the designs of the wicked? 4 Have you eyes of flesh? Do you see as man sees? 5 Are your days as the days of man, or your years as a man’s years, 6 that you seek out my iniquity and search for my sin, 7 although you know that I am not guilty, and there is none to deliver out of your hand? (Job 10:1-7. ESV.)
Of course, we all know God’s answer. He begins with,
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! (Job 38:2-5. ESV.)
And, makes his point known from Job 38 through 41. Though it is a lot to repost, here, I highly recommend looking it up and giving it a read!

Who am I to EVER question God and His will? I was created to bring Him glory. My life is a testament to Him and His awesome power and majesty. Even through things I do not understand, God's grace and mercy can be seen. May a refection of Jesus always be visible when others look at me. Amen.

(Photo information.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

For Not All Have Faith

I need to be spending more time in God’s word. I can feel it when I am not. Things get out of focus and I have to recalibrate, get realigned. I haven’t even written much lately, other than school papers, because I have been so out of sorts.

The scripture that has struck me the most, during bible study each morning with my children, are James 2:10 and Deuteronomy 32:4.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. (James 2:10. ESV.)

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4. ESV.)

I would be lying if I said I do not struggle, sometimes, with these scripture passages. I am sure it is prideful of me to say I work really hard to live “upright”. To not intentionally hurt others, to not lie, cheat, or steal. To treat my family right and with love. To treat my friends and all I meet with respect, understanding, and love. To share Jesus with others. To walk in the spirit rather than the flesh and live out the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Only to find when I mess up along the way it negates everything. How frustrating! But, that is EXACTLY why when God looks at me He, thankfully, does not see me. He sees His precious Son who took away ALL of my sin. I am not saved because of my own efforts or behavior. It is because of Jesus and His grace and as a result I have the Holy Spirit and fruit. Not the other way around! See, I have to preach to myself, often!

Which, now, brings me to Deuteronomy 32:4. “Everything He does is just and fair.” Say what?! EVERYTHING! I can name some stuff I feel is not either of those…this thorn in my flesh for one! How on God’s green earth is THAT “just” and “fair”? I have suffered greatly because of it! And, why? I am a child of God! I am His! This “messenger of satan to harass me” (2 Corinthians 12:7) is not! How is that right? I am at His mercy…which He gives me, every day! And grace. And forgiveness. When I am angry and sad and struggling with hatred toward the thorn in my flesh, God’s grace is sufficient. When I reach out to others who either do not understand or do not seem to care, God reminds me I need Him alone.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than in man (Psalm 118:8).
Always! I am to serve and love and trust in God, alone. I notice when I need that reminder the most, He removes all deep relationships from my life. At first I feel alone but then I realize, He’s showing me once again because I have forgotten…or am being stubborn.
I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
NOT man.

If I do not preach to myself, regularly, I begin to listen to my negative self-talk. And that does not do me any good, at all! I must immerse myself in the word of God and talk to Him regularly. No, I am not talking to myself, though I am sure that is how it appears, sometimes, as I am driving down the road chit chatting with God…thanking Him for the precious little lambs He has entrusted to me and praying for their souls and safety, each day. I am thankful I may approach the throne of grace, anytime, because of Jesus.

1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5. ESV.)

(Photo information: Bing Public Domain.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Going to Battle With the Enemy by Teresa Tysinger

Right at this very moment, the enemy is pushing at me from several directions. It would be so easy to let the lies of my unworthiness, less-than-ness, failures, and shortcomings take residence in my heart. Strange enough, I’m not surprised by today’s attack. Do you know how to sense the enemy on the move?

Here are some tell-tale signs I need to buckle up and strap on some armor…all of which are current circumstances for me:
...Please click here to continue reading!

The above post is by my fellow writer and FUMC youth group attendee, back in the day! I can relate to what she is saying, here, and thought I would share it with you incase you can, too! Thank you Teresa, for your encouragement!

Friday, October 02, 2015

Darkness has once again captured the attention of American citizens. But from where did this darkness come and how did it grow into something that cost lives? Who knew the 26 year old gunman and how would they have described his character leading up to the moment he took lives? Someone knew him. Perhaps the internet had heard of his plan. Do you pay attention to people around you as you go about your day? Do you believe and assist people when they speak of concern they have regarding the character of another? Yes, we are not to gossip, but don’t forget, we are also called to be wise.

7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” (Job 1:7. ESV.)

My children and I are trained in self-defense. Does that mean we would win every fight or situation in which we might be placed? No. But it does mean God gave us knowledge so we would have a plan. We would know how to assess the situation and we have a supply of “tools” at our disposal. I highly recommend everyone learn how to protect themselves. I feel we can only take responsibility for ourselves. It is my opinion we cannot control various elements and therefore have to have knowledge of what to do to combat it should we come up against it. Aside from God, Himself, who else can we depend on for help and protection?

Things happen.
8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8. ESV.)
We are to trust in God and be wise! God’s word is chock full of verses regarding wisdom. Now, before I go any further, I want to be clear…I am not a doctor and, though I am finishing up my bachelor’s degree and have a goal of attending law school, I am not yet an attorney, etc. I am simply, me. But, ladies, I do want to encourage you!

God’s power does not work apart from the personal faith of those being guarded, but through their faith (1 Peter 7, 9, 21; 5:9; 2 Peter 1:1, 5; and commonly in the New Testament). (Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. 1994. Pg 792.)
Here, I believe he is speaking about our salvation but the key point I wish to show you is, “God’s power does not work apart from the personal faith of those being guarded but through their faith.”
make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, (2 Peter 1:5. ESV.)
Someone once told me, “We are called to be faithful and God takes care of all the rest.” I believe that to be true! He provides…and, to me, that takes a multitude of shapes. How does God supply what we need when we need it? I have seen His provisions through Him bringing people into my life at the perfect time to bring about His will. Let me point to the bible instead of my own life…Saul meant to kill David. And how did David find out about this? His friend, the son of Saul, told him. Did David hang out and say, “I can just sit here and chill.” No! He fled and hid. And, at the right time, God delivered Saul straight into David’s hands, MORE THAN ONCE! (1 Samuel).

How did David know Saul’s intention was dangerous? Someone, Jonathan, told him! Likewise, I feel it is our responsibility to be like Jonathan and alert others to danger. I understand, it is so much easier to “mind our own business” and not get involved. It is not unreasonable to think someone else will step up to assist. But, chances are, they are thinking the same thing about you. I get it, it is hard to think the worst about another person and force yourself to consider how he/she might be so disturbed, desperate, or perhaps just plain evil to harm or kill others. Pay attention! Take note of “red flags” you might notice. Stay safe. Be wise! Report suspicious, concerning, or alarming behavior or deeds. It could save the lives of others.

11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:11. ESV.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Book Recommendations

I have added a new feature to my blog layout, which you can now find in the right hand side bar. Though it is not complete, it is a snapshot of some of the books I have read which I feel are worth a mention and recommendation. What books have you read that you would suggest to someone else? Leave me a comment so I can check it/them out! Happy reading!




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