Thursday, October 5, 2017

FEAR FACTOR OF LIFE

I love the Fear Factor show, especially the newest version.  I learned they find out information about the contestants and tailor the challenges to their personal fears. All the episodes I saw were comprised of two-person teams.

The three challenges they face in each episode are, Beat the Beast, Face your Fear, and Final Fear.  With Beat your Beast, they consider what the contestant has listed as a dark fear and place them in a situation where they must beat or conqueror it; for example, a certain insect.  In Face your Fear, you must perform an activity to face and overcome a fear; for example, the fear of heights.  The Final Fear epitomizes the extreme and worst of all your fears and the fears of many.  You could be asked to drive a car off a cliff secured only by ropes, chains, and a bungee cord, into a large body of water, and your challenge is to escape and unlock the chains quicker than your opponent.
After my recent sabbatical ended, I noticed God had begun His own personal episode of Fear Factor in my life.  Things were revealed that I feared or were most weak to that God desired me to finally face so I could move to the next adventure in my life. 

My sabbatical theme is found in Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said to love the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all you mind.  I heard minister Christine Caine preach this as being our spiritual core. 

I found I wasn’t as close to “all” as I thought in that scripture in having the strongest spiritual core or a natural physical core for that fact. I found I was holding back in some areas, just plain broken in others, while my past wounds kept seeping into my present condition.  My spiritual core was weak and in need of strengthening

That’s when God began to send challenges to help me face those fears.  He revealed where the problem started and the solution.  Let me assure you, there are no quick fixes, some may take the same amount of time they grew, if not more to mend. 

I begin to work out and massage those hidden muscles containing years of suppressed anger, disappointments and scars with God to clean up my heart.  He alone knows and searches (Jerimiah 17:9-10) the deep secrets within it.  That’s how I face the beast.

The one thing for certain, He’s the strong man on our two-man team.  He encourages me as I face that thing that’s held me back for years and wipes my tears as I face the doubts and weaknesses that have entangled my soul. He helps me to face the fear (Ps. 34:4). 

For me, to face my final fear is to conquer and master my mind.  By doing this, I will also protect and guard my heart and soul.  The scripture is clear about the process.  It says let this mind be in you that is in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5).  Then it specifically states we should renew our minds (Romans 12:2).  Years of destructive and counterproductive behaviors have occurred because of the thoughts in my mind.  I’m grateful that God has given me His spirit inside my soul to deal with this, just as on Fear Factor, a contestant has been give a paddle to work through their challenge. 

Isaiah 43:1-5a lets me know that I have no reason to fear because the Lord Himself is with me.  In redeeming me, He took my place and gave me the power to overcome the things in life that cause me fear.

I am only to fear the Lord (Ps. 34:7, 9).  And that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10).

I realize I can only overcome my fears and strengthen my spiritual core with the help of my team mate, the Almighty God. The experience I gain and relationship I build with my Father in Heaven, helps me to cast out all fear, to become the vessel He created me to be.

Have you faced and conquered your fears yet? Do you need someone to stand with you to face the overwhelming places in your life? Well I recommend Jesus because He loves you too and just waiting to join your team.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

DARE TO DREAM AGAIN


It’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down to write anything other than my bills and works for others.  I’ve missed my old friend, the blank word document page.  I’ve moved on from the pad and pen since sometimes I can’t read my own writing.  I missed expressing myself on those pages and solving issues even if they were just solved on paper.  Every writer knows the relief and release of which I speak.



In my recent month of celebration and soul searching I was excited and puzzled at hearing the Lord tell me to begin to dream again.  My soul inherently knew it was again free but I didn’t even realize I had stopped until I did further examination. 



I came to see that over the past two or three years I had written down my dreams, set them on a shelf in my heart, and placed them on hold.  Instead I was preoccupied with dealing with all the over the top situations that had happened in my life, trying to survive.  I was living in the now, day by day and exhausted at the end of the week.  I had noticed certain things begin to irritate or agitate me and feelings of unfulfillment and incompleteness began to surface.  I learned why, I wasn’t doing what I dreamed about.  I stopped making my dreams a priority and making space for them in my daily life. 



The things we dream about are the things that hold our passion.  These things are the ones that keep us up late in the wee hours of the morning, but make our heart rich when we’re doing them.  The things I dream about are built into my prayers as I ask and hope for God’s guidance and grace to complete.  But if I’ve stopped dreaming, it stands to reason that I’ve placed my hopes on hold.   The scriptures tell us the hope deferred makes the heart sick. But when the desire comes, it’s a tree of life (Prov. 13:12).  As I put my dreams on hold, my faith in my dreams had waned as well.  This was dangerous because without faith, it is impossible to please God.



The things we care about we make time for; however, we may have to squeeze them in.  I also need an updated plan on how to accomplish my dreams.  Since the things I dream about are things that God placed in my heart, I must go back to Him for the updated plan because it is He who has begun this good work in me (Phil 1:6).



I’m so excited to look at the list again of the things that are the passion of my heart.  I can’t wait to meet with my Master about the updated plan for my dreams and begin to fulfill them.  I will eagerly do my part and sit down to make the time and do the preparation needed to accomplish my goals and dreams.



Is there something in your life that you’ve set on the back burner while dealing with life? Are there things you have a passion for doing? Do you know there’s a higher calling in your life? If yes, seek the Master who will guide you and give you the desires of your heart.  Pleasant dreams…!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MY PLACE AT THE TABLE


I remember visiting my grandmother, my dad’s mom.  At meal time, it was always a challenge to find a place at her table.  My grandmother was loved by all who knew her and a spectacular cook.  Her house was filled with those waiting to eat her wonderful cooking and those who just wanted to be near her. At mealtime, there were people in the living room, standing in the kitchen, anywhere you could rest and eat. To get a seat at the main table, you had to be there early or given special seating by my grandmother.  It was an honor when she sat down at your table. She was so wonderful, she would make her rounds to all the tables where people were eating and engage with them.   It wasn’t beneath her to sit and eat with the children.

 I used to marvel that none of the meals matched.  She always had something on the table that was a favorite of each guest. That takes love, care, and a great memory to accomplish every time. She was a mother of 5 sets of twins and a single child, by the way.  She knew how to make everything stretch while raising her family.  She didn’t waste or throw away any food. 

Dessert was always a hit.  My grandmother made the best cakes. They looked to be three layers high, all from scratch.  She had a variety of cakes for those who stopped by made the favorites of her children and grandchildren.  My dad got the coconut and pound where as I got the caramel and German chocolate cakes.    Since she passed away, I haven’t really felt comfortable at anyone else’s table, including my own.  I miss her smile and laughter.  The warmth of her hug and kiss will never fade from my mind or heart. There has been a void in my life that no one or no one thing can fill, only pacify.  The meals at her tables were prepared with love that nourished my body and soul.  She always made everyone feel so special.

My grandmother went to great length and preparation, like Christ did for the Last Supper, to ensure every detail was met and person considered in providing a life-giving meal.  Whatever she prepared, you could feel a part of her love for you in that meal.

The sacrifices that she and my grandfather made, like the sacrifices Jesus made for all, made a way for my father and his siblings and future generations.  At that table, I learned about myself, life and a life binding love of my family.  I learned I was unique and had an irreplaceable place in the world and at that table.

The time Jesus spent with each disciple prepared them for their destiny.  Time that my grandmother spent with me prepared me for my destiny as well.  At her table I felt loved and special.  In her presence, I felt safe and strong as if I could do anything because she was my constant supporter.  Now that she’s gone, I totally depend on Jesus’ love and encouragement.  It makes me feel special and remember that I am the apple of his eye.  When I sit around His table, I enjoy the benefits of salvation.  In His arms, I feel protected. When I sit around the table of Christ, I have access to the life cleansing blood that forever shows God’s love for me.   If I hunger and thirst, the Word tells me that Jesus is the bead of life and if I seek Him, I will never hunger or thirst.

Even though I lost my grandmother and all the love she gave, I have enough stored in my heart to carry me through.  In return for what was poured into me at the table, I want to pour into my child and others who come around my table.

I can be assured, I will never lose Jesus, my forever cheerleader.  I will always have a place at the table that Christ prepared.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

FOREVER IN MY HEART


I was going through some of my old valentine day cards from my husband and a phrase seemed prominent in them all; forever in my heart.  Now I’m not sure if this is in most of them or if that’s a message that my husband wants to convey in the cards he chooses for me.  My husband picks the best cards for all occasions.  I often read them and the description of the person inside often causes me to ask if he really means that for me. 

This year will be the first time since our marriage over 15 years ago, that we’d be apart on Valentine’s Day. Being the great guy he is, he already bought my card and candy.  While I was cleaning him up in the hospital, he stops me to say how much he appreciates all I’ve done for him, especially those things he couldn’t do himself.  Very seriously and in a rare tone, he said he loves me.  I tell him, no problem, it’s all my pleasure. Then as I read those cards later, I knew what he meant; I’m forever in his heart.

One thing I’ve learned in life is the best place to be is in the heart of a good person; for a woman, a good man.  It goes beyond the candy and remembering the man-made holidays.  Being in the heart of a good man causes them to go beyond the norm to provide and protect you.  Their never-ending joy is to see you happy.  I think how he went to work in pain and endured the pressures of life to make a better life for his family.

How did I get in his heart; by being myself, and being in God’s favor. He chose me and I had to accept that choice.  Women can’t choose the man and make him want them.  My husband tells me that when the hen chases a rooster on the farm, she ends up in the pot; but that’s another story altogether.  Everyone is not suited for everybody, it must be compatibility. In turn, I recognized his goodness and wanting to do those things that pleased me, so I did what I thought pleased him before he asked.  I had to mend some of my ways; see I was divorced for 17 years before we married and I had picked up some habits. I listened and was attentive to his ways and moods; I did those things that protected and helped him and the family name.

Oddly enough, this is a mirror image of my relationship with God.  He chose me and loves me beyond measure and goes to every end to prove His love.  He died on the cross to show I was forever in his heart.  I read His Word to learn what pleases Him then I do those things.  I show my appreciation by saying thank you and I love you.  He shows is love by allowing the sun, moon, stars and rainbow to brighten my world.  When God wants to whisper to me He speaks through His Spirit that’s inside my soul; it quickens me.

So even though I won’t be celebrating the traditional valentine’s day with my husband, his love has made and everlasting impression on my life and heart.  You see, he died 3 days later.  The card he gave said that he found it an honor to love me.  I find it an honor to have a man of his caliber to love me.  More important, we have a God that has us in his heart and joined us together forever. 

Have you found your place in the heart of God?  Make a note to daily show your appreciation and gratitude to your loved ones every day.   But in all those you love and adore on this Valentine ’s Day, and beyond, remember to keep them and God forever in your heart.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO MY ENEMIES




I’ve been trying to determine what works in my life to recreate success with my future goals.  When I completed this task, I thought I’d have a list that would include incidents where my supporters surrounded me or friends and family came to my rescue, with help or a life changing word.  To my surprise, if these scenarios happened, it was so rare it’s not worth mentioning.  What I found was a list of events where I was alone with feelings of being abandoned with my enemies raging around me. 



Now I want to make it clear that my enemies are real.  I don’t have the kind of enemies that are passive, nor are they inexperienced in the art of war.    My enemies tried to set me up on my job to humiliate me then get me fired.  If I didn’t quit the job, they would strategically place themselves around contend with my every effort.   My enemy would work discord in my neighborhood.   My enemy will talk about me behind my back with hideous lies to destroy my character.  My enemies take joy in hearing of my misfortunes and wait to hear of my destruction from them.  If my demise doesn’t come soon enough, they will see what they do to help speed the process up.  My enemies would attack my children and my marriage when the attacks against me didn’t work, knowing this would destroy me.  My enemies would turn my friends against me.   Then they would use them on the inside to stay close to me to further hurt me.



Even though I felt alone in these situations, I realized God was with me.  He would somehow stir something deep within me, an anger of sorts or a refusal to go down without a fight that would arise in my spirit and I would come out swinging against the opposition.  I had a take no prisoner approach.  I fought with the strength that I know only the Lord could have given me.  I gained the victory over my enemies and negative situations in my life.  I learned skillful ways from God to defeat my enemy and God would not allow a bitterness to build within me that would cause me to become like my enemies.   I learned a lot about myself from facing my enemies and their attacks.  I learned a lot about God, who was my only source of help.   I realized that these attacks made me stronger and closer to God.  Over time, the attacks let me know that a bigger blessing or level of promotion was on the way from the Lord.  I would have never gained this knowledge and strength if it had not been for the malicious attacks of my enemies.  Most important, I learned that if I’m ever to succeed at anything in life, especially against my enemies, I must depend upon the Lord to guide and help me.



So if you’re under attack, don’t give in and please don’t give up.  Take a deep breath and a step back and seek the help of God.  He promised never to leave us or forsake us.  He is a master at strategy and can lead you around any trap of your enemy.  He can give you the victory over those that come against you, if you would just consult Him how to proceed.  Don’t be discouraged or dismayed we are more than conquers though Him that loved us (Romans 8:37).  Thank your enemy for letting you know that your help from God and blessings are on their way.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

ON BENDED KNEE


In remembering last year, I don’t know about you, but all I can do is breathe a sigh of relief, whew, I made it. I survived. There were times when my life felt like a new episode of Nightmare on Elm Street or my name should have been added in the book of Job in the bible. It seemed that when I hung up from one calamity another was at my door.



I made an effort to relax by turning on the television.  I got a glimpse of the daily news.   There was no relief there, only horror to see the tragedies happening all around me, near and far. It seems that after a year like this, resetting my tolerance meter and reevaluating my strategy for the upcoming year is crucial. It would be very beneficial activity for anyone. It would allow us to reconnect with ourselves, family and friends, and most importantly, our Creator. We don’t know what we’ll face this year but it’s better to face the unknown with an inexhaustible source of help and strength.



The process I suggest is very simple. It is most effective when done on bended knees. Let me explain that this is more than a physical position. There are times when physically I am unable to get on my knees but I am always able to bend or surrender my heart. You will be able to accomplish this too with a little practice if you’re not already an expert.



Why on bended knee you ask. Just look at it this way, it’s hard to be hit with a flying dart of life or any such attack if you’re on your knees. They seem to fly right over your head. Even if you’re hit, you won’t have far to fall. You also notice more of the simple and small things when you’re in this position.



Here we go, we’re on bended knee. Ask yourself these series of questions followed by the response “thank you”. Do I have a place to lay my head at night, “thank you”. Do I have something to eat, “thank you”. Did I get out of bed on my own this morning, “thank you”. The questions will start to flow if you keep going and the response will become automatic. After you’ve mastered this, sit still and quiet. Take pad and paper, you’d be surprised at what you’d write.



Many times, people get tangled in whom you should say “thank you” to. If you don’t believe in the Creator, it’s ok. It’s just as important to say “thank you” to those who feed positively into our lives. Just be grateful being able to do all these things. There is a deep cleansing and healing in this kind of exercise. It resets one’s perspective. No matter how independent we may feel, we all, at some point, need assistance from someone else.



Whatever comes this year; believe that we can handle it. Things will happen this year the will sadden and hurt us and come in a moment’s notice. There will be things that will over joy us and fill our hearts with glee. But whatever comes, stay encouraged and focused to live a victorious year. Remember, we are more than conquerors if we stay on bended knee.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

NEW YEAR PRESS


As I look back, I realize the weight of facing some of the worst hardships and life altering challenges during the past two years.  I survived emotionally numbing blows in recent years, and because of the holidays, only to relive some incidents afresh.  I lost loved ones and friends dear to my heart.  I saw the true colors of many, left abandoned and like my grandma use to say, up the creek without a paddle, on several occasions. 

It seemed that at every turn, another door was either closed in my face or at my back.  I felt boxed in and forced in a state of bondage.  There were times I called out asking God if He saw me.  I felt as if He was watching me suffer these things as He watched the guards beat Jesus beyond recognition.  I felt my old nature rise and a bit of old Chris resurfaced; the one that jumps into action to take care of Chris and handle people and situations.  I want to keep that old girl under control because she’s dangerous.  The last time I let her have free reign for just 1 hour, it took years and several attorneys to get things resolved.  The reborn Chris just kept saying be still, do nothing, God is not blind nor has He turned His back on you.  It’s God that has brought you to this place and time in life.  Wait on God, my spirit would say.

I started to imagine my situation.  My spirit was feeling as if I’m standing in a paneled room boxed in with no visible way of escape.  Each wall of this room is touching me on the front, the back, and the sides.   I wait with my hands folded behind my back.  I kept hearing a familiar clicking sound.  Familiar in that I know I’ve heard is somewhere before, long ago.  Then I remembered our old camper.  The cabinets and closets in it didn’t have handles and the surface look streamlined and you had to know where to press them to get them to open.  I had trouble with a few of them, just couldn’t seem to get the press right to make it open until several tries. 

Then I heard God say to press with my hands behind me, and a door opened.  I stepped back and God began to give me insight into why things happened this year.  No great mystery, it was His will and it was what was best for all involved.  He showed me how the past two years were a proving year for me.  He showed me how much He loved me and had invested in me.  It was a year during which I was being branded for His purpose for my life, to write of His glory, as John was banished to the Isle of Patmos to write the book of Revelations.    One mistake was to believe in the word of people and depend on them for help and not look to God first then He would send the help I needed.    

 I found myself back in that paneled room and I was instructed to press again on a place in front of me.  As I did, a door opened.  As I stepped out the way wasn’t clearly marked and a bit foggy and unstable in places.  God whispered, if I trust Him, He’ll lead me and show me the way.  To be successful, I’d have to get rid of the useless baggage from the past year that would hold me down or cause me to fall.

Beyond the love and investment God has placed in me, I take away from this image that even when people and situations seem to have us boxed in, all we have to do is look and wait on Jesus; then press, and He’ll open a way of escape.  If we trust Him, He will lead and guide us through our day to day life.  To be successful, I must press the door closed on the past and focus on today with Christ. 


For 2017 join with me in my resolve, like that of the Apostle Paul described in Philippians 3:1-15, to forget those things which are behind, and reaching for those things ahead, then press the mark, for the prize, which is the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus.  Let’s do a New Year Press.