Monday, 28 September 2015

Why do I struggle so with the direction I should go?

Why do I struggle so with the direction I should go?

I know that what lies behind will not move me forward yet still I choose to focus there! I deceive myself into thinking that my past brings comfort, peace and happiness when truly much of what it brings is the familiarity of hurt, pain, frustration and self-doubt.

Blessed am I knowing and believing that "Jesus's death and resurrection taught us that the cross powerfully conquers all victimhood" #myfreeway

Then how is it that despite this belief I find myself once again at this crossroad? Despite knowing that I am more than a conquerer and the victory is ours through Christ why is there a lingering lack of self-worth, trust and confidence. Have I not learned that changing the  direction of my life is as simple as making another choice, renewing my mind and setting myself free from blame, shame and guilt? I know my actions, decisions, beliefs and next steps are my responsibility. So what am I waiting for to step out of my comfort zone? Why am I so hard on myself when I don't succeed as planned? I have tried casting aside negative thoughts, false expectations, and perceptions yet I still find myself putting a lid on my potential and limiting my abilities - I have boxed myself in believing that I am not good enough or that I am not meant for more! Rant over!

As a human being with a brain, I agree with Dr. Seuss and I will most certainly steer myself in the direction that I choose. More importantly as a spirit being with a heart and a soul, I choose to agree with God's living word and trust that his word is "a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" - I believe this means his word will show me the way and provide enough light for the next step otherwise I may get overwhelmed and paralysed by fear again.

I believe that by choosing to focus on the greatness of my God instead of the greatness of my struggle, he will steer me in the right direction. I simply need to abide in Him and live a life of love.

In all things, no matter what direction I choose, I also choose to trust God, trust the process and trust myself moment by moment.

Called to LOVE abundantly = Lead Others to Victory through Encouragement, Edification and Exhortation!

May you be richly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Is it biblical to forgive and forget?

Does true forgiveness always mean forgetting?
According to Corrie Ten Boom true forgiveness ranks as one of the sweetest and most pleasurable emotions that a human can feel; its after-effect is “a flood of joy and peace”.
Through my own experience of true forgiveness, I learned that only the conscious choice to obey God and forgive from the heart would set me FREE and allow me to make peace with my past. For instance, although I told my former husband that I forgave him for his offenses, I continued to harbor anger, resentment and bitterness towards him. It showed in my speech – name calling and gossip, my behavior – avoidance and unhealthy emotions, and my heart – self-pity, shame, guilt and anger. Even though I tried to walk the walk and talk the talk, my heart and soul were held in bondage by unforgiveness, the root of which was bitterness which grew from unresolved pain and strangled memories. Finally, 3 years later, out of a desire to be more like Christ, I was convicted to confess, repent forgive and make amends. My words though brief conveyed a soul and heart-felt apology; apologizing for the times I had acted out in bitterness or anger and letting him know that I no longer blamed either of us for the outcome. He too was sorry and we were able to move on. Much like Corrie Ten Boom I felt a flood of joy and peace. Moreover, I experienced God’s grace, mercy and love which he so freely poured into my heart showing me that I need to let it flow through me to others to fully experience FREEDOM and be in healthy relationships.
It is my understanding that forgetting is not a part of true forgiveness. Although we may think that it is implied in the bible, we may fail to understand that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He does remember our actions only he chooses to wipe the slate clean instead - Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land”. I am grateful that he is a God of many chances forgiving, loving and merciful. I believe that forgetting would be detrimental to my growth and relationships. If we want to avoid making the same mistakes, set appropriate boundaries with our offenders and most importantly defeat Satan we must remember. On more than 48 occasions, the bible calls us to confess (admit or state that one has committed an offense) – this means remembering the offense, admitting it and recognizing the pain it caused. Furthermore, by confessing we will be blessed: “if we confess we will be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) and “if we confess our sins to one another and pray for one another we may be healed” (James 5:16).
Essentially by confessing our offense/sin we are stepping out of denial and exposing it to the light where it loses its power. As I learned in Celebrate Recovery, denial keeps us in bondage. It is our refusal to admit the truth or reality that leads us to live a life of strife, shame and guilt. This can have many damaging effects on our relationships, health and spiritual growth.
In the 12 – step program of Celebrate Recovery I learned that forgiveness like love needs to become a way of life – I need to consciously Recognize the offense, Confess the offense, make Amends for the offense, Forgive the offense, and Repent from the offense to experience Freedom as well as restored relationships.
As Christ followers we are called to forgive: “give of ourselves unconditionally” as we did before the offense! Give out of grace, mercy and love! Give out of obedience! Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave us (Eph. 4:32).

For more insight - check this out

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Reality has not lived up to my expectations - now what?

How do we define expectation? According to the dictionary  it is "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future." So why is it then that often our reality has not lived up to our expectations?

I am sure that as a child there were many times when my reality didn't align with my expectations. Yet today I want to focus on times in my career where this was the case. In one of my first roles as a medical laboratory technologist, I accepted a supervisory position at a newly operational Urgent Care Centre - that entire year, I did everything imaginable to "exceed expectations", I set up standard operating procedures, built relationships with everyone involved , managed staff and demonstrated excellent customer service. I truly believed that I went above and beyond in my job an expected to me recognized (and rewarded) accordingly at the time of my annual performance review. Instead, despite my ability to demonstrate that I had clearly exceeded expectations, I was provided with a satisfactory review which indicated that I met expectations and still had room to grow. I argued that if I did not qualify as "exceeding expectations" in this transition/growth year how could I ever expect to achieve such a status in subsequent years. The response was a corporate one at best - only a chosen few would be recognized and rewarded for this achievement and I was not one of them. Which leaves me wondering what is the point of having expectations?

Fast forward to present day, I am currently seeking employment as my term comes to an end on September 30th. I have applied and interviewed for three positions to date. Each time expecting that this could be the one and then being disappointed when it's not. While some may argue that it is best not to have expectations or to keep them low - for me it is those very expectations that motivate me to press on, prepare and present my best self. I do however admit that at times it can drain my energy and can sap my mood. So then what do I do when reality has not lived up to my expectations?

I choose to turn to God and his promises. I choose to live in faith expecting the best knowing that God has a plan for my life!

How then is faith any different from expectations? Faith, by definition is a strong belief in God, complete trust and confidence in His promises. It is hopeful combining assurance and anticipation. Based on past experiences, I am confident that His promises are surely meant for me.

In my previous experience, unmet expectations have led to heartache, disappointment and self-doubt whereas faith has caused me to look up, focus on the greatness of who He is instead of the problem, and to rest knowing that he has my back. With each prospective employment opportunity, I am learning to trust God more because I know that he will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ), that He has a plan and a purpose for my life (Jeremiah 29:11-13), and  that if I remain in Him and He in me, I will bear much fruit (John 15:4-6).

Setting false expectations dampens my mood and energy, it leaves me frustrated and relying on myself to figure things out. When I choose faith, God walks along side of me, I trust Him, trust the process and trust that my best self will shine through!


May you be richly blessed and encouraged as you seek God and His promises for yourself!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The Potter's rib

Perhaps it is because I am stubborn or maybe because I have difficulty relinquishing control, either way I have noticed that God typically has to prompt me a few times before I connect the dots or get the message! This particular conviction relates to a revelation I had about my attitude towards my husband and how I am responsible for being life giving in God’s hands.

Lately, I have been frustrated by my thoughts and behaviors towards my husband – I shifted my thoughts to act out of unconditional love and, to picture him as Jesus with skin on yet the words out of my mouth and my actions didn’t reflect the same. This progressed to venting and complaining about my husband so much so that following our conversation my girlfriend e-mailed me suggesting counseling to keep the lines of communication open. Her remark hit me hard – was I that harsh? I felt condemned for being a poor witness and I want you to know that no matter how this may sound – I truly and deeply love my husband – unfortunately, I had been letting life get the better of me and despite prayer wasn’t taking my cares to God first. (Lesson #1: like David, cry out to God first).

Then on the weekend, as I was listening to Lysa Terkeurst (daily bible study/devotional accessible with my first5 app) God prompted me a second time. Through Genesis 2:21-23 I was reminded that woman was created, not of dust of the earth, but from a rib of Adam, he gave her life. The way God created her speaks to the foundation of their relationship – inseparable unity and fellowship of life - one in which she is his helper, his equal and the giver of life.

Lysa went on to explain that a rib is also an instrument that a potter uses to shape, support and strengthen his creation. It is used to lift up the clay and provide stability when the potter’s hand is pushing from the other side. Therefore as a woman created from the rib of man I have the ability to

Build up or tear down
Support during shaping or warp and distort
Provide stability or instability

In the hands of the master potter I am life giving whereas in the hands of the enemy I cause death. (Lesson #2: remain in God and give life – John 15:4-6)

Dear Lord, guide me and help me to always speak life. Help me to be his helper, your instrument, help me to remain in you and show me how to encourage, love and affirm my husband in all that I think, say and do. Amen (Lesson#3: surrender to God's plan)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

How big is our God?

Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.(1 Chronicles 29:10-13).

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.(Ephesians 3:14-21).

According to the bible Our God is all powerful, all knowing, all merciful. His word is as alive and relevant today as it was over  2000 years ago. Yet in my own foolishness, I often choose to be self-sufficient, to take on more than I can bear and to try and solve problems on my own. Until invariably someone will ask: "How's that working for you?" and then I admit defeat, humbly ask for prayer and surrender my "mountain or lion" at the foot of the cross where I know victory is already ours.

This past week, I allowed fear to grip my heart with respect to my relationship with my husband - an unfounded fear that said:"be on guard - there is a shift coming, now that he is healed from the cancer (PTL!!) things will be different." 

Thankfully, following prayer with a fellow believer the spirit of fear was lifted. I was reminded that I was not given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.(2 Timothy 1:7). That God has given me authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt me.(Luke 10:19).

Praise will ever be on my lips!

May this video be an encouragement to all of us who struggle, when life gets us down may we stand tall and declare: "Here I am". Give Him permission to be your mighty protector (Jehovah Nissi).