It has now been seven years since I started this blog. How quickly time goes by! We are many members but we are one in the body of Christ. Therefore you do not journey alone! Hopefully through this site you will be encouraged by the fact that many things you are going through in your own walk, others are going through (or have gone through) as well. Sometimes we think we are "going through things alone." But we are not. God said that "He would Never Leave Nor Forsake Us." (Hebrews 13:5) and that "There is Nothing New Under The Sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9). No man is an island. It's easy to forget that. May the words in this blog help you to think, encourage you in whatever spiritual state you are in and may the Lord use them to help us to grow in Him! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith!

I don’t want any readers to think that I am “promoting” being a prodigal. I definitely am not. But what I am hoping to do – is to encourage those of us who either have had or are currently experiencing a hard time in our walk to be honest about it. Personal conviction is a powerful thing, especially if you truly love the Lord. I think that sometimes the Body of Christ critiques and judges to the point where the person who is at the other end of that pointing finger feels ostracized, alienated and alone. I don't think that that is what Jesus intended. When I read through my Bible - I see a firm yet gentle restoration that Jesus ministered to those around Him. Look at John 21:15-19. When Peter who was at an all time low point in his walk - he was firmly, yet lovingly restored by Jesus. He didn't tear him down, or yell or make him feel any worse then he already did. He spoke to him lovingly and gently - and in doing so, Peter was able to repent and minister in a much more powerful, humble and confident way and it became one of the largest ministries ever.

Please note that I am only a vessel, my calling - to write. I dedicate this blog to the Lord and ask that He use it to reach out and touch whoever needs a special, loving, personal touch from Him. My hope is that the Holy Spirit allows you to see Him through the words (and not me). We go through things so that we can extend our right hand of fellowship behind us to assist and help someone else. Our Bible is the same today, as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow. (I am far from perfect and do not profess to have all the answers...) but the good news is - Our Heavenly Father does! His love, forgiveness, grace and mercy is real!Nothing you are experiencing in your walk comes as a surprise to Him! May He be glorified through this blog and may God bless you at whatever stage in your walk you are in!~

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with early stage triple negative breast cancer on June 24th, 2010 - I have been cancer free for 7 years now. It was only a chapter in my life - NOT my life, but the impact is one that has changed my life forever. Its important for women to know that 80% of the breast cancer diagnosis come from women who don't have a history of it in their family (My family didn't). Early detection is the key. For more information please click on the pink ribbon above. It could save your life.


December 25, 2012

Christmas Reflections

How quickly Christmas present becomes Christmas past...

That was the realization I had as I lay on the sofa watching "A Christmas Carol" which for me, has become a Christmas tradition I made for myself years ago.  It was my father's favorite Christmas movie, and so I try and honor his memory by ending Christmas with a watching of this incredible tale.  The hustle and bustle of preparation for Christmas has come to an end.  The Christmas gifts have all been distributed, the food prepared for celebration is now wrapped away as "leftovers" inside of the refrigerator.  Christmas present has now become another Christmas past.  And as the Spirit of Christmas Past had Ebenezer Scrooge revisit his past, I found myself joining him on his journey as I thought about that of my own...

The real gifts of Christmas are not those store bought items that lay now open and unwrapped under the tree.  The true gifts of Christmas are those you can't buy in a store.  If you reflect upon your own Christmas' past perhaps your "gifts" will differ from my own.  But the first gift of Christmas I opened tonight in the quiet aftermath of the holiday was that of "Gratitude."  I found myself thinking about how wonderful a Creator we have who has bestowed so many gifts upon us.  In this busy day and age it is easy to take so much for granted, if not for the "taste buds" He created us with, we would not be able to enjoy the wonders and delight of "flavors" of all the wonderful dishes that we work so hard to create for the holidays or the fact that we have the means to partake in those wonderful dishes - either by making them ourselves or partaking in the celebration by invitation of someone else who has created dishes for us.

With such busy lives, many of us get caught up with the thought of problems, situations, or worries even -  that we don't take the time to reflect on the things that truly matter.  It is not until something causes us to pause and reflect that we slow down enough to quiet ourselves and *really* see the blessings of the season.  In doing so, we often miss out on the true Spirit of Christmas and how we can apply it not only once a year, but all year long to our current lives.  What gifts are you carrying forward with you from this Christmas which is quickly becoming a thing of the past?

If you were surrounded by friends, family and loved ones - you are more fortunate than some. Life changes in a heart beat and we never know what tomorrow will bring - or whom it will take away.  We tend to think that life is "owed" to us.  We forget how fragile it is, we and those we love are not promised tomorrow and while we shouldn't live in the fear of what tomorrow will bring, we should show those we love *today* just how much they are loved and appreciated so that when our today becomes a thing of the past, we will know that those we love who have not been given the gift of tomorrow will have known how much we loved them. That same Creator who was thoughtful enough to create us with "taste buds" also created us with a very special gift that is our own "internal camera" called "Memory."  And in looking back at my Christmas' past I am able to once again be with loved ones whose "tomorrows" have at one point come to an end.  I am able to recall, smile and revisit my Christmas' past with them through those remarkable times, which allows them through those memories to become a part of the present, especially when I am able to share the "memory of them" with those gathered around me.  How wonderful a gift to be able to reflect upon and share.

The second gift I opened tonight in post-celebration reflection was "Humility." As Ebenezer was shown by the Spirits all his short comings and sins and how it not only affected himself but those around him. I found myself looking back at the passing year, the lessons I've learned and the things within myself which need changing. Although we cannot change what has occurred in the past we can apply what we've learned to the present with the hopes that such changes will make for a better future (should we be given one). What have you learned looking back at this year that has also almost become a thing of the past? What will you take with you? What will you toss aside?  What will you do differently in the year to come?  These are all things I contemplate as Christmas present comes to a close and we prepare to say goodbye to not only another Christmas season, but to close the books on yet another year that will now be looked upon as another contribution to history.

There is one last gift that comes to mind, and in my opinion it is the one that perhaps is the most important gift of all... That is the gift of love. It was that in which Christmas began.  For John 3:16 tells us:

 "That God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

Love is a gift that is wide reaching, and if we show it with sincerity (even with all of our imperfections) we can have no idea how far reaching it will go.  Once planted those seeds blossom and bloom in ways that we may never had expected it would.  A kind or unselfish gesture that is not self-seeking can be more powerful than anything else on earth.  You never know what someone else is going through or what is happening in their life.  Reflecting on Christmas' past, I have seen in the unselfish gesture of hospitality that my parents innocently extended Christmas' years ago, when I was just a child to people who otherwise had no place to go for the holidays or simply opted to spend the holiday with our family, something that has now over the course of the years become a wonderful tradition and has defined Christmas to me. By extending hospitality to others, who may otherwise have spent such a major holiday alone - in having a celebration of warmth, friendship and love on Christmas Eve - God used my parents (probably to the extent unknown even to them) to abolish loneliness and sadness and depression the lives of people who had no place else to go. They did it not letting their left hands know what their right hands were doing.  They did it not with the expectation of "receiving" anything back.  There is no possible way that they could have known that by simply sharing Christmas with others it would become an annual yearly tradition which blessed not only those who came, but resulted in teaching our family so much.  Guests who came from all walks of life and added such a rich diversity of learning about other cultures and religions as they shared with our family, traditions from their own.  Christmas Eve became like that of a big pot of stew - each guest adding a certain spice to the pot which over the course of the years became so flavor able it become a favorite dish which was more than palpable to all who partook.  Amazingly all those who entered the doors of my parents house, found that they could not only come join in the sharing of Christmas Eve "once" but as Christmas Eve would come the next year, they found themselves coming back time and time again until now it has reached a point, where those very same people are now bringing the next generation of their families over to my parents house, into what has become an annual tradition and for some - the definition of Christmas. Even ten years after the death of my father, my mother has still carried forth the now family tradition year after year.  My brother and I often tease my mother and tell her that she couldn't stop having a Christmas Eve celebration if she wanted to, because people would still "automatically come." This is not because of anything other than the key ingredient that my parents realized was the main ingredient to making the Christmas holiday a successful and full filling one to everyone who decided to share the holiday with us.  Peace on earth, good will to men - the key ingredient to the Holiday, that allows "love" to co-exist past, present and future and that to me, is the gift, which keeps on giving not only one designated day of the year - but all year long.

December 23, 2012

Reflections....Perceptions... Truth... What do YOU see?

"Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face."
1 Corinthians 13:12

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see your own true reflection? Or is the reflection you see a combination of opinions of how others view you?  Like a fun house mirror is it a distortion of who you are?  And who are you going to believe?

If you were to ask my children to tell you a common saying they grew up with both at home as well as at school, they would probably say in unison "Sharing is Caring."  And with that saying in mind, I'd like to share a lesson I learned today.

Its so simple that I don't know why I am astonished by it.  Why are the simplest of life's lessons so hard to learn?  I guess that question goes right up there with, "Why isn't common sense so common anymore?"

Ready for it?  Are you listening real close?  Listen now, because its so simple a concept it could be missed:

"You cannot put a price on self-respect."

I learned today, that the only power people have over you, is the power YOU allow them to have. Hurt people - hurt people.  Sometimes those "hurt people" don't even realize they're hurt. These are *not* new concepts. Once you realize what perhaps you "always" knew - the situation or people who are trying to cause havoc in your life become deflated.  Lions who roar at you without having any teeth.

Don't allow people to change the perception you have about yourself. 

The Bible says in 2 Timothy Chapter 3: "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people."

If I was to be completely honest, I would admit that reading the above, I can even see some of my own faults within the context of those verses. Life is full of lessons.

How very opposite from the love scripture:

    1 Corinthians 13: 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Maybe the question we should ask ourselves is how do we act? What category do we fit? Are we allowing our circumstances to make us "bitter" or "better?"  And if it is the first - perhaps it is time for us to take a hard long look at ourselves and determine what we can do to change it to the later?

Which do YOU want to become? Because you do have a choice.

I also came to the simple realization that it is true - money cannot buy you happiness. It can buy you things, it can make life easier - but happiness is something that you cannot buy for a price.  You cannot put a price on "a peace of mind."

When I was a camper, we use to have a song that had the words - "Don't put your muck in my back yard - my back yard's full."  Is someone trying to "put their muck on you?"  Or perhaps a better question would be - are YOU letting someone cover YOU with their muck?

You don't have to allow it. The choice is yours....  I chose "ME."

I had reached a point where I didn't even want to be around my own self! Something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was.  Then I realized that I was allowing someone to hinder me. I was giving someone power over my life, over my emotions, over my day.  When I finally realized that this was something I didn't have to tolerate, I stood up for myself and all of a sudden all that "muck" fell off my back and I realized that as a Christian, my steps are ordained FOR me.  God has a plan for my life - I just need to be in tune with it.  When God closes one door - He opens another.  Maybe he allows certain circumstances in our lives to occur so that we can realize how dependent we are upon Him? My provision does not come from man - BUT from God.  God can USE man to provide - but the provision comes from Him.  When you have given your life to God - it is not your own anymore. It belongs to Him.

Maybe by putting difficult people in our lives - God is trying to teach us "compassion?" How sad is it when someone has nothing better to do in life but hurt, hinder and make someone else's life difficult? What does that say about the person who does that? What do they gain? How empty must their lives be to have nothing better to do than to hurt someone else? No matter their position, their money - whatever they have - they are no better than the character in the movie "Scrooge."  But what they have meant for evil have God can use for good.  No doors close without God allowing them to close. 

"The steps of the righteous ARE ordained by God." (Even the steps of someone who has/is in a prodigal position making their way back to God).  The journey of our lives are filled with people along the way who God uses to help us grow, and most of the time they don't even know that that is why they have been placed in our lives.  How disappointing it would be for them to know that what they meant for harm has been used to help us spiritually grow?

Maybe that is why Jesus was able to pray for those who persecuted Him? Because He could see BEYOND what it was that they were doing to Him? He felt sorry for them. He knew the whole picture of what was going to happen. They only knew the "here and now." He knew that they were being used to complete His "higher" calling. They were actually used in a way they didn't even realize they would be. What they meant for evil - God was using for the good of mankind.

Times haven't changed... If we can look at those difficult people in our lives and think that no matter how uncomfortable the situation is - God is using it for OUR good. Then perhaps we can feel compassion and sorry for them? To pray for them.  Maybe that is why God tells us to pray for those who persecute us?  Maybe that is why Jesus said on the cross "Forgive them Father for they know NOT what they do."  The world would want us to look at those who hurt us with disdain and hate and curse them and wish them harm.  It would be so easy to fall into that line of thought... But then they would win, wouldn't they?  And what honor would God get? Especially when Jesus was sent to be our example?

I have chosen to do my best (with God's help) to RISE ABOVE IT. And in doing so - I have found peace.  And I laugh in delight at the pleasure I have found in finding the unexpected gift of peace in a situation so unfair and difficult.  Because honestly - the only one who can give such a beautiful gift - is God, and the things you cannot put a price on - self-respect, peace of mind and truth - do NOT come from man, but from God.... I believe they are riches that are far above money and position - which are temporary and can fade away.

I would not trade the peace of God for anything because along with it comes joy and love and those are the things that truly make life worth living.