COVERED BY HIS BLOOD

man and child walking near bushes during daytimeI was extremely hopeful that my posts would be elevated due to what Jesus has taught me thus far. I had every intention of writing on inspirational topics instead of my own downfalls, as I’ve exhaustively already done. I strongly felt that all my inadequacies had been poured out–that I had turned a corner! I thought I was renewed and waiting patiently for what He had for me next.

There is no predicting or figuring out what the Lord is doing or where He’s headed. At least, this has been my own experience. I would love for you to share yours!!

He has shown me that I have no love for myself. A new door to my inner being has been opened, and I’m told that this area needs a major renovation and if I hang on to His strength and wisdom, I will find His amazing love which will supersede the discontent and intolerance that I have for myself.

I’m not going to delve into my weaknesses (because you already know them if you’ve been following my blog), but I was derailed and rather quickly. I’m back in familiar, unwanted territory, and I’m not happy about this at all.

The devil’s schemes of doubt and distraction have overtaken me. I am held hostage in his pit of despair. I’m tired, downtrodden, blank and flat, seeking comfort in my old vices; I am rendered helpless and hopeless once again!

I was pathetically stretched out on the bed one afternoon due to my inability to motivate towards something productive!

I mentally began a divine conversation in the hopes for some freedom, comfort, and peace.

“I need you, Jesus. Help me!”

His response:

“Your mind is divided. It’s not what you do that divides your mind, Racinda. It’s who you are listening to. It’s what you are allowing into your mind. I certainly don’t give you a spirit of defeat and failure. You are listening to the wrong side. This will certainly create a disconnection between us.”

In the Concordance of my Bible (NLT), I looked up “division,” and I’m shown James 4:8:

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands you sinner; purify your hearts, for your loyalty, is divided between God and the world.”

I have an incredible amount of love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, forgiveness, and joy for others, praise God for this!! I am an encourager! I find my worth in serving God and people. I will do all that I’m able because this is where I feel love.

Romans 5:9 talks of God’s Almighty love for us:

The love that caused Christ to die is the same love that sends the Holy Spirit to live in us and guide us every day. The power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that saved you and is available to you in your daily life. Be assured that, having begun a life with Christ, you have a reserve of power and love to call on each day for help to meet every challenge or trial. You can pray for God’s love and power as you need it.

The love that Jesus has for me and for you, is not fickle. It doesn’t depend on whether we are “good” or “bad.” He loves us regardless of where we are in life and what we are doing. I do not have this type of love for myself. I love who I am when I’m encouraging the people around me. When I’ve come up short, in anything that I attempt to do in my personal life, I feel challenged, anxious, fearful, and defeated. I do not know how to love myself through this; I have a hard time understanding and accepting how God can.

We were created in God’s image; we are a reflection of His glory!

Genesis 1:26 puts it this way:

Knowing that we are made in God’s image and thus share many of his characteristics provides a solid basis for self-worth. Human worth is not based on possessions, achievements, physical attractiveness, or public acclaim. Instead, it is based on being made in God’s image. Because we bear God’s image, we can feel positive about ourselves. Criticizing or downgrading ourselves is criticizing what God has made and the abilities he has given us.

In my moments of despair, I do not allow my Father to care and love me. I’m so filled with hatred and disgust that His love cannot fill me as it should. I turn away and block His intentions. He doesn’t leave me in my desperation, and I know this! I do trust and have faith that each struggle that I encounter will be lifted up, In Jesus’ Name! I will learn and grow from each experience.

Jesus loves you and me unconditionally!

He is not ruling in heaven and judging my every setback. He’s not pointing His finger at me and demanding that I do better next time. He does not hold back His love in order to cause a sense of inferiority and unworthiness. There are no underlying intentions or deceit. I can walk freely with Him without worry or fear. Vengeance and wrath are not for me.  

Before falling asleep two nights ago, I read Psalm 37. I shared these verses with a divine friend because they grabbed hold of my heart, and I wanted the same for her.

Verse 17 says this, “…but the Lord takes care of the godly.”

In my Bible, I wrote:

The Lord takes care of me a thousand times over as I care for Alice. I have patience and love for this woman. I guide and support her as she walks. I’m her helper. Isn’t Jesus this way towards me? YES!!

My eyes tear up as I write this for you! My skin lifts as the Presence of my Father in Heaven fills me, surrounds me and loves me!!

Verse 42: “Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Beside this scripture, I write:

He is a Father who cares. He will not hurt me!

Jesus is holding my hand, loving me through all my circumstances, never changing, never withholding, and never punishing.

Verse 28: He will keep them safe forever.

I am covered by His precious blood, sealed and saved forever. Nothing that I do will ever separate me from God’s love. I am His child and He is my Father!! 

****

For more on Alice, please see, “He Speaks.”

Thank you to my divine friend, Joyce, for a blessed conversation last night!! God has good things in store for you!!

HERE I AM

frozen wave against sunlightGod has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. 

1 Peter 4:10, 11

I have a great desire to do big things for God and people. I want to make a noticeable difference! I want to see the look on one’s face when I’ve said or written something that settles well within them. I have a deep need to watch God work as He begins to transform the inner battles and weaknesses of the people that I’ve touched. The anticipation of His result is almost unbearable. I know glory is on the other side, and I eagerly await the life-changing event. Why? In all of this, what am I really looking for?

If I could change the world, I most certainly would. I dream of standing on a stage and speaking words to a crowd that are divine, impactful, bold, and glorifying all in the Name of Jesus. I want to encourage and shift another’s perspective. Life isn’t all that bad and it is doable if you’d just cling to God. The sadness that you feel, the void in your heart, your loneliness, can all be wiped out if Jesus were Lord over your life.

If I could win the lottery, (I don’t even play) I would give so much of it away. I would pay the bills of my family and friends and then some, open up a Care Home for the elderly and take care of them day and night with the sole purpose of loving them unconditionally (just as God loves), feeding them the meals they would love to cook themselves, and giving them financial freedom so they could spend their money how they would like–not on the expense of uncaring help, unsavory food, and tiny rooms that don’t allow for all of their personal treasures. I would hold their hand through their illness and read Scripture in preparation for their new life.

Let me feed the poor, help the sick, encourage the downtrodden, and declare to the entire world that Jesus loves you, died for you and saved you! Invite Him into your heart before it’s too late!! Once you’ve left this earth, your choices cannot be reversed. Your eternal fate has already been determined!!  

And, In the middle of my grandiose thinking, Jesus interjects:

“Your thoughts and eagerness are awesome but where is your heart in all of this? What are your underlying motives? Who and what are you truly seeking? Serve where you are! Serve because you love others and because you see the need. Serve because this is what I ask of You!”

He brings to mind several personal events that have taken place within the last several months. He shows me the opportunities that I did take but He also points out where I’ve backed away due to fear, anxiety, distraction and doubt. Then he said this:

“I don’t need you to complete my work! I will do what I have to do with or without you. My opportunities are available to teach you, to show you my Will and Purpose. Look at the opportunity that I handed you at work, months ago. You rationalized it away, got busy, and disobeyed. I had something for that person, and I gave you the opportunity to carry it out. You did not, so I gave my opportunity to someone who would. You witnessed the outcome; you could clearly see joy all over them. I love you, and I want to give you good things. I created you for a relationship with Me. I don’t need you, but I do love you!”

Luke 10:27

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, love your neighbor as yourself.

Neighbor (interpretation in Luke 10:27) is described as anyone of any race, creed or social background who is in need of help and love means to act in order to meet a person’s need. Wherever you live, needy people are close by. There is no good reason for refusing to help.

Opportunities arise every day. They come in all different sizes. Some are quiet and some are for the crowds. It doesn’t matter if I witness the outcome. What matters is my willingness to take them and do the very best I can, looking to God for strength and understanding. I will serve right where I am! I will look around and find the need!! In the end, it’s God’s glory that matters!!

 

 

 

HE SPEAKS

Helping-hands2Two weeks ago, my family was deeply impacted by a horrific boating accident. A distant family member had been compromised greatly and is currently being cared for in the ICU of a local hospital. I am praying diligently, along with many others, for a full recovery. My daughter sits with her loved one and his family most days and is sharing updates with me as news comes in. The evening of July 19, 2018, she sent a text to her father which sunk my heart. I surmised that the outcome wasn’t looking good.

My mind was immediately filled with many scenarios of the accident, the man’s condition, and my entire being ached for him, his family and friends. I am completely hopeless and helpless in this crisis and can do nothing but submit myself to God. I get on my knees to pray.

Nothing but silence! I was unable!

“I’m sorry, Father, but I have no words in this moment. I’m deeply troubled and disheartened. Forgive me!”

I reluctantly climbed into bed and settled in for the night. I was slightly worried that my sadness would still be present as I cared for my elderly residents the following day. I didn’t want this for them. At that moment, Jesus reminded me that He is the one in control of the situation at the ICU and that His plans are for good.

I won’t go into intimate details of the conversation at this time because the subject matter is extremely sensitive. I will say, that after Jesus spoke to me, my sadness was totally lifted. I felt an enormous relief and was able to fall asleep quickly and peacefully.

The next morning during quiet time the Lord showed me Philippians 4:19:

And the same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

I like the way Charles Stanley explains this verse in his daily devotion called, “God’s Promise to Provide.” He states that many of God’s provisions are spiritual.  We have the tendency to pray for things that are physical, which is okay but Pastor Stanley says that God is more concerned with the condition of our spirit. Our trials assist in conforming us to the image of Christ and some difficulties may remain until they have accomplished God’s good purposes in us.

This was a much-needed confirmation in my time of heartbreak. My spirit was low and crushed. I felt complete disappointment and discouragement. I am faithfully praying for a miracle, and now I’m unsure of the outcome. Doubt overriding my trust in God! This was not in His plan for me last night. He compassionately and lovingly ministered to my heart and today I woke refreshed, refilled and more than ready to serve.

Later in the day, I had a conversation with one of my favorite residents, Alice. She is ninety-eight years old and sharp as a tack. We have wonderful chats and on this particular afternoon, I found myself telling her about the boating accident and how it has affected me and my family. I told her all the delicate details of my conversation with Jesus last night. Alice was overcome by emotion at my story and seemed to be at a loss for words for a few seconds. I sat silently and waited patiently for her response. I could see that she was thinking due to the rise of her forehead, the size of her eyes, and the grin on her face.

She leaned in and asked, “How can I hear Jesus?”

“I encouraged her to continue praying and talking with Jesus each day and throughout the day–keep listening to your Bible.”

“How come you can hear Him and I can’t and what’s it like” she questioned.

“Alice, I don’t honestly know why He speaks to me or how it happens. He just appears and He always takes me by surprise. It’s like a mental conversation that you would have with yourself but instead of it taking place in your mind, it takes place in the depths of your core. It’s kind of electric, it’s somewhat booming, it stands out and you can’t help but notice.”

I could see her countenance change. I saw her relief as she took in this good news of Jesus Christ. Both blessed by this conversation, she told me that she loved me VERY much and I told her the same!!

The next morning during my quiet time. I got the answer that Alice and I were desperate to hear which came straight from God via Charles Stanley:

“Why would God speak to me? Who am I? Why would God work in my life?”

“Because He loves you. Because He wants a personal relationship with you. He wants to change your eternal destiny. He wants to give you life at its very best. That’s why He is willing to speak to you. That why He’s willing to forgive you. That’s why He’s NOT willing to turn you away.”

He speaks to all of us and now I know why!!

I can’t wait to share this with Alice!!

 

 

 

BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE

stack of love wooden blocks

I woke this morning quite distressed about several petty things in my life! I say this because, at the time, they were huge and overwhelming! Now, not so much!!

I volunteer with a ministry, welcoming new believers into God’s family! Without going into personal details, I will just say that I was blessed beyond measure by two people who wish to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus. One in Indonesia and the other in India. Both faced with challenges but still with praise reports of how God rescues His children.

After communicating with them through WhatsApp and email, my own circumstances have now been erased. Praise be to God!! To reach out and be God’s extension is an unbelievable experience, and I pray for more of these opportunities. I do not want to be controlled by my own inadequacies! I want to serve and make a difference.

I pray each of you has a blessed day!! I encourage you to to take a good look at the person standing next to you and tell them something lovely! It will bring a certain kind of change to the both of you, and it’s truly amazing to witness!!

So, my lovely words to you are this:

You are beautiful, unique, motivated and wise! Thank you for all your encouragement and support. You matter and you make a difference in my life! I love you!!

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT)

 

PEACE OF GOD

big wooden cross on green grass field under the white clouds

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ.

Philippians 4:6, 7

June 29, 2018

How do I maintain the peace of God when the outside world is filled with evil, catastrophes, racial differences, slick leaders, and negativity? How do I stand firm in the peace of God?

I’m beginning to notice an immense disruption of peace when I leave the solitude of my quiet time. My moments with God are drastically different from what the outside world has to offer.  Leaving the Holy environment that He has created in our time together is quite arduous. I feel a deep, overwhelming remorse, and I experience a greater hesitation when disengaging from His loving presence and our conversations. The thought of stepping back into worldly circumstances and conflicts is not appealing. I thirst for this oneness with God all day and every day. My state of mind is calm, my heart is joyful, I cry tears of emotion, and I’m loved through it all.

I am incredibly thankful for this free time to enhance and deepen my relationship with Jesus. Shutting down the noise is a perfect opportunity to sit still and reflect on whatever it is that is distressful or praiseworthy! Life does get busy with responsibilities. Where is the daily space to rejuvenate, refill and worship? It needs to be found because all the running about will intrude on serenity and eventually cause opposing emotions. Fear, stress, anxiety, and depression has ruled over my life for many years, and I know there are many who struggle with these same afflictions. How can we cope? Where do we turn? For me, it has been food and mindless activity. If only I would have known the peace of Jesus, I could have held onto to Him and saved my sanity!

Conflict and challenges exist in life. Where there are people gathered, differences will be inevitable. The outcome doesn’t always end in disaster. Beauty and glory arise from struggle! Wisdom and strength are there for the taking. We just need to see it and go after it. We can adapt and overcome and become stronger and better each day!

I’ve noticed a drop in my mental health (no surprise to me) this past week, and I’m determined to take this as a challenge towards my spiritual growth instead of falling headfirst down the spiral staircase and into a black hole of nothingness. The atmosphere in which I stand is filled with a fair amount of stress and discontent. Negativity and strife are everywhere! I find myself losing patience, joy, compassion, and peace. By the end of my day, I’m discouraged, disheartened and empty. I’m desperate to close the door to what’s outside and jump full force into God’s peace and serenity. There is a battle going on within me, and it’s time to release what isn’t necessary to God’s Kingdom and grab onto what is. My first thought is to isolate but this isn’t the Will of God! I cannot rearrange my life to line up perfect peace. There isn’t any place in the Bible that says that we are to “sit” with Jesus all day, every day! That time will come but it isn’t here yet. We are to go out into the world and spread the glory of God, through all circumstances. This is what God has called us to do. This is what I must do!

As believers, the Lord has given us His gift of peace. John 14:27 says:

I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

On June 30, 2018, I sent out a post to my Weight Watcher friends:

“Would love to hear where you find your peace! I’m writing a blog post on God’s gift of peace, and I’m wondering, in times of great stress and conflict, where or what do you do to find your peace? I think this is incredibly important because, for me, in times of heightened emotion, I eat. If I were to cling to peace, would I be less inclined to eat? It is a challenge to remain peaceful but definitely worth pursuing.”

The response was small but thought-provoking–prayer, sitting in nature, friends, and family, Jesus and Scripture. I thanked them all for their replies and told them that I will take what they’ve said and apply it in the coming week, knowing full well that a spiritual challenge was upon me.

July 1, 2018

The Lord woke me early this morning. I’m pulled from a deep sleep around 4:30 AM. I fought to get my eyes open but only because I felt a powerful motivation to do so. I got up briefly and then got back in the bed but could not fall asleep. Mental processing was slow but when my thoughts finally came around they were directed towards my daughter. I felt concern for her which could have easily led to a deep worry and then into extreme anxiety, but I forced myself to reflect on the peaceful Scriptures that I had read the just other day.

The Lord spoke to my heart:

There is no need to worry! This is not going to solve anything. I am carrying her in my arms; she is safe! I am Lauren’s creator, and I loved her before you even got the chance. Relax and breathe in peace! Surrender your concerns; distress will get you nowhere! I can’t work through You if you are turned inward.

Thankfully, I’m pulled back to Him; I sink into his calm and let myself drift in and out of a light sleep. My guard is let down, and I’m rehashing the encounter last night with a pastor who was greeting at the entrance of the church auditorium. I hadn’t seen him in awhile and felt somewhat awkward. Perhaps, I should have stopped and made conversation with him. I did reach out to him in kindness but now feel as if an explanation is needed for my rude and dismissive behavior.

Once again, the Lord spoke:

Surrender Racinda! Why are you determined to take control? It isn’t up to you to determine my steps and actions. Move aside! You did nothing wrong!! You greeted him, you told him how nice it was to see him, and you lovingly touched his hand. All is well. Give it to me and I will solidify the rest. So I did!

The devil wasn’t finished with me yet. The fiery darts were thrown in full force. A dark conversation began:

There has got to be something seriously wrong with me? I should be taking cholesterol medication but what side effects will I suffer? You are destined to have a stroke or a heart attack. God will heal me so no statin is required, right? You’ve got cancer and it’s eating you alive! You have months to live!!

The devil has always been successful with this weapon against my health. Distraction from God has always been the result. When these thoughts came, they used to frighten the life out of me. Panic would arise, and it would take hours for me to recover and only because I would get busy doing something else. To be honest, it never truly went away. It always popped in and out of my brain whenever I had a moment of stillness.

I recited Biblical peace as I tossed and turned in the bed. By this time it was almost five so I concluded that Jesus had a Word for me which is why I was taken from my sleep with such an urgency. I got up because I didn’t want to miss out. I had high expectations that He would speak to me about peace and submission.

I’m at my desk by 5:15 AM with coffee in hand and ready to receive. I open in prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for waking me early this morning. I know you have something for me so I sit here expectantly. I need whatever it is that you have for me, and I’m not looking for anything materialistic. I just want You. I want to hear from you and I want to feel You. I want to grow, and I want to do good things for You and for people. Let my eyes, ears, and heart be tuned to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I sat in silence doing nothing at first. I looked around at the resources before me: Scripture affixed to my computer, desk, and wall, favorite devotionals piled around me and my Bible and journal open with pen and highlighter positioned on top. The need to write dominant over everything else.

July 1, 2018/Journal Entry

Up early this morning–pulled from a deep sleep at 4:30 AM. No work today but I am up because I believe the Lord has a Word for me. Last night I went to church and the pastor who spoke asked us to reflect, during our time of response, on what it is that God is calling us to do.

What is God calling me to do?

Surrendering all to Him–clinging to His peace in all circumstances and speaking out on His behalf. Before I open my mouth, I have to be sure that what I say is coming directly from Him. I am His voice. I don’t have to struggle and strive to hear and obey–to do good. Wait on the Lord and then pray for His strength and wisdom and then obey.

In all spiritual challenges, there is an opportunity for deeper intimacy with God, growth, and blessings–not just for me but for all believers. I need to put my full focus on listening out for God in all areas of my life, wherever I am. As I wait for His call, I’m instructed to reach out to all in love and in encouragement–hang onto His peace and surrender all negativity and opposition to Him. Don’t take on what others say and feel. Remain steady in God’s promises which will prevent crumbling to disheartening events all around me. This will only leave unrest and His gift of heavenly peace and perspective will be jilted.

I need to recognize a spiritual fall of vision and light and remove myself before I revert back into old behaviors. I have to be proactive and seek God as soon as I feel His peace fading out–when I feel a disconnection. Life is filled with calamity and sadness. We are not always going to be sailing along joyfully. We are not promised an easy life.

God’s peace is different from the world’s peace. True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. Our citizenship in Christ’s Kingdom is sure, our destiny is set, and we can have victory over sin. Let God’s peace guard your heart against anxiety.

Philippians 4:6, 7

July 5, 2018/Journal entry

Listening to a radio message from Charles Stanley and he states that it is the believer’s choice to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

It is truly that easy? Ask and you shall receive–you shall be filled if you believe! Have I been approaching “peace” in all the wrong way–by struggling and striving? I’ve been trying to find peace instead of expressing my needs to God and praying for His peace. Cleanse, yield to God’s control in all situations, believe and rest.

I know what it feels like to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I know when I’m walking in the Spirit. When I feel that shift to walking in the flesh because of complaining, gossiping, negativity, and any other attributes of darkness, I need to stop immediately and cleanse by praying for the forgiveness of my sins, yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit (giving God control of all situations that are out of my own hands), believe that He has control and rest.

There is no trust when I continue to manipulate my environment to gain peace–to struggle and fight for silence, order, calm and stillness. My end result, after all of this fruitless work, is not going to bring on the godly results that I’ve been reading, meditating and praying on. This can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ve got to trust Jesus with my issues–release all burdens to Him. He knows what to do with them!

Heavenly Father, I pray for the forgiveness of my sins. I’ve been walking in the flesh instead of your Spirit. I’m getting nowhere! I am angry, frustrated and irritated with my surroundings. I grumble and complain to myself and to others and I’m eating my feelings instead of coming to you. I turned inward and did exactly what I thought would make me feel better. I did everything I knew to do, except come to you.

I relinquish my control of walking in the flesh and instead I will walk in your Spirit. I pray for the fruit of your Spirit, and I believe by faith that I am filled and I will rest.

I pray for forgiveness for manipulating my circumstances and environment. I was trying to achieve an absence of conflict by my own strength. I am thankful that I can step back and let you lead. Let me step by your steps. I let go and let You. I am thankful that I can simply ask for anything and in my belief of you and your power and might, I will receive.

Thank you, Jesus! I love you and it’s in your Holy Name I pray, Amen.

July 7, 2018

I am currently reading a book called, “They Found the Secret,” by V. Raymond Edman. I’ve only read the first story. I’ve actually read it three times because it is exactly the divine wisdom that I’ve been seeking. Funny, how the Lord knows just what to share with us.

This first testimony is about a missionary, J Hudson Taylor. He talks of his struggles to capture oneness and fullness with God. His words have propelled me right over the edge into this peaceful state that I long for:

“If any man thirst, let Him come unto me and drink. We are told to come to Him, not to some friend, not some experience, not so some feeling or frame of mind. We are not even to come just to the Word of God: rather, we are to go through that Word to the person of the Lord Jesus Himself.”

July 7, 2018/Journal Entry

I wake with opposition this morning and I believe the reason being is that I experienced a spiritual victory last night at a family gathering. I have written about my social anxiety in these moments, and I have to say that I didn’t feel one ounce of discomfort during this special occasion. We were celebrating my mother-in-law’s birthday. I felt confident in my conversation, engaged in what was being discussed and was completely part of this group. I was invested in what was going on around me and I wasn’t looking for a quick escape into solitude. I had a great time, praise God!

Lord, there is nothing that I can do to remove this state of unrest! No amount of human “fixing” will bring about peace. Maybe for a second but it won’t be long-lasting. I cannot control the words, thoughts, or actions of another. None of it pertains to me directly! What matters is my relationship with You.

I release these burdens to You because You are the only one that can fix them. You will give me peace and rest. And for this, I thank you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

And, this is how I will walk, consistently in God’s gift of peace. Realizing that I cannot achieve peace by myself. My peace is giving my burdens to God and letting Him decide what comes next. I cannot fix or control anything. I’m helpless without God. I cannot do anything apart from Him.

The interpretation of John 14:27 is this:

The end result of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is deep and lasting peace. Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, this peace is the confident assurance in any circumstance; with Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future. Sin, fear, uncertainty, doubt, and numerous other forces are at war within us. The peace of God moves into our hearts and lives to restrain these hostile forces and offer comfort in place of conflict. Jesus says he will give us that peace if we are willing to accept it from him. If your life is full of stress, allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s peace.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY

black and white hand raining

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So my ways are higher than your ways
And my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8, 9

**This post is a recap of the past two weeks, in which I desperately cried out to God for intervention. Although I was feeling unsteady I knew God’s glory would be on the other side–to which it is! Bare with me as I share His glory with you**

Weight Watcher post on Connect from June 17, 2018:

Sixty-three days of ninety without cookies, cakes, or chocolate and day thirteen of fourteen with a blue dot (Weight Watcher’s way of saying that I stayed in my healthy eating range). I thank all of you for your comments on my last video and on my post this morning. I plan on spending time tomorrow responding! Today was a great food day. Awesome time of prayer and meditation this morning, and I am feeling peaceful in this process. I praise God! Perseverance is His Word for me. So, that is what I will do. I went to church this evening, and it felt cleansing to sit and soak! I hope all of you had a fabulous day!! Sweet dreams!!

**I share this post on my blog because this is the very first time that the Lord spoke to me on perseverance**

The following is taken from my journal (June 20, 2018) and is Inspired by Dr. Charles Stanley from his message, “The Stages of our Christian Life, Part 1.”

Inadequacy is good because this keeps me relying on God. He is where my strength and adequacy comes from. I should never feel adequate on my own terms. This sense of confidence will only eliminate God from whatever it is that “I’m” trying to achieve. It’s almost as if I were saying, “I got this God! No need for your help!” Cockiness and pride are not beneficial characteristics in the life of a Christian. Feeling weak and vulnerable which I’m incredibly familiar with, will lead me straight to God. When there is a success in the task at hand, it puts God on display. His strength is shown to all who know me, especially those that know me on a deep and personal level. Striving for adequacy should not be my goal. I am always looking to accomplish something. If I can just get this done in this sort of way, people will see that I’m not ignorant–that there is some level of intelligence behind the shy smile that I present to the public. I am going to embrace my inadequacy, and I will step back and watch Jesus work.

Inadequacy, unworthiness, imperfection and slack are the things that I’ve always struggled with. I don’t remember a time where I felt proud of myself or was told that I did a great job. I never felt good enough. My friends were always one or two steps ahead of me, and I was reminded of this on many separate occasions.

**Let me just say this: the point of this post is not to point out the people that have contributed to my unsteadiness all throughout my life. What I’m trying to point out is that we all feel inadequate in all sorts of ways for all sorts of different reasons. This re-introduction to my childhood inadequacies are all part of God’s transformation plan. Charles Stanley calls this, “preprogrammed bondage.” I mean no disrespect to anybody. So, instead of rehashing all of the memories that the Lord has put before me in this time with Him, I will just say that all hurts and traumatic events were brought to my attention for the purpose of removing them from my heart and mind…to God be the Glory**

Jesus is cleansing me of conflicts, dysfunction and garbage. He is changing me from the inside first which is the logical place to start! It is a difficult process especially when it’s been etched in my brain at such a young age. I grieve my young life. I grieve many of the events that took place and have, over time, reduced them into something small and manageable. All done at the expense of regaining a sense of wholeness that was once felt. This inner defense ultimately affected my husband and daughter because I just wanted it all to go away! All the emotional burdens that I carried within me festered and grew until everything in my life became unmanageable. Anxiety, fear and depression took hold, and I was a blob of nothingness.

Thankfully, I can look back now on all of my childhood memories and actually see innocence in the adults around me. Two different people, with very different backgrounds, each dealing with their our own dysfunction. There was pain and loneliness in both parties. As was once told to me, “We did the best we could.” And yes, today, I believe they most certainly did.

God was in the midst of all of this and He’s clearly been with me along!! I can look back and see just where He was.

Exodus 34:19-23

The Lord replied, “ I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.”

He did just as He said, and I see Him now!  I know He put a limit on the things that came against me. He didn’t give me any more than I could handle. He allowed things to happen to mold and shape me in order to fulfill His purpose for me on this earth. It all has to come out. I cannot be a vessel for Jesus if I’m filled up with damage. I welcome this transformation and I know that His glory is on the other side.

Praise God for Galatians 2:20:

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

June 22, 2018/Journal Entry

Allow Jesus to respond to all situations–only act when He calls to move. I don’t have to struggle, search or muster the strength to accomplish anything that isn’t from Him. There is no struggle when He leads the charge! Step out of the way and let Him work! This is not your life to live. You were brought into this world because Jesus has a plan! You know His voice! Listen!!

June 23, 2018/Journal Entry

I am reflecting on the past two weeks while Carl has been away in Hawaii. He will arrive later this morning. It has been a victorious two weeks, all glory be to God! My relationship with my Father has deepened. I didn’t feel one moment of loneliness. I had a couple iffy moments but they didn’t hang around long. I referred to my “battle list” and persevered–just as He told me to do.

Before Carl left, I prayed for Jesus’ help during this time. I know my routine because travel has always been part of Carl’s job. I know that loneliness, sadness, isolation and food are my go-to coping mechanisms. I did not want the “old” Racinda to return. We had come too far to turn back now. I knew the Lord was my only option to keep sane. I wouldn’t make it through, unscathed, without Him.

In this time of prayer, the Lord instructed me to prepare a “battle list,” to which I did. I wrote down everything that came to mind. This would be a “to-do” list when times got desperate. I reverted to it on two occasions. I knew the spirit of depression was heading towards my door so I grabbed my list and quickly picked a tactic! My kitchen cabinets are clean and organized which took about two hours. On the second day, I spent a fair amount of time in the newly remodeled, Walmart, buying toiletries and a much-needed trash can.

A mental craziness did creep in during the first week of Carl’s departure. I was overwhelmed and sat quickly and quietly before God. His word (once again) was “perseverance!” He reminded me that I did nothing “spiritually wrong” and that I shouldn’t always attribute negative emotion to something that I did. It’s a red flag to sit and get still with Him. He isn’t mad at me or asking that I be perfect. He’s just calling me to get close and bask in His love. Oh, what a wonderful God He is! Knowing this vital information has kept me moving forward.

Morgan (one of my divine best friends) validated, encouraged and supported me several times over the telephone. Our conversations are always a lovely reminder that God is faithfully present in our lives. I cannot begin to explain how many times I’ve hung up the phone with her and just felt completely valued and at peace!

I went to church, by myself, on Saturday (June 16, 2018) and it propelled me into my second week without my husband. It was what I needed to make it through the last leg of this separation. I felt great inspiration as I gathered with other believers, worshipping God Almighty, each in our own way–some singing, some with raised hands, some with heads bowed, and others just listening and soaking in His presence. Cleansing!!

I want to remember the past two weeks! God was one hundred percent faithful to my prayer before my husband left on his trip. I have been blessed with freedom–something that I’ve never experienced before. I will continue to persevere because I love Jesus Christ. He has blasted His way through my heavy chains that have held me captive for so many years.

I don’t have to find a new job that pays more money. I don’t have to have a higher education to be significant. I don’t have to have a gazillion followers on my blog. I don’t have to be the voice of reason on the videos that I make for Weight Watchers. I don’t have to eat and drink and be social. None of this extra-curricular activity determines my position in life nor my next steps. I am exactly who God created me to be. I am finally happy with who I am because of Jesus.

On top of all this splendid truth, I’m relieved to find out that this life is no longer mine. This life that I’ve been leading every day is now all for Jesus! From this point on, I’m going to walk in the Spirit. I will move out of His way so that He can continue his work on this earth in and through me! This is freedom! Yes, the flesh is demanding and it wants what it wants. It reaches out to anything that is appealing and it doesn’t matter what it is–as long as it feels, tastes, or is visually exciting. The flesh will come alive instantly with great desire. I don’t want to walk this way anymore. By the strength and might of God, I will walk in the Spirit, filled with joy and peace.

What is my “battle list” if my flesh demands its way? Get quiet before God. Tell Him of my struggle and allow Him to take it from me. Get up and move. Don’t sit in fleshly desire(s)– read Scripture, pray, write, contact a friend, clean, go for a bike ride, organize, take a car ride, walk, listen to Christian music…take action. I know when I’m sinking!

Most important…remember to get with God each day. Give Him my best time of the day. God is my priority. He is my Almighty Father in Heaven and He loves me.

To: My Child, Racinda
From: Your Loving Father

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
And stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
Producing seed for the farmer
And bread for the hungry.

It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
And it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace.

The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
They will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

 

 

CONFLICT TO PEACE

burn countryside daylight environment

So humble yourself under the mighty power of God and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.

1 Peter 6-9

June 14, 2018

My time with Jesus, this morning, has started out slow! I’m at my desk and feeling quite preoccupied due to anxiety, fear and doubt. I decided that I’d have a bit more peace if I were in my bed. I take with me my Bible and journal. Maybe this would give me the permission I need to submit to God’s plan for the day instead of focusing on my assigned volunteer work, posting a glorifying but yet revealing blog post for Jesus and His Kingdom or even grabbing my phone and opening myself up to the world with my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. My intention is to get intimate with God for direction and guidance, and I can’t seem to do it with the clutter all around me!

As I find a comfortable spot on my bed, the attacks of the enemy, who has been at me all week, are fierce and non-stop:

“Who do you think you are in Christ?”
“Why this sudden priority on discernment and obedience?”
“Do you really think you are hearing the Holy Spirit?”
“I think it’s what you want to hear, and it gives you great pleasure to think you are this close to God.”
“You may be developing split personalities!”
“Your mental state is slowly deteriorating.”
“What do you think your friends and family are saying about you?”
“What is in your future?”
“God doesn’t have big plans for you. There isn’t anything glorious on the other side. You are making all of this up because you are a lonely and sad individual.”

I cry out to God for help. I need a Word from Him. I cannot go through this day without Him. He brings to my mind the victorious breakthrough that I had on Monday morning (June 11, 2018)!

I conquered a huge fear by praying over a friend. I heard the Holy Spirit that morning and even though my first thought was to rationalize it all away, I obeyed!

As I sit here, I meditate on a Word that was given to me during a recent quiet time:

When we make a decision to listen and obey God, there is glory in the event. In doing this, we surge ahead in our spiritual growth, and we advance the Kingdom. God is lifted in praise which allows others to see just how mighty He really is. Satan does not like anything that brings glory to God. He doesn’t want to see us in relationship with our Father. He swoops in to steal and destroy our victory. I believe this is what’s happening to me. I feel prompted to look Satan up in the Concordance of my New Living Translation Study Bible! After all, if we are fighting a battle, we surely need to know who we are up against.

In Job 1:6, 7, a piece of Satan’s plan is revealed:

Satan considers God as his enemy. He tries to hinder God’s work in people, but he is limited by God’s power and can do only what he is permitted. Satan is our enemy because he is actively looking for people to attack with temptation and because he wants to make people hate God. He does this through lies and temptation. Any person who is committed to God should expect Satan’s attacks. Satan, who hates God also hates God’s people.”

A commitment to God, obedience, and glorifying God are the things that kick up the attacks that Satan imposes on us. I imagine if I weren’t a follower of Christ then the attacks would not be as fierce. Satan would leave me to sink into my own destruction. I believe an open door to any kind of sin can lead to major battles which is where I am right now! My only saving grace is Almighty God. If He’s not in my corner, then I am completely lost without an eternal future.

June 14, 2018/Journal Entry:

Lord…I feel like I’m going crazy! I feel like people look at me like I’ve lost my mind. These thoughts are causing me great distress. I know I’m not supposed to worry about what others say or do, but I’m having trouble fighting this off.

I’m sharing so much of myself, and I’m beginning to feel a bit exposed. Why am I doing this? Remind me! Yes, if this is in your Will, then give me the strength to keep going. Put your shield around me so I’m not looking for anything other than You! Let me find my peace in You.  

Did I really hear you whisper that I was to pray over my friend on Monday? Was it you or was it me? I was most certain in that moment, but as I sit here, I wonder if it was me? I’m feeling unsteady and confused this morning–unsure of your plans for me. Light up what it is that you’ve designed me to do. I trust and have faith in you, but it wavers and for this, I am sorry!

Charles Stanley says that it is good to ask for direction.

Lord, I ask for your direction this morning. For my sanity, I need to know! Please, bless me with your encouragement–am I in your Will? I am listening for You, and I want to be obedient. Reveal your plan, Lord, and back it up with Scripture. Speak to my spirit and my heart! Reassure me! I know if I hear your words, I will be okay. I will keep pushing toward your Heavenly Prize. I feel alone. I’m dying for your companionship–all day–every day! Remove these terrible, defeating thoughts from my mind and replace them with your Heavenly ones. I need you today, tomorrow and forever. Sit next to me, Jesus, and fill me with your lovely words. I am coming to You, Father, because I need Your guidance. You see what’s ahead. I do not! Please, help me see it too. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen!

As my time was ending, I hear the reassurance and encouragement that I so desperately need:

“Have I ever led you astray thus far?”
“Haven’t I been with you all along?”
“I understand your questioning but why so heavy now?”
“Remember your past blessings.”
“I will never leave you nor forget you!”

I am hopeful and ready for the day!

June 16, 2018

Again, I find myself in the same spot as a couple of days ago–distant and scattered in all sorts of unproductive thoughts. I get up from my desk and head to the bed, as I did the other morning. I took with me a new devotional from Charles Stanley! I had just received it in the mail and even though it was April’s edition, I knew that meaning would still be found. The reading came from Galatians 3:1-5, and it was exactly what my spirit was in need of!

“The Holy Spirit gives Christians great power to live for God. Some Christians want more than this. They want to live in a state of perpetual excitement. The tedium of everyday living leads them to conclude that something is wrong spiritually. Often the Holy Spirit’s great work is to teach us to persist, to keep doing what is right even when it no longer seems interesting or exciting. The Galatians quickly turned from Paul’s Good News to the teaching of the newest teachers in town; what they needed was the Holy Spirit’s gift of persistence. If the Christian life seems ordinary, you may need the Spirit to stir you up. Every day offers a challenge to live for Christ.

June 16, 2018/Journal Entry:

I don’t know how I feel about this? I like and look forward to that excitement when God shows up and gives me His Word. Perhaps, I shouldn’t be expectant? Maybe it’s haughty, rude and assuming–like a small child crying for an ice cream cone!!

Am I a Christian that relies solely on “excitement” in my walk with Jesus? When that gift does not occur, am I disappointed, and do I immediately begin looking for that spiritual wrong. Did I do this right? Should I have done it this way? What have I done to cause this disconnect? I’ve created this distance in my time with God? How can I fix this? Am I being taught perseverance?

I can’t always have excitement, illumination and revelation in my time with Jesus or can I? I am expectant each time we meet! God is a God of compassion and love. Why would He withhold Himself from me? I don’t like this!!

Charles Stanley says that the Holy Spirit is not concerned about my feelings of excitement, but He is concerned about my understanding of who God is. He is actively helping as I walk this life as a representative for Christ. The overall job of the Holy Spirit is in transforming my life. The Holy Spirit isn’t living in me to bring excitement into my life each day. He is with me to instruct, guide and transform me into the likeness of Jesus Christ. He is a constant reminder that my sinfulness is what caused the separation from God. That without Jesus, I would be sentenced to an eternal life of hell. Others need to hear this Good News. That Jesus did indeed walk this earth, sinless, and He is the ultimate sacrifice. As believers, we are sealed and saved by His blood. I have been given understanding of the cross and my Salvation because of the teachings of the Holy Spirit. His motivation and objectives are to bring us to Christ, bring us up in Christ and to send us out for Christ. Daily excitement and revelations are not the goals of Holy Spirit. He is our Helper with great intention to get us to where God needs us to be.

I am in a change of routine, and I knew that I would be challenged. The feelings that I’ve experienced are somewhat normal, but this time the episodes are different–more intense! I asked Jesus for a Word, for His reassurance and encouragement and He did just that. He backed it all up with Scripture and godly messages. I am at peace. I will persevere and know that I’m not sent into the battlefield without God’s preparation and armor. I did nothing spiritually wrong, so I will not continue to look for it. I will not look for a solution so that I will feel better. My solution is Jesus! Is isn’t something that I can achieve on my own. He has saved me from this battle of conflict. I feel settled and ready to take on the next step in my walk with Christ! Praise be to God!

Jeremiah 1:5 sums it all up:

God has a purpose for each Christian, but some people are appointed by God for specific kinds of work. If God gives you a specific task accept it cheerfully and do it with diligence. If God has not given you a specific call or assignment, then seek to fulfill the mission common to all believers–to love, obey and serve God–until His guidance becomes more clear.

***

The message I refer to, by Charles Stanley, is called “Our Teacher” and can be found at InTouch Ministries.

If you would like to read more on my “victorious breakthrough,” please refer to my post, “Obedience.”

 

 

OBEDIENCE

blur butterfly close up delicate

“It wasn’t the coal that cleansed him, but God. In response, Isaiah submitted himself entirely to God’s service. No matter how difficult his task would be, he said, ‘Here I am, send me.’ The painful cleansing process was necessary before Isaiah could fulfill the task to which God was calling him. Before we accept God’s call to speak for him to those around us, we must be cleansed as Isaiah was, confessing our sins and submitting to God’s control. Letting God purify us may be painful, but we must be purified so that we can truly represent God, who is pure and holy.

Isaiah 6:5-8 (NLT Interpretation)

July 8, 2018 (Quiet time before work/Journal Entry)

Is this the process that I’m currently going through? Is God removing all things that aren’t of Him, so that I’m empty for Him? Will He fill me with heavenly gifts? Is my purpose on the other side of this uncomfortable revealing?

I pray that I remain in His Will–that I do not hold up the cleansing process by disobedience. Let me hear, let me be bold and courageous, let me obey! Help me, Holy Spirit, complete the small assignments so I can get to the big assignment. I want to be empty of myself. I trust God to care for me as I go through this phase of my Christian walk. I know that growth and glory are in my future.

********

With coffee and lunch in hand, I kissed my husband and my pup goodbye and headed to work. I clocked in and had conversation with several residents and coworkers. As I began pulling medication for my residents, I took notice of an individual walking back and forth in the hallway that I was in. He was quite preoccupied with his task at hand which was removing furniture from a resident’s room. In the hopes of avoiding the newly painted walls, his struggle with the overloaded dolly was apparent. He is determined and dedicated to keep this assisted living community in tip-top shape. Job complete, he headed back to the vacant resident’s room. I heard deep within me, the whisper of the Holy Spirit. There was no denying nor rationalizing where that direction came from.

“I want you to go find this man that you’ve been tuned into and pray for healing.”

My reaction to His words were with fear and trembling. My heart did a somersault, my hands started to shake and sweat; the concentration that I did have, now lost. All I could think of was my time with Jesus this morning. I asked for this moment. What was I going to do with it? I denied him once in this area of prayer, and I wasn’t going to do it again!

I opened the medication cart, dropped the inhalers that I had clutched in my hand, into the drawer and locked the cart. I felt myself walking towards the vacant room and was somewhat shocked at my courage. It certainly didn’t come from me!

I could hear the deafening sound of the vacuum cleaner so I paused and then slowly opened the door. The expression that came from his face was of concern but in order to hear me, he had to shut the annoying machine off. In the opposing silence of the room, I blurted out:

“As you were walking by me, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to come pray for your legs!”

He smiled and stated, “I could use it!”

I boldly walked over to him and asked if it was okay to place my hand on his arm. He was sweaty from his hard work, but I didn’t care. I needed to feel the flesh of my Christian brother. It was the spiritual connection that I needed to obey what God had told me to do.

I can’t even remember what it was that I really said which is maddening in itself. I long for my times of prayer with another to be remembered. I want to sink into the moment with ease, not with anxiety and fear. This is a time of reverence not opposition! I am calling out to Almighty God on behalf of another human being. I’m praying for the presence of God in a situation. This should be a beautiful moment. It isn’t! It gives me great stress and anxiety and when I’ve finished, the devil is all over me.

Romans 8:26, 27 says that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. He is our Helper, and I do have faith that the Lord heard our prayer and that He will answer. In my inadequacy and weakness, the Lord is strong. I took a huge leap of faith because I love Jesus, and I don’t want to miss out on Him. Plus, I would be so grateful to see healing for this man of God.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

You just never know when the Holy Spirit will announce His presence. I had prayed to be prepared and equipped to handle every God-given opportunity. I prayed to be bold and courageous. I prayed for the strength to obey–a moment that could be used to glorify Him and an opportunity for me and another to grow spiritually. God does hear our prayer, and He does answer!!

GRACE

autumn back light clouds dawn
MY GRACE IS ALL YOU NEED!

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Acts 20:24

How strong is my witness for Christ? Well, I’m not quite sure because I have never been given the opportunity to speak on His behalf. I tend to keep my faith out of my social engagements. It isn’t because I chose this, it’s because it never comes up. I guess I don’t recognize the moments when I could bring God up. I have people in my life that I can speak freely with about God and then there are those that, I assume, don’t care to know. Judgemental thinking, I suppose. It’s a whole lot easier to go with the flow of conversation instead of bringing up my own interests. I am afraid that silence will follow when I interject with a subject change. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of growth that needs to happen in the area of Evangelism. I don’t want to push my beliefs onto another. I simply want to share the love and power of Jesus. I  want others to receive and experience Him too.

I’ve often imagined a verbal conversation in regards to my faith, and I can tell you, it never ends well. I end up looking like a fool as I watch the other person jump to another subject, with another person. What would it feel like to actually speak for God with impact? I have visualized the countenance on a skeptic’s face when I’ve been moved to say something that opens the door to a spirit-filled chat. It’s one thing to write for Christ but it is an entirely different arena to share the Gospel verbally. I just know that day will come! I feel it way down deep!!

The other morning, I was given the chance to express my personal beliefs to another. At that moment, I didn’t realize the impact that it would have on me; I pray that it was just as effective for the other person. We had a divine connection and from this, I learned a valuable spiritual lesson. The Lord knows our weaknesses as it is stated in 2 Corinthians 9-11:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

If you’ve been following my story, then you are already aware that I struggle with my weight. I am currently on Weight Watchers and not following the program. No surprise to me!! I do, however, enjoy their forum. This is a place where members can speak freely of their struggles. Some post videos and pictures and the more introverted just post updates of where they are in the plan. It’s a great place for encouragement, support, and tips. I have been faithfully posting of my accountability to my abstinence of cookies, cakes, and chocolate. These are trigger foods that usually end up in a binge. I’ve eliminated them from my diet due to the huge amount of guilt and shame that I feel afterward. I have to tell you, once I did this, my spiritual growth went through the roof.

Luke 9:23, 24 says:

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.”

I want to share this conversation with you with the permission of my Weight Watcher friend.

Me:  43 days of 45 without cookies, cake or chocolate. Work was much better today. I have to say that it was quite eerie passing meds in the back hallway, near the room of our recent death! I couldn’t help but peek in his room before I started my med pass. Something sinister and heavy in there, that’s for sure. One coworker said that there were a couple of times during breakfast that she swore she saw our deceased resident standing at the back of the dining room. We feel that he is unsettled by his untimely death…

Friend: Fascinating. There is much unseen that science has yet to observe. One day it may be explained. BTW: I have worked in hospitals and have a science background.

Me:  I do believe there is a lot that goes on that is unseen. I also believe that there are some of us that pick up on the unseen through sensations and visions, for whatever reason. From working in a nursing home, assisting living and in Hospice, events occur that only the compromised individual can experience, the one transitioning. We, as observers, can only imagine! What we see can be used as scientific advancement, for sure! These observations can also be used to grow in faith and in relation with God, if one’s heart is open and accepting. I respect all opinions and beliefs. For me, I will stick with God! Not only because I’ve seen death but because of what I’ve seen with my own spiritual senses. One day, each one of us will know the answer whether we want to or not. We will all experience death, so yes, it is all very fascinating!! Thank you so much for stopping to comment! I value and appreciate what you’ve said! You got me thinking 🙂 Wishing you a lovely, safe Memorial Day!!

Friend:  You reminded me of a hospice nurse with whom I shared an office. She told me about her encounters with spirits while caring for her patients and even asking their indulgence to let her finish administering the pain meds. Both of us were talking in a rational manner about something that some would label as “unreal.” BTW: we were university teachers who are trained in the sciences with a high regard for the limits of medicine to explain the end of life events. We accept and do the best we can. I never could do the important work of that nurse and not freak out.

Me:  I would have been so intimidated by your response, especially your educational background, a couple years back, but you’ve just shown me how much I’ve grown spiritually, and for this, I thank you! I do not mean any disrespect in any way, but I am a child of God, and I am secure in who I am because of who God is! I have never in my life felt this confident, and I do give God all the glory!! I am an uneducated nursing assistant who loves God and all people, especially the elderly. The nursing assistant part used to make me feel so inadequate and insignificant, especially next to someone such as yourself. I truly thank you for this enlightening conversation, and I mean this from the depths of my heart!! You’ve allowed God to show me just who I am when I’m standing next to Him!!

I paused for a moment to reflect on this conversation.

Me: …as I sit here and meditate on our words, it’s been impressed upon me to correct my last statement from: “You’ve allowed God to show me” to: “God has used you to show me just who I am when I’m standing next to Him.” Sorry about that (heart emoji)

Friend:  I think you are a healer without the degrees. Let me share my testimony. I was blessed with opportunities to get my Ph.D. and have to maintain my humility. When I had to write my dissertation and got to page 11 and I told the Holy Spirit, “I got no more words left in me about this research” and then He pulled another 300 pages out of me because I surrendered my will to His. The healthcare system especially nursing homes need someone like you. I see your sensitivity (hands clapping emoji).

Me:  I absolutely love your response!! Thank you for sharing your testimony! Thank you for this honest, vulnerable conversation! You’ve given me a boost in faith!! God bless you today and always!!

I was unbelievably encouraged after this exchange. I could not wait to share this with my husband. What a huge breakthrough! I ran to get my notes so that I wouldn’t miss one little, tiny detail and as I was making my way back, I heard the Holy Spirit:

“Don’t sit down to share this news. I want you to stand before him as if you were standing before an audience. Speak to the crowds!”

EVIL FOR GOOD

Unsplash_ Hiles, George

“…we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And He did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us.”

2 Corinthians 1:9, 10

I sat down to spend time with God and had no clue as to where I was to go. Still feeling the nag of distraction, I forced myself to sit still. I listened to Charles Stanley and didn’t feel a thing. I turned to a devotion and still an emptiness. In the silence of the room, I cast my eyes to the window and let my mind wander, praying for guidance during this time of meditation. As I gazed at the apartments across the way, I was reminded of the conversation that I had with God the previous morning while getting ready for work.

It was 5:00 AM, and I had just gotten out of the shower. I was listening to a sermon in the hopes of gaining some momentum for the day. From out of nowhere, a conversation began to form within me. I instantly recognized where it was coming from, so I tuned out the voice on my cell phone and tuned into the One that lives within me. I sensed certain words but it took thoughts, impressions and memories before I could fully understand what was being communicated to me. Often times, when I hear Him, it isn’t all words which is why I have to get still and be quiet. When we have physical conversations, we can listen and do something else at the same time. Sometimes, we don’t get the full gist of what’s being said because we are side-tracked, but we still comprehend to a certain degree. A divine conversation, for me anyway, takes complete focus and attention. Almost like looking at those funny pictures on the wall. What you see in passing is squiggles, colors, and shapes. If you stop long enough and concentrate, an image will appear. If you take your eye off of it for a split second, you’ve lost the image and you have to start all over again. I feel this is the same with hearing God. When He speaks (not audibly), I have to stop so I don’t lose Him. Here is what He said:

“Come to me for who I am, not for what I can do for you. I am a God of mercy, forgiveness, compassion, justice, love and grace. I want to share this with you. I want you to experience who I am and not what I’ve done or what I can do. I don’t want you to sit with me with an ulterior motive. I am not your project. Yes, I rescue, provide, protect, heal, comfort and save, but there is so much more that I have to offer. Come to me and wait, I will show you who I am.”

Tearing my gaze from the view of apartments outside my window, I grabbed my Bible, flipped back to the Concordance and looked up God, desiring to know who He is instead of what He’s done. I read several Scriptures similar to Deuteronomy 33:26, 27:

“There is no one like the God of Israel.
He rides across the heavens to help you,
across the skies in majestic splendor.
The eternal God is your refuge,
and His everlasting arms are under you.
He drives out the enemy before you;
He cries out, Destroy them!”

As I read, I feel the gradual lift of my human heaviness. My surroundings are no longer relevant, I’ve been enveloped in a divine quiet, and I sink into His ultimate peace. Nothing matters but this time with Him. Silenced, I close my eyes and shut down the outside world.

He brings to mind a frightening dream that I had in the wee hours of the morning. I was deathly afraid of heights but for some reason I had climbed into a tall tree. The limb that I chose to sit on was like that of a saddle on a horse. I fit perfectly in it and felt comfortable but somehow that ease disappeared, and I found myself sitting in a tire swing that was set in a fixed position. I looked down and could barely see the ground. I could tell there was green grass below but I was unable to pick out the whimsical shapes of the dandelions. I was scared and began to panic. I sucked in as much oxygen as I could and slowly blew it out. In mid pull of the second breath of fresh air, a man came over. He’s feet were firmly planted on the lawn but somehow he was looking directly into my eyes.

How can he be so tall?

He stated that he could help me. I timidly stated that I didn’t mean to climb this high. His smile was nice and His compassionate eyes were intoxicating. I couldn’t help but lean into him a little bit. The smell of his body was earthy, and I liked it. He felt safe and tangible. I released my grasp from the rope and cinched myself down the tire until I was hanging from the bottom-half. The man grabbed my legs and hoisted me onto his shoulder and set me firmly down on the ground and then I woke up!

He rescued me in my slumber just as He did in England while on vacation in 2001. Genesis 50:20 tells of His intent:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

My husband was in the Air Force at the time, and we were stationed at RAF Mildenhall. My brother-in-law and his wife had come to visit us. They, too, had spent quite a bit of time in England and knew the area well. They planned a trip to Cornwall because they still had friends there and they loved the area. We were invited to come along so my husband and I took time off from work so that we could accompany them on their travels. The house we stayed in was right near the water. It was too cold to swim in but lovely to look at. I enjoyed the walks on the beach with my family. The weather was perfect for outdoor exercise. I had lost some weight by committing to a circuit training class three times a week back home, and I didn’t want to become lazy and gain it all back.

The man of the house was physically fit and enjoyed running. When I found this out, I asked if it would be okay if I went along with him. He was glad for the company and said that he would show me his route. We took off together the next morning, and I quickly realized that he was in much better shape than I. I felt sorry that he had to slow his pace way down just so I could keep up. He did not accompany me again to which I completely understood.

The second day of our visit, I joyfully jogged the entire route on my own. The third morning, I woke early and was full of energy. The entire house was still asleep. They had been out the night before enjoying the local pub. 

I couldn’t wait to take in the fresh air and picturesque landscape, I jumped from my bed and pulled on my blue Adidas wind pants and a yellow, long-sleeved pullover. No jacket was required! I stepped outside and looked up! There was a barely a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly!

I headed up the steep hill, stretching my legs with long strides. When I reached the top, I began a slow jog. About fifteen minutes into it, I realized that my body was not up for that sort of movement so I walked and enjoyed the view instead. The hedgerows were majestic! Taller than what I was accustomed to in Feltwell, which is the little village we lived in. I couldn’t see anything but the road ahead.

I didn’t put my headphones on because I wanted to take in the sounds of nature. The birds were singing a joyful tune, leaves were rustling slightly in the breeze and my footsteps quietly tapped the road beneath me. I didn’t carry a cellphone at this time because there wasn’t a need for one and if I were to scream for help, it would have gone unnoticed. Cars were few and far between. I was in my own world except for the jeep that was slowly cruising towards me. I had ample time to observe its appearance. It was old and two toned. The hood and doors were dirty white, and the body was a military green. It was creepy which is why my eyes quickly shifted to inspect the passengers. There were two men in the front seat, middle-aged and extremely bushy looking. Long brown hair, beards were full and their gaze was penetrating. I remember thinking to myself that they looked like trouble. I was thankful they were going the other way.

I continued to walk realizing that my senses were on high alert; my instincts had kicked in as if I were expecting their return at any moment. I’m not sure how much further I traveled but felt relief to see a break in the hedgerow. My panic was overwhelming, and I felt trapped, the gap would be a relief. To my horror, there sat the jeep with the two men inside. My knees went weak, my heart sped up and I felt cornered. I kept on walking, pretending that their presence didn’t bother me, but I knew that my tough exterior was no match for the strength of those two burly men.

I heard the jeep creep out of the field that it had been sitting in. My ears were in full tune to the movement of their tires. I didn’t need to look back to see where they were; I already knew! They slowly pulled onto the road, and I could hear the rocks they rolled over as they got closer. I looked ahead with a vacant stare and saw no escape and no help. I had been ambushed and in realizing this I quietly said to myself:

“This is it. It’s all over!”

I could have reached behind me and touched the rusted bumper of their vehicle, that’s how close they were. I felt the heat from their engine and the heavy fumes were gagging. With my breath held, I waited for the passenger door to swiftly open, imagining their rough hands as they forced me to the floor of their filthy automobile. Just when I thought my life was doomed, an enormous, brown car appeared from out of nowhere. The jeep pulled around me and sped off. I turned and ran in the opposite direction, my legs barely able to carry me. I came to another break in the hedgerow, on the opposite side of the road, and dove in.

As I remained still and quiet in my safe haven, I heard a vehicle approaching in the distance. I closed my eyes in the hopes I would disappear from this unimaginable nightmare and envisioned a frightened rabbit seeking refuge from a carnivorous predator. Miraculously, the engine noise vanished, and I leaped from my shelter and high-tailed it back to my family. I believe that evil was intended but Jesus made another way! He saved me that day! And, just as His Word promises in Hebrews 13:5, 6

“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”
So we can say with confidence,
The Lord is my helper,
so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?”