Thursday, April 30, 2009
I lived under the guise of The Good Girl until my late 20s, even through 7 years of marriage. One day, I woke up, and it was as if a light bulb turned on in my head. All of a sudden I began to doubt every decision, every belief, every habit, every single thing in my life. I had lived my whole life ‘doing’ the right thing instead of ‘being’ the right thing. I was tired of living by that list of dos and don’ts. Structure, all of a sudden, made me want to panic and run away. I couldn’t explain what was happening to me. This good girl, who always had it together, seemed to be reeling with confusion and doubt about every area of her life.
I was at a point of almost losing my family. Deep down I knew I didn’t want that. I had survived the divorce of my parents and knew first hand how that can destroy a family. But, all of a sudden that didn’t matter to me. It was as if I didn’t live through that experience (the devil has a way of clearing your memory when you’re faced with temptations). Thankfully, my husband recognized what was happening to me and truly understood what I was going through. He did everything he possibly could to help me journey safely through the ‘sewing of my wild oats’. (I told him that I was going to do it with him or without him.) You see, until this point, I had never tasted a drop of alcohol, never smoked a cigarette, never put a quarter in a slot machine, never did any kind of drugs, never did…you know…you other Good Girls out there have your own ‘never’ list.
Church was my life. I hardly ever missed a service. I could fake a testimony quicker than anybody. You see, when I was saved, God didn’t have to pluck me out of some miserable sinful life. There wasn’t this huge transformation. I just woke up the next day living another day in the life of a Good Girl. My life was FULL of works. Oh, I DID everything right, but there was no heart behind it. God scared me, and quite honestly, I feared getting too close to Him. After all, I did all the right things, so how much closer could I get?! I was confused in thinking that works was what earned God’s favor. I was a GREAT Pharisee!
I can’t really pinpoint a particular day when my vision was cleared. I’d have to say that it was a process of time and experiences. I don’t recall having another ‘light bulb’ experience. All I know is that one day, I realized that the clouds had cleared and I saw God for who He really is, a loving Father and faithful friend. For the first time in my life, I truly felt what it was like to have a growing, living relationship with my Savior. WOW, how the blinders have been removed! I have tapped into something and let me tell you, I’ve never had such a huge desire to really KNOW God. My desire to serve Him is stronger than it’s ever been.
If there are any self-labeled Good Girls out there, let me tell you something, unless there is heart behind what you do, it does you no good to live your life by your list of dos and don’ts. I challenge you to get to know your Savior, to tap into His love and His mercy and grace. It was a wonderful day when I grasped the true meaning of this statement: I can never do anything to make God love me any more and I can never do anything to make God love me any less. You can throw away your list of dos and don’ts because God isn’t keeping score!
His Forever (More than Ever),
I have dear friends, good Christian women, who have told the story of their victimizations so often that I can repeat the stories word for word. These women are not “lost”. They are Christians. They are “saved”….from everything but their past…..and it crushes my heart. I have been there. I wore my “Victim” name badge with some sort of misguided pride. I used my badge to justify my actions. I used my badge to hide behind. I felt like I had earned the title “victim” and I was going to use it to my advantage. Then one day something changed….I realized that Jesus wanted to give me more that a “get out of Hell free” ticket to use when I breathe my last breath. He wanted me to “have life and have it more abundantly”.
In his book When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado talks about “your sack of stones”. You can go to: http://maxlucado.com/pdf/upwords.stronger.broken.pdf and read the story. Excuse the pun, but this story hit me like a ton of bricks 13 years ago. Giving credit to Mr Lucado for my inspiration, let me tell you how I finally traded in my label.
I have spent so much time in the past telling the story of my victimization so that people would “understand” where I’ve been….I want to give equal time now to my deliverance. Please kick off your shoes, grab a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke and go with me to one of the best days of my life thus far……
Christ is sitting at the foot of the cross. He is enjoying the sunshine. White puffy clouds are lazily drifting through the brilliant blue sky. The grass is emerald green. Tiny white flowers bob and weave in the gentle breeze. The air is warm, but not stuffy. The breeze is light and barely tousles Christ’s hair. Something catches His attention. Someone is coming to the cross.
I approach with a burlap sack so heavy that I can barely drag it. Christ looks up. He stands. I stop, look up, and hesitate. Do I dare bring my sack to Him? What will He think? What if He turns me away? What if he reprimands me? I wait. He waits. I continue. The sack is too heavy, as is my heart. I just cannot carry this weight any longer. Whatever His response is to my sack of stones, I am going to bring them to Him.
At the cross, I set the bag at Christ’s feet. He sits and invites me to sit with Him. I am nervous….what will He think when He opens my bag? He looks at me and His eyes are so kind. The kindest eyes I have ever seen. I trust Him. I open the bag. Inside the bag are rocks of different shapes and sizes. I close it back up. Do I really want to show this to my Savior? Christ waits. I open the bag again and pull out a small rock and timidly give it to Christ for inspection. I hold my breath as He takes it from me. He does not hesitate. He does not inspect it. He says nothing as he sets my little rock at the foot of the cross. Neither of us says a word. In the distance, a bird serenades us. I reach into the bag again and pull out another rock. This one is heavier. This is a sin that I committed of my own free will. I look at it and remember all the details of the moment. My heart feels the weight of this stone. I cannot look at my Savior as I extend my hand, hoping He will take it. Without hesitation, Christ takes the stone from me hand and places it at the foot of the cross. I take a deep breath and push my entire sack to Christ. Perhaps it will be easier to get this over with all at once. To my horror, instead of just setting the entire sack at the foot of the cross, Christ takes the sack and opens it. He takes out each and every individual rock and sets it at the foot of the cross. More than once, He pauses, running his fingers over a stone and a tear falls, leaving a dark spot on the rock. These are the rocks that represent the things that caused me the most pain and separated me from Him. He grieves for the pain these have caused me, but is thankful that I have brought them to Him.
Finally the bag is empty. I am emotionally spent. My sack is now just a puddle of burlap lying next to a large stack of rocks of all shapes and sizes.
Christ stands and reaches for my hand. He pulls me to my feet, and pulls me close, thankful that I have finally brought Him the things in my life that kept me from fully experiencing His love and the life He has planned for me. I savor the moment, resting in His embrace, listening to the beating of His heart, completely freed from the past.
We turn and walk together, leaving a pile of rocks at the foot of the cross.…..and I had a new label, one I have worn since that day, a new Badge that brings honor and freedom…My new badge says “Princess “ because my new identity is “Daughter of the King of Kings”.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
There is the woman to whom “beautiful” is really a non-issue. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. There is the woman who knows that she is beautiful. Then there is the woman who dares not even ask the question.
In this week’s Bible Study, Angela specifically addresses the woman who dares not ask the question “Do you think I’m beautiful?”, but the study touches us all.
She asks us to think about the story of Cinderella and then challenges us with the question: If you were in the story, which character would you be? Stop and think about that for a moment. Who would you be? Do you DARE answer “Cinderella”? Perhaps, you think of yourself as one of the step sisters….or…maybe you are one of the nameless girls at the ball.
Angela says, “Can’t you just see the girls from the kingdom on their way home from the ball? Each one hoped to be noticed by the prince. I’m guessing that on the way home, they were making things up, That prince was so short, I bet her toes were pinched in those glass slippers, anything to pretend that it really didn’t matter that the prince hadn’t seen them….or asked them to dance.”
Guess what! In YOUR Cinderella story, the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE plays the role of the Prince. Know what else? You will NOT go away from the Ball unnoticed. God, our Creator LOVES YOU. Not in some distant standoff-ish manner. He loves you passionately. He is enthralled by your beauty.
She goes on to say, “God made you feminine, wired with the desire to be known and loved deeply. He made you with a feminine heart and feminine longings. He is completely aware of His design for you. We were made to be seen and loved and called beautiful. We do not have to hide our hearts from God or pretend we’re okay when life actually hurts.” So, no matter where you are, please join us. If you are struggling with the whole idea of being beautiful, come and see what God intended “beautiful” to be. If you are struggling with seeing God as the Lover of your Soul, then join us and meet the One who is Enthralled by your beauty.
Contact us for more info about the Bible Study at PBC_FLO@yahoo.com.
Monday, April 27, 2009
”Perfectionist”, “Underachiever”, “Rebel”,“Divorcee”, “Widower”, “The Good Girl”, “Preacher’s Kid”, “Leader”, “Follower”, “Friend”, “Wife”, “Mother”
This list could turn into a mile long. Subconsciously, we probably thought of a face when we read each of those labels. (Isn’t that weird how we so quickly slap a label on someone?!) Some labels are good and some are bad. We each probably have a combination of both.
For some, we can’t seem to shake the bad labels like “Underachiever”, “Divorcee”, “Follower”. I often wonder if we assign our own labels or if we allow others to label us. Some of us live our whole lives trying to shake the bad ones. In Philippians 3:13, Paul says, “…forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.” If anybody ever had a perfect excuse for not being able to shake his label, it was Paul!
For others, our labels are our crowning glory. We take pride in our label. We relish in the dignity of our label, especially those good labels! It’s how we are identified. Those good labels of “Mother”, “Wife”, “Leader”, “Friend” are all easy to wear. For some, it’s what comes natural to us. It’s what we’re good, no, BEST at! Think about the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was so proud of her label of the “Perfect House Guest” when she hosted Jesus. As a matter of fact, she got so caught up in her label, that she couldn’t enjoy the fact that the very Son of God came to pay her a personal visit. Are those GOOD labels really the MOST important? Are those what should exclusively define us?
So, how does God see us? Does He take our labels into account? Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” If we have been saved and have accepted Him as our personal Savior, then the only label He sees is the label that His precious Son sacrificed His very own life to give us, the label of “His Child”. So, if that’s the case, then why do we allow our labels here on earth to truly define who we are? God’s perspective of us is the only one that should really matter.
Friday, April 24, 2009
I continued to go to church because I knew I was supposed to, not because I wanted to. I knew I was going to Heaven, but was just not longing for a personal relationship with my Savior. In December of 2005, I got engaged. In February of 2006, I found out I was pregnant. We had not yet gotten married, and I had to break the news to my family. It was the hardest thing I had to do in my life. I knew I had disappointed them. In March 2006, I got married. I knew that as a family we needed to be in church. We still went, but mostly because we knew we needed to go. On September 8, 2006, I received the greatest gift from God, my precious little boy. We took him to church for the first time at one week old, but we were still there because we needed to be.
In October, we became members at Pearson Baptist Church. At this point we had finally found a church where my child was comfortable and my husband was comfortable, which up until now had not happened. It was a struggle to get my husband to even go. We were even on the verge of a divorce. My married life was terrible, and I just wanted out. It wasn't what I had dreamed of as a little girl. Once we got active, I realized that I had a void in my life that needed to be filled. I was longing for a personal relationship with my Lord. My husband and I just couldn't get enough. When we began to take time out of our day to be with our Lord, we changed. Our peers have even noticed a difference. At this point, our married life is great. Having the Lord in your life can make a world of difference.
In His Arms,
Thursday, April 23, 2009
A friend e-mailed us this wonderful illustration:
Sometimes we wonder, "What did I do to deserve this?" or "Why did God have to do this to me?" Here is a wonderful explanation! A daughter is telling her Mother how everything is going wrong, she’s failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away.
Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the daughter says, "Absolutely Mom, I love your cake."
"Here, have some cooking oil," her Mother offers.
"Yuck" says her daughter.
"How about a couple raw eggs?"
"Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?"
"Mom, those are all yucky!"
To which the mother replies: "Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! "
God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!
We have attached Wednesday’s Recipe and hope that, as you create this yummy treat, you think of all the “yucky” things that work together for the good!
1 CUP BUTTER SOFTENED
2 CUPS SUGAR
1 TEASPOON VANILLA
3 CUPS PLAIN FLOUR
1/2 TEASPOON SALT
1 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER
1 PINT FRESH BLUEBERRIES OR 2 CUPS CANNED, DRAINED AND RINSED
CREAM BUTTER AND SUGAR. ADD EGGS ONE AT A TIME AND BEAT UNTIL LIGHT AND FLUFFY. ADD VANILLA. SIFT IN 2 CUPS OF FLOUR, SALT, AND BAKING POWDER TOGETHER. ADD SIFTED INGREDIENTS TO CREAMED MIXTURE AND BEAT. DREDGE BERRIES IN REMAINING FLOUR. FOLD BERRY MIXTURE GENTLY INTO CREAMED MIXUTRE. POUR MIXTURE INTO A TUBE PAN WHICH HAS BEEN GREASED AND COATED WITH SUGAR. BAKE IN PRE HEATED 325 DEGREE OVEN FOR 1 HOUR AND 15 MINUTES.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Ever had a truly unexpected "oh my gosh" moment? That moment occurred for me about four years ago when my three year old son Blaine, so innocently looking toward heaven, asked me "Mommy, does Jesus really live in the sky?" I was totally dumbfounded. I looked at my husband and began to cry. It was at that moment that I said "oh my gosh" not only have I allowed myself to forget God but I, the self proclaimed greatest mother ever, realized that I had failed my children in the most absolutely worse way imaginable. I felt the blood drain from my body and became physically sick to my stomach.
It was then that I promised to have my children in church the next Sunday. I did have them there not only that Sunday, but the Sunday that followed. The second Sunday is when my children said "mommy please don't make us go". As I gasped for breath I realized that my children were not being able to worship in a "child like" setting and that grown up church was too much for them. What good have I done, I thought, if my children hate church? The following Sunday we went to a different church (our current church), we worshiped they worshiped and when we left the first time they asked "mommy when do we get to come back?" Since at this point we were only willing to give up one hour on Sunday mornings for God, we wont be back for a week. Proud of ourselves we continued on this path for a few months when we decided to let our children try our Wednesday night children's program. They loved it (and still do)! So fine, we are now giving up two hours a week, but we WILL not go to Sunday School and we WILL not do Sunday Nights. We, as working parents of 4 children, are not ready or willing to plan our lives around church. My heart still had emptiness and I knew that we needed to try Sunday School, we did, we loved it. I insisted over and over again that I would not give up Sunday nights at home. If I did I wouldn't have time to take care of family stuff. So I didn't. I was able to justify this with the fact that this Church didn't offer a Sunday night program for my children. I could not understand for the life of me why no one would teach a class on Sunday nights. But it was o.k. because God wasn't getting this hour. Boy was I wrong! Let me tell you when God speaks you WILL sit up and pay attention. When God tells you that it is you that is supposed to teach the kids - you don't ask questions - you don't look back -you don't question him. You pick yourself up and do Gods work.
Today, our lives are different, we truly make our schedules around our service to God. We don't regret it, we don't want it to change we LOVE it. It sends chills all over me when I think about my unwillingness to serve. How could someone be so selfish to someone that is so giving? Isnt it amazing how I used my children as excuses for not going to church, then my children are the "excuses" God used to get me back in church? I have realized that I am the human vessel that God is using to mold my children into the God loving, Christian people they are becoming. As a mother who absolutely, positively adores every breath that her children breath, what better gift could I give them than the gift of God's eternal love? What better gift could he have given us than his one and only Son?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
“Do you think I’m Beautiful” takes us one step (for some it is going to be a GIANT leap- and I am SOOOOOOOO excited for them) further….relating to God as the Lover of our souls. In the first chapter of her book, Angela Thomas tells of a time when she hit rock bottom. Alone in her room, crying like a baby, feeling totally and completely alone, these words made it into her journal:
“Oh GOD! Do you think I’m beautiful? No one else has been able….so is it you? Are You the one who longs for me- the One who can fill this desire to be known? There is so much more inside of me, a great well of passion and dreams, A place I never let myself go. Is it SAFE to trust you with the rest of my heart? What will you do with me if I sow you everything? Every Desire? Every Longing? Every doubt? Every weakness? If I am exposed before you, will You still love me? Is your forgiveness truly irreversible? Is your grace Really Free? Will you hold me and care for me in the dark? Oh GOD! Please hold me and tell me that you love me.”
She says that she cried and waited. Empty. She lay on the floor, completely spent. Her question took up the whole room and there was nothing left to do but pray.
“It’s just me. You see it all. You know it’s just me. You know how You’ve made me and you know how to speak to me so I can hear. I cannot move until I hear from you.”
“In the wildness of my room, as alone as I have ever been, the Lord met me. The words he formed in my mind began to answer the question. In my imagination, I could sense the Lord patiently smiling over me, and I heard Him speak to my heart: Yes, Angela, I think that you are beautiful. Your desire has served its purpose; you have finally brought your true heart to me. Are you tired of the weight of pretending? Are you tired of hoping that someone else could fill the place that was meant for Me? I see you, all of you, and you do not have to hide anymore. I see your sin and I see your flaws, and I still desire you as my own. I am crazy about you. I am the answer for your longing. The ‘more’ that your heart waits for is ME.
Yes, dear one, yes, you are incredibly beautiful to Me."
-From "Do You Think I'm Beautiful?" by Angela Thomas
I cannot wait to walk the next several weeks with you as you come to know our precious Father as the One who is enthralled by your beauty!!!!!!!
Monday, April 20, 2009
What happens when you worry?
You bring tomorrow’s difficulty into today. God didn’t give you grace for tomorrow’s difficulties. He only gives you grace for today.
When you reach into tomorrow’s troubles, you overload today’s circuit. Worry doesn’t take the sorrow out of tomorrow, it takes the strength out of today. When you meet tomorrow, you’re out of breath because you’re already overloaded from today. Worry, therefore, does not make you ready for the future, it really makes you unready.
Yesterday is just a canceled check.
Tomorrow is a promissory note.
Today has all the cash you can handle. Spend it wisely.
Worry will eat your lunch! It’ll eat your breakfast and dinner, too! Confess your worries as sin because they are. Put your concerns at the throne of Almighty God, trusting Him to provide.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
So many times we feel that we must have a reason to do something nice for a friend. The above verse challenges us to be devoted to one another in brotherly love and to honor one another even above our own selves. Maybe, just maybe, if we choose to do an act of random kindness we could help brighten a friend's day. Just making the effort to do something nice for someone can have a trickle down effect. Imagine if that particular friend decided to pay it forward to another. The results could be HUGE! If you're needing an idea for an ARK (Act of Random Kindness), try this wonderful Orange Supreme Cake recipe.
ORANGE SUPREME CAKE
1 box Duncan Hines Orange Supreme cake mix
8 oz. Sour Cream
½ Cup Oil
½ Cup Sugar
2 Tsp. Orange Extract
4 eggs, one at a time
Pour into greased and floured cake pan, and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
I discovered this song and artist while going through a very dark time in my life. I was spiritually dry, chapped, parched...the list goes on and on. I had all but lost my desire to have a relationship with my Lord. I knew what 'could be', what 'used to be', but I also knew the reality of the place in my walk with Christ that I actually WAS. It was hard to accept the truth. I was spiritually handicapped. I had starved for so long that I couldn't even stir up a prayer. All I knew was that I craved to have a close relationship with my Lord. I longed to FEEL like I was cultivating that relationship.
I reached a point one day on my way to work that I just reached down and turned off the radio. I had one of those conversations with myself, then I began to just talk to God. I admitted to Him that I wasn't where I needed to be. I felt distant, removed from Him. This wasn't totally unfamiliar territory; I had been here before, actually several times. But, I also knew that to get from point A to point B and eventually to Z, I would first have to make an effort. You see, I wasn't strong enough to pray some wonderful, eloquent prayer that would shake the gates of Heaven. No, all I could muster up was, "God, You KNOW my heart. You KNOW my desire. You KNOW where I want to be...where I see myself, but God, I cannot put one foot in front of the other. I need you to just see me and meet me half way in my efforts to get to You." I knew that was the first step in rekindling that relationship.
Did I feel an immediate intimacy? No. Did I all of a sudden want to shout and proclaim that I had been restored? No. All I knew was that I had made an attempt and at that point, that was all I could handle. BUT, the good thing is that the Lord realized that. And, I quickly learned that all He ever wanted me to do was to make the initial attempt. He JUMPED at the opportunity to meet me halfway. And actually, after looking back, He came more than half the distance! He came ALL the way. He picked me up out of my mirey, selfish, gloomy, dirty pit and dusted me off. He rekindled every desire that I've ever had, and I have to admit that I don't know if I've ever felt this close to my sweet Lord. He abides in me and I abide in Him. If you find yourself in that same pit today, please know that the more you seek Him, the more you WILL find Him!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
My desire to be involved in Women’s Ministry was born out of the realization that I am not the only woman who has been lost- literally, figuratively, physically, and spiritually. I am not the only woman who has been in a valley so deep and dark that I honestly thought I was going to die. I am not the only woman that has put on the mask of “everything is just fine” when I was so burdened that I could not breathe. I found a way out of that valley. I was “found” in every possible sense of the word. My brokenness was healed, my battered heart restored in ways I never dreamed possible.
When I met Christ face to face, I fell deeply and madly in love with Him. He instantly changed my heart and has, over time, changed every single thing about me and who I am. I have absolutely no doubt that if I can just lead you to the feet of your Savior, you too will recognize Him as the lover of your soul. If I can just get you to stop and look at Him, really see Him, spend time at His feet, HE will do the rest. I want you to have what I have. I want you to be completely passionate about our Savior...so much so that they absolutely cannot get enough of Him. Psalm 42:1-2 says “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” I cannot wait for the day when I am finally in heaven worshiping my Savior!
My deepest desire is for you, dear reader, to know that the creator of the universe is absolutely completely unquestionably in love with you. No matter where you are, no matter where you’ve been…He loves you and wants desperately to restore you, His precious daughter, to your proper place….as a Daughter of the King of Kings.
So, friend, if you have come to FLO broken and battered, know that we are praying for you. We don’t need to know your name…God already knows who you are. Stop for a moment and just rest, knowing that we are lifting you up to the only One who can truly save you….in every sense of the word. If you do want to contact us and want us to pray for you by name, just shoot us an e-mail at PBC_FLO@yahoo.com at least one of us will reply and all of us will pray for you.
Perhaps, friend, you are not broken and battered. Perhaps you are walking hand in hand with our Savior every day. If so, think of the lowest place you have ever been. GO there. Remember the darkness of your deepest valley. Now think about this: someone you know is there right now. You have made it through that deep dark valley and I want to encourage you to help someone else get through theirs. Psalm 40:10 says “I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.” (NIV) If Christ has saved you, tell others! I hope that this site will encourage you to step out in faith to minister to the hurting women God has placed in your life. We are all on this road together, and I want to challenge you to go to that sister who has been so beaten and battered by life that she is barely crawling down the road, lift her up, dust her off, and lead her to her Savior. If you don’t feel comfortable telling her about Christ and his unimaginable love for her, you can simply lead her here. It is my promise to you that we will do everything we can to lead her to her Savior. You can minister to women you have never met by commenting on the posts…and on other’s comments. Let others know that they are not alone. Sometimes a simple “I needed this today” speaks volumes to the one who thinks everyone has it all together but her.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Are you close to quitting? Please don’t do it. Are you discouraged as a parent? Hang in there. Are you weary with doing good? Do just a little more. Roll up your sleeves and go at it again. No communication in your marriage? Give it one more shot…
Remember, a finisher is not one with no wounds or weariness. Quite to the contrary, he, like the boxer, is scarred and bloody. Mother Teresa is credited with saying, “God didn’t call us to be successful, just faithful.” The fighter, like our Master, is pierced and full of pain. He, like Paul, may even be bound and beaten. But he remains.
The Land of Promise, says Jesus, awaits those who endure. It is not just for those who make the victory laps or drink champagne. No sir.
...from Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado