February Challenge | Love

This week we won’t talk about loving yourself, finding love in a mate, or even feeling unloved by others. Instead we’ll focus on YOU taking the initiative and loving others as you want to be loved. This challenge combines steps 1 and 2 of this journey.

Step 1: Leave people better than how you found them + Step 2: Listen to others with 100% attention = STEP 4

Love people the way you want to be loved.

Note this, as it is perhaps the only time that 1+2 will equal 4!

We easily expect love from others and make them feel bad for not living up to our expectations. We become so preoccupied expecting of others that we don’t expect anything of ourselves. We get so lost in how we should be treated that we treat others poorly. This week, look at your closest friends. How you can love them more deeply?

What can you give or do for them? How can you listen to them? What encouragement can you offer? I challenge you to take a moment today and create a list of ways you like to be cared for. Now, love your friends in all those ways.

Do it sincerely! Do it expecting nothing in return. Do it because you want to love Christ deeper by serving others more. Writing out a list of things you want and then giving that care to others trains us to look beyond our desires and needs. It helps us realize that it’s not about us. It reminds us that we aren’t the only ones with needs and insecurities. God commands us to love others. This exercise helps us accomplish just that!

That’s all I’m going to say for this challenge because, while it’s short, it’s loaded! We will encounter a lot of failure, forgiveness, and grace as we pursue others with genuine love. But in doing so, we will grow closer to Christ. Loving others draws us to Christ, and He is love. We need not fear the journey of heartache that may loom before us. God is with us! He will help us as we learn to genuinely love others.

Sierra Straightforward

February Challenge | Listen

listen-loveLife isn’t about you but about God. If you haven’t found that out yet, you’re in for a sorry mess. If you have, you’re living the best life possible! Even so, we can still get disoriented and fall into the pit of selfishness. I do so all the time. I start to think about ME, ME, ME. He needs to care about my needs. She doesn’t understand my side. Why can’t they understand my pain and my heart? What about me.

You get the picture.

You’ve been there before.

So step 2 of our February challenge won’t be easy, but we must integrate it into our lives as we seek to truly love and show kindness to our friends.

STEP 2: 

Listen to others with 100% attention. 

Demanding attention is easy, but giving it, not so much. How do I know?

Because I struggle with this too! I listen but only hear what I want to hear. I listen but only try to understand from my viewpoint. I listen because it’s entertaining. I listen because it benefits me.

But you know what I don’t do often enough?

I don’t listen for their sake.

This results in listening with 50% of my attention when my friends deserve 100% it!

The switch doesn’t magically happen. I have to renew my mind in Christ, and then change the motivation behind my questions. God commands us to love others as we love ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, we have no problem loving ourselves. We like to put our needs and desires first. We want people to listen to us, hear our perspective, and do what we want. We know how to love! It’s loving the right way that trips us up.

As we grow in love for our friends, we will learn to change the motivation behind our actions and inquiries. When I love my neighbor well, I no longer ask questions for my entertainment. I’m no longer only giving half of my attention. When I truly begin to love my friends, I give them the attention that I desire and take delight in caring for them!

Last week, I challenged you to leave people better than how you found them. This week, I add to that to examine your heart. Remember how much Christ loves you! Do you love others the way you so easily love yourself? Do you give your full attention when you spend time with friends? If not, work to change those habits.

Do a Bible word study on love and friendship. How does God view them? Next, check your motivations and make a list of the ways you can listen more fully and deeply. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Loving others shows your love for God.

Let’s listen to our friends this week!

The February Challenge | Leave

valentines-dayAh, the love month. How many of you dread the avalanche of stories and photos that February brings? How many of you tire of all the advice blog posts? It’s safe to say that most of us grow weary of the endless chatter about love and relationships.

But do you know what exhausts me more than the chit chat? I’m tired of people acting like February 14th is a day for self-pity and entitlement.

Oh easy for you to say! You’re married!

Well, yes I am. But a married person has to choose contentment and joy just like a single person. Differences may exist between us, but at our core, we still have to choose God as the center of our life or misery because everything else (including a fantastic husband) falls short.

So I have a challenge for you as February arrives in all its velvety chocolate glory! This month, look beyond yourself. Don’t dwell on what you think you deserve in love and life, instead, focus on kindness and putting others first.

Make this month one-of-a-kind for someone else.

If you’re married, don’t just go out of your way for your husband. Go out and serve your girlfriends! If you’re dating, don’t focus solely on your boyfriend. Consider your friends and choose them over yourself. If you’re single, look around you. You’re not alone! Many need some kindness and loving.

Don’t view February as a doldrum month with a Valentine’s Day that you dread or idolize. February is a whole month that you can deliberately make wonderful for friends and strangers. This may seem like an overwhelming challenge. Goodness, you just wanted to read a nice blog post and instead you’re hit between the eyes with a BIG challenge.

So let’s break it down into four simple steps that we’ll explore in the upcoming weeks. These steps are designed to reach far beyond Valentine’s Day.

STEP 1:

Leave your friends better than how you found them.

Growing up, my father always taught me to leave a place better than how I found it. This lesson sunk deep into my life and has translated into other areas, including my relationships with others. I don’t want to be the person that makes others hold their breath or walk on eggshells. Rather, I want to uplift and encourage my friends. I want to take a genuine interest in their lives and look for the good in them. This will take effort and require that I find my worth in Christ because hard days will come when kindness won’t be the easiest route to follow.

But because God loves me, I must love others! I must show my friends kindness and walk away having done my best to leave them better than I initially found them.

February will be the best when I look beyond myself and love others! So, I challenge you this week to quit thinking about yourself. Quit obsessing about what Valentine’s Day will look like, and make an effort to leave all your friends better than how you found them!

Sierra Straightforward

The Kitchen, Cooking, & Confidence

My husband and I recently celebrated our first year anniversary (May 23rd!). It has been a full year! I have enjoyed being a wife and not having to plan a wedding anymore! I’ve also learned a lot.

I’ve had a good start to my journey as Mrs. Sierra Fedorko, but I had to re-learn a lesson that can apply to anyone’s life, married or not.

our fist home
Our first home

I used to call myself a go-getter. The kind of person who confidently plunged into new things. It turns out, I’m confident with the things I know I do well, those that hold minimal risk of failure. I accept failure as long as I don’t believe I can succeed. I automatically cross off anything that doesn’t fall under my natural gifts and abilities. I don’t try to learn it. I give up before I even begin. I’m notorious for this. So much for being a confident, go-getter!

Leading up to marrying Ben, I convinced myself I couldn’t cook. Now, I do have some horror stories in the kitchen department, including a box cake that turned out flat and super oily brownies (stories for a different day!). But I had barely spent time in the kitchen. I just assumed that since I wasn’t a natural, I wouldn’t excel at it.

Could we live off of chocolate chip cookies? After all, that entailed the extent of my culinary prowess. It became our joke, but I knew I had to learn. I was nervous about it. When I voiced my concern to Ben, he assured me that we could learn together. I didn’t marry a make-me-a-sandwich man, and I was thankful he’d learn alongside me. It comforted me.

So, we got married on a windy May day. I wore a pretty dress. We took a thousand+ photos. We said our vows. Happiness abounded. But do you want to know something?! The wedding day doesn’t last forever, and I had to buckle down and learn how to cook!

Remember, I had already accepted failure. I let fear stand in the way and put unnecessary limitations on myself. So my kitchen days began. I scoured Pinterest for easy recipes, I fumbled with pans and measuring cups, I had a horribly hilarious experience baking bread, and I made a surprising discovery.

I enjoyed cooking!

Wait a minute … how many times had I vocalized my inaptitude in the kitchen? How many times had I said how much I disliked cooking? How many times had I accepted failure, before making any true attempts to learn? So, so many times!

You can’t pick and choose when to exemplify confidence in life. It doesn’t mean doing only what you’re good at and avoiding anything new and different. Don’t pull a Sierra!

Understand that failure is inevitable, but don’t place limitations on yourself and accept defeat as the final word. I’m learning to tackle new things and exhibit confidence even in areas I struggle with. I now plunge in, knowing that failure means I can learn from my mistakes.

Being confident doesn’t mean I’ll thrive in everything. It means I refuse to limit myself to a little Sierra Box. I want to keep learning, undertaking challenges that scare me. And folks, cooking scared me! However, a year later, I have learned I love spending time in the kitchen. Can you imagine if I had gone on forever just believing that I was a terrible cook? I almost did.

These days, I experience more successes than failures in the kitchen, but the failures make for hilarious stories. All because I made myself learn something that didn’t flow naturally.

My advice? Don’t give up before you begin. Don’t be scared of failure. Confidently plunge into the things you don’t do well and let yourself learn. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Sierra Straightforward

 

The Beauty Of Being Pursued…By Him

Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)undeserving

 When it comes to being pursued…what does that mean?

By definition, pursue means to:

  • overtake, capture, defeat, obtain or accomplish, or chase.
  • It can also mean to continue to afflict.

When I saw that it could also mean to continue to afflict, I immediately had this vision of someone showing interest in another person.  I saw the other person on the receiving end not sharing that same interest of the person dishing out the romantic interest. To the person showing affection this might mean the chase is on, but to the other person, it could be downright annoying….quite afflicting!

When God pursues, it can sometimes be afflicting to us if we don’t think we deserve his attention and affections. His love for us in our issues make no sense to us. We think the dirtier we are, the less we are loved. But he says just the opposite. He died while you were messed up – not after you got cleaned up.
ROMANS 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When we are pursued – the aim is always the heart. If I capture your heart – I gotcha! Why? The heart is what makes us feel, it beats, it pumps.  It’s with your heart you believe…

ROMANS 10

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
The heart hurts and can be sorrowful, but yet it can be healed and opened.

Have you ever noticed though – that even if you have a healed heart, it can still be closed? When you have been hurt bad enough, it’s not opened to being pursued by the right thing! It can be very vulnerable. We can be chased by the wrong thing or we can actually be the chaser ourselves.

Why? Because we like attention. We like to know we are thought of, invited somewhere, and included in on something.

Why? Because it says “I’m interested in you!”

Reader, God wants to know you when others don’t – when they don’t put in the effort to try – He does! When God gets to know you, he takes his time by uncovering each layer. This is seen in the assignments he gives you in life. He enjoys watching how you respond and listening to you when you talk to him; enjoys how you grow in situations and learn things about yourself you never knew.

HE UNCOVERS US – LAYER BY LAYER –

  1. Intimacy is not rushed. Intimacy is a process.
  2. TRUE INTIMACY IS DONE FACE TO FACE. (Not email, not text, not even phone, though the phone helps). BUT TRUE INTIMACY IS DONE EYE TO EYE SO YOU CAN SEE… REALLY SEE THE OTHER PERSON.When was the last time you had an intimate encounter with God? When was the last time you got face to face?

Our deepest desire is that we be searched for and found. When we are, we like to hold the attention of whoever is gazing upon us and know that they think we are so very special.
How wonderful is to know that we serve a God who finds us most interesting, most spectacular, and wants to engage in life with us.

Read the story of Esther. There you will see someone who, like us, was not only loved and highly favored, but was pursued by her king.

My Son

Starlet Ware Encouragement and PrayerNovember 2014 Downloads 041

I believe God gave me the absolutely best Son ever!  He has always been very independent, sensitive, stubborn, flexible, quiet, smart and good humored.  There were times when he was younger that I felt like I was getting it all wrong due to words that were spoken to me.  I let those words crush me until a school teacher spoke encouraging words to me that canceled out the previous negative words.  I thank God I love to learn and apply what I learn.  I also tell everyone what I learn.  I believe my Brandon listens and applies what he learns as well.

My Brandon isn’t perfect, but he is perfect for our family.  I love him so much.  Sometimes I don’t believe I was so blessed to be his mom.  He is a college student studying Culinary Science.  He is such a studious young man.  He rooms with 3 other guys and he is the ‘mature’ one.  I have to giggle when he tells me about some of the things that bother him because they are the things that drove me up the wall when he was home.  I am so proud to say this 21 year old MAN has been doing his own laundry, cooking for himself and cleaning up after himself for many years.  Hallelujah!

For a few years, my Brandon didn’t like his mother or at least that is how it felt.  I chalk that up to him searching for his way in the world.  I kept talking to him and most of the time, he listened respectfully.  He was in charge of checking our mail while we were on our cruise.  When he came over after we returned, he stayed and chatted with me about school, his graduation date, finances and his current classes.  I enjoyed our conversation very much.

My sweet, little boy is now a handsome, grown man!

God gave me his very best!  What else would he give since He “gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.

He Is Just That Into You

Katrina Hunter Set Free (Hannah’s Corner)rachel and leah

I truly had a Leah mentality.

Leah, in the Bible, was the sister of Rachel. According to Genesis 29:17, “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.” There are a few interpretations as to what weak eyes were supposed to mean with regards to Leah, but nevertheless – it doesn’t appear to be a compliment when compared to Rachel’s description.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been compared to someone, and perhaps the comparison was not in your favor?

If so, you could probably relate to Leah.

Jacob was so in love with Rachel that he told her father, Laban, that he would work seven years for him in return for Rachel’s hand in marriage. When they passed, he consummated his relationship with Laban’s daughter – but to Jacob’s surprise, it was not Rachel! He had been deceived and had in fact, married Leah-the one with weak eyes.

Eventually, Jacob would marry Rachel but can you imagine how hard that must have been for Leah? Knowing that she was not the one Jacob really wanted, but yet she is married to this man? Could Leah ever do anything to gain his love? Well, she certainly tried.

“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now” (Genesis 29:31).

Leah kept conceiving children and interestingly enough, she had similar responses after the birth of her children:

  • “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”
  • “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have born him three sons.”
  • “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor because I have borne him six sons.”

How many times have you ever felt like that? Trying to justify someone’s love for you by what you give them? There you are, counting all of what you did for them, yet still not gaining their love?

Maybe you felt like Leah and you have said:

“This time they’ll love me…This time they’ll become attached to me…

This time they’ll honor me…”

In previous relationships (most of them not God-honoring), I thought that what I brought to the table would be enough to keep them loving/liking me or showing interest in me and it never was. I tried so hard to overcompensate for what I didn’t bring to the table that I offered everything (and I do mean everything) to make up for what I thought I lacked. I felt that I wasn’t valuable or interesting. People came into my life and went and I thought it was because I wasn’t good enough.

But even when others are not that into you – GOD IS. He also knows how to send those Godly, special surprises when we aren’t trying to force them.

When I was going through another this “What’s wrong with me?” phase, people that I admired soooo much and that I thought were so special in their own right, began to come to me just wanting to hang out and be around me.  In fact, I at one point, I actually nicknamed one of them my “Beautiful Surprise.” On the outside when people would approach me about hanging out or needing help, I was like, “Oh, sure! Anytime!” But on the inside, I was a nervous wreck going, “Oh, God. Why me? These people are so special and wonderful. Of all people, they ask ME?! Why does this person want to be around me and what do they see?” On and on I went. Finally, the Lord, in His own special way to me said:

“They see plenty in you and I don’t make no junk.”

At the right time when we aren’t trying to be Leah’s and force our beauty/worth on someone, we can be found.

We can be found so special by the people we least expect when we least expect it.

Beloved, never doubt how much GOD IS INTO YOU. He works through people and He will send the right people at the right time.

God IS JUST THAT INTO YOU.  No more being a Leah. No more, “This time he’ll love me.”

Because guess what?

HE ALREADY DOES AND ALWAYS HAS!

Forgiving God

Valerie Hayden Dropping Jewelbe still and know

Early in my healing journey, I ran into a big problem. It was something I couldn’t blame anyone else for, it was all mine. I was just too proud to admit I struggled with it. The name of my problem is pride. Not the proper pride if there is such a thing. Mine is the pride that will not bow before Jesus unless I deliberately force it with my will.

The depth of my pride was revealed in one of the two memories I have of Dad molesting me. I  begged God for years to ‘PLEASE make Dad STOP!’ I knew God could. I believed He should because I asked Him to. By the time I was nine or so, I was done begging. I remember screaming at Him in my head, “Fine, God, if you won’t make Dad stop, I’ll TAKE CARE OF IT MYSELF!!!!” Living in marriage number five today shows how well THAT worked for me. However, I will share what I have learned about my Father God after all of these years. Are you ready? Here it comes!

God doesn’t think like we do.

Isaiah 55:8 gives us a very clear picture about God’s thoughts. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.”

Standing in my nine year old pride I couldn’t see the end of my Dad’s life like God did. I couldn’t see suffering as a child meant I would turn Dad in to the law as an adult. I couldn’t see that after ten years in prison Dad would surrender to Jesus. I couldn’t see God’s perfect timing in restoring the relationship between Dad and Jesus, between Dad and me, between Jesus and me. But God sees my end from the beginning, before I was ever born. His ‘timetable’ is for all  eternity. Yes, there is pain in this world. Yes, there is suffering in this world. Yes there is evil in this world. However, from God’s perspective, evil will be dealt with once and for all in about six of His days. “… beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8

Somewhere in my healing journey, I chose to forgive God for not stopping Dad. Maybe it happened when I finally realized that God used my suffering to bring one of His children home for all eternity. I also realized that, while shaking my fist at Him in pride, God still loved me. He saw me healed, strong and whole. He saw me writing this story. He saw it going out to you, the hurting woman reading this, to tell you He loves you. It’s impossible for Him to stop loving you because God is love. He wants you to know He has a plan for you, to give you hope and a future, even if you can’t see it today.

Will you let God reveal His love to you right now?

 

 

 

Dream Trip

Starlet WareDSC_0077 Encouragement and Prayer

My husband and I will celebrate eight years of marriage next month.  I have talked about some of the struggles we’ve had but today will all be about how he cares for me.  Feel free to use this example to tell about your loved one or better yet, tell your loved one how you appreciate him/her.

“A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22

As I mentioned last week, my George and I went on our very first flight and Dream Trip cruise together.  George and I arrived in Long Beach and got through all the security to board the ship.  Once on the ship, we had a great lunch and headed to our room.

The much needed time away and together with my George (five days and four nights) was truly a blessing.  We talked, laughed, relaxed, ate plenty, met new people and experienced a few firsts while on both Catalina Island and Ensenada.  I highly recommend getting away from home, phones, and internet.

While at Catalina Island Port of call, my George and I strolled while talking and holding hands.  We joined another couple in renting a golf cart so we could cover more ground faster. George drove the cart and we saw the scenes of Catalina. He is such a stud.  My chest expanded with pride of my dearest.

Oh, what a wonderful and fun day full of activities. We had the opportunity to experience zip lining, horseback riding, and visiting their famous “blow-hole” marine geyser – we had a blast!

We made a promise to each other not to wait eight years to go on our next trip together.

“Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth.”  Proverbs 5:18

This ‘youthful’ wife felt the love from her husband.

Heavenly Father, I come before you praying for the reader.  I pray you allow them to create an experience for their loved one and/or for themselves to show love and to release stress in a way that fits their lifestyle.  I thank you for their creativity you give them and as they are thinking of ways to have fun, let them smile with anticipation of the event(s).  Give them resources to bring their hearts’ desire to come to fruition.  You are awesome God!  I thank you for loving each reader, columnist and their families better than we can.  Thank yo for sending Jesus to give life and that more abundantly.  Let us allow you to love through us.  In Jesus name.  Amen

Love for the Lost

loveforthelostMy healing journey began when I reached out for help for my two daughters. I was reeling with the reality of Dad molesting my little girls along with my day care children. In getting help for my children, memories started surfacing in my own mind about Dad molesting me. I remembered that Dad told me I was ugly, that I “made him do this”, and the most damaging, “God will never love you!” Seeing a counselor gave me tools to live daily life while I struggled to heal.

Over a period of five years, one memory started reoccurring. Pure terror rushed through my veins, shaking my whole body. I gagged and choked. I screamed inside my head, “l can’t breathe! NO, NO, NOl” Then everything went black. I was an emotional mess for days after. I was so frustrated to be “stuck” at this part of the memory. I begged God to let it surface, heal me, and let me move forward. I believed this memory was the key to remembering my lost childhood.

My friend told me about her Pastor who was trained in a healing prayer tool called God’s Light. I was cautiously hopeful and scheduled an appointment. We started praying and Pastor Darrel invited the Lord to be with us. I opened my heart to Jesus. Not long into our prayer session the choking memory started. The Pastor knew that this was as far as I ever got. I remember hearing him ask Jesus to keep me from “passing out”. Then Pastor asked Jesus to show me the truth. Jesus “ran” a video picture in my mind. Dad and I were in my bedroom in the basement of our home when I was six. I was lying on the bed, choking, and Dad was standing at the foot of the bed. I looked at Dad, and he became a moving double exposure picture. Dad was standing there, and Satan stepped out of him. When I reported this to Pastor he said, “Jesus, now show her where you are”. I looked up from my bed and saw Jesus standing by my right side. He was holding a “dead looking” little girl. Me. I cried out in the present time “Ohhh!” Truth had triumphed and I was finally able to believe; Jesus loves me. Jesus LOVES me!! Jesus loves ME!!!  I felt His love wrap tenderly around me and heal every wound from that episode.

I did not regain my lost childhood memories. What I received is infinitely more precious than memories of a very painful past. Jesus restored my relationship with my Father God. Nothing is more important in my life today. Jesus exchanged my pain for His peace. He wants to do the same for you. His precious, priceless love is for everyone, especially the lost.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Valerie

 

Greatest Love

greatestloveMy Dad went to prison for molesting my daughters and day care girls. I am the one who turned him in to the law. I did not do it for revenge. I turned him in because I had to protect the children. While he was locked up the Lord started working on me about forgiving Dad. Four months later I was able to start the forgiving process. Feeling very shaky, I wrote to my Dad. He even wrote back now and then.

Dad moved in with his sister in Kansas when he got out. We started talking on the phone. I learned right away that he had walked out of prison a new man in Christ. Dad was happy and he greatly enjoyed his freedom, both physically and spiritually. I actually enjoyed talking to him for the first time in my life because our conversations were mostly about Jesus.

Three years later I received a call from my brother. Dad had been hit by a car while walking across the street. I lived closer to him than my siblings, so I was first to arrive at the hospital. A severely broken leg, three brain-bleeds, and unconsciousness were the pressing problems for my eighty year old Father. He survived the surgery on his leg. If that wasn’t amazing enough, God healed the brain damage and Dad remembered everything but the accident when he woke up!

I took on the responsibility for Dad’s health, so we transferred him to a rehabilitation hospital in my town. I received an early morning call from a nurse one week later. Dad was back in the hospital with a very high fever. The doctor told us that Dad had pneumonia. I had to tell Dad that he could never go home alone again. Dad decided he was done living here on earth. I heard his prayer as he asked the Lord to stop his beating heart. He spent the rest of the day in prayer. That evening Dad said he wanted to tell me something that he had never told another living soul. He finally shared pain he had carried alone for so long. Dad’s older brother molested him when he was a child. Dad told me, the daughter he’d tried to choke to death. He told me, the one who testified against him, who made sure he went to jail for his crimes. He told me, the one who hated him for so long. He told me his death-bed confession! Four short days later, Dad moved home to Heaven. I still miss him.

I knew my forgiveness was complete when God moved it all the way through me to compassion. Dad and I were just two pilgrims walking on the path to Jesus. It took a very special kind of love to teach us to walk it together near the end of Dad’s life. A love so big, so perfect and tender, so true, so far outside of our humanity that we will never understand it. God, Creator of the universe, God my Father is this Love! He is the Greatest Love.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

Valerie

The Silent Abuser

1 Corinthians 13

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

katrinahunterquote2Lord knows I have had my fair share of broken relationships and attempted ones, but by far, a couple of relationships stand out because they remind me why knowing my value in Christ is always essential and relevant (meaning, it’s important and I can never set my identity apart from Him). It also reminds me of what can happened whenever two broken, wounded, and incapable persons get together and “call” themselves to be “committed.” It can be disastrous in so many areas. It can be damaging when both of the people are confessing to know Christ, yet living in complete sin. It can be even more damaging when one is on the receiving end of emotional abuse and not even be aware that it’s happening to them. I know first hand that it can cause confusion and dare I say – make you feel like you are losing your mind. Those feelings are signs of what I will refer to as…the silent abuser.

You don’t know something is wrong until your partner let’s you know something is wrong. I remember how one guy would get mad at me for stuff he did. Then, he wouldn’t call for days at a time, yet I would be calling him. He eventually would return my calls and would always tell me he didn’t answer because he needed time to deal with his issues. This guy pulled these disappearing acts occasionally and when I would say that it hurt my feelings, he brushed it off as me being needy.  He would say things about other girls in front of my face. When I would bring up how I felt, or try to explain something that was important to me, he would say things like, “It’s not about you, Katrina. It’s about Christ. You just want to be selfish.”

One guy wasn’t the best at being emotionally supportive. He didn’t want to hear about me “complaining about my life”  when things in his life wasn’t the best. “Would you rather be me?” is what he’d ask when I wanted to talk to him about my problem at that moment. Eventually, I learned to not ask him for stuff and I shut down. Then another guy would be driving on the road, I would hear background noise, and if I asked him where he was going, he would get defensive or tell me he wasn’t doing anything. This same guy later told me that he would always answer “nothing” when I’d ask him what he was doing (when I heard him driving) because I didn’t ask the right question.

I think by now you get the point. I was a victim to this silent abuser of emotional and even mental abuse. I was always wondering if I was doing something wrong to make these guys not love me or appreciate me. I was always plagued with, “Am I going crazy because I know you said this but now you say that?” I had a hard time discerning the truth. I was overcome with shame and guilt with the thoughts of being the one causing the problems in the relationships.

When I look back on those times, I’m heartbroken that I put up with the things that I did.

However, now I understand why I did it.

Beloved, let me state here now that I do not believe we ask for or deserve abuse. However, I will say that sometimes, because of our mindsets and where we are, we have a tendency to gravitate toward people and situations that match whatever shape of our current spirits/emotions, etc. We will, at times, unknowingly seek those things out, regardless of the matter, shape, or form.

For me, I was really desperate to be loved, accepted, and paid so much attention that I saw unhealthy signs in these men, yet I chose to stay.  Why? They were available. I wanted a huge void to be filled by any means necessary and they filled it.

Filled it with hurt. Filled it with rejection. Filled it with manipulation.

They knew what I needed most and was able to use it against me…to hurt me.

As I reflect on those times in my life from years ago, I rejoice now knowing that I’m not that same person anymore.

The person who willingly entered and stayed in those relationships no longer exists.

  • Because I am forgiven and I have forgiven those who have hurt me in those relationships, I am free from the burden of regret, guilt, and shame.
  • Because I know who I am in Christ, I no longer find certain things, behaviors, and certain types of relationships acceptable. I’ve raised my standards.

Finally, because I know who I am Christ, I know that I am always loved and passionately pursued by Himthe one who loves me most! Therefore, my propensity now leans toward true, patient, and kind love – found in Jesus Christ and the Godly relationships He places in my life.

Remember:

It is possible that you can truly BE LOVED, Beloved!

 

Freely Captured

freelycapturedI love taking pictures. With the simple push of a camera button, we capture moments of life while we create memories for a lifetime. Sometime, later you’ll look back at those snapshots and when you see the image you’ll be instantly drawn back to that moment in time and relive that memory.

Unfortunately, our lives aren’t snapshots filled with albums of Photoshopped and cropped blissfulness. In fact, life doesn’t work that way at all. The good is usually interrupted with the bad and the ugly…and so it goes.

Although our lives don’t continually operate on “capture the moment” basis, the love of God is powerful enough to freely capture us within Himself for all eternity. What is it to be free, yet captured? I thought you’d never ask…( :

You already know what it means to be free, however, one definition says, “enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery – wow! In Christ, we are not slaves, as a matter of fact we’re daughters (aka princesses). The Lord gave us free will, meaning He wants us to choose to follow Him on our own, without force. If we were forced to serve Him against our will that would make us slaves.

Our Father wants to capture us with His unconditional, unlimited love. To capture is defined as to take by force, seize, take prisoner. It’s the exact opposite of being free. When you have two words that have opposite definitions and use them together it forms an oxymoron – a figure of speech with a seemingly contradictory effect (as in cruel kindness). It seems contradictory but because the Lord’s ways and thoughts are above our own, there is a lesson to be learned.

The Lord wants us to be freely captured in Him. He wants us to exercise our free will and choose to serve Him and He wants His love to capture us within Him. Freely serving, lovingly captured.

M.A.D. – The “My Adam” Deceit

hisherweddingsetSingle women – “I’m waiting on my Adam.

Engaged/Newly Married Women – “I’ve found my Adam.

This is the phrase I see trending on websites, blogs, social media and among ministries. I must admit that initially my thoughts were…”awe, that’s cute” and the moment the thought entered my mind the Lord lovingly nudged my heart. Later that night, I sought God and searched the scriptures (and vice versa), repeating this cycle for several days. Let me tell you young ladies the truth hurts sometimes, but nevertheless, not my will but His will be done.

May His will free you, in all things, Takiela.

Daughters of God, I love you. As your Father, the King, my plans for you are to give you hope and to prosper you. Even you, being born in sin and shaped in inequity give good gifts to your children, will I not do the same? Listen to Me sweetheart, do not adopt any principle that is not based on My Word, which is rooted and founded in Me. Do not lie to yourself by trusting what is worthless because you will get nothing in return (Job 15:31 NIV), whoever invests in lies will get lies plus interest due before the due date (Job 15:31and31 MSG). There is only one father of lies. I have come to set the captives free, I am the way, the truth, and the light. You must go through My Son to get to Me.

Do you know the story of Adam and the consequences of his decision? He listened to his wife and disobeyed Me (Genesis 3:17-19). Why would you refer to the husband you say I have blessed you with, as your “Adam” and if he is your “Adam” that makes you his…? Do you really want your husband to refer to you as his “Eve” the woman who caused sin to enter the world (Genesis 3:16)?

Daughters of the King, you should reflect no one outside of Me. Likewise, My sons should reflect no one outside of Me. I created mankind in My own image, in the image of Me, I created them, both the men and the women (Genesis 1:27). How can imperfection strive for imperfection, only I am He who is perfect, strive only for Me. I love you and have loved you with a limitless love that outlasts time. Return to your place of royalty in Me.

Holiday Greetings

mrandmrsCan you believe 2014 is only few days away?! Wow! This has been a difficult but rewarding year for the Bynum family. Recently we reflected on all the storms He saw us through this past year and are floored by His power yet again. Last Christmas my husband was in Afghanistan while my children and I were at home…alone. My husband and I celebrated our 17th anniversary on December 28 and we’ve never been apart during the holidays…until last year. I mustlittlebynums tell you that although we already knew Christmas is not about the gifts, last year we live it. We had a tree full of gifts and no desire to unwrap them. Because my husband Skyped us and wanted to see us open the gifts he sent us, we honored his request. We cried during that entire video call.

My children are 18, 13, and 11 and I overheard them saying they had everything they wanted this year for Christmas and it had nothing to do with the gifts under the tree but the fact that God has brought us together again and allowed us to celebrate Him, makes my heart leap and my eyes weep. They aren’t the type of children who ask for a lot, not for birthdays, Christmas, etc. but to say something so profound with so much passion (especially at their ages) is something only the Lord could have placed in their hearts.

Previously, we had head knowledge that Christmas is about faith and family but now we have heart knowledge…the difference is the experience. Lord, we are eternally grateful.