Resolutions No…Living Yes

Hi there. Happy New Year! I hope you are still celebrating. Praise God for another year to be in the land of the living. I enjoyed my New Year’s. I spent most of my time being with my family while watching A LOT of movies!

One of the movies I watched was called, Me Before You. It was FANTASTIC and I believe confirmed my post, which I wrote over three weeks ago. Sidebar, it is so important to understand the timing of God in everything. 😊

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I learned years ago that most resolutions fail. There is nothing wrong with setting goals, but resolutions, no thanks!

As each year passes, my greatest desire is to continuously deepen my relationship with Christ. I want to please the Lord by being the best Christian, wife, mother, and friend he created me to be; by his grace. My other desire is to enjoy my life. To enjoy the one life God has given me. I know that seems like a given, but for many years, I did not know I could enjoy my life.

I had a difficult upbringing filled with a lot of pain and sorrow. For a long time, I believed my life was destined to be full of pain and nothing more. At one time, I believed the lies of the enemy and thought my life would always be full of defeat. As I grew in Christ and began my healing process, I learned he wanted more for my life. I learned he wants me to have an abundant life and he wanted me to enjoy it.

John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (KJV).

Ecclesiastes 2:24 – “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God” (KJV).

When I learned God wanted me to have a joyful and abundant life, my mindset changed, and I began to desire much more. There are so many things I have not done, all because I believed I could not do them, but now…

I want to visit Japan, go horseback riding, go ice skating, stay at an eight-star resort and order room service (with my hubby). Go to my first concert EVER! I want to see my favorite Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. I want to go to the Opera, go camping (in a cabin, not the woods). I desire to go on an African safari, and the list truly goes on and on 😊.

I probably won’t be able to do all these things this year! I still have young children. But I have placed my prayer requests before God, and I have faith that at the right time, he will give me the desires of my heart according to his will.

Now, please hear me. God is not a genie. We don’t just go to him when we want something. Our primary goal should be to glorify God always. But God enjoys seeing his children blessed and prosperous. And he wants us to come to him about EVERYTHING.

I’ve been through so much in my life, and know I will face additional circumstances, because that’s life. But regardless of the obstacles I will face, God still wants me (AND YOU) to have an abundant life.

Do you have any desires, dreams or long-terms goals? I am sure you do! Tell God about it. He already knows what is in your heart. God desires to give us what we want according to his will. All we have to do is ask.

I John 5:14-15 – “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” (KJV).

Psalm 20:4 – “May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed” (NLT).

You only get one life, it is your responsibility to live it as fully as possible.” –
From the movie Me Before You. I think you should watch the movie, it was in my opinion, beautiful and funny too.

 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I will never forget my first or my second

Hello everyone. I hope you had a great weekend! Can you believe it’s December? Twenty-two days until Christmas. It is unbelievable how fast the year went by. Are you looking forward to the new year? I am excited for the opportunity to start over. I am ready to accomplish the natural and spiritual goals I’ve set for myself. I am also looking forward to my 13th wedding anniversary. Lord, thank you.

As a ponder over the past twelve years, I am in awe of God’s grace. My husband and I have experienced extreme highs and unbelievable lows, but we did it and stayed together. My marriage was the first positive relationship in my life. Actually, my husband was my first in many ways.

Let me backtrack a bit. God was my first. He was the first person I learned loved me exactly the way I was. As a child, I never had anyone love me that way. Whenever I made a mistake I trembled with fear of harsh reprimand. When it came to God, I was also fearful because I thought if I messed up, he would turn his back on me. However, the day I came into the realization of God’s love for me, it changed my life. I finally understood there was nothing I could do to get God to stop loving me.

After walking with God for several years, I was very secure in his love for me, but I struggled with believing he could send me someone who could love me just the same. I never expressed those feelings to God, but I am so glad he knows the secrets and desires of our hearts.

Psalms 139: 1-2 “Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them.”

Years later, God answered my heart’s desire and sent me a physical example of unconditional love when he brought my husband into my life. I had been healed from so much pain, but there was still some unresolved trauma I was not aware of. It was not until after I married, that those issues resurfaced.  My husband loved me through it all.

The Lord was my first spiritual example of true love and my husband was my spiritual and physical example! Through all of my ups and downs, my husband loved me as Christ loved the church…unconditionally. Sure, we had other issues that had nothing to do with my trauma, but we learned to work through all of it, allowing God to be the third cord in our marriage.

Ecclesiastes 4:12A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (NLT).

The relationship with my husband taught me how to persevere, sacrifice, and endure; especially when things did not go my way. When you think about it, it is similar to the relationship we have with the Father. We endure trials, tests and hardship, but at the end of it all, we win.

James 2:12 – “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (ESV).

God was my first. He loved me, healed me and set me free. My husband was my second. The person God sent to aid in my remaining healing process.

Before dating and most certainly before we wed, it is important we are healed from past issues, otherwise, we will bring those issues into your relationship as I did. However, God is so merciful and full of wisdom that He knew who to send to aid in my healing process. That is His unconditional love. My FIRST love, before I knew that HE was.

God bless you.

 

Photo by Asaf R on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s the Secret…

To Forgiveness?

I have written on this subject before, but I believe as Christians it is a subject we need to discuss more often.

When I think back on all the pain I endured as a child, it is still horrifying. I am grateful to God that I have been healed. However, every now and then when I think about it, I am saddened by the childhood I lost. And I am saddened because it was lost by the hands of my mother; the person who was supposed to love me more than any person, the person who carried and birthed me, the one person you can never replace. She hurt me time and time again.

I can recall so clearly, the night my mother made me sleep outside. My mother, brother, and I were playing around. As she tickled me, she thought she heard me say she was nothing. She asked me to repeat what I said, and I said “nothing.” She said, “What did you say?” I said, “nothing.” She said, “So you’re calling me nothing?” I said, “No.” In a moment, things went from happy to sad to terrifying.

She told me to get out! I was bewildered because I did not understand what just happened. It was cold that night. I remember crying and asking God…why but, no answer. Sometime later, she came outside and said, “You can come in, but you have to sleep on the floor.” I was terrified to come in but grateful to get out of the cold. I reluctantly went upstairs and laid on the floor next to my brother’s bed. He held my hand that night. I thank God he held my hand. I don’t remember going to sleep, but I am sure I did.

Over 20 years later, my mother and I were speaking on the phone and she poured out her heart to me in repentance. As she spoke, I heard the deep ocean of her heart. Before she could finish her sentence, I stopped her and said, “Mom, I forgave you a long time ago.” There was silence.

When my mother passed away, my heart was so full. Sure, I was disappointed that I never had a chance to have the relationship I desired to have with her, but my heart was free because before she closed her eyes in death, I had already forgiven her; and she knew it.

The day she died, I stood next to her hospital bed and whispered in her ear, “I love you, I don’t hold anything against you.” I had forgiven her years before, but I felt the need to say it again. One hour after I left the hospital, I received the call from the doctors. My heart broke, and I cried, but deep down I had peace. And I still do.

So…what’s my secret to forgiveness? Just do it! Forgive. I know it seems easier said than done, but forgiveness is a decision. It’s for you, not for the other person. Ask yourself, have you gained anything by holding unforgiveness in your heart? Has your life improved? Do you feel better? I doubt it! As a child, I could not understand why certain things happened to me. But as a saved adult, I chose to simply forgive; to love her and let it go.

I know you are hurt, and I understand. Perhaps we don’t share the same reasons why, but pain is pain. And remember Jesus, died to deliver you from that pain. He desires that you be healed and free.

Be honest with God; tell him it’s hard to forgive but forgive anyway. Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Unforgiveness causes distress of the soul, and that is not God’s will for our lives. Psalm, 118:5 says, “Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.” Call on him, so he can set you free.

 

 

Photo credit by Alice NG on Unsplash

Anxious?

Hello everyone! I hope each of you are well and had a blessed weekend. I pray you are refreshed and ready for the week.

I love the Bible. It is full of stories filled with instruction and wisdom. And for the believer, victory. Several scriptures are my favorite, and many I hold close to my heart. The scriptures that have blessed me most are the ones that have walked me through my deepest valley’s. One of my absolute favorites is found in Philippians 4:6-8.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (NIV).

This scripture is packed with wisdom and instruction concerning how we are to handle our emotions and life’s circumstances.

God tells us not to be anxious about ANYTHING. Seems easier said than done, right? How do I remain calm when everything around me is in total chaos? Well, according to the scripture, we start with prayer. God says, “pray and petition Him with thanksgiving.” Go ahead and tell God why you are anxious. He knows anyway. After you tell him, tell him you trust Him for the answer as you give Him praise.

After obeying the first instruction, God says, “He will give us His peace which transcends ALL understanding and will guard our heart and mind.” As you stand in faith and continue to pray, he will give you peace about the situation.

Finally, God says, “think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.”  When thoughts come that try to make you anxious, remember to think of what is true and nothing else. As you do this, you will continue to experience God’s peace. As we follow God at His word, He will give us exactly what we need in His perfect timing.

In those moments when I find myself feeling anxious about a situation or circumstance, or when the enemy tries to convince me of anything contrary to God’s word, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit to pray and give thanksgiving to God.

Today I encourage you, that instead of allowing the feelings of anxiousness to weigh you down, do what God says. Pray, give thanks, and think on these things according to Philippians 4:8.

Scriptures
Philippians 4:6-8

 

 

Deliverance at the Root

For healing and deliverance to occur, it must be plucked up from the root. However, I have learned that most people do not realize there is a root at all.

Many months ago, I watched a documentary about our U.S. prison system. It was one of the most heartbreaking documentaries I EVER saw. My heart broke as I watched it. All I could do was cry and pray.  What made it worse was the documentary was about women prisoners.

One female prisoner touched my heart. She said she began committing crimes at age seven. She spent most of her life in prison. She said while in prison she felt “safe and respected.” I thought, “What happened in her childhood that caused her to act this way?” Then the same question I thought about her, I asked myself. And it brought me back to my childhood.

Growing up, I could not trust women (and I am still apprehensive sometimes). For me, it was difficult to get close to women. After many years of feeling this way, I decided it was time to open myself up. Unfortunately, I felt hurt and betrayed when women that I admired turned out to be the opposite of what they portrayed.

Truth is, these feelings came from the experiences I had with my mother. As much as I wanted a relationship with her, it could not happen. She could not be what I needed her to be. Instead of seeking God about my pain, I unknowingly put that burden on other women. I expected them to be what I needed instead of seeking God. After this issue continued to resurface, I realized I had to deal with the root. I asked God to help me and he did, but the process was slow because the roots were deep. This was one of many areas I needed healing.

The difference between myself and the women in the documentary is I had an opportunity to deal with my roots.  Most of the women have not come to terms with their own root issues and some never will. Although the women are serving time in prison for the crime they committed outwardly, they are serving another sentence for their inward bondage. What hurt most was their greatest need is healing, yet there is a possibility that healing will never come…so I pray.

My question to you is…Have you gotten to the root of your issue? Do you know why you do what you do? Is there something from your past that you are still holding onto? Are you holding onto something God told you to release, yet you will not let it go? Are you holding onto unforgiveness? Past pain? Mistakes? Issues with your parent(s)? Do you repeat negative behaviors?

Contrary to what the world believes or what we think, the only way to deal with negative roots in our lives is through prayer and the Word of God. The Word of God is what penetrates the heart and the heart and soul is where all of our issues lie. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Today I encourage and challenge you to expose the negative roots in your life to the Lord. He is the only person that can go deep enough to extract it out.

Prayer,
Father, I ask that you show me the areas of my heart and soul that are not rooted in deep pain. Help me to be healed and set free which is your will for me. Forgive me for the times you showed me those areas, but I refused to let you in those places of my heart. God, I repent, and I give you full access to my heart, mind, and emotions. You are a good God who has great plans for my life. Thank you for another chance to submit my life to you. In Jesus name I pray…Amen.

Blessings.

Scriptures
Hebrews 4:12
Jeremiah 29:11
Exodus 15:26

 

A Letter to my Dad…A Letter to My Father (very long post)

Hello all!

I pray you are well, and you enjoyed your weekend. Today’s blog post is a bit different from ones I have written previously. I wrote this in June, read it over and saved it. But three weeks ago, I opened it and felt led to make it a blog post. I did not want to, but I felt strongly that I should. So here goes…

If you are reading this post, I want you to know that God loves you. He hears your cries for healing and deliverance in whatever area you need it.  God is always near to us, even when he is silent. God desires you to be healed and whole. But we must follow His plan to obtain healing.

…“If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I AM the LORD, who heals you.” – Exodus 15:26

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Dear Dad,

It is your daughter Darlene. It has been several years since we last spoke. I want to talk to you, but since I do not know where you are, I decided to write. The first time we spoke was over the phone; it was in 1998. I was eighteen, so nervous, but excited. I am sure you do not remember, but the first thing you said to me was “Don’t get pregnant.” After you said it, I did not want to continue our conversation because I was already pregnant. I thought you would not accept me, so I never told you. We continued the conversation for a couple more minutes and you told me I had brothers and sisters, but I was your oldest daughter. I was excited to learn I had other siblings. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet them and that was the last time we spoke…twenty years ago.

I am now thirty-nine and a few months ago, I discovered how much I missed you. I miss what you didn’t give me. My childhood was not a good one and I often wondered where you were. I wondered if you thought about me sometimes. Did you care about what I was experiencing? I was so insecure growing up. At age twelve, I experienced my first heartbreak by a boy. I wanted to know where you were. I had so many questions to ask. I wanted to know what was wrong with boys. I thought I wasn’t pretty because the girl he dumped me for was much lighter than I was.

When I saw a picture of you for the first time, I was angry. I was angry because I realized where I got my dark complexion from. Of all the things you could have given me, you gave me the one thing I hated the most.

When I was fifteen, I started seeing a twenty-three-year-old man. I am grateful for the wisdom God placed in me at an early age. I knew I needed to get out of that situation or it would turn into something worse, so I did. When I was sixteen, I was violated by one of my mother’s boyfriends and it was a secret I held until I told my husband at age thirty-five. Later that year, I began dating the father of my firstborn son. Deep down, I knew I should not be with him, but he was light-skinned with green eyes and it made me feel special that I could attract someone who looked that way. At eighteen, I became pregnant and I was depressed. My light-skinned boyfriend with green eyes dumped me and my life was ruined, or so I thought. I told my mother, but she could not offer me any advice. I was on my own. In those moments, I mourned you most.

I remember the day I saw you for the first time.  I was nervous and excited and if it were not for my mother and husband, I would have opted out altogether. It had been six years since we first spoke. I was about twenty-six and by then I was married for six months. You met my husband that day and I could tell you liked him and surprisingly, he liked you too. When I saw you, I could tell you still had your own issues to deal with. I knew there was no way you were ready to be what I wanted. I said hello, shook your hand, smiled, and quietly walked away as I forgave you in my heart. As I walked away, I knew that day would begin my journey to healing from so many things.

When I was young, my mother told me how sad she was that you left her to raise me alone. She did not know how to handle that pain, so she inflicted it on me…I forgave her years ago. Did you know my mom passed away five years ago…Probably not?

Dad, I wrote this letter, not to make you feel sad or regretful, but to let you know, I love you and I am okay. I forgave you a long time ago. I respect you because you gave me life and I am grateful for it. I have absolutely no ill will against you. I want you to see God’s grace in my life because it is the only thing that has kept me all these years. I serve a GREAT God. I am hopeful and prayerful that the Lord would allow us to connect so I can learn who you really are, and you can learn who I really am. And I would love it if you could meet your ALL your grandchildren. Whatever God’s will for our relationship, I want you to know I love you. You were the best Dad that you could be to me at that time.

I love you with the same love Christ has shown me.
Your daughter,
Darlene
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Dear Heavenly Father,

You knew me before you formed me in my mother’s womb. When my mother and father forsook me, you took me up according to your word. You have been my comforter and my friend. You were the One I called on when I was being abused. You were the one I called on when I had to sleep outside on my front porch because my mother had an outburst. You have always been there for me. But Father, I realized I never had a conversation with you about my biological father. And this year, I realized it is time. I am so glad you were there for me when he wasn’t. I do not know what I would have done if it were not for you.

You have been my everything when I had absolutely nothing. You were the one who dried my tears when all I could do was cry. You were with me while I grew up in a halfway house with my mother and others, who had their own issues. You protected me when demons tried to kill me at night. You were the first man to tell me I was beautiful and fearfully and wonderfully made. You were the first man to love me unconditionally and forgave me when I made mistakes.

You loved me so much, that you sent me a wonderful husband; something that I did not expect. You sent me a man who loved me through the pain I did not know I was still carrying. He held me when I cried for no reason. He prayed over me at night while I slept, although he thought I was asleep. You sent me someone who told me I was beautiful. Thank you for giving me a husband with patience beyond anything I have known. You sent me a husband that loved on me and walked with me through my process. Most importantly, you sent me a man who loves me like Christ loves the Church.

Although the process was long, you healed me from my pain. You helped me to forgive so many people who broke my heart, especially as a young child. God, you allowed me to be a mother and raise all my children with ALL the love I did not receive. You were the only example of love that I knew. And I learned you were the only example of love I needed.

Father, I love you so much. Thank you for this journey that I would not trade for anything. It made me strong, wise, loving and softened my heart towards others who have experienced similar pain.

There are not enough words to express my gratitude. Thank you for loving me….now and FOREVER

Your daughter,
Darlene

Scriptures
Mark 11:35 – And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins

Psalm 27:10 – Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me

Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Ephesians 5:25-26 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her; to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word

 

An Exercise of the Heart

Over the last six months, I was visiting the gym on a regular basis. In two months, I began to see the physical difference in my mind, body, and attitude. I felt great, looked better, lost weight and gained stamina all while adding years to my life. I realized the benefits of exercising were worth every moment of my soreness and pain.

This summer, after my children finished school, my gym routine took a bit of a hit. I started at four days a week, then three, then one, and then nothing. I began to feel sluggish, tired, and I gained a couple of pounds back. I was so disappointed with myself, but I said it is time to get back on the horse and start over.

As I began caring for my physical body again, I began pondering on the heart, but in a different way. I wondered as Christians are we exercising our hearts spiritually? Are we praying, reading our word, repenting, and forgiving? Evidence of an unhealthy heart are negative words proceeding from our mouths, complaining, and unclean thoughts. These are some of the things that will happen we stop exercising our hearts spiritually.

What do you do when you have gotten off track when it comes to caring for your heart spiritually? Pray, read the Word, and ask for God’s forgiveness. Just like the health benefits for exercising our natural hearts, there are benefits for exercising our hearts spiritually. For example, you speak words of love and wisdom, you give God praise, and you desire to please the Lord.

Psalms 51:10 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” This is a scripture we should speak daily. The Bible tells us to fix our hearts on whatever is honorable, right and true, but if our hearts aren’t clean, it is impossible to do that.

There will be times our routine can suddenly change and it may interfere with our prayer life, worship or church activities, but we must be diligent about keeping a healthy heart because our entire life depends on it.

Scriptures
Psalm 51:10Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”

Matthew 15:18-20 “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Philippians 4:8And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”