Out of My Element

It has been far too long since I last wrote. For that I apologize to myself, to the readers and to my Lord. My writing is a way to process, to share, to testify of His love, grace and kindness.

These past few months have been a whirlwind. For a very long time I have been praying for freedom and change in my work life. I have felt unsettled and a craving for more. The craving was for a deepening purpose in my professional life. I know that Jesus uses us right where we are and I know that He has used me to work in the lives of those I worked with. Of this I never doubted, yet there was always an underlying need to change.

As I look back, I am beginning to see that it was more than a desire for change, it is always the Holy Spirit telling me that there is more. I am familiar with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Many times He has pushed me to do things that were hard for me! I think I am just now beginning to understand the way He shows me that there are other things He has for me to do. All too often I have allowed my flesh to drown out His vision for me with anxiety, doubt and disbelief.

In these past few months our Lord has brought me to a place of uncertainty, complete change and humility. He is bringing me closer and closer to a place where I can rest in Him completely. He is stripping away my need for control, my insecurities and my constant need to know.

This is terrifying and freeing!

Losing self is not easy, is not comfortable and is not the type of loss our flesh tell us it is. True spiritual loss give room for us to gain so much more than we could ever imagine.

I know we hear people speak of how loss is gain all the time. I know that I thought I understood that….and I think that I did to a degree…now I understand it even more and it is beautiful.

Again, it’s never comfortable! The process gives us opportunity to persevere and rely on out precious Savior. This builds faith, lifts us higher to Jesus and brings a peace that surpasses all understanding.

As I go through the process of dying to self and being built up by the Spirit, I squirm and tell Him just how much I love and hate it all at once. We need to be honest with Jesus and tell Him exactly how we feel, what we fear and then we need to let it all go. Give it to Him and allow Him to work through us in the way He desired.

This is where we find our true freedom and peace.

Giving is Difficult

Giving is essential, giving is rewarding, giving is downright difficult to do. I think people tend to believe that it should be easy to give of self, otherwise they are doing it wrong. This is not true. If you are giving and you find it to be easy, then I don’t believe you may not be giving enough or perhaps not of the right thing. I know that was true for me.

When I finally found a church that I could call home, I struggled with Tithing on a regular basis. You can read more about that in my post, I’m Sorry, How Much?? My husband and I knew that we wanted to give and we did, just sporadically and not the 10% that God asks for. I feel like this is a topic most Christians avoid due to guilt, shame and not wanting to really think about it. I still think I avoid it at times as I don’t want others to feel like the shame I once did.

There is no reason to feel that shame and guilt. Jesus died so that we could be free, so first look to Him in this and allow Him to show you where you need to go in your own personal walk. Trying to be perfect can bring about unnecessary anxiety and lengthen the struggle.

Today I would say to you that you should take some time to see where you are spiritually, emotionally and financially. Start with the 10% goal and see what that looks like for you. Get used to the number and ask Jesus to help you see just what a small percentage that really is. For my family, we took a look at all the money we were wasting on Starbucks, pizza and junk food. If we could find the money for that, why couldn’t we honor God’s command? We were in a place on understanding and conviction when we started giving. This is a much different place than the one of guilt, shame and defiance.

Jesus is all together Holy and all together Good.  He will not fail us and He does not lie. He tells us to trust Him and to take that scary leap of faith, knowing that He is right there, ready to move mountains for us. All we need to do is walk in that faith. Again, this is not easy to do, but so rewarding when we finally do it.

So, we have been tithing appropriately for some time now and it has been amazing. I don’t even give it a second thought now. The 10% that once seemed unattainable is now a weekly constant that we will not touch. That is God’s money and we will not change that. I will move other bills around when we hit those unexpected difficulties, but we will NOT move God’s portion. Without Him we have nothing and we want to honor Him in all we do. It has been a struggle at times and I can say that today it is just what needs to be done.

Now my family has come to a place where we know that God is telling us that it is time to give to the less fortunate on a regular basis. This is another area where we give “when we can” and “what we can at the time”. Honestly, that was exactly ok for the time. It was recently that Jesus has been prompting us to do more. He has been showing us that it’s time to give again and that it needs to cost us. For us, I knew that it meant the ministry in Africa that our church is doing.  We just never “got around” to setting that regular payment up….funny how that happens! 🙂

This past Sunday, my Pastor and his wife shared about their trip out to Africa and the Holy Spirit convicted us in such a way that I could no longer ignore. (hear their testimony here) How selfish and greedy with have been! There are Pastors in Africa that risk their lives to share the gospel and I have the option to be part of that each month. My family can give such a small portion of our income to support an entire family for that month. Why is it so hard to do?!

Well, today we went into our budget and made it happen. Every month we will be giving what is needed to support one Pastor and his family. We are walking where Jesus has told us to. It’s not easy. It’s hard to part with that money. My flesh cries out and swears that we cannot afford it! Jesus tells me otherwise. Today I am choosing to allow it to cost me. Today I am choosing Jesus and not allowing my selfishness to get in the way of blessing others. All we have is His and is to be used to bring Him glory and that is why I am sharing this with you today.

I want you to hear my story and to know that you are not alone in your struggle. I want you to know that when I first put the 10% tithe into our budget, I couldn’t see how we would be able to afford groceries. I want you to know that today, we still live in abundance and groceries are just fine. Our bills are paid and we are far from struggling. We are blessed Americans and are finally starting to see that. We may not be rich by our culture’s standards, but we are rich by Jesus’ standards and as compared to the true poor in this world.

Let Jesus make a change in you when if comes to your finances. It is scary, it seems uncertain and you will struggle hard. That’s ok, you’re not alone and Jesus is right there with you when you take that leap.

Thanks for listening, I love you all.

 

 

I Am a Closet Depressive

I have a secret.  Lately, I’ve been thinking that it is time to come clean, instead of trying to hide my weakness from the world.  I am a closet depressive.

I have struggled with feelings of depression since I was a child.  When I was twelve years old, I began to think about taking my own life.  At eighteen, I attempted to, and ended up being hospitalized for a couple of months, until it was determined that I was no longer an immediate threat to myself.

A year later, God blessed me with my first child, and despite the fact that the suicidal thoughts would still ebb and flow in my mind from time to time, I now had someone else to live for.  The guilt that I felt at the thought of abandoning her outweighed any despair that I might have felt.

Eventually, I found Jesus.  That added a whole new dimension to my life – someone besides me to depend on, to cry out to.  I began to go through a period where I was experiencing anxiety attacks every day on my commute to and from work.  As a single parent, not going to work was not an option, so I found different ways to cope and get through it each day.  Often, the only thing I could do was tell myself over and over in my head, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I would like to say that God completely healed me of my depression at this point.  Instead, it has been more of a thorn in my side, something of which to say “His grace is sufficient for me; His strength is made perfect in my weakness.”  He has certainly healed other issues, but fourteen years later, He is still working on me all of the time, showing me issues that I have been blind to my whole life, explaining to me why I am the way that I am, why I’ve struggled with the things that I’ve struggled with, and what needs to change.  So, I have hope that He will remove it one day.

The past three winters, though, have been really rough for me.  I’ve been letting the cares of this world weigh me down far more than I should and circumstances have escalated those cares to an often unbearable level.  There are many days that I did not want to get out of bed.  I didn’t have much choice, though, as there is a new set of little ones, pulling at me with entreaties of “I’m hungry; I’m thirsty; can I watch a show on Netflix?”  I can’t deal with the idea of not being there for them, the way that no one was there for me when I was little.  So, I push through it, and face my responsibilities once again.  Truthfully, though, there was many a morning that I opened my eyes, only to say, “Jesus, I’m ready to go home.  I’m not going to do the dirty work myself, but any time that you’re ready to take me . . .”  The spring has come, though, and brought somewhat of a reprieve from that.

The reason that I felt it was necessary to share this was not for pity, for we all have some cross to bear in our lives, but because I realize that this is part of my testimony, one that I have deprived others of.  From time to time, I have heard people share stories of depression or anxiety that they are experiencing and tried to reach out, to let them know that I understand.  The thing is, I keep getting rebuffed, and basically told that I don’t “get it”.  It amazes me when that happens, and I initially get angry.  I want to say “Have you ever felt such despair that you have actually tried to take your own life?  Because I have!”

What God has shown me, though, is that on the outside, I probably don’t look like I am going through pain to that extent.  I am almost like the stepfather that I grew up with, who has an alcohol problem that has ruined every important relationship in his life.  He still managed to get up and go to work every day – to two full-time jobs – saving lives as a firefighter and a paramedic, no less.  He probably looked pretty normal to the people he interacted with each day, at least, the ones that he didn’t live with.  You wouldn’t picture him as the guy whose thirteen-year-old daughter had to help her mother drag him upstairs, passed out drunk, as the guests were beginning to arrive for her birthday party.

I am a functioning depressive.  As long as I get out of bed each day and try to fit in with everyone else by putting on an act of being “normal”, no one will ever know any different.  They may notice that I have the “winter blahs” but I will never be able to bless someone else who is struggling, to offer a listening ear that they know understands and will not be judging them.  I have no one to blame for that except myself, because I have been too proud to admit the truth.  That’s why I am coming clean, so God can finally use me and my struggles for His glory.

Calling All Writers!

We Are A Community!

I have enjoyed writing on here, hear from all over you and allowing The Holy Spirit to pour out through me. It has been amazing. Now it is time to move forward in what God has for this site, to be a true community.

For some time now, I have been feeling led to open this up to other writers and I am excited to do so. A few ladies have already accepted this and will be writing on here soon. I am excited to see Jesus moving through their lives.

The purpose of this site is to share, be transparent with each other and allow God to move. If you are a writer and you are feeling called to share, let me know! We would love to have you on here!

I am not looking to apply too many guidelines, I like to keep it simple and leave the rest to our Lord. I just as that you keep in line with the following:

  • Be transparent in your struggles
  • Be courteous and non-judgmental
  • Be sensitive
  • Be honest
  • Be obedient in Christ
  • Keep it about Jesus

I believe we can all be blessed and healed here. I feel that God has given us gifts and we are to use them, one such gift is writing. If you love to write and feel called to share, we welcome you to do so. There are no deadlines, no schedules, just a place to share, love and encourage. You can write daily, weekly, monthly, or just once. I can set you up with a log in, or you can send me a piece to post on your behalf. I truly want this to be whatever you need it to be. We can introduce you with a bio and picture, or you can remain anonymous. Email Me Here!

I look forward to where God is bringing this and can’t wait to read your posts!

Your Shame

Today I want to encourage us all to let our shame become our stories.  You see, we have a choice when it comes to our past, we can try to bury it, hide it and live in shame. Or we can choose to allow Jesus into those places, allow true healing and then use these experiences to share with others. When we choose to share and be vulnerable, we allow The Holy Spirit to work through us. We can encourage others and let them know that they are not alone.

As I have walked this journey of transparency and sharing, I have been privileged enough to witness the impact these words can have on others. I too am being changed in this process, I am finding relief, freedom and a deepening of understanding.

Don’t hide from the shame, this only gives it more power than it deserves. Be free in Christ, allow the power of the resurrection to be active in all you do. Be willing to be transparent when He prompts you to be so. Pray over it, allow it to be Spirit lead and fruitful. Don’t do it for your own gain, just know that anytime you walk in faith, you will be blessed in your own way. God only tells us to walk out in ways that will bring Him Glory and that alone is a blessing. worth striving for.

Be brave, be bold and walk in all that the Living God has for you.

“It’s not brave if you’re not afraid”

So good

Our Lord is amazing. He really is.

Jesus is kind, sweet, gentle and loving.

As I have been walking this road of recognizing and releasing my anxiety and guilt, He has been right there. He has been showing me where it stems from, speaking Truth into those places and bringing freedom.

I still have these moments of anxiety gripping my heart, but it is not for long and I am able to work through it. I can feel Jesus softening my heart and showing me how I just need to trust Him more. Not the kind of trust where I say that I trust Him while I am still freaking out about the outcome of any given situation. I give it up in prayer and then I take it right back to over analyze and obsess over. That is not true faith. I need to let it go over and over again. I have to stop taking it back and looking for my own solutions. I need to take these thoughts captive and continuously give it back to Jesus.

5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5

When I live in obedience to God’s Word, I live in a place of peace. I gain such freedom. The stressors don’t go away, life is still a struggle. The difference is that I am no longer looking to the wrong places for answers, I am no longer relying on myself. I look to the only One that really matters. To Christ.

Jesus loves me. He loves all of us. He wants us to rely on Him in all things. We need to give up control and allow our Creator and Savior to lead.

The more I give up control, the more peace I feel at my core. The more I follow where He leads, the more I get to experience Him working miracles. Every time I take a step in the direction He prompts me to, I am blown away by the results. Obedience allows me to be a better instrument in God’s Kingdom.

I am the type of person that likes details and I like for things to follow a series of events that makes sense to me. I like to see where I am going. I like guarantees. I look at the long-term potential of all things before I act. This is how I have lived for so long. It felt safe to me. In reality, it was hindering me.

I am still a planner and I still think about the long term. The difference is that I know that the future is not guaranteed and I know that things change when I least expect it. I know that when Jesus prompts me to make a move in my life, I do it. No matter how uncomfortable it is, not matter how I may doubt myself, I trust in Him. I know for sure that wherever He leads, whatever He tells me to do, is going to be beautiful.

When I allow anxiety and fear to hold me back, I miss out on God’s plans. When I falter and hesitate, others may be missing out too. See God uses us all to move. He wants us to show His love and mercy to those we come into contact with. So when I decide to ignore His prompting, I am quenching His Spirit. This is why I must not allow my fears and anxieties to get in the way. God will move, with or without me. I don’t know about you, but I want to be in his will and moving where He moves. I don’t want to “play it safe” and stay in my comfort zone. I desire to be more, to do more and to bring Christ all the glory.

I am so grateful that we have this option. I am so thankful that Jesus is so patient with me and guides me to a place of better understanding. I am honored to be His servant and choose to move when He tells me to, no matter how uncomfortable I may be.

I choose His will over mine. I choose to work where He tells me to and to apply the gifts He has bestowed upon me in a way that allows others to see Him.

Lord, I pray that You use me each day. I want to make an impact on those that I come into contact with each day. I want to bring You all the glory and I am willing to walk wherever You lead. I ask that You give me the strength to push past the anxiety and fears that creep in and replace them with the knowledge that You are always in control. Nothing is out of your reach and nothing goes unnoticed by You. Help me to stay on the path You lay before me. In The precious name of Jesus I pray these things. Amen.

Wives

16 Then he said to the woman,

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you. – Genesis 3:16

In the very beginning, when sin first entered the world, we were told that we would desire to control our husbands. Some time back I came across this and was floored by the realization that I am not alone in this. All married women deal with this on some level. This is part of the curse passed onto our ancestors. This was such a relief to me.

I don’t think of this as an excuse, but as a deep seeded issue that God already knows about and already has a plan for. He is the one that told Eve that this would be true for all women, for all time. It is not just a Melissa thing. It’s a woman thing. Normalizing an issue has a way of easing the burden.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5:22-23

This verse can strike a nerve in many a women, I get that, but push past your pride and hear what this verse is truly saying. Submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ. Let your husband lead and love you the way you were meant to. This is not a command to lay down and be a doormat, it’s an invitation to go beyond our pride and to give our husbands the room to grow and lead the way they are meant to.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to talk too much and act out of emotions when I shouldn’t. The best moments in my marriage are when I die to self, raise my husband up, and give him the space he needs to seek our Lord’s guidance. This is not a place of lesser power, it is a place of great responsibility and we can cause damage when we choose any other way. I know that I can attest to that. Oh, how many times my sharp tongue has torn at my poor husband.

1In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.

3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 1 Peter 3:1-5

I am beginning to see more and more that when I am obedient in God’s Word and choose to be silent and respectful, even when my husband is not being loving, it makes a huge impact. There may be suspicion in the beginning on his part, waiting for the wretched woman in me to lash out, but he eventually is changed by my soft response.

I am far from perfect and I fail in this often. I do want to share that those times when I am able to give it all over to God and allow the Holy Spirit to move, I am blown away at the difference. I choose to submit, I choose to respect, I choose to not react to the outbursts towards me and it allows Jesus the space He needs for my husband to hear Him. If I am reactive and sharp, I drown out the Spirit and that is not something I ever want to do. I want to be a tool for Christ to use, not a distraction.

Lord, I am thankful for Your Word and I pray that You continue to strengthen me in my weakness, show me how to follow Your will and to pour Your Spirit into my marriage. I thank You for the amazing work You have already done in our five years together and am so excited to see where You will bring us. You are so good, there are no words. Thank You Jesus.

A Sheltered Life?

Since I have not written everyday, I will stop the count 🙂 I will still be striving to write a minimum of 500 words each day.

I find it funny that I sometimes wish I lived a sheltered life. A life of ignorance, a life of simplicity and a life of routine. The funny thing is that, as an American, I do live a sheltered life. Sure, I am aware of some of the terrors that plague this world and have experienced some terrible things myself. The reality is that in this country I do not face persecution and I am not living in bondage. I live a good life.

Why is it that I can get so lost in feeling like this life is such a struggle? Sure finances can be burdensome and stressful, but we have access to so much in this country. I have such freedom.

So there are times when I wish I lived under a rock and was not aware of the things I am. I also know that God made me purposely and that I am right where I need to be and know exactly what He wants me to.  I am His child and He knows the outcome of this life I lead. I  can rest on that in all things. He shows guides me along a carefully planned out path that is just for me. Sure, I have people who are by my side on this journey, but my journey is my own. We all have our own personal journeys. We are meant to share our stories.

Are there parts of your journey that you would rather not remembers? Are there parts of you that you would prefer to leave behind? I have them too. The thing is, if you allow God into those places, He will use them for good. It may not seem possible right now, just trust in Him and He will show you how. Take a leap of faith and dare to share with others. You never know who you will touch and how you can bring a shimmer of hope to those struggling in the very things you were delivered from.

Can you think of a time when someone was brave enough to share their story and it pierced your very heart? As you listened you began to think, “I am not the only one”? Have you ever read, heard or watched a person’s story and thought about how brave they were and felt that maybe you could be a little more brave too?

We have such power in our stories. Jesus loves to use us and He is always ready to help you through anything He asks you to walk in. He is so kind, so gentle and so loving in all things. Today I ask us all to sit before the throne and ask Jesus to show us how we can use our stories. As Him to bring people into our path that would benefit from us. There are so many people who will benefit from you! As you go about your day, be aware of that small voice that prompts you to speak. Don’t ignore it, don’t push it down, let it flow and watch the power of Jesus flow.

Day 12 – What Am I Owed?

Most of my life, I walked around being upset that I never received what I was owed. I didn’t get the love my parents owed me, the security I needed or the guidance I deserved. I acted out of this place and it took Jesus to show me that I don’t deserve anything at all.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord – Romans 6:23

I deserve death and nothing more. Only in Jesus have I found true life, true love and true faith. This has been given as a gift. This is given freely despite the fact that I truly don’t deserve it.

I don’t deserve anything from anyone in this world. I find myself reacting to the way people treat me in certain situations. In reality I am reacting to them not reacting the way I predetermined that they should. Does that make sense? I have a standard that others have to meet in order for me to accept how they are treating me. I decide what is acceptable and what they owe me in terms of love, respect, etc. The truth is that they really don’t owe me anything.

This goes both ways. I cannot feel guilty when i don’t meet another person’s expectations either. I can remember that they owe me nothing, that I owe them nothing and that we can choose to love each other despite it all. See acceptance, love and true relationships are a choice. Not one person on this planet deserves the awesome gift of eternal life in the presence of God, we all fall short. He chose to send Jesus to bridge the gag, to cover our sins, to allow us to be with Him once again. It was a choice.

So I am going to remember that I am no one owes me anything. I am going to let my pride die a little more. I am going to look at people’s reactions differently and try to see where they are so that I can meet them there rather than expecting them to meet my standards.

I choose love, life and transparency. I choose to lower my standards and to be real. I choose to accept that I don’t deserve the life Christ gave to me. I choose to live in the place of acceptance, humility and peace.

I must let these standards go in order for this life to be used by Jesus. I must learn to let it all go, love through the offence and choose Christ above all things.

What do I deserve? Death. What do I have in Christ? Eternal life. How can I not love everyone in my life unconditionally? How can I choose anything other than to let it all go, lay it all down and die to self? Live in the eternal and allow Christ to work through you the way He wants to. I am free indeed and I must never lose sight of that.

Day 11 – The Cross Matters

the cross matters

 

Last night the message at church was about staying focused on the cross and to not take it for granted. Have you ever found that you tend to take things for granted when they are readily right before you?

I can think of several things that I tend to take granted as an American. I take my clean water, easy access to an abundance of food, the steady income my husband and I have.

I know that these may seem cliche to some, but it’s a reality. I am fully aware of just how fortunate I am to have been born here in Connecticut. I may struggle from time to time, but my version of struggle is much different from that of others in this world. I believe this applies to my spiritual walk as well.

I often take my salvation for granted. I have eternal life in Jesus and am so thankful. Do I really have any idea how lucky I am? Do I really see the others that do not have this in their life? Do I actively seek to save those around me? I think I need to step it up.

There are believers dying for their faith as we speak. I am free to walk the streets of this country, letting all know that I am a follower of Jesus. I may be judges, I may be shunned, some may even hate me for it, but I will not lose my life. This is huge and I need to exercise that freedom daily.

I don’t think that we should pressure people to believe what we believe, but i do think that we need to share our stories and let people know that they too have access to God. All too many think that they need to have another go before Jesus on their behalf, this is not the case. Jesus is right there waiting for you to turn to Him. Jesus is by your side, protecting you, waiting for you, praying that you will allow Him into your heart. This matters. The cross matters.

We cannot possible comprehend the magnitude of the work accomplished on that cross. We have glimpses and vague ideas really. To think of the burden our Jesus took upon Himself so that we would be saved. That He willingly took on sin, was separated from the Father, conquered the grave, all for us.

I know that I would sacrifice my very life for any one of my children if it would allow them to live. I know in my heart that I would, I believe most parents would. Yet, I know that I still don’t even come close to understanding the sacrifice Jesus made so that we may live.

Don’t get so comfortable with your own salvation that you forget just how huge it is. Don’t allow yourself to become so complacent that you forget about those around you that are destined to an eternity separated from God. Use your freedom, bask in His Glory and share your stories. Let Jesus be known.

God transforms if we let Him.

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