Sorrow or Joy in 2014?

Over the passed year I have neglected my blog. I originally started this blog to share some thoughts and messages the Lord laid on my heart as I sought hard after him. As I embarked on a journey in 2013 the messages became fewer and fewer as I entered a very hard year in my life and found myself not able to hear the voice of the Lord.

Living at Hope House and working with girls who had been rescued from sex trafficking here in South Florida was an amazing and unique opportunity that I was thrilled to be given. I quickly came to learn that every good opportunity comes with its challenges and this one came with just that. Working with this population is very difficult. You go into each day not knowing what your day will look like. Some days were beautiful with the girls, we enjoyed activities and had wonderful conversations. Then you wake up the next day and BAM it was a whole different story. I learned more than I can share about the issue of human trafficking and the impact it has on young girls. Most importantly though I learned a lot about myself. I don’t regret a second of working with the girls at Hope House and it is by far the hardest but yet most rewarding thing I have ever done.

In April of 2013 I lost a very close member of my family, my Mimi. Mimi is my Mothers Step-Mom but she was more than that to us. She embraced us and loved us as deeply and genuinely as any member of our family. I was blessed with two equally as wonderful grandmothers on my Mothers side and I always viewed her as that; as does everyone in our family. Mimi was in many ways a best friend, to everyone! She had that kind of character. She loved deeply, she cared deeply, she had a spirit about her that most never even get to encounter. Mimi was battling Pancreatic Cancer since December 2010. We all knew the day would come where Mimi would have to leave us for Jesus, but I honestly didn’t let that truth hit my heart because I couldn’t bare to think of doing life without her. Every day that goes by something reminds me of her and puts a smile on my face. We are blessed to have such a beautiful guardian angel watching over us now.

Just 3 short months after Mimi passed, at the end of July, I received the heart breaking and life changing news that my Dad had been diagnosed with ALS or more commonly known as Lou Gehrigs Disease. It is a horrible disease that basically takes over your muscles and stops them from working. It is extremely fatal because it eventually will keep you from breathing and there is no cure for the disease. My Dad had some muscular issues in his feet and legs since about November of 2012 but they were treating him and thought the issue was under control. After battling the issue for so many months and realizing it was only getting worse and worse, they finally ran more test and came to the conclusion that it was a rapid case of ALS. His options were slim and we basically were told he didn’t have but a few more months to live. I quickly flew up to Tennessee to spend a week with my Dad. I was beyond blessed to have a wonderful boyfriend who joined me and supported me through the whole journey even though we had only been dating for a little longer than 2 months. After spending a wonderful week with my Dad I said Good-bye not knowing that would be the last time I see him. One week later I got the news that he had passed. My world was shattered again, it was too soon, I thought I had months left with him! Within 3 weeks of officially being diagnosed my Dad had left us for Jesus. The pain is so indescribable. For those of you who know me even a little or have read my first blog entry you know I didn’t have the best relationship with my Dad growing up. The Lord had answered my prayers for restoration and forgiveness and I am thankful I was given that. 

Now you would think loosing 2 close family members within a few short months would be enough, it gets worse! In November my Dad’s mother, Mema passed away. She had several health issues and had been sick for awhile. She lived in an assisted living facility and had been in and out of the hospital for years. She was a fighter though! At 81 years old she went to be with Jesus and her Son. The passing of my Dad took a huge toll on her. Even though she has health problems, I am convinced she actually died of a broken heart. By this point I had become so numb to the grieving process that I didn’t even know how to think about loosing another person. Mema was extremely close to us growing up. I called her every day after school, I spent months with her during the summers in Wilmington, NC and she moved in with us when I was 13 years old. She was apart of every aspect of my childhood and never missed a single moment of me growing up. She spoiled us rotten and was everything a grandmother should be; kind, loving, generous, nurturing, and fun!

There were other little battles throughout my year such as nose surgeries, job changes, moving out of Hope House, and knee injuries but all of those seem like pinches compared to the blow of loosing not 1, not 2 but 3 of my closest family members. Needless to say, I haven’t been listening to God much lately. I have been sitting in silence, in shock and in utter confusion as to what to say or do from here. Reading scripture became too hard to do and I had no words left to pray.

So why did I tell you this? Was it so you would feel sorry for me and my family? Or to justify why I haven’t been writing what God is doing in my life?

No. I tell you this because now that 2013 is over and my year of hell as ended I had a choice going into 2014. Am I going to allow myself to continue sitting there before the Lord dazed and confused as to what just happened over the past 365 days? Am I going to wallow in self pity because my life is such a mess?  Am I going to be miserable and allow my heartache to stop me from continuing a beautiful life here on earth with the Lord? You see I realized somewhere in between all that mess that I have a choice in my life. Stuff is going to happen, people are going to disappointment, people are going to pass away, life is not going to be roses and butterflies all the time; but I have a choice. I can choose sorrow or joy.

And I choose Joy.

Nehemiah 8:10 “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepare, This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”

You see life is full of choices. We are given circumstances daily, rather good or bad, and we have choices in them.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

I belong to Christ Jesus. I want to be in His will. So I will be thankful in all circumstances and I will call upon the Joy of the Lord for my strength. I will not let my circumstances of 2013 effect my circumstances of 2014. Instead I am going to expect God to do great things this year and look for them daily. I will approach all difficulties this year with this attitude and I will cultivate for myself a spirit of thankfulness and joy. I will read scripture even if the words on the pages don’t seem to jump out at me and I will pray even if I don’t know what to say. I have faith that as I seek him he will show himself to me again.

You may not have lost family members last year or you may not of had a hard year at all or maybe you did. But my hope & prayer is that you can learn from my year and tuck this away in your back pocket because someday your circumstances may get difficult and you will be faced with the same choice. Sorrow or Joy?

I’d choose Joy, it’s worth it!!

Worthy of the Calling

So I haven’t posted on here in a while because I’ve been under going some major life changes over the past few months. I went from living in a small apartment at my alma mater working in their community service office to a whole new adventure. The Lord uprooted me rather quickly and put me exactly where I needed to be… at Hope House Florida. I sold my stuff and moved to a home for 5 girls who have been rescued from Sex Trafficking and I now live there full time as a house mom. When I started this blog a friend of mine had encouraged me to write but I didn’t think I had anything to write about, well… the Lord proved me wrong! Over the passed few months the Lord has showed His hand so clearly and living in a home with girls who have been severally exploited gives me enough to write about! So here is my first post since this huge life change….

One thing God has really revealed to me lately is being worthy of the call he has given me. In Ephesians 4 Paul writes “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Well, God has given me a calling that I cannot even fathom being worthy enough for. He has entrusted me with his children as he begins to call them to a life of freedom. WOW! How on earth am I ever going to be worthy of that? Good thing Paul tells me how!

“Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

Over the passed few months I have begun to a whole new understanding of what it is like to live a life worthy of my call. I have failed. I have forgotten. I have learned. I am not perfect but I am excited to see how God is going to assist me in continuing to learn how to live a life worthy of my very unique and special calling.

I love my girls, they are all such amazing children of the Lord and I am more blessed then I have ever been being able to love and serve His precious children. Please pray for my sweet girls and for all who are involved in Hope House.

What has God called you to do?

For Daughters of the King

Psalm 45: 10-11 ” Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear. Forget your people and your father’s house, the King is enthralled by your beauty, honor him, for he is your Lord.”

The King is enthralled by your beauty. WOW! I am sure I have read this piece of scripture before but it surely hit me when I read it today. Our King, our Lord is Enthralled by my beauty? Yes He is! Why wouldn’t he be? For I am fearfully & wonderfully made by his hands so of course he is enthralled by my beauty, it is a reflection of his beauty!

How often do we seek the approval of our people or our family? As girls we desire so badly to be beautiful and accepted by those around us. But this tells us to forget about that because the King of the Universe, the creator, Our Lord is ENTHRALLED by YOUR beauty.

What I love about this verse is it specifically points out that we are His daughter. He says to us “O Daughter.” This reveals God’s passionate heart for His daughters. The word enthralled here is the same word meaning desires, craves, longs for. Our Lord Longs for our beauty. How lovely is this?

Therefore, “honor him, for he is your Lord.” Honor Him. Honor Him. The is a command that you see all throughout scripture. Honor Him or bow down to Him. Let’s be honest… how many times do we do everything we can to “honor” our boy friends desires because he is “enthralled” by our beauty? We hand over our innocence & purity to guys who say what we desire to hear. But guess what? Our Lord desires our beauty. So why is it hard for us to honor him in the same way that we so easily honor these guys?

Be Satisfied by the Lord’s love for His daughter & honor Him with your beauty!

Be careful not to forget.

The Lord recently reminded me “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deut. 6:12) Later on in the book of Deuteronomy scripture repeats its self saying again in chapter 8 verse 11, “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God…”

Just to give a little back knowledge on who this piece of scripture was written to…. The Israelites were enslaved to Egypt and after quit a long journey the Lord delivered them from their slavery and into the promise land he had saved for them. God had proven over and over again His faithfulness. All he asked of them was to obey his commandments. This is most likely Moses reminding the Israelites not to forget the only faithful, constant, and reliable help they have had. Forgetting God would lead them into disobedience. In the wilderness the Israelites had to depend on God for all their basic needs in order to survive, but once they had been led to the promise land and out of the wilderness to a land full of milk and honey, there would be much temptation to forget God and rely on themselves causing them to disobey the commandments of the Lord.

Isn’t it funny that thousands of years later we are still forgetting that the Lord has too brought us out of “Egypt.” We may not have been literally saved from the slavery of Egypt but this is applicable to us. I know in my life God has proven himself faithful over and over again, and I have only ever proven myself to be prone to wonder. Yet God is still there faithfully walking by my side and bringing me out of Egypt again and again.

I come to the throne of God in desperate times desiring God to come through with huge answers immediately and when he doesn’t do exactly as I wanted, I get frustrated with him and begin praying “How long O Lord will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13) I cling to the first part of the chapter and forget that just a few lines below David continues the Psalm by saying “BUT I trust in your UNfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”

This is exactly what Deut. 6:12 and 8:11 are warning us against. By forgetting God we forget to trust in him, by forgetting to trust him we forget to believe in him, by forgetting to believe in him we forget to obey him and we begin to control our lives making decisions on what we want. When life gets rough and we think God has strayed away from us we blame him for not answering our prayers when we are the ones who have forgotten to ask God for his direction from the beginning.

There are times in life when God seems far away when you are searching and searching for his direction, but in the midst of that one time God seems so far away, Don’t forget the thousands of times he has showered you with his unfailing love and brought you out of your “Egypt” into the promise land.

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord.”

forgiveness: a testimony & encourager for children of divorce

Divorce is such an important topic to me personally because I am a child of divorced parents. I have wrestled with the truth and commands given to us in the bible about divorce because it seems that we tend to assume that God disapproves. Verses that say things such as “God hates divorce” are taken out of context. God does hate divorce, but God also hates sin in general. It was really important for me to take the time to understand what these verses in the gospels were actually saying about divorce. Through meditation on the scripture and digging into with God, I was able to come to some of my own conclusions for my family that have truly helped me.

As a child of abuse & divorce, I have experience why God hates divorce. I hate divorce so why wouldn’t God hate it more? Clearly divorce was not an intended act and is not pleasing to God in anyway. I look at my Mom who I love dearly and wonder did she do the right thing? I also have carried the weight of divorce because I initiated the change by begging her to leave and take me with her. In a sense I empowered my Mom to make a choice she had been wanting for so long. So then was this a sin that I carried as well? Jesus’ grace that was shed on the cross provides so many answers to these questions. Divorce is a sin but so is abuse. I had to come to a point where I forgave my Dad for the pain he inflicted on me, my Mom for not protecting me, and myself for the guilt I carry. I now am free from the pain of abuse and divorce and know that it was not my fault or a result of my sins. I know the Lord is heart broken over what has been done to me, his daughter, but I also know that Lord has used it to shape who I am. We all desire reconciliation in my family, do I think we will obtain it, probably not, but the power of prayer is greater than my own strength. So yes, I pray daily that my Father might come to know Jesus and my family would be reunited the way the Lord intended it, but in the mean time I am free from the bondage of it all. I do believe that divorce is sinful and disappoints our Lord, but I do not think that God hates the divorcees. Ultimately God’s plan is restoration and reconciliation.

I was reading a book Free Yourself to Love by a dear friend and mentor, Jackie Kendall. She states in her book “Too many times to number, I have listened to people minimize the abandonment they suffered through divorce. Divorce is epidemic, and the denial about the heart wound of abandonment is stunning. Whenever I hear a person say that he or she had an “amicable divorce” I’m shocked; believe me, the children of the divorce never felt it was amicable. We are too casual about the incredible pain that comes when parents separate. It is a terrible wound to be abandoned by someone who should have protected, led and loved you. If you bury the hurt, you’ll bury the hate, because believe it or not, where hurt comes, inevitably hate and anger come also. If you bury the hurt, you bury the hate, and then you bury the possibility of being healed. Healing comes only when we dig it out and let the Holy Spirit show us how to handle the offense.”

This page in the book was the start of a huge change in my life. Being able to admit that Divorce is epidemic and terrible because of the wound that it penetrates in a heart; was something that was a struggle for me. I used to think that because so many people deal with divorce and it seems that everyone else is doing okay therefore obviously it isn’t that big of a deal and I should suck it up. Suck it up and push it down. As a buried the hurt further and further, I became the most hateful person. I hated myself, my parents, my family, and even my friends; basically I hated life. Healing isn’t the funnest thing you will ever experience and it takes a lot of courage and faith to allow the Holy Spirit to handle it. Once you begin to experience the outcome of a healing heart, you do realize how freeing and liberating it is to let go of the offenses and be embraced by the love of our Lord.

In Zephaniah 3:17 the scriptures say “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing”  The weight of the Lords love hits me when I read this. The Lord has always been with me. How beautiful it is to recognize that the Lord’s love is powerful enough to quiet my fears and that he loves me enough to rejoice over me with gladness and loud singing. In 2 Samuel 22:25, it states it so perfectly, “He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.” These two verses combined give hope and comfort. The Lord rescues us from the hurts and pains because he delights and rejoices in me as his daughter. In knowing that God loves and delights in me, gives me faith and trust in him to surrender my hurts to him and allow him to walk me through the process of forgiveness. He saved me when I was helpless and abandoned, all I had to do was allow him to have my heart and all my heart; the good, the bad and the ugly. Hope flows out from the confidence I have in God’s sovereignty. Romans 5 puts this concept in such a beautiful way “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

So in this, I encourage you. I encourage you as a victim of divorce to place your hope confidently in Christ and embrace your sufferings as you release the pain over to Christ. Allow him to heal your heart and teach you with the power of forgiveness. Allow the Lord to quiet you with his love and rejoice over you. Even though it may seem that people do not understand what it feels like to be abandoned by your parents and left in the downward spiral of divorce and family abuse; remember that the Lord your God is in your midst and has been with you through it all, he is mighty to save and he is the ultimate comforter!