Girlfriends: For better or worse

GirlfriendsWhen I was in sixth grade, I was bullied all year by two girls in my class. I know that in this day and age of Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, bullying has gone to new levels of cruelty that I doubt I could have survived. I barely survived the one year of torment I endured from these girls who found a weak and unprepared victim.

They mocked me in front of the class, they left mean notes on my desk, they turned the entire class against me, and they brought out the weakest and worst in me. I lost respect for myself that year. I began to believe the things they said about me. I reacted with insecurity which is blood in the water to sharks who go after their prey on the recess yard.

No one would be my friend because to be seen with me put you in my “class” of loser. I had one friend by the end of the year and even she was different than she had been the year before when we frolicked in our innocence.

Every night I cried. My mother wanted to go to the principle but I begged her not to. Things would be so much worse for me if she did. She tried to explain that these girls were jealous of me and they wanted to make me miserable because they themselves were miserable. I, of course, didn’t believe her. Why would I? These two girls ruled the class with their iron fists of haughty glances, sneering smiles, flirtatious phrases and cool outfits. They could cut you down to size with one sideways look of disgust. I was out of my league. As an only child, I hadn’t learned how to stand up for myself, have a good argument, shake off someone’s behavior that is annoying or rude or get in someone’s face and tell them where to take their crappy attitude. Brothers and sisters teach each other how to handle conflict and I was totally unskilled.

I went down like the Titanic.

Sixth grade was also the year I got braces. Wonderful. And acne. Perfect.

So I made a change in who I hung out with. I decided that boys were a lot easier to be around than catty girls who would be nice to your face one minute and then pass a note about your ugly sweater the next. (I know I’m dating myself terribly talking about passing notes. I must sound like a total dinosaur!)

In my mind, boys were safe and girls were unsafe. Boys were direct and girls were sly. Boys were simpler and girls were far too complex – even though I was one of them, I didn’t feel like I was that complex!

This was the beginning of my challenges with female friendships. If you’re a woman reading this, I ask you: Have you also experienced what I’m talking about? Can you relate to my distrust of female friendships?

Then I became a Christian and started attending church on a regular basis.  I was only 18 at the time so I was still pretty young. It didn’t take me long to notice that the ladies at church, young or old, were nothing like the girls / ladies I had been burned by throughout my grammar school and highschool years. But could they really be trusted??

Over the thirty plus years that I have been going to a Christian church, I have found that almost all of my issues with catty girls, gossip, lying, backbiting and meanness are gone. I have formed the most valuable and nourishing friendships that have lasted decades and still continue to grow in depth and kindness. I have seen my friends drop everything to help me in my hard times, and have been encouraged and buoyed up by their faith in me and their love for me.

The Bible says that those who love are born of God and know God because God is love. And I have certainly seen that displayed in my girlfriends. The more we grow in our faith, the more compassionate and outgoing we have become. The more we get healed by the love of God for us, the more we reach out in confidence and strength to others, not needing to recognized or applauded, just delighting to show kindness and support.

My mother was right: Those girls in sixth grade were mean to me because they were unhappy. And that’s why my friends now are worthy of my trust. They are happy and secure in the love of God for them so they don’t need to tear me down to feel better about themselves. I am blessed. Truly and completely blessed.

May you find good friends to do life with.

And if you have never asked Jesus to be your Savior, I would start there. We can’t give what we don’t have. We can’t give love and acceptance when we’re an open wound of neediness ourselves. Let Jesus heal your heart from all of the pain of your past so you can be the friend you so earnestly desire to have.

Now you:

  • Have you struggled with bullying at some point in your life? Did that period in your life leave scars of self-doubt?
  • Do you crave real friendship but struggle to find friends you can trust?
  • Are you a trustworthy friend? Do you work at your friendships?
  • Do you gossip or pass along tidbits about other people because you find it gratifying to talk about the flaws of others?

If you are a gossip, I’m telling you right now, people don’t trust you. They might not tell you to your face, but if you run your mouth, people don’t see you as a safe person. And if you’re not a safe person, then no one is able to be authentic around you. And if no one is authentic around you, you don’t have any real friends. Stop gossip in your life right now. It’s a friendship killer and the person who will lose in the end is you. No juicy tidbit is worth the damage you are doing to people’s ability to trust you and like you. Be content in your own skin and always be one who lifts others up, praises them and shuts down conversation that brings people down. Let God’s love heal your self-esteem so that you are free to love yourself and others.

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord Jesus, I come to you and ask for healing for the pain of my past. I have felt pain and I have caused pain. I ask for your forgiveness and healing to wash me clean and restore joy and peace to my soul. Show me how to be a faithful friend who loves at all times and speaks a good word in due season. Let my words be encouraging and beneficial to all who hear. May I never slander of gossip and if I do, help me to be quick to repent and ask forgiveness. Please, O God, be my Rock, my Defender and the Lover of my soul, so that I can love others with your love. Amen.

 

 

Fruit that Remains: Excerpts from my journals that nourished me and might encourage you, too!

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Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.

While in my daily devotions this morning, the Holy Spirit brought this phrase to my mind: “Do not make the Word of God of no effect.” Yikes! What does that mean??

I knew I had learned that Scripture from the Bible and that Jesus had said it, but I couldn’t recall where or to whom he had said it.  What were the circumstances? I needed to dig deeper as I felt the Lord correcting me.

When I looked up the reference, I found that this quote is in Mark 7:13. The King James Version of the Bible says, ‘Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.’ The New American Standard version says it like this: “…thus invalidating the Word of God by your tradition which have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

In this passage, Jesus is chastising the Pharisees because they put all of their religious emphasis on outward displays and man-made rules while their hearts are far from God. When Jesus says that the Pharisees “invalidate” or “make of none effect” the Word of God, the original Greek language that the text is written in uses the word, “akuroo”. Jesus uses “akuroo” to describe how they invalidate the Word and void it of power and effect by acting as though they can change it, adapt it, manipulate its message or disregard Who the Author is.

Akuroo (Strong’s Akuroo) is the negative, or the upside-down version, of the word, “kuroo” (Strong’s Kuroo) which means “to validate, confirm publicly, ratify”. “Kuroo” itself comes from another root word, “”kurios” (Strong’s Kurios) which means, “Master, Lord, the greeting of a servant to his master, the title given to God, the Messiah”.

When I don’t reverence the entire Word, I make its power of no effect in my life. After all, the Word is Jesus. John says in John 1:1,  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I must greet the Word with the reverence of a servant. The Word is not here to serve me, but I the Word. I am not here to take parts of the Word and make it fit my mold but the Word is here to mold me into its form. I am its servant not the other way around. I don’t get to decide what parts I want to read or obey…IF I want God’s power to be in it, that is! The power comes through reverence and honor.

No wonder Jesus was chastising the Pharisees here. They were standing right in front of the incarnation of the Word they professed to know backward and forward and they couldn’t recognize him. Meanwhile, the wounded, the blind, and the rejected knew right away that He was the Light of the world and the remedy for all that was broken. They knew that one word from His mouth would bring healing, cleansing and restoration to everything that was ruined in their lives.

If I believe that this Word is God-breathed, that Jesus is the Word (even if I don’t understand totally how that works), then I will approach the Word with the same faith, expectation, and devotion of those who saw and touched Jesus in the flesh. I will approach this powerful, restorative Word on my knees – either physically or spiritually.

Lord God, I repent for not honoring Your Word and hearing Your voice every time I read it. I repent for the times that I have handled your word incorrectly and without proper reverence and awe.  I ask for your forgiveness for the times that I have approached Your Word casually and routinely. Please open my eyes, my ears and my heart to see and hear You in Your Word. And help me to never again handle it with vile hands, human goals and selfish reasons. Your Word has suspended the heavens above the earth, created everything seen and unseen and will still remain for all of the eternal ages to come. Jesus, you are the Word that stood before creation, brought creation into being and still upholds all things.  I honor You, my Master and Lord. Help me to hear Your voice of love as You speak to me. 

Workout your thought life!

Workout2If I could stay in bed, sleep in and still stay fit, I would do it. While I enjoy the camaraderie of my workout classes, if I could avoid the intense exertion five out of seven mornings a week, I would totally do it! But because I enjoy being fit and keeping my weight and mental clarity at a certain level, I make myself rise at an early hour so that I can have time with the Lord and also have time to exercise every day. I say, “No”, to hitting the snooze button 14 times for the greater “Yes” of feeling good after a hard workout and for the rest of the day.

The other morning, when I was doing my devotions, the thought came to me that we can put our thoughts into the same workout regimen that we put our bodies in.  The same way I control what I put into my body and how I exercise it to stay in shape, I can control what I put into my mind and exercise those thoughts to get the flab out of my thought life. Just as my body without exercise would revert to a state of untoned muscles, my mind without exertion becomes slack and untrained. My thoughts will automatically go towards negativity, fear, and low self-esteem. That’s what my mind looks like when left to itself.

But God has given me a great “gym” for my thought life. It’s called the Word of God. For every flabby negative thought that wants to keep me in a cycle of failure, I can purposefully replace it with God’s thoughts about me and my circumstances. But those thoughts aren’t natural, just like working out doesn’t feel natural. I have to MAKE myself dig into the Word and find God’s thoughts on a matter and then I have to WRITE them down so I don’t forget them, and then I have to REHEARSE those words over and over until they get into my brain. Eventually, my thoughts will get into godly shape.

But here’s what I see so often…many of us hear the Word on Sunday and think that a one-time hearing is going to make a change. But let me ask you this: if I went to the gym once a week, do you think I would notice any measurable change in my cardiovascular health or in the shape of my physical body? And if I ate junk food all week and then expected that one visit to the gym to work magic, do you think I would see the results I hope for?

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Fruit that Remains: Excerpts from my journals that nourished me and might encourage you, too!

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Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.

 

I can’t take it anymore! I’m so overwhelmed I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown!

Have you every felt like that? I have – many times! On one such occasion, I had been trying to make everything work in my own strength but I was in a season where there were too many demands and not enough of me to go around.  I had too much on my plate and plainly needed a clone of myself to get all of my work done, let alone things at home and in ministry. It was just TOO MUCH. So I brought my anxiety to the Lord.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

So in this instance, here is how the conversation went down in my journal:

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Jesus isn’t Spider Man – He is the Son of Man: So how did he do the miracles he did?

Spider ManWas Jesus like Spider Man?  Was He human one minute, changing into a superhero the next?? I used to struggle silently with these questions because it made no sense to me how Jesus could operate at such a miraculous level.  It seemed to me as though God gave Jesus an unfair advantage during his life on earth that I don’t have. I mean, how can I be expected to live like Jesus? I’m not the Son of God, right??

But here’s the truth that I have been wrapping my brain around for last number of years: Yes, Jesus is referred to as the Son of God, but his favorite moniker was Son of Man.

Jesus was fully human every minute of his earthly life, whether laughing and walking with his disciples, or walking on water, or making a mud pack for a blind man’s eyes curing his blindness. He did everything as a man.  It’s a mystery to me how He could do this; but somehow He left his glory with the Father and took on human flesh. He chose to have to live as we do, reliant on the voice of the Holy Spirit to relay the will of the Father and empower Him for miracles.

As a result of that choice, we now have an example of what God’s glory shining in and through a person completely surrendered to Him looks like.

Just because it’s hard to imagine how he could live a perfect life as a man like us doesn’t make it untrue. Just because you’ve never walked on water doesn’t mean that Jesus used cheater powers to do that.  If Jesus did the miracles that he did using a power that we don’t have access to, then we could be impressed but unchanged and un-challenged.  But knowing that he completely shed his former glory while living as one of us on the earth, makes us accountable and challenged by the life he lived.

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Welcome to my readers from…

Pilot MountainI want to extend my warmest and most grateful welcome to my readers from all over the world! So far, I have readers from Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Great Britain, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Norway, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, The European Union, Israel, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Kenya and more!

I am praying for you all and for your nations to come to Christ.  I know that many of you live in nations that are torn by war and civil unrest. Others of you live in areas of severe poverty and great need. Others of you live in comfort, but your country is oppositional to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You risk your reputation or your life when you stand up for your faith.

Some of you stumbled upon my blog by accident not knowing who I was or what I was going write to about.  I’m glad you did and I hope that you were touched and encouraged by what you read!

Thank you ALL for reading my blog and for allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to your hearts. I pray that my life, my trials, my vulnerability and my time with the Lord benefit you in some way.  The only way that I could be more blessed is if I could see you all face-to-face and learn who you are, what you struggle with, what your lives are like and…wait for it…what food you like to cook!!

If you want to leave a message in the Comments space at the bottom (the very bottom!) of each blog post, I would LOVE to hear from you.  You have no idea how much I would enjoy that.

But in the meantime, be blessed and keep reading! I recommend that you subscribe to my blog on the Home page so that you don’t miss any posts. Each post will be delivered to your email inbox. Getting the updates only on Facebook is not always the most reliable way to stay up-to-date on posts.

May God bless with you grace and peace,

Cecily

Thought for the Day: You can hear God speak to you. (Yes, you!)

Every now and then, my morning journaling time becomes more about what the Lord is saying to me than the other way around.  These are the times that I feel as though I have hit the bulls-eye in my devotion time.  After all, what’s more meaningful – pouring out my prayers and requests to the Lord or hearing His direction and wisdom on a matter? My words are important, and my prayers are a delight to the Lord, but when He chooses to enter my Here-and-Now and speak a word of comfort, direction or wisdom, I just can’t write fast enough! Below is one of those simple words that came while I was pressing in in prayer regarding some issues in my finances and my ministry that just weren’t budging.  I was fighting off discouragement as I looked at how many years I have prayed about some of these things. Let’s see what Jesus had to say:

“I am the God of the In-Between. I will fulfill every promise to you.  And in between the promise and its fulfillment, I will hold you and carry you. Stay close to Me. Don’t turn from My Word. Don’t turn to the left or to the right.  My promises are certain and My ways are sure and solid. I will never leave you or forsake  you. Make sure that you stay close to Me. Open your heart to Me and let’s be together. Pressure comes from you, not from Me. Peace and joy and overwhelming love come My holy presence. Surround Me with your love and it will deepen. I will take the seed and give you back a harvest.”

Now you:

  • Do you hear the Lord speak to you this way?
  • Do you believe that Jesus wants to speak to you as His child?
  • Do you know that you can hear Him speak to you?

Every child of God can hear His voice. God is no respecter of persons, the Bible says in Acts 10:34. That means that God answers the faith of whosoever.

I remember when I was first taught that I could hear God speak to me and that I could write down what He said.  When I started trying to journal what I thought I was hearing, I felt so foolish! I felt like I was making it all up! But here’s how I knew that I wasn’t making it up: As I kept practicing my ability to hear God’s voice, I began to write things down that were so correcting, aligning and freeing that I couldn’t have made it up.  The words carried such life that the more I meditated on them, the more I began to change. That could not have come inside me or else I would have been changed and found freedom long ago! Further, the words that the Lord speaks to me are always in alignment with the Word of God.  My thoughts are not always in alignment with God’s word, so that’s a big litmus test right there! And finally, the proof has been in the pudding, so to speak, in that I have grown in my ability to hear not only for myself, but for others as well.  And when I have ministered what the Lord wants me to say to other people, He has blown them (and me!) away with His accuracy and knowledge of their heart struggles.

But I had to start with the basics – getting a notebook, putting myself in the place of worship and then asking the Lord to speak about a situation or whatever He felt I needed to hear. Cool, huh?

You can hear God speak to you, too! Don’t believe the lie that you can’t!

John 10: 4-5a: When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow…

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