Category Archives: personal testimonies

Overcoming Behaviour Tendencies

I know that our behaviour can be self regulated. When we are upset sometimes it helps to have a good friend to pick us up, but in the end, we get to choose how we will act in our circumstances.

Probable everyone has over-reacted. Most people have been “out of control” at one time or another either in anger or in frustration. At one time I believed that it was impossible to change this tendency. Having seen the anger lose it’s hold on me and knowing the peace that rules over me most of the time (nobody’s perfect), I now know that our behaviour can change. 

When a person is deeply hurt it often is expressed in anger. That anger will grow into a storm of bad behaviours if gone unchecked. Sometimes only love can calm the storm. 

The Night Before the Wedding

One dramatic example of this happened a few years ago. (Names and details have been changed) Mary’s daughter was getting married. Mary herself was separated from her husband and her husband was in another relationship and she was heartbroken. Furthermore, she was homeless at the time of the wedding, with very little income and was doing everything she could to put a wedding together. Her husband had moved his lover into their home the week of the wedding. It couldn’t get any worse as far as she was concerned.

The night before the wedding, her whole family gathered at her former home with her husband and his lover. She wasn’t invited and her heart hurt deeply. She became angry. When the phone rang, she snapped out a brisk hello.

“Hey, honey,” her friend said. “How are you doing?”

“How do you think I’m doing?” Mary cried. “My daughter is getting married tomorrow. This should be a family event and I’ve done all the work and this is how I get rewarded…” On and on she went, spilling out her bitter disappointment and hurt over the past two to three years about how she felt abandoned etc., etc.

Her friend listened quietly without interruption allowing Mary to wind down. Mary poured out her heart until she was spent. Then her friend quietly spoke to her.

“Mary, may I say something to you as your friend?” she asked. Then she waited for a response.

Mary warily replied, “Yes.”

“Honey, you know I love you and I say this with your best in mind.”

Mary bristled. “Okay, keep going,” she said.

“I need to tell you to go and get your big girl panties on and take off those little girl panties.” Mary’s friend told her.

Mary had never heard that figure of speech before and stared at her wall in silence while she tried to think what that could mean.

“This wedding is not about you or your ex-husband, it’s about your daughter and it’s her wedding day tomorrow. You have to be the most mature person at that wedding tomorrow and you have to make it a wonderful experience for them. Can you do that?” 

“I, I think I can,” Mary stammered.

“Then my job is done here, honey” her friend replied. “I’ll be praying for you and your family tomorrow.” Then she bid her friend adieu.

Mary’s anger ground to a halt. She was stunned. She sorted through the short conversation and considered the message. She had a decision to make. It was made as she imagined her daughter walking down the aisle on her father’s arm the next day. Yes, her ex-husband was a part of the wedding but it was her daughter she focused on. Her daughter was looking at her in her vision of the morrow. She was searching with hope that her mother would be happy for her and that she would be celebrating the most important day of her life with her. It made all the difference in the world. Mary got busy and finished the last-minute details quickly. She had a big day ahead.

The Day of the Wedding

I got to attend that wedding the next day. It began with a bit of tension, but it ended very well. Mary used the rest of her evening the night before the wedding crafting a fun skit for the young couple, describing how they met and fell in love. She enlisted the couple’s siblings and engaged the whole crowd in her skit and it ended with everyone participating, laughing and applauding. 

Mary was able, with the help of a friend, to change her whole outlook and rose above her circumstances. She was no longer a slave to her husband’s actions. Even her children were unaware of how difficult it had been for her as told to me by one of her sons. How different the wedding might have been if she hadn’t gotten that phone call or hadn’t accepted the words of a friend. Can you see God’s hand in all this?

This is a good example of the choices we get to make when we are in distress or we are in deep pain. God will send us help and give us creative solutions at times of trouble. It is tragic that more people don’t accept the help so readily available to us.

My prayer for you is that you will seek the help you need, and that you will keep on seeking it until you find it. It is also my hope that when you are presented an opportunity to receive help that you will be humble enough to receive it. Then the peace of Christ that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind and you will be more open to God’s solutions. Conquering our difficult circumstances is one of those things God does very well.

Open Minded

God Rewards All Who Seek Him 

 I’ve prayed with believers and unbelievers alike. Both have heard truth that has set them free and usually if a person doesn’t believe in God before their healing, they know He exists when they are done and have a very new view of Him. 

 “Unbelievers getting healed? How can this be?” you might wonder. Well, there are lots of reasons. God is bigger than we know. He is better at communicating with us than our limited understanding can comprehend. He loves us more than we can imagine and rewards all those who seek Him. 

 Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” When someone gets the truth, they have access to the Father should they decide to go through that door because He is the truth. When they get truth, they are accessing Him. He knows that it is not a part of our natural inclination to go looking for Him unless we need Him, so He reaches out to us and this is one of the ways He does this. 

 Here is an example of someone who did not know God but heard His voice anyway. It happened in the past year. I needed help with my car at home and someone suggested I call a mobile mechanic. The fellow came within the hour of calling him. Seeing as he was going to be working on my car in my garage, I stuck around to see what he was going to do.  

 The guy (I’ll call him Sean) was friendly and got to work right away. He had no trouble finding the problem and showed and explained the problem to me. He was able to fix it right away. He kept an ongoing conversation with me back and forth telling me about his life of forty years and how he ended up doing this for a living. 

 He asked me what I did and I told him I prayed for people and he stiffened saying, “Well the big guy and I don’t get along so good.” 

 Soon though he relaxed again and continued on with the story of his life. As he chatted, he talked about his disappointment with his divorce and how he felt afraid of himself. 

 Curiously, I asked him why. This is a bit of the story as I remember it:  

“My mother-in-law was a piece of work. When she came to visit us, we were always on pins and needles. We couldn’t do anything right. We didn’t cook the food right. We didn’t hold the baby right. We didn’t do ANYTHING right and I mean anything. She was so toxic my wife would get sick and couldn’t sleep.” He sighed deeply. 

 “I tried to keep my mouth shut. My wife didn’t like it when I argued with her so I tried really hard. Sometimes I’d go outside to cool off. Well that wasn’t right either. I wasn’t supportive enough of my wife.” By this time Sean was well into his story. He was finished working on it and kept wiping his hands on a rag from his pocket. 

 “One Christmas, she came and within an hour she was at us. The tree wasn’t in the right place and she was mad about how we put the ornaments on or something. “Blah, blah, blah” he said. “And she was mean. I mean she didn’t just whine, but she cussed and then one day I just had it. She was staying for three days and my wife was running to the bathroom to cry every five minutes. I was holding our daughter and she came running at me yelling about something. She had some kind of pot in her hand and I thought, “Man, she’s going to hit me with my baby in my arms.” I jumped up sideways to protect the baby and she was yelling at me.”  

 “I just snapped.” He looked stricken as he was remembering the day. “I put the baby down in her play pen and I just picked her up by her arms and I kicked the door open and I put her into a snow bank. She was yelling and I yelled louder.” His voice raised as he repeated his speech to her. He said, “‘You are the nastiest woman I have ever met. This is our house not yours. If you cannot be nice in our house you are not welcome here. Go home.” I went back into the house, got her purse, her suitcase and her coat and I took them to her.” Sean looked at me embarrassed. “She left, cussing all the way.” 

“I left my wife and the baby after that. I’m afraid that I will hurt someone. My wife cried for a week after her mom left. She wanted me to make up to her mom, but I couldn’t.” He sighed. 

The Truth Speaks

After a pause, I asked him. “Would you like to know the truth about that situation?”  

 “How would I do that?” he asked.  

 “Well, I’ll ask the “Truth” to tell you more information. There is something in that story you don’t know.” Then I asked Sean, “What did you believe about yourself that day?” 

 After some thought, Sean replied, “I believed I lost control. I was just like my dad who always lost his temper and beat on us.”   

 “So then, I’ll ask “Truth” to tell you what He knows. Let me know what He says, ok?” 

 “Sure,” he said, closing my hood and wiping away some dust from the top of it.  

 “I ask Truth to reveal more to Sean than he now understands.” Then I waited. 

 After a minute or two he looked at me. 

 “So, did you get anything?” I asked. 

 “Well…” Sean hesitated. 

 “Well?” I asked. “Just spit it out and we can evaluate it together.” 

Turning his face away from me he said, “Ok, I got that I did show self-control that day. There were a lot of things I could have done that were way worse. I didn’t hurt her. She was just so nasty and I couldn’t stand it anymore. She kept telling me I wasn’t a real man. She was always calling my wife names. I wanted to do a lot of things, but I didn’t.” Then he ducked his head and looked at me again. 

 “Is there any other truth?” I asked. 

 “I’m not sure what this means,” he said. “I’m hearing, ‘I’m not disappointed with you either. You are forgivable.’ What’s that all about?” 

 At that point in the conversation I explained to him that the Lord Jesus Christ was the one speaking to him because He is the way the truth and the life. The conversation continued for a short while and Sean had much to think about. It would be wonderful to know that he made a decision for Christ right then and there, but he didn’t. That’s between the Lord and him. His phone rang and he left shortly after. I paid him and blessed him on his way. 

It is my prayer for you that you keep an open mind. Maybe the Lord will reveal truth to you as well and you will know more than you once thought. 

 

A Hair Raising Experience

A Simple Walk to the Park

I talked a couple of weeks ago about healthy and unhealthy fear. Earlier this week I had a hair-raising experience which refers to both kinds. See what you think.

I’ve been playing nanny to my three little grandchildren. On the way to the park I had the eight-month-old in the stroller, the two-year-old in tow right behind it between me and the stroller, and the three-year-old was hanging on to the front right side. We’d had a pleasant morning and going to the park was a joy for all of us. I’d taken the family shelty along on a short leash.

Just a few houses from the park entrance, I saw a middle-aged man approaching us with a German Shepherd dog. The dog looked young and untrained since the man seemed barely able to control it. As they approached we halted and moved over to accommodate them.

The fellow did not give us a wide berth as they approached us. He was too close and his dog was too strong for him. The shepherd came alongside of the stroller, snarled and lunged open mouth at our dog, with the two-year old in between. Using my legs as a shield, the two-year-old bumped into the back of the stroller. Our dog, Thor, met the challenge with his own snarls and snapping rage. The three-year-old stayed where he was, hand on stroller. The dog’s mouth brushed my legs and the stranger yanked hard on his leash, and no one was hurt. The potential danger passed and I stood frozen in shock and distress.

The three-year-old broke me out of my freeze mode when he asked, “Can we go to the park and play now?” We were all back in motion and the boys romped along to the park as though it was just another day.

When I arrived at the park near the play zone, I was shaking. I attached Thor to the park bench, checked on the baby who was content in her stroller, and let the boys play in front of me on the slide and climbing structure. At that point I melted in tears and called my praying friend.

The Prayer Time

My prayer friend, Karin, is a gifted compassionate woman who prays for the healing of many. She has been trained in many methods of healing prayer and has more experience than most as she works as a full time missionary to the inner city. When she picked up the phone that day, she heard the distress in my voice and excused herself from where she was and took herself to a private place.

As I was blubbering about the dog into the phone, she was praying for guidance and listening for clues about what the problem was. With my eyes wide open on the boys playing in front of me, I managed to get the story out. In and of itself it was a shocking situation, but I’d been bitten by a dog only a few years ago and the memory was still vivid and I had the scar to prove it.

As we prayed through the former incident, I saw the Lord push me out of the snarling dog’s reach. It had only snagged my calf and drew blood. It had not gotten a grip of my leg. That would have been much worse. Then the Lord told me that the occurrence was over and would not happen again. I gave the Lord my fear, my shock and I forgave the owners who allowed that to happen. I released every part of the pain to the Lord to carry for me and He gave me peace about it.

From there we looked at the apparent attack by the German Shepherd. Again, I saw the Lord push me between the child and Thor (our dog) and the stranger’s dog. One angel grabbed the man and his leash and yanked his dog back from us and sent them on their way. Another guarded our back. Again, I forgave the man for not controlling his dog and for not giving us enough space as he walked around us when we were stopped to let him pass. I gave the Lord my fear, my shock and confusion. He gave me peace.

At that point I saw something new in the spirit. It’s like God just pulled back a curtain and there were angels playing with the boys. There were guards all around. There was even an angel cooing to the baby, and the Lord sat beside me on the bench. He reminded me of the first time I saw angels. At that time, I asked why they were there as I saw many in and around my home. He told me that they were there to protect His interests in my family. What a wonder, that God should have an interest in our family. I felt safe and secure and loved.

By then I was ok and very grateful for Karin’s availability and we said goodbye. I continued to talk with the Lord about our family and I had a sweet time with Him. During the entire hour we were in the park, only one person walked through it and did not glance our way. The boys were both ready to return home at the same time and none of the children seemed the least bit perturbed by the earlier incident.

My Prayer for You

Would that everyone had a friend like Karin. It is my prayer for you that as you go through life, you will find Jesus to be your best friend and that He will add people to you who are so much like Him that you feel very safe in their presence knowing that they are connected enough to the Lord that they can help you to hear from him when you find it difficult. May you be able to find such a friend that you can call on in a time of crisis who you know will seek the Lord’s guidance and then pray for you. I pray too that you might become such a friend as well.

A Lesson on Hearing God

Is This Really God? 

God speaks to us in many ways. He spoke to Adam and Eve in the cool of the day while walking with them. After they sinned that closeness was severed and they experienced guilt and shame. Yet He still speaks.

The Bible records many ways that God spoke:
• by visual means i.e. the tabernacle, cloud and pillar of fire in Exodus
• through the prophets (1Kings 17:24 Then the woman told Elijah, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the Lord truly speaks through you.”)
• through dreams (See the book of Daniel)
• through visions (See the Book of Acts)
• through Jesus (See the Gospels)
• through the teachings of apostles (See the Epistles)
• through a “word of knowledge” in the church (See 1st and 2nd Corinthians.)
• through signs and wonders and miracles (sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments)
• Through revelation (see the book of Revelation)

God does understand our limitations and doubts about this matter. He said in Job 33:14, “For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.” The Bible can help you to recognize His communication styles.

As you study and read through the Bible you will see common threads throughout all of the different books that comprise the one whole Bible. Character traits of God become evident and remain consistent from one end to the other. Many of the names God gives to Himself describe what He is like.

I am still learning about His nature and character even now after many years as a Christian. I don’t know all about Him because I think it would take more than one human lifetime to know an Infinite God.

A Few Examples 

I remember the first time I got the Bible on audio recording. Because someone else was reading it, I could listen to the whole Bible in about 3 days during a long road trip. By listening to it quickly like that, I discovered God’s love in a way I had not noticed before. No matter how far or how often Israel strayed from Him, again and again He redeemed them. While pondering this, I realized that what he did for them He would do for me. It was an “aha” moment. It settled a deep concern I’d had about my salvation. If I listened to God’s call to repentance which He spoke often in the many books of the Bible, and if I sincerely repented of those things He was convicting me of, He would rescue me from my self-destructive path. I’d heard from God.

I’ve learned from several good teachers the value of journaling. One thing I do quite regularly now is ask God questions in my journal and listen for the answer. Some of the answers can be quite profound.

Here is one example: “Lord, why do I have to forgive every single time someone sins against me? It’s tedious and time consuming and it seems that they are getting away with something every time I forgive them. Can’t I just walk away and forget them?”

God’s answer: “My dear daughter. When someone sins against you it becomes like a thorn in your body. If not removed it will fester and hurt you much longer than necessary. Left unattended long enough it can get seriously infected. This is what bitterness is like. Eventually, if not dealt with, not only does the pain of the original sin increase, but it eventually affects other parts of your body and can cause death. When you forgive every sin another commits against you, you remain healthy and heal quickly. I am both merciful and just. I’ve asked you to forgive others as I’ve forgiven you. I’ve asked you to love others as I have loved you. If you love me you will do as I command. When you obey me in this matter, I am free to help both you and your opponent find forgiveness and healing and the enemy will not gain a foothold in your life. Forgiveness is a good thing, especially for you.”

One more example of hearing from God is through dreams and visions. One day I was talking to a young man who told me about his dream. In his dream, he was standing in the house he grew up in which he knew he now owned. It was old and dilapidated and the front screen door was open hanging from one hinge. As he looked outside, he was terrified to see several police cars driving up the hill towards his house with sirens on and lights flashing. As they approached his house, he woke up.

The interpretation we prayed for went like this: “The old house represents you. You are a product of your childhood, but since you are an adult you now own your own life and your family is no longer responsible for the way you live. You have become “unhinged” as it were and you are now open to see beyond yourself. The police cars represent justice. On your own, you face a just God who will judge you based on justice. If you do not repent of your sins you will not access the mercy of God. There is good reason to be terrified. This is a warning dream.

The result: the gentleman was open to the Good News that Jesus was willing to take upon Himself the sin of this man in exchange for Life through Jesus Christ. The man asked for forgiveness for his sins right there. He invited Jesus to become his Lord and committed his life to Jesus from then on.

It is my prayer for you that you will open yourself up to hear from God. I pray that you will know when it’s Him and not just your own imagination or some other voice. May you find that God speaks in love and always for your good.

“What’s All That Crying About?”

When I was a child, my dad said things that many dads say. “Stop that crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”. My dad passed away many years ago and I can still hear his voice and the way he said it. At the time, those words evoked fear in my heart. I was always terrified of my dad as a little girl. I know I wasn’t the only child to hear these words.

I now have four wee little grandchildren and although each one is different, they all have one thing in common. They cry. When they cry a lot, they distress their parents to no end. Crying is a child’s non-verbal way of expressing their needs and desires, like pain, boredom, hunger or fear. There are lots of reasons a child cries. Parents in their humanness sometimes react in ways that are not helpful or healthy.

How People Respond Matters 

Some responses to a child who cries can cause the child in their immaturity to interpret their caregiver’s tone of voice or reactions in a way that may not be intended or even considered. Sometimes this can create a core belief in the child that becomes a theme or framework for their entire lives.

I know now that my dad was a tender-hearted man who loved his three children and was very proud of us. I didn’t always believe this. When I was growing up, I saw him as a mean man who was too quick to strike and too slow to listen. I never felt secure around him, especially when I was alone with him.

My perspective changed several years after he died. I had a load of memories of him reacting to my tears or my other childish “flaws”. During my early years as a Christian, I was taught the need to forgive others. The Lord’s prayer reads in Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It further states in Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

I learned to forgive my dad for every negative memory I had of him. I released him into the hands and care of my heavenly Father and asked God to bless him. I then asked the Father to forgive me for holding those negative actions against him and asked the Lord to wipe the slate clean between us over those events. It took several years and loads of memories to go through, but over time it became easier and easier to remember some of the good things about him. As I cooperated in this process, God met me along the way.

After Practicing Forgiveness   

About fifteen years after my dad’s funeral, I woke early in the morning before anyone else in the house stirred. Not wanting to leave my comfortable bed, I decided to just thank God in my head for all the blessings I was enjoying at that point and time. As I did, I entered into what seemed like a daydream. I “saw” the Lord walk into my room with another fellow. I knew it was Jesus and he told me that this gentleman had asked permission to talk to me and He had decided to grant permission. Now it was up to me to decide.

Because I didn’t recognize him, I wondered who he was even though I’d said yes to letting him speak to me. I saw an old picture of my dad in my hand.  It turns out that this person was indeed my dad and he wanted to tell me how sorry he was for not knowing how to raise me well. He apologized for a long list of faults and failures and asked me to forgive him.

Astonished, I forgave him immediately. The confession was so sincere. My dad proceeded to tell me all the things he loved about me as a little girl. From there he went on to affirm me as a woman and a mother and to let me know how proud he was of me. Years of fear washed away. Any list of sins I had retained against him were forgotten during that conversation except what I needed to remember for this testimony. He bestowed upon me a father’s blessing and assured me that I would recognize him in heaven when I got there as he had been healed of all that had deformed him as a man on earth.

The conversation went on for many minutes. I cried during a lot of it and still cry today in the memory of it. These tears are not negative in nature. They are not a sign of need or pain and they are not full of regrets either. These are tears of gratitude for the encounter I had in a day-dream where the Lord revealed something to me in a way I could receive and accept. Now, I can hardly remember the negatives of my childhood with my dad.

I do remember him getting on the floor with my brothers and me playing arm wrestling with him and hearing him laugh at our vain attempts to beat him. I remember playing checkers and washing the dishes with him. I remember how he used to boast about my brothers to visitors after they left home and I am sure he boasted about me too when I left.

I remember the many hours he, being almost illiterate, helping me with homework by dictating the numbers I had to copy out of the text book to help me get it done faster. I remember him bringing my mother breakfast in bed when she was really really sick and bringing her plastic flowers on her birthday.

I remember reading the Bible to him as he lay dying of cancer at home. And I remember being there when he said his last word to God, and I know that I will see him again.

May you, my reader, learn to forgive those who did not react to your crying well. May you practice that act of forgiveness in the presence of God and may He lead you to the full healing you need so that you in turn can react well to those who cry around you. And may your tears become tears of joy and gratitude in many times and in many ways.

Why Affirmations Don’t Heal Us

What Are Affirmations?

There is a lot of talk about affirmations. There are whole industries based on telling yourself who you are and what you will become as if it has already happened. Many famous people have asserted that this is how they became successful and I will not dispute their claims. However, I have discovered that many more people can tell themselves these mantras again and again and never seem to change.

Why is this? Is it because they never tell themselves long enough? Maybe they don’t talk loud enough or enthusiastically enough. Maybe they forget to do the routine regularly or often enough.

May I suggest that it may be because they really don’t believe what they are saying and cannot convince themselves that what they are trying to tell themselves is even remotely possible. When I was a kid, I remember my mom telling me that when a person hears a lie often enough he will eventually believe it. I saw ample evidence of that over the years.

You would think that the opposite would be true and perhaps in some cases it is. Yet spending a year or more telling yourself things that go against your core beliefs about yourself seems to be a waste of time and produces whole heap of guilt and condemnation while you wonder why you can’t overcome your resistance to success.

My perspective is that if we could be all we can be by our own effort, then we really don’t need the help of God. Then some of the scriptures would be either an outright lie or a misrepresentation of God. Bible verses like Genesis 12:2, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”

If we could talk ourselves into greatness we would all be good and avoid evil. We would all live healthy happy lives and our relationships would be full of love and joy. Only good things would come our way because we declared it to be so. I’ve taken classes that promised me this if I just learned to clear my mind of all negativity and chanted the right words. I spent countless hours trying to keep at this and by appearances, I was the epitome of a healthy happy woman in a perfect marriage raising a bunch of amazing wonderful children. Outside, my facade was quite amazing. Inside, I was grieving and wondered if I would ever be happy or healthy or wise.

I continued in this struggle of pretence versus truth for more than ten years. Then I was introduced to the Truth and it was the Truth that set me free to be my true authentic self.

The Problem with Mantras 

Mantras are a group of self-elevating affirmations that one might repeat to oneself over and over while in a state of induced relaxation. These words are often directed by someone other than yourself like a life coach or a guru who tells you what you should be saying to yourself.

The Solution 

Jesus told his disciples to follow him. After three years of teaching them and training them, He performed the ultimate sacrifice for them so that they could access Him and His Father through the Holy Spirit by dying on the cross for them (and the whole world) to pay the way. Then He resurrected from the dead and spent fifty more days with them to fill them in on the rest of the story. He commissioned them to go and make disciples, teaching them everything they’d learned to build His kingdom. We now have the same access to Him and His Father through the Holy Spirit because they did what He asked and left us a living record we call the Bible.

Jesus opened a door of access to the all knowing, all present, all powerful God. Because of this open door created by shedding His blood on the cross for us we have access to the whole truth which is greater than anything we could make up on our own. He knows just what we need to know to overcome our pain, our weaknesses and our greatest fears.

In my healing journey, I have discovered again and again that the truth trumps the facts which can be misinterpretted and the only one who knows the whole truth is God. He has a perspective that can completely overturn our core beliefs. When this happens, we can turn in a new direction with much more ease and the need for repetitious sentences is reduced sometimes to zero. There are times He simply puts the facts into perspective in a way you could not understand before. AFTER the new viewpoint is received, then repeating the new understanding can be helpful to retain what you have learned.

One example of this in my own life came when God gave me a new perspective of my marriage. I felt like a failure even after trying consistently to make my husband happy by trying every idea I could manage to no avail. I still felt like a failure even after all the prayers of repentance and all the forgiving prayers I’d prayed and following all the formulas for a happy marriage that I found.

I felt I had completely failed until I heard that inner voice I’ve learned to recognize as God’s. He said, “You did not fail. Nor did you make a mistake in marrying him. I gave him as a gift to you and you were a gift to him. What each of you did with your gift was up to each of you. I know that you did the best you could considering your limitations and I am satisfied that you gave it your personal best and grew up along the way. Now, I am a God of choice and your husband made his. Will you please let him go?”

One simple statement can erase years of torment. That single conversation made it possible to release my ex-husband to his own choices and close the door to a thirty year relationship. It healed many hurts and made forgiving him for the many years of pain I felt during our marriage so much easier. I was freed from the need to compel the man to believe that I’d loved him and to prove my worth as a wife even when he’d made it clear that he didn’t want me.

It is my prayer for each of you reading this that you would find such truth from the One who is Truth. I pray that you will learn to hear that voice and recognize when He is speaking to you and that The Truth will set you free.

Behind the Anger

Behind the Anger Veil

In my last blog, I talked about anger and how it could mask the real problem and the real hurt in a person’s life. Following is a story about how I experienced this very thing in my own life. See if you can identify with this experience and follow the story to find the path I took to gain your own healing.

I was mad. I believed I had been robbed of my dignity and my character had been attacked. I was told that if I just stopped whining and complaining so much, all my problems would go away. I wondered if this was how Job felt when he was suffering.

I went home fuming. I replayed the conversation over and over again in my head. How could I have explained my concern with my brother without getting such a nasty response? I was hurting, looking for help to resolve an issue, not just whining and complaining to hear my own voice. I didn’t think I had rights that were more important than my brother’s. I had a problem that needed wise counsel, not just judgment and criticism. I had risked being vulnerable to someone I trusted and got nothing helpful to go home with, only more hurt. I wanted to tell the one I had tried to get help from what I thought of him and his “wise counsel”. I began a tirade to the Lord about this “servant of His” who was supposed to be a spokesperson for God and had done a terrible job of it. I wanted God to deal with him ever so severely and set the guy straight.

It Helps to Have Strong Friends

When I got home I called up my girlfriend. Thankfully she was not in the mood to hear my story and interrupted me. She asked me if I was willing to put my anger aside for a moment to see what the Lord wanted me to know. I was stopped in my tracks. I knew from my training and my years of practice that this was the right thing to do. I momentarily struggled with the decision to comply or continue my rant.

I complied. I put my hand on my heart and in an act of agreement, I pulled the anger out of my heart and symbolically put it in a basket. I put the basket at the foot of the cross and asked the Lord to take it.

After the Anger is Put Aside by Choice

Immediately, I felt the anger drop off and the pain behind it surfaced. She then guided me through the steps of finding what the real problem was and presenting this before God for His perspective. 

I’d had a fall-out with my brother. I really loved him and admired him. I was really hurt by the harsh words he had spoken to me. I knew the whole thing was over a misunderstanding and I did not know how to fix it. I believed I’d messed up and that our relationship was broken beyond repair. I had no idea how to correct the misunderstanding and restore the relationship.

Beyond that, when I went to a staff member at my church to try to sort it all out, he too misunderstood my conversation, became impatient with me and dismissed me with a remark like, “Women like you need to learn to stop whining and complaining. Then you might start getting along with others.” I was crushed believing that there was something terribly wrong with me. Outwardly I was angry. Inwardly I was decimated.

  

As I put the anger aside, the Lord gently took me to the first time I felt so crushed. I found it in my very first year of school when a boy told me that if I was a friend of the “retard” (Down’s syndrome child in our class), that I was retarded too. I loved the boy with the round face and was hurt to be put in a category that somehow made me feel less than the bully. I believed that there was something wrong with me. I remained friends with my friend but was taunted along with him every day as we walked home from school together.

The Lord revealed to me that there was nothing “wrong” with me and asked me to forgive the child bully, which I did immediately. The Lord also showed me that He loved my compassion and open heart towards those who were different from everybody else. He also showed me many other truths throughout the situation.

In the end, I was able to forgive the person I went to for counsel and received help from the Lord for my brother and me. He worked in both of us.  We are getting along very well today. 

In many times and in many ways the father of lies embeds lies into our lives. This is especially true while we are very young and unable to process the things we hear and experience in light of the truth. Once those lies turn into beliefs they can cause us to self destruct over the course of our lifetime. 

Letting God bring truth to those false beliefs can be life saving. The truth can open the door to restoration of precious relationships, peace in our hearts and the ability to help others so that our world can get better rather than continue in its natural course towards destruction. I know this experience was a life changer. It set me on a path that made my response to people who did not understand me much more compassionate. I gained an ability to forgive more quickly. I am not nearly so easily hurt or offended and there is room for more joy in my life than ever before. My prayer is that this will happen for you the reader as well.

Hearing God’s Voice

Hearing God’s Voice  

The art of hearing God’s voice is one that can be cultivated. I highly recommend it. When you practice hearing God’s voice, it makes knowing what to do in any given situation easier.

A Relationship Blows Up

We all have disagreements one time or another. No one is exempt it seems. In a previous post, I talked about the fruit of the Spirit. At no time is this put to the test more than when there has been a major disagreement between two parties. I am no exception. It came to pass that when I went to visit a woman with my very young family in tow, the circumstances were ripe for an outburst.

I arrived very much later than I had intended and their dad who had arrived much earlier was unwilling to help with the three babies who were cold, wet and extremely tired. 

The woman stepped in to fill in the gap and began to unwrap and change babies beside me. I was annoyed with their father who would not get out of his warm bed to lend a hand and it was apparent that things were not set up in a way that the babies would feel safe and cozy. The playpens were in the laundry room with the freezer across the hall from the guest room. I had not planned well. I made a remark of complaint loud enough for their father to hear. 

Immediately the woman dropped the child in her hands into the playpen, deeply offended and stormed up the stairs declaring, “Well you don’t have to take it on me!”

I was chagrinned. I could not take back the foolish words out of my mouth and I could not get my attitude under control. In time, the children were put to bed and the three-year-old fell right to sleep, but the twins who were just eighteen months old cried and cried. They were in a strange place, cold, and scared. Their cries were heard upstairs because they were right below the lady’s room. I finally went and got them and brought them to bed with me and my husband. At last they fell asleep and I began to dose. Their dad picked them up off me and took them to their playpens in the next room. They awoke and cried and cried again. 

I could not allow them to cry indefinitely. I brought them back to our bed, and they fell asleep. Once again, their dad woke them and returned them to their beds. The cycle repeated itself several times. The last time I brought them to bed must have been around 4am. At that point I threatened my husband with murder if he touched them one more time. I reminded him that there was a couch he could sleep on.

All the while, I knew that I owed this woman a sincere apology. I also knew that she was not sleeping either and there was nothing I could do to make things better. I thought and thought about how I was going to fix the problem I had created by complaining to someone who was not responsible for my attitude.

In the morning after perhaps four hours of dosing off and on and no real restful sleep, I made an attempt to ask for forgiveness. It did not turn out well since she had no more sleep than I. My response to her tirade was to pack up my babies and take them and myself two hours down the road and visit my mother.

My mom was sympathetic and wise, redirecting my attention to the Lord gently but persistently. She suggested I pray and try again to apologize when I wasn’t so tired. In due season, I did.

Unfortunately, the response was not a positive one. It looked to me like she may have been angry with me for a long time and that there had been an accumulation of issues that I was not aware of. The late-night incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. I was hurt and did not know what else to do.

God Grows More Fruit in Me

I asked God to grow more fruit in me. I prayed blessings on her. I asked for brilliant ideas. My husband and her husband tried to talk to us. I was not willing to try again unless I had some idea how to approach her that would solicit a positive response. I waited. Time passed. I found myself growing patience, kindness and love toward her as I prayed. Yet I did not know what to say to her.

About two years went by. I’d heard through the grape vine that she had remained angry and unforgiving. I waited some more.

When the Time is Right, God Speaks

One day in the middle of the week, while I was making up the beds, I heard a clear voice say, “Call her.” Sometimes when you hear God’s voice you don’t have to ask questions. You just know what He means.

I argued with Him, “You know she’s just going to yell at me again.”

“Call her.”

“Ok, I’ll call her, but you know she doesn’t even answer the phone when my husband calls her to chat. She has call display so she doesn’t have to talk to me. If you want me to call her, she has to answer the phone because if her husband answers, I’ll just say hi to him and I won’t be asking for her.” Funny how we can argue with our heavenly Father like that. I was scared to hear her wrath like the last two times she had communicated with me.

So I called her. She answered the phone. We had a tearful reunion that remained until she passed away twenty years later. I’d grown some fruit in those two years. Reconciliation can happen with good fruit growing in our lives.

Learn to Hear God’s Voice

May I suggest that you learn how to hear God’s voice. One way to start is to read through the Bible bit by bit asking God to explain passages that you don’t quite understand or simply talking it over with Him. Write down what you think He is saying to you and check it out with someone who has more experience with it than you. Those who seek Him will find Him and hear Him. With practice you will get to know how He communicates with you on a personal level.

Do You Want Your Life to be Fruitful?

The Fruit of the Spirit

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22 & 23

I remember when I first understood this verse. I’d memorized it and tried for years to produce this kind of fruit in my life. It was written on a plaque over my stove and I reviewed it often. 

I had a large family and was a busy mom. I knew I wasn’t doing a very good job of loving. I didn’t know what joy was. My home was chaotic, not peaceful and I’d regularly run out of patience, kindness and gentleness. As I saw it the only thing I was any good at was faithfulness to my husband and children.

The Light Slowly Dawns 

One day as I looked at the plaque, I was bemoaning my lack of obvious fruit, confessing my sin of impatience and unkindness once again after yet another episode of barking at the kids.

I stopped suddenly in the middle of stirring the pot on the stove when I heard a near audible voice say, “Read that plaque again.” 

So, I began to rattle off the line “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” 

“Can you read it more slowly, please.”

“Ok,” I replied, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”

“Stop. Again, more slowly,” the voice interrupted.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love.”

“STOP!” more sternly. “Now one more time SLOWLY.”

With a sigh I began, “The fruuuuit of the Spiiirrriiiit.”

“Stop,” the voice interrupted yet again. “Did you get it?”

“What?” I cried exasperated. I had no idea.

The Simple Lesson

“It says the fruit of the SPIRIT. It does not say the fruit of you. If you want more patience and love, then ask the Spirit to grow some.”

On that day a light dawned in me. There I was trying to produce what only the Spirit of Christ can give. Since that day, I experienced times when only a prayer for more fruit in my life saved a relationship. This was most evident while I was raising my children. I remember one day particularly when I was tired and one of my children was particularly defiant and rebellious. I wanted to throw her out the window but managed to have enough self-control in me to command her to go to her room so that I would not act on instinct. As she ran up the stairs she announced to me that I was a horrible mother. Ouch.

I chased her up the stairs to deal with her. I was arrested mid-way and felt prompted to ask for a boost of patience. By the time I reached her room, she had thrown herself onto her bed screaming into her pillow. 

I knelt beside the bed and silently asked the Lord to grow more fruit in me. I immediately felt calmer. A new atmosphere of peace seemed to flow into the room. My daughter stopped screaming and her shoulders began to shake. I was wondering what was going on so I asked her. “Sweetheart, what are you thinking?”

She suddenly jumped up onto her knees with a big smile on her face. “I just want to hug you mommy,” she giggled. I cannot explain the transformation that just happened before my very eyes. Not only did I enjoy a new measure of spiritual fruit in that moment, but so did she. 

With a new perspective on these nine “fruit of the Spirit”, I began to see the difference between love according to the Spirit and love according to mankind. The Holy Spirit is very giving. Joy is not related to circumstances and neither are the rest of the fruit. 

May you invite the Spirit of Christ into your life and discover all the wonders of His fruit when they start growing in you.   

Free from Things Others Do

Free from Things Others Do

Have you ever noticed that you seem to be the target of a series of people in your life who do negative things to you? Let me explain what I mean by that by telling you a story from my own life.

When I was about 22 years old, I was a single mother of a little girl. I had a “friend” who wanted to give me a pair of ski pants for a four-year-old boy. They were torn at the knees, worn out at the ankles and the elastic straps over the shoulders were stretched out beyond help. I tried to refuse them. 

She told me, “I know you will need them, you are poor and I am doing you a favour here. Take good care of them and give them back to me when you are done with them. They are important to me because they are a keepsake to me.”

I tried again to refuse them, but she wouldn’t hear of it and I didn’t have the strength to offend her by insisting on refusing her offer. I knew that this “gift” had strings attached. I thought she would expect them back in better condition than she had given them to me. 

I was really bothered by this strange act of kindness which didn’t feel good at all. I felt trapped into storing something I didn’t want, and that I would be obliged to dress my cute little girl in ugly worn brown snow pants three to four years down the road.

Over the course of the next couple of years others gave me “gifts” with strings attached. Even though I said thank you again and again, it seemed I was never grateful “enough”.

Finally, I found someone I could talk to who understood the problem. She asked the Lord on my behalf where the problem began. I was taken back to an incident in my childhood at our small-town skating rink when I was about six years old.

My mom usually accompanied my brothers and me to the rink and supervised us there. She did not help us to skate, much as I wished she would. My brothers had great balance and skill in skating, but I was wobbly. One day she could not accompany us. My brothers begged her to let us go and she finally succumbed and said yes provided we all stick together and watch out for each other.

We were six, seven and nine years old. The minute we got there, my brothers forgot their pledge and I stumbled my way onto the ice. There was one man there who had often helped other children to skate. He offered me his hand and I gratefully accepted. I stayed on my feet as he guided me around the rink slowly and carefully. I was thrilled.

Where Fear Sets In

After two rounds of the rink, he lifted me up and plopped me on the side boards. With a hand on either side of me, I felt a sudden rush of fear. I frantically looked around for my brothers and could not spot them. All the other adults were behind glass in the warm up room chatting with one another and not looking at the ice. The man leaned very close to me and said, “I did something nice for you, now you owe me and have to do something nice for me.”

“What do you want?” I whimpered. 

“You owe me a kiss.” he said.

I felt trapped and there seemed to be no one to help me. I’d been trained as a child to be quiet and didn’t know yet that there were exceptions to the rule.

Finding Truth in the Past that Affects the Future

As I recounted the story to my friend, she asked Jesus to bring me truth. As I was feeling the fear of the memory and the sting of the words, “I did something nice for you, now you owe me.” I suddenly saw Jesus appear between us facing me. 

“That is a lie,” Jesus told me. “If a person offers a gift, they do not have the right to get paid for it.” Then He took a cloth and wiped a little chalk board clean in front of the man.

The memory faded and my little girl heart felt safe and secure. Then the Lord turned to me and said, “You don’t owe me anything either. You’ve been trying to pay me back for salvation from the moment you accepted me as your Lord. Salvation is a free gift offered to anyone who will receive it.”

I was surprised to hear that. “What about serving you as Lord and Master?” I wondered.

“Certainly, I am your Lord and your Master. But I would much prefer it if you would serve me because you want to, not because you have to. Service given in love is far more precious to me than service out of obligation.”

Immediately, I felt a peace and a love wash over me and through me that is very hard to describe. Yet it was tangible to me and I felt warmly loved and treasured. It’s easy to serve someone who makes me feel so loved.

Since that day, I have received many gifts and have enjoyed them without any strings attached. Some of those gifts may have been given by people who normally attach expectations of deep and abiding gratitude or special treatment of their gift (like putting their picture in a prominent place in my living room), but I have not been affected by it since Jesus revealed the truth to me. Furthermore, I have had no more trouble with inappropriate sexual demands since then either. You can have this too.