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Monthly Archives: April 2016

April 28, 2016

Offended

Written By: Petra Rodriguez

Do you find yourself feeling offended often? I encounter this reality every single day. Many people are so offended with me, by others, by places, and ideas. This past Resurrection Sunday I experienced just that; the children in our family were cracking confetti eggs on whomever they had an opportunity to do so, which is a custom on that holiday. They decided to crack some on my head, which was fine, but when it came down to getting ready to grub I asked them to stop, so that confetti wouldn’t fall into my meal. Did they listen?! No!

I felt angry, disrespected, and immediately offended throughout the rest of the day.  I replayed the scene over and over in my head because I felt wronged by my family. Mentally rehashing the offense caused me to eventually forget what I really loved about them, and all the times they have brought joy, happiness and love into my life. Holding offense was not worth losing the richness that is family. I forgave and asked God to forgive me and decided to move on.

How have you been offended? Reasons to find offense surround us- bosses, employees, and people’s beliefs. However, offense is really an issue of the self. It has nothing to do with the other person who is offending you; it has everything to do with you. Yes, some people say and do things that may seem ridiculous to you. But we as human beings must learn to love each other past our differences. Have you ever thought about how you say and do things that are ridiculous to others? The issue of being offended has to do with how we respond. Offense will be given, but it doesn’t have to be taken. Offense changes us on the inside as we hold resentment, bitterness, strife, and un-forgiveness… which in the long run turns into gossip. This robs us from having peace and being at peace with others.

Luke 17:1-4 NIV Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

“We should be too BIG to take offense and too NOBLE to give it”. Abraham Lincoln

RELECTION

What issues in your life are you choosing to be offended over? They could be feelings of frustration, feelings of entitlement, negative words, not feeling valued, unfairness, and/or different beliefs.

Or we can choose not to be offended, which has several advantages:

    We can listen to and understand people better.

    We increase our opportunities to learn.

    We can more easily resolve conflict.

    We grow our ability to influence the world around us.

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April 21, 2016

The Fullness of Him

Written By Amber Lawton

In the middle of an extremely cramped space I stood waiting. Waiting for what would be that day’s purge. My living conditions had become unbearable, as there were but a few empty spaces I could actually step foot. Clean clothes, dirty clothes, trash, and keepsakes sat in piles surrounding me. Embarrassed, with chaos hidden behind a locked door, I kept my secret as long as I could, unable to ask for help. I wanted so badly to tell my roommates how lost I felt. I wanted to be able to open my mouth and say the words. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t ask for help, because if I did I would have to admit I was not the super woman I was trying to be. I would have to admit that my mistakes and failures were weighing on me to the point I didn’t have the sufficient energy to pick up a broom. No one wants to be the messy girl in a house full of productive, up and coming career women.

There I stood with plans of what to get rid of, what to keep, and where to clean. The plan was quite simple, but the execution was non-existent. Being an over-achieving organized person has its faults. If you’re like me you will find that we can be great at fixing and strategizing for others. We even learn how to compartmentalize categories for ourselves. Yet, there is always that one area where disorder will show up. In my case it was my living space.

Every day I stood waiting, asking myself if today would be the day that the cleaning process would begin. Every day the answer was no.

“You don’t have time. You’re too tired from the day that still seems to be going.” I thought. My mind would tell my body on a consistent basis not today, and I agreed. I was tired. I was burned out.

Still I stood waiting for the purge to happen; the one that would bring me an emptiness I could feel. In the middle of that room surrounded by piles of belongings I was standing on a scale. Having taken pills to counteract the food I had just eaten I stared at the number on the scale. I followed a pretty strict diet most days, and over exercised on the days I didn’t. To top it all off I was on an unending cycle between detox and diet with very brief periods in between where I would give my body a break. Diet pills, diuretics, fiber, and even epsom salt were on the list of consumables that I would take to get to that comfortable empty. I didn’t want to categorize myself as bulimic since I wasn’t model thin. But I realize now that is exactly what I was.

During adolescence I began binge eating as a way of comfort. Filled with anxiety, and emotion I would stuff myself until I could almost vomit. I say almost because vomiting was not a habit I liked enough to continuously do. Instead I gained weight. This only advanced the issues of rejection, hurt, guilt, and shame I was dealing with. In my early twenties I found out there was more than one way to eliminate a nasty binge. There was a whole aisle in the drugstore with over the counter pharmaceutical treats. Filling up, then emptying out, that was the process. Of course when my diet became restrictive I couldn’t fill up the way I wanted. I mean who binge eats on salad? *raising hand* I did. When I really couldn’t fill my stomach I had many other compulsive behaviors to swap in the place of food. If you hadn’t already guessed the pile of clothes were purchases made with money I didn’t have on things I did not need.

Each behavior led to a temporary fulfillment to counteract the emotion I was feeling in the moment. The impulse with food felt different from the others. I could rationalize that everyone gets hungry. What I failed to ask myself is what if your hunger doesn’t stop? What if with each bite you savor the taste a little more, a little longer, not wanting the meal to end. Your stomach is saying “put down the fork or you’ll explode” and your brain is saying “you better not stop, this tastes way too good, and will make up for all the emotional pain.” So I kept eating, thinking of ways I could get rid of the excess later.

What I remember most about those exhaustive days is there was never a point of “enough”. The filling I experienced was one of desperation. I felt hollow emotionally. Like the tin man I cried out for a new heart; one that hadn’t been battered, and bruised. A heart that didn’t feel non-existent. I turned to food for comfort, and an empty stomach for relief. I found myself in a destructive cycle I could not get out of. At one point I made a dangerous adjustment to my diet by mostly having foods filled with fiber. I would give myself “cheat” moments, but then even that could become extreme as I might use that one cup of frozen yogurt as my only meal for the day. I give you these details because I want you to sense the frantic rationalization going through my brain. Like a car speeding on the freeway in the middle of the night my thoughts zoomed, racing, excusing the behavior that could destroy me.

If food was that good, and my cravings wouldn’t subside, then why did I always find it necessary to empty out? Why was I looking for the comfort of feeling light, and nothingness in my body? Because the fullness I was experiencing was not what I needed. Spiritually in that time of my life I found myself pulling further and further away from God. I was ashamed of the fact that I once had a closeness with God and still chose sin over Him. I knew right from wrong. I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me saying “Don’t do that,” or “Don’t go there,” or “Just stay with me. I love you.” Instead of drawing closer I stepped away. Pride had me believe that what I needed were tangible things (people, possessions, etc.) to fill the emptiness. Not wanting to be a hypocrite I went to church less and less. If I did attend I rarely paid attention. There weren’t any worship songs in heavy rotation on my playlist, and the bible wasn’t a book I liked to read. Like a star lost in the night sky, I found myself pulling closer to a black hole, knowing that on the other side was a darkness I did not want to experience. I couldn’t help myself. Nor did I think I deserved anything better.

Piecing together what was happening in that time of my life I realize that I was missing the fear of the Lord. He was like the size of an ant, and I was holding a magnifying glass toward Him to see Him. There was no reverential awe toward Him. I didn’t understand how the creator of everything could fill me up to a filling that would cause me to never hunger those things again. I didn’t care to know how His filling was passionate and not desperate. I found comfort in the emptiness and thought I couldn’t be fixed.

Proverbs 19:23a says: ‘The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction.’

With humility I had to set myself in a place to be able to see God clearly. In order to face my problems I had to first recognize the one who kept speaking to me over and over even when I walked away. There were moments I asked myself “do you want to live?” Sometimes the answer wasn’t clear. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t living, but I didn’t want to die either.

There were many other issues going on in my life at that time. And like a shattered glass on the tile floor I found myself lying in the middle of the bathroom floor too broken to get up. As I cried and cried all I remember saying is “God I really need you now, and if you get me through this one day and show me that it’s possible to keep living then I will try.” Little by little I gave Him more and more, and He didn’t force me beyond my comfort… at first.   

In times of feeling lost, God brought me to a place of direction. In times of angst, He brought me to a place of peace. When I was feeling empty, He would touch my heart and bring me comfort. That comfort was something I could experience on a Sunday worship experience, but rarely sought on my own.

A few years ago I heard a pastor once say that Sunday should be like the encore to your week. ‘For many of us we walk in church depleted, and empty, waiting for God to fill us. When what should really be happening is an experience of Him unlike any other. We should want His glory every day of the week, and Sunday should be the added bonus.’ From that moment I started noticing how dissatisfied I was. I kept going to church for a quick fix, but I hadn’t learned how to have a sustainable diet of Him.

Since that moment though I felt a stronger push from Him. A nudging past the elementary comfort I placed myself in. I was no longer in control. Yes, I still had free will, and choices to make. But if I wanted what He was offering to me I had to willingly give up anything that was displeasing to Him. I had to recognize his lordship over my life. I had to be willing to say “God you know what’s best.”

Did I always smile through it? No, not always. Sometimes I would cry gripping tight when I should let go. Were my paths always straight and easy? Not. at. All. There was plenty of twisting and winding as I went left when I should have gone right. Still, He never let me go. He showed me who He was. He showed me His majesty, His heart, His love for me, and the magnitude of who He really is.

In the current season of my life I have been challenged in the area of relationships, and have battled loneliness. This is a big deal for me because loneliness causes compulsive behaviors to bubble up. In the middle of this “lonely” season I spent a week on a ranch without contact to the outside world. My access to any technology was very limited, and all of my activities were Christ centered. If the concept of this doesn’t already sound challenging to you, imagine how I felt when I found out an old friend died on the first day I was there. Leaving in uncertainty I decided to return the following Monday for a second week. That was when I was struck hard with an overwhelming feeling of being alone. As I walked a dirt path I admitted I was tired, and what I really needed was a friend. I looked out with tears in my eyes and I said “Holy Spirit I need a friend right now. I can’t do this alone anymore. I need you to come and be my friend.” As  I stretched my arms out a wind brushed past my face, and I felt Him take my hand. For me that feeling is the fullness of Him. That even in my most uncertain moments, the ones that cause me to feel alone, and desire a hollow habit, He brings me life and peace.

The fear of the Lord leads to life because He takes away all that pains me. The fear of the Lord leads to life because I am amazed by Him and His desire for me. I can abide in satisfaction because my fear of Him isn’t conjured up by some anxious feeling over His judgement of me. I abide in satisfaction because my fear of Him is a reflection of how overwhelming His love truly is for me.

April 11, 2016

Am I Enough?

Written By Kelly Elders 

I read a quote the other day that read, “If you aren’t being treated with love and respect, check your price tag. Maybe you’ve marked yourself down. It’s you who tells people what you’re worth. Get off the clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables.”

Wow, I can look back and see how many times have I lowered my own price by my actions. Every time I fought back with hurtful words, every time I said I couldn’t accomplish something and didn’t, every time fear kept me from forming relationships, I was showing how I felt about myself. I had to make a decision to stop allowing my inadequacies or insecurities to keep me from doing what I love to do. I chose to learn and keep learning even if it’s slower or different than others.

KNOW YOUR VALUE

We need to know our value. You will protect what you value. We will do our best to protect our children because we value them. We go to great lengths to protect jewelry, important papers, memorabilia but when it comes to ourselves we tend to leave ourselves unprotected. Maybe we lower the price because we see all the imperfections. Like when you find a shirt at a store and it has an imperfection and they mark it down to sell the item. Our value doesn’t lessen because of our imperfections it increases because Christ paid the ultimate price in spite of our imperfections.

Do you daydream or wish you could do something challenging but don’t feel you have the skills, personality, education or support? First, take responsibility for your own pursuit of purpose. It was assigned to you and no one else. God gave you a specially designed purpose that He also equipped you to do. God wants to give you more than you can possibly think, dream or imagine.

Vulnerable= VALUE

Put yourself out there

Don’t avoid people just because you are afraid of being hurt. If
you understand the placement and purpose of people in your life you won’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Each person in your life falls into one of these four groups the majority of the time. Those you add, subtract, divide or multiply. If you have a subtracter make sure you have more people in your life who add and multiply or you will definitely be in the red, and by red I mean frustrated, empty and angry. You can learn from all group types but avoid Dividers at all cost. Even the hardest person can help develop the best character in you. Everyone near you has the potential to hurt you but rest in knowing that God is your Protector and your rear guard. So instead of putting all your faith into people, put your faith into God. You can only learn forgiveness if you have a reason to forgive.

Don’t be afraid to learn if it gets you closer to your purpose

We may not know all the answers on our way to our dream but God aligns us with people who are already doing what we long to do or know how to get there. Be humble enough to ask for help and be open to learn new things. Being vulnerable increases your value because you aren’t afraid to try and try again.

Allow yourself to fail but not quit. There’s not a successful person who didn’t experience failure. The difference is they chose to keep going.

No Markdowns

When you know your value, you will not allow others to mistreat you. It’s you who teaches others how to treat you. Don’t allow anyone to steal your time, joy or peace. You are too valuable to waste time trying to please others.

I can’t tell you how many women settle for men and friends who don’t value them. Just because someone doesn’t know your worth doesn’t mean you have no worth.

I had a half dollar rolling around in my purse and tried to pay using it until the clerk at a store wouldn’t take it and told me it was worth more than face value. I found out it was worth around $200. When I had it at the bottom of my purse it was still worth $200 even though I didn’t recognize or treat it according to it’s value. How people treat you doesn’t determine your
worth but how you respond shows your self worth. Once you treat yourself well others will follow.

No Price Tags

Don’t look to others to determine your worth. Don’t wait for validation from a spouse, leader, pastor, children or friends. Take back the power of value. You don’t need approval every time you volunteer, teach or accomplish a task. You know if it’s overlooked by people it’s seen by God and He will reward you openly. We all like to feel appreciated and should be, but being overlooked or unappreciated doesn’t mean your worth becomes less. We will never please everyone but we can please God by walking in faith and knowing that He has made us capable of accomplishing great things for Him and He sees ALL!

Value Has Benefits

You can pull great things towards you when you know your value and believe that you can experience blessings based on God’s goodness and not your own. You shouldn’t feel guilty when you succeed. You were created to succeed! He commissioned you to be fruitful and multiply so be productive today in all you do.

You are ENOUGH to live out your purpose
You are ENOUGH to accomplish the impossible
You are ENOUGH to have great things happen to and for you

Read More from Kelly Elders at her blog.

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