Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Woman's Influence

Many females have virtually no idea of the very influence God has given to us. We, as females, are given quite a bit of authority and influence, just as men also are given --only in different roles. Ours isn't to be undermined or downplayed because it isn't any less important, only different. We hold in our hands the very direction in which our families go and in turn where society goes. And if you know the influence God offers you as a woman, you'll be far less likely to be so passive about the way you dress, the things you say, the tone you use or the way you carry yourself. As women, if we fulfill the role He meant us for--which is far more encompassing than most women ever imagined, He will honor and protect us in ways that surpass any relationship on earth.

Before I go any farther, I don't want to sound like some liberal women's rights activist or feminist. Nothing could be farther from the truth...it's not about our ability as women so-to-speak as it is the ability of God to work in us. But we cannot overlook the aspect of honoring His plan for us as women. We girls are given a lot, and to whom much is given--much is also expected. I think it's high time we stop living under the lies we've been told that we have no affect and start owning the influence that we have as women--both  in our families and in society.

I started out reading a book that, to be honest I didn't want to read. I moaned and groaned as I ordered James Dobson's "Bringing Up Girls" on my Nook. I knew perfectly well God was leading me to it and I went like a reluctant child with my head and shoulders hung down. Aside from the fact that it was over 300 pages long, I didn't want to read it mostly because raising my oldest daughter has been such a challenge to me emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As a mother, she's challenged every single hair on my body to stand up straight and take on new ways in order to ensure that she got the very best.  It's up to me to teach her how to be a lady--how to carry herself or how to make the right decisions.
And let me just say that quite frequently, I feel so incapable of doing this because I'm nowhere near being the perfect woman. I fail everyday. Now, I have yet another little girl to raise...who has far more spunk and determination than that baby girl from 11 years ago and it's time that I build more confidence on this matter, and I think some of you are in the same boat with me.

Women and men are different..only a crazy person will argue with that. But how different are we? We, females bring the communicative, relational and emotional factors into the mix. Males in general aren't nearly relational as we girls are, but have other God-given abilities that we females don't have. Males are different, mostly because of the way in which they were formed in the womb. At about 8 weeks or so after conception, the communication part of a male's brain is flooded with testosterone, thus washing away much of the communications region and the connections to the emotional parts of the brain. As a result males aren't typically as emotionally connected, communicative or relational.

We, girls, also have a natural inclination to connect several different events, people, places and / or things and have a pretty good idea if just one person or part will be negatively impacted. We think about aspects of things that our male counterparts don't--and that's purely okay because that's our dish to bring to the table. It's an important factor because, as those of you who are moms know, that's what it takes to run a household efficiently. And why should they be like us or we be like them? There is no need. God created us very differently so that when we marry, we complement each other. And when we do, we get to shine if we do our jobs as we're meant to. We get to be our husbands glory, and what woman doesn't want to make her husband proud?

Because of our abilities to relate and get down and dirty with the deepest of our emotions, we have a powerful influence in our families, workplaces, churches and other places we tend to hang out. We bring a factor to the table that is unique. Simple things like the way we carry ourselves or our moods impact everything around us. Think about it-- if you're a mom every single member of your household is influenced by your behaviours, your moods and every aspect of who you are even when you don't think it's important.

We all know moms who let their daughters dress too revealing or overindulge their kids. Of course no mom is perfect, just as no dad is BUT have you ever noticed that mom can be the real show stopper when it comes to the way her daughter presents herself, acts or dresses? Have you ever noticed that WE teach our girls about the opposite sex and that teaching determines whether or not they'll respect their male counterparts? Come one girls, we have more say influence and say-so in these kids lives than we give ourselves credit for. We determine so much about them simply in the way we present ourselves.

Most of the stories we hear of rehabilitated marriages and families have started with the changing of the woman's mind or attitude, not the man's. Yes, I said MOST. We're emotional but we don't have to be irrational or out of control. We don't have to let our feelings rule us and ruin us. I'm not saying you can do it alone but if we ladies will be more of what we're meant to be instead of falling into the idea of what the world thinks we should be, our husbands and our children stand to benefit the most.

As women, our relational influences are far more reaching than just our husbands and our children. But what if you were more careful of your influence and simply changed only the direction of your own family? Let's take another step back. What if we each changed our own attitudes first? What if we ask God to change our own hearts? I know for a fact it leads to the changing of more than just your own heart. Have you ever seen a man reject a woman who wants him with her whole heart, a pure, loving and respectful heart? Not if he has a heart...Every man wants his wife to love and adore him.
We females influence everything we touch and that's not by chance. It's by God's plan. We alone, can start changing the shape of society just in our our households. I encourage you to ask God to work through you to shape your family and our society. If you want change, I encourage you to be brave and let it start with you. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On the Issue of Loyalty

Loyalty is a sensitive topic for me, and I've been told by many that my expectations are far too high for many. The older I get, the more I realize that the reason that my expectations of loyalty are so hard for many are simply due to their own struggles, not mine. That might sound like an arrogant statement to some people but in reality, it comes down to this: If you struggle with the expectations of something so simple as loyalty that one has required of you then perhaps it's because you expect so little of yourself and of them in return.

I know there is much to be said about expecting little from others, but there comes a point where each of us who have any sense of self respect must say, "Here's what I require of you in order to carry this relationship any further. And in return, here is what I'll offer you." Relationships ALL hinge on that unwritten contract, by which one or both parties have offered up their expectations. That being said, most of us will not lay any expectations out there that we won't agree to do ourselves because any other way will only lead to a failed relationship.

No marriage, no parent-child relationship, no sibling relationship or friendship can be functional without those boundaries or expectations. I'm on my second marriage and if I've learned anything in life, and in my dysfunction relationships, I've learned that we all have to lay our expectations out there fair and square. Hiding them and pretending we don't have them only leads to broken hearts, resentment and confusion on all fronts. There are many broken families in today's world because people refuse to be loyal to one another.

I know many of you will disagree with me and say we're supposed to put others first or hide our own feelings. The truth of the matter is yes, we are supposed to work towards putting others needs ahead of our own but we are also human and we'll never fully accomplish that in this life. In order to have functional relationships and keep our hearts clean from bitterness, anger, strife, and all the other things that dirty us up we must learn to communicate our needs and expectations in a reasonable manner. At the same time we must learn that people will fail us and give them some room. We can only be responsible for ourselves.

Recently I've faced a lot of criticism for speaking out against something offensive. I wasn't rude. I simply said that it was wrong. People who weren't even involved came out of the woods to defend the guilty party for this one. I was taken by surprise by the lack of loyalty people had to Christ, a value system many of them SAID they held dearly but when the rubber met the road, most of them made a jerk out of me for speaking up for my values and ignored the fact that my speaking out was the least offensive thing done here.

I felt strongly that it was time to speak up and I stand by that choice. Sometimes we must make choices to honor Him even when no one else believes it's right. Besides honoring Him, it also honors my family by showing my willingness to protect them. Not one person in this world is worth befriending if that friend compromises the belief system that I or my family hold.

The truth of the matter is, you're either a guilty party or you're not. In being guilty, you might very well be merely a conspirator by means of silence (or your laughter of support). As a mother of three, a wife and a Christian woman it comes down to one thing for me---loyalty. Who are you loyal to? Who do you seek to please?

I can tell you this, I had no support from family, at least none that was spoken outright. As a matter of fact, those who claim to love and support me and knew about this never lifted a voice while I was taking the heat. There are many reasons that family doesn't support you, especially in things of God, but in this situation there are unnamed players who only work on the back end to label me and cause strife among those kin to me all because I spoke up for what I believe. Satan must really have a problem with me doing so.

The fact that I had been told I was wrong for doing what I felt in the pit of my heart was right hurt. It was, to me a form of disloyalty. It shouldn't surprise me that people, including family will stand against me because the Bible says it will happen. My situation is all too common, family members refusing to back other family members for one reason or the other. Most of the time, it's because some other party got involved and twisted things. But we just have to keep doing what we know is right even when we feel we've been served a bit of injustice. In the end, it's not about us but about Him.

If you seek to please yourself, you're guilty along with the rest of them. That's just the way it is. You either stand with Him or against Him. Don't stand and say you believe in Christ and then support man in evil ways. Those evil ways that many people label as "innocent" destroy children and marriages-- whole families. There is NOTHING more important on this Earth than marriage and the family structure in His eyes. If you're not willing to stand and fight for things that are important to Him, you might as well be against Him.

We are each known by the company that we keep because that bleeds over into our priorities, thoughts, beliefs and in turn it affects who we serve. With all that being said, I ask you this: Whose rules do you follow as you live out your life, raise your families and build your marriages / relationships? Is it a multitude of rules from different places or do they all stem from one reliable source, HIM? Who do you seek to please the most? And are you willing to stand up and fight for it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Yesterday, I was listening to a preacher on television talk about the covenant the Jewish people have with God. The preacher's name is irrelevant but he said that once we become believers in Jesus Christ, we also have that covenant as well. My first thought, "Wow, that's awesome. So I'm as important as a Jew to God?"

Before we go any further, it's important that you understand what the word covenant means. A covenant is an agreement between two people or between two groups of people--or between God and a group of people. In this instance, covenants are pretty much defined as His promises to us in return for our faith and obedience. Without our faith, His promises are still good but then again that wouldn't be a covenant, would it? He doesn't need us to accomplish them, but we can't whine and complain if we aren't holding up our end of the bargain either.

As I listened to the preacher talk, God spoke to my heart and showed me how He handpicked me. I didn't come from a long line of believers. There was never this great faith or promise of blessings passed down from generation to generation. He reached out in the midst of a mess and picked me to save from the train wreck that was ahead. He knew me before I was formed in my mother's womb and He knew the mistakes I would make, yet He loved me all along.

He held me tightly and has never let go of me. He didn't have to pick me. He didn't need me. He knew that I was weak, that I had nothing to bring, but he still picked me. He knows my flaws like none other but he still loves me more than any human ever will. I can't think of a single way in which I stand out or do a single thing better than anyone or anything, but He picked me as one of His-- and for that my heart is overjoyed, humbled and overfilled with love for Him. He had His hand on me all along.

There is no other explanation for my life than this. I cannot take credit for any good in my life, it's all Him. I cannot say it's of my own doing because, without God, I'm as prone to self destruction as anyone else. I think about all the times in my life where I could have fallen, but He didn't allow it. Then there were times I did fall, but He still had mercy on me. In all honestly, I should be so much worse off than I am.

If you know Him, never forget that we're all handpicked, like delicate flowers. He gently picks us long before we bud and then He holds us in His almighty hands to ensure we each get a chance to bloom. Everyone of us who believe are handpicked, not because we have any great quality but because we are so weak He is so merciful.
 He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. Psalm 72:13
 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10
If you don't know Him, there's a reason you're reading this--maybe He's already picked you and wants your attention and your whole heart. Being a Christian doesn't mean you're perfect or that you stop sinning. Christianity is about giving up what you want to what He wants. The more you do that, the more He shapes and molds you. He is real, no matter what the world says. He isn't just some idea or some way of life. The only way you can have a chance at being what you were meant to be is by following Him, seeking His face and yielding to His ways.

Being handpicked doesn't mean you don't have a choice. It just means that even when you aren't aware, He's holding you. Do you ever feel held? Do you ever feel comforted and healed and you just can't explain it? Don't kid yourself and think that it's some kind of "inner strength". Everything good is of God, make no mistake about it. We have no "inner strength" of our own. We're all weak, it's the very nature of man.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity to enter into a convenant with The only God there is. The fact that He only expects my faith and obedience only further prove His great mercy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bitter to Forgive

I'm not a betting girl, but I'm pretty sure we all have some issue with forgiveness from time to time. When the topic of forgiveness arises, I'm all ears because I feel that the topic isn't discussed nearly enough for our human brains to truly get it. I've been quite guilty of holding grudges more than the average person in my 35 years of life and I'm finding more and more that I'm not the only one with this problem. We're a grudge-holding, bitter-biting society as a whole and I think unforgiveness is one of the most common hindrances to our growth and our intimacy with God. It seems to me that unforgiveness is right up on the list with some of the sins that we consider criminal.

I am the first born of three and I've always, until I hit my 30s, had a hard time relating to other people.  I have a whole slew of issues that should have made me even more dysfunctional than I am but by the grace of God I am alive, have healthy kids, a great job, a home, the most wonderful husband a woman could ask for and best of all--I know The Lord. But I have found more reasons than I care to admit to hold a grudge or carry bitterness over the years.

I had somehow adopted this idea that holding a grudge hurts that other person. I have often denied carrying any bitterness whatsoever about some of the wrongs done to me over the years. But He wouldn't let me lie to myself or to Him for that matter. Months ago, He kicked the dirt off of my bitterness, basically telling me that the bitterness has to go if I want to continue to have a relationship with Him.

That was a rude awakening for me. It was hard realizing that I carried those things for so long, much less letting go of them. No wonder I felt so heavy all those years. Frankly I never fully grasped forgiveness until this occurrence. I never really understood the aspects of forgiveness or even why I it behooved me to forgive. I suppose I had a pretty good grip on my bitterness, which kept me from wanting to hear the truth.

That being said, I am relatively young in my spiritual growth so if you're farther along and full of bitterness , I'm calling "bologna" on you because I do not believe He will allow you to carry on a fulfilling relationship with Him while you tight-fistedly clench to bitterness from things that were done to you. If you're a mature Christian, He's worked with you a time or two on forgiveness. None of us are exempt.

A few reasons to forgive are:
  1. He commands us to. Mark 11:25: And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
  2. He forgave and continues to forgive each of us. (Not one of us are worthy.) Col 3:13: Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
  3. It's critical for our Christian growth. 
  4. We're not meant to carry the burden of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness weighs us down and makes us useless. It causes us to hurt in ways we never thought possible and ruins relationships.
  5. Forgiveness brings peace to the forgiver.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 
It was quite significant for me when I realized that it was hypocritical for me to ask Him for forgiviness, yet withhold it from someone who I felt had wronged me. Who am I to judge or weigh the sins? Some key aspects about forgiveness are:
  1. It's a choice. Choose to forgive despite your "feelings' .
  2. Pray for His help. We can set our minds to things all day long but forgiveness cannot be done fully apart from Him. Mark 2:7
  3. It is ongoing. We might have to forgive over and over as long as the issue comes up in our minds. We face battles in our minds daily and this is just one of them.
  4. It's not the same as trust or reconciliation. Just because you forgive doesn't mean you have to trust them, or ever want them in your life again. (This was key for me.)
  5. It doesn't require anything on their part. Don't wait on them to apologize. You'll carry the baggage of unforgiveness while waiting and it's just not worth what it does to you.
These are all things I had to learn about forgiveness, personally. It took me years to learn them. I have to remind myself of these things every single time someone wrongs me in order to move forward in my walk with God. Quite often, I have to remind myself of these things when I start recalling things from years ago. Otherwise I'm stuck-- because that's what unforgiveness does to us.

You can always spot bitter people a mile away because they wear it. Bitterness becomes their attitude and their clothing and their decisions. They have no ability to love others as He commanded. Most of all, they have no peace and no joy.
As Christians, we're commanded to be the light of the world, the salt of the Earth and to have a joy that others see and want. Why let a little thing like unforgiveness keep us from that joy? Other people's wrongs should simply be their issues. We have to be careful to not let their weaknesses and issues hold us back from growing spiritually.