Marilyn Malara is my friend at Church by the Glades who graciously agreed to be my first (EVER!) guest-blogger. I love her perspective in the following & hope it encourages you the way it encouraged me…
As a college student with little accountability when it comes to bedtime, I’m occasionally awake during the wee-hours of the morning doing nothing in particular. Sometimes during these late nights alone, I find my thoughts wandering around my insecurities, poking at them, coaxing them out of their tiny hiding places. Some nights I found myself staring into a mirror, loathing my appearance. Other nights, my skills and intellect would be harassed, leaving me feeling unworthy and stupid. I was being attacked! I realized there were a lot of factors that allowed the enemy to get so close to my heart, three having to do with my being alone, mentally tired, and unwilling to guard my heart with the Word. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” I heard somewhere once that the only human who can entirely resist the devil’s persuasive attempts while alone, tired, and hungry was Jesus. However, we, being fallen and often vulnerable, should avoid total isolation because we know from Matthew 4:1-11 that the enemy quickly tries to take advantage of opportunities to lead us into darkness. Knowing this, I decided to begin going to sleep at a reasonable time, letting the Lord recharge and prepare my heart, body, and mind for serving Him the following day. I now spend the time I previously spent alone and sad resting in the Lord instead, which is so much better! I’ve also decided to spend less time on the Internet, especially at night, as most of my insecurities were stemming from it. Another thing I felt I should do was to keep the Word closer to my heart, as Jesus did when being tempted by the devil in Matthew. Whenever the devil attempted to persuade Jesus to blaspheme or sin, Jesus quickly defended His heart and caught the devil in his lies with memorized scripture. I can confidently say that I have found freedom from these late-night sessions of heightened insecurity. If you are struggling with some similar problems, remember that the Lord doesn’t keep freedom for Himself, but gives it away generously without restraint. Have faith in that!
“I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10) Why was Adam afraid & hiding? Consider these: Teacher, I heard you were tough, but I was afraid, so I cheated; Boss, I heard you’d be in today, but I was afraid, so I called in sick; Church, I heard what the sermon was about, but I was afraid, so I didn’t go; Spouse, I heard you come home, but I was afraid, so I turned off the computer; God, I heard your voice in my heart, but I was afraid, so I hid behind denial.
In Genesis 3:10 the root meaning of “voice” means “to call aloud.” So Adam definitely heard God calling him–he wouldn’t have hid if he didn’t. Is there something God’s calling me on but I am hiding from Him? It’s a good sign if there’s a “voice” in my tummy that I can’t seem to get rid of. This voice does not mean we have to hide; it means we can come OUT of hiding & make something right. We aren’t in trouble with God when we confess our stuff to Him. Rather, the trouble we get in, is when we don’t go to Him at all. There’s alot more trouble in hiding, than standing there, naked in our “crap.” God can make ALL wrongs right. Out of amazing love, God seeks us when we do wrong. And it’s our gateway to freedom when we let Him.
I was in this crowded, chaotic Macy’s, when I heard something that did NOT sound good. So I made my way to the commotion when I saw a teenage girl, frozen in the vice of her mother, as the mom repeatedly hit her on the back. I got closer & heard the mom yelling to her, “You are an embarrassment to me!” An eerie silence descended on this corner of the store as the only audibles were smacks to a back & verbal bullets being shot through a soul. As a Christ-follower, there are moments when we feel God’s compassion take plight in our heart & it compels us to action. So I made my way out of the Macy’s, into the main mall area & immediately & fiercely starting praying. By now, I had to put my sunglasses on because I was crying over what I just saw…It couldn’t have been more than 15 minutes, when I looked up & standing nearby was that mom. I quickly prayed, “God, give me the words,”& I approached her. “Ma’am, hi, um, pardon my sunglasses, but I was crying. I saw what happened in Macy’s, between you & your daughter. I can’t help but approach you & well, I guess I just wanted to know if you guys are OK?” She said her daughter had been hitting her little brother & that a 15-year old ought to know better. Then, her daughter walked up to us & I reiterated how I just wanted to make sure everyone was OK & if there was anything I could do. In a non-rude way, the mom thanked me for my compassion. And that was that. Now…who am I to approach a woman bigger than me, older than me & unknown to me in the middle of the mall? No one. But living inside of me is Someone & sometimes, He needs us to help others. I don’t want to be stupid about helping people, but I don’t want to be callous, either. Last year, I was a hurting stranger in a new place (Church by the Glades) who needed help & God provided BIG TIME. You see, it’s easier to not notice a stranger in need…’til, of course, you’re that stranger…
Today Raul and I had a good convo with friends regarding relationships, namely: be protective or be possessive? [Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this. I am solely sharing my thoughts from experience] In our relationship, Raul has been protective, but I have had the propensity to be possessive. Is there a difference? Yes. Let me explain. Raul has always protected me–he is good about not airing out our dirty laundry to people; he ensures that our home is safe with an alarm system & with getting up when things go bump in the night; and he trusts God with me even though he may not trust others around me. I, on the other hand, have had the tendency to be possessive–I have made assumptions based on my lack of trust; and early on, I tried to keep Raul on a short leash & tried to keep us together, at the cost of NOT letting God do that. When we take control of the relationship instead of God, we move from “protection” to “possession.” When we neurotically assume worse-case-scenarios and incessantly interrogate or suspect…we are being possessive. But people are not possessions–they are gifts. You protect a gift and most importantly, you understand that the gift is not yours. The ones we are dating or married to are God’s. He’s given them to us as His special treasure. Possess them? No. Protect them? Always. What do you all think?
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1) So I’m at Walmart and this chic comes barreling down the aisle & barks, “YOUR CART IS BLOCKING ME!” & keeps going. I barely had a chance to process her head-biting (and/or to kick her ____) & she was gone. Apparently, when she turned the corner, she blasted one more customer, because when I came into contact with that customer, she uttered, “Gee, what was HER problem?” Well I don’t exactly have a sparkly-clean rep for turning the other cheek. So this just set me off. As I finished shopping, I had this nonverbal argument with God. He kept bringing Proverb 15:1 to my mind but I kept retorting with, “God, if I run into her, (as a Christian) I’ll need to bust on her ’cause she can’t talk to people like that.” Well lo and behold, guess who was in front of me at the checkout? Mean-Lady! “God’s giving me a chance to set her straight,” I told myself. So I walked right up to her. Tapped her on the shoulder & just as I was about to proceed with my “Christian Confrontation”, this “babble” came out of my mouth: “Ma’am, back there, you yelled at me in the aisle and it kinda hurt my feelings. But I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry if I had gotten in your way. I hope everything’s ok…” Mean-Lady looked at me. Paused. And then said, “It’s OK. Thank you,” and smiled. And that was that. SHAZAAM! That bible verse DOES work! A soft answer DOES turn away wrath. And today, I’m super pumped that I got to see it play out. 🙂
Weight is often regarded as a taboo topic. But on this blog, I don’t want things to be taboo. I hope you will always find one of two things here: laughter or encouragement. That being said, lets have a conversation about weight without it being taboo & with it being encouraging. Now you might be thinking that I’m not currently battling weight nor an expert in it. And you are right. But what I CAN do is zoom the lens out and in a broader view, share what the bible says & how it’s applied to things I’ve had to overcome in my life. For starters, if we have Christ in our lives, we have HIS fruit in our spirits. The bible teachers us that one of those “fruits” is self control. Another thing the bible teaches is that our body is a temple. A house for God to hang out in, if you will. With both of these truths, God has helped me apply them & overcome things. If weight is your thing–eating too much, not eating right, or not eating enough–I believe in you that you can conquer it. You have self-control already inside of you. And your body isn’t a landfill or a wasteland it is a beautiful temple that God lives, moves and breathes in! With these two truths–that you have self-control & that you are a beautiful landlord for God’s residency, you can conquer the things that are trying to defeat you. I’m praying that you will know you are wonderful; you CAN do all things through Christ; & that He who is IN you is greater than ANYTHING that has tried to take you. You got this!
The backdrop to this photo is that when it was taken, I had just been discharged from the hospital. Back in 2009, I had had a rough year with hospital stays. Six times to be exact. Six times in one year for anywhere from 4 to 10 days. As a mommy, it was tough. It isn’t normal for kids to have their mommy be gone for that much time for that kind of reason. Captured here, you can see my joy and DJs relief that I was finally home. No sooner did I get in the door, did we climb in my big bed and just hang. We had to make up for lost times. This photo is also endearing to me because it reminds me of my relationship with God. There was a big stretch of time when I walked away from God. And then one day, I came back to Him. And like the exchange in this photo, God (my Father) was joyful. And I (his child) was relieved. And we’ve been closely hanging out making up for lost times ever since. I hope you know Him.
I am all about two things on my blog: encouragement and laughter. We’ve been doing the encouragement thing for the last few posts, so we are overdue for some LOL’ing! In the comments section, below, post a caption for this photo. My panel of judges will pick a winner tomorrow night at 8pm and we will shout the winner’s name on Facebook & Twitter and the winner will win a $100 AmEx gift card. Whoohoo! Have fun! May the best joker win. 🙂
Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.” Now I should be the last person to write about a soft answer. I’ve always had a big mouth, not just in words, but in volume. Growing up, it was more common for me to hear “Heath, turn the volume down” than “Heath, eat your vegetables.” I guess that’s why I made a decent cheerleader, but a terrible bookkeeper. In the bible, God not only challenges us to use a softer voice, but He used one Himself. Especially in conversations with really messed up people. He was good like that. What’s the appeal to a soft voice? To illustrate, let’s compare soft things with their counterparts: a Sealy Posturepedic bed with a Down Comforter or a hard cot with a wool blanket? Soft cotton boxers or burlap underwear? Lavender Softsoap in a pump or a bar of Dial? Soft-upholstered LazyBoy recliners or hard benches? Soft things are appealing to us just like a soft voice is appealing to others. If you (like me) have the tendency to shout, yell, scream, roar, clamor or bark, we need to add a PAUSE button to our brains. Before we RESPOND in our usual loud way, press Pause in our heads & in that pause, adjust pitch & volume. THEN press play and speak forth. 🙂