Beware…5 Ways to Discern a Wolf

Wolves2   Wolves come in all manner of disguises…in our relationships, as well as in our places of worship.   Sometimes truth gets blurred and manipulated and  lines get crossed in our relationships in all walks of life, but, in my opinion, even more so in the body of Christ.   

Because we are dangerous to the enemy.  

normalThings once seen as black and white, may start to appear more gray. It may seem harder to recognize what’s true or what’s false. What’s light and what’s dark. 

As a Life Coach I see this same thing happening in personal relationships.  We can get so needy we ignore the warning signs of a true wolf, and yield to the deceptive manipulations and convince ourselves that what we see right in front of us won’t apply to our lives.  So we let them in.   And it doesn’t take long for the teeth to come out. 

 wolf4  Friends, there is a real enemy who prowls around seeking someone to devour.    He’ll stop at nothing to gain new ground. He and his forces have quoted God’s words since the beginning of time, twisting it, trying their best to manipulate truth, and their main goal is to deceive and lead astray. 

He knows how to spy out needy women or men who have not learned to let Jesus be their everything and they long to fill those empty places with another person, rather than the One who was met to fill those needs. 

titi  There is an invisible V (for victim) on their foreheads that turns into a neon sign when a wolf is near.  He sees it and comes in for the kill.

 The wolves know who God is and they “shudder” in fear at His name.  They know that God alone will be victorious and no matter what traps are used today to try to distract us away from Him, in the end, they will not win.  But for us, if we don’t obey those warnings, we will find ourselves in the pit of pain and confusion.

 Many times the wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing knows God’s Word better than we thought, crafting and twisting it so much, we might even find ourselves feeling confused over what real truth is anymore.  You can always identify this type of wolf as a religious spirit.

 So how can we protect ourselves–and discern what is happening when we meet a wolf? 

 

Alone_in_the_Crowd_by_Cunny1988-600x450   Know the real and you’ll know what is false.

How do you do that?

wolf  1.Watch

 

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matt. 7:15

God reminds us in His Word to “watch out,” “beware,” to stay awake. He knows and understands how difficult it can be to fight this spiritual battle. Some days we get weary, or we get so busy and distracted, we’re not watching anymore for ways we might get tripped up.  But he tells us, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Cor. 16:13 

He desires the best for us and knows how important it is for us to live aware. He freely gives us his strength and protection to stand strong each day, he will never leave us defenseless on our own. 

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR OWN WEAKNESSES AND NEEDINESS. 

 wolf5 2.   Know What is Real

…and you’ll know the fake too.

 God’s Word is clear, it says they’ll be known by their fruits. Not by how charming they are.  Not by how much money they have. Not by how many followers they have. Not by how many books they have written or the great things they have done.

They’ll be known by what fruit exists in their lives. Is there love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control? What do they say about who Jesus is? We may have to look more closely than what is on the outside. What is in their heart?  How do you discern it?  I have learned if something is too good to be true, it usually is.  See what I did there?  (it usually is deceptive. )

 Eventually, the truth of who they are will be brought into the light. 

 “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” 1 Cor. 4:5 

 0006948_abide-with-me_1000 3.  Know Jesus Intimately

 “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Cor. 11:14-15

 Sometimes deception may be hidden well, but if you have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus and His words you will know when something isn’t right.  

 

Obey that feeling!!

 

Press in close to God. Spend time in His presence. Pray, talk with Him, listen to His voice through His word. Staying close to His side, living under the protection of His armor and covering, helps us to know when we’re staring straight into falsehood.

 Pentecost_by_purple_whirlpool 4. Trust Your Counselor, Holy Spirit

 God gives us His Spirit to guide us in discernment and wisdom. 

 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…”John 16

 

He tells us “I have told you ahead of time,” so that we will be prepared and watching.

Walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

We don’t have to wander through life blindly, unsure of what’s true and what’s not.   

 

When feeling unsettled or sensing something is just not “quite right,” we can press in close to Him, knowing He’s faithful to guide us.

 wolf3  5.  Choose Friends You Can Trust 

Use caution in who you listen to and choose to take guidance from. Sometimes when we’re in a place where it’s hard to see clearly we need trusted friends to bounce things off of.      Learning to listen to one another and take into consideration what the other might be sensing or discerning can often have great power in saving us from a lot of pain and trouble up ahead.  

 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Prov. 11:14

Standing strong together, on Christ the Solid Rock.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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4 Myths You May Believe About Your Calling

Thinking business woman looking up on speech empty bubble isolat

As a Life Purpose Coach I believe that we are all called, have gifts and talents, and are incredibly loved by our Creator.  Everything that we encounter in life prepares us for the next season in our calling.

 I also believe that everyone of our gifts are as important as the next persons.   We are all working towards the same goals and each and every one of us are highly loved and valued by Jesus!

 Jesus-By-My-Side-342x200 What I’ve discovered over the years is that many women have an incredibly difficult time discerning what that calling is. The trials of life and the many mixed or misunderstood messages they have heard from various teachers have left them feeling like they never measure up to what God has for them to do.  For these struggling women, certain myths about calling are getting in the way of discovering what God truly has for them.

 If you’re feeling lost trying to discern God’s calling for your life, consider these myths that may be tripping you up.

Myth #1: It’s About You  sb_passiveagressive2

The process of discovering your calling may necessitate some serious self-reflection, but make no mistake: It’s not really about you. Calling is not about self-fulfillment. It is a discovery of your preciousness, your beauty, and your gifting…..a plan set up for you from before you were born to fulfill….and the revealing of it is directly related to what you have experienced in your life through every trial and every experience, both positive and negative, to prepare and train you to be able to see others come to know who He is through your life.

Calling is a revealing and fulfillment of God’s will for your life.

Many people experience a special sense of satisfaction that comes from exercising their God-given gifts, talents, and passions, but that sense of fulfillment is a byproduct of being in God’s will, not the goal.

womanatthewellbylizlemonswindle    To discern what God’s will may be, you do need to look inward. You must seek to “know yourself” in order to discover God’s unique creation in you.   Sometimes we can’t see outside of ourselves and being in community with other’s who know you can help to get a better picture.  This is why we need each other.

 And sometimes we miss the obvious– thinking it couldn’t possibly be important enough to be a calling.  I have had women come to me in their season of child rearing, crying because they just don’t feel important to God because He has not revealed to them a calling.   And there beside them stood their children.  

 hannah2  Do you know raising children is one of the highest callings there is?   To raise a child to love and honor God with their own lives is the calling of a Mother.   Yes, one  day those babies will be on their own and you will be free to pursue other gifts and callings, as each season of your life reveals more and prepares us for the next season.

 

 fear   

Myth #2: If It’s Uncomfortable, It Can’t Be Your Calling

Nope, not even close.   Figuring out your calling isn’t an instant ticket to a smooth life and career.  As a matter of fact sometimes we get so stuck in our comfort zones of dysfunction, we would choose to stay there, because at least it is familiar, right?

 Knowing what you are meant to be doing is really just the beginning of what may be a long and arduous journey of hardship and defeat. Some of the most successful, inspired people throughout history have  pursuit of their paths that has included feeling like a failure….but rest assured,

 Not one of your failures is wasted…it is all a part of the plan, and what makes the difference is that you

 DON’T GIVE UP!!

 

sad  For most of my life I struggled with what I was doing, even when I was very busy doing “the work of the Lord”, the way I saw it…,

God is never finished with us and even while I was so busy, make no mistake, He continued to reveal to me those places I kept hidden that needed to be healed.  I fell flat on my face many times.

I faced plenty of hardships and failures at work and in my personal life. These challenges helped me grow and learn more about God and more about how God created me to serve him, eventually leading me into Life Coaching much to my surprise.   Now that I am a Life Coach and have been for many years, I continue to enter into places of so much pain I sometimes question where He is taking me now.

Your calling is most of the time a stretch assignment. Moses is a great biblical example:

Pentecost_by_purple_whirlpool  He had no doubt about what God wanted him to do.  God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, giving him clear marching orders about his next steps.

 Isn’t this what we all kind of wish for when we’re searching for our calling?

But Moses’ calling didn’t sound all that great to him:

 “But who am I that I should go?”

 004-moses-burning-bush  Moses questioned God, voicing the fear, 

 

“I’m not important enough.”

 But God answered, “I will be with you.” Then, Moses continued pressing back, asking, “What if they do not believe me?” 

 “I’m not impressive enough!” 

 In response, God provided him with miraculous signs. But it still wasn’t enough for Moses, who came back with the worry, “But I am slow of speech and tongue.” 

“I don’t know what to say.”

 God assured Moses that he would speak through him.

 Moses was called to a task God designed for him, but it clearly didn’t feel good.  He tried every way he could think of to convince God that he was the wrong man for the job, and then finally, when that didn’t work, he came right out and asked God to “please send someone else.”

 Alone_in_the_Crowd_by_Cunny1988-600x450     Your discomfort doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re on the wrong path.

 

Myth #3: Choosing Wrong Can Thwart God’s Will

 gods-will   I know women (and men too) who seem to agonize endlessly over every major choice in their lives, calling included, because they’re afraid of choosing wrongly. It’s good to want to make the best choice you can, but at some point you just need to make a choice and go from there. If you find yourself worrying excessively about your calling, ask yourself whether this is really about discerning God’s will or whether you may be trying to control God’s will.

 Your choices are important, but, when you are seeking Him with your whole heart,  no choice you can make is outside of God’s sovereignty.  Seriously…it is NOT that easy to miss God.  Do you think He is not able to transcend your humanness, and lead you right into His perfect will…even when you think you are the one making the decisions?

If you had asked me 20 or 30 years ago where I would end up, I never would have foreseen the course my life would take.    I now look back and am just amazed by God’s providence over all of it.

jesus-and-me 

Myth #4: Your Calling Is Settled

 Discovering your calling isn’t something you do once, or even twice. It’s not something you get to check off of a list and move on from.

The life of a Christian entails a constant process of discovering your calling. Just because God has called you to a particular purpose at a particular time doesn’t mean his plans for you are the same in every season….each season of our lives has a new calling that builds on the last one….nothing stays the same forever.

Looking back at my own life, I can see God shaping and shifting my calling over the years.

 Each chapter of my life God continued to call and lead me through one season to the next.   Some of the things that happened to me to bring me to this place today is astounding, painful, challenging, and sometimes unbelievable.   In every phase my calling has looked and felt different, but God has been a consistent foundation throughout.  And even when I was in total denial about my own issues that needed work, His will was accomplished in other’s lives through my calling.   Astounding to me.

 Who knows what the next chapter of life will bring?

0006948_abide-with-me_1000Everyone’s calling is going to look different—and each season will bring a new process of discernment. Just remember, God is in control. He loves you and me, and his will for us will always bring us closer to him.

May you begin your discernment journey with courage and humility.

 

Me    Of course you know that I am a Life Purpose Coach.  So, I would be remiss to not invite you to contact me if you need help in this season of your life to discern where God is taking you.  You may feel stuck in this chapter and need a mentor to challenge you and help you to move forward.   Just call or email me from my web page and we will chat!!   

Boundaries! 7 Ways to Stop Fixing People and Empower Yourself.

922705_559351900752675_116486065_n  Having no boundaries in your personal life will strain personal relationships and the accumulation of frustration and miscommunication as a result of no boundaries will  ultimately create resentment that will lead you into very toxic relationships.

Person-under-doormat    No boundaries can also keep you in that victim mentality.

Here’s the truth – if you don’t create clear boundaries for yourself in all of your relationships, you can’t expect the people in your life to know what you want or don’t want.  Healthy boundaries allow for an equal partnership where both the power and responsibilities are shared.  Especially in marriages, but this mindset will affect everything you do, from friends, to work, to church, to children.

Boundaries help us define who we are and provides us with a definite sense of self. People who learn how to set personal boundaries thrive because they have created a level of personal control within their life, whereas people who do not set personal boundaries tend to be stressed and overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time to do the things they want.

sb_passiveagressive2Most people have a hard time saying the word NO.

Inevitably, until we set personal boundaries and learn to say no, the quality of our lives  will suffer in so many ways.

freedomWhen we learn to say “No” more often, or just learn to say “Yes” on our terms, we free ourselves from the burden of pleasing others therefore allowing ourselves more time and freedom to do what we feel matters most .

Examples:  

  • Your adult children ask you for money and you go ahead and give it them against your better judgment even though they don’t take responsibility for their own budgeting.

  • Your coworkers delegate tasks to you that they should be doing, but you do the extra work because you want to please them and be liked.

  • Your husband tells you that it’s your fault he lost his temper and was abusive and you take on the guilt for his choices and actions.  

  • Someone from your church asks you to volunteer for a new project, and out of guilt you say “yes” when you really should say “no” because your schedule is already overloaded and you are exhausted.

 

Sound familiar?

 

All of these scenarios reflect a lack of boundaries – limits that can help you avoid unnecessary stress and enjoy the peace God wants you to experience.

 

relationship difficulties You may tend to respond to other people’s needs at the expense of your own and then suffer from the chaos that comes from a life without proper boundaries.   I see it often in coaching. 

 

Do you want some ideas on how to  start setting boundaries in your life and start enjoying peace?

 

  1. Shift your focus from your circumstances to how you respond to those circumstances. 

 

God will empower you to change your life for the better if you change the way you respond to your circumstances. While you often can’t control your circumstances, you can always control how you respond to those circumstances as you surrender them to God and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance to set the appropriate boundaries. Doing so will honor both God and you, because it will please God to see you living with the respect He intends for you.

 

  1. Keep in mind that taking control isn’t the same as being controlling.

Setting boundaries isn’t about trying to control other people; instead, it’s about being clear about what you will and will not accept in your life in order to claim your God-given spiritual authority and guard your heart from harm. You never need to feel guilty about setting boundaries with the people in your life.  Jesus did it all the time.  He had very strong boundaries.  No one deterred Him from His mission.  People will actually have more respect for you when you are strong and firm in your boundaries.

 

  1. Distinguish between helping and enabling others.

Consider whether or not you’re actually helping the people you’re trying to help. Helping is doing things for people that they are not capable of doing for themselves.

 

doormat     But Enabling leads people to depend on you in unhealthy ways – AND is doing things for people that they could and should be doing themselves.

 

Recognize that when you’re enabling people rather than helping them, you’re creating an atmosphere in which others can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior. Even though you intend to help, if you’re enabling you’re actually hurting other people, and yourself, in the process.  You enable them to not take responsibility for their own lives.  Thus draining yourself.

 

Recognize that setting boundaries is vital in order to fulfill God’s purposes for your life. Instead of letting other people distract you from living the life God intends for you, claim the spiritual authority God has given you by setting the boundaries He leads you to set in your life.

 

254865_440342676028286_2145415378_n   Pray for the confidence you need to overcome whatever fears have been holding you back from setting proper boundaries in your life.

 

The more you learn how to apply biblical wisdom to your life, the better you’ll be able to set boundaries that will help you accomplish God’s will.

 

  1. Stop your own negative behavior.

Ask God to help you identify specific negative attitudes and behaviors in your life that are contributing to a lack of boundaries and the resulting stress. Then decide to stop your destructive patterns and pray for power from the Holy Spirit each day to replace your unhealthy attitudes and behaviors with healthy ones.

533101_323586567703898_2131335984_n Don’t waste time or energy anymore on trying to get the other people in your life to change; that will never work. Instead, focus on simply changing yourself, with God’s help.  You will never get someone else to change their behavior.   You have to change.

 

YOU are NOT the savior of anyone.  Jesus is!!  womanatthewellbylizlemonswindle

 

Seek the support and encouragement of some caring Christians whom you can trust to help you on your journey to set proper boundaries in your life.  Or get yourself a Life Coach to walk the journey with you a while to show you how.  (Contact me if interested!)   dixie1

 

  1. Nip excuses in the bud.

Don’t tolerate any more excuses from either yourself (about why you’re not setting boundaries in your life) or other people (about why they want to step over boundaries that you’ve set for them).

 

Ask God to help you stand firm so you can make real and lasting changes in your life. Say “no” clearly and without guilt whenever you sense that you should say “no.” Doing so will give you the freedom to say “yes” to activities that the Holy Spirit convicts you to pursue.

 

You will feel so empowered!!  birdcage

 

 

  1. Trust the voice of the Spirit.Pay attention to how the Holy Spirit speaks to you about boundaries. Listen for the Spirit’s guidance about boundaries every day in prayer, and be sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings in every situation you encounter. In some situations, the Spirit will restrain you from taking action, and in others, the Spirit will urge you to take action move forward.

 

Yield everything to God. Live to please God alone, and don’t worry about pleasing other people. Let go of everything that holds you back from fulfilling God’s purposes for you, including: unrealistic expectations, negative emotions, and Satan’s lies. Trust God to give you peace and guidance to change your life forever!!

 

Contact me at dixie@reflectionsofgracehome.com to set up a coaching call!

 

 

9 Attributes to Look For if You Suspect You are Being Spiritually Abused

th  “An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31 

 We see the Lord’s displeasure being expressed against those who operate an effort to control the people. Consumed with their own ambition, these leaders have convinced the people that their power is divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets are merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they speak for God.

Pharisee“From the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (NAS). Jeremiah 6:13-14 

A common characteristic of an abusive religious system is that the real needs of the people are lost in the never-ending quest by the leaders for personal fulfillment and happiness.  

And this has been my story.  Part of it anyway.  You will find my whole story in detail in my first book, ”Climbing Out of the Box, My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom and Healing” 

climbing-out-of-the-box-by-dixie-r_-diamanti-300x300-e1397103388170https://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Out-Box-Journey-Spiritual-ebook/dp/B00AZ9JKG6

 

spiritualabuse-blue 

Some of my spiritual abuse experiences include:

  1. When I needed to go to work to help support my family I was told by the authorities of the church I attended that I needed to forfeit working and stay in the ministry because if I didn’t I would lose all my gifting to ever do ministry again. For years I thought my gifts would not be used again and that I was disobedient because I didn’t obey them. (Until I was shocked when I began to see my same gifts used out there in the market place..aha moment.)

  2. A church that repeatedly told us they basically had the corner on the market of Jesus and they had the fullness of God and His gifts, where other churches did not, and that if we ever had to go elsewhere, we would miss God’s highest.

  3. A pastor who found ministry to be a vehicle for his great gain, lying and manipulating donors to give more and more money. He actually took the offering in decorated trash cans…(not lying).  The wealthy had the high positions in the church.  There was the pastor who had the men of the church build his home for free labor, stating, that as Solomon had to have the temple built before he could help the people, he, too, needed to have his temple before he was free to really be a pastor.

  4. A leader who cornered me in a room alone, threatened me, and yelled because he said I was too “perfect” to minister to women. He said I needed to dress down and quit painting my nails if I wanted women to identify with me.  He also said I needed to project being poor.  I was devastated.

  5. Openly ostracized and lied about to a congregation of people to manipulate me to quit my women’s ministry outside his organization that was reaching hundreds of women. ( I didn’t quit.  I left his church organization that very night.)

  6. Innocently called into a pastor’s office alone and watching him lose his temper at me, yelling with spittle flying, finger pointed in my face, falsely accusing me of talking about him behind his back because I told a sound man I was removed from the worship team and had no idea why.  I sobbed so loudly I couldn’t gain control while he stared me down with contempt until I finally got up and left.

These are all true stories, and I could go on and on but,

…now, many years later I coach so many who relate their own stories of pain and abuse at the mercy of “godly men and women”.  My heart aches for them because I know this is not Jesus.  This is man or woman who wants to control and the power goes to their heads. 

But, this was just the beginning of my story.  Upon leaving these controlling ministries after 25 years of having a church building as home and family,  I went through a 5 year sabbatical where I had an encounter with Jesus such as I never had, after being in church and busy with ministry all those years.  

freedom  It took me many years to be set free from the damage that was done to my spirit and to be able to enter a church building without anxiety and tears. 

 So don’t lose hope in the pain of loss when you know you have to make a change.  Jesus promises to NEVER leave you or forsake you.  Even when you are brave enough to leave and everyone is saying to just overlook the sin.  

When all the control and crutches are gone guess Who is left standing? 

jesus6    Jesus!!  

And oh what a Man He is…never to leave us or forsake us.  He will reveal Himself to you in all truth and lead you to safe places to experience the true love of God in motion, and connect with believers who really care and walk in His love in confidence.

Things to look out for in your place of church community if you suspect spiritual abuse:

  1. Do they say you have to blindly respect and obey them, without having earned it, just because they said so and they are your leader?

  2. Do they demand your allegiance to them as ‘proof’ that you are a follower of Jesus?

  3. Do they use exclusive language: “We are the only church in town really following Jesus.”  “Our theology is the only sound doctrine.”  Everyone else is missing the “deeper” walk.

  4. Do they shame people, without grace, if they fail to live up to the church’s expectations?

  5. Do they quote scriptures about “not touching God’s anointed” when referring to themselves? Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing their critics.

  6. Do they cultivate a dependence on one leader or leaders for spiritual insights? Personal discipleship isn’t encouraged. Often the Bible gets pushed away to the fringes unless the main leader is teaching it. And if you have an insight from God they have to approve it before you can share.

  7. Do they demand blind service from their followers, but live prestigious, privileged lives.They live aloof from their followers and justify their material extravagance as God’s favor and approval on their ministry. Unlike Jesus’ instructions to take the last seat, they often take the first seat at events and court others to grant them privileges. They typically chase after wealth–at any cost, and often at the expense of the very people they shepherd.

  8. Do they hold to outward performance but reject authentic spirituality. And place burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way, and have an acceptable lifestyle, but they often demonstrate licentiousness, greed, and uncontrolled addictions behind closed doors.

  9. Use exclusivity for your blind allegiance to them. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like lucky insiders. And, of course, this meant they are more spiritual than the rest of the congregation.  Did you ever feel like you are exempt from the “click” of popular people in the community of believers?  Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.

We are all one body in His church. 

hands  You are the church!  

We need safe places to gather together and grow together and share Him together.  Don’t settle for less, and be brave enough to change if the Holy Spirit is showing you that something is just not right.  In fact, run!!  

The longer I stayed out of my ‘loyalty’, the move abused I was in the end.  You cannot fix it!!   Run!

  There is healing and restoration from this horrible sin for both the ones who have abused and the victims of their abuse.    Remember we are all an important part of His body.  We ALL have gifts, callings and talents He wants to use.  We were never meant to sit in a pew looking at the backs of heads while listening to one man  teach, without using our own gifts too!!  No one is more important than the other.

Be set free today!!   

Call me if you need help with this issue and you find yourself sunk deep into spiritual abuse and feel like you can’t get out.  Go to the home page from this blog and send me a message.  Or please comment below.

When You Have One Foot in the Grave….Lori’s Story

Just to be transparent with you, I am in a different season right now fraught with change and uncertainty and letting go.   That’s why I haven’t written in a while.  

In this life our journeys take a turn that sometimes come out of nowhere, it seems, and knocks us out for a while.   I am starting to very slowly see through the veil that this is another lesson, another level, a gateway into a deeper level with Jesus.  Though I feel the breath has been knocked out of me and I am very tired I know from my spirit that Jesus walks this valley with me. 

And, yes, I will write more about my story soon. 

Which brings me to Lori’s story.  I have known Lori for about 30 years.   I have watched her and admired her devotion to family and motherhood and God.    I knew her Dad, a mighty man of God,  and loved him very much.   I have been following Lori’s journey through breast cancer and praying along with countless others.  

Then yesterday I read this on Facebook and instantly knew her story is a wake up call for me and all of us.   Not that we will get cancer, but through her valley of trial, and what she learned there, brings us a message to look at our lives and evaluate what is most important.   For our walk on this earth is very short compared to where we are going.

carnival-masks   We get so caught up in our ‘masks’ of who we think we are, or we only show what we want people to see; not the real us.   Vanity takes over and we live this kind of pseudo life of insincerity.   I so admired Lori’s bravery to reveal it all in this trial so that others could see into her world and maybe find hope.

The church was meant for family, for realness, for loving support and transparencies….so that we can grow and heal and know we are not alone.   

Peter 5:8-9 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

What is the Holy Spirit assuming about your life? That you are under spiritual attack. This is not a passage about nonbelievers; he’s talking about “your brothers and sisters.” Peter takes it for granted that every believer is under some sort of unseen assault. And what does he insist you do? Resist the devil. Fight back, take a stand.

Lori took a stand and has won her victory.   But the lessons were many.

Thank you sweet Lori, for allowing me to share your story.

lori with hair  “Twenty-nine radiation treatments ago I was overwhelmed thinking that I would never be standing with one foot hovering over the finish line. On Monday, I will get my last radiation treatment. On Thursday I am having my port removed. I have spent half a year tearing up my body to rid it of cancer and the next half will be spent rebuilding it.

 I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but I face it knowing that I am cancer free.

 I know it sounds odd, but I am grateful for everything that I have gone through.

Grateful for the pain?

Grateful for the worry?

Grateful for a disease that ravaged my body and tried to kill me?

lori3  Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I am grateful because it has changed me in more ways than taking away (just trying to be real here) half of one of my most magnificent physical features. 

 The fact that I feel grateful is in itself due to the lessons that fighting cancer has taught me.

 When you are diagnosed with cancer, everything stops while you concentrate on beating it. You don’t have the energy to participate in all of your normal activities and your treatments take precedence over everything else in your life…a job, family activities, church, or any other pursuit that normally occupies your time. You try to keep things as normal as possible, but basically your schedule is at the mercy of your disease.

 

At first, I thought that the world was going to crumble if I had to step down from all of the things I was in charge of. Amazingly, the world did just fine during my sabbatical. My husband and kids survived. My house didn’t burn down. The church, the PTA, the cub scouts and all those other things soldiered on. I learned that I don’t have to control every…single…thing.  1209389_575103479218871_301732771_n

I don’t have to stress myself out to make everything my version of perfect. One day it hit me that the same God who I was trusting to heal me was also capable of taking care of the everyday worries in my life. As I began to hand those worries over to Him, I also realized that if I were to leave this earth, He would be there to take care of all those that I left behind.

 lori Cancer certainly causes you to face your immortality. We all know we are going to die…someday. When you are diagnosed with cancer, that far off someday is suddenly smacking you in the face. Death itself, doesn’t scare me. I know where I will spend eternity. I am not afraid of what is to come. For me, facing death was more about worrying over what I was leaving behind.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a peace that God would watch over my family, but I was still sad because I had so many more things that I wanted to do with my kids. There were life lessons I wanted to have the time to teach, memories I wanted to make with them, and my own life experiences that I still hadn’t shared. I was angry at myself for all the time in life I had wasted on things that just don’t matter in the bigger picture.

Cancer forced me sift through all the unimportant things in life, causing me to recognize the things that truly mattered…. Ironically “things” didn’t even make the list. I was actually able to clean out my closets and get rid of those clothes I have been holding onto for 15 years because one day the stars might align and they will once more fit me and come back in style all in the same week.

 As I begin to purge the stuff in my house, I also took stock of the stuff in my character. I realized that I had held on to grudges, bitterness, anger, hurts, and worries, much the way I had held onto my Members Only jacket from Jr. High.  mind-clutter

It was time to let it all go.

When you have one foot in the grave, what this one said about you or that one did to you really doesn’t matter so much.

 With the sweeping away of emotional cobwebs comes clarity. Suddenly it occurred to me how much energy I had wasted being worried about what other people think.

How many times had I not embraced life because I was afraid that someone would say I was too old or too fat or too anything to be participating in something I really wanted to do?

 Losing my hair was a wakeup call for me. I thought everyone would stare, but the truth is, most people don’t take the time to look beyond themselves and really see those around them. It only took a few times of walking through the grocery store bald, to figure out that no one was looking at me.   

bald lori

Mind blowing!

Never again will I forgo an opportunity to swim with my kids or enjoy a gorgeous day at the beach because I am afraid of what people will think of my body. Never again will I allow myself to be shy because I am worried someone won’t like me based on my outward appearance. I also vow to stop avoiding cameras.

I have a ten-year gap in the photo album, where there are no pictures of me. I always made the excuse that I am the one who takes the pictures, so I am never in them.   lori2

 

The truth is that I didn’t want to be in them. We haven’t posed for a family portrait since 2008, because I don’t like the way I look. When I faced my darkest days of cancer, it hit me that if I were to die, my kids wouldn’t have any pictures of me. As they grew older, their memories might grow foggy. They might even be unable to remember their own mother’s face.

 lori donna    I have a picture of my mom and me that she hated because she thought she looked old. When I look at it, I don’t see wrinkles, I just see love. I could continue to be the phony girl with a profile picture on Facebook that was taken in 2004, or I could just say, “Screw it, this is me, love it or hate it I don’t care, I choose to be real.”

 As I look back on this journey, I see that the healing I received wasn’t limited to the physical. I like to think that in my battle with breast cancer, a tumor was removed from more than my body.

 I feel like a cancerous growth has also been removed from my spirit and for that I am grateful for everything that I have gone through. So thank you, cancer. You invaded my body with sights set on my destruction, but you lost!  Broken-Chains

 

Not only were you defeated, but what you meant for bad, in the end made me a happier person. I am not the woman I was a year ago and that suits me just fine.”

gi-letting-go-butterfly11

Will You Go Deeper With God?

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If you look for Him, you’ll find Him.

 If you keep looking for Him, you will find him even more…..

 If you don’t stop looking, he’ll invite you in deeper and deeper, fuller and fuller and farther and farther.  There is no end  to the depth of relationship you can have with Him…

 He invites you.

 0006948_abide-with-me_1000Do you notice the welcome sound of His voice?

It sounds like a whisper at first….

 It is a walk through the forest in the dark…all you can see is your feet, but not the path…but knowing He is there.

 We don’t have to know where we’re going, just that Jesus is taking us.

 lantern_forest_by_retrolex

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.  Psalm 119:105

Can we go on this wild and crazy adventure with an invisible, yet so very real God?   Do you want to?

 There He is

1506500_619449268111523_2092771554_n He stands in front of you
arms open,
ready to hug you,
ready to feel your complete innocence, purity and beauty.

 Will you believe He sees you this way?

Will you by faith receive His deep love?

 jesus-and-me By keeping an eye on the One above our trial, we remember how all things work out under His authority.  How He will never leave us. 

He promises and it is so….

He calls.  
Will you open your heart?  love

It’s another invitation.

Abba waits…

He doesn’t need strong; he loves weary, tired, broken; he can handle it.

Do you see him waiting to rescue and love you every minute? 

309148_275390375904036_1522969089_nIn every weary and heart-wrecking task, God waits to rescue you time and time again. 

Will we accept his invitation?

 He knocks,
in a way where it nags your soul to answer the knock, the calling….

You know you should, but can you? Can you open up?

Surely, it is an invitation, but will you permit it to be so?

Can you trust Him?

 Still, Holy Spirit of our  heart, He is pushing you just a little to step out.

Will you listen or ignore?

Will you forgive or forget and pretend it never happened  this time?

 He wants to finally unclutter your heart of it’s hurt, bitterness, fear, anxiety, the list goes on,  to make room for his fullness.

Will you pretend busy-ness this time, again?

or be free?   It is a choice.  Broken-Chains

 The invitations– they never end for those with eyes to see and those with ears to hear.

 It is a symphony of the most desired harmony of humanity.  Love!

 Yet, if you are busy, you’ll walk right past it.
If you are worried, your mind will not have space to receive it.

For we worry about the things we can’t control. 

If you are distracted, you find anything to do rather than hear his whisper.

It is an invitation for those who want more.  Those who:

 Who call out more.
Who long more.
Who ask more.
Who need more.
Who desire more.  530443_10150790377567355_563857079_n

 

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

 

dixie1  It is a never ending quest to know this wonderful God of ours.   It is not about religion or performance.  It is about you seeking and finding, more than you could ever dream possible.  He will be all that you will ever need.  Everything thing else He brings into your life will be the outflow of His extreme love for you.  If you want to know more contact me through this web page and sign up for coaching.   You will not be sorry.  ♥

Jesus Always Picks the Wrong Guy

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Following Jesus can be a treacherous path of trying to change the world, as we see it,  and running straight into the truth that we are, indeed, the one with the problem.  We need deliverance from:

… our belief that it is up to us to change people.

… our judgmental and legalistic ways.

Think about this:

In the beginning of Luke 19 – the story of the tax-collector Zacchaeus.

(Raise your hand if you just started to sing “Zaccheaus was a wee little man, a wee little man, a wee little man was he!”)

005-zacchaeus  Jesus is in Jericho and a crowd has gathered. The crooked tax collector Zaccheaus was there. He can’t see over the crowd so he climbs up a tree to see Jesus. In the middle of that crowd – which likely would have included more than a fair share of holy or influential or important or preferred or religious people – Jesus heads right for that tree and calls out to that guy – the one who is a social and religious outcast, ridiculously perched up in the branches –  to come on down because Jesus wants to go to that guy’s house for supper.

Huh?   How do I explain that to my religious friends?

I mean, honestly.

Jesus always picks the wrong guy.

Pharisee  Of course, everyone in the crowd gets quite indignant, muttering among themselves about how Jesus is now the guest of a sinner. Not only did the guy betray his religion, Zacchaeus has betrayed his people, his nation, colluding with the powers that be for his own gain and oppressing the very people who were supposed to be his people. 

Or how about the story of the town harlot of Samaria?   The infamous, Woman at the Well”?  (John 4:1-42)  The longest conversation recorded of Jesus and one person was with this woman who had 5 husbands, and was with a guy she wasn’t married too when Jesus approached her. 

womanatthewellbylizlemonswindle  There is our Jesus, sitting by a well…in forbidden Samaria.

Does anyone else see the humor in this story?

The town slut, (or Ho, Hussy, Loose, Sinner, etc. (as she would be called today) approaches Him.

What?

Isn’t she hopeless and an embarrassment? And openly living in sin, (deep breath)!

 Plus, Jesus, as a Jew, was not even supposed to be in Samaria, let alone talk to a woman, for heaven’s sake!!

That woman!!

309148_275390375904036_1522969089_nWe hate that woman!  Don’t we?  We can’t be seen talking to her.

Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Imagine if Jesus was in our world right now in the flesh,  and he heads right over to someone who cooperated with and benefitted from oppression of innocent people, someone who had traded integrity for political power, someone we distrust, someone who we feel is dangerous, someone who stole from people in a socially acceptable and governmentally blessed way, someone who took the very religious or national identity that we cherished and basically stomped all over it for his own gain.    

I can think of a few already, but I won’t mention names.

Ugh. We hate that guy.

   Don’t we?   I mean aren’t we supposed to keep ourselves clean by dissing those who are not living up to our standards as we interpret them?

Would we be murmuring and complaining and wondering about this Teacher who apparently had missed the important parts of the very Law he claims to teach.

Never mind He really came to fulfill the law Himself.

We don’t hang around with people like that, Jesus.  (Insert whine)

Don’t you know? Good people wouldn’t be caught dead with a man like that.

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Just like we don’t hang around with women who are caught in the act of adultery, or fornication, and….

  • we don’t hang around with Samaritans,

  • we don’t hang around with powerless children,

  • we don’t hang around with women who have a bad reputation,

  • we don’t hang around with beggars or the poor or the oppressed or the criminal or the possessed or the socially marginalized or the ones who aren’t allowed to come to church with the good religious people, never!  homelessman1

Get it together, Jesus.

And, hey, news flash, we certainly don’t go to the personal home of a corrupt politician for a bite to eat or the apartment of the town prostitute for a cup of tea.

But Jesus does it anyway.

Jesus seems not to care about our who-is-in and who-is-out line in the sand. He doesn’t seem to care about what we think about all the wrong folks hanging around with him. 

Jesus came to fulfill the Law but while also revealing the Love behind the Law, and the inadequacy of it, he came to replace the real love of a real God for their people. 

Jesus came because God so loved the world.  After all, as Jesus tells Nicodemus in the book of John, it was because God so loved the world that Jesus came to us.

Jesus came, not to condemn the world but to save the world. 

heart-of-stone…including the guy we would rather see condemned, to be honest.

How can we miss this?

Now take note of this fact:  because of an encounter with Jesus, Zaccheaus turns around gives half of everything away. He is so moved by Jesus, he vows to pay back anyone he has cheated four times the amount he stole.

The Samaritan woman? 

Oh, she just became the first woman evangelist telling the whole town about Jesus.

Extravagant repentance.  

Praying

Wild, reckless love for a man who was like no one they ever met.

They both were not just fulfilling the letter of the Law, they were repenting into the heart of Love Himself.

Looks like the presence of Jesus transforms everyone…even those of us who think we have it all together.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. 

Zaccheaus was lost, Jesus sought him out, and in this moment of repentance – which was so much more than just money or position – he’s reoriented to the Kingdom of God.   The woman at the well discovered that her bucket could only be filled with Jesus, not a multitude of lost men. 

Now that is something to get excited about!

Think of the word “today” in that passage. Jesus says “Today I must stay at your house” and then later “Today salvation has come to this house.”

The time is now.

We’d rather another day, another house, another time, another kind of sinner.  Don’t bother us with the now. 

But today is the day for the wrong guy…or the wrong woman.

It’s perhaps telling,  where we see ourselves in that story.

talkingwithjesus Are we the crowd, resentful and muttering because we think THAT PERSON shouldn’t be included because they aren’t righteous enough or holy enough or good enough or acceptable enough or just enough?

Do we have a long list of people we’d probably be pretty mad to see Jesus hanging out with in our world? Do we begrudge seeing Jesus head right to a certain house with a certain person? 

Horror of horrors.

We have our sort of people we want to keep out.

Sure, we’re okay with this kind of sinner being included –but not that kind.

jesus6  But over and over, Jesus picks the wrong person in our eyes.

He even picks you, and me!

Or perhaps we see ourselves more in the one who everyone else wants to keep out.

 “Today, today, today, I’m coming to your house.

And all we can do is receive Jesus with such joy and relief.

And our own sin – everything that damages us and damages our relationship with God and damages our relationships with one another – is over!

We stop putting God into a box of our own self righteous rules and let Him do what He came to do..

…love on all of us and see lives transformed.

dixie1    So we turn everything in our lives upside down and inside out to be with Jesus, to be Him extended to everyone…not just those we think won’t contaminate us.

…to cooperate in making all things right, today.

If you would like to find deeper meaning for your life and God’s perfect plan, Life Purpose Coaching is the way to go.  Hop on over to my web site by clicking on Life Coaching at the top of the page to check out the testimonies of countless others who have experienced life changing freedom through this awesome experience.  Contact me for a free short consult to make a decision today.  This is your day of change.   Find out how to break out of old patterns!!!