Own Your Worth


Greetings to all reading the blog today.  May it be a blessing to you as it is for me sharing.

Let’s pray

Dear Heavenly Father, as we continue to grow deeper in love with you, help us, to be aware of those around us needing your love as well. It’s easy to get caught up in “our truth” and lose focus on you. Be BOLD to us when we fall short of the messages you have for us; when we lose our attention from you.  May we Lord, glorify you, by reaching out to the ones who can’t seem to find their way. Help us, to reveal to them the only way is through you in our actions and words. Help us, to relate to one another in one accord so that we appear as one army in connection with the Holy Spirit.  Let us acknowledge the Holy Spirit when it’s present and declare its power over our lives.  I pray these things in Jesus name, Amen.

My Truth…

February 23, 2018. A day like any other day.  I woke up to get out of bed, I turned on my children’s lights and woke them up for school.  I proceeded to order some products online before I took them to school.  I don’t usually do work things before 10 a.m. because I wanted to exercise; I thought that I needed to get this one thing done. Ten minutes from walking out the door my ordinary life took a turn that I couldn’t imagine, I suffered a stroke.

While my children were scrambling to get their things together to walk out the door,  I was trying to figure out how to get back in my house from going outside to warm up my car.  Finally, making it back in I mumbled, that they needed to call their grandmother, who was only minutes away.  The look of fear on their faces.  I’ll never forget it. As I stumbled around trying to see correctly,  I felt as if I was in a cloud. I felt light as a feather.  Everything I was experiencing didn’t seem real.  My children were so upset, and I couldn’t get upset with them! I had zero pain or discomfort. I was disoriented and couldn’t see properly, but for some reason I had peace.

  It is so hard to describe into words what I was feeling emotionally and physically.  I felt as if I was in a different place. My body was here, but my spirit was somewhere else.  To see my kids upset usually ignites anxiety in me, but I had no emotions to express.  I now understand the words “out of body experience.” I was lucky….or was I?

God’s mercy reigned supreme.  I was hospitalized for three days and sent home.  I spent twenty weeks in rehab.  My body responded as well as it could. I am grateful where I am physically and emotionally. I am a new person, I know I could be much worse. There is a point of which your body and mind will only allow you to do before it literally shuts itself down.  It is a science, I wished, I could explain, but I know that there is only one explanation…

God the creator of the Universe!

In many ways, I feel that my life parallels with many others.  For instance, I feel as if I somehow can relate to stories I have read in scripture. I don’t mean literally but figuratively of course. The Bible was written thousands of years ago, yet, as I read through it, I’m amazed at the way each story is told and how relatable it is to my truth.

For instance, let’s take Joseph’s story. He came from a large family. He was not liked by his brothers so they conspired against him. His brother’s thought that murdering him would be the answer. Then his oldest brother Rueben stepped in, and he was sold instead. For years he was enslaved then became Potipher’s right-hand man with one request to not have any relationship with his wife. Well, she desired to have a relationship with Joseph but he is a man of God,  a man who honored his position under Potipher’s leadership.  So she lied and Joseph was thrown into jail. There he gained trust from the warden. He beyond his troubles had favor with God. God gave him the ability to interpret dreams. Pharaoh was very pleased with his gift.  Joseph went on to save the people from famine in Egypt.  (Read Genesis Chapters 36-46.)

Joseph could have easily, from adolescence age, have made a decision to not follow the calling God had for him.  He could have rebelled at each place he was brought to. Eliminating his chances at making his environments better than they were. But, because of his obedience to God, Joseph chose the right side to be on. He made a decision to fight for his dignity by doing things that were pleasing to God. He forgave his brothers.

Through everything, you’ve been through, have you made decisions that could have put you in a good position with God and your neighbors? If not, it’s ok, you still can, you have the same freedom as we all do and the many others before you.  Having Faith makes things possible, not easy. You just have to believe that your truth doesn’t define you in any way. That your unique experiences refined you, made you stronger, wiser, and gave you more endurance for the next hurdle to get through.

I’m about to celebrate my “Strokeversary!” That is Stroke Anniversary.  1 year ago this could have been a totally different outcome and yet he has me here sharing with you how you can be your better self.  All you have to do is be encouraging to others. Igniting a fire of inspiration for someone who needs it.

I believe my parallel to this is that through it all, being an orphan, living in a group home, many health issues,  gaining the trust of those around me through my heart on display, being willing to be obedient at any cost, believing that Jesus is the only way to my happiness. I know without a doubt that my testimony, who I know I am through Christ, is the Truth that I need to survive until he calls me home.  What he equips me to be through the process, is his will and I can submit to it. That means I’ll take whatever fire that comes my way in the namesake for the King of King’s and Lord of Lords.  I am invested because He is invested in me.

So don’t let your identity be sold by others. Your identity is in Christ Jesus the son of God who came to redeem you in his name.  Live out your story with integrity and honor to the one who gave, Jesus, so that you can live forever beside him.  The things we endure are not in vain nor are they to define us; they are to refine us.  Today is a new day, live in obedience to God and own your truth.

Check out a book about Destiny! Follow the link below

Detours by Tony Evans

Have You Seen My Seeds? What about Yours?

I often get asked how I went from being an outright Atheist to a woman madly in love with Jesus Christ. I guess that does raise an eyebrow if you haven’t lived it out with me.

If you haven’t read my testimony, please feel free to read my very first entry “Introductions are In Order.” That keeps this from being extremely lengthy. To summarize: for most of my life, all but the last 10 years, I was an atheist. A very angry, volatile, broken atheist who loved nothing more than arguing the fact that there could not be, and was no God.

As I look back over those years trying to piece together the events that unfolded to ultimately lead me here, the incidents that come to mind first (and most vividly) are the handful of genuine Christians that God strategically placed in my life. I say genuine because their church attendance and program schedule had nothing to do with the impact they had. It was their everyday lives. Their relationships and interactions; the way they spoke, treated others, and most of all, the way they reacted to adverse situations in their lives. They were unapologetic about their faith but very humble in approaching a person as abrasive as myself with a topic they knew I wasn’t fond of. But they did it anyway. And all though I brushed off what they were saying at the time, they planted seeds. When they would share their faith with me, it was as if they were digging back the packed in soil of my mind and placing a precious seed of hope. As I would watch them go about their days, really living out their faith, those seeds were being watered and nurtured. When I would hug them or try to comfort them during a hard time, I would always be amazed at their hope. I’m not talking about optimism here. I’m talking about real, unshakable hope built from faith. That type of witness and testimony of the God they worshiped was like pouring miracle grow on those seeds.

Everything we experience in life begins as a seed. Our relationships, marriages, businesses, churches, the choices we make, and most importantly, our spiritual growth. But NONE of those things can happen until the seed has been planted. What God can do with a seed planted in faith is something we, as humans, can’t fathom. That’s why it’s called faith. But we have a part to play. The planting of those seeds has been left up to us my friends. A good portion of the time, we won’t even know we’ve sown a seed (or seeds). We can trust that if we are living as followers of Christ are called to live, and acting on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to step out and step up for the glory of His Kingdom, seeds are being planted…and God does the rest.

Out of our gratitude for His grace, we should be compelled to live this out; to walk our talk and let what we hear in the pew on Sunday morning meet the pavement on Monday. We should gladly take uncharted paths, letting go, surrendering, trusting, and knowing that we don’t have to do the heavy lifting. Living out our faith is much like working in a garden. No matter how hard I work in my garden, my efforts alone don’t force plants to grow. I do my part by carefully planting, watering, fertilizing, and pruning — and then I wait and trust that God will do His part to cause the growth. Take a leap of faith, live it out, and then sit back and watch God do His thing.

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‘It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. ‘ 1 Corinthians 3:7

Have you ever really thought about the part you play? If you are a believer, if you proclaim to be a follower of Christ, you have officially been drafted. His Word makes that clear. God has uniquely equipped you, through your life experiences and circumstances, with your very own batch of specially formulated seeds. Only you can fulfill the duty of sowing those seeds because of God’s specific plan for you at this very moment in time.

‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10

‘Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.’ Hebrews 13:20-21

If it had not been for those bold, Christian men and women that God purposefully placed in my life at just the right time, doing their part and being obedient, those seeds might have never been planted. Praise God for those who are unafraid, unashamed, and are more concerned with God’s opinion about them than the world’s.

I’ll end with this question for you, and myself, to mull over…. Is there evidence of fruit in your life that is the result of seeds being planted?

‘Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.’ Colossians 1:10

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. ‘ John 15:1-5

‘You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” John 15:16

Kindness Doesn’t Cost a Thing, yet it’s the Richest Gift You can Give.

I am always amazed at how God uses difficult situations in our lives to offer us an opportunity to stop and take a good look around and within.  Generally, in those moments, it’s much easier to become self-focused; worrying only about what we are going through and ways to overcome it.  But the more I listen to God’s Word in my life, the clearer it becomes that, that is not how He intends for us (believers) to respond.

Over the last week or so, I have had the unfortunate experience of having multiple kidney stones.  Several of which were too big to pass, leading to a surgical procedure to place a stent in my left ureter.  And yes, it IS as painful and uncomfortable as it sounds.  Even though I was dealing with pain and the stress of trying to make last minute plans and arrangements because penciling in a surgical procedure wasn’t on my radar, I could see God’s sovereign hand all around me. Even though it was a “last minute” procedure, everything fell right into place. Each nurse and medical professional that I came in contact with seemed to genuinely be happy.  They were very kind and accommodating.  One of the nurses even liked the snow as much as I do.  That might sound odd, but around “these parts” in Kentucky, most people don’t like the snow.  But there is a small niche of us crazies that actually pray for it.  We had a good laugh about it as they wheeled me down to the operating room.  What better way to get someone prepared for what can be a terrifying situation?  I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face and laughter still lingering in my heart.

As I woke up in recovery, I can remember opening my eyes, and the first thing I could hear the staff discussing was the opportunities for foster care and adoption.  Again, I instantly began smiling.  My husband and I have recently started the process of fostering, and it was as if God was using that moment to give me confirmation.  Still being a bit groggy from the anesthesia, I’m not at all positive what I said, but I do know that I interjected myself into the conversation.  They smiled and happily allowed me to join in.  Possibly just for entertainment purposes, nevertheless, it was very kind of them.

Once I had spent the necessary amount of time in recovery, they wheeled me up to my room where my parents were waiting for me.  At that moment, my new nurse walked in.  As she was introducing herself and starting to take my vitals, I can remember looking up at her and wondering why she looked sad.  She was never rude or cross in any way, but my mother and I could tell something just wasn’t right.  She seemed very busy and was struggling to juggle everything.  It also appeared as though she might not mesh very well with the other staff members.  It was apparent that she was the outcast and the sadness was from being lonely.  She was always surrounded by people but still felt alone.

I went out of my way to smile and talk to her.  I told her what a good job she was doing and to take her time.  I told her to go finish up whatever it was that she needed to and not to worry about me.  I wasn’t going anywhere.  She cracked the first smile I had seen from her and sighed a breath of relief.  As she would walk in and out of my room, bringing me things to sign or asking me questions, it appeared that she walked a little taller and was even beginning to laugh a little.  She thanked my mother and me for our patience and instantly tried to make us understand why she was struggling.  We again encouraged her and let her know that she has a tough job and is doing the best she can, and that’s all that matters.

God blessed me with so many compassionate people as I was going through that procedure.  Maybe He sent my mom and me there to be a blessing to that nurse.  All I know is when we left, and she wheeled me out to the truck, she hugged me and had a smile on her face.  Even if that smile only lasted a few minutes, I am thankful that God chose to use my situation to put it there.

Could I have been inpatient because I was in pain and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible? Yep.  Could we have treated her like everyone else had been treating her, perpetuating her misery just because we were too worried about ourselves to notice? Yep.  Do people do that to her, and others, EVERY single day because we live in a society that is so consumed with self that we aren’t even able to see the pain and heartache of those around us? YEP!

We often ask how things have gotten this bad or why everything and everyone seems broken.  We live in a world that simply doesn’t show or receive enough kindness.

We go about our days with our headphones in, and instead of being aware of those around us, we often choose to exist in our own little world. Sometimes we’re just not conscious of our surroundings, but often we are entirely aware but make the conscious decision to stay introverted and ignore the fact that there are people besides ourselves on this planet.

People who are hurting.  People who may be doing just fine. People who may need a kind gesture or smile.

Despite the needs of others, we often choose to be stingy with our acts. Why are we acting as though kindness is costing us time or money?

So, to sum up these ramblings… compliment someone’s shoes if they stand out to you. Share your umbrella with the person without one. Strike up a quick, cheerful conversation with the cashier who probably feels invisible a good part of time unless someone is irritated. Reach out to those in need. It may not seem like much, but these little compliments, gestures, and conversations could go a long way in making someone’s day and changing the world.  Who else is going to do it? BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THIS WORLD!

”Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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“LOGGING” By Rhonda Lange

Matthew 7:1-6

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2) For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3) And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4) Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5) Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6) “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

Ok, think about the last time you talked about someone. Was it good? Was it bad? Was it judgmental?

I have heard several people make the comments: “that’s not for me to judge,” or “we are not to judge people.” This is partially true. We do have to be extremely careful with the word “judge.”

In Matthew 7:1 the word “judge” comes from the Greek word Krino, which primarily denotes to separate, select, choose, hence, to determine, and so to judge, pronounce judgement. (from the Vine’s Expository Dictionary)

In Matthew 7, Jesus is telling us to be careful about judging others, because how we judge them is how we will be judged. Ouch! Hope that judgment you last made was an easy one, and not a harsh one. Luke 6:37 says “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” John 8:7, Jesus said “he who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

Jesus also tells us we need to look at ourselves before we go judging others, because most of the time we have a tree sticking out of our eye when we are trying to tell someone about the tiny speck in their eye. He calls that being a “Hypocrite!”

We need to take our problems with someone to God first. Ask Him to reveal our “plank” and remove it. Then ask Him if we are suppose to go to that person. If He does, ask Him for the words – Do Not use your own words.

Now, where we are suppose to use judgment is with the enemy. Verse 6 tells us we are Not to associate ourselves with the enemy of the Gospel. This is not talking about those who just don’t believe. It is talking about those who are against God, His people, and everything He is and says is right and true.

We all struggle with walking this line; but before we open our mouths – shut them and take it to the Lord.

This world is so full of division, unkindness, and hatred – let’s not be a part of that. Let’s let God’s light shine through us, and shine bright in this dark world. Galatians 6:1 says “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Also, lets remember we are not fighting against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), we are fighting against satan and his army.

So, that person we are talking about or confronting, needs our prayers more than our gossip or opinions. So let’s do some “logging” so we don’t knock them in the head with our plank because we think we are right or because we just don’t like what they said or did. Always take it to God first, get in His Word and show them His way and what He says about the situation.

This is the month of love, what a better time to start loving our enemies and our neighbors, than in the month of February.

Matthew 22:39 “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 5:44 “But, I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who cruse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”

Let’s show this world what God’s love looks like!

Your First Ingredient is Brokenness

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We must be broken in order to be made whole.

A Sociologist named Brene Brown said, “We are ‘those people.’” The truth is… most people in our world are one paycheck, one divorce, one addiction, one mental health diagnosis, one serious illness, one hurt, or one bad choice from becoming “those people”— the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our children play with, the ones we don’t want living next door, the ones we know deep down need our love and God’s love more than anyone, but we can’t approach “those people.”

Our minds are so sensitive to the quiet voices telling us to keep up appearances, keep ourselves busy if we don’t think about it; it’s not really there, it will eventually get better.

Our generation has become artists of illusion, masters at covering pain, self-medicators, slaves to their finances, and lost in loneliness even when we are surrounded by those we love. All because we can’t seem to realize that the only solution for being broken is… brokenness.

We can never truly be whole until we’ve been broken. Those in this world that can make the most significant difference have not only risen to the top but have also fallen to the bottom.

Jesus makes the broken whole again. He takes the overlooked, the undervalued, the left out, the written off, the damaged and devastated, and then He does what only He can do.

I know this may not sound like it makes much sense, but brokenness is the first ingredient in a miraculous transformation. I am living breathing proof of that. The fact that I am alive, sober, full of peace and joy, and madly in love with Jesus Christ is all the proof I need. But in order for God to build me up and bring me this far, I first had to be broken down. Through loss, pain, anger, doubt, and tears I was not only broken…I was shattered, fractured and in pieces.

It was in that darkness that Christ’s light shone the brightest — illuminating each piece, gracefully fitting them together to form a new creation. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Not only that but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.” Colossians 1:20-23 (The Message)

The best part of all, the part I still can’t believe most days, is that time after time God chooses to use the broken things. The ones that when asked how they have made such a miraculous transformation, they can only point to Him. That is why I am thankful for every tear, every heartache, every circumstance that broke me.

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“If grace was a kingdom
I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made

Oh but I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use

It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside”

Broken Things – Matthew West

It Took a Broken Foot to Run For God

My pastor recently gave a message describing how Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Being different than a hired keeper who might run away in the face of danger, the flock belonged to the shepherd who would stay and defend them. He had a genuine loving concern for what belonged to him. Jesus is that loving protector and caretaker for His flock. Jesus, the good shepherd’s purpose, is to give life and protect from destruction.  And although this next imagery may make those of us animal lovers shudder, it helps to confirm that sometimes love is shown in ways we don’t always like.  A shepherd would often break the leg(s) of his sheep to prevent them from running off into danger.  He would then carry that sheep over his shoulders down the path each day until its injuries healed.  While being held, the sheep grew to love and rely on the shepherd like never before.

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Oddly enough, I believe Jesus did this very thing to me.

Five years.   I had been living in this small town in Western Kentucky for five years and had yet to make any meaningful relationships.  I not only avoided bonding with the people; I also lacked a REAL one on one relationship with God.  I was, what I like to call, a “baby Christian” who had a history of anger and atheism, with little to no guidance and the life choices to prove it.  I had always been very independent and didn’t really care about having friends because I didn’t trust people.

Feeling convicted about not being a part of a church family, my husband and I began visiting some in the area and knew we had been led to the one we now call home.  After just a few weeks of attending, the Lord brought several women into my life that completely changed my heart.  My relationship with them grew stronger and stronger as I began to experience what can come from real love and encouragement.

One Sunday morning, one of those women invited me to a Run for God class. I wish I could illustrate the facial expression I made. You see, my words say one thing, but my face speaks from the heart. I laughed and said, “The only time I run is if something is chasing me.” With persistence from my friend and growing pant size, I conceded.  The way I understood it was that it was basically a couch to 5K training program with a devotional.   Little did I know that God was putting something into motion that would altogether transform my life.

I showed up for class each Saturday morning, bright and early (also outside of my character).  With each devotional and time spent running with God, it finally clicked. I can run because I am doing it for God.  I can make real friends because I am doing it for GodWhat would happen if I did everything in life, FOR GOD?

Ten weeks into the class, we all registered for a 5K in our town that promoted to suicide awareness.  As my first race ever, I had zero expectations for my outcome.  I just wanted to finish.  As they were calling out awards for age groups, they called my name as the third place winner.  It took me by surprise, but it didn’t take long for my pride and competitiveness to kick into overdrive.  I was already plotting the demise of the two women who beat me for first and second place.  Just as the Lord revealed what life could be like when you do it all for Him, He let me know very quickly what can happen when you begin to do it for yourself.

The very next day, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my foot.  I would not be able to complete the 5K for our Run for God group.  Even though I was discouraged, I continued to go to class.  While others ran, I sat.  I sat and encouraged them as they struggled13237875_10208110454498173_1769253948085201728_n through the long runs. I SAT and read the Word.  I SAT and prayed.  I SAT, growing closer to God every day.

While still in what I called “the dreaded boot,” I sat and cheered as all of my new friends ran past me to complete their race.  My heart was full.   God had set me on a different track.  A race towards Him and onto the path He had planned for me.

We quickly started a second class, and I was asked to help instruct.  Still unable to run, I knew God meant for me to focus on the “God” portion of Run for God. To show others that training to run successfully mirrors training ourselves to walk successfully with Christ.  It takes work, commitment, sacrifice, discipline, and occasionally a boot.

Learning to put God first and dedicate all I do to Him, the ability to stand before a group and teach due to the confidence I gained through the Spirit, the forever friendships that I have made, are just a glimpse into how God transformed me…. all through a broken foot.

John 10:11-18

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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First Steps

In The Beginning…

First I want to help prepare your heart for what is on mine through a quick simple but pure prayer. Here is my prayer….

Heavenly Father we rejoice in today as it is a new day.  Help our hearts and minds to be fully aware of our surroundings as we go through our day today.  Help us to remove all negative chatter in our heads that could cloud a message from you today.  If it is the first time ever hearing your word through my post Lord,  may it be a Blessing to them.  I pray it offers to them a place of peace in their own story or a hope to fill the emptiness that may be robbing their joy.  Heavenly Father open your gates in a mighty way through using my story to relate to theirs and bridge it to yours. I pray for healing, restoration and courage to be overwhelming to the souls embarking on this journey with me.  In Jesus name, Amen! 

Where do I begin today? This is a typical thought a woman asks herself on a daily basis. Literally!  Well I do anyway.  As a woman we are made to multitask.  From balancing the single life, wife”ing”, mom”ing, boss”ing”…. our jobs consist of cooking, cleaning, driving, working, appointments, school schedules, friend sleepovers, grocery shopping, among so many other jobs, should I go on? 

We all began somewhere! Genesis 1 explains the beginning of time.  It’s one of my favorite books to study because the magnitude of wonder.  I can read it over and over again. It just fascinates me to know how the Heavens and Earth was created.  How God created Man and then Woman.  How he breathed Life into it.  How just a word from God was spoken and “POOF” there it was in all his Glory, the Sun, Moon and Stars. Just look outside at all the wonder around you.  I’m in aw of it everyday. Do you see what I see? 

Humble Beginnings….

Just like the beginning of the Earth and it’s being, so is the story of our own lives.  To be a part of a story that started with adversity from the very beginning, it humbles me. My mother was married at 16 years old.  She married a friend who was so kind to her. He Loved her so.  I know she married him to leave her life back home. So she didn’t marry him for Love. That was her first big mistake.  She and my grandmother were just alike. Beautiful, charming, full of life, exciting, spontaneous, energetic, the life of any party, literary.  Shortly after marrying the first man, she divorced him. On to the next one. With him, she had two sons. Throughout that marriage, she was not able to stay faithful. It ended and then she got mixed up with my father. Then I came along. In three years my mother had three kids just that quick. Three kids and no way of being able to take care of them adequately.  She was always unsatisfied in her life still searching and seeking the wrong things and getting mixed up with the wrong kind of people.  I won’t share much more of her testimony because of two reasons, it’s hers to tell, and unfortunately for her,  she is no longer here on Earth to say it.  She left this place 12 years ago at the age of 48.  So very young.  Without God in her life she ran it ragged. Her body just couldn’t keep up with her wild spirit.  I lost her long before that though.

My Beginning….. 

At the age of 13 years old I became the property of the Bluegrass State! I was originally from Elgin, IL.  I ended up in Kentucky when I was 9 years old.  After my mother had me, she went on to have my sister with another man and then I had a younger brother whom also had another man as his father. So I’m part of a 5 sibling group and 3 of the 5 have different fathers. My mother ended up meeting and marrying number 3 after all her children were born and his mother lived in Kentucky.  Hence the how I got here.  Long story short that marriage lasted 6-7 years before he decided he had enough. I couldn’t blame him one bit.  So all this time I’m being raised by a person who is faithless and as lost as a kid in the kitchen looking for the dishwasher. All you mommas know what I’m talking about! 

It was unfortunate for her because she too had the same wild beginnings I did except my grandfather an army Veteran was too stubborn to let my grandmother go.  I also think back then too that marriages tolerated much more than they do today.  My grandparents were married for 41 years before he passed away from his injuries serving in World War II.  

His passing was a blow to my mother’s spirit that just fueled the devils schemes.  She spiraled our if control and made so many bad choices that they all caught up with her. She left my brothers on their fathers doorstep and never looked back. She moved to another state with a new husband and 2 young girls. Alcohol and medications were not a good fit for her. I believe she had some mental health issues that she, like many others do, medicate themselves with substances that mess with their heads even more negatively.  

I ended up in court one morning in front of a judge pleading in a letter that I wanted to stay with my ex-step-grandmother.  Say that several times fast.  I was at an age where the abuse and neglect had me pleading for change.  The judge granted that my sister and I could stay with her until my mother got her life in order. That order never came. She gave up her rights in court a few weeks later and then left the state.  From that day forward I was to find my place, my identity as a child marked with bruises and battered was over.  But who was I now!

It happened on my 13th Birthday the last day I was to be in my mother’s guardianship.  I was exhausted from sitting in the dispatchers office until the early morning hours trying to decide for myself and my sister do I tell them that I want to go to my ex-step grandmother’s house before we go to a foster home. The dispatcher knew I had her in my mind but prior to that time my mother was being detained and in one last shot at her abusing me she placed her hands around my neck and was choking me telling me I better not call her. It took 3 officers to get her off of me.  So can you imagine a broken young adolescent girl abused in front of police how I must have felt?  

Someone out there reading this has a similar story of the beginning of their childhood like mine.  Beyond just the abuse that I sustained from my mother’s hand,  I also had been molested by a neighbor at the negligence of my mother’s. So I’m 13, puberty, witnessed all the men my mother had encountered,  molested, beaten, broken spirited and barley holding my head above water believing I had no worth.  

Through feeling so incredibly alone from a physical person I was introduced to God shortly after this nightmare was coming to an end.  I started looking at life in a new light. Even though I had see the world for what it is without God, I always saw a silver lining of Grace and Mercy. I had always felt with all the opportunities that I faced where I shouldn’t be here but I still am as a higher force than man could ever explain. I knew in my soul that there was a God before I actually knew of him.  I have my ex-step grandmother to Thank for the introduction to him. For her prayers and influence in my life.  She is no longer here with us but I know she is looking down with a big smile. 

You see in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, you can read about the beginning of time. As you read along you will soon read further into how the world became what it is today. How sin just took over the hearts of men and women.  How they turned from God and how they caused self-inflicted blows to their own stories by choosing Evil over Goodness.  

Let me hope that in this first of many posts you find this encouraging and not depressing in any way.  I’m encouraged every day by my humble beginnings. I may not know exactly what to do looking forward in my life, how I can raise my children to be God fearing instead of fleeting because I can sometimes get a little self righteous due to my knowledge of the word, which can back fire. I’m human in every sense of the word.  I fail every day to say and do something I should in the Glory of the Lord. The Power I have that others can as well is the Gospel of Jesus Christ who died so that I can live again.  I die to myself everyday waking up to a new day. I have more gratefulness than I did the day before because I know our life is a vapor.  I’ll go more in depth with that later.  

So I want you to go with me on this journey to do understanding your identity Through Christ Jesus.  The Bible App has reading plans. Come along with me while we read together Bible in a Year.  I’m having to go back and read due to a stroke I suffered last February.  If you have had a stroke and are reading this My Heart Burns for you! I get it! You are doing great! Keep up the recovery! You got this! 

In the meantime end this time with your own prayer to God.  You are Blessed. Know you are Blessed! Show Gratefulness!  Most importantly be Thankful to God for his provisions and his Sufficient Grace! 

Cassie

Introductions Are In Order

I am so thankful to begin this new year as a part of this ministry.  Before I jump right in though, I think some introductions are in order.  I am a true believer in the fact that, for you to understand and get a deeper look into the heart of a message, you need a pretty good picture of where that person has been and what God has rescued them from.   A visibly transformed life can have a major impact on the world around you.

Ten years ago, if you would have asked someone to describe me, I’m afraid they would’ve used adjectives like angry, lost, empty, aggressive, broken, self-destructive… I’ll stop there, I’m sure you get the picture.

After moving around for a good part of my childhood as a military brat, we finally settled in Western Kentucky where most of our family was.  Within our home, there was no prayer, no Bible reading, no foundation of faith.  I don’t blame my parents.  They were both very young and did the best they could while dealing with their own childhood trauma.

To spend as much time as I could with my grandmother, I began going to church with her every Sunday.  The bond that I had with that very special lady is something I could never describe in written words.  We were inseparable.  I remember sitting beside her each Sunday, in amazement, as she gracefully played the piano during worship. She loved me like I had never felt love before and made me feel deserving of that love.  Around the time I would be starting middle school, something terrible happened.  My grandmother was life-flighted to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis because her heart was failing.  I can remember my aunt picking my sister and me up from school and taking us to the movies to keep us distracted. Fortunately, she was blessed with the opportunity for a transplant, and it seemed like everything was going to be ok.  She lived for eleven years after the transplant.  The last two years of her life were the two years of my life that the devil used to catapult me into a lifetime worth of anger and emptiness.  The medication she had to take to keep her body from rejecting the new heart destroyed her kidneys.  She began dialysis several times a week but was withering away.  I watched her light and life slowly fade as she suffered every second until the end.  The questions, fueled by anger, started flowing.  Why her?  She went to church! She played music in church! She loved the God that was supposed to love her back! She was too young! Could there really be this all-loving God? No, there couldn’t, He wouldn’t do this.

That anger combined with a life that was in a constant state of chaos due to a lack of involvement, lack of faith, substance addiction, abuse, and family members who were out of control…I was left to let the anger, sadness, and loneliness open the door for the devil to make himself at home.   I began trying to fill that brokenness and emptiness with every terrible thing this world has to offer; partying, attention from anyone willing to give it, and more and more anger.

When I was 21, I became pregnant.  Of course, we had to get married because that’s what a good southern woman does to save face.  But this wasn’t all bad.  I started to feel a little peace and happiness.  I thought I loved the man I was marrying, we were going to have a child, I was doing great in college and could still finish so everything was fine.   The day I had to say goodbye forever to that baby, I felt myself break.  I can remember it vividly.  Any anger that had been buried came erupting to the surface.  That was it! There definitely is no God, and if there was, He could care less about any of us! That is what I told myself for years.  I was an anthropology major in school, so there was no shortage of professors who were quick to reinforce that thought with scientific facts and figures.  And boy was I ready to argue with anyone who dared to try and convince me that there was a loving God and that “He had a plan”, and that “there was a reason for everything”.  I was educated, had an aggressive personality and was motivated by so much anger that the devil had a field day with me.   I did what I could to try and convince everyone around me to give up on all those silly stories and rules created by men to control society.   The only person I know I successfully pulled away was my own mother.

My marriage was anything but happy.  How could it be?  We were so young, and I was so volatile.  We each turned to different ways to numb the pain.  Two years after the loss of our first child, we were both preparing to graduate college and had big plans for our future.  But God had a different plan.  I became pregnant with Chloe.   It was a shock because due to health issues, I wasn’t expected to be able to have any more children.  When that child was born, I felt myself begin to heal.  Just as I felt myself break when I said goodbye to my first child, I felt myself, LOVE.  Really love.  I knew then that she was sent to me for a reason and that there had to be “something” or “someone” out there because this kind of love could not be explained with science.  But I had no understanding or faith to fall back on.  I was the poster child for someone who was “lost”.

I struggled for years after Chloe was born.  Her father and I couldn’t seem to get through past hurts, and our marriage was so unstable that we divorced when she was one.  I was a single mother moving from place to place and job to job.  I know now that I was moving every year because I was running.  Running from my sadness and emptiness.  But no distance ever made a difference.  I was still angry and lost.  Along the way, everywhere I went; I met and got to know bold Christian men and women that tried their best to lead me to Jesus.  Each planting seeds.   I would always disregard them though.  Until one person, someone I had grown to love, all but forced me to go to church.  I started attending on Sundays.  I enjoyed the singing and meeting new people but would zone out and not pay attention to much else.  But one day was different, I woke up feeling different.  I went into the church, sat in my pew by myself as usual and listened, really listened.  I didn’t feel alone.  I had been so ashamed of myself for so long, thinking that even if there was a God, “How could He love me now? Look at what I’ve done, what I’ve said!”  That day, I heard and felt that He does love me because Jesus loves me! He suffered and died for me! ME! Not just the righteous people that have never fallen.  Me!  I could feel Him right there with me as I fell apart.  Almost like He had His arm around me as I finally let go of all that anger, shame and guilt and gave it to Him.

On August 8, 2009, at the age of 28, I was baptized.  And I’ve never been the same.   The devil didn’t and still doesn’t make it easy, but now “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

I saved the happiest part of my testimony for the end.

The sorrow I felt for convincing my mother there was no God was unbearable.  I prayed for years for God to allow me to bring my mother to know Jesus. On Mother’s Day of14910490_10209443515783872_6246060035715518067_n 2017, my mom gave her life to Jesus and was baptized.  Now we worship Him together!

You see, that is what we are created to do.  To be transformed through God’s Grace and to live it out each day to be a living testimony to those around us.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me down a path that helps those as lost as I once was.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“ ‘The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ ” “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15: 21,24