Fear not, for I am with you

Have you ever had a dream about something but then when you wake up you only remember bits and pieces of it and not the whole dream in detail?  I’ll wake up and recall a dream about something or someone but have no clue what it was about. However, this was not the case years ago when I had a very detailed dream and woke up with a clear understanding of the meaning behind it.

I don’t recall exactly what was going on in my life, whether I was happy, sad or fearful about something.  I can tell you that my husband and kids mean the world to me and I’d be lying if I said that I don’t worry about their safety whenever they leave the house. As a cancer survivor, I have to be diligent about going in for my annual checkups and necessary scans.  My mother who is in her 80’s has heart issues, and the usual ailments that come with old age.  I guess all these events bring about a sense of worry and fear. Like I said I worry for my husband and kids safety.  After all we live in an age where workplace and school violence is in the news far too often.  I worry about having cancer again.   I worry about losing my mom.  I worry about losing my job. And the list goes on. When we worry, we have a fear of what may come. What awful thing will we be forced to face and what dreaded card will we be dealt.

I am very good about preaching to my family and friends about how they shouldn’t worry about stuff and to simply trust in God and to have faith in His will for us. But yet I’m the one who often worries and has unending fears about what may or may not happen. I don’t know if the dream I had was the Lord’s way of telling me to let go and let God.  All I know is that in my dream, I was a passenger in a moving car. Sitting quietly, I looked out the passenger side window and took notice of two girls (my daughters) walking side be side with their arms around each other’s shoulder, in a protective comforting way, taking care of one another.  Then when I turned to say something to the driver, I realized there was no one there!  I panicked and started screaming and tried exiting the vehicle but was unable to. I thought if there is no driver, then the car will surely crash.  But then suddenly I had a sense of peace overcome me as I realized that the car I was riding in was not swerving or drifting or speeding out of control.  It was going at a safe normal speed and I was panicking for no reason at all. What frightened me was the empty driver seat. Who is driving this car? I thought, when the realization hit me.  It was then that it occurred to me that the very God that I pray to and ask protection from, is always with me. He is in control and always in the driver seat even when we can’t see Him.  God is the driver, the pilot and the author of my life.  He wrote my story before I was even born and knows me better than I know myself.   He protects me and like my two girls walking side by side with a protective arm around each other, He also has His protective hand on me and my family.

This is the only dream I can recall with great detail.  I know the Lord was speaking to my heart through this dream and I feel blessed to be able to share it.  I pray that whatever circumstances  that you are facing, that you find hope in God’s promises.

Philippians 4:6-7 ~ “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

Psalm 34:4 ~ “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”.

Hebrew 13:6 ~ “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed”.

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Love Always

What a crazy last couples weeks I’ve had. Between trying to keep up with the work flow at my job and having to wear a heart monitor for 48 hours so my doctor can figure out why I’ve been having heart palpitations, lets just say I’m happy it’s the weekend and I really hope this much needed three-day weekend goes by super slow.

Had a really cool day today with my mother-in-law.  We decided to use our 60 minute massage Groupon that my husband got us for Christmas. After our amazing massage we stopped at the  front desk on our way out so we could check out only to find out that the Groupon we had was for an entirely different spa.  Yes we went to the WRONG spa and ended up having to pay. It’s a long story on how the mixup occured but the bright side is that we enjoyed our massage and we still have our Groupon to redeem …LOL! Sometimes you just have to laugh things off and just be thankful for the moment and for the experience. Enjoy it, smile about it and move on. Hey it’s what Jesus would do, right?

So tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  Without making this a super long post or getting too wordy, I want to share with you my thoughts about the meaning of the “L” word.  We all know that Valentines Day is  a day of romance and taking time out to really love on that special person in your life.  I don’t know if it’s because the older I get, the wiser I’ve become or if it’s because my walk with the Lord has really opened my heart and made me more aware of the true meaning of what love really is.

Yesterday while at work, I took a call from one of our volunteers. She had a question and as we started talking she asked if I had a any plans for Valentine’s Day. I told her my husband and I would likely spend time together, go out to dinner and catch a movie.  Her response was “good, spend as much time together as you can, love each other and tell each other how you feel because one day you may not have that chance”. I know why she said this.  Years ago she lost her precious husband to cancer and it just devastated her.  She took time off to grieve and was back volunteering after several weeks. Although it was hard, she pushed on and busied herself with her community of friends.  I thought long and heard about what she said and it’s so true. We NEED to tell each other how we feel, how much we love one another. Tell our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers and anyone who has touched our  lives in a profound way how much they are loved and appreciated. And not just wait for one day out of the year to say these things but to say them often.  Leave a sweet note on the bathroom mirror or in a lunch bag.  Believe me, there is nothing sweeter than to find a love note from your spouse or kids telling you how much they love you.  Those are priceless gifts and much nicer than a box of chocolates (although a box of chocolate covered almonds are always welcome  :-))

Have you ever considered that the bible is like God’s love note to us.  It’s like a life instruction manual for us to read and follow but often times we close the book and look the other way.  I am not throwing any stones here because I am guilty of this myself.  But if you really stop and think and read the love-filled scriptures you can’t help but see that the Lord is truly crazy about us.  There really is no greater and no purer love than that of our heavenly Father.

I think the following scripture says it all…

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV) ~ Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

How awesome is our Lord to gives such sound, loving instruction on how to navigate through this crazy life.  Much like how we as parents guide and instruct our kids on how to behave, how to treat others and love their friends, family and even their enemies.

Here are a couple of bible verses that really speak to my heart.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV) ~ And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Peter 3:8 (NKJV) ~ And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Love each other not just on Valentine’s Day but everyday. Say it, express it, write it, pray about it and most of all, mean it!

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Forgiveness – Part 2 of 2

In my previous blog post I talked about the importance of forgiving others and even shared a personal experience I had with someone I worked with.  In this blog post I want to address the importance of forgiving ourselves and how the power of forgiveness can be healing.

Have you ever done something or said something to someone that you regret with all your heart? I know I have.  In fact I think we all have at some point.  While it can be difficult to forgive others, it is just as difficult to forgive ourselves.  I can recall many years ago when I was much younger how my mother and I use to argue about my wanting more independence.  I was a young adult still living at home and feeling all grown up and like I ruled the world.  I failed to realize there were still boundaries to be followed and if I was going to be out late, I still needed to let my parents know and abide by their rules. Many a arguments ensued over my battle for independence. I wasn’t an out-of-control daughter as I didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs.  We never had knock-down drag-out fights.  But I was very insensitive and sometimes used hurtful words.  My poor mother was merely doing her job as she enforced the rules and stood her ground each time we argued.   I’m ashamed to say I made my mother cry many times.  I apologized to her for those rough moments but a more sincere and heartfelt apology was made again shortly after becoming a mother myself.  Only then did I truly understand the depth of her love for me.  Only then did I understand that a mother’s job is to not only love but to love ferociously, to worry, protect and guide, regardless of whether that love is returned.

While I totally get it now and have apologized to my precious mother for all the grief I put her through, I didn’t quite forgive myself for my selfishness and stupidity.  Looking back I can’t believe I disrespected my mother the way I had.   Now that I am a parent I look back on my earlier years and just cringe over my stupid behavior and at times feel the guilt gnaw away at my heart. I finally had to learn to forgive myself and really appreciate the fact that she was my role model and the way I parent today is a mirrored version of how I was brought up.

Believe me there are other moments that I can recall that I am definitely not proud of and can say that I’ve brought it to the Lord and received forgiveness. Forgiving myself is just as important too.  Here is why: When we receive the Lord’s forgiveness we are automatically released from the bondage of sin.  But often we choose to wallow in it and act as though we are not free from sin and from the guilt.   We can either accept the fact that we are forgiven in Christ or believe the devil’s lie that we are still guilty.   When our former sins come to mind it is like we are choosing to dwell upon them – resulting in feelings of guilt. It is also  like we are reliving the sin and refusing to let it go instead of remembering that our awesome God forgave us and then thank and praise Him for it and rejoice in His grace!

Sometimes the Lord will turn a difficult situation around or use an event (such as a betrayal) to reveal His plan for you.  Such was the case in the book of Genesis when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers who sold him into slavery. When his brothers realized that Joseph was a respected member of Pharaoh’s court they felt shame and were guilt-ridden for selling their young brother into slavery.  But after all the pain and grief Joseph endured he could now see that God’s hand was on him the whole time so that His plan would come to pass and while he was able to forgive his brothers for their cruelty, he encouraged them to forgive themselves. ~

(Genesis 45: 5)    ~    But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 

God’s plan was at work all along.  He allowed Joseph to be taken as a slave because His plan for him was to save his brother’s lives during the famine.  His brother’s were so grieved by what they had done but Joseph urged them to let it go and to only see the goodness that came from it.

Whatever sin or feelings of guilt the Lord has forgiven you for, please know that by your lack of self-forgiveness you are believing the devil’s lie that you are still guilty.  Now I know that there are a multitude of things some of us have committed that we cannot even fathom ever forgiving ourselves for. Some of you may even have a history of the following:

  • Drug use
  • Stealing
  • Physical, verbal, sexual or emotionally abusive towards others
  • Bullying
  • Abortion
  • Cheating
  • Causing discord in family

I know these are but a few scenarios you may have faced in your life or perhaps facing at this very moment and may even be serving time for some of these offenses. Please know that if you go to the Lord with a sincere heart and repent of your sins, He will forgive you. You must then find the strength to forgive yourself. Pray over it and plead with the Lord to fill you with His peace and to ease your heavy heart.  There is a certain peace you gain from releasing all your heavy burdens and feelings of guilt to the Lord and trusting Him to wash away your sins.  I think of the song “Nothing but the Blood”.  It goes like this…

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh how I love this song! Each time I hear it sung in church I look around and see my fellow church members singing with eyes closed, tears streaming down their faces and just a look of redemption, a washing away of years of heartache, and a look of relief as if just passing the baton over to the next runner in a relay race except in this case the baton which represents the sins committed and years of anguish associated with it, is passed on to the Father who will gladly take the baton from you and give you rest.  We all carry heavy burdens and dwell upon them like there is no tomorrow, but I can tell you with all certainty that you will have very little peace in your spirit until you can find the strength to forgive yourself and to trust God to use you for His glory and His purpose.

Healing

As important as it is to forgive yourself and handing your burdens over to the Lord, it is also important to forgive yourself and allow healing to take place within you. Whether it be healing of a broken heart, broken spirit, or illness.

Have you ever felt such excitement in sharing wonderful news with someone that you can hardly find the words to speak or you become tongue-tied and your words come out like mumbo-jumbo? Well it is with no exaggeration when I say that I am feeling that way right now because I am excited to share with you how forgiveness is not only essential in your walk with the Lord but is also very healing.

I read recently that unforgiveness is classified in medical books as a disease.  Who knew!   As I researched further and further I was amazed as well as impressed by the approach some medical professionals have taken in treating several of their patients with cancer or other diseases.  I never knew that one’s unwillingness to forgive can actually hinder someone’s reaction to treatment or their willingness to pursue treatment or their recovery from an illness.  It makes sense though, don’t you think? Have you ever been so angry with yourself or with someone that you literally feel your health deteriorate right before your eyes? Maybe you feel your heart rate pick up, a sudden bout of stomach pains or a bad headache?  I know this has happened to me more times than I can count.  I had a friend once who got into a tiff with her boss and that night she found herself seeing a doctor in urgent care because suddenly came down with a nasty cold and her arm was hurting and she felt her health deteriorating because of the immense stress she was under. What I found interesting was that it was a pattern. Whenever she was angry or stressed about something, bam! she got sick almost instantly. Her immune system would take a dive and she would just have to ride things out.  At the time we were in our early 20’s and I just didn’t know enough or wasn’t drenched enough in the Word to realize that her anger, frustrations and resentment towards certain individuals were what was making her sick.  Had I known and been more connected to God I would have prayed over her more, counseled her, and shared the power of forgiveness and the importance of letting God take over so that she could feel peace and wellness.  She took things to heart and allowed herself to be beaten down by life’s challenges.

The point I’m trying to make is that holding on to anger and hatred towards oneself and others can have a negative impact, health wise.  People don’t know this and I surely didn’t until I came across a news article on the subject and started doing my own research and what I have learned is this – The burdens that we carry will surely weigh us down in life and not only bring us to the lowest of lows but can very well contribute to a slow-to-react immune system, unending health challenges and a slowness in healing and recovery from illnesses.

The following is a snippet from an article I found which I will reference the link down below at the end of this blog post. It holds so much truth and I hope it gives you something to think about:

~  a recent study concluded that “chronic unforgiveness causes stress. Every time people think of their transgressor, their body responds.” One doctor explained that unforgiveness leads to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. It affects the immune and cardiovascular systems. But forgiveness changes everything. ~

We must remember that God’s pardoning of our sins obligates us to forgive others.  And when we do forgive our transgressors, a weight is lifted allowing the Lord to work in us and to lift all anger, hate, confusion and if it’s His will, even illness.  Sadly most people choose the bitter path of unforgiveness thus resulting in a life lived in utter resentment and poor health.  I heard someone once say that “hate is like a cancer, it grows and grows”.  Unfortunately it’s true, whether people choose to believe it or not. Hate and anger causes stress ultimately affecting our immune system and our body’s ability fight off illness.

Forgiveness is an internal decision.  Something you have to pray about and really look to the Lord for peace and understanding.  I can truly say from experience that when you forgive someone, truly truly forgive and never speak again of the offense that was committed you feel much lighter and free and even a sense of release.  This is a direct result of surrendering all negativity, all hate, anger, and bitterness to God. Think of a child who hands their broken toy to their parent with a request for them to fix it and to make the brokenness go away.  There is a trust there and a comfort in knowing that what is broken can be fixed, mended or made stronger and better. The Lord can do the same for you and me.

I pray that you’ve found this blog post helpful and thought provoking and perhaps it has opened your heart and mind to the idea that maybe it’s time to forgive yourself or that someone in your life who has hurt you so badly.   Prayer can move mountains and change hearts as well as any situation you may be facing today with your health or other area in your life.

Below are a couple of links to articles I came across while writing this post. I’ve found them helpful and I hope you do to. God bless and if you feel the need to ask for prayer, please, please do not hesitate to message me or post a prayer request in the comments section. I will be more than happy to pray for you and your needs. Peace.

The Deadly Consequences of Unforgiveness

Forgiveness and Healing

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