How To Fight Back

Where are your sensitive, most exposed, vulnerable areas in your life?  Do you have trust issues from betrayals in past relationships? Have you struggled with addictions to alcohol, drugs, sexual vices, etc in your past or even presently?  Are you insecure about your appearance?  Do you live in fear that something bad is going to happen to your children or your husband?  Is your greatest concern being financially secure?  Have you lived through a traumatic experience and and are afraid it will happen again?  Do you live with guilt from past sins you’ve committed?

Think about it for a moment.  Our most sensitive areas are those that cause us to tailspin out of control mentally and emotionally. Our thought process travels down a bad path when the subject is brought up, when someone throws it up in our face or maybe we encounter a temptation from our past weaknesses.  We all have at least one area that we don’t like to be touched…ever.

I’m not feeling brave enough to put my own vulnerabilities out here on the “world wide web” today, but I will admit that I am “attacked” in these areas more often than I care for.  In the past, I have not dealt with it in a healthy manner.  tailspinHere’s the order of my mental/emotional tailspin (perhaps you can relate):  anger, emotional pain, regret, bitterness, feel like giving up, questioning who in the world I think I am, feeling like a failure, depression, inability to function normally.  Sounds crazy, huh?

The really crazy thing is that I know I’m not the only one.  The Bible says that there is an “accuser of the brethren” that has been accusing people day in and day out since the beginning of time.                                 accuser

If you are a born again believer, you are a brethren…FYI.  The silver lining is that at the end of time, the “accuser” will be thrown into hell, literally, and we will be with Jesus.  But until then…

I Peter 5:8 tells us that we are to be sober and vigilant because our adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, looking to see who he can devour.  How does he try to devour us?  By attacking us in our vulnerable areas.  And he knows them well.  The scripture continues to admonish us to resist him and remain steadfast in our faith and to be comforted to know that you are not alone in your sufferings.  As Christians, we all go through it.

But how do we resist the enemy and remain steadfast in our faith?  What does that even mean?  It’s hard when our own personal weakness, failures and insecurities are the ammo he uses against us.  He does not fight fair at all.  And what would you expect from the father of lies?  He’s the master of telling you lies about who you are and who you aren’t.

I’m going to show you how to fight back.

Psalm 121:5  “The Lord is your keeper;  the Lord is your shade on your right hand.”

When a solider would go into battle back in the Bible days, he would carry a shield and a sword.  The shield would be carried in his left hand and the sword in his right.  The shield represents those areas in your life where you are strong, areas where you have no issues, temptations, weaknesses, etc.  The right side, the side with no protection, represents the side where the enemy would attack. The place where our weaknesses are fully exposed.  But we are not completely at the mercy of our enemy.  We have been equipped with a very effective tool with which to fight back – a sword.  A solider would never go into battle without his sword to fight off the advances of the enemy.  And neither should we.  Our sword is part of the armor of God that is provided for us when we become born again.  We wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  The Bible.  We can fight back by filling our minds with truth from God’s Word and speaking it over our lives.  Daily, continually.  Day and night.  And especially when we are feeling attacked and confused.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

God guards the vulnerable parts of our lives with His Word.  If we speak His Word, fill our minds with His truths, we will be strengthened in those areas where we are weak.  We will be able to quench the fiery darts of the enemy.  Speak the Word in times of temptation, fear, insecurities.  Who I am in Christ.  What I have in Christ.  NEVER lay down your sword.  Have it ready in your hand at all times.  Practice even when you are not being attacked until it becomes second nature to wield it without hesitation, with expert skill.  Before your mind even goes to a bad place, you can speak the Word and end it there.  Nip the lies in the bud immediately with the truth of who you really are!  It really does work!

And that, my friends, is what you call, “Fighting the good fight of faith.”

I’m No Superwoman

Despite what you all may think (haha), I’m no superwoman.  supergirl

I’m no supermom. stay-at-home-mom

Though I confess it in faith with a Supergirl keychain, hoodie and t-shirt (thanks to the hubs) and I have a nickname floating around out there (Super Suze).  I don’t feel so super all the time.  Super Suze?   More like a SUPERintendent of this crazy funny farm I’m running here.  piggies

Can I get an “Amen” from all the wives and moms out there?

Or am I the only one who feels overwhelmed, worn out and insecure about being….well, a human being in general?

Take yesterday for example:

I woke up on time (actually, for once) and had great plans to eat breakfast, take my vitamins and workout before noon.Laundry, phone calls and four children’s schoolwork gobbled up ALL.MY.TIME. in the morning.

Between 12:30pm and 1:30pm, I made lunch, helped both girls practice their piano, helped one son with his math homework, took a shower, washed my hair (after like 4 days…gross!  I was holding off until after I worked out.),  actually shaved my legs and armpits (trust me, it was needed)blog2-leg-shaving-spring-harvest and headed out the door to piano lessons.  Wet hair and all.

I drove the 1/2 hour to piano lessons and sat there for an hour and half.  All the while, working on homework with each daughter and following up on emails about cakes.  And silently dying inside because the girls had not practiced too much this week because of Passion Play and Easter.  Geez, can’t I get my act together?  Of all kids, mine should be thoroughly prepared for piano lessons.

On the way home, we drive through a horrendous downpour so bad that Emma says, “Please Jesus!  Don’t let us die!”  Of course, I was in the left lane and sandwiched between four other cars and could not pull over.   My hands resembled the claw when we finally drove out of it.theclaw

I needed to go to the grocery store, but there was no time because the ex was coming over to take Nathan to his baseball game in a half hour.  And he just called to tell me at 3:55pm.  Sigh….well, I’m thankful for the help today.  But the house looked like a bomb went off in it.  Why can’t you keep your house clean like all the good wives and moms?

I’m more Lucy.  I-Love-Lucy-i-love-lucy-17796179-359-450

Not so much June.june cleaverPssh…

Rush home.  Start screaming at kids to get ready for baseball.  Get ready for dance.  Oh wait…what?  Scott has to be at work at 5?  Oh Sweet Jesus, have mercy on my soul.

I scrounge up some bread and cheese.  Grilled cheese and pierogies for dinner tonight.  Emma complains.  She hates grilled cheese.  Nathan says to not put any yucky seasoning on the pierogies (What?  It’s just garlic salt and butter!)  The ex is ringing the doorbell.  The kitchen looks like a Febreze commercial where they blindfold the people and ask what they smell.  I simultaneously make four grilled cheese sandwiches, pierogies, load the dishwasher, empty the trash can, find baseball pants and belt from the basement, fix two ballerina buns, make a much-needed cup of coffee, feed the herd and get out the door in under 30 minutes.multitasking-meltdown  All the while, bridling my tongue and the brewing meltdown as best as I could.

For the love of God, how much can one woman take?  I had my blingy It Works mug full of sweet nectar from God, though.  blingcoffeeIt’s all about the silver lining, ladies.  Or the rhinestone one.

I dropped Scott off at work with five minutes to spare.  (Proud look beaming from my face just now.)  Drove down to Sam’s Club for the groceries I so desperately needed.  Mother Hubbard’s cupboards were, for sure, bare now.  With my tiny ballerinas in tow,ballerinas I raced through Sam’s like a skilled race car driver, even having the audacity to say “No, thank you,” to the Direct TV guy who was trying to solicit me.  Ha!  Take that sales guy!

I seriously made it through Sam’s Club with a full grocery cart in under 15 minutes.  I’m not bragging, I’m just sayin.  My time  took a major hit though when I chose the wrong checkout line.  You know what I’m talking about.  The deceptively short line with the elderly lady whose cart has just a few items.  Patience is a virtue, patience is a virtue.  I chanted mentally to myself while my girls gave me crazy eyes and head nods towards the dear lady trying to work the credit card machine from her Hoverround.  Emma was beginning to freak out about being late for dance AND she had to pee and was thirsty.  Breathe in out, breathe out.

Finally, we got out of Sam’s.  The wind was fiercely whipping when we got outside.  The kind of wild wind that makes the hair on my head literally wrap around my entire face, obscuring my view.  hairfaceIt took me five minutes to find my keys in my purse.  The girls were freezing.  Of course, it was like 70 degrees when we got in the car a half hour ago and no one felt the need to bring jackets.   Mom fail.

Unloaded the cart into the back of my van.  Took the cart to the cart return.  (I did seriously consider leaving it by my van, but Joyce Meyer’s words ring in my head).  Watch this…  http://youtu.be/iedcwIxsKhE

That’s something.  I guess.

And how about this?  We made it to dance with 15 minutes to spare!  Thank you, Lord.  In everything give thanks.

Chatted with a friend at the dance school for a few minutes and arrived at Nathan’s game a few minutes late.  I missed his first at-bat. Of course.  He struck out, so that kind of saved me.  Remember, I hadn’t brought a jacket…I looked in my trunk to see if I had a blanket or stray sweatshirt.  Nope.  What I did find was Emma’s fluffy panda hat with the attached scarf with hand warmers.pandahat  I examined it and then decided against wearing it in front of the other moms.  What would they think about me?  So I got back in my van and watched the game from the hill.  My thin shirt was no match for the bitter wind.  Why couldn’t I get it together and remember things like jackets, hats and those bag chair things everyone else sits on at these games?

Well…at least it’s cold and my groceries in the trunk won’t rot before I get home.

When the game ended, it was 8pm.  The girls weren’t getting done with dance until 9 and Scott wasn’t getting done with work until 10.  So, I drove back home, unloaded the groceries, Nathan got a shower and we headed back to the dance school just in time to get the girls.  In the meantime, Lew sends me a picture of the awards ceremony dinner he’s at in North Dakota. “Call me ASAP,” I say to him.  I really just want to unload on him the chaos of my day so I’ll get a little sympathy.  I was beginning to feel weepy and pitiful by that time of night.  We chatted.  He made me feel happy.  He’ll be home in a few days.  Just keep on keepin’ on.

We finally made it home a little after 10pm.  I rush all the kids to bed.  By that time, I was beyond tired.  I wanted to get my workout in.  Yeah, right.  Who am I kidding?  Bedtime for this old girl.  I know I’ll hate myself in the morning for it.  So I went to bed.  Lily came in three times to ask me if I heard something.  No.  Go to bed!!!!  Then of course, I lie there “hearing something” until 3am. Way to freak a mom out, Lily!

Here I sit today.  FrazzledCatMore tired than before, but able to clearly evaluate what went down yesterday.  Sure, the amount of running around and scheduling and quantity of stuff I was able to get done was impressive.  Super, some might say.  But what was going on in my mind and heart all day was super BAD.  The negative self-talk was present all day long.  I beat myself up mentally from morning until night.  How and why did this happen?

I have expectations of myself that no one, not even God Himself, expects from me.

I often look around at other moms and wives and compare myself to them.  I come up short every time.

I allow the opinions of others to steal my peace.

I forget whose image I am made in. I forget who I am in Christ.

I forget that I am loved by many people.  And they love me just as I am.

Here are some truths about my life (and yours too, I’m sure):

Life is not perfect.  I am not perfect.  That’s okay.  

I am doing the best I can, most days.  

I love my kids.  I love my husband.  I love Jesus.  They love me too, like a whole lot.

My kids are alive, healthy, smart and thriving human beings who also love Jesus.happykids

My home is clean enough…there are no infectious diseases or life threatening hazards at the present time.  Everyone has clean underwear…today.

ecard

I have a roof over my head, food to eat and clothes to wear.  Every day.

I AM a good mom.  I AM a good wife.  I AM a good person.  Sometimes we’ve just gotta say that to ourselves.  

Be encouraged today, mommy and wife.  You’ll make it through today, one second at a time.  Don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t go as planned or if the dishes are piling up.  Play with your kids or cuddle with your husband instead.  A clean house is WAY overrated…in my humble opinion.  At least until the mother-in-law shows up.

Love yourself because YOU ARE LOVABLE.

And one last thing…let’s give each other a break too.  When we criticize one another, it just shows how insecure we are with ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Are You?

Have you ever got up in the morning, looked in the mirror and asked yourself, “Who in the world is that person looking back at me? Who am I?”

Some days I look at myself in the mirror and I’m like, “Yikes!” The Susie I know in my mind doesn’t have a double chin or wrinkles around her eyes or between her brows. And what about that gray hair sticking straight off my head like a rooster’s?

Now, I’m just being a little silly, but…The change in our physical appearance is simply an illustration of what happens inside of us sometimes. An identity crisis, if you will.

There are at least two distinct times in my life when I experienced a complete loss of my identity. The first, when I left the religious denomination in which I was raised. The second was during the divorce. Two life-changing, identity crisis-invoking situations.

I was raised in a legalistic, works-based religion. For those of you who may not understand what I mean by “works-based,” it means that I was taught that salvation through belief in Jesus Christ was not enough to gain entrance into heaven. Salvation was a 3 step process, not just a confession of faith in Jesus. A lengthy list of rules or “standards” in order to obtain holiness and favor with God was expected. The guilt and fear associated with this kind of teaching became a stronghold in my life. I never felt like I could measure up to what God expected of me, but I sure did try my hardest! I found myself lost and insecure when I was no longer told exactly what to do in life. I completely lost who I was, or who I thought I was.

One night, as I prayed for direction for my life, God revealed to me who I am in Christ. How He sees me. This is what He said…

You are holy and without blame before me in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

You are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

You are forgiven of all your sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

You are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

The encounter I had with God that night changed the entire course of my life, forever. I have never been the same since. To hear and understand what He thinks about me has changed the way I view myself and others, the way I treat myself and others. God is not sitting up in heaven waiting to beat me over the head or send me to hell any second of the day if I don’t “measure up” to every rule and regulation. This knowledge has given me the permission to lay down my own gavel. I am many things for my Lord, but judge, I am not.

The divorce. If you’ve been through it, you are going to be able to relate 100%. Activities within my marriage by my spouse had caused a great decline in my self-esteem, as well as my basic worth as a human being. I had to ask my self the question, “Who is Susie without ___?” It’s been Susie and __ for so many years, now what? I spiraled down a self-destructive thought process. I was angry with God and the world for what I was going through. I basically felt like a big ole’ piece of crap…yes, I said it. Discarded, worthless crap. I was afraid of what would come next. I was worried about being alone and all that goes with being a single mom. But God, in His infinite love and grace, has a way of reaching down into the pit that we are in and pulling us out. These are the sweet, healing words He spoke to me during the most difficult time in my life…

You have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

You have no lack for your God supplies all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).

You are a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

You are more than a conqueror through Him Who loves you (Romans 8:37).

You are an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony (Revelation 12:11).

You are part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

You are the head and not the tail; You are above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13).

You are greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

For God has not given you a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

You have given, and it is given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

My banner over you is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

You the apple of My eye; you are hidden under the shadow of My wings. (Psalm 17:8)

You are My elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).

Where are in you in your life? Are you lost? Are you confused? Are you insecure? Are you listening to those people around you, speaking destruction into your life? Are you allowing the circumstances of your life to define you, to categorize you, to put you in a box?

God knows where you are. And, He knows WHO you are. Don’t listen to what the world and your insecurities say about you…you’re not worthless, stupid, ugly, no good…Listen to the One who created you. Know His truth about you. He knows your name. He really knows YOU. He’ll hear you when you call out to Him. Ask Him, “Who am I?” He’ll tell you. Just like He did me. The words He has spoken to me are true for you, too.

Here are the lyrics to a song by Matthew West that perfectly describe who we are…

“Hello, My Name Is”

Hello, my name is regret

I’m pretty sure we have met

Every single day of your life

I’m the whisper inside

That won’t let you forget
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
Oh, these are the voices. Oh, these are the lies
And I have believed them for the very last time
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I am no longer defined
By all the wreckage behind
The one who makes all things new
Has proven it’s true
Just take a look at my life
What love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King!
And here’s one by Tenth Avenue North…
“You Are More”
There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide
She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”
But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight
She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try
But don’t you know who you are?
‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

I Admit, I Was Wrong

I write this because I MUST.  I have received so much revelation of God’s love and grace that I MUST share it.  Be blessed and may you experience divine revelation, as well.

Miriam Webster defines legalism as:  “strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code <the institutionalized legalism that restricts free choice>”

From the age of 6 until the age of 26, I lived an extremely legalistic life.  For 20 years, I depended on my efforts to maintain and reach a level of perfection or holiness to keep me “saved.”  If I could just be good enough, perfect enough, follow all the rules, I would be God’s favorite, I would earn His favor.  I thought that if I followed the “Steps to Salvation” (Acts 2:38) and then followed the list of do’s and don’ts outlined by the religious organization I was part of, then I would be saved. That all changed though and I thank God for His mercy in my life.

Throughout my life, the “Steps to Salvation” were taught to me as such:  First, you must repent of your sins, as in, get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness for all the wrong things you have ever done.  Second, be baptized to wash away those sins.  And thirdly, receive the Holy Ghost by speaking in tongues, which proves that you are saved.  Once these three things have been completed, your salvation has become complete.  Side note:  Repentance is not begging God to forgive you.  He already has.  Repentance is changing your mind and accepting that your sins have been forgiven.  Baptism DOES NOT wash away your sins.  We are baptized because of the forgiveness of our sins.  Baptism is an act of obedience when we become members of the body of Christ.  The infilling of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues, is not the proof that you are now saved.  We receive “dunamis” power when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, which is the dynamic power given to us to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. The act of speaking in tongues is not salvation.  The “proof” of salvation is in a person’s heart and only God can see that.

Once the steps to salvation are completed, then come the “standards” of living that you must adhere to if you wish to remain saved and if you wish to participate in any kind of leadership within the church.  Things like this:  women cannot cut their hair or dye their hair; women cannot wear makeup; women cannot wear pants or shorts or sleeveless shirts or anything deemed immodest by the leaders of the organization, all skirts and dresses must cover the knees; women cannot wear jewelry.  Men are not permitted to have facial hair; men are not permitted to wear shorts; men are not permitted to have hair longer than their shirt collar.  Public swimming or coed swimming is a big no-no.  School dances such as proms are off limits. No TVs are allowed and going to the movies is prohibited.  And the list goes on…You must understand the context and audience of each book of the Bible.  Books like I and II Corinthians were written to new Christians who were used to participating in pagan customs and goddess worship.  Go ahead, read it again.  Pray for understanding.  Try to read it in a different version or translation.  Research the culture of Corinth in those days.  You’ll see.   

I tried my best to live up to ALL the requirements for living a perfect and holy life, to become righteous and sanctified and justified and all that stuff while trying to keep myself from going to hell.  Now listen very carefully to my next words.   I had it all wrong.

I can see some of you shaking your heads in disbelief.  I can see some of you nodding your heads because you’ve been there.  And I can see some of you frowning and becoming offended at what I’m saying because you are still there.  I’m not backslidden, quite the opposite. I haven’t fallen away from the truth, I have found the truth!  The truth has set me free and can do the same for you!

It’s not about me, it’s not about you.  It’s about Jesus.  It’s not about what I can do or what you can do, it’s about what Jesus has ALREADY done.

THIS is the truth.  Salvation occurs the moment you realize, understand, believe that Jesus Christ came to this earth, shed His blood and died on the cross for YOU.  When you repent (change your mind) for the life you’ve been living and decide to hand over the controls of your life to God, you become saved.  There is a transformation that happens between you and God in your spirit/heart at that very moment.  You become a child of God and you find all the favor you’re ever going to get from God right then and there.  He becomes completely pleased with you.  You become the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus.  There is nothing more that you could do that will earn more favor, make you more righteous or save you more than believing in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for you.  By grace you are saved through faith in Jesus Christ.  PERIOD.

We are not saved by our works.  As Christians, we SHOULD do good deeds so that others will see Jesus in us.  Our works are not to gain favor with God or salvation, but for others’ benefit.  Since Jesus is no longer walking this earth with us, we must be His hands and feet.  That is the purpose for DOING things.  WORKS DO NOT SAVE YOU OR KEEP YOU SAVED.

News Flash!  You won’t go to hell if you don’t do works or follow the law or the rules.  And your outward appearance has NOTHING to do with it.  God looks at the heart.  The Bible says our righteousness is as filthy rags.  Basically, it’s gross and disgusting to God when we try to appear holier or more righteous or get more saved or whatever other impure motive we have for doing things.  What do you think He thinks about all these man-made rules religion is forcing upon people?  He is disgusted by them.  Gross misinterpretation of Scripture and manipulation of the Word of God has wreaked havoc in the lives of well-meaning Christians for ages.  STUDY THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF!  Don’t just take the word of a person just because he’s a preacher or a leader in your religious organization.  YOU have access to the presence and voice of God.  He can and will speak to you if you ask Him!

Reading your Bible, praying and fasting do not change God’s opinion of you.  It changes YOU.  These disciplines are solely for your growth and development as a Christian.  Do you get that?

Here’s an example from the Bible.  The Galatians, who were Jews, were trying to force the Gentiles who were newly converted Christians into becoming circumcised like them.  That is what the law had required before.  But we know that the law was no longer the judge once Jesus died and rose from the grave.  Jesus changed it all.  Grace now rules.  The apostle Paul shows up and is like, “What the what?’’  He asks them that if they were going to start following the law again, then why in the world did Jesus have to die on the cross?  Mixing the law (rules and regulations) with the grace of Jesus is like slapping God in the face.  All your sins, all my sins were taken care of, wiped out, cast away on the day that Jesus died.  He bore ALL the sins of the world that day.  There is nothing more that needs to be done by you or me but to accept this FREE gift of love, grace, mercy, righteousness, holiness, healing and salvation from our Creator.  Read Galatians chapter 5 if you don’t believe me.  And also the entire book of Romans and Hebrews.  And how about all the words of Jesus Christ. Salvation is not based on one scripture in Acts, it’s based on the life and death of Jesus Christ, the grace of God.

Once you experience this awesome conversion in your heart, your life will change.  You won’t need a list of do’s and don’ts.  As my pastor recently said, “Your want-to will change.”  You will become a new creation in Christ.  Everything will be different.  You won’t want to be like you were before because of God’s tremendous and everlasting love for you.

The Ten Commandments is our moral code, true.  But Jesus came and said there are only two commandments which the rest of the commandments hang on.  First, love God with all your heart.  Second, love your neighbor as yourself.  If we can just get those two “rules” down, then we’re good.  Think about that.  If you love others, you’re going to treat them like you would yourself.  If you love God, that’s going to change what you do in your life.  When you understand the terrible things that Jesus went through for YOU, it becomes very personal.  Have you ever seen the movie, “The Passion of Christ?”  For me, it was so painful to see what Jesus endured because of MY sins.  Seeing a depiction of what Jesus went through makes me not want to sin every again.  I take it very personally.  That’s how it should be.  Understanding the sacrifice and love of God will change you.

God loves you so much.  He sent His son to die for YOU.  If you were the only one on earth, He still would have done it.  You are the apple of His eye, His most cherished creation.  All He wants is relationship with you.  He has made a way.  Believe it.

Once you become a new creation in Christ, the doors will be wide open for you.  Salvation is just the first of many precious gifts He has for you.  A Christ-filled life is an abundant life, bursting with blessings and favor.  Joy and peace are yours for the taking.  And so much more.

During Vacation Bible School this past summer, we taught the kids a song about God’s love.  The words to this song perfectly sum up what I’m trying to say today.

You cannot stop God from loving you.

His love is not based on what you do.

Today God wants to help you understand.

That nothing can snatch you from His hand. 

Paul’s prayer and desire for the church in Ephesus is my prayer and desire for each of you,

“For this reason I kneel before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21, NIV 

If you would like to know more about what the Bible says about salvation, grace or legalism, feel free to contact me.  Be Blessed!

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”   Proverbs 16:16

Click on this link and listen to this song “Scandal of Grace”      http://youtu.be/cka7fYhWj2E

 

It’s Time to Remove the Mask

For many years of my life, as far back as I can remember, I’m not even sure when it began, I felt the need to hide myself. To hide who the “real” Susie is. The goofy Susie who snorts when she laughs. The angry Susie who cries when she’s mad. The insecure Susie with her freckles, big front teeth, and giant ears. The sad Susie who couldn’t have babies. The devastated Susie whose husband was a sexual addict. The lonely Susie who needed love. The ambitious Susie whose dreams no one believed in or supported. The passionate Susie who loves Jesus more than life itself.

The voice whispered in my ear again and again…”Don’t let her out, don’t show her to others, you can’t be yourself! What would they think? Don’t act like that-no one will like that about you. Don’t talk about those things-people will think you’re crazy. Don’t show that you’re angry or sad-good Christians don’t get mad. It will look like you don’t trust God if you act like that. You better not confide in anyone about what is going on in your home-no one will have anything to do with you. Your life will be over. What kind of wife will they think you are? Don’t you dare tell anyone the dreams and desires that are in your heart-what makes you think those things will EVER happen in YOUR life?

So I put on the mask, the plastic smile, didn’t let anyone in, didn’t let anyone know the real me. I tried to appear perfect. Perfect Susie, perfect husband, perfect kids, perfect life. It’s safer that way. No one could hurt me, criticize me, make fun of me, judge me, be disappointed in me…on and on…

Have you ever felt that way?

I finally came to the realization that God did not want me to live like this (How I got to that place is another story altogether). One day I looked around me and there was no one. No one who really knew me, no one I felt safe confiding in, no one I could entrust my heart to. And when I say no one, I really mean no one. And the funny thing is (okay, maybe the right word is not funny) that all of this was self-imposed (well, kind of). The hiding behind a mask was ME listening to the voice of one who wants to keep me contained, lonely, depressed, and ineffective (Satan).
Through a series of events in my life, God lead me to a woman (a for-sure divine appointment) who helped me to see who I am in Christ…the real Susie began to emerge. During this time of growth and change, I searched the scriptures fervently trying to find answers about what God truly thinks about me…

Psalm 139:14-16 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Psalm 27:1-4 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

1 Timothy 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving

I don’t care who you are. If you’re feeling worthless, insignificant or unloved, when you read God’s word, something in you changes.

Once I began to understand and truly “get it,” I slowly allowed my mask to be peeled away. I began sharing my life with others, my hurts, my shame, my happiness, my joy, my faith, my dreams, and more. And WOW! My life has become something more than I could ever have imagined. Is it perfect? No way! But I am happier, more content and more confident in who I am now than ever before. Being myself is so much easier than pretending to be something or somebody I’m not. Living the TRUTH is exponentially better than living a LIE. I wish we could all remove our masks.

If you can relate to me, I encourage you to take the mask off today. Find someone you can trust and let it all out. Read the scriptures I posted here and look for some more in the Bible. Ask God to show you who you are, how He sees you. You know that He made you specifically the way He wanted you to be, right? And He wants you to stop hiding. No one expects perfection and no one is going to be shocked by your story. God only knows whose life you will influence if you can get out of your own self?!

When the kids were toddlers, I bought them a movie by VeggieTales called “A Snoodle’s Tale.” It’s all about a little snoodle (boy) who felt unloved and insecure because of what other people were saying about him. He thought that he was not special and had no purpose in his life. That is, until he heard what his creator said about him. He explained to the snoodle what was planned for him when he was being created. The little snoodle was part of a grand design and was a masterpiece created by his creator. Hearing these words changed the snoodle’s life. He found purpose in his life and was free to become who he was meant to be. This children’s movie illustrates what I’m trying to say perfectly. I cry every time I watch it. You should watch it too! Here’s the link for it. Start watching at 17:35. The beginning is a bunch of VeggieTales songs and stuff…http://youtu.be/gIr6EqV8jIk

I also recommend listening to Natalie Grant‘s song, “The Real Me.” I know it will bless you as it has blessed me. Here’s the link to the youtube video: http://youtu.be/i6RezoHKni0

Be who God made YOU to be! Just be YOURSELF!

the REAL Susie 😉