May 29, 2017

UnSinkable Faith

Have you ever been stuck in a pit of negative thinking and couldn't force yourself to change your thinking pattern? I have! In her new book, Unsinkable Faith, Tracie Miles gives us the reassurance that we are not alone. When life happens, and brings us the not so pleasant circumstances that are beyond our control, we can easily become consumed with negative thoughts. The more we think, the more negative our thoughts become. The enemy of our souls will play games in our minds that can lead us to anger, frustration, anxiety, and even depression. The lower we become, the more Satan enjoys our despair. But when we take all of those negative thoughts captive, and turn them over to Jesus, He will replace them with His beautiful truths.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Our negative thoughts, attitudes and mindsets can dictate our lives if we are not aware of something that is causing us to sink into the pit of negativity. No matter how small the issue is, it can become overwhelming when we allow it to slowly build up, and turn us into bitter, negative people. Something as small as struggling to learn a new job, and having a hard time adapting to your surroundings can bombard our life, if we aren't careful. I had this very thing happen. I was miserable at my job, struggling to learn factory work, and didn't realize how my negative attitude and my bitterness was affecting my relationship with my co-workers. One day I realized there was one person who totally could not stand to be around me, and she made it no secret. I couldn't figure out why she treated me so badly. I began praying about our relationship, and God revealed to me that I needed to take a look at my own negativity and learn how to let Him transform my way of thinking towards my job. Once I gave it to Him, this person changed her behavior towards me and became one of my closest friends. You can read more of my story in Chapter 6, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, beginning on page 121, in Unsinkable Faith.

"Understanding how our minds are transformed isn't enough. Every day we need to refuse to let sinking thoughts enslave us and commit to keep rowing our boats." - Tracie Miles

There was a time in my life that I was consumed with fear, regret, shame, misery, and feelings of worthlessness. The reason for my feelings was due to the life I was living. I was living with a man who was not only a raging alcoholic, but he was physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive. I did not know Jesus back then. My life became so out of control that I was making one bad choice after another. My self-esteem was so low, and I was masking my pain with medication. I didn't want anyone to know what was happening behind closed doors. I didn't want everyone else to think I was the failure he had me convinced I was. Finally it became too much, and I knew if I didn't get out of the situation my life would never get better. I sought out counseling and shelter, and as my heart and my self-esteem began to heal, I began searching for God. Even though I had a godly counselor who was absolutely amazing, I knew that only Someone greater than she or myself could do that kind of healing in my broken and battered soul. You can read all about my story in Chapter 8 of Unsinkable Faith, Diane's Story, (the author used my middle name).

The water rose over my head, and I cried out, "This is the end!"
But I called on your name, LORD, from deep within the pit,
You heard me when I cried, "Listen to my pleading!
Hear my cry for help!" Yes, you came when I called; you told me,
"Do not fear." (Lamentations 3:54-57)

Tracie has such a beautiful heart for helping women who need to be drawn closer to God. In Unsinkable Faith, she tells stories of her own life, and from the lives of several other women who have been stuck in the storm of negativity, feeling like they are about to sink. Tracie points us towards scripture that shows us how to be the Captain of our own ship by clinging to God's word, and allowing Him to transform our thoughts and our feelings to His truth's. He will rescue us from the raging sea, and guide us to the beautiful shore, allowing us to live our lives filled with Unsinkable Faith!

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2 Corinthians 3:17)

At the end of each chapter, you will find Mind Transforming Reflections, Mind Renewing Memory Verses, and a Chapter Challenge. There is also a Companion Study Guide & Journal to go along with this book that is filled with questions, and places for you to journal and sketch if you desire. The Study Guide is a great way to allow yourself to go deeper in your study.

This book would be a great book for group Bible Studies, or a study to do on your own. No matter how you choose to use it, I highly recommend this book to all! This is a book I will not put on a shelf, or in the closet, I will be referring to Unsinkable Faith often. I give Tracie Miles and Unsinkable Faith 5 Stars!

**I was given a copy of this book by the author and this is my honest, personal opinion.**

March 4, 2017

Please Help Him Lord!

Dear Father,

You know that our hearts are aching and broken as I type this prayer. You know that we are feeling anger, bitterness, and resentment, at this moment, towards someone we love very much. You know that we are trying to wrap our minds around where he is in his thoughts, and in his actions. You know every thought, every feeling, and every emotion that has went through our minds today. You also know how helpless, not only we feel, but every one in the family, and even friends, who love him and care about him so very much. Lord, You know how heartbroken my mom is right now, and Father, I just pray that You would hold her close to You. Cover her in Your peace, the peace that only You can provide. Let her feel You holding her Father. Take away her anxious thoughts, replace them with Your truth, and whisper Your blessings in her ear, and let her hear Your voice.

Oh Father, in a perfect world he would just surrender and get the help he so desperately needs. But I am not sure that will ever be the case. I know You have watched over him and You have led him out of situations that there is no other explanation for. Even though he doesn't give You the time of day, You have still been there, carrying him. But how much longer will You be willing Father? How much longer will any of us be willing? How much longer do we continue to listen to his lies, and to put up with his manipulation? Lord, we need Your intervention. We need Your wisdom. We need Your strength, and Your anointing touch. We need Your presence, Dear Father!

We have hope, and we know that You do heal people with the disease of addiction. We are standing on Your word, and Your promises, and we are believing with all our hearts that You can and will heal Lacy.

And call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honor me.
Psalm 50:15

Father, we know that drug addictions stem from the need to self medicate unhealed wounds. I pray that You would reveal those wounds to Lacy. Help him to search deep down and find whatever it is that is giving him the urge to continue to use. Bring him back to reality, and remind him that help is just a phone call away. Please remind him that You love him, and for that reason, he can love himself. Remind him that You love him in spite of his mistakes. Remind him that You are more concerned with his future than his past. Remind him that Your love and that our love for him is unconditional. Remind him Father, of his self respect, his dignity, and of the person he truly is. Remind him that there is nothing he can do that will keep You from loving him and forgiving him. He knows these things, and he knows Your promises, but the disease has taken him to a place that only You can restore him from.  Remind him Father, of all these things, and of how his life was when he was so close to You, and that all he has to do is turn to You, because You are there, waiting.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. ~ 1 Peter 5:10

Lord, I know that there is nothing any of us can do to change his ways, but I also know that through You, all things are possible, and I believe with all my heart that You will take care of him and bring him back to You, and to us, his family, who loves him so very much. Help us to hold on to Your promises and Your truth's. Help us cling to Your word as we walk through this storm, and keep us filled with the faith that we so strongly have in You. Be with him Father, and please protect him. 
Thank You Father, that we can come to You with our requests, and that You are always there, ready to listen! I love You and I praise Your Holy Name! In Jesus' Name I Pray, Amen.

October 23, 2016

Encourage Others and Be Encouraged

I became a believer 12 years ago, on October 9, 2004. When I began searching for God I was beaten down, bruised, battered, and had no clue on how to go about this whole God thing, but I knew I had to try. I was in a shelter for battered women and I had a christian counselor. She was my first dose of encouragement. I sat across from her, and I told her that I was "damaged goods." I told her that God could never love someone like me. I had done too much wrong, and I wasn't even capable of loving myself at the moment. She knelt down in front of me and she laid her hands on my knees. She told me to look her in the eye, and to not look away until she was finished talking to me. Do you know how hard that was? But I did it. I listened as she spoke the kindest, softest, most loving words to me. She told me that I was beautiful, that I was worthy, and that I was never allowed to call myself "damaged goods" again. She also told me that I had a Father in heaven who was just waiting for me to let Him love me. I haven't seen Kelly in 12 years, but I still think of her often, and I thank God for placing her in my path. I thank Kelly for placing me on the path to allowing God to turn my ashes into beauty. This lady was a daily part of my life for 6 short weeks, but she touched my life in ways that no one else ever had at that time in my life. God knew I needed her. It was all in His plan.

When I left that shelter I moved in with my brother who was a Christian, and I was so hungry for God. I had no friends who were believers, so I was leaning on my brother for guidance. I went to his church, but felt so awkward and out of place. A few weeks later, I met the man who is now my husband. My husband was a friend of my brother's and he invited me to his church. I decided to go with him, and this is still my church today. When I walked through the doors, I was immediately intimidated. This church was huge to me, and so many people! My first thought was to turn around and walk back out! But I stayed. I was approached by a couple of women who introduced themselves, and warmly welcomed me. They invited us to their Sunday school class the following week. These women continued to come beside me week after week, and each week seemed like someone new would show up to encourage me with them. I didn't know how to react to them, but I had never known the Love of Jesus, and that was what they were showing me. They were so kind, so loving, so full of happiness, so encouraging, and I wanted what they had! It didn't take long for me to let my guard down, and let them love me. It felt amazing! 

It has been just over 12 years since I walked the path that led me through those doors for the first time. These people have continued to love me with the love of Jesus. These people walked with me through some of the hardest and darkest moments of my life. These people refused to let me go! These people love me still, and I love these people with all my heart! I am so grateful that I walked the path that led me through the doors of Maiden Lane Church of God, because most of all, this path led me to the foot of the cross, and to the freedom I found through accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior!

Since that time, I have gained so many amazing friends! I have been able to greet women at those doors of the church who walk in scared and lonely, just like I once did. I have been able to make a difference in the lives of some of the ladies that I have greeted at the church door, and that feeling is just so awesome! To see them come from a dark, lonely place, and grow into a beautiful daughter of God, makes my heart so happy. All it takes is some love, some encouragement, and the willingness to make a difference in someones life. I have also become friends with so many women in this online community! I am so grateful for these ladies who have welcomed me with open arms. There are times that I go to some of these ladies before I go to my own family. Even though I have never met them face to face, they are my sisters in Christ, and they have been there for me through tough times. They have loved me and encouraged me, and they have allowed me to give that same love and encouragement back to them.

In today's world, there is so much darkness, violence, and hate. We need to stick together and be the light God called us to be! We need to love and encourage women each and every chance we get. When we see the lady in line at Wal-Mart who seems so stressed out, and looks so tired, try giving her a friendly smile, or just say hi to her. When we see the girl sitting alone at the back of the church, offer to sit with her, or introduce her to someone her own age. When we see that poor little lady struggling in the parking lot with her cart and her cane, take the time to stop and offer a hand. Give her a gentle hug. You never know what small little gesture might just spark in someone's life. Take the time to notice people. Take the time to encourage, love, be a blessing, and just spread the love of Jesus!