HIV: It Could Have Been Me

Have you ever been rushing to make it to your destination and finally make it out of the house to just….sit…in….traffic?

Since I’m one of those who is always running late, this is typical for me. However, I have learned that sometimes my delays are purposeful; particularly when I find out that, had I traveled earlier, I might have been involved in the fatal car accident that was causing the traffic delay.

Today’s post is bittersweet for me in that it deals with a tough topic that I want to use a bullhorn to sound a warning about; while simultaneously rejoicing in the bullhorn to proclaim:

God’s Principles are for Our Protection

I will never forget, “No More Sheets,” a popular teaching series that dealt with fornication. When I listened to the series, I did not understand the profound impact it had on me; as I literally fell to my knees crying as the well-known evangelist delivered this life-changing message.  I was fully-committed in a marriage at that time, so the message was not applicable to me; yet, it pierced the depth of my soul. While going through a divorce many years later, I was reminded of the teaching. It was during this time that I wrote B! Celibate, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I have remained celibate since 2004–but that’s not the purpose of this article.

I am writing today, to “testify” that had I not obeyed scripture and allowed the Holy Spirit to do a deep work within me, I would have been infected with HIV….at least twice.  Two people, who I later learned were infected, pursued me for sex for years; but neither disclosed their status to me. You read correctly.  They intentionally did not let me know they were infected; in hopes of having me join the countless number of others who they have infected. Sadly, one of them recently died.

Think you don’t know “those kind of people?” According to the CDC, about 1.2 million people in the US were infected by the end of 2013, and 1 in 8 did not know they had the virus. It is very likely that you know them or know someone who knows them.  And, I could have been “them.”

Friends, this is the reality of the world in which we live. Hearts have waxed cold, and we have a common enemy who wants to steal the good that God has planned for us, and kill our joy, and destroy our lives.

Let me use my bullhorn to beg you to study God’s word and ask the Holy Spirit to help you live God’s principles, which are designed to protect us. God is not trying to “take your fun away.” He wants you to have an abundant life inside the safety of His principles.

Businesswoman with Bullhorn

Imagine my life today had I rushed into another relationship to get over my failed marriage. I would have been that fatal car crash that has caused you to be late. That wreck is actually a warning to you.

Stop. Look. Listen. Obey.

God is trying to get your attention.

 

 

 

 

I am Being Decapitated

Does it surprise you that people have no desire for God? It should not. We have become our own gods, and there will never be a desperation for that which we already have. We are so large, in our own eyes, that there is no room for God; making Luke 9:58 so timely:

Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

I have attended church from my youth, so I am going to date myself with this one. The small church that I attended would have an allotted time to “testify” each Sunday, and each “testimony” started with these words: “Giving honor to God, who is the HEAD of my life.” Now for most of us these were just words we recited, because we had no idea how to allow God to be head of our lives. I, for one, thrived on being in control; therefore, I was the head of my life and had no intention of being dethroned. Fortunately, today, I have grown so there are many areas where God is the head of my life; however, there are some areas where I still rule.

The Importance of the Head

The head is the place where our primary senses live. It houses our eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Four of our five senses have a resting place because of our head. Not only does our heads give a home for those things we can see physically; it also provides a home for something that is not visible: our brain.  Our brain is the seat of our intellect, so even the brain has a place to sit. This helps me to understand why it is so important that I allow God to be the head of my life, because He must be ruler of my life.

Jesus did not have a place to lay His head because He was homeless. Like the church of old, we have not made room for Him, because we act as our own gods. But remember, He warned us repeatedly in scripture.

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

 The Headmaster

As my headmaster, I sought the easy, painless, and shortcuts for answers.  However, those solutions were often temporary and, ultimately, unfulfilling. After wearing myself out doing things my way, I learned that allowing God to be the head of my life was often harder, but the results were permanent and more rewarding. I learned to embrace that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are better than my ways.

Daily, I have to check my motives, which are often rooted in selfishness. By studying the life of Jesus, I am constantly reminded that He only did what the Father told Him to do. He never exalted himself. He never tried to make himself great. He served. He obeyed. He loved. He is my role model and my headmaster.

My desire is that all will know Him and experience the abundant life that He promised us. I will invest the rest of my days exalting Him and surrendering my life to His headship. When He looks upon the earth I want Him to see me decapitated so that He knows that here is a place where He can lay His head.

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

 

Painful Purposes

Some of you will call me a masochist after reading this, and I am good with that; I’ve been called worse 🙂

I embrace pain. There…. I wrote it.

I have not always welcomed pain. In fact, I was like most–I did anything and everything to avoid pain. Now, I am not just talking about physical pain, like in childbirth; although I did have an epidural. I am also talking about emotional pain. I could always manage physical pain easier than I could emotional pain, so I avoided the latter like a plague.

After many decades, I finally connected a recurring theme in my life. I noticed that I encountered the same people with the same problems again and again….they just took on new faces or forms.

After hiring a personal coach to “get in shape,” I had a tremendous breakthrough. Now, the coach was a competitive body-builder….the guy was a beast. After my first session with him, I was unable to walk….for about five days. I cannot describe the amount of pain that I experienced. Let’s just say that on the drive home from the first workout, I was timing the traffic lights so that I would not have to step on the brakes. I slid down the stairs in my home, on my bottom, and made sure to drink very little so that I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom. Got the picture? I was in PAIN. Every move was evaluated to determine how much pain would be caused.

And while I was in a great deal of physical pain, something broke within me emotionally. It was as if there was a connection between physical pain and emotional pain, and once I crossed the physical threshold, an emotional barrier was crossed too. For the first time in my life, I experienced my deepest emotional pain to date:

I knew that my mother never loved me.  

The pain of that realization reduced me to uncontrollable sobbing….for hours. To the point that I had to reschedule a meeting that I had later that day, because I was unable to talk. Psychologist say that the need for parental love is crucial for a child’s development; therefore, I had to believe that she loved me to survive. Friends, the proof of her lack of love for me was very obvious, but I needed to believe that she did, so I deceived myself. And that was at the root of why I encountered the same people problems over and over again. Until I was able to identify, confront, and accept my mother’s lack of love for me, I continually attracted people like her. #BOOM

The Other Side of Pain

Once I was able to cross that emotional boundary and accept that my mother who gave birth to me didn’t love me, my life transformed. That childlike desperation to be loved was gone. The overbearing need for acceptance was gone. The constant search for validation….gone. They were replaced with an intimate relationship with an all loving, totally accepting God.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. Psalm 27:10

But, isn’t an intimate relationship with God something that is available to everyone? Yes, it is; however, few will desperately pursue it because their need will never be as great. Think about it this way: if you came to my home,  and I offered you a drink of water you might refuse, because you can get water anywhere.  But if we were desert-thirsty, we would  break into a home to get water because our need would be so great.

My need for a connection with a loving parent was so great that only God could fill it. Either I sought him or I died–those were my only options.

Your Pain has a Purpose

Today, I am grateful to my mother, because without her I would not have the relationship that I have with the Lord. Why? Because she would have been my first option. I would have ran to her instead of running to the Lord. I would have sought her counsel instead of consulting the Word of God. And when in trouble, I might have looked to her to bail me out.  All things that most children expect, deserve and, all too often, take for granted.

Through the process of my healing and forgiveness, I asked myself:

  • What if my mom’s only job was to give birth to this beautiful baby girl? Well done mom!
  • What if her inability to nurture was to demonstrate to me how to nurture a child? She was a great teacher!
  • What if she displayed a lack of care and concern so that I would be a caring parent who knows how to value a child? She scored again!
  • And maybe–just maybe, she wanted me to have more than a Sunday relationship with God? She was a great role-model.

Friends, my mother did the best she could with the tools she had. For I choose to believe that  when I needed withdrawals, she would have eagerly given them, if deposits had been made into her. But she was empty. Not only do I forgive her, I am grateful to her.

I have a few questions for you:

  • What is on the other side of your journey through pain?
  • Why do you refuse to discover the purpose of your pain?
  • What if all the things that you are hoping, praying and believing for are just on the other side of the pain?
  • Do you really want to leave this earth wondering, what if….?

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

What I know about Pain

  • It is not forever–it has an expiration date
  • It will not kill you, but kill the fear that has held you back
  • It has a purpose–allow it to do its job

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Tony Robbins

 

Thankful that I AM NOT

I have always loved the I AM statements because, as daily declarations, they have helped to transform my self-image. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I AM a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  • I AM God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10).
  • I AM more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).

For me, a person who struggled with seeing myself as God saw me, these statements have been a blessing. However, in my devotion time this morning, I found myself giving thanks for all the things that I AM NOT:

  • I AM NOT always strong. And that’s a good thing because He is my strong tower and in Him I take refuge. Psalms 61:3
  • I AM NOT perfect but Jesus is my high priest who is without sin. Hebrews 4:15
  • I AM NOT enough but He is more than enough. 2 Corinthians 9:8

I now embrace all of my inadequacies because they make me dependent upon Christ, who is the author and finisher of my faith. Thank you Lord for all of my flaws. Thank you for all of my imperfections. Thank you for my deficiencies–every one of them. Because of them, I have to rely upon you. It is you that I run to when I’m in trouble. It is you my soul cries out to when I need fulfillment. I must depend upon you for everything, because without you I can do nothing. Glory to God!

Friends, the work of the cross was so complete that….

All that we are, and all that we are not is wrapped up in Christ.

This takes the power away from those who might try to hurt you through your insecurities. Smile and agree with them, knowing fully that YOU are complete in Christ. It’s a good thing that they point our your flaws. THANK THEM because they have just given you another reason to run to the cross. Remember what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9

For my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

 

For His Good Pleasure

Have you ever wondered, “why was I created?” I have. In fact, it was a persistent question that haunted me for years.

I sought answers in the typical ways:

  • perhaps I will find fulfillment in being a wife
  • perhaps motherhood will fulfill me
  • perhaps I’ll find fulfillment in a career
  • or maybe it’s this business opportunity

As I have studied those who, seemingly, had found the answer, the common thread seemed to be in the blessing of fatherhood: their fathers had instilled into them as children who they were so finding their way seemed easier.

Discovering the blessing of fatherhood, again, left me without direction because I didn’t have that type of guidance. And perhaps, this is your dilemma. If so, keep reading because I’ll share the answer to this lifelong question.

A Father to the fatherless – Psalms 68:5

God did not leave us hopeless or helpless. Regardless of the reason of our being fatherless, we have a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for us. For those of us who did not get what we needed from parents, God provided Himself as the solution.

When your mother and father forsake you, then I will take you in. Psalms 27:10

Ask God to parent you by asking Him into your heart. Become childlike with Him and allow him to give you what you lack. He is faithful to provide.

Although I didn’t get the blessing of an earthly father, I do have the blessings of my Heavenly Father who answered the question: why was I created?

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 2 Cor 5:9

My daily ambition is to please Him. Then my question became: what pleases God?

  1. Faith pleases God, for without faith it is impossible to please God: Hebrews 11:6
  2. Obedience pleases God: Colossians 3:20
  3. Sacrificing pleases God: Romans 12: 1, Hebrews 13:15-16

When I operate in faith, follow His word, and make spiritual sacrifices, God is well pleased. And it is for God’s good pleasure that I was created. My life has purpose when I am pleasing to Him; in Him I find that fulfillment I craved. Being a wife and mother certainly brought periods of happiness; just like the career and business opportunities. But I have found lifelong fulfillment and completeness in pleasing God. Because I can always find ways to operate in faith, obey Him and make sacrifices, pleasing Him never gets old or boring. So daily, I discover new ways to please Him.

Friends, if you are on that desperate search for fulfillment, I encourage you to search the scriptures and find out what pleases God. Then daily, live to please Him. For that is why you were created too.

The light in young woman hands. Sharing, giving, offering, protection

Exceeding, Abundantly ABOVE

I am, without question, blessed beyond measure!

Several months ago, I began helping a friend transition a course that she delivers in person to an online format, and in the process, I learned that she had some awesome instructional design skills. I made a mental note but had no idea that God was providing a solution to an unforeseen problem.

This has been a very busy summer.  Generally, I use the summers to vacation, spend more time with my daughter and work around the house, because my client work slows down. However, this summer not only did my client work not slow down, it escalated–to the point where I had to hire help.  Of course, when I thought about who would have the skill set to help me, with minimum direction, I thought about my friend, so I contacted her. And, despite her busy schedule, she agreed to help. I had no idea how much of a  blessing God had in store for me. I am still in awe of His goodness.

I need to explain how much of a “big deal” this was for me. I have never missed a deadline. Never–not once. I have built a business by delivering what I promise on time and with quality.  So, I knew that whomever I outsourced the work to, he/she would have to be able to deliver.  And deliver–she did—on time and with exceptional quality; enabling me to meet my deadline, so I felt incredibly blessed. But God was not finished.

Although I consider her a friend, this was now a business relationship, so I executed the paperwork to ensure that she would be paid. Contractually, I expected to receive her invoice at the end of August. It was not until I started paying bills that it hit me like a ton of bricks. In our conversations, she mentioned that she wanted to bless me, and I continually stressed that her helping me out was already a blessing. I had no idea that she was never going to invoice me. When the realization hit me, I was overwhelmed with tears. God always reminds me that there is no problem that I encounter that He has not already provided the solution. I just have to TRUST Him.

I am so grateful that God has given me such great favor with the right people at the right time. I did put a check in the mail to her a couple of weeks ago. Although I know it will never be cashed, it was the right thing to do, because that my friends is His RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I live at 320 Ephesians Road:

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Ephesians 3:20

 

 

 

 

When I was a Child….

I love First Corinthians Chapter 13, in fact, it is the love chapter.

Today, I was reminded of the love chapter when I read a post on Facebook. A mother was praising her child for making the honor roll and, like most of us, she called the child’s grandmother so that she, too, could join in the excitement. However, granny was pre-occupied and could not have cared less. My heart ached when I read the story, because I was immediately reminded how insignificant I was growing up.

The social media experts had a variety of comments–mostly supportive; however, a couple had great advice, but they missed the love chapter. Essentially, they felt this was a great opportunity to teach the youngster not to seek external validation. REALLY???? There are some old, crusty folks who still seek external validation; to expect such mature behavior from a young person is unrealistic.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. 1 Corinthians 13:11

I won’t spend a lot of time nurturing grown people, but children–anybody’s child–gets my validation–at all times, because they are   C H I L D R E N and so worthy of love, attention and anything they need to develop into emotionally healthy adults.

Now, here is what really grates my nerves on this topic:

design

Unfortunately, women are experts in this area. The males in their lives can behave any way–childish, ignorant, selfish–anything will do. As long as there is a BODY, anyBODY will do–women are so desperate it sickens me.

Grow up–if anyone deserves your understanding, compassion and tolerance, it is your child and NOT SOME CHILDISH MAN or WOMAN.

But when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Nurture your children and send those over-aged folks back to their mommies.

Do you have any Blessing Blockers?

Any blessing blockers? Blessing blockers are people who stand as obstacles to your next blessing. It took me many years to learn how to navigate blessing blockers but, faithfully, by meditating on Luke 6, I can unblock the blessings.

blockers

First, everyone has at least one blessing blocker–at least ONE. Whether past or present, as the Lord tarries, blessing blockers will show up during your lifetime. Here are a few of my blessing blockers:

  • An ex-husband
  • Many co-workers (and I mean MANY)
  • A member of my church
  • A client

Just to name a few…..Let me tell you about the client, because she was a BIG blessing blocker.

I have contracted with one company for several years, so I have learned “who’s who.” One of the female leaders had a horrible reputation, but my “rule-of-thumb” is to not believe everything I hear and to form my opinion.  Well…..I should have listened to the rumor mill with her, because our time to work together was bound to happen–and it did.

During our first meeting, I quickly learned why people complained about her. Everyone introduced themselves at the start of the meeting, but I didn’t catch her last name so I asked her to repeat it. WRONG MOVE. She replied, “it’s only 5 letters, so it’s not difficult to remember.” WRONG THOUGHT: I can think of another 5 letter name for you….. But I digressed 🙂

As you can see, we were not off to a good start. That night, in my time with The Lord, I complained about her and told him I was going to decline the project, because I knew we would not get along. After praying, I knew I was to stay on the project, and while I wasn’t happy about it, I knew His voice; so I buckled in for the journey. I did not know how God was going to work the situation out, but I knew that on the other side of my obedience was a blessing. IF I could get past my blessing blocker.

I would love to tell you that the next day, after praying, she was a different person; but she was not. But I began to see her differently. When she would be nasty, I would respond lovingly (Luke 6–love your enemies). I began to see her as an obstacle to my spiritual growth, and I knew that if I did not “deal with her”, I would have to deal with the situation again with another person, because the goal was for me to grow spiritually.  I was determined to only take her test once, because I HATE mountain experiences (e.g., taking the same lesson over again because I keep failing the test).

Slowly, I began to notice a few changes. Her questions were not as sarcastic, and her answers were not as “snippy.” She even began to initiate non work-related conversations. As we got to know one another better, I learned that she had endured a lot of hurts and injustices; and while none of that justified her behavior, I was able to better understand….Hurting people, hurt other people.

It was a long and grueling battle, but here is what was on the other side of my obedience and endurance. This woman is well-connected throughout the organization AND God has given me such FAVOR with her that she wants to sign a multi-year contract. I am only a consultant with the firm so a contract like that is uncommon.

And just think….in my anger, I could have missed my blessing.

Who or what is blocking your blessing? Meditate on Luke 6, and I promise you will learn how to navigate around them.

Bless you….#Unblocked

 

 

High Standards from a Holy God

Someone commented to me recently that I have high standards. I had not given much thought to my standards but, once I did, I realized he was correct—I do have high standards; however, I have not always had them.

I distinctly remember the days, not too long ago, when I did not have any standards–none–zippo.  Not only did I not have standards, I did not set boundaries, and both are important. As you might imagine, life was difficult for me. People could do and say anything, and I would “take it on the chin.” Why? Primarily, because a spirit of rejection ruled my life; therefore, I would do almost anything for people to accept me.

As you might imagine, I attracted the wrong people—users, abusers, and people who would want to take advantage of me. It was commonly known that I would forgive, overlook and forget about offenses. The one exception was my daughter; as I was the total opposite with her. Not only do I have boundaries and standards for her; they are erected very high.  high standards

Now, I have the same for myself, however, my boundaries and standards came from a question God asked me.

I was in my daughter’s room when He asked a question that opened a floodgate of tears: “why don’t you let D watch certain movies?” I have had enough of His questions to know that He was setting me up, so I sat down before answering. I said, “because I don’t want her exposed to the language and X-rated scenes.” He continued, “and how do you think I feel about you?”

I      Was     WRECKED…..

You see, I know that He loves me far more than I love my daughter–I don’t even have the capacity to love as He does. And it is because of His great love for me, that I learned the key that led to my having standards and setting boundaries:

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us ACCEPTED in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

I learned that a person’s rejection of me only mattered to the degree that I needed their acceptance.  And once I learned that I have already been accepted and loved by the best–what more did I need?

And the same is true of you. God loves you and He accepts you and He longs to have an intimate relationship with you.

Talk to him right now…..He is waiting and He is always listening.

 

Prayer for the Lost

DECLARATION FOR THE LOST – PSALMS CHAPTER 22, VERSES 27-31 (MESSAGE BIBLE)

From the four corners of the earth, people are coming to their senses, are running back to God.

Long-lost families are falling on their faces before Him.

God has taken charge; from now on He has the last word.

All the power-mongers are before him—worshipping!

All the poor and powerless, too—worshipping!

Along with those who never got it together—worshipping!

Our children and their children will get in on this

As the word is passed along from parent to child.

Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news—

That God does what He says.

Amen!

worship

a safe, close and trusting relationship where you are KNOWN and still LOVED