What Does God Say About Me?

Earlier today I was spending some time with the Lord and during our dialogue, I began to think about the man I will one day marry.

I think about him often. He comes to mind during random moments throughout the day. Hopeful wishes form as I journey through life and think of what it would be like to have a supportive partner by my side. There are many things that bring him to mind and I eagerly anticipate the day I will finally know who he is.

Today as he came to mind, I felt like I wanted to hear the Lord tell me more about him. I wanted to know what the Lord had to say about this man who holds a piece of my heart.

So, with my pen in hand, I vulnerably shared my feelings and asked the Lord, “What do you want to tell me about the one you have for me father?” and this is what He said:

“He will be patient and supportive.

He will love your passion and spur you on to greater goals.

He will love you well.

You will be his favorite thing.

He will beam and light-up when he sees you happy.

He will admire you when you share your heart with others.”

 As I penned these words in my journal, these futuristic words I thought were describing the man I would one day marry, an image of Jesus in a crowd listening to me speak came to mind. I was overwhelmed with emotion. My question to the Lord was brought forth by a desire to know more about the man I would one day marry but that’s not what the words of my hand wrote down.

How sweet of my Abba to set my mind on the things above and remind me of the eternal. How loving of my Abba to refocus my attention on the one who loves me yesterday, today and tomorrow. The one who cherishes and adores me now.

As you read these words, I just want you to know how God feels about you. I want you to know how much you are loved. How special you are to Him. How much He beams and lights up as He looks at you. He is so proud of you and He wants you to know how much He cares.

This is what God says about you:

You are My masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are accepted. (Romans 15:7)

You are loved beyond measure. (Romans 5:8)

You are My beloved child. (Galatians 3:26)

You are My friend and I want to spend time with you. (John 15:15)

I am with you always. (1 Corinthians 6:17)

I know who you are and I love your heart. (Psalm 139:1-2)

I have called you to do great things. You have a purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I will never leave you, I am with you always. (Isaiah 41:10)

When you are hurting, I am here. (Psalm 147:3)

The Power Of Your Story

There are only two things that qualify me to have worked as a Social Worker for the past 10 years; a college degree and a heart for service. I love helping people. I love serving people. I love to see their lives transformed when they are given much needed love and attention.

No matter what struggles I’ve endured though, fighting the temptation to eat a pint of ice cream isn’t the same as struggling through fighting the urges to use heroin. The emotional abuse I’ve endured in past relationships doesn’t compare to the physical and sexual abuse the clients I’ve worked with have suffered. The only time I’ve been inside a jail was worked related and I’ll never know what it feels like to be abandoned and not have anyone to call family. My experiences just aren’t the same.

One approach to case management however attempts to close this gap with the utilization of a “Peer.” Also known as a Peer Specialist, a “Peer” is someone who has endured similar life challenges. Maybe they have been through addiction and are now sober. Sometimes they have been institutionalized for mental illness but now understand the balance between medication management and support. Because of their testimony, the Peer is able to relate to the client through the power of life experiences. They understand what it’s like to travel the road to recovery. They know what it’s like to carry the emotional scars of the trauma life deals. They know what it’s like to spend time isolated in a cold cell enclosed by the walls of a prison. They get it.

There is power in the peer approach because of the relatability and connection that bonds two people who have traveled a similar path in life.

While I may never have been to jail or be able to understand the stronghold of addiction, I have another testimony — the testimony of the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The last five days have been amazing. The Lord has revealed strongholds, broken the chains of bondage and freed me from myself. He has filled the places of my spirit once inhabited by lies from the evil one with security of the Holy One and he has healed me from physical wounds. I’ve been overwhelmed by the intense emotion and closeness I’ve felt with the Lord and I can’t stop sharing about it.

As I’ve shared, I’ve realized there is incredible value for the Kingdom when we speak about the things the Lord is doing in our lives.

We live in a dark and broken world. A world filled with hate, murder and war. A world filled with pain, brokenness and retaliation. A world filled with desperation, suffering and longing. A world filled with emptiness, confusion and void. A world that needs the testimony of a Christian. A world that needs comfort, good news and hope.

So, I’m writing this today to encourage you to share. Share how Jesus has freed you. Share how Jesus has healed you. Share how Jesus has redeemed your story.

Just as Jesus instructed the Demon-Possessed man He healed in Mark chapter 5, I would like to challenge you to, “Tell them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had compassion on you.”

Your testimony is far reaching, our world needs hope, the story of miracles are powerful, and light kills darkness.

Will you be courageous today and share the goodness of the Lord? Will you be vulnerable, transparent and raw and let the Lord use you to reach the broken, hurting and hopeless?

Remember, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11)

He put your story in the same sentence as the blood of the Lamb. There is power in your story when you share.

The Day I Realized My Biological Clock Was Broken

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone.

Another year of my 30’s without the title of “mommy,” passes by as I sit here trying to come up with a word for what I am feeling.

Society tells me I should feel sad. Society tells me I should yearn for the day children will lift their tiny arms to me as they mumble, “hold me.”

The word to describe how I feel… well, I’m not quite sure –but sadness it is not. You see, unlike most females who grow up playing mommy with their dolls and crossing off and re-writing potential baby names, I don’t long for the day I will hold the title “mommy.” I’m not sure if this is a product of being single, but if I’m honest, I can’t help but wonder if something is wrong with me.

Why isn’t my biological clock ticking? Why don’t I yearn to bear children? Am I broken?

To all the women who find themselves asking these same questions, I want to share with you what I have learned.

 

Deadlines create desperation.

“So, if I wanna have my kid when I’m 35, I don’t have to get pregnant until I’m 34. [That means] I don’t have to get married until I’m 33! That’s three years… — Oh, wait a minute though. I’ll need a year and a half to plan the wedding, and I’d like to know the guy for a year and a half before we get engaged…” – Rachel, FRIENDS

One thing I’ve come to realize in my 30’s is that deadlines can create desperation.

If we live our lives allowing the cultural and societal expectations to guide us, we can lose sight of the plan God has in store. Society doesn’t dictate your future, God does — and the timeline He operates within is eternal.

Just because your life isn’t lining up the way you think it should, doesn’t mean it isn’t lining up the way God mapped out. If you find yourself struggling with feeling like you must be hitting certain milestones, I hope you’ll take a minute to talk to Him and let Him remind you of what lies ahead.

 

There’s nothing wrong with you.

When I think about the excitement and eagerness I see in other women as they think about the prospect of motherhood, it’s hard not to think something is wrong with me. I can’t help but wonder why I don’t long for those same life events, but in those moments, God reminds me that He doesn’t want my focus to be on those things right now.

Instead, He wants my focus to be on the things He’s called me to do in my present season. Presently, He has called me to a season of preparation and projects. Presently, He has my attention and energy focused on other things. If I was longing for a husband and children, I may be distracted from the very thing He desires to be the center of my attention.

Be encouraged by the words Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, to experience fullness in your season of caring for the things of the Lord and to serve the Lord without distraction.

 

Women give birth to more than children.

In her article, Giving Birth to More Than Children, Sundi Jo shares a great reminder that children are not the only thing women give birth to. Women are nurturers, lovers and creators. Women imagine, envision and produce. Whether it is a project you are working on, a book you are writing, or a person you are mentoring, you are a playing an integral and God intended role in everything you are doing.

 

The Lord has called you to this season. Wherever you are, He wants your focus to be on what He has in store.

Embrace the silence of your biological clock and praise the Lord He has lowered the volume so that your focus can be on whatever He has that lies ahead.

Comparison — The Thief of Joy

Today is Valentine’s Day?

Really?

It’s kind of hard not to notice I’ve you’ve been on social media at all today. From photos of people flaunting their love and the gifts they’ve received from the ones who love them, to the sometimes bitter posts from singles trying to justify why they don’t need a mate, it’s kind of hard to miss. Everywhere you look, there’s a reminder that today is Valentine’s Day.

As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop in Korea Town, eating my sweet bread and reading my bible, I want to share a little of what I’ve read today. My hope is that single or committed, it will encourage you alike.

 

Ezra 3:11-13

“…Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.”

At first, I couldn’t understand why God was parking my heart on these verses in the book of Ezra. The more I pondered, the more I could sense the devastation of those who were weeping. They had seen the first temple, they knew how grand the first temple was and they knew the second could not compare. This made their hearts sad. They had expectations of what the finished product would be because of what they had known before and they were disappointed.

 

Those who were filled with joy and shouted praises to the Lord however, had no idea how great the first had been. They had nothing to compare it to and as a result, they were filled with joy and happiness at the very sight of the house of the Lord that stood before them.

In Haggai chapter 2, the Lord spoke through the prophet Haggai and asked “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?”

It’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison game. Just as those who had seen the first temple, if we aren’t careful, we can allow comparison to steal our joy. Comparison can take moments in our life when we should be thankful and praising the Lord and cause us to weep in disappointment over what we don’t have.

I have good news though friends, God doesn’t want your heart to weep and be sad. He wants your heart to be filled with gladness– always. God knew the second temple could not compare to what first existed and He had a plan that had not yet been revealed. As you continue reading in Haggai chapter 2, you will find in verse 9, the Lord tells the people, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former…”

Whether you are single or in a relationship that is not currently bringing you joy, God sees where you are, he sees the disappointment you may be feeling and He has a plan. Take encouragement in knowing that He knows where you are and He wants you to know that He wants to fill your heart with joy. Don’t let comparison steal your joy this Valentine’s Day.

If you feel your heart straying that way, spend some quiet time with the one who loves you more than any human is capable of ever loving you. Trust me when I say if you come into His presence, He will shower you with more love than you could begin to hope for.

Happy Valentine’s Day all!

The Road to Recovery — Parolee to Peer Specialist

Part three of Tim’s story is dedicated to his late wife, Jacqueline, who after many years of fighting lost her life to cancer. Jacqueline you are very loved by many.

~

It was my third trip to prison in five years and this time I was looking at the long and lonely path of a 30-year prison sentence.

Been there, done that. I knew what I was in for, I knew the drill. I went to the diagnostic unit to get my assignment and I was happy because they assigned me to a brand new unit. I had a big smile on my face, I thought I was in for a treat, but that wasn’t the case.

My first trip to prison, I was “Inmate 51- – – -.” Here I was, back in prison less than five years later and I was “Inmate 643814.” It’s crazy to think that many people came through the prison system in such a short period of time.

When I arrived on my unit, 80% of the other inmates had numbers beginning with 19—–, 20—–, 29—–. These men had been locked up for over 20 years! Instantly, the white boy’s words were racing through my mind.

“God is going to keep you where you are closest to Him.”

So, I started going to church. I went to bible studies, listened to the chaplain preach — I got into it. Until, I saw the same people who were preaching, conning others. The guys who were speaking in tongues were getting in fights and having homosexual relationships. I started questioning everything.

This whole time I was searching to fill the void inside of me but I was searching on the outside for something to fix the inside. I didn’t realize the problem was me. I was looking for relief. I was looking for the formula for change, but leaving out a key component. The search kept leading me to dead ends so I turned around and went back where I started.

~

Even though I was never arrested for a drug related charge, I knew if I wanted to be up for parole, I needed to take some classes. Initially, the motivation to take the classes was all game, but Gpd was playing game on me and I didn’t even know it.

Going into substance abuse classes, I had three questions I wanted answered. I never shared those questions with anyone but they were always circling in my mind. Little did I know, God planned on using those unanswered questions to show me that He was there– even in the struggle.

Listen, I am really trying to help you guys. I didn’t take this job to teach you out of this book, I am an 8 year clean heroin addict. I know what it’s like to be in your shoes.”

I was shocked. In my mind, I had an image of what a heroin addict looked like, and she wasn’t it. I had no idea. As she started talking about dopamine and the affects drugs have on your brain and body, one of the questions that had been circling around in my head had finally been answered. From that point forward I listened. I listened to every single word she uttered from her mouth.  Each class was more informative than the last. I was starting to understand addiction and was eager to learn more.

TDC moved me to another unit where I met Mr. Haygood. Mr. Haygood had been sober for 11 years, and had a lot of insight to offer. It was through Mr. Haygood’s teaching that I realized I prayed the wrong prayer. It wasn’t just crack that was the problem for me– all of it was a problem.

It came in small doses, but I could see God working.

“As long as we can stop using, we thought it was okay because we looked at the stopping and not ay why we were using.”

Of all the times, I’d been to jail. Begged for drugs. Stopped and started again I had asked myself over and over again, “Why am I doing this, why can’t I stop?” And for the first time, I was starting to understand the answer to those questions. Each puzzle piece was connecting to the last.

As I realized the puzzle pieces were connecting and I was running out of excuses, I also realized I had a decision to make. I was laying in my jail cell after a racial riot had caused the unit to be locked down, and I remember saying to myself, “Okay God, I hear you. This is something I want. I don’t know where you are taking me but I know this is what I want. Today. This day. I know I can’t do this with your help.”

That was April 28, 1995. Today, I am celebrating 20 years in long term recovery.

Today… physically… I’m not on dope. My face is not shrunken in. I’m well groomed. I’m dressed to impress and I don’t look like and addict. I smell good. I look good. Emotionally, I’m stable and because God placed me in a situation where I was able to enter into a recovery program, I get to live life again.

“I don’t know all of the answers, but what I do know is that when I die, I’m going to die drug free.”

                                                                                                ~

Today, Tim works as a Peer Specialist. His job gives him the opportunity to introduce recovery to people who have never seen recovery. He shows people who don’t believe recovery is possible how to live a drug free life. Tim is also a sponsor to others who are new to recovery and wanting that change in their lives. Tim gets the opportunity to enter treatment facilities and prisons– places God is able to continually use him as a vessel to show His good works. Because of the transformation God did in his life, leading him down a path of long-term recovery; Tim has been able to be a supportive son to his disabled father, a better brother to his siblings and was able to lovingly encourage his ailing wife as she fought but ultimately lost her battle to cancer.

Final words from Tim…

“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God placed me in a situation where God could talk to my physical ears in a spiritual way. Today, my mom is my best friend. As a grown man, I now sees what the boy couldn’t. I know what my mom was trying get me to learn all those years ago. Today she gets her flowers on this side of the dirt. I was lost but now I’m found, I was blind but ow I see… that’s more than a parable in the Bible to me, it’s the story I get to tell others like me, every day!”

(This blog is Part Three of a three part story. To read parts one and two, follow the links below.)

The Road to Recovery — Part One

The Road to Recovery — Prisoner to Parolee (Part Two)