Surprising Discovery on Valentine’s Day

Surprising Discovery on Valentine’s Day

Surprising Discovery on Valentine’s Day

It took me years and years and YEARS to ever really appreciate this holiday we call Valentine’s Day. From my past experience, it has been nothing but a disappointment…why? Well, let’s examine where the heartache could be rooted. My memories include: getting a charming card…instead of chocolate, a stuffed bear…instead of chocolate, gorgeous flowers…instead of chocolate, or receiving nothing at all…which means once again…yep…no chocolate. I believe the root of my disappointment simply stems from the lack of chocolate provided during this “chocolate holiday.” When I really examine it further though, I realize, there actually was chocolate involved in most of those cases. So how did I miss it? Well…it wasn’t ENOUGH chocolate. Therefore, for me, it goes into the “no chocolate” category. Anyone that knows me, can attest that chocolate is one of my favorite and greatest weaknesses. If it’s in the room…I will be sitting near the bowl that the chocolate is in, or I will have the bowl in my lap…or…if the bowl is big enough, I might even be sitting IN the bowl. ;)

Of course, I hope you know I’m being a bit facetious here. I know Valentine’s Day isn’t all about me, and it’s certainly not all about me receiving chocolate. I fully understand that it’s an added opportunity for us to give and show that special someone in our lives a little extra love and/or romance. But I can’t help but face the hard truth that I can easily make it all about me and it can happen fast.

Selfish love. That’s basically what I’m talking about here…loving someone with the expectation that I’ll receive, at least to some degree and in some form, love back. We all want to be loved right? What’s so wrong about that? I’ll give love to you, and then you give love back to me…right? This can certainly work and it does in a GAZILLION cases (is gazillion even a word?).

I’m finally realizing that this kind of love is just scratching the surface of what it’s REALLY supposed to be about. I believe I was created to love in a much deeper, greater way that can be even more fulfilling than the basic love I mentioned above. How? It’s when I turn that selfish love into Christ’s love.Untitled Of course, I can’t do that without Christ. I have to Know Him in order to love like Him. He’s the one who created this whole love thing in the first place. Without Him, I just love the best I know how, which usually includes those subconscious selfish needs wanting to be met, whether I even realize it or not.

I’m talking about that crazy supernatural love of Christ that doesn’t look to get anything back…EVER. It’s so good that it can soften a heart that has been hardened for years, give peace to a grieving parent who has lost a child, take a person in full blown addiction into a new life of freedom, cast out any and all fears, forgive and restore abusers who have destroyed lives…THAT kind of love. It’s in a league of its’ own!

I’ve come to realize that the more I know who He is, the more capable I am of loving like He loves. To do this, I have to stay close to him. It’s learning about His character through His word, asking Him to guide my every move, being still and listening, and most importantly – placing HIM before anyone or anything else in my life. If I do those things, He shows up in me and loves through me. Then…and only then…I start to love without those expectations, because I’m loving others for Christ, and not for myself.

One of the most surprising blessings of all of this is that it’s the most fulfilling love I have ever experienced.Who would’ve thought selfless love would be the most fulfilling love? Well, Christ thought of it. It’s His design and that’s why it works.

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’” – John 6:35.

That’s what God wants to do with all of us. He wants us to experience His love and through that, lives will be transformed, INCLUDING OUR OWN.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

So, as I sit here reflecting back on the lack of chocolate I’ve received over the years and the past disappointing Valentine’s Days I’ve “suffered” through, I smile, because my thoughts on Valentine’s Day have changed. Now, February 14th is another great reminder of the love, in its’ purest form, that has been freely given to me by THE creator of the universe, a love that fulfills me unlike any other love I could experience on my own.  And the best part… it’s never-ending. It’s ETERNAL!

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” –John 3:16

My Valentine’s gift came in an unexpected package and exceeds anything I could ever ask or imagine. Nothing comes close to His presence or the power of His love. Finally, chocolate doesn’t stand a chance.

Christy

I would like to join in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19 and pray this for you…

I pray that God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Amen.

Advertisements

Am I Enough?

Am I Enough?

Am I Enough?

As I sit tucked away in the corner of my favorite coffee shop, I’m in the midst of one of my guilty pleasures…people watching. Scanning the room I see the young college student in his jeans and t-shirt chillin’ by the window, sipping his cup of coffee, and zoned out with his earbuds while his books sit untouched. Then at the big table in the center of the room is the group of housewives dressed in the latest fashion chatting about the best restaurants in town. Over at the private corner table are the two older women who have met to talk about something deeper as one of them leans in toward the other to hold her hand and comforts her.

Then all of a sudden…time stops…SHE WALKS IN…the woman whose appearance is close to perfect. She’s wearing the latest designer heels, has seemingly perfect legs, a skirt that shapes her as if it was tailored only for her, every hair on her head is in the right place, her flawless skin and commercial smile cause everyone in the room to take notice for at least a second but for most, longer than a second. She acts like she doesn’t even notice or care that she grabbed the attention of close to everyone in the coffee shop. She scans the menu like it’s an average day and an average moment for her. I sit there in awe thinking, what would that be like?

It’s THAT type of woman that starts to mess with my head. Why? Because I know I’ll never be like that. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum from THAT woman. If I could, I would wear t-shirt and jeans, tennis shoes, and a ball cap every day for the rest of my life. And most days, I do! When I see women like that, I start to cut myself down, how I fall short of what our world tells us is beautiful. She oozes femininity and beauty….what a woman is supposed to be like, right? As if flipping a switch, I quickly fall into the trap of feeling “not enough.”

But then my spirit gently reminds me, there’s good news for women “like me”…God makes clear in His word about who I am! Believe it or not, today I’m grateful I’m not THAT woman in the coffee shop. Why?

1. BECAUSE HE KNOWS MY NAME– Let me state that again…DSC_0019

THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE KNOWS MY NAME. He knows tomboy Christy from Arkansas. From the beginning of time to eternity, He knows ME. I can hardly wrap my head around that fact alone. God took time out of His busy schedule and thought about ME…down to every intricate detail of my being.

Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me  together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Vs16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

And in Matthew 10:30 – Jesus says, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

In Isaiah 43:1The Lord says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

2. I AM CHOSEN and I AM HIS CHILD– The mere facts that HE CHOSE ME and calls me HIS CHILD makes my stock go UP…and up FAST!

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

I am a child of the King Romans 8:16 says“The spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

To me, there’s nothing more valuable in this world than God calling me His child. He is declaring I am His and I get to be with Him for eternity. There is no greater gift or VALUE than that!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life.”

3. GOD HAS GIVEN ME SPECIFIC GIFTS and TALENTS I have a specific role designed by God to carry out for His purpose! That role was set up way before I ever came on the scene.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says, There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. NOW TO EACH ONE the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good.”

destroyer Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God designed me with specific gifts for HIS PURPOSE. THAT woman in the coffee shop can’t fulfill what I’m supposed to fulfill. I’m designed to fulfill a completely different role for His Kingdom than she is, and she is designed to fulfill a role tailored specifically for her as well.

I’m grateful I’m not THAT woman. God knows my name, He has given me gifts and a role specifically tailored to ME, and He has chosen ME in ADVANCE to do those works, and above all, I AM HIS, a child of the one True King.

Bravegirl Jennifer says, “A woman’s armor comes in all designs.” Today, I like God’s design of me. I don’t want to dismiss, criticize, or compare His workmanship any longer. God’s word says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Thank you God for creating ME. Thank you God for creating the person reading this right now. I urge you, reader, to dwell on these scriptures so that you don’t forget how amazing you are. You’re amazing because God created YOU. You are here because He CHOSE YOU to be here for this particular time in history for this generation. You have a purpose that no one can fulfill but YOU! Now THAT is amazing!

Will you join me? Will you tell God thank you for creating you? Will you ask Him how you can fulfill His design for your life? Let God show you what He can do with YOU, His workmanship, which is always enough.

God Bless,

Christy

Healing Secrets

Healing Secrets

Deep, dark secrets.   No one has to know.    My secrets are not hurting anyone as long as they just stay here with me.
So what’s the point of sharing them?  I don’t get it.

Those were my thoughts as I sat across from my sponsor at her patio table one summer morning. I was working on what was probably my tenth cigarette of the hour– smoking like a train because #1, I loved cigarettes, and #2, we were talking about things that took me out of my comfort zone quickly.

We were discussing some things I had never shared with anyone, ESPECIALLY the people I respected the most… my parents.  They just happened to be coming into town that day to visit and celebrate with me my one year sobriety birthday.  My sponsor looked me in the eye and with a concerned, loving look said, “I think you need to tell your parents about everything. It’s eating your lunch.”

I looked at her straight in the eye and with a tone of determination and authority,  said, “No F’ing way in hell.”

In those days, the “F” bomb for me was quite common.  I was struggling in my recovery. I was depressed and couldn’t get out of it.  After throwing the “F bomb” in her face, she gently said, “Ok, how about this…go home, get on your knees before God, pray about it, and if you still feel this way, don’t talk to them about anything.”

I said, “Ok. I can handle that.” After all, I wasn’t agreeing to anything. Talking to God about it was not a problem at all. I could do THAT!

Walking back in the door of my duplex, I went straight to my bedroom and fell on my knees and started to cry. No…I actually started sobbing…overwhelmed with fear: fear of rejection…rejection from the two people I respected most in this world, full of frustration wondering why this was so important to say… couldn’t I just repent and let my past stay in the past?

“LORD THERE IS NO WAY I CAN DO THIS!  IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO, YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME THE STRENGTH TO DO IT.  I CANNOT DO THIS!  THERE IS JUST NO WAY!

Leaning against my dresser, I felt hopeless. Then, I heard it…coming from the kitchen: my sobriety song…the one I’d listen to when I felt discouraged.

My ipod was on the charger and I’d left it on shuffle that morning. It had been playing all morning from the time I’d left my house to go to my sponsor’s, until now. I hadn’t touched it. There were about 1,500 songs on my ipod and I was amazed THAT particular song started playing.

The next song right after that was “Happy Birthday.” It was my sobriety birthday! I sat there in awe of the two “random” songs I had just heard on SHUFFLE and hope started creeping in through those fearful tears. That defensive attitude I displayed just a short while ago started to soften.  Music is one of the most powerful ways the Lord touches me and He got my attention that day. He got me good.

Getting up, I walked into the kitchen and stared at my ipod.  The next song that came on began with these words:

I’m forgiven, because you were forsaken, I’m accepted, you were condemned. I’m alive and well, your spirit is within me, because you died and rose again. Amazing love, how can it be, you my King would die for me? Amazing Love, I know it’s true, it’s my joy to honor you in all I do, I honor you.”

If there was anything I needed to hear, it was those first words: “I’m forgiven.”
Then the next line… “I’m accepted.”

Wow, how powerful those words were to me in that moment. God was showing me that  the outcome of this conversation with my parents didn’t matter.  I am forgiven and accepted by Him.  HE is my security.  I started to cry again and said, “Ok God, I’ll do it.” I couldn’t believe how my mind had changed so quickly. All of a sudden I had total peace. I had the strength to do it.  Just leaving that small door open of praying to God made all the difference.

Our Story Not in Isolation

My parents showed up not long after. We sat and talked for over an hour and I confessed, making amends with them.  They were so gracious to me and we even prayed together when it was over.  I realize that other people do not always have the same grace given to them as my parents showed me that day and I will forever be grateful for that. But even if they had not responded in a grace filled way, walking in obedience to God was what had to take place in order for my healing to begin.  It still would have been worth it.

Because of my confession and amends, a new freedom and a new power rose up in me, leading to more healing. So THAT’S WHY His word says we are to confess our sins– so that we may be healed!

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16 paraphrased)  In other words, healing starts with CONFESSION. And you know what? The more I tell my testimony, the more freedom I receive EVERY TIME.

***************************************************

There would be many more moments like this one in the years that followed and God would continue to show up and walk beside me during those steps of obedience. The more steps I took, the more freedom and confidence I would receive. I started experiencing His faithfulness, His peace, His joy, self-control, and His love. I started getting into His word and actually applying it to my life. Getting a taste of the fruit of His spirit only made me hungry for more. I realized THAT was the fruit I had been seeking for so long that I just never could find. I was just looking in all the wrong places.

As a result, today I no longer walk in shame or guilt over my past mistakes. I don’t have to keep secrets for fear of rejection from others. I realize that my purpose on this earth is to GLORIFY HIM. Because God is the center of my life, I’m able to accept His grace for the times I mess up and then make it right with the people I’ve hurt,  Experiencing Him overrides all my fears of not measuring up or worrying about what other people think.  It’s so much sweeter that I’ll take the risk.

Now the question remains…will you take the risk? I hope you will…because YOU’RE WORTH IT. Join me in risking it all for Him. He is faithful and waiting.

God Bless!

Christy

A Little About Me

Hey there! I’m Christy,

Thank you for hangin’ out with me! I use the term “hangin’ out” because that’s what I’m all about. I. LOVE. HANGIN’. OUT. As you would probably guess, I’m an extrovert. My hang out crew consists of: Jesus, my hubby, my little mini hubby a.k.a. my toddler son, my core group of girlfriends, and of course YOU.

I believe in building relationships that seek truth, meeting people right where they are, and doing my best to follow God’s guidance daily. I finally figured out that I truly NEED Him. It is not just a want or a desire, it is a true NEED. I’m so grateful to God for linking this tidbit of wisdom from by brain to my heart. When my heart finally understood this, it was the beginning of a life change for me…the beginning of healing, the beginning of freedom.

I have battled several strongholds in my life ranging from chocolate, cheese dip, and Sonic vanilla cokes to more spiritually debilitating strongholds such as alcoholism, smoking, adultery, and same sex attraction. God has been by my side through them all and leaves me in amazement daily at where I am today compared to where I was just 7 years ago.

Because of God’s grace, I am no longer bound by alcohol or cigarettes, I am free from my past sexual sins, and I am free from the lesbian lifestyle I lived for so long. The relationship I have with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is what makes all the difference.

I am an ex-college athlete who thinks I’ve still got it, that is until my 35 year old body brings me back to reality. I was a teacher and high school coach for several years until my son was born. Now I’m a stay at home mom and work part time at a counseling center. I love to watch sports of all kinds, be outdoors, and of course “kick it” with my hangout crew.

My prayer is that you will be encouraged by the words you read here and that this will be a place of comfort, peace, rest, and laughter as we explore the beauty of God’s workmanship in each of our lives. I pray that you see yourself as a new creation in Christ and that you truly understand who you are in Him. What an amazing God we serve!

God Bless,

Christy

Dancing Naked

Dancing naked around the house, burping and laughing, performing balancing acts on various pieces of furniture, making a mess everywhere possible, and loving every second of it… that’s the life of a toddler boy. At least it is for my son. He is all about experiencing the next moment and what it has to offer. He lives life with complete abandonment. He hasn’t a care in the world except for the adventure that awaits him.

There is one exception that brings his uninhibited ways to a screeching halt. It’s when he notices… I’m not there. When I leave the room where he’s playing, he is fine for a short moment but when he realizes I’ve left, he starts crying and running through the house searching for me. When he finds me, his tears stop almost immediately, he’s relieved, and his peace and childlike joy come back. He just needs to know I’m there. That security gives him the confidence to dive head first once again, sometimes literally, into his next adventure.

I’ve also noticed that when he is playing on the playground, he is not comparing himself to the other kids. He doesn’t care if he makes a mistake climbing up the steps to the slide. If he has an accident in his pants, it’s not a self-esteem or self-image crusher. He doesn’t see himself as a failure or embarrassed because of the red snow cone syrup all over his shirt. He doesn’t care about meeting the expectations of his peers. All he really cares about is getting the most out of each second he possibly can and that I’m there beside him through it all.

The only downer that I see about my son’s toddlerhood is that he will have very little memory of such awesome days of living securely with complete abandonment. He can’t truly appreciate how good he has it right now. How tragic that he won’t remember most of these days! God gently shared something with me in the midst of my “Debbie Downer” moment. He said, “You too can experience life the same way as your son is experiencing it now. You already have the ability to live in complete abandonment but you choose not to. I am right here beside you. Do you trust me the same way your son trusts you?”

BOOM!!! Yep. He hit me good with that one.

God was asking me to forget all my surroundings and live life for Him with complete abandonment, knowing and trusting that He is right there beside me. HE is my security. If I can step into this reality, because it IS A REALITY, I can live in true freedom every day no matter what comes my way. The possibilities are endless! The side effects would be peace, joy, comfort… I could go on and on. I can just watch the joy on my son’s face and that is enough confirmation for me.

Complete abandonment? How can I do that? What would it take to make possible what seems to be such an unreachable way of living? As I started asking myself these questions, a few key qualities that I would need in order to experience this freedom started coming to mind.

Humility

I believe this is the number one quality that has to take place in me. If my ego is in the way, I’m toast! After all, doesn’t ego stand for “Edging God Out?” 😉 Matthew mentions this one FIRST in The Beatitudes. It was listed FIRST for a reason. He knew we can’t hear God if we don’t practice this key ingredient. He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. In this short but powerful verse, He’s telling me I’m blessed once I realize I’m broken and that I NEED Christ. If I know I NEED Him, I am open to experiencing Him, and there is no greater blessing than that.

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

Security In Christ

Knowing who I am in Christ is essential to carrying out His purpose for my life. Because of His amazing grace… because of what He did on the cross for me, I am made new every single day. Once I am His, He only sees me as pure and white as snow. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”

And just as my toddler son was able to carry out his next adventure because he knew I was there, I am also able to carry out my next adventure for Christ because I know He is there for me. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Vulnerability

For me, vulnerability means putting myself out there regardless of what others might think or say. Being real, sharing my story, and being honest can be REALLY DIFFICULT. But if I know who I’m serving and I know He has me covered, all others lose their power over me. “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. -Psalm 91:4

Accepting God’s Grace

Sometimes it’s so much easier for me to give grace away to others than to accept it for myself. God gives me a new dose of grace every day. If he’s giving me that gift, it’s because he wants me to use it and that doesn’t mean only using it to bless others. It also means accepting the blessing for myself. This gives God glory.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

Sacrifice

What is harder than laying my own thoughts, desires, and wants down every day for another? I’ve come to realize this might be the hardest thing in life I ever do because it’s not a one-time thing. It’s a daily, lifetime thing. But it’s essential if I’m going to carry out God’s purpose for my life. He has a job for me to do… and a job for YOU.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. –Ephesians 2:10

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. -2 Corinthians 5:20

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. –Hebrews 12:1-2

Will you join me on this journey of living in complete abandonment for Him? Let’s see what He does in and through us. I have a really good feeling about it…

With love and grace,

Christy

It’s not the la…

It’s not the law of religion nor the principles of morality that define our highways and pathways to God; only by the Grace of God are we led and drawn, to God. It is His grace that conquers a multitude of flaws and in that grace, there is only favor. Favor is not achieved; favor is received.”
C. JoyBell C.