Sunday, March 17, 2013

God's love is so amazing: Being You....

God's love is so amazing: Being You....: I know I have not blogged in a couple of weeks. First reason.....my desktop computer went kaput!!!. I really can't get upset because I b...

Being You....

I know I have not blogged in a couple of weeks. First reason.....my desktop computer went kaput!!!. I really can't get upset because I bought this computer a while ago...it was an old Compaq-Presario....don't laugh! Alright go ahead and laugh, I know you are anyway! Now the funny thing is, I've always been verbalizing that I would love to have a laptop computer. I wanted the portability and the freedom from not being chained to a computer desk. Well, I guess God must have grown tired of me verbalizing this wish, so He provided the opportunity. So there you have it....I purchased my first laptop computer! I know this is the 21st century and who doesn't have a laptop? The thing is, if my desktop was still chugging along, I thought it a waste of money to purchase a laptop when I had a perfectly working computer!!!

Second reason; sheer exhaustion. For the past couple of weeks, I've had hectic work schedules with tight deadlines. This left me feeling exhausted and depleted! I knew that I did not want to blog under these circimstances! So I made the executive decision to take a well-deserved mini "sabbatical"...LOL!

So I was watching Super Soul Sunday today on the OWN network. Oprah's guest was Brene Brown, Ph.D. Apparently she is one of the leading speakers on Vulnerability, Authenticity, Courage and Shame. Now I know that some Christians may ask what am I doing watching Oprah because of her metaphysical leanings. Nevertheless, I've found that when I listen to her guests they are really paraphrasing the teachings in the Bible! What resonated with me today are the concepts of Vulnerability and Authenticity. So many relationships are devoid of these concepts. Not only romantic relationships, but parent-child, friendships and sibling relationships. We walk around with facades; heralding Self-preservation as the name of the game. So sad....I've also been guilty of this crime.

Then it dawned on me why Jesus said that we should be child-like, not childish. Children usually are so trusting, vulnerable and authentic. Then they grow up, experience hurt, then put on "masks" to avoid future pain. To have fulfilling experiences, you have to take the risk in being vulnerable. Being authentic. When you do, you are liberated, free....free to be you! Just the way God created you! He does not want you to be anyone else. It's too much work, first of all, and in fact you are telling God that He made a mistake when He took the time to create you. Now that does not mean that you should not make improvements in your character, with God's help! You should; but don't change the essence of who you are to please someone else.

So be the best YOU, you can be!! God loves YOU, just the way you are!

Until next time!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Loving yourself and others

When I would read this verse in the Gospel of Mark, I often wondered how could I do that? Love my neighbor as myself? There were times when I would find it difficult to "love" myself. I would find myself critiquing my features constantly. Why did God give me these big lips or this nose? I would also envy my Caucasian, Indian and Asian friends for their long, straight hair, instead of my "kinky" thick hair! I remember those days when I would go to the beauty salon and spend hours to get a relaxer so that I could have "straight" hair just like them. For six to eight weeks I would enjoy being just like them. At least in the hair department.

Then as I became older and hopefully wiser, I realized that there is more to me than my outward appearance. I have feelings, desires, wants and needs. Unfortunately I also have made mistakes, blunders and hurt others deeply by my words and deeds. Yet despite ALL of that, God loved me anyway. Therefore, if He could love me, then I should be able to love me too. Furthermore, throughout the Bible, we read where God showed love and mercy to everyone. From the most upright to what others considered the "scum" of society and everyone in between. With this realization, I knew that I had no choice but to love others too. Warts and all!! Just like He did.

Remember folks, every one of us is struggling with some challenge in our life. Even the rich and famous. Some may think that all their money helps them avoid suffering and heartache. But from watching these reality and entertainment shows, we know nothing could be furthest from the truth. Every day we read about a celebrity who has fallen from grace due to an impulsive act or some poor choice. So let's be loving, accepting and empathic with each other. Follow Jesus, He was and is the ultimate personification of LOVE!

Until next time....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love, love, love is in the air

On Thursday, it will be Valentine's Day 2013!!!! Yes guys, in case you forgot, you have approximately 3.5  more days to purchase your sweetie a gift!! That is if you don't want to be in the dog house for life.....

For those of us who are still single Christians, don't despair....we have the best bridegroom EVER....Jesus Christ!!! I know, for many, this may not  provide much comfort and solace. Some singles get so depressed this time of year because of feelings of loneliness and their constant need to be in a relationship with someone; ANYONE.

Listen, I have been a divorcee for many years and trust me, there have been many times, where I wished that Valentine's Day would come and go very quickly! Every year I would grow weary witnessing my colleagues receiving bouquets and/or gifts at work and either going to lunch or dinner later with their significant others. I would actually feel the jealousy rising within me. Then I would remember reading in 1st Corinthians 13...that "love is NOT jealous". This verse is teaching me that if I LOVE my colleagues then I should NOT be jealous of their happiness or contentment in their relationships. I should be rejoicing with them actually...

Another thing that I have realized is that God does not want me to settle for less than His best. There are too many unfulfilling and unhappy relationships out there including a soaring divorce rate. So I would much rather wait on God's best for me. Someone with whom I'm equally yoked.

Now I am not going to say that it's easy watching my friends in relationships and not wondering what's the holdup with God! However, what works for me is LESS focus on loneliness and MORE enjoyment with the life that God has blessed me. I go out with my friends and family to the movies, concerts, the beach, get-togethers, dinners etc. Then when nothing is happening  I either sleep, watch television or blog about my life...LOL!!!

So as I mentioned before, don't despair! God has not forgotten about us. He just wants what's best for both us and our potential mates. Be patient! It will be worth the wait!!!

Until next time....

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Condemnation to Acceptance

"So those who are believers in Christ Jesus can no longer be condemned"-Romans 8:1 (God's Word Translation)

I love this translation of this verse because it does not leave any room for ambiguity. If you have made the decision to surrender your entire life to Christ, you should not feel condemned anymore. We have been delivered and set free by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Yet many of us Christians struggle with condemnation, despite what the Word says.

The thing is, God loves us regardless of what we say or do. For some of us who were blessed with loving and nurturing parents, we know that in spite of anything that we do or say, we are still loved. Our parents maybe disappointed by some of our choices, but the bottom line, is that we KNOW that we are loved. I was one of those children who was blessed with loving parents. My father did not show love via affection, but through providing for my needs and wants. My mother, on the other hand, was affectionate. She would dote on and spend quality time with me. For those of you who were not as fortunate as I was to be raised by loving parents, God wants to be Your Father and take care of You. Take a chance on Him, He will not disappoint!!

Yet in spite of my upbringing, I still struggle with those feelings of condemnation. Then one day a light bulb went off in my mind. That is when I realized that I was relying on my feelings instead of the fact that I am loved by God. Feelings are fickle, but facts are unwavering. Once I meditated on that revelation, I did not doubt that I was fully accepted and loved by God!! That was such a liberating and freeing experience!

When I share my flaws/mistakes with God, a burden is lifted. God knows about our mistakes before we even confess them to Him. However confession or coming clean fosters an intimate and transparent relationship between ourselves and Him. That's ALL that He wants; an intimate relationship with His creation.

Next time you feel condemned, meditate on this verse in Romans 8:1!

Until next time...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mercy

"When a person's ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him."-Proverbs 16:7 (God's Word translation)

Recently I went with a friend to see the film "Les Miserables" starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. I was mesmerized by their performances as well as the underlying themes of love, mercy and redemption throughout the film.

The story was written by Victor Hugo about life in 19th century France. The main character, Jean Valjean was convicted for stealing bread to feed his sister's children. Valjean managed to break parole and was aggressively hunted by the policeman, Javert. Valjean was shown mercy by a priest, who offered him food and shelter. Once Valjean accepted this undeserved favour (definition of mercy), he was able to bestow the same mercy to others who crossed his path. Even Javert, once he caught up with Valjean, allowed him to escape, which left him in a dilemma. For those who still want to see the film, I will not give away anymore.

I will confess I cried like a baby throughout the film. Nose running, eyes red, the works! I was not a pretty sight! Once I returned home and processed my emotions, I realized that the film reminded me of the depth of Christ's love and mercy towards me. Jesus left the majesty and magnificence of heaven to come to earth to die a cruel death for my sins. I deserved to die for my thoughts and deeds, not Him. Yet He decided that, despite my thoughts and deeds, I was worthy enough to have my life spared so that I could have eternal life with Him in Heaven.  This is God's love in action towards me....and you can experience it too! This verse came to mind after watching the film:

"The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends."-John 15:13 (God's Word translation)

Never take His love for granted! Hope you make the time to see the film. It is amazing! If you are not into musicals, you may find it difficult to sit through. In my opinion, I think it's worth it!

Until next time....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"God-centered" esteem

"I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and wonderfully made."-Psalms 139-14 (GOD'S WORD Translation)

When I think about my life up until now and the choices I've made based on "low self-esteem";  it saddens me. This includes poor financial decisions, engaging in inappropriate peer relationships and career miss-steps. As a young child, I did not think myself attractive or very interesting. So from early on, I decided I would live in the shadow of my very witty and outgoing friends. This, I thought, would increase my "likeability" factor. In spite of my best efforts to be charming, I went to my Graduation Ball (that is the equivalent of prom in this country) alone while my best friends were escorted by their boyfriends. That certainly did not do much for my "self-esteem!"

Shortly after graduation, I migrated to the United States from Jamaica to attend college. All of sudden, the opposite sex began to take an interest in me. Boy did I find tremendous solace in that! This was new territory for me! From then on, I depended on the affirmation from others, especially the opposite sex, to elevate my self-confidence. So when boys noticed me, my self-esteem shot up, but when they ignored me, it was a shot to my ego!

This erratic behavior continued most of my adult life....until I discovered this verse in Psalms 139. I've known this verse yet never believed it for myself. That I, Cheryl, "is amazingly and wonderfully made!". Even repeating it brings tears to my eyes at times. If God believes that I am amazing, then I should too...right? Well for some reason I still had difficulty believing what Christ thought of me. As a result, all of my actions reflected the belief system that I was unworthy.

To overcome this negative thought process, I decided to make the choice to view myself as God sees me....which is as an AMAZING BEING!! I believed that if I TRULY grasped this concept, I could have the abundant life that the Bible repeatedly talks about.

So for those who struggle with this issue....replace it with "God-centered" esteem. In other words, BELIEVE that you ARE an AMAZING and WONDERFUL creation of God!!! Regardless of the vacillating thoughts of self, the affirmation of others and past or current circumstances; whether good or bad. Your confidence should ONLY depend on what God says about you because He is our Creator. God is incapable of making mistakes. So when we are tempted to lower our standards and/or go against God's principles, we can overpower those feelings/thoughts/deeds by proclaiming His Word. God only wants what's best for us just because He loves us, even though we don't deserve it. He is a gracious and merciful God! I have so much freedom in knowing that I don't have to live in defeat anymore! Trust me, it is not easy believing that I am an amazing and wonderful creation. Nevertheless, when I ponder that my "Daddy" thinks soooo highly of me, there is absolutely no reason for me to believe otherwise. HALLELUJAH!!!

Until next time....

Friday, January 11, 2013

Overcoming negative emotions

"Give ALL your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you"-1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

As I ponder on this verse, I think about the events in my world this past week. There were lay-offs recently at my place of employment. Since then, there have been rumours that there may be more. As a single woman, that's not news that you want to hear. Next I receive my first paycheck of 2013! To my surprise, (not really) more taxes have been taken out making my paycheck much smaller than it was last year. Mind you, last year I already thought that my paycheck was too small to begin with. Then tending to my mother's physical needs as she battles an incurable disease and ensuring that she receives the best possible care at an affordable price! Then basically trying to find ways to navigate through situations and/or get rid of feelings that you know are not in your best interest......Whew! I am exhausted just writing about all of this. Yet there is so much more that I could share, but I won't bore you with the rest.

As I meditate on this verse, I realize that I don't have to carry these burdens on my own. There IS someone who is WILLING and ABLE to do this for me. None of these circumstances came as a surprise to God! He knew ahead of time that this was going to happen and He ALREADY has a plan in place to resolve them perfectly. ALL I have to do and just trust that He will!!

The thing is, giving Him all our cares is not the challenge...BELIEVING that he CARES about you is unfortunately the difficulty. There are times when I struggle with this concept... even though I profess to be a Christian and have been for a long time. I struggle because I know the inappropriate thoughts and "UnChrist-like" deeds that I have committed......Then I meditate on another verse...

"No fear exists where His love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn't have perfect love"-1 John 4:18 (God's Word Translation).

God loves me, He really LOVES me...He sacrificed His Son...... for ME. So there isn't anything He wouldn't do for me, as long as it is in His will, which is perfect!!! He is not going to punish me for my poor choices. Jesus' love makes it safe for me to confess them and when I do, He will forgive me. Nonetheless, this does not give me license to blatantly sin. However when I do, I have the assurance that He will not love us less because of our behaviors and choices. I will still have to suffer the consequences of my choices, BUT He will love me regardless!! That brings me such comfort!!

These revelations have helped me. I understand that any challenge that may come my way, Jesus will resolve them. In His way and in His time!! All we have to do is trust Him.

Now this word is for Christians ONLY!!!! If you have not made Jesus, your Lord and Savior, you can do that right now. Then you will be able to experience this freedom that I am talking about. All you have to do is say a short prayer. It could go something like this:

" Father, I am sorry for doing things my own way and not trusting You as I should. Please forgive me! Thank you for loving me and sacrificing Your Son for me. In Jesus' name, Amen"  

That's it!!! If you've said this prayer, Welcome!!! You are officially "adopted" into THEE Royal Family!!!

I hope these words will empower and encourage you as you go through this next week and the weeks and months to come. I want to leave you with a prayer:

" Father, thank you for loving us even though we don't deserve it. Thank you for leaving us with Your Holy Spirit to direct us on this journey called LIFE. Holy Spirit do Your work in us so that we can become more like Jesus everyday. Help us to love one another as You have loved us. In Jesus' name. Amen".

Until next time....


Friday, January 4, 2013

This is my first post, EVER!!!. I have always wanted to blog, but thought that  I was not disciplined or had anything valuable to share.

However, as I reflect on the year that has past, I realize that I have so many reasons to give God thanks. One is that my family and I are relatively healthy. Although I have to amend that statement by mentioning that unfortunately my mother is suffering with Alzheimer's disease. In July, I became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Florida. Therefore the possibilities are endless as what I could accomplish with my training. Lastly my son is a college graduate!!! Yay!!

In spite of all of these accomplishments, I have to give God praise for achieving these goals. His love has been so amazing this past year. He has seen me through many trials and tribulations. Big and small. Even though I don't give Him thanks as I ought, He loves me anyway!!!!

My plan is to blog weekly about my struggles and triumphs on this journey called LIFE. My prayer is that you receive as much joy and encouragement from these posts as I do from the One who gives me strength.


Dear Father,

I pray these posts reach those who don't have a relationship with You and are hurting.  Lord let those within the reach of this blog know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that their hope and trust should ONLY be in You.

In Jesus' name.

Amen.