Tag Archive | Surrender

Fabulous Friday with Cheryl & Link Up

The Light in a Dark World by Cheryl Bardwell

Have you felt overwhelmed with all the political stories and mudslinging going on? Not sure who or what to believe? Did you have a disagreement with a spouse or family member? Want to crawl in a hole and hide until it all blows over?

I feel that way sometimes. Life just seems too much to handle. Until recently, I found it easier to run away from my problems or situations rather than deal with them. However, I have now learned to take God’s hand as I walk through the pain and fear of whatever situation that I am facing. It makes me stronger not weaker. I grow in confidence, not only in myself but in my relationship with the Lord. There is a Light on the other side of pain and that Light is Jesus. The greatest thing is that He leads, guides and walks me through the pain, frustration and fear.

Turn to Him my friends in times of turmoil for He is the only Light in a dark world.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

——–

I ask all readers to say a prayer for Cheryl today, she will be having surgery later on this afternoon.  Thank you!  It’s time to for our Link UP party.  To link up your blog click on the link below…..

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Advertisements

Where Redemption Happens ~ Guest Post

Let me introduce you to Laurie Coombs.  I met Laurie at She Speaks for the first time.  While at lunch with a group of ladies, she shared her story with us.  I was held captive by what Jesus redeemed through an unspeakable crime.  I sat in complete stillness, unable to say a word (and for those who know me, THAT in itself is a miracle.)  I saw the radiant peace wash over Laurie as described her journey and knew without a doubt it was not faked, it was not a show, it was the real deal, found only through Jesus.  Welcome Laurie and let her story show you that no matter where you are, Jesus can always redeem ANYTHING. 

I knew something happened. Shaking my head, I adamantly whispered, “No. no. no. no…” But with tear-filled eyes they told me. “Laurie, your dad was murdered last night. He’s dead.”  Startled, my eyes began to dart around the room, not knowing what to do with I had been told.  As my new reality began closing in around me, I felt the shackles of a heavy burden weighing me down, but there was no escape. I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. I wanted to hit something, throw something. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening, I thought.  But it did happen. And in that moment, my life was forever changed.

Nine years later, Jesus called me to embark on a journey to forgive the man who murdered my dad. But then, He took it a step further: love your enemy, He said. Honestly, the word “love” in the same sentence as “enemy” didn’t seem to make sense to me. What’s more, the word “love” in reference to the man who murdered my dad was repulsive.

I cried out to the Lord and said, OK, God I get the whole forgiveness thing, but love my enemy?  How am I to do THAT?!? Immediately, His response came, bring him a bible. And this is how it  all began.

What began with a call to follow Jesus into my unknown, scary places resulted in the redemption and healing of not only of myself, but of the man who murdered my dad as well.

I have seen the unimaginable happen. And I know first hand that it is God’s intention to take the horrible chapters of our past and create beauty out of our darkness. Toward the end of this journey, I felt God saying to me, Laurie, this is what your journey has been all about. Changing lives. Bringing good out of evil. Beauty out of ashes. This is where it’s at. Not in your past. But what I will do with your past if you will continue to follow me wherever I lead.

God is good! It is His desire to lift us out of our despair and our pain and bring us to a new place.  A place that is rich in beauty and blessing. Yet, God has shown me that in order to get there, we must choose, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to say yes. To say yes, my Lord, I will follow You. Yes, my Lord, I will obey Your commands. For, it is when we lay down our fear, our pride, and our resistance that we are able to experience life as He intended. The life that Jesus died for us to have.

This is where redemption happens.

And I pray that you are encouraged to say yes to Jesus to whatever He may be calling you to and to embark on your own Jesus-led journey.

__________________________________________________________

Thank you so much Laurie for sharing your story with me at lunch that day and for sharing with the readers here today.  You are a picture of grace and beauty.

Laurie is a writer who encourages others to draw closer to the heart of Jesus. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Travis. They have two little girls and are in the process of adopting one or two more children from Ethiopia. Read more on her Blog, and visit her on Twitter and Facebook.

My Offerings

Dear Jesus,

Thank You so very much for using my words yesterday to touch so many ladies. I am humbled at the thought that I would be able to reach anyone and make a difference.  Then I realize it’s not me, it’s all about You working through me and wow does that bring a smile to me. 

All my life all I wanted to do was help people and ease their hurting even for a short time but I never felt like I had much to offer anyone.  People would ask me “what would you do if you even won the lottery?”  I respond “I need to play the lottery first in order to win” but then I smile and say “I would have a blast giving all the money away to those who need it” Funny thing is no one ever doubts that I would do so.  When family or friends describe me they use words as: caring, giving, ready to help anyone and everyone.

So why do I feel like I have nothing to offer?  Why do I doubt my own abilities?  I finally know the answer to that and it came in the form of waking up with a horrible migraine and slowing me down.  All week-long I have been so focused on getting my house de-cluttered, decorated and arranged in a perfect way that I have been driving myself to exhaustion.  In other words I have been Martha all week-long ~ trying to do everything on MY strength.  Today the migraine slowed me down to be Mary sitting at Your feet and listening to You.

The other thing You brought to me this morning:  all those beautiful ladies and their comments expressing how much my post yesterday touched them.  And it dawned on me – without FB I would never have “met” these lovely ladies, I wouldn’t have struggled through the feelings I was having, I wouldn’t have felt that FB was draining me and maybe it was time to give it up completely, I wouldn’t have felt lonely or sad and I wouldn’t have written a blog post that touched them.  and at that moment I felt peace and I knew You were showing me something important.

I had been so focused on the bad feelings I was having about FB that I was missing the message You were trying to lay upon my heart.  I finally got it though after seeing the comments and reading my private messages.

You were trying to teach me that I need to set boundaries for myself and learn to have self-control.  Not to turn to FB when I feel lonely, sad or invisible but to turn to You at those times.  Instead I felt lonely, sad and invisible so my solution was to give up FB completely.  You showed me though that all I was doing was avoiding a situation I didn’t like.  That instead of looking for the deeper issue I was running away and throwing out the good in order to get rid of the bad. that stopped me and made me think.

Yep, that’s my old pattern of perfectionism “I want it my way and if it makes me feel bad or feel too much I want to avoid it at all costs.”  Then came a thought that humbled me and brought tears to my eyes You ARE using me in an awesome way, I do have something to offer and instead of thinking there will be smooth sailing and no bumps in the road while serving You I need to turn to You through the bumps ~ that’s when I will grow closer and more intimately in You!  Which brought me to this Scripture:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our LORD Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  ~ Romans 5:1-5

My study Bible notes for the above Scripture: 

The justified are endowed with virtues.  By FAITH they live in peace with God and have access to His grace; in HOPE they long for the glory of God that awaits them; and through LOVE they show that the charity of the Spirit dwells in their hearts.  Equipped in this way, believers can become more like Christ through endurance and suffering.

You LORD didn’t run away from the Cross and Your death because You lived out Your Father’s will for the good of us sinners.  And although FB can’t compare to Your death I was running away from the good just as much as the bad.  Thank You for getting my attention and for all You have whispered to my heart and soul.  Once again I am in awe of Your love for me and that I do have much to offer to You and therefore, I should never compare my offerings to what other people have to offer. 

I am not less ~ I am just me as You made me to be, wonderfully and fearfully made in Your image.  I feel so full and complete right now, I wish I could bottle this feeling up for later.  In the words of Your mother Mary:

Behold, I am the handmaid of the LORD; let it be done to me according to your will.

I desire to fulfill Your will in my life.

A Confident Heart ~ Week 2 Thoughts, Part 2….

As I drove to work I felt lighter and happier then I ever have before.  I never realized the weight I had been carrying around, how it was dragging me down and making me tired.  As I was driving I was continued talking with Him and telling Him “I will give you all the control in my life, I can’t do it, so You direct me.  I want to follow Your will for my life.”  My friend kept popping into my head and I kept remembering how she said she would trust Jesus even though it hurt, she would follow Him.  I felt God prod me and say “tell her.”  But I dismissed it (see how quickly I took back control, lol).  I got to work and I felt Him say “tell her.” I dismissed it.  I felt it again and I said “look God I am not writing a message to someone that is a FB friend and never really talked to, that’s crazy” but all morning long so I finally said “FINE, I will write the message but I am NOT sending it”  So I wrote the letter and then 15 minutes later I felt a tap (kid you not, freaked me out a bit) no one was there.  So I said “I am NOT sending it Lord, she will think I am crazy or a stalker!”  Well I couldn’t get any work done and I was tired of being bugged so I sent the letter, I did put in the letter, I am NOT a stalker!!!

Almost immediately a reply came back that said “thank you!  Your letter was an answer to my prayer.”  I learned from that – always do what God asks of you!  He may be using you as an answer to someone else’s prayer. 

That weekend at church I saw in the bulletin that the Diocese was looking for an Executive Secretary and I had all the requirements.  So I took that as a sign.  I submitted my resume and said “God I am not going to stress about this, it’s in Your Hands, whatever comes, comes.  I thank You for the chance though.”

By November I had some wonderful godly girlfriends, I felt God’s presence in my life and I had an interview.  It was less than one month since my retreat!

I hadn’t interviewed in over 16 years and I was so nervous.  As I was leaving my parking lot to go to my interview I hit a car in the parking lot.  The city had recently repainted the lines at the parking lot and it was more narrow and very tight, a truck in the first row didn’t pull all the way into the space and was hanging out, but I thought I could squeeze past the car next to me.  No such luck I hit it pretty good.  I looked up and said “Really, God!!!”  No one was around, no one saw it and there was no damage to my SUV….this is when faith steps in.  I left a note, with all my contact information and went to my interview.  I thought I bombed that interview, I was nervous and then they asked the question “what does integrity mean to you?” and I told them about hitting the car.  They said we won’t call any of your references unless we offer you the job and we still have several people to interview.  Which to me said – thanks but no thanks.  As I left I was okay with it.

Next day I go into work and my supervisor said “I got a call for a reference for you”  I couldn’t believe it.  After I was offered the job, I spoke to my boss, my boss of 16 years and said “I have been offered another job, at the end of the week I will find out all the details.”  He looked at me and said “what can I do to keep you here?  Why are you leaving?”  We had a long conversation and I spoke to from my heart telling him the issues I was having and why.  He said “think about it, I want to keep you.”  Now I had two job offers and I didn’t know which way to go.  I prayed “Lord, where do you want me?” 

In the end for a variety of reasons I decided to stay at my current employer and I haven’t regretted my decision.  When I declined the other offer, I apologized for wasting their time and explained the whole story to them and how my boss reacted when I said I was leaving.  She said “that is better than any reference or resume, I definitely want you on my staff now.  Tell your boss I will keep trying to get you.” 

The Lord answered every one of my prayers in a way that left no doubt who was in control!  The past year has still been filled with heart ache and troubles, some I am going through now.  I have had my days and nights filled with tears and thinking my heart would break but I remember I asked for that too! 

I asked for healing and God led me to the Hidden Joy Bible Study.  I asked for godly women friends and did he ever deliver:  there are the 3 musketeers or 3 stooges – we aren’t quite sure which one we resemble, lol.  There are my Fun Bus gals.  My Hidden Joy girlfriends and some new friends from A Confident Heart and my friend who although miles apart has always been there for me ever since we met in an AOL chat room almost 12 years ago!

So as I get ready to leave this morning on my Silent Retreat again I thank God for all that He has given me this year and to let Him know I will meet Him in the middle of the labyrinth again this year.  We have more talking to do but this year – I will do all the listening!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD.  “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

A Confident Heart ~ Week 2…..thoughts

To write out everything that touched me in Chapter 2 would mean writing the whole chapter so I think I what I am going to do is write about last year’s retreat and what God has done for me in the short span of a year.  I will apologize right away, it’s rather long and will be broke into 2 posts. I can’t do short and sweet, besides this weekend was so amazing to me, I don’t want to leave out any important detail. And by the way, the picture at the top of my blog is from my favorite spot on the Retreat House grounds…it’s absolutely gorgeous there!

Last October as I said before I was very sad, miserable and lonely.  I felt my life was something just to be endured.  I went on my Annual Silent Retreat and this time instead of sleeping most of the time I had a real conversations with Jesus.  I knew it was time to quit hiding so in the middle of the labyrinth I had a talk with Jesus.  I poured my heart out to Him, never imagining the year that would be waiting for me.  As I poured my heart out, I asked for some godly women to come into my life to help me on my walk, to show me what it meant to live a Christian life in all areas, to support me and provide me with girlfriends.  I asked for direction in my job – I was miserable and wondered if it was time to move on after 16 years.  I pleaded with God to take away the emptiness that was consuming me – I wanted to feel again, even if it was painful.  I wanted a deeper, closer relationship with Jesus and I wanted to become the woman He created me to be.  I sat there pouring out my heart and I felt nothing.  I didn’t cry, I didn’t feel a peace inside – I just felt empty.  I cried out “You spoke to me once, I will never forget that day, could you please do so again, something, anything.”  Nothing!  I talked with one of the Sisters at the Retreat House.  I asked her “How do you really know its God talking or leading you to something instead of just your own wishes and you talk yourself into believing it’s God”  I can’t remember exactly what she said but I remember thinking “hmm, that helps”

One week later and work is really getting to me.  I pray “please Lord guide me, is it time to move on?”  During this time I had a FB friend that posted a note about a recent heart ache she had been going through and I sent her a message of encouragement and told her how much I missed hearing her on the radio.  For 2 years she was the best part of my drive to work.  She lived with so much joy and she laughed, it was contagious and I hadn’t laughed about anything in a long time.  So anyhow, I sent her a word of encouragement through a private message telling her I would pray for her and that I missed her on the radio and hoped her new endeavor would bring her lots of joy.  She posted a follow-up note about her heartache and how she was trusting in God and gave the control up to Him and even though it hurt she would do as He asked.  I remember thinking “wow, how remarkable it was to live like that and how did I learn to do that”

Two weeks have gone by since my retreat.  I am having my quiet time and I finally felt God’s presence so strong, that I actually look around the room because I know I am not alone.  I break down (as much as I can – b/c I still can’t let the tears go) and I say “I can’t do it anymore.  I can’t keep controlling everything in my life – I am screwing it all up.  I give everything to You.  Every part of my life, every area.  My marriage, my son, my daughter, my finances, my credit card debt (and seriously Lord could You take that!)”  I got down on my knees at 5:30 am and prayed and praised like I have never done before.  I gave Him my whole life.  That day was October 24, 2010.

Stayed tuned for part 2….

In the storms…

A family member is going through a rough season, this of course affects all family members.  Especially when their broken heart makes you want to cry out in pain with them.  I am trying not to let it steal my joy and yet be there for them, guide them through and be compassionate.  You would think that was fairly easy to do, but it’s not ~ at least not for me.  When one of my children hurt, I hurt too.  I tend to not be as compassionate with them as I want to be or as they need me to be.  Not because I don’t care but because I care so much and I hate seeing them in pain. 

I realize though that this is not something I can fix and God is at work.  As hard as it is to see my child in pain, I trust the LORD and I am praising His Name – even through this storm.  This is a chance for me to practice what I preach and to gain an even closer relationship with Jesus.  I pray my child will come to know Jesus better through this storm as well. 

Last night I turned over all my cares and worries to the LORD and in His faithfulness, He granted me a full night’s sleep that was very restful.  That was a first for me, usually I worry and fret, losing sleep and making myself feel even worse but last night I slept peacefully.  This morning as I got up and began my quiet time, this was the message the LORD gave me through my devotion “Jesus Calling”

Find Me in the midst of the maelstrom.  Sometimes events whirl around you so quickly that they become a blur.  Whisper My Name in recognition that I am still with you.  Without skipping a beat in the activities that occupy you, you find strength and Peace through praying My Name.  Later, when the happenings have run their course, you can talk with Me more fully. 

Accept each day just as it comes to you.  Do not waste your time and energy wishing for a different set of circumstances.  Instead, trust Me enough to yield to My design and purposes.  Remember that nothing can separate you from My loving Presence; you are Mine.

How awesome is HE!!!!  Yesterday when I was made aware of the issues my child is going through, my very first response was to wish for a different set of circumstances.  I thought “why, why now…why are we always going through rough waters?”  The poor me pity party didn’t last longer than it took me to utter the words but I say them and the LORD showed me this morning, don’t even waste time and energy, instead keep looking to Me and my strength, my power, my love!!! 

This is one of those times we are going through the fires to test our strength but it’s not just my child who is going through, it’s me too ~ my journey, my faith and my beliefs are going through the fires as well.  And so today, just for today, I will be joyful even in the presence of the storm.  I will praise His Name.  I will give glory to Him by the way I act, talk, behave and think today.  I will keep my eyes focused on Him, instead of looking down at the rushing waters, I will look up ~ up into His Face:  my hand in His, my eyes on His.  Knowing the whole time not only does He carry me, He is carrying my child as well! 

So for today, my prayer is Psalm 34 and when the day gets too hard, the issues keep mounting and I find myself unsure, I will simply pray “Jesus”

I will praise the LORD at all times.

The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 34:1, 17-18

Strongholds…..

This week our Bible study Chapter was on Strongholds.  I started the week in a great place, ready to learn all about this and to surrender my strongholds…..God gave me the opportunity many times this week or should I say the devil gave me many opportunities to say my strongholds are bigger than God. 

I don’t really know how I am doing in that area today.  I have had a very difficult, trying week at home.  I woke up very sad and very very tired (I am beginning to think one of my strongholds is tiredness) this morning.  I don’t know what to do or where to turn except to God, I am asking Him to please show me clearly without a doubt what is the next step, where do I go from here and what now. 

The good news in all of this is I finally broke down and cried like I haven’t cried in about 8 years. I cried so much I ended up with a headache, but it was something I desperately needed. 

I am very behind on the study, haven’t answered all of the questions yet.  I will get them posted as soon as I can but will probably be awhile.  I am not sure how much I will be on the computer ~ need to take care of something family issues.