Hiccups of the Soul

Ashley was obsessed with Derek, and when he broke up with her, the world as she knew it came crashing down. She believed she couldn’t live without his love. And although she ultimately acknowledged her emotional instability after the breakup, she rationalized this instability as ‘When I truly love someone, I love really hard.” Like many people, her definition of what it means to love hard is a willingness to put everything you’ve got into a person or relationship. It’s to empty one’s self of everything they can give, all for the cause of what they perceive as the other person’s need. Jesus Christ was the only true Savior capable of giving to this degree. He sacrificed all that he was in order to save us from eternal damnation. To believe that we are to offer ourselves to another in this same manner is a misappropriation to say the least.

Love is not hard. 1Corinthians 13:4-5 tells us that it is patient and kind, that it’s not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love doesn’t demand its own way and doesn’t get mileage out of someone else’s mistakes. Love doesn’t have to prove itself by supreme acts of devotion or self-sacrifice. That would be bondage, and it would not exemplify the liberty that Christ made available to us. God has freed us through Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father warns us in Galatians 5:1 to never allow anyone or anything to put us in prison again.

Contrary to what others believe, love is predictable. It’s not erratic or obsessive, and it doesn’t behave out of step with God’s nature. God is love. Just as God doesn’t need anyone or anything to be what He is, love does not require us to subtract or add to it to be what God intended love to be. It doesn’t force, so wherever there exists a need to pressure or forcibly pull out of someone something they have not willingly and lovingly chosen to give, we have stepped out of love and into fear.

We know at the most basic level we all need love. This is wired in our DNA; it’s how God created us. 1John 4:8 affirms that God is love, and everything He has created was made from His tremendous love. 1John 4:16 says that all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. It’s the God living in us that allows love to flow from our hearts to others. We must also recognize that this love emanating from our hearts is going to be tested. It will be tested by the devil to see if we truly love God with all our heart and soul, or if we have entered enemy territory by making a human being an idol.

We make idols of other people, substances, money, and material things because we think they will fill the void in our lives. There can be no mistake in owning the reality that humans were created with the aptitude to worship because worshiping is such an important part of our relationship with God. Worship increases intimacy with Him, but worship is meant for God alone. So, it stands to reason that we’d be in dangerous territory to take what God intended for Himself and give it to someone or something that pales in comparison to the magnitude of all that God is. But this is exactly what many of us do, and it causes hiccups of the soul.

The nurses in my family tell me that, in the physical sense, hiccups are involuntary bursts caused by the contraction of the diaphragm. This contraction causes a closure in the vocal cords, and it makes a ‘hic’ sound. It’s an interruption in the normal way we breathe and can be prompted by many conditions. Because of this interruption in normal breathing, we use this word ‘hiccups’ metaphorically to describe situations that cause interruptions to life as we define or know it. This is also a good way to describe what can happen to the soul. Our souls have a breath, and just as our bodies hiccup, so do our souls.

In Proverbs 4:23(NLT), God tells us, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” This verse makes it very clear that we live from the inside out, and not the outside in. It also reveals that God has placed the responsibility of guarding the heart, which is part of the soul, in our hands. We are the protectors of our souls, and we need help to do it right. Many people are not aware of this, and they are also not aware of what their soul needs. Like the physical body, the soul requires a proper diet in order to remain in a place of wholeness and to continue to be well nourished.

Anything that needs to be fed will also have a hunger. The soul hungers for the very thing from which it was created, love. When we meet someone that we believe has the capacity to feed us, the guardrails come down, and we will latch on to them in hopes that they will latch on to us. Just as Ashley did with Derek, we allow them a place in our souls. And even though they present conditions that cause hiccups, or they are no longer interested in feeding us, some of us will attempt to maintain that connection at all costs. Why? Why do we ignore the warning signs and continue to put our souls at risk? Most of us do it because the pain and suffering of detaching from a soul connection can be devastating.

Many of us indulge junk food from time to time. Even though we know it’s not the best or most nutritious food, we eat it because we crave the taste. After we’ve eaten it, we might feel just as full and satisfied as we would have if we had eaten a nutritious meal. We didn’t get the nutrients our bodies needed, but it tasted good and the damage isn’t immediate, so we don’t think about it too much. If we persist in this behavior, it’s only a matter of time before the hiccups begin. Sooner or later, they will turn into a much larger problem, because it is inevitable that a malnourished soul connection will end in heartbreak.

Few of us have ever realized just how deep our love for someone can go. Heartbreak bears this out. It also allows us to see the connection between our souls and our physical beings. The emotions and feelings of heartbreak can exhaust us; the soul feels almost breathless and this can translate to actual physical illness. The link between the soul and the body is one of the major indications that the care of the soul is monumental to a flourishing existence. When the soul breathes deeply from extreme jubilance, it is nourished in an indescribable way, but when heartbreak forces it to breathe deeply, the very core of our being can be ruptured. When this happens, it is very important to recognize that we’re not broken because the person failed to feed us what we needed. We’re heartbroken because we have come face to face with the possibility of life without connection.

Heartbreak forces us to experience a void, and a void can be the most painful thing in all of creation to experience. It is nothingness, the feeling of being in a perpetual state of falling, with never a bottom in sight. Fear is birthed from this place, because you are conscious of falling and you are panicking because of it. It is horrific, and it is why obsession can find its way to take root, because many of us will do just about anything to stop the pain of separation, chasing desperately after the person that once fed us junk food.

The thing with us is that we recognize that any ol’ connection won’t do. We want it with someone we’ve deemed compatible and to our liking. They have to make our heartstrings sing, and if they do, we let the guardrails down and give them a seat at the table. At some point, we will have to wake up to the reality that this is a very self-punishing exercise. What’s crucial is for us to decide if we’re going to believe the truth about the soul. The truth is that it wasn’t created to receive food from another human being. It was created to respond to God’s love. He nourishes the soul through His Spirit.

Genesis 1:2(NKJV) says “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” During the time of this verse, the earth was not as we see it today. It didn’t have structure, and it was dark and void. The earth was in tremendous pain, because everything that is in darkness and void is in pain. Hope entered the picture when the Spirit of God hovered. The power of the Spirit of God takes nothingness and makes a masterpiece. This is what God wants to do to our lives through His Son, Jesus Christ.He tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to bring our everyday ordinary lives before Him as an offering, and then we must embrace Him. As we change the way we think, and begin to think like Christ, God will transform us from the inside out.

It is very true that sometimes we must experience the pain of heartbreak to appreciate the blessings in life. The break can make a crack just wide enough for God’s love to get in. Jesus Christ said in Revelations 3:20(NLT), “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” He stands at the door knocking, but it is up to us to open our hearts and let him in: to let his love into that crack so it can be healed.

If we let the Lord Jesus Christ in, it will be the absolute best thing we could possibly do for ourselves. Jesus Christ rescued us from that perpetual state of falling and reconnected us to Heavenly Father, but heartbreak can reveal the degree to which we are still looking for a human being to do what only God can do. Heavenly Father wants us to love others, because this is His commandment, but we are not to offer ourselves as sacrifices to other humans, and we are not to depend on anything other than God’s love to nourish our souls. The very best thing we can do is surrender Lordship of our souls to Jesus Christ and then allow his Spirit to help us guard them. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Hiccups of the Soul”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Learning to Walk on Water

For those suffering domestic violence and abuse, or who have endured it in the past, this time of such global unrest may be causing even more anxiety and fear. The sheer magnitude of all this confusion and chaos coupled with that in one’s own home can be the impetus for total break-down, but this break-down can be avoided. It should be all our prayers, that those who are continually in harm’s way will allow the strong tower of God’s love to blanket their minds and hearts. His love will give them the strength and power of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:28 tells us that it is in Christ that we live, and move, and have our being. And we see very clearly that the enemy is strategizing fiercely to divert our attention away from our Christ reality. Therefore, we must be equally fierce when it comes to the game the enemy is playing, so that we choose faith rather than fear.

Faith is the substance God used to create the entire universe, so we know it to be potent stuff. It is activated through thought, intention, and will. It meets us at a place that is higher than the conditional circumstances that surround our everyday lives. This is why God instructs us in 2Corinthian 5:7 to walk by faith, and not by sight. We can’t rely on what we see day to day, because what we see day to day represents the natural realm. The problem with relying on the natural realm is in 1Corinthians 2:14(NLT). It tells us, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Earth is the natural realm. It is an expansion of God’s territory, but He hasn’t taken it by force. He’s taking it by love. We are ones to introduce His love into this territory by completing the work that Jesus Christ began. God’s goal is that we live and move on earth by receiving from Him through the Spirit of Christ. 1Corinithans 2:10-12(NIV) says, “10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

If you and I were to rely only on information from what we see in the natural realm, we would be paralyzed in every way, because the things we see can be very scary. We might even think that God isn’t making all things to work together for good as He says in Romans 8:28. Be confident that God is extremely busy in the supernatural realm, and this is a realm we cannot see with natural or physical eyes. We experience it through our spirits. The truth is that the supernatural realm is more real than the natural realm. A follower of Christ must condition their minds and hearts to walk in this truth, because this natural realm of earth dwelling is a very temporary occupancy for us.

In Matthew 14, we can see a vivid example of what’s possible when we receive from the supernatural and rely on God’s power. This chapter in the Gospel of Matthew gives us the record of our beloved Savior walking on water. When his disciple, Peter, saw this, he said in Matthew 14:22(NLT), “Lord, if it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replied, “Come.” And briefly, Peter walked on the water! He did what he saw his Master doing, but in an instant this changed. For a few moments, he was saturated by the faith of Jesus Christ, and when he heard the word “Come”, he didn’t think, but simply obeyed, and moved by the Word of the Lord; the results were miraculous. But then, Matthew 14:30 tells us that Peter allowed what he saw in the natural to override the truth of the supernatural. This is always a detrimental step backwards. Peter saw the wind and became afraid, then he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus for help.

Oh, how I have wished over the years that Peter’s mind and heart had stayed free, that he had remained caught up in the faith of Christ he visited for that brief little while. Where would we be today if he had learned the secret of remaining in a mountain-moving faith, and then taught others? Even still, Peter did what no human has done since, and showed us through Jesus Christ what is possible when we refuse to be bound by the limitations of the natural realm and live through the faith and power of Jesus Christ.

Most of us will never encounter a situation that will make it necessary to walk on water, but we should learn more about Christ and seek to grow in the faith that would make it possible. We were birthed from that supernatural place, and we must learn to put the truth of our reality in Christ above what our emotions and feelings sometimes tell us. They might tell us to breakdown, but our spirit is reminding us it’s possible to walk on water. We must strive to increase our faith by trusting God through Christ, so that we are not rocked by our circumstances; we are not moved to emotional hysteria and breakdown by what we see. Instead we can know with every fiber of our being that God will protect and shield us. He will put a hedge around us and our loved ones if we are diligent to trust Him first, and let our emotions and feelings follow. ■

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Learning to Walk on Water”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Keepers of the Secret

Melissa was one of the few people I felt comfortable around, and it is only now, after looking back at our lives, that I know why. She was a few years older than me, and before I moved to another state, she married David, the only man who she felt ever paid her any attention. In my eyes, Melissa was an extraordinary person. She did even the small things with the greatest amount of care, and as long as everyone else was having fun, she seemed content to be in the background and remain unnoticeable. For as long as I can remember, she talked about becoming a teacher for children with special needs, but she always let things get in the way of pursuing her dream. And when she married David, she gave up on this dream altogether. She let him convince her that college was an unachievable goal. After he manipulated her self-esteem, he took control and had the final say on all her friendships and just about every other aspect of her life. She accepted and excused his emotional abuse.

An abusive environment is breeding ground for insecurity and low self-esteem. Often children learn to be keepers of the secret, and they sometimes gravitate towards one another, never speaking their truth verbally, but knowing it spiritually. Melissa and I shared this unspoken truth, and the moment I witnessed the interaction between she and David, I knew exactly what had happened. Like a magnet, her insecurity had attracted that familiar cursed and deceptive cyclone we both knew so well. Its rotations are both oppressive and comfortable, pushing its victim further in the shadows. It was what she knew, but she would not acknowledge abuse for the web of dysfunction and evil that it is. Instead, she would cling to it as if it was all she deserved, like it was her last and only hope to be loved.

The Creator of the universe loves us. The enormity of this reality should fuel our every move. When it does, we hear the voice of confidence resonating in our hearts, because Romans 8:16 tells us that the Spirit will testify within that we are children of God. If we allow it, the confidence of truly knowing God loves us will bring us out of the shadows and into the light as we begin to walk through God’s process of Fathering us. He pours His love into the gaps that we have tried to fill with other things.

There is no question that if those we love most have harmed or caused harm to come to us, the ground that would normally secure the foundation of our minds and hearts will break; and it is a sizable crack. The tremors from this crack vibrate brokenness, and it is so uncomfortable and hurtful, that some of us will let those with parasitical tendencies latch on. Everything that an abused person in this cycle of insecurity and denial is fed just goes right through those cracks and adds to their brokenness. We can never get full this way, but many who have been abused will continue to chase the thing that keeps them empty.

We must see ourselves as worthy, not just a little bit, but a lot. Galatians 5:1 declares that Jesus Christ has set us free, and we should never again let anyone put a harness of slavery around us. This freedom that Christ offers is our birthright. He is our Brother, and we are his siblings because of his sacrifice. He gave his life for the remission of our sins and rescued us from the kingdom of darkness. He delivered us from the bondage of low self-esteem, insecurity, and feelings of worthlessness. All this self-loathing negativity comes from satan’s kingdom, and he wants to continue to rob us of life’s vital juices so that we will walk the earth completely depleted of joy, and dependent on his kingdom of fear, sadness, and shame. We can resist this plot of deception and destruction, and we should.

Jesus Christ said in John 3:19(NLT), “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” To love light is a choice, and there is no gray area. We will either love it or love darkness, and loving darkness is not a good choice. It’s the worse one of all. God hopes we will not make that choice. The thing is, sometimes we’re not aware of what we’re doing. We’re accepting whatever comes our way, not discerning what’s from heaven and what’s from hell. We must know that we have a choice, and we can rely on God’s help. We have to wake up and realize that the packages from hell we can and should refuse. We owe it to ourselves to receive freedom from the secret, so we can be released from the pain. When we take even the tiniest step to love ourselves this way, God will begin to fill the cracks and teach us what it means to be free.■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Keepers of the Secret”, written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Prayer to God for Help

Heavenly Father,

You said in 2Chronicles 7:14 that if Your people would humble themselves, pray, seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, You will hear their prayers. You will respond by forgiving their sins and allowing Your healing, restorative power to flow into their lives. Please, hear our prayer for Your help! Humility requires that we acknowledge the honor You are due and recognize that You always know what is best and Your way always works best. Humility means that we come to You with a heart that is truly sorry for not giving You the place in our lives that You deserve. We humble ourselves before You, Father God. We know that You love us, and we demonstrate our love for You right now by confessing our faith in what You accomplished by giving Your Son to die on the cross for our sins.

You are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Your name is holy, and You are like no other. May Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There is so much confusion and sorrow in the world, and many people think this is Your Will, that You are punishing us because we haven’t listened to Your instructions and guidance, and we haven’t been good stewards of the earth. Your blessings are not earned, because we could never do anything good enough to earn all that You have done for us. You are not punishing us. You love us, and You bless us because love is Your nature. Love is who You are. Your Will is for us to live the more than abundant life that Jesus Christ came to the earth to make available. You want us to have a life full of Your grace, peace, and joy. This is Your desire for every person, and it has not changed.

Giving Your Son as a sacrifice for our sins is the greatest love act in all eternity, because Your Son is Your most precious treasure, and You didn’t spare Him for us. When we believe that You love us this big, we value ourselves differently because we can have confidence in our worth. We begin to see ourselves as children that are privileged to imitate Your nature. We cannot forget both the joy and unprecedented hate that Your Son was greeted with. Yet, he didn’t allow this to alter or stop him from doing the work You commissioned Him to do. He is our example of supreme love, and like Christ, we must be committed to do the love work You have commissioned us to do as well.

Philippians 2:13(NLT) tells us, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Heavenly Father, we invite You to work within us through Your precious Holy Spirit, because we want our lives to please You. There were times when we went off and did our own thing, not realizing that we could invite You to take the lead, and that we would have access to Your incredible love, power, and strength. We got ourselves into all kinds of trouble by choices that involved the wrong people, relationships, and connections. In many cases, we denied our identity in Christ and behaved in a way that was beneath our privilege. Please forgive us for this.

We’re in an environment that is extremely challenging, and so many of us feel very limited in our ability to access resources or to be resourceful. We’re experiencing feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and we can’t see a way out. We feel desperate and alone. Please help us, Father! You tell us in Your Word that You are our Sufficiency. You are our Source for all blessings. You declare to us in Psalm 84:11(NLT), “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” You love us way more than we could ever love ourselves. You are our Rescue in the time of trouble. Please, Father, give us a pure heart and renew in us a right spirit. Let us abide in Your shadow so that we are continually covered beneath the umbrella of Your care.

We repent of our sins, and we place ourselves under the guidance and Lordship of Jesus Christ. We trust him with our whole hearts to lead us in the path of Your purpose and Will. You tell us in Philippians 4:19 that You will supply all our need according to Your riches in glory, and that You will do this by Jesus Christ. He is the channel by which Your abundance and blessings flow, and we rejoice in him, because through him, our hope is complete and unfailing. You tell us in Philippians 2:9 that You have given Jesus Christ a name above every name and have highly exalted him; and it is in his precious name, the name of Jesus Christ, that we pray. Amen. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“A Prayer to God for Help”,  written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Been There, Done That, Not Doing It Again!

Fear and regret are a combination that can wreak havoc on our lives, especially when domestic violence and abuse is a part of our history. A biblical teacher that taught me a great deal about God’s Word would often warn, “Don’t let doubt get stuck in your craw.” She would say this because she understood that patterns are a big part of the way every human being operates, and a pattern of fear and doubt is the biggest conduit to getting stuck in life. We start learning patterns before we learn how to talk, and we carry them into every facet of our existence. Patterns of behavior impact the way we treat ourselves, the way we interact with others, and most importantly, the way we approach our relationship with God. For the most part, regrets impact our lives after we’ve matured some, but fear is a blocker right out the gate. The insidious thing about fear is that it can be stuck in your craw and you don’t even know it.

If you’ve been around people who speak openly about the domestic violence and abuse they’ve suffered, you’ll know they often speak about its vicious negative cycle. Some will say that, like a magnet, they tended to draw individuals to themselves that were wonderful in the beginning but turned out to cause them tremendous heartache and pain. After repeating this pattern of choosing a partner who abuses, many people become insecure in their judgment and decision-making. They are fearful of making a catastrophic mistake again, so they don’t trust themselves to discern between someone who loves without harm and a person who tries to manipulate love through harm.

Proverbs 4:23(NKJV) tells us, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” To keep your heart is to watch what goes in and what comes out of it. God tells us the reason we must be watchful of our own hearts. It’s because the heart is a springboard for the issues we’ll face in life. God wouldn’t tell us to be watchful of our hearts if we lacked the ability to get it done. Neither would He tell us to watch our hearts if we didn’t NEED to get it done. We are to watch our hearts so that we can recognize negative habit patterns that work against us, and then correct them. There are more people who don’t do this than those of us who do. Many people are comfortable where they are. That ol’ sneaky, manipulative, and evil devil keeps them comfy in self-sabotaging behavior, so they’ll continue to be blind to it. God commands us to wake-up and snap out of it. We accomplish this by changing the way we think, introducing new patterns, and then eradicating the stuff that ain’t working for us. It’s recognizing the stuff that ain’t working for us that ought to become our motivation to seek a better way.

When we learn that our hearts can draw something that harms, we must have that much, and even greater faith that our hearts will draw something that fulfills our purpose and keeps us continually attuned to the Father’s love. His love is no ordinary love, and through Christ He makes us complete in it. God tells us in 1John 4:18 that there’s no fear in His love, because His perfect love will demolish our fears. We begin to see this in real-time when we no longer allow the doubt and fear of making a bad choice to occupy the driver’s seat of our lives. Jesus Christ is Lord! He’s the Head! He has earned and deserves all the driving privileges that come with this job.

The shift in our focus from self to Christ is a requirement for believers, and it is the best thing we can do for our lives. Going higher in him is often achieved from a vantage point of viewing all the mistakes we’ve made in the past. Through those mistakes, we earned the right to declare, “Been there, done that, not doing it again!” No need for regrets. Our mistakes helped to bring us to where we are today; still living and growing, with a chance to be better and stronger than we’ve ever been. Jesus Christ is why the combination of fear and regret can be kicked to the curb. When we’re trusting his love and following his example, we can have confidence that we’re no longer who we used to be, and that the magnetic force of the love of Christ will keep us on track to God’s blessings.■

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

“Been There, Done That, Not Doing It Again!” written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Have You Ever Tried Running up A Mountain?

The term ‘wholeness’ is one we apply to an individual that is thriving mentally, physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. The Bible is instrumental in helping us understand what happens when the spiritual part of us is out of whack. All the other parts of us go haywire too. Most people would agree that when it comes to the mental acumen for things like technology and science, humanity has advanced in many areas. One would expect that all the other aspects of our being would keep pace, but in fact they haven’t. This is particularly true regarding our emotional well-being. The times are exceedingly stressful, and although we’ve grown adept to keeping up with technological gizmos, emotionally, we seem to fall further and further behind.

In Hebrews 12:1, the Apostle Paul said that since we’re surrounded by the witness of all these wonderful folks that lived with incredible faith in God, we have no excuse. We have to get busy like they did. After all, they were not perfect. They had flaws, but they ran the race God placed before them and accomplished what He wanted them to do. We all have a race to run; all of us! Paul tells us to go ahead and strip off all that heavy negative stuff that weighs us down so we can run with endurance. Sure, we might become tired, but not easily so; we’ll keep running no matter what, with our eyes continually on the prize.

What’s happening to a lot of folks is that they’re not able to run because they don’t understand they’re in a race. And not only this, they haven’t built up endurance. Why is this such a huge problem? Well, it’s a huge problem because life happens. God designed life to be a constantly moving, everchanging, progressive, and productive dynamic. It doesn’t slow down and wait for anyone. It just keeps going, and if you’re not prepared for the ‘get down’, it will boogie right on passed you. The wonderful people that He tells us about in Hebrews 12:1 had incredible faith, and we know this because they faced incredible obstacles. You can’t have one without the other. Jesus Christ tells us in Romans 8:37 that through him, we’re more than conquerors, but you can’t be a conqueror if there’s nothing to defeat.

Given this, it is inevitable that life will present some mountains. In Mark 11:23(NLT), Jesus Christ used a mountain to teach us about faith. He said, “I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.” Some of us are dealing with some mountains right now. Maybe you’re in an abusive relationship, and it seems there’s no way out. Perhaps your debt is mounting, and you can’t see a way to get from underneath it. From marriage problems to unrelenting sadness, many of us have what we consider to be mountain size challenges. The good news is that this is the Lord’s specialty. There’s nothing too hard for Him, and He loves to help us.

Sooner or later, we’re going to have to face the reality that the mountain is part of our race. Yep, sure is. I know, it seems insurmountable, every mountain does when you’re looking at it from the ground up. That’s why God tells us to keep our eyes on His love while we’re moving through rough terrain, so we’ll never see the problem bigger than we see Him.

This is not to minimize the difficulties we face in life, because keeping it real, have you ever tried to run up a mountain? What?!!! Try putting the treadmill on the highest maximum incline—it’s no joke, but the thing is, we up the ante on the treadmill because we know it’s going to give us a good workout. Life is given to us by the Creator to do same thing to our faith—to give it a maximum workout. With the treadmill, you can press ‘stop’ and get off. Life doesn’t work quite the same. You can’t ‘get off’ of life unless you take yourself out; and some folks are doing this. They are ending their lives because the pace of life exceeds their emotional acumen to deal with it. God has given us a better way! It’s the way that leads to wholeness.

It’s awesome that we’re making all these technological and scientific advancements, but ‘The Cloud’ ain’t got nothing on the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ is where the action is! Through him, God has equipped us to not just keep pace with life, but to blaze a trail of love that others can follow. God would not give us a race that we’re incapable of running. Let’s get moving by being more committed to Him. Let’s study His Word and pray more. Give the Holy Spirit greater room in your heart. Throw out the welcome mat and ask him to come in and help you prepare. He’ll help you train. Then you’ll have the endurance to run up that mountain and run the race God has placed before you with the victory of faith. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Have You Ever Tried Running up A Mountain?”
written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

A Fresh Start

I was asked recently to pray for a woman that has been in an abusive marriage for over 25 years. Her husband has been abusive in many ways, including habitual infidelity. She’s tried to leave the marriage several times, but each time he has begged for forgiveness and made promises to change his behavior. She has taken him back and continued to suffer through his abuse and cheating. His years of affairs have produced more than one child outside of their marriage. The child support for those kids has diminished college funds and financial support for the children they have together. Now that she’s in her fifties, and after all the lies and everything she’s been through, she says she’s finally going to leave him and give herself a fresh start.

When we think of the word ‘fresh’, we automatically think about newness or something that is different. The mere mention of the word inspires good feelings. We get excited about the possibility of leaving the ‘old, worn out, and no longer useful’ behind us. The harsh reality that stares all of us in the face is that newness doesn’t get it’s beginning from the external, it is birthed internally first. Real and lasting change begins in our hearts and minds. This is an astounding truth that most people ignore.

There are many reasons that a person will remain in an abusive relationship. If children are involved, the abuser may contribute part or all their financial support, making it more challenging to leave the marriage or relationship. Also, both pride and fear can be deterrents to leaving as well. When the abuser has some degree of affluence or prominence in the community, pride can become a stronghold. Fear of abusive retribution and retaliation, as well as the fear of a withdrawal of support, is also very much part of the reason why many people remain in abusive relationships. But these are not the root cause of why a person stays, they are what’s on the surface.

The truth is that God has empowered every individual of sound mind to achieve and accomplish whatever they truly want to do. When we’re relentless or passionate about something, most of us find a way to get what we want done. So, there has to be something deep-seated in someone’s mind and heart to make them feel as though they are unable to be set free. This isn’t a judgment. I was bound by four walls of self-doubt, self-condemnation, and insecurity for many years, so I know the entrapment of a mindset of powerlessness very well. I personally believe it is its own hell, a prison that ensnares countless numbers of individuals who believe there’s no hope.

In 1Timothy 6:12(NLT), God tells us through the Apostle Paul, “Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” God’s Word is true. It is the Source of any truth that exists in the earth. A thing may be factual, but facts change all the time. Truth is eternal, and it is this fight, the fight to stand on our truth in Christ, that is the greatest fight of all.

Instead of fighting to stand ground on the truth of our strength, ability, and liberty that Christ gave his life to make available to us, we fight for the thing that enslaves us. We fight our strength, ability, and liberty when we don’t believe in them. Jesus Christ tells us in John 8:32 that only the truth will set us free. And the truth is that we will have to give up the mindset of powerlessness for a mindset of hope.

Hope is the first step to a fresh start, but it will require something that only the Lord Jesus Christ can provide in order to back it up. We need the power of the Spirit of God, and we must invite Him to do a work on the inside of us. Without this, we slip back into old ways of thinking and behaving and continue to allow ourselves to suffer. We must acknowledge that we are indeed in a fight, and we will need more than the armor human understanding and skill can provide. We need the whole armor of God, and He freely offers it. He tells us in Ephesians 6:11 to put it on, and therein lies a true fresh start. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

A Fresh Start
written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2019. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

The Truth of Liberty

Jesus Christ said in John 8:32 that the truth will make us free. This is razor-sharp clarity for any person seeking to live a successful life. If you’ve never struggled with overwhelming sadness, don’t know what it feels like to be all alone, and haven’t had to battle internal thoughts of insecurity and self-doubt, then you might not be able to appreciate the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But if you have indeed had to confront some of these things, then you know what it is to be in mental and emotional bondage. These things can enslave us and make getting up every day feel like a chore instead of a privilege. Jesus Christ offers us a strategy for breaking loose. He tells us that the truth will make us free, because he wants us to know that the quest for our truth is the greatest journey any living person can take.

We waste a lot of valuable time searching for, and often not finding, the thing that is going to bring us the most fulfilment and satisfaction in life. Before I sought the wisdom of God regarding this search for truth and personal fulfilment, I often wondered why this information didn’t come standard with our programming. Seeking the truth, seeking fulfillment, and most importantly seeking a closer relationship with God; why is it necessary to seek what often seems so elusive? In answering this, I’m reminded that with God, we always have to keep it 100; and for those unfamiliar with the vernacular, know that God requires transparency in our approach. None of us can live free by believing a lie. So, when we come before God, we must do so with the intention of laying it all out on the table and surrendering everything to Him. It’s the only way forward.

Jesus Christ tells us in Matthew 6:33 that seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness must be priority #1. This allows us to know concretely that there’s something in this ‘seeking’ business that’s very important to God. It’s not complicated. Heavenly Father requires us to engage the process of seeking Him, because our effort to do so demonstrates the importance we place on finding Him. No person diligently seeks or searches for anything unless they value it.  

One of the truths that brought liberty to me in life is understanding that the intensity of our desires to obtain and retain the things we value will be tested, and sometimes severely so. How badly we want the thing and exactly why we want it will be brought to bear. Comprehending this further demonstrates the significance of why God requires us to seek Him, because only He can give us what we need. Jesus Christ said in Luke 8:17 that the secret thing will eventually be brought to the open, and what we do in the dark will be brought to the light. Transparency in our motives, desires, and identity is not negotiable. God has designed the universe in such a way that the truth is its fuel. This means that not only our desires, but again, our ability to steward and hold-on to the things we value most will be put to the test.

The motivation for our desires speaks volumes about who we are. It tells the truth about what is important to us. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 6:21 that wherever the thing we value most is, that’s where we can find our hearts. We are free to seek whatever we desire, but we must recognize that seeking anything outside of love will enslave us. The truth of liberty is that it comes only from seeking love, and 1John 4:8 declares that the God of Heaven above is love. He is the only Source of it.

When we’re frustrated by our circumstances and it seems as if nothing is going right, the truth will bring the liberty that Jesus Christ offers IF we seek it. God is not withholding His blessings. He’s shedding His light where darkness is hiding out. He’s illuminating our path so we can see what He sees. He’s correcting our motivation for desiring certain things so that love becomes the foundation that anchors them. If we’ll humble ourselves, pay attention, and seek His Kingdom first, the things we desire will manifest. They will continue to be a blessing to us and to others as well. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“The Truth of Liberty”
written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Nothing Stays Hidden for Long

A friend of mind would drive herself nuts with hair and make-up. It was beyond anything I’d ever seen. She’d fall for every new trend and claim about the secret to beauty and youth, and she bought an insane amount of products; most of which she never used. Her hair was always impeccable, every strand seemingly in place. Many of us are more than a little conscious regarding our appearance, but she seemed obsessive and just about everyone close to her knew that something wasn’t quite right. The pressure to look perfect often caused her to be emotionally distraught because she couldn’t meet the unachievable standards that she had set for herself. Sometimes, when we’re overly consumed with one area of our lives in this way, it is because we’re neglecting another. When the area we’re neglecting is spiritual, we’re moving in really dangerous territory.

When insecurities play out through obsessiveness, it could be tied to our need to fill a void. None of us like hearing this because it means we have to confront some things internally, and soul-work is not always easy work. One thing is for sure, we only live on this earth once, and if we’re going to make the most of it, we’re going to have address the things that hold us back. Blockers not only keep us from experiencing the life we’re entitled to live, but they cause us to lose precious momentum on this journey. No matter how much we try to avoid dealing with them, God designed life in such a way that the lessons of surrender and release will be on repeat until we either get them or die.

We’ve tried convincing my friend of her attractiveness, telling her she doesn’t need procedures and other things. She’d quickly change the subject, ignore our comments, or become frustrated. The words we spoke were a whisper compared to the loudness of her shame and insecurity. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, sin consciousness entered their psyche. No one knows exactly how long they had lived prior to eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but once they did, time entered the picture and so did death, fear, and shame. We know this because before they disobeyed God, Genesis 2:25(KJV) tells us, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  After they sinned, Genesis 3:6(NLT) says, “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.”

This clearly allows us to see that shame is felt when something we want to hide is exposed. What ends up happening is that many of us will deflect, ignore, change the subject or do worse to make sure the hidden thing stays this way. It’s painful. We don’t want to feel it, and we don’t want others to get near it. The thing about life is that we’re here on this earth to learn some lessons that are uniquely crafted for each of our individual spiritual journeys. We can try to run, but we definitely can’t hide from them. If we don’t summon the courage to confront what we haven’t conquered, sooner or later, our inner pain will be exposed, and most of the time it ain’t pretty.

Make no mistake, God’s Word tells us we’re born with sin in our bodies, and we’re born into a sinful world. A lifetime isn’t long enough to confront every dark thing in our souls, because all of us have junk in our trunks. But to the extent that we’re so consumed with licking our wounds and feeding our insecurities that we’re not moving forward in our purpose; we’ve got to deal with the issue.

A person’s purpose is tied to the very core of who they were created to be. It’s woven in God’s plan for the entire universe, and everything in creation knows when we’re out of alignment with it. This is why God’s divine design exposes darkness, so that it can be brought to the light. Jesus Christ said in Luke 8:17(NLT), “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” You can’t conquer what you refuse to confront. God doesn’t expect us to deal with it by ourselves, because we can’t. He wants us to invite His love to do a work within, so we don’t have to continue ducking and hiding. We can let the thing that keeps us from loving fully to come front and center, so we can surrender it and accept the love of Christ in its place. ■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Nothing Stays Hidden for Long”  
written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

“Clean-Up” Women with Dirty Hearts

Growing up, I knew a group of women who never waited for permission to go after what they wanted. This was especially true when it came to men. It really didn’t matter all that much whether the man was married or in a relationship. If they took a fancy or the man seemed interested, they’d do whatever it took to take him from the woman he was with. Their mentality about this was cavalier to say the least. They figured if the woman wasn’t on top of her game, doing everything she could to keep the man satisfied and happy at home, she deserved to have him swept up by another woman. In an odd way, I marveled at the dichotomy of these women. On the surface they were very unassuming, and at times quite nice; but boy could they be ruthless. And the fact that they were not beautiful or particularly well-versed made the results of their audacity even more uncanny.

They were known as “clean-up” women, no doubt because of the cutthroat way they swept up a man, and did so to such a degree that not even a hint of him was left for his ex. When I think of them now, I think of what God says in Jeremiah 17:9(NLT), “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” These women were both insidious in their motives and actions. I would hear my grandmother say of them, “God don’t like ugly.” She was not referring to the aesthetics of their faces, but the content of their character and the way they disregarded families, children, and the mothers and wives who had struggled to hold it all together.

The ‘clean-up’ women in my town had many children and raised their girls to employ the same tactics they had used themselves. Other women that I knew feared they might have their husbands and boyfriends swept up. As I grew older, I inherited the same sort of fear. Long after I moved away from my hometown, I became ever so aware that clean-up women were not restricted to the area where I was raised. I dare say, they are in every town and city, sucking up leftovers and crumbs from what used to be a feast of matrimonial unity, and they leave no trace of Christian sisterhood in their wake.

Because of some of the devastation I saw, loyalty in a man was something I knew I had to have in a mate. I became relentless about it, and any sign of infidelity on his part was an immediate termination for me. I just couldn’t deal. The premise behind my stance is a good one, because God doesn’t want any of His children being treated disrespectfully, but the motivating factor for my stance was fear. It was the fear of being swindled out of my happiness by another woman’s selfish agenda. I had seen it happen many times, and I was adamant not to allow it to touch my life in any way.

Job, a righteous man who lived in Old Testament times, endured tremendous hardship in his life. In Job 3:25(NLT), he said, “What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.” Fear brings a snare. Proverbs 29:25 tells us that fearing people is a dangerous trap. It draws out the very situations and circumstances we don’t want. Fear does not come from the Kingdom of God, it comes from the kingdom of satan, who is the father of lies, deceit, death, darkness, and hate. God tells us in 1John 4:18 that there is no fear in love, because perfect love will cast out fear; it will squash it. God’s love is perfect. His love is the glue that binds a relationship together in Christ, and it is the safety net that surrounds a family with impenetrable unity. Our responsibility is to have unwavering faith in God’s love, and the only way to do this is to learn about who He is.

God tells us in Hosea 4:6 that His people are destroyed because they lack knowledge. They are not interested in knowing more about His love, power, and grace. This is what leaves them exposed to the clean-up tricks of those sent by the evil one. The verse in Proverbs 29:25 warns us not to fear people, but to trust God because this brings safety. It doesn’t mean that our relationships will be perfect. People make mistakes, and sometimes men lose their senses and think for a minute that the grass is greener on the other side, but we serve a powerful and extraordinary God. No problem is too big for Him. We can’t be so concerned about someone cleaning-up where they’ve got no business. Our focus should be locked on keeping our own hearts free of fear and full of faith, so that we can continue to grow in Christ. We must be confident that if we do our part, God will most certainly do His.■

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Clean-Up” Women with Dirty Hearts”  written by Fran, edited by PMB for DomesticAbuseAwareness.Org ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!