The Write Side

Christian living, Class, Family, Newsletter

Catching Up – New Classes and More

Running the race well, keeping up the pace, sometimes lagging one step behind, focusing on the prize…

My second daughter flew the nest two days ago, as she spreads her wings in college.  As those final moments ticked off, I found myself recounting the story of when I dropped out of high school for a semester.  Yes, my freshman year of high school, second semester, I stopped going.  My anxiety levels had skyrocketed into feeling like vomiting at the bushes every time I tried to leave the house.  My parents had just divorced. My insides were twisted up in a hot mess.
 
It came time for me to enter my sophomore year.  My mom was remarrying and continuing on with life, so she quite literally pushed me out the car door on the steps of my high school the first day, saying “Sometimes you just have to put the next foot in front of you.”  

And so I did…

Sometimes, life requires us to suck in the deep breath, and plunge into the next season.  Yet, we are never truly alone in that plunge.  God never leaves us or forsakes us.  Consequently, my mom’s hard kick that year thrust me into a new found season of confidence and discovery of life outside of the abuse I had known and pushed down in childhood.

Now, I, in turn, nudged my second born into her new season, and thus am entering my own yet again.  This has been a good bit of our summer- preparation for the send off.  With new beginnings on the horizon, we take the next steps knowing God goes before us.I hope you will join us in some new adventures, as we grow together.



What’s New and Ongoing
Monthly Encounter Classes – 

*Brief teaching on topics of heart healing
*Meditative prayer encounter with God
*An artistic expression of that encounter with instruction
*Meaningful sharing with class participants and instructor

We meet on the first Saturday of every month, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am est and are currently taking new members.  We are also planning to begin a second class, on Sunday evenings from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm est at the beginning of the year.
To sign up for monthly classes, click hereSign Up
Other upcoming events and offerings:

*  We will be starting one more six week session of the Encounter online class based on “The Invitation” from Mon., Nov. 7th – Mon., Dec. 12th, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm est for the year.

* I am in the process of doing the final edit on my new book.  So excited for this!* I am doing one on one heart healing sessions with those who are ready to take some next steps in heart healing.

* We are adding more artwork for sale to our new store on Fine Art America.  Just check out our store on our website.


*We will be joining in a monthly, local artisan market.  More details to come for our local friends.

* I am doing commissioned art pieces when asked.

* Hand accented reproductions of originals are available as well.

 * I do teach special classes for different groups upon request.

* And, yes, we are still monthly doing free classes at a local ministry that helps sex trafficking survivors receive healing.  Fruitful times for sure.
I think that’s about it for now.  Please email me if you have any questions or need more information.  As always, I so appreciate your support and prayers.

Love,Carolyn
Christian living, Family, God encounters, prophecy, Visions

The Day I Danced Out Of Church

Something was wrong.  I knew it, but couldn’t put my fingers on it.  

Sure.  There were things in the natural that I saw that weren’t sitting right.  But this was something deep below the surface – something not visible – like slimy things hidden in dark places.  

As soon as anyone asked questions, tried to turn the light on, their flashlight was tossed out – X-ed out – including ours.  

Yet, the problem seemed even deeper than one place, one building, one enterprise.  It gnawed at me.  The Holy Spirit had been stirring things up in us for months.  

“When Heidi comes, you will know for sure…” the Holy Spirit whispered inside.  

Heidi Baker is someone I respect highly, and she was coming to our neck of the woods.  After an infamous talk entitled “Don’t Eat Your Family,” (a rebuke regarding Christian cannibalism – verbally tearing your family apart), she pointed towards the back doors and said, “It’s time for you to dance right out of here.”  

I turned to my husband in shocked surprise.  “I think she’s talking to us.”  It was a few weeks later, but…

Then, came the moment.

The moment I thought I’d dread.  The moment I walked out of those doors – out of the same place I had said my vows with my husband, raised my babies, walked through for the last twenty-six years of my life.  It was surreal.

Yet, the oddest thing happened.   

I caught the glance of a friend from across the auditorium, threw my arms around her neck, and instead of tears of sorrow, joy bubbles began to pop up inside me, making me laugh like a little girl.  

It was almost embarrassing, except I didn’t care.  Like I’ve heard about in the natural (because I’ve never actually been drunk) when you are drunk, you don’t care what others think.  

In fact, I could not stop laughing, not even when the well-meaning elder glumly offered his last words to me.  Heaven must have been rolling, because I could not contain myself.  

Kindly, I patted his arm, and managed to say, “It’s OK,” snicker, snicker.  “We are gonna be just fine.”  His shocked look said it all.

I held onto the pew as more laughter bellowed out.  I kind of slid across the back wall, holding myself up with my hands, and with a slight skip in my step pushed open the doors, as I met my family in the foyer.  

Does that count for dancing out?

So, why am I telling you this?  

And no, I’m not going into a church bashing session, so you can let out a deep breath now.  

It’s more about something that has been changing and is changing in me.

It’s far greater than me though.  It is a change, a shift that I believe will eventually effect us all in some way or another.

I learned a long time ago, that anyone, and I mean anyone, especially me, can go stupid.  And yes, in my opinion there was a bit of that stupidity that happened in that season at that church.  Quite honestly, since I had been in a leadership position, serving on the prayer team as a leader, I had briefly become apart of it all.  

Yet, the problems that church went through aren’t isolated issues, because of one rogue leader.

It’s a problem I’ve heard about countless times and has shut down every move of God.

I first began to see things differently when I went to hear a woman I had never heard of speak in a hotel room – well, not much bigger than one.  She was unlike anyone I had ever met before, and she carried a presence of God that demanded attention or her peels of laughter did.  It was both, actually.  

By the second meeting I went to, I was up on the front row, because I was trying to prove to myself that what I was sensing from this woman was real.  As I sat there, it was as if someone stood behind me, took off the top of my head, and poured new information in.  

The speaker wasn’t even talking about the church and church structure directly anyway.  She was just retelling lots of amazing stories of God moving in miraculous ways, but her point was that He wanted to move in everyone’s lives this way.  

Now, I “knew” that, but I guess I’d not really “seen” that, and what I had been experiencing in our church situation had become more of a pyramid structure of performance.  

All of a sudden, in front of me, instead of pyramids, either right side up or upside down, I saw a level playing field.  Yes, each person had an important position to play and everyone used their gifts in unity for the winning score for the team, but there was only one coach, and it wasn’t the charismatic leader in the front.  It was Jesus.  He was calling the plays.

This rocked my world, so much so that without even saying a word about any of it, I was kindly dismissed from the leadership role I had held.  I don’t think it was coincidental, but probably providential.

God wasn’t done though shifting my mindsets.  And still isn’t for that matter.

Shortly after this, we were on vacation.  On my morning stroll with, I was having a little talk with Jesus, and I was telling Him all about our troubles.  I began to ask Him what the structure of the church was supposed to look like, what was His intentions.  All I could see was the mess men through the ages had made of it.  

It was like God would begin to move and pour out His Spirit, and bam, someone would grab the glory and move of God and try to make it their own.  That is a very simplified way of looking at things, but basically that what seems to happen over and over and over again.  

Kathie Walters says as soon as someone says God is moving HERE, in US, like WE have anything to do with, it’s done.  God will move somewhere else, because He refuses to have men’s hands on it.  He knows what men will do with it.  Make it their own.  

So, I digress.  

I was having a hard time seeing things through a positive frame at that time of kicking sand.  So, again, I was asking, “What’s it supposed to look like?”

As I shuffled my feet near the ocean’s edge, I had a matrix moment.  I didn’t see numbers break through scrolling in front of my face, but as I asked the Lord what His idea of what His church should look like, I began to see something very different in my mind’s eye.  

At first, I saw what looked like bubbles or circles.  Then, as it clarified more it was like cells, lots of them, interlocking, exchanging energy, living, breathing, growing.  Honestly, I was stunned.  What did this mean?  

I pondered the cell image, and as I began to ask questions, the Lord began to speak about it.  

It wasn’t about a certain church building or land that the Lord wanted to pour His Spirit on.

It wasn’t about a man’s kingdom or enterprise at all.  It was about His body, His Bride.  

All the cells were comprised of families of people, believers from all over the world, functioning together as one body, in unity, answering to the head, Jesus.  It was and is an ever moving, growing, expanding, beautiful body of Jesus.  

What we had become involved in was seemingly a one man show, an enterprise as it was put to us.  

The move of God had morphed into a man building his kingdom, because he claimed the move of God as his.  He took off the gloves of humility that the Lord had instructed him to keep on, and touch the Holy, held onto the glory, and made it his own.  

What the leadership had wanted was a charismatic leader who would take their God-given dream to make it a reality.  Though I believe their original intent was good, in my opinion, it cost a lot of people a lot of pain, as building any man-made kingdom usually does.  

Some structure is good.  Throwing off all restraint is not.  That leads to chaotic anarchy.  This is not some rebellious attitude that all forms of leadership are bad and should be over-thrown.  That’s fascism.  

Yes, even family needs structure.  There are relational lines and some rules laid down by the law of love that we abide by, and as we mature and grow, we should all be flourishing in a culture of honor, in mutual submission, not lording over each other.

The parents want their children to out grow them, to excel and succeed in life.  It is an ever growing, living, thriving unit.  

When one hurts, we all hurt.  When one celebrates, we all celebrate.  When one falls, we all go down to help the one who is hurting.  

There are boundaries and consequences in family –  in learning to grow up.  In fact, if we lovingly held people to some consequences and did not look the other way, we might have a healthier family unit, and abuse would not thrive.   

This is what it was meant to be, what it was meant to look like  – a lot like love. A lot like washing feet.  A lot like lifting one another’s burdens.  It’s what Jesus said would make us irresistible to the world – the way we love each other.  

After I danced out, the Lord took us on a six or so month journey of going to almost every denomination and some non-denominations.  

You know what we experienced?  

His Spirit alive and moving in them all.  All of them had a piece, a beautiful color to weave into the master design.  All of them…. 

So, whether you go to St. Such and Such or Bedside Assembly as we used to call it in college, or whether you have believers in your home or meet at a coffee shop, the Holy Spirit desires to be poured out through all of us, for all of us to be the living, breathing, growing thriving body of Christ.  

It’s not about the four walls, the great programs, the charismatic apostle, the amazing sermon, or the women’s luncheons.  Those can be good things, as long as it doesn’t become a self-gratifying social club, and those things aren’t stealing your focus from Jesus, your time from true intimacy with Him and others?  

These days, I still find myself seeing the Kingdom from a much broader, life giving view.  

We fellowship on a regular basis with other believers, because it’s important.  Isolation is not a healthy course in the long run.  We need each other.  We need accountability.  I know I do.  

You are a king under King Jesus.  You are priest under His Priesthood.  There is no Junior Holy Spirit.  We all get to play on the same field together.  

Until we come together as one body, as one Bride, I don’t really think we can accomplish the full mission that we are here to do.  

Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and let Him pour His Spirit out on all of us, not just the church leadership.  When we are looking to them instead of Christ, it is a lot of expectation and pressure to put on them anyway.

Who knows?  Maybe you’ll find yourself dancing out of some pyramid one day to healthy family cell outside of traditional structure or maybe you’ll find your family cells within more of a structured environment?  

The point is we are all the body, the Bride of Christ.  He is our head, and we answer to Him.  

We walk in love, honor, and mutual submission with all our brothers and sisters, honoring and developing the gifts in each one we meet.  That’s family, and a Kingdom Family is what we are called to be.

Christian living, dreams, Family, God encounters, Seasonal, Uncategorized

The Healing Flow of Creativity

I was the kind of child who was always looking for a way to escape my reality – looking for the ancient door to the wardrobe so that I could step into Narnia, where enchanting trees spirits, lively dwarfs, and talking animals made my painful realities all fade away.  

Somehow in the process of growing older, of coloring between the lines and living by the rules, especially the religious ones, the creative fantasies disappeared like a mist vaporizing.  Trauma, worries, concerns, cares of this world, even our logical thinking can bring the creative flow to a halt.  

But not so “In the beginning…” 

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created…” And a few verses later, mankind was made in His image.  We were created in the image of our creator who created all things.  The first instructions He gives His new creation is “Go procreate.  Go cultivate.  Go name the animals.  Go take care of all of this new creation.  Go be fruitful and multiple.”

This is what co-creating with God means to me – to allow His creative power to flow through us to bring His image upon the earth.

In a state of worshipful mediation, I heard the words, “You don’t live by the rules anymore.”  

When we are young, we have lots of rules to teach us, protect us, and to help us learn.  Yet, as we grow older, maturing into adults many of those rules aren’t needed anymore.  God says that He will write His law of love on our hearts, and that this is the new place to live from.  

It was the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that brought death in the first place.  Mankind stepped away from the Tree of Life, and partook of the Tree of Knowledge: the tree of living by the rules, the regulations, of the law that kills, the knowledge of right and wrong.

Children are born with the ability to create and tend to be very creative.  We are made in the image of God.  He is the master creator.  I believe everyone has some God-given ability in them to create whether it is gardening, painting, cooking, working with computer, fixing a car.  It’s in us.  

Yes.  As children, we need rules and boundaries to help us to mature and to grow up healthy.  “Don’t touch the hot stove.” is a rule that can keep our fingers from experiencing the painful burn of heat.  We need to learn right from wrong, and that there is truth and laws that govern our world.   

As we grow up though, maturing into into adults, we come to a place in that maturation process where we should step into a new place of being governed by the law of love written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  When we learn to live from the law of love, there is the return of the freedom flow of living from the Tree of Life.  

However, children also learn at a young age, many times by a well meaning adult or maybe a not so well meaning, that thinking or coloring outside of the box or the lines is wrong, squelching creativity.  We learn to live and operate from places of fear of punishment.  We learn to live in boxes – in those self- or other- imposed boundary lines that are controlling us through intimidation.

Trauma, stress, anxiety, depression, fear, anger, unresolved issues in our heart cloud, suppress, and even destroy our ability to create.  

To create beautiful things, there must be some framework of trust in us.  Trust is built through loving, safe relationships.  In intimate, trusting relationships creativity flourishes, because the fear of failure evaporates.

I still remember the day I was teaching an art class to sex trafficking survivors.  One lady began to cry as we were finishing up a painting.  I thought somehow I had triggered her, but instead she began to tell a piece of her story.   As a child, she loved to paint and draw, but her abuser threw her art supplies away, and forbid her to be creative.  Through her tears, she said this was the first time since then that she had created something beautiful.  This unlocked something in her.

That’s what allowing creativity to flow happens in us.  It unlocks things.  It unlocks places in our hearts, beauty, our dreams, ambitions.  It also can unlock areas of pain, which we then can give to God in the process and let Him heal.  

Life is not about following rules of do’s and don’t or coloring in the lines.  It is about a free flow of stepping into the river of life, and co-creating with God.  The only boundaries of the river are His love.  

It might look messy.  It hopefully will look and feel child-like.  But most of all, my prayer is you feel encouraged and connected with the Master creator, learning to allow His creative power to flow through you bringing healing and wholeness to your heart, mind, and Spirit.

As I was spending time with the Lord today, I felt God whisper this is my ear for you.

Child,

I am the master creator.  I created everything with my breath, formed the mountain, hung the stars, spun out the solar systems with my words.  Be and it was.  Every living thing, every living creature was formed in my magnificent heart, hand crafted by me.

Mankind being my most glorious of all creation, after my own likeness, you are made in my image.  You are made to be creative, to create and bring to life the wonders I placed inside of you.  

The enemy wants nothing more than to destroy the creative process in you, to squelch the beauty within waiting to burst forth.  

Trauma, fear, anger, stress – all these things put you in a shut down, self protect mode which keeps you from engaging and living out of me, living out of the freedom of the creative life giving flow.  Like blocks damming a river, preventing the flow of life.

Your enemy comes swiftly at children to shut down their creativity to steal their God-given ability to connect with heaven, with good, with me through their imagination.  But I want to restore your child-like faith.  I want to clean your holy imagination screen, to fill your mind-eye with light, so you can see again.

In the creative River, there is a flow of ideas, light, life, freedom.  There is no right or wrong here.  There are no rules.  The only boundary is love.  Every creative drop flows out of love, out of life, joy, peace – from living in the tree of life.  

Don’t be afraid of making a mistake, of getting it wrong, of seeing something wrong or bad.  If you do, just bring that back to me, let me heal where ever it is that is causing you pain.  I’m not going to condemn you.  I simply love you.  I know where you are in pain, what needs my touch.  I am healing you.  

These are healing waters of creativity that are yours to step into.  So, jump on in. I’ll meet you in the middle of the waters to jump and play and to wash all the pain, sorrow, and lies away.  

I love you, little one.  You are sensing me.  Dance in the river of creative love.  Music, arts, books, all forms of creativity flow from here…

Engage.  Encounter me.

Love,

Papa

Check out the new monthly encounter art classes where we learn and grow in this creative flow together!

Christian living, Class, Family, God encounters, Newsletter, Uncategorized

Here’s Why I’m Excited

The new monthly subscription Encounter classes are here!

I hope your excited like I am. Here’s why:

We are building on going community with each other while expanding in our relationship with God, others, and ourselves. 

We are experiencing the living God in our time together while exploring healing principles that will set us free as we encounter His amazing heart for us.

We are learning new skills, honing our current skills, and enjoying the artistic process together with no pressure to perform as we create a beautiful expression of what God did in our time together. 

We will be meeting the first Sat., of each month from 9:00 am est and usually run around an hour and a half to two hours. If the class needs to change for a given month, you will be notified.  Our first class will be Sat. May 7th. 

The class is only $15 a month (Intro. price) for the first 30 signed up. The price will be increased for future groups, so get in the first one, and get that price for as long as we do the class.

The class is in an online classroom setting on google meet. You will be able to interact with me and others in the group at different times. This gives us a better opportunity to connect with each other, ask questions, and build community.  I also am capping the class at a max. of 30 to begin with. I really want to be able to develop relationships with one another and that’s just not as easy to do in a large group.

You can join in at any time! Once you sign up, you will be sent an email with the class information, a list of supplies for the class (We keep that simple for you, but you are responsible to have your own.), and any any other info. you may need. So, when signing up, be sure to include your email address. You can always reach me at blossomingheartsstudio@gmail.com with any questions. If you need to pause or cancel your subscription at any time, you are free to do so, but you will miss out on the classes in those months. 

All classes will be recorded, and you will be given access to all classes for a life-time of the months you paid for. These will be available on Youtube through a private link. 

We will also be forming a secret facebook group, where only subscribers can see. Members only will be allowed to post in that group. I’ll be posting things throughout the month to encourage you in your creative, healing journey. 

So, if you are ready, just click the link here to sign up: 

SIGN UP FOR MONTHLY CLASS

Christian living, Family, God encounters, Uncategorized

Living the Free Life

Gal. 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” NKJV

Romans 6:4 “Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him.

 Eph. 2:6 “And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption].”AMP

Several months ago, the subject of crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, raised with Christ, and reign with Christ were in the airways.  In other words, when God is highlighting something to me, I often hear it from many directions in a short period of time through various means.  

In the past, the first two aspects of the process to living an overcoming life, crucified and buried with Christ, have made me squirm a bit.

Who wants to be crucified and buried?  I mean Jesus already did so, so what does that even mean?

My friend, Rebecca Davis, in her book series “Untwisting Scriptures”, is the expert on untangling things – a shameless plug for her, because her books are so helpful.  The concept she teaches about basically comes down to read scripture in the context of who it is written to and the time it is written, keeping it in context (not pulling out a scripture and manipulating it to say what you want it to say).  

Secondly, God wrote the Bible.  Not the other way around.  So, He is above it.  To me, this means that if a scripture is taken by a person and used to control someone else, like “submission” scriptures that don’t line up with the character and nature of God, who never manipulates us to control us, because He is love, then the person using the scripture wrongly is in error.  Not the victim.  

Just because you flap a Bible around quoting random verses doesn’t mean you are living the truth of it, which in essence is love.  

This particular concept of being crucified and buried with Christ has been very tangled up for me in the process of growing up in an extremely abusive church background.  Yet, even today, I’ve heard messages that have manipulated those concept to mean it’s a works thing of dying to myself, denying myself (Their be times I need to deny myself something – like that slice of Key lime pie yesterday.), crucifying my flesh, even so far as someone telling me to kill (murder) parts of me so that I could be dead to myself and alive to Christ.  Jesus wouldn’t murder me, so why would I do that to myself?    

The process of what Jesus did at the cross as far as our salvation and becoming a new creation was and is a completed work at the cross.  “It is finished.”  It is err to add anything of our efforts or works to earn our salvation.  It is complete.  Done.  Finished.  

And yet, we still have to receive that finish work into every area and part of our lives.  This is the  “working out our salvation”.  It is in the receiving of truth of what Jesus has done for us at the cross into every area, into ever layer of our lives, thereby rejecting the lies.   

So, recently as these concepts were swirling around in my head, and I was processing through discomfort, I believe the Holy Spirit began to explain a slightly different way of looking at this concept that I had been taught.  It actually is the process of any inner healing with Him.  The following is what I heard whispered in my heart.

Crucified with Christ – I allow Jesus to press into my pain, my junk, my hiding places where I have tried to self-protect.  I allow Him to bring truth, love, healing.  I submit myself to the finished work of the cross.  

He bore my sin, my shame, unforgiveness, all the wrongs done to me and others, my fears, my pain, my suffering, my anger, all it – He became sin, and took it on Himself there, so that I can now leave it there.  

I allow Him into those strongholds, each level, each layer, every place.  It is a process, which can take a lot of time, depending on the levels of abuse and pain. I press into His pain. I allow His suffering love to penetrate all of me.  This is a process.  

It may look like Him leading me to a very painful memory, and Him showing me where he was in that place with me – the real truth about what happened, how He saw me in it, where He was, what He was doing.  Then, me making the choice to release it all to Him, and believe the truth, allowing Him to heal me.

It may look like Him asking me to love someone who has deeply hurt me, by choosing to forgive them, and release them to Him.  

It may mean His Holy Spirit showing a place of pride that I acted in and choosing into asking forgiveness for hurt I caused someone else.  

I honestly don’t think we can truly become all Christ has called us to be, fully understanding who we are, if we are still hiding, if there are still hurts, wounds, lies, and pain lodged in our hearts. It’s all a continuing process, but this first step cannot be by-passed.

Buried with Christ – When I allow Jesus into those places of pain, He literally buries the pain, the shame, the fears, the hate, and all the lies I believed about myself, others, and Him in His great love. 

When I think of those memories, those places that were once horror to me, now I have complete peace.  They have no power over me anymore, no power to hurt me anymore.  Those lies, sins are literally buried.  They are dead.  They have no ability to affect me in anyway, anymore.  I am truly free to live in Him.  

Raised or resurrected with Christ  – Now, when He speaks identity over me of who I am it sticks more, because I’m a new creation.  I literally am.  

Now, I can fully begin to embrace the identity of Christ, because all the junk has been put to rest. RIP.  

Now, I am resurrected into all the fullness of my identity in Christ.  My Father is fully in me.  I am fully in Him.  Everything Jesus is now is in me, and I have all the power, authority, dominion that the resurrected Christ has, because I am His daughter, a daughter of the King of Kings.  

This is where He really begins speaking to you those “Who you are words”, and they can go deep, molding your identity of who you were created to be!  This will be unique to you, because child of God has different gifts, abilities, and destinies in Him.

I’ve included at the end some identity statements taken straight from God’s word.  Let Him make those words personal to you.  

Reign with Christ, Seated with Him in heavenly places – When we begin to truly understand who we are in Christ, who He has created us to be, then we begin to rule.  We begin to reign.  Not in the sweet by and by, but here and now.  We “are” already seated with Christ in heavenly realms.  We are a royal priesthood.  

 As we embrace fully what Jesus Christ finished for us, then we begin to walk out that identity, and take authority and action on who we are in Christ.  

Sometimes, this honestly can be a little scary, because your Father is relentless in you truly becoming who He created you to be, but He does it because He loves us with a relentless, all powerful love.  He won’t stop ever loving us into fully becoming mature children who are free to be all He created us to be.  

Crucified, buried, resurrected, and reigning is the process of stepping into the fullness of our identity in Christ.  It is both finished and a process of receiving.  

His empowering grace is sufficient to help to become that person who reigns with Him – the person He has already created us to be.  

Thank you Jesus for what you paid to give me.  

Happy Resurrection Day!!!

I am complete in Him Who is the head over all rule and authority—of every angelic and earthly power (Colossians 2:10).

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and will not live in fear (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:41 Peter 1:16).

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

The Spirit of God, who is greater than the enemy in the world, lives in me (1 John 4:4).

I have received abundant grace and the gift of righteousness and reign in life through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

I have received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my heart enlightened, so that I know the hope of having life in Christ (Ephesians 1:17-18).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit and He can do miraculous things through me.I have authority and power over the enemy in this world (Mark 16:17-18Luke 10:17-19).

I am renewed in the knowledge of God and no longer want to live in my old ways or nature before I accepted Christ (Colossians 3:9-10).

I am merciful, I do not judge others, and I forgive quickly. As I do this by God’s grace, He blesses my life (Luke 6:36-38).

God supplies all of my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

In all circumstances I live by faith in God and extinguish all the flaming darts (attacks) of the enemy (Ephesians 6:16).

I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ Jesus who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

I am chosen by God who called me out of the darkness of sin and into the light and life of Christ so I can proclaim the excellence and greatness of who He is (1 Peter 2:9).

I am born again—spiritually transformed, renewed and set apart for God’s purpose—through the living and everlasting word of God (1 Peter 1:23).

I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works that He has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Christ, I am dead to sin—my relationship to it is broken—and alive to God—living in unbroken fellowship with Him (Romans 6:11).

The light of God’s truth has shone in my heart and given me knowledge of salvation through Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

As I hear God’s Word, I do what it says and I am blessed in my actions (James 1:22, 25).

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I overcome the enemy of my soul by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11).

I have everything I need to live a godly life and am equipped to live in His divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the righteousness of God—I have right standing with Him—in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit; I belong to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I am the head and not the tail, and I only go up and not down in life as I trust and obey God (Deuteronomy 28:13).

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

I am chosen by God, forgiven and justified through Christ. I have a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (Romans 8:33Colossians 3:12).

I am redeemed—forgiven of all my sins and made clean—through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7).

I have been rescued from the domain and the power of darkness and brought into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68Galatians 3:13).

My life is rooted in my faith in Christ and I overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done for me (Colossians 2:7).

I am called to live a holy life by the grace of God and to declare His praise in the world (Psalm 66:82 Timothy 1:9).

I am healed and whole in Jesus (Isaiah 53:51 Peter 2:24).

I am saved by God’s grace, raised up with Christ and seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6Colossians 2:12).

I am greatly loved by God (John 3:16Ephesians 2:4Colossians 3:121 Thessalonians 1:4).

I am strengthened with all power according to His glorious might (Colossians 1:11).

I humbly submit myself to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).

I press on each day to fulfill God’s plan for my life because I live to please Him (Philippians 3:14).

I am not ruled by fear because the Holy Spirit lives in me and gives me His power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).

Christ lives in me, and I live by faith in Him and His love for me (Galatians 2:20).  

– excerpt from “Knowing Who I Am in Christ” by Joyce Meyers

Christian living, Class, Newsletter, Seasonal, Uncategorized

Coming Up for Air: Updates and Other Fun News

Ever feel like you are coming up for air after holding your breath for a long time? Or like the buds pushing up through the cold, icy snow at the first beckoning of spring?

The last few weeks have felt like that for us.After a couple of family emergencies, which took some effort and time to work out, and several other things that came all at once, the snow seems to be melting, gradually.

Life can be like that sometimes. 

Yet, we watched as the Lord faithfully guarded, helped, and provided. Faith building times for sure.

Even today, I filed a police report due to a scam against our business. The officer I talked to just happened to be the husband of an old friend of mine. It was as if I could feel God smiling, “I’ve got this.” 

Like a treasure hunt, I’m learning to look for how God will show Himself faithful. I’m remembering to ask the question, “Lord, who do you want to be for me in this situation?”

I still forget in the moment. I still get caught up in the confusion and chaos when the storm rages at times. Yet, I’m learning to slow down, take the deep breath, ask the question, and trust God to come through. 

Sometimes seasons are hard. Sometimes those waves feel overwhelming. Jesus is in the boat though. Whether He calms the storm or rides it out with us, He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

So… What has been going on, besides police reports?  


In January and February, I was busy teaching two amazing “Encounter” classes. Again, these classes have far exceeding my expectations in how God has shown up to heal brokenness, encourage us, and speak identity to us in ways only He can. I’m super excited to see how these will expand out.

As a result of the success so far, we will be offering a monthly subscription for ongoing classes beginning with the first Saturday in May.

These classes will be the first Saturday of each month from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.

 You will have life-time access to all the monthly subscription classes, as well as access to an ongoing fb group where we can support each other on our journeys, and where I will be posting ongoing helps and resources. 

The cost will be $15 a month, and will be available for sign ups May 1st on our website.
  
You can jump in at any point.  So, though we will be learning and growing together, they will be more stand alone classes, where you won’t be lost from one month to the next.

I will also be doing a free fb live class around Easter, as well as I will be teaching an in person break out session at the upcoming Called to Peace Conference in Ridgecrest, NC.   They have a fantastic ministry to help domestic abuse survivors, so check them out at http://www.calledtopeace.org.

Guess what else is coming?

As far as The Encounter Class that is based on “The Invitation”, I will be teaching another six week session, beginning in June, and I’m starting the process of doing a prerecorded set that you will be able to purchase access by the beginning of June, if the online, interactive isn’t your jam.  I have to say though, we have had such beautiful encounters with each other and Jesus that I know I don’t want to miss out on that.
 
Guess what else is new?  Yes, there’s a little more!

I also have a new place for you to order prints, mugs, cards, and even shower curtains (yes, that’s what I said) of your favorite paintings from our studio.  We even have some logo gear now.  I’m in the process of getting more artwork up there, but The Tree of Life and the logo gear is ready to go.  So, check it out!    You can access this through our home page.

Well, that’s quite a lot for now.  😊. 

Have a beautiful Easter, Resurrection Day!   May you be filled with all the love of Jesus and every benefit He died and rose for you to enjoy!

Much Love,

Carolyn “Charismata” Weaver

Christian living, Family, Uncategorized

20 Seconds of Courage: How a Simple Yes Lessens Grief (A Guest Blog by Beth Saadati)

Sometimes a simple decision can change our atmosphere, our perception of things, and help us to process feelings of grief or other hard emotions.

Beth has become a dear friend through the years following the untimely death of her oldest daughter, Jenna. She tackles one of the hardest subjects that any of us will face, suicide, on her blog page, called “Bittersweet” at http://www.bethsaadati.com. She has been a featured speaker on Focus on the Family, as well as published pieces in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. I believe you’ll love her, find helpful resources on her website (especially if you know of someone struggling with suicide or the results of it), and discover hope on the other side. Enjoy!

For more from Beth, visit: http://www.bethsaadati.com

20 Seconds of Courage: How a Simple Yes Lessens Grief

 by Beth Saadati

Person, Woman, Girl, Human, Pleasure

I yanked the iPhone from my ear and stared at the screen. A long pause ensued before the chat resumed.

“He’s coming . . . when?” I asked. 

My middle daughter answered matter-of-factly. “The Friday before Thanksgiving.”

“How long does he want to stay?”

“Something like ten days.”

“But your brother will be on a camping trip and at school half that time. And you’ll be away at college until Tuesday. That leaves just Dad and me.”

“He said that’s okay.”

My words vanished. I couldn’t imagine a college sophomore from Germany, whom I hardly knew, would ever want to. This was all so unexpected. Absolutely awkward. Wildly weird. Kind of, well, crazy.

Then again, I had extended the spontaneous invitation. My offer had been one hundred twelve percent sincere. But when he laughed and instantly replied with, “Thanks, but I could never accept that,” I figured this year’s Thanksgiving would be my family’s new normal—laced with the same deathly silence of my oldest daughter’s absence I’d endured for the past eight holiday seasons without her here.  

“Lukas might be miserable the first five days,” I finally told Christa, “but tell him he’s welcome to come.” 

Christa said she’d give him the message then ended the call. I hustled to the pantry, withdrew a yardstick, and measured the five-brick-high fireplace hearth. If I hoisted my short five-foot-two stature up on it, I would match Lukas’s six-foot-six height. 

I did. That new perspective changed the whole room

* * *

The doorbell rang an hour earlier than I’d anticipated which, for someone who always runs late, spelled d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r. I hadn’t finished prepping supper, I didn’t have myself together, my house wasn’t exactly clean. But when Lukas beamed a huge smile through my front door’s tall glass pane, I decided to let him in.

Alone at home, I’d anticipated the initial greeting would be painstakingly awkward. It should have been. Except Lukas doesn’t know a stranger, so he immediately launched into story-telling mode, dramatically sharing his latest collegiate adventures in his distinct German accent with delightfully loud vocal chords. Before my stomach started to hurt from laughing hard and my neck began to ache from looking up at this gentle giant, I offered to show Lukas around my small home. 

We started in the front room where we stood. The wood shelf above the piano held a few large, framed photos—the last professional pictures a JCPenney photographer took of the three of my kids together. Lukas had befriended Christa. He’d met Josh, her younger brother. The puzzled look on his face indicated he knew nothing about Jenna, their older sister. 

Of course, I thought. It’s a tough subject to bring up. Christa hasn’t told him. 

“That’s Jenna,” I said, as I pointed to the photo. “Christa had an older sister.” 

Hoping that might be enough for the moment, I turned down the short hallway. Lukas followed. I showed him Josh’s room, which he’d be using. Then Christa’s room, with its Dr. Who and Star Wars paraphernalia, bobble-head collection, and Marvel posters. A few minutes later we crossed the hall to the room that was mine and my husband’s. And my heart started racing. 

On three of the walls, my friend Sam had mounted a double layer of six-foot shelves to display a series of 5×7 photos—one for each year from birth to present—of each of my children. Christa’s went from birth to age nineteen, Josh’s from birth to age sixteen, Jenna’s from birth to age fourteen. Lukas stared. I would have to explain. 

“Jenna died when she was fourteen,” I said. “That’s why the photos end there. I’m sorry Christa didn’t tell you.” 

Lukas turned away from the framed headshots to glance at me. 

“I hope you don’t mind me asking,” he said, “but how did she die?” 

I paused, trying to decide how much to say. “We didn’t see it coming. She ended her own life. So, suicide.” 

The happy chatter between us ceased. Lukas nodded his head. Tears pooled in his eyes.

“I was bullied in Germany,” he said, “so I might understand. But I’m so sorry.” Then Lukas bent down and hugged my shoulder—a sign that I hoped meant he wasn’t afraid to stay in my home, do life with my family, and embrace our difficult story. 

That sign proved true.

Despite declaring he should be studying for exams, throughout the days that followed Lukas drew my husband—whom he’d never previously met—and me into engaging conversation. He told jokes and stories. He shared about life growing up in Austria and Germany. He rode with me to surprise Christa when I picked her up from Anderson University—and uttered no complaint when she greeted him with a fifty-pound box to carry. 

Lukas helped me prepare food in the kitchen and joined in our Thanksgiving celebration. He played Settlers of Catan with the family and countless hours of Wii Lego Star Wars with Josh. He even achieved something Christa has never been able to do—convince Josh to spend a few hours at Upstate Swing (because, as Lukas says, asking a girl to dance “only takes twenty seconds of courage”). Josh arrived home smiling and, since that fateful day, has gone back to swing dance every Tuesday he’s been free. 

Lukas also offered to cook my family a delicious homemade schnitzel and German potato salad meal, which included shopping at Lidl while FaceTiming his mom in Germany for instructions about which ingredients to purchase. (Such a brave act, given the fact he’d only practiced his culinary skills in the kitchen—making a lasagna following a YouTube tutorial—one time before that!) 

There were more memorable moments. The three teens road tripped to Carowinds. Our mutt, Max, who adored his new friend, vulnerably flopped over on his back for a tummy rub whenever Lukas appeared. And, when I specifically asked, Lukas smiled and kindly informed me that, yes, he could easily see the half-inch of dust on the top of the refrigerator. 

But the biggest thing is this: for the duration of his stay, Lukas soaked my home with an abundance of laughter. He discussed deep topics and entertained us with lighthearted stories. He felt like family. Somehow, his presence altered the atmosphere. 

On Sunday one of Lukas’s Coastal Carolina University friends arrived to start the three-hour drive back to South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach campus. I said goodbye, and expected to return to the sadness of the holiday season, with the vivid memories that accompany the trauma surrounding the second day of January. 

Except . . . I didn’t. Lukas had filled my home with joy and, inside me, something had shifted. For the first time since Christmas 2012, I was able to decorate the tree (with bread-dough ornaments made by my two daughters) and fireplace. I positioned wreathes on windows. I listened to some Christmas music while I baked a batch of sugar cookies. And, at long last, I had the capacity to celebrate Emmanuel—Our. God. With. Us.

Since my daughter’s death, I’ve struggled to not isolate. To let friends and family into my story, my hurt, and my home. To reply to emails and answer the phone. To simply say yes to friends who extend and unexpectedly accept invitations. 

The yes isn’t easy. But almost every time I give it, I’m glad I did. Because something special takes place. Connection happens that changes my perspective. 

And to think that saying yes to letting others enter into the grief each of us carries really only takes about twenty seconds of courage.

This blog post originally appeared on the Building Strong Homes website at www.carolroper.org.

You can listen to the accompanying Building Strong Homes podcast episode, “An Unfinished Story: Losing a Daughter to Suicide,” which tells Beth’s and Jenna’s story, by clicking this title link. 

Beth is a high school English teacher, wife, and mom to two spectacular teens. She likes to spend time with family and friends, indulge in a Chicago-style mushroom pizza or homemade blackberry pie, and, with shameful inconsistency, lace up her Nikes for a long-distance run. In the aftermath of her beloved firstborn’s suicide, she shares story at bethsaadati.com to offer insight, understanding, and hope–with those who weather the storms of suicidal thoughts and suicide loss…and with those who simply know how bittersweet life can sometimes be. 

Christian living, Family, Uncategorized

Ghosting

“Oh, ghosting,” I sucked in a deep breath.  “That’s what it’s called.”  

As I pulled into the vacant parking spot at Hobby Lobby, I swung my head to my right to look my teenager square in eyes.  “That describes it perfectly.”

Ghosting.  Erasing.  Pretending one never existed or is dead.  

Does that make your tummy twist, your chest hurt a little?  Have you ever been erased from someone’s life?  I dare say everyone has been “ghosted” at some point in your life.

I’ve heard the pop psychology on the matter.  “If a relationship is not working for you, then just move on.”  “Your happiness is all that matters.”  “Surround yourself with positive people.”  “If someone becomes a drag on you, cut them free.” 

It all sounds good on the surface.  Yet, the world you end up creating is one centered on you – a rather selfish existence with a trail of broken relationships.  In the end, are you better off, truly happy?

There are times to have strong, healthy boundaries.  Yes, absolutely.  

With those who are truly abusive, you may have to set very strong boundaries for the purpose of safety.  

There is one person in my life that I have cut off completely, because this person has proven to be an abuser who consistently demonstrates manipulation, control, and an unwillingness to ever consider wrong on their part.  In a situation like this, it is appropriate to block, not take calls, etc…

There are others who I have had to have strong boundaries with because they are not healthy relationships for me to have.  They may have chosen to attempt to manipulate and control me,  or to be abusive in their language or actions towards me in lesser ways.  I may have to block or not take calls, etc., but I have not completely cut these people off and will still reach out on occasion to test the waters.

Even with this, let me be clear, I may hold these relationships at a distance because they truly would be toxic for me, but I still pray for them and bless them when I’m led to.  

I try to live in a way that my heart is clear, not holding on to hurt towards anyone.  

It’s a life of walking in forgiveness, which means that though I may have to hold someone accountable for their actions, (Keeping strong boundaries may be one consequence.) I ultimately leave the judgement of that person to God.  

Only He knows all the reasons why a person acts the way they do.  

Many times manipulation and control are actions based in fear.  Some abusers step into that because they have been abused, and they are afraid of that happening again to them, so they seek control over their world, acting abusively in an attempt to either control others or to push others away.  Even seeking power in an inappropriate way is often an overreaction to powerlessness.  

Everyone is not my assignment.  It’s not my job to fix anyone.  That is God’s job, but I can love and value others, even those who I don’t agree with, have different political opinions than me, or have a different cultural back ground than me. 

Yet, it has become the norm to throw others who don’t agree with us under the bus, taking up opposing sides whether it be culturally, religiously, or politically.  It has become expected to ghost anyone who doesn’t agree with us or who we deem not on our side.  

Over the last decade this practice has not only become acceptable, but viral in our society.  Erasing people from our lives because they just don’t fit anymore is like tossing out an old shoe that has grown too tight or is scuffed up.  We use people for our benefit to walk on, then when they become uncomfortable, we place them in the Goodwill box.

The problem is people, all people, are valuable and made in the image of God.  Treating someone like an old shoe that can just be tossed away is deeply wrong.  

Weekly, I stroll the halls of a retirement home to care for a loved one.  Many days, my eyes meet the sadness in the eyes of those who have been tossed away from families and society, because they aren’t seen as useful anymore.  

As covid hit, many of these precious ones, even in independent living, hid in their apartments for fear of the dreaded virus.  

One day, a nurse and elderly lady rode past on a golf cart as I entered the building.  The receptionist explained to me that the elderly woman on the cart had been hiding in her apartment for a year without coming out, having her meals brought to her door.  When the nursing staff finally realized her absence, they convinced her to come out to get some sunlight.  She had been forgotten for a year, and no one even knew.  

The place I’ve experienced this the most and that has left the deepest wounds is in the church – the one place we should be the most accepted and loved unconditionally.  

So many times, the same story is on repeat, over and over.  “Well, I just didn’t fit in.  I tried to live up to what was expected, but I just couldn’t, so I left the church.”  

Where do many go? Into the arms of those who will accept them…the occult, the new agers, etc… By the droves.

Even someone very close to me told me recently, “My non-Christian friends accept me.  They love me for who I am.  I don’t have to perform for them and try to fit in like I do with the Christians I know.”

Another situation was relayed to me by a close friend – a story I’ve also heard over and over.  

She saw a potentially dangerous situation of a child predator being in the children’s ministry area of her church.  She had been through similar things as a youth, so her guard was up.  When she brought it to the elders of the church, the tables were turned against her.  She was condemned for trying to cause trouble, and then ostracized; eventually, she was told to leave the church and others were told not to communicate with her.  

In two different rounds of church abuse, I’ve been “ghosted” by several I love.  These were not casual friendships, but close friends, some of whom promised to always be there, that we were the “family” kind of friends.

Until… Until maybe I asked too many questions, and was “rebelling” against authority.  Until maybe I saw warning signs, and loved people enough to say, “Hey, you might want to watch out for that.”  Until, someone else put us on an opposing side, and we were never given a voice, a chance to share our heart.

If leadership of any organization puts themselves above the common people and demands you do what they say with out questioning or else you are “rebellious”, threatening that you will be “ostercized”, that my friend, is abusive leadership.  It’s wrong and dangerous.  

If leadership has told you to block and have no communication with others because they are “spreading gossip”, I would question the leadership first.  

Sure.  There are some who may be truly “spreading lies and trying to legitimately tear down leadership”, and in those cases correction and separation may have to happen, but all too often, it is more that the leadership doesn’t want to be challenged, and so they remove any opposing voices.  At least, this is what I’ve experienced, not just with one story, but with many, across the board.  

You see, when we make ourselves the center of our world, conveniently dismissing, ghosting, erasing anyone that challenges us, opposes us, or is trying to warn us of something they see up ahead because it exposes us or is threatening to what we want to do, even if the person coming against us is wrong in what they are saying, then we are in essence removing the brakes from our train, stepping into pride and elitism, becoming uncorrectable, self-centered gods of our own little kingdoms.   

We all need accountability.  We all need those people in our lives who challenge us, who are brave enough to correct us – true family that helps us stay the course and keep us humble.  

When others who I love have just discarded me without even an explanation as to why, with out even a goodbye, it has left me disillusioned with holes in my heart, like sudden deaths without goodbyes – except you know those people aren’t dead, but that they have chosen to pretend you don’t exist anymore.  This to me is far worse than death.  It is devaluing of someone, not just as a friend, but as a sister/brother in Christ, as a fellow family member.

The faith of countless have been sacrificed to the enemy on this altar.  Countless.

Recently, a friend of mine had a hard conversation with me. She poked me in several tender spots and challenged me. At first, I bristled, seeking a place to hide from what felt like an assault, but then I took a deep breath, and looked into her eyes, and listened, really listened, past the words coming out her mouth, but to the intent of her heart. She loves me. She’s proven it through the years. Her intent for me was to be a better version of me. So, I took what she said and considered it. I countered with some different perspective for her to consider. I took it to my heavenly Father and asked Him for truth about me, the situations. It helped me to grow. It helped her to grow. Instead of putting up walls of defense, we grew closer in our friendship that day. I’m not saying I’m perfect in this. There have been plenty of times I pushed others away because I got offended. But I hope I’m growing up a little.

Many times instead of being known for our love and unity, we have been known by our pride and division.  

How many different denominations, sects, little kingdoms do we have to have, because men want to rule their own little world?

Jesus is coming back for one unified bride, one church, one body.  

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” But quite the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are [absolutely] necessary; and as for those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, these we treat with greater honor; and our less presentable parts are treated with greater modesty, while our more presentable parts do not require it. But God has combined the [whole] body, giving greater honor to that part which lacks it, so that there would be no division or discord in the body [that is, lack of adaptation of the parts to each other], but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 AMP

The truth is we all need each other.  We need our unique giftings, callings, personalities, quirkiness, strengths, and even our weaknesses, because we have a strength to someone else’s weakness, and we can learn together through weaknesses, through differences of opinion.  

If we never feel safe enough to let our guard down lest we be kicked out of the family because we aren’t producing or aren’t a “team player”, then we will never be able to experience true love – the God kind of never ending, unconditional, run to meet you, chase you down til the end of your life kind of love.  This is the kind of love we are supposed to be known for.  

In fact, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates (works against) his [Christian] brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should also [unselfishly] love his brother and seek the best for him.”

1 John 4:20-21 AMP

So, my goal is not to condemn anyone for their decisions, but to shed some light and maybe offer a hand in healing some breaches.  Again, I long for the day of restored relationships, of reconciliation.  

I also realize there have been some that have pushed others away out of self-protection and deep woundedness from past hurts.  I get that.  And I’m not really addressing those situations, though I would hope we can come to a place of maturity that even in those situations needed space can be given, safety achieved, and hearts heal in open, loving relationships as family.

Unconditional love should be the fruit of our lives as lovers of God.  May we be known by our fruit, by our love.  

““Either make the tree good and its fruit will be good, or make the tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33 CSB

What does love look like? 

It looks taking the low road, washing some stinking feet, crossing the road to help the wounded one on the other side, humbling ourselves to consider a different point of view, seeking reconciliation by offering the “Please forgive me first”, putting aside my right to be right in some situations (There are times to stand for what’s right.), wrapping the robe around the prodigal who has come home, etc..

“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CSB

What if we truly saw each other, stopped to listen to someone’s story, and loved the one in front of us?  What if we stopped ghosting each other?

What if we were actually known by our love and unity?  

I dare say we could change the world.

Christian living, Family, Uncategorized

Paul’s Word for the New Year: ” Holy Amnesia” (a guest blog by Rebecca Davis)

Through the years, I’ve heard people use the scripture verse from Philippians 3:13 as a way to say that we should ”forget the past”, and that ”going back to painful memories” was wrong. That I was in fact disobeying the directive that Paul puts out in Philippians when the Lord would lead me to a painful memory in inner healing.

I would often feel condemned for ”looking back”.

Yet, I knew God was asking this of me. I do understand now that it can be gentler than the first approach I experienced, and there are certainly ways to lessen the trauma that memories can hold. Jesus is actually really good at protecting us when we let Him.

The Bible in essence is a history book in which God, Himself, makes a point to be sure to put all the good and bad details in. Think David and Bathsheba.

Why then would He want us to not remember our story?

Revelation 12:11 says our testimony, God in our story, is actually part of the way we overcome.

In Micah 7:19, it says God will cast our sin into the sea, and yes, He won’t remember our sin against us. Yet, there is no ”sea of forgetfulness” in the Bible.

God sees and values all of our story: the good, bad, and the ugly. He just wants to step into it with us and redeem it.

As I read this blog by Rebecca Davis, I truly appreciated the way she breaks down the context of this misused scripture by Paul, helping us to understand what kind of “holy amnesia” he was referring to. Enjoy.

Check out this blog and others at http://heresthejoy.com/

POSTED ON BY REBECCA DAVIS

Paul’s Word for the New Year: “Holy Amnesia”

It seems like the last ten years or so, having a word for the New Year has replaced making New Year’s resolutions or goals.

So if the apostle Paul had done this, I’m guessing one of the many years of his Christian life, “holy amnesia” may have been his word (okay, technically “words”).

I’m basing this idea of “holy amnesia” on Philippians 3:13b-14.

“. . . but this one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wanted to forget what was behind him. (Of course what was in front of him couldn’t be forgotten because it hadn’t been experienced yet.)

So “what was behind”—wouldn’t that be . . . everything he had ever experienced?

Did Paul want to forget his entire life?

Hmmm . . . something seems a little fishy here. Maybe it’s because I lifted a few lines right out of the letter he was writing without looking at the rest of the letter.

But before I look at that, let’s look at some other things Paul didn’t forget, or want others to forget.

He didn’t forget past experiences, good and bad

Acts 22 and 26 recount how Paul told his life story, first to the Jews, and then to King Agrippa. His life experiences included very good and very bad things: he had persecuted Christians, and the Lord Jesus Christ had brought him to salvation. From the worst to the best.

Paul certainly didn’t want to forget that.

He called on other Christians to remember things

He obviously didn’t want them to forget everything in their lives.

1 Corinthians 11:2 — Remember me and the ordinances I taught you.

Galatians 2:10 — Remember the poor.Ephesians 2 — Remember that you used to be far from God and are no longer.

Colossians 4:18 — Remember me in my bonds.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 — Remember how we served you.

2 Thessalonians 2:5 — Remember I explained these things to you in person.

2 Timothy 2:8 — Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, according to the gospel I taught you.

He didn’t forget those who were not trustworthy

Demas was a partner in the Great Work, as Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24 both show. But at the very end of his life Paul lamented to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:10,

“For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

He didn’t forget the betrayal or the pain it caused him.

Only four verses later, here at the end of his life, Paul remembered and made mention of “Alexander the coppersmith, [who] did me great harm.” He warned Timothy, “Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.

”Indeed, if we forget what untrustworthy people have done to us, then we will walk into the same traps again. If we ignore what untrustworthy people have done to others of the people of God (like Paul), then we ourselves can be harmed by them.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

No, that old maxim is not in the Bible. But it represents a truth. And the way it works is by remembering what was done.

So what did Paul forget? What was his “holy amnesia”?

In this chapter of the letter to the Philippians, chapter 3, Paul warned his readers to watch out for those who “mutilate the flesh” (circumcision), thinking it would make them more holy. He was talking there about the Judaizers: the ones who wanted to give Christians a list of rules to keep in “the flesh (our own ability) to make them more holy.

Sound familiar? (Today it’s called legalism.)

THEN
Paul said, “If anyone wants to boast in ‘the flesh,’ I can top that.” (That’s my loose paraphrase.)

Then he listed his earthly accomplishments, or status symbols:

~ He was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews,” top of his class, doing everything right, keeping the law with the best of them.
~ He even came from one of the “best” tribes.
~ He couldn’t be faulted for his adherence to the law. He was even a Pharisee (which didn’t have the negative connotation for most of the Jews then the way it does for us now).
~ His zeal was obvious through his desire to snuff out anything (that is, Christianity) that didn’t adhere to the religion of his fathers as he understood it.

BUT NOW
He said the ones who are the true circumcised people of God are the ones who live in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus.

Those status symbol physical fleshly sources of pride now were utterly worthless to him. All his accomplishments were worthless because the only treasure worth having was knowing Jesus Christ.

Paul had found, to his amazement, that he didn’t receive approval from God by Keeping the List. No, all the approval came through faith in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ did it all!

Here’s something else important to notice.

In verse 12 of chapter 3, Paul began using a metaphor. He began comparing his life to running a marathon. God’s Word Translation renders it this way:

It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.

That “I don’t look back,” there, that’s how they rendered the “forgetting those things that are behind.

”Paul was running a marathon with his life, and he wanted to finish well. What did “finishing well” look like?He had accomplished great things “in the flesh” and had status among his fellow men. But he completely eschewed that exalted position that was meaningless in the big picture.

He even accomplished great things for the Kingdom of God in the power of the Holy Spirit! This isn’t mentioned here, so I might be extrapolating, but I believe I can say he wasn’t even going to look back on those accomplishments in order to simply rest on his laurels.

No, he was going to keep running toward Jesus. And as I mentioned in my “Obey Your Leaders and Submit to Their Authority” article (which is also a chapter of Untwisting Scriptures #2), he was pointing others to Jesus as he ran. In the same chapter of Philippians, he wrote (again, God’s Word Translation):

Whoever has a mature faith should think this way. And if you think differently, God will show you how to think. However, we should be guided by what we have learned so far.

The “holy amnesia” for us


It’s important to understand what the “this way” is that we’re supposed to think if we have a mature faith.

It’s not that we forget past grief or betrayal. Actually, one of the best ways to fully heal from it is to remember it and process it with the Lord’s presence.

It’s not that we should forget the experiences of our lives. They have played their part in shaping us as to who we are today. Wisdom learns from experience.

We certainly shouldn’t forget the great things the Lord has done for us or the truths He has taught us, or our obligation to the poor and needy.

And . . . Paul didn’t even “forget” his fleshly, earthly, legalistic accomplishments. After all, he was able to list them right there.

His “holy amnesia” was about focus. Where he was turning his eyes as he ran his marathon.

Was he going to look behind him and pat himself on the back for his accomplishments?

No. Doing that—in a race or in life—is one of the surest ways to stumble.

His “holy amnesia” turned him from past accomplishments and pointed him forward, toward the Lord and His righteousness.

I’ve never chosen a word for the year, but maybe if I did, I might also choose “holy amnesia.

”As we mature in our faith, let’s all be focused this way. And may 2022 be a year of the greatest blessing of all: seeing the Lord Jesus more clearly in our lives.

Happy New Year.

*****P.S. I also wrote briefly about Philippians 3:13 three years ago in “How to Handle Those ‘Forgive and Forget’ Scriptures.” You can read that article here.