Freedom

True Freedom Is When We Trust In Him

Freedom

Freedom

“When we trust in Him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.” Ephesians 3:13 (The Message)

I keep reading bibles verses that apply to my life and to my glorious group that is reading “Anything” by Jennie Allen. {It’s still not too late to join, check out my posts here and here.}

I pray that each of us is hearing God’s voice deep within our hearts and souls as we work on surrendering our lives to Him. For in Him, we have great freedom!

blessings,

Hope

P.S. I’m so thankful for She Reads Truth and their Ephesians bible study! Join in.

SheReadsTruth

I’m linking up with the following communities today!

stitched up heart

God, Please Be My Shield

stitched up heart

stitched up heart

“If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil, cover your mouth in shame. As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels.” Proverbs 30:32-33 (NLT). 

The Amplified Bible further expands on verse 32 by stating, “If you have done foolishly in exalting yourself, or if you have thought evil, lay your hand upon your mouth.” 

As I am following the SheReadsTruth group with reading Proverbs, this verse really speaks to me.

I realized yesterday that I’m keeping score in my relationships. Instead of being appreciative for what others do, I’m comparing what I do for them to what they do for me. I want things to be “equal.” I want to be treated fairly. And I used to not think this way or be this way. In fact, I’ve been told time and time again, that I’m too giving and self-sacrificing…

I think… No, I know why and how I’ve become this person. I’ve been hurt — betrayed — abandoned — taken advantage of — manipulated — and not considered, especially emotionally.

I’m protecting myself from being hurt, used, or even abused, again.

And as much as all of this makes sense to my human mind, I realize that it is not the way to live. In essence, I’ve closed off my heart. Or where there was an opening, a vulnerability, there is now a little scar.

And over time, I’m sure that I’ve amassed several scars. That’s why the picture of the stitched up heart really struck me. I’m sure my heart really looks like this one – a bit beaten up.

I don’t think you can go through life, if you are really living and loving, without getting any scars or places that you need to protect. Places that we may think need shielding.

So, then I read back over Proverbs 30 and saw this verse.

“Every word of God is pure, He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.” (NKJV)

Yeah, that’s right. I’m shielding my own heart. Taking score. Remembering past hurts so that people don’t hurt me again.

I’m supposed to let God shield me … be my shield. Protect my heart, my life, and my soul.

Once again I am reminded of the power of God and this relationship that I am building with Him. I’m reminded of my sin, my errors, and my human frailty. And frankly, I’m reminded of how much I need God.

Last night in my church’s community group, we discussed the power of confessing.

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].” James 5:16 (AMP)

So I am confessing this fault of mine to all that read my blog. Please pray for me. Please pray that my heart can be spiritually healed and restored. [It feels so strange asking, but I know I need to ask and pray anyway.] Please pray that I am able to build a new community where I live in spite of my shortcomings. God knows that I feel alone because I moved and had to leave behind my community.

Hopefully, some of you will share your struggles at this time so I can pray for you too.

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace in God,

Hope

SheReadsTruth

Linking up with my favorite online communities: Ann at The Holy Experience, Unwrapping His Promises (at Scribing the Journey), and Getting Down With Jesus!

Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

[She Reads Truth] Proverbs 13:3 Careful Words Make for a Careful Life

Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

Love & Hip Hop Atlanta

So, I have a mini confession. I love reality television. It is my guilty pleasure. I like everything from the Kardashians to the Real Housewives series to the latest Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. My absolute favorite is the Tia and Tamera show, which is honestly pretty positive.

I think a part of my fascination with the shows is that they provide a window into the lives of other people in a different way then the usual made-up fiction on television. I know you are saying outloud or perhaps yelling at the computer screen as you read this — reality tv isn’t real!

Yes, I know it is not real. I have friends who work as producers for several shows – but the storylines, although pumped up and exaggerated for ratings, are based off the lives of real people. I like that part of it.

It’s also just fun to watch really pretty people talk about silly things. It’s a distraction from the “real” things that are occuring in my life where pretty hair and makeup doesn’t fix everything. And it also may be me just missing my pretty Los Angeles too.

The strange thing I discovered as I was watching a Love & Hip Hop Atlanta episode yesterday is how ugly and vulgar the ladies sounded. Almost every word included the “f” word or calling another woman a “B”. And for the first time in a long time, the show left me feeling really disturbed. The emotions were there, bare for all to see. And the words were so hurtful.

You see, over the past week, I’ve been really working on my own speech and my emotional communications, as I discussed earlier. God has spoken to my heart and into my life in this area. He’s trying to clean it up.

In addition to showing me how my words can harm more than they heal the one I love, He is now showing me the ugliness of these types of words and interactions in modern day society. It is simply all around us – from the shows on television to the music on the radio. And this “ugliness” of words goes relatively unnoticed.

Wow, the Lord has been really working on me.

For the She Reads Truth bible study, we’ve been reading and meditating on Proverbs. I am still constantly amazed at how His Word speaks to me amidst all the parables.

And although I am playing a little catch up from falling behind due to my experience with Marley this week, I realized that God’s Word to me is always on time.

Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything. Proverbs 13:3. [MSG]

As I was re-reading Proverbs 13 this morning, I was struck by several passages. Warnings about careless and irresponsible talk and the impact that it has on its life.

Irresponsible talk makes real mess of things, but a reliable reporter is a healing presence. Proverbs 13:7 [MSG]

So I read my study bible a little closer and discovered notes on self-control. For Proverbs 13:3, it states that “You have not mastered self-control if you do not control what you say. Words can cut and destroy. James recognized this truth when he stated, ‘The tongue is a little member and boasts general things’ (James 3:5). If you want to be self-controlled, begin with your tongue. Stop and think before you react or speak. If you can control this small but powerful member, you can control the rest of your body.”

But I began asking the Lord, but what about emotions? What about anger and sadness? 

And then I turned to my favorite daily bible, Jesus Calling, as I read through Proverbs 12 and 13. It had a whole section on Self-Control. [Yes, the Lord always answers my questions through his Word.]

The bible pointed me to Ephesians 4:26-27. [NKJV]

“Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”

And then it pointed me to …

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29. [NKJV]

For many schooled Christians these passages may already be well known, but for me, they were the perfect words for a glimpse into understanding the connection between anger, words, emotions generally, and self-control. They are all connected.

My Jesus Calling bible further assisted with a message to ask the Holy Spirit to help me whenever I speak. So, in addition to being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, I should call on the Holy Spirit before using this powerful ability to verbalize – recklessly. I love it.

“So then my beloved brethen, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 [NKJV]

As for the reality television guilty pleasure, I’m not sure that it will go away anytime soon. They aren’t all bad. Hey, I’m just being honest. It is, however, losing some of its appeal, as I continue to work on having my words draw people closer and bless them instead of harming them. This is my prayer Lord.

I’d love to hear what you think. Please drop me an email or comment.

Wishing you hope, peace, and joy,

-Hope

SheReadsTruth

Linking up with Ann too!

Friendship - T, Me, L

The Value of True Friendship

True Friendship

True Friendship

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)

I feel very blessed.

For in addition to developing a closer relationship with God, I realized that I am super blessed in the area of friendships – especially women friendships. This hasn’t always been the case.

Back in college, I allowed my friends to “choose me.” I know this sounds silly, but women would often choose me to be their friends for very superficial reasons. I had “friends” tell me that they chose me because I was “pretty like them” or because “boys liked me” or because “I had a lot of friends.” And these same women would also want to exclude other women from our events and “friend circle” if they lacked these things – especially “being pretty.”

As you can guess, these friendships did NOT stand the test of time. In fact, quite the opposite. Most of these friendships did not make it past a few years after college. In some cases, I found that my friendship, which honestly was not based on those things, was not valued. Or in other situations, the ugliness or lack of character in some of these women showed their faces to a point where I couldn’t ignore it any further.

Now my reason for writing is not to disparage these women or make myself look like a saint. It took me years to actually see some of these relationships for what they truly are and were – and my enabling contribution to them. I am actually very thankful for these women and for these experiences because they have made me recognize and value “true friendships.”

So a couple of years after college and the beginning of my realization on how poorly I chose friendships, I began to be more deliberate and discriminating in my friendships – especially with those closest to me. And this intention has proved itself extremely beneficial.

Sadly, I let go of some friendships that weren’t good for my heart and my soul. I would find myself mentally and emotionally depleted after these interactions. But fortunately, I made new friends, true friends – some of which have lasted more than 12 years and span the globe.

I made new friendships with women based on their character of warmth, honesty, authenticity, personality, and their relationship with Spirit. I chose depth to shallowness. I chose beauty on the inside instead of only beauty on the outside.

I can now claim a “sister circle” of women who are deep into the Spirit that help me draw closer to the Lord and keep me accountable. And I have friends of other faiths who God also uses to speak the truth of his Words to me. It has been quite amazing.

God is Good.

So, I am reminded as a begin this new journey of finding friendship and community in my new city (San Fran) of the importance of these earlier lessons.

I must remain authentic, open my heart, and be the friend that I seek in others. And I know that I will always have a friend in God, and continually seek to be more like Him.

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope

[This post is a part of a special series with the community at The Holy Experience. Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, and post a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His Heart. This week, and the next two weeks, we consider: The Practice of Relationship.]

[And it is also part of a couple of synchroblogs over at Scribing the Journey and Getting Down With Jesus. Won’t you join us!]