Archive | October 2015

Choosing the Cross

John 6:15Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone”.
I came across this passage in a blog I follow and it really stood out to me. Jesus could have been king but chose not to be.

Luke 22:42Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done”

Christ did not want to go to the cross. He did not want to endure the pain and trauma to his body and He did not want to be separated from the Father, even for a moment, to bear the sins of the world. But He did. He chose the brutal cross instead of an earthly kingdom of comfort and lavishness and exaltation. Wouldn’t it have been justified for Him to allow the people to make Him king? He is a king after all. Wouldn’t it have been right to receive their worship and adulation? How easy would it have been to justify this earthly crowning to Himself and to justify forsaking the cross given the fact that no one would have known but Him that He was out of the Father’s will if He chose the crown? It would have been so easy.  

If He was not One with the Father that is.  

This morning I had quiet time with the Lord and in that time I realized how desperately I need to meet with Him daily. At least in this season while I have the time. I need to meet with Him b/c He designed me for intimacy with Him and when I am not functioning as He designed then I have needs that go unmet. This makes me easily prone to discouragement, fear and a lot of other negative tendencies. I realized during my morning quiet time how powerful His love is. He does not just love me but He loves me in spite of myself. He loves me in my mess. He loves me not because I am so good, but b/c He is so good.  

I know it is this love that led Yeshua to the cross. There is nothing else that is that powerful. It is His love for us that covers a multitude of sins. It is His love for us that bears with us through the worst of offenses. That hopes the best for us even when we demonstrate the worst of atrocities.

Like Christ I was faced with a decision to receive what God had already promised from a premature and carnal source. Thankfully He helped me to make the right decision and to wait on Him. Still, the cross is never easy. Making choices to lay down our will for His is never easy. But when I focus on His love and experience His love, I feel secure and safe and protected. I feel like all of the promises in Him for my life are “yes and yes and amen”.

SHALOM

Being Kind

Lately I have been thinking about how little I focus on the 2nd Person of the Trinity. Honestly it feels weird for me even to reference God as individual parts: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The thing is when I think of God I normally think of Him as Father. I understand in my head that even when I am interacting with Him daily it is the third part of the Trinity who I am interacting with (Holy Spirit), but in my heart to me He is still–Father. But lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus and I’ve been re-reading the book of John to focus more on Him and his life while here on earth.
Recently, I was told to “be kind to myself”. I have heard that I can be hard on myself and therefore hard on others, but I will be honest and say that there is still a part of me that doubts this. Am I really too hard on myself? Are my expectations really too high? Because they seem pretty realistic to me. Except I and others usually fall short of them. But when she said to “be kind to myself” there was a realization that dawned on me. There was an awareness of a burden I was carrying. One I seem to always carry w/o knowing it. 

The burden of perfectionism and performance-based faith.  

She asked me what Jesus told the woman who committed adultery (John 8) and the first thing that came to my mind was “Go and sin no more”. But really the first thing He told her was “You are forgiven” (paraphrased from “Neither do I condemn you”). His focus was on forgiveness while mine was on the sin itself. Then she said that even in the Lord’s command to “Go and sin no more” it was less from a place of judgement and more from a place of his concern for the woman. When He looked at the woman, he did not see an adulterer; he saw a woman with a history of abuse and pain and trauma. Because let’s be honest, who escapes this life w/o experiencing abuse, pain and trauma? So He saw the whole of her and really He was telling her to not commit adultery again for her own sake.  

Because it was an unhealthy form of escapism.  

Because it was just a coping mechanism that was causing her even more pain than the pain that led her to the sin.  

Of course God hates sin, but could it be His hatred for sin stems from His love for us? Could it be He understands that sin hurts us and He does not want to see us hurt?

It is with these revelations that I began to understand why I must be kind to myself. Because Jesus is kind. He is compassionate. And if I function as an unkind, compassionless person to myself, how can I have any hope of being kind to others? How can I have any hope of demonstrating the true purpose of the gospel? 

To be forgiven.  

And to sin no more.  

Because it hurts us.

Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”…

SHALOM

 

When You Want A Family

  
This weekend I felt the desire to be around people. That was such a vulnerable place for me. I pride myself on being self-sufficient and independent. Most only children are probably used to being alone. I even more so as I experienced periods of time in my childhood when there were simply no friends. No people. So I hid in my books and grew closer to my best friend at the time–my grandmother. That was a way that I coped with not getting needs met. When I became a believer one of the gifts God gave me were real friends. People who loved unconditionally and who stuck by me no matter what. But there is a season for everything and some of those friendships have ended. Still, I am surrounded with community and people close to me who I do life with. This weekend when I felt in need of people I could very easily have reached out to any of these people that make up my community. But it wasn’t just a person or persons I was desiring. It was a specific kind of community I was desiring.

It was family.

I’m in a season now of going back to the beginning and I’m learning how vital it is to be born into this world surrounded by love and acceptance. But really how often does that happen? And even if we are born into affirmation of purpose and identity, that does not mean we will be raised with these assurances. Most people experience a breakdown in their family structure due to life. Some have even more extreme circumstances then others. Whatever the circumstance, our personality and life decisions are influenced by the environment we are raised in. God knows this and still uses all things to work together for our good.

I often think of Moses who was given up by his family for his own good. And then somewhere down the line he reconnected to his people. He was used to deliver them b/c he had been separated from them and his separation led to his own freedom. And theirs. I can relate to that story in a lot of ways.

I was blessed to connect with family this weekend. It wasn’t my blood family but they are so saturated with love that they don’t make a difference. There is a scripture that says God will set the solitaire in families. I will be honest and say I have despised that scripture. Often He has put me in others’ families but I have so desired a family of my own. But then I remembered, no person can complete me. No person can fulfill me. No person can meet all of my needs. Even if I had my own family, they would not be able to fill this hole I feel in my heart. Instead, they would just be there to enjoy, just as I am enjoying this community of people God has placed in my life in this season.

Maybe one day, when that hole is filled, there will be others I can call my blood family.

SHALOM

Back To The Beginning

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men.”- John 1: 1-4
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 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. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:1-4

My pastor has a saying he’s been sharing for years now, “God’s original intent is His eternal intent”. I appreciate that revelation because often I get distracted by what is not God’s original intent. I get caught up in the dysfunction and the temporary.  As an intercessor it is my call to stand in the gap so that the eternal is manifested in the natural. So that the original intent is demonstrated instead of the dysfunction. For several years now I have been in training to more effectively use this gift of intercession yet my own dysfunction has caused me frustration with the training. The good news is, there is grace and God equips the called.

So many times things happen in life and we are caught off guard. We are shook to our core as we repeat the same negative experiences. We don’t understand why they keep happening. I am learning one great bit of wisdom in this season if that is the case.  

Look back to the beginning.  

What was the foundation of your relationship before it ended? Where were you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, when it started? Where were they? That will give you insight into why it ended. It has given me insight.  

Even more insight has come into looking at the family of origin. We are all born needy people. In the beginning the first man and woman were privileged to have their needs met by the Father. The Source. The only One who can possibly meet all of their needs. He designed the family to be a community united with Him to tend to the needs of children. Clearly, since the fall of man that has not happened. We all had unmet needs. And therefore, we all began choosing relationships and trying to get our needs met in those relationships that were not met from the family structure.

We were made “image bearers” of the Creator. The Creator is Light and Love. We were made to reflect light and love but often we reflect pain and selfishness and pride. We look at false images of the world to sustain ourselves and to fill the emptiness, but they never do. So we run an endless rat race toward emptiness until we find that all is vanity.

I am in a precious season of stillness. The Father has sat me down and turned my face to look upon His so that again I can be reminded of who I am. So that I can remember I am the apple of His eye and the desire of his heart. The passion of His cross.

I am favored and graced to have this experience in spite of not wanting to be still. I am blessed He once again carved out space and time so that I can look back not only to the family structure but even further to the Source of the family. To the Original Image that I was created in. The Image of Light and Love.  

Here is a sermon that speaks on man remembering who we are.  

SHALOM!

 

Walking in Purpose

Last week I was so honored to be a vendor at a major poetry event. Janette ikz, Ezekiel, Jackie and Preston graced the stage with their presence and rocked the mic as they are so well known to do. Their style of gritty transparency and truth and God’s unconditional love is what makes their lyrics so powerful. Not only did I get to see their performance but my vendor status allowed me access to a time of Q&A with the artists as well as a pic with them on stage.    

They took pics with every single VIP audience member. I was so blessed b/c I had no clue that this was all included in their performance. If not for my friend hosting the event I would not have even thought about selling my book there, let alone paying extra for a VIP ticket. Yet it was so worth the extra funds. I really felt VIP sitting in just the 2nd row, and getting to ask the poets my question about their ministry. It was definitely a sacrifice as I had to leave work an hour early, drive 45 minutes across town and stay an hour after the show to sell books after a 3 hour performance. But again, it was so worth it.   

Imagine my elation when one of my fellow blog readers was also at the event and stopped by my table to say hello! I was so blessed and am looking forward to connecting more with her. I knew that God had called me to this event but had no idea how significant it would be. I sold a few books, was poured into spiritually, encouraged in my faith and was able to encourage others in theirs. I just love the manifest presence and refreshing of the Lord. I had received a message just the night before. An opportunity to be distracted and detour from this path of faith but in His grace (and encouragement from my support group) I stayed focus. I ended the evening in awe, winding down with tea and looking at pics from the evening. I texted back and forth with friends about the night and was so comforted by the Father’s love and devotion. There is no feeling like having purpose and finally, I am seeing purpose in this season. It did not look at all the way I thought it would. I wanted it to look in accordance with my culture’s perspective and similar to that of my peers. But I am unique and God is dealing with me uniquely. Finally I see. There is purpose. And I am awakening to it. And walking in it.  

SHALOM

Enjoying the Moment

I started making a power point of all of the highlights from this year. I know, I know, this is super Type A. But that’s what happens when you’re type A and come home every night with energy to spare. What can I say, I always need a project. Every year at the end of the year I do a blog post summarizing my life and what I learned from Jesus and Jesus’ hand on my life. This time I wanted to do something a little extra b/c I felt ridiculously overly blessed by all these experiences. I love love love to keep a record of life. Whether it’s through writing or taking pictures. There is something in me that wants to capture the moment. I am all too aware of how quickly life ends and therefore I want there to be some way to capture it. I also want to leave some type of legacy for those who will come behind me, whether its family or strangers. If in case they ask the questions, “What was important to Nicole or what was her purpose and what did she live for?” I want there to be something here, this side of eternity, that explains the answer.  The great thing about keeping a record is that you can relive those experiences over and over again. I simply pop open the photo album I made of my pics from Haiti and instantly I feel like I’m there all over again. 

  
 
 Haiti is forever in my heart.

Now, I have my little power point (half finished) that I’ll probably share with close loved ones sometime in December. And every time I play it I am there, living out those happy times with loved ones. Social media is great for keeping a record too. Facebook has these Facebook memories that I sometimes look at. Sometimes I don’t b/c there are some memories I would rather not remember. But in the case that there are those that I would, it’s there.  

I guess that’s the downside of capturing memories. Sometimes there are pictures that remind you of a different time and a different life that is now no longer. But even then, I’m learning as I get older, that is just a part of life. There is loss. And there is gain. And God is in the midst of it all.

I love music too. And I love that music can mark a time frame, like 90’s r&b. I listen to songs almost daily and it totally takes me back to my childhood. Music can capture a period of time and then remind you of that period years later. I’ll be incorporating music in my power point as well.

Life is a gift. There have been times that has not been my view and I’m sure there will be other times ahead where I’ll struggle with that view. But for now, I understand, there are times and seasons and like a wise man once said, there is a season for everything. And everything is for its season.  

To you my reader I say, find joy in this season. Find joy in this gift.  

Or at least in the Giver of gifts.  

Please check out my latest guest post at Abundantly You!

SHALOM

Higher Ground

We met at a local restaurant that I hadn’t been to in a while. I had been putting off the meeting simply b/c our last meeting left me burdened. But God was going to surprise me and reiterate that this connection was indeed a very important assignment from Him. I remember early on in our relationship He told me that this woman and I had very similar “issues”. Back then I had very little self-awareness but took Him at His word. I couldn’t have guessed how accurate that word was and just how many issues we had in common. I took a chance and ordered roast beef and fries. I haven’t had beef in a while and decided that b/c we were heading into the weekend I would indulge. Also the fall weather always makes heavier foods more appealing. We dug right into the meat of things (pun intended) and started catching one another up on our love lives. Or lack thereof. We talked about the exes, how crazy they all were and how crazy we were to want to be with them. Why is it that we chose the same type of men over and over again? Finally I had an answer. I let her in on a secret I had recently learned. Most people will choose a person with both negative and positive traits of their parents. They will do this more than likely to get the needs met that they did not get met in their childhood. If only I had understood that truth 5, 10, 15 years ago. My friend reflected on that information and shared about her daughter choosing the same unhealthy relationship she had experienced in her own marriage. “Of course, because that is what is familiar to her” I shared with my newfound wisdom. We consumed our meal and dished more on all we were learning in the area of mental and emotional health. I was so blessed by the meeting, I couldn’t help but think of my initial apprehensions about it and how they were clearly not from the Lord. God was confirming my call. He was reiterating that He was going to use all of my failures in relationships. Just as He used me to share on my heartbreak He would use me to share with others about getting healthier.Before we parted ways my friend, 20 years my senior, commented about how awesome it was that I was learning this stuff so “young”. I briefly thought about it and responded “I know its b/c of my family. They knew they wanted me to have better opportunities. They knew they did not want me to repeat their same mistakes. Even if they didn’t have the verbiage to say, ‘I want her to be healthier emotionally or have healthier relationships’. They knew how to pray for better. This is my better”. 

 

Often the path feels fierce. It feels like I’m climbing uphill, alone, struggling to take the next shaky step forward in my fight for healing and recovery. But there are times I remember, I’m not alone. My ancestors take these steps with me. And b/c of them, I get to experience life even more abundantly.

SHALOM