Author: Barb Smith

Coniston, England Credit: Rich Bambford/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ‘new’ normal

The stun gun effect that I have been feeling these past few months had a lot  to do with the lack of sunshine this winter and not being able to get outside as much.  I miss my flowers and sun! Feeling uncomfortable in my body, sluggish and unmotivated forced me to stretch myself outside my comfort zone physically. I signed up for a couple of exercise classes and started walking in the malls with my husband because walking outside in the cold, snow and ice wasn’t an option. Movement became key and the more I stretched and moved my body beyond its limitations the better I felt. It has also felt like an incubation time where thoughts and feelings, unpleasant and pleasant, have rolled around inside me allowing the real root of the emotions and thoughts to surface. Even Jesus learned through times of struggle. “Although He was a Son, He learned (active, special) obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) I exercised my mind and dove deep into my thoughts and emotions. They were …

Credit: Michael Mazzamuto/Flickr/Creative Commons

Every step I take

“What then shall we say to this?  If God is for us, who (can be) against us? Who can be our foe if God is on our side? (Romans 8:31) It is so important to remind myself that God is always on my side and with me in everything I do. Whatever I face, God is for me and carries the heavier weight and authority in everything concerning my life. When the teeter totter of life bounces me around, I know God is right beside me. He has the presence and authority to tip the scales in my favour and work everything out for my good. King David understood this and his whole life was governed by a belief God was for him. “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) I am learning to arm myself with the same attitude as Joshua who was aware of the presence and authority of God that he carried in every step he took into the land God …

Worshiping the Lord

Songs of deliverance

“The Lord God is my strength – he will make my feet like those of a deer, equipping me to tread on my mountain heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19) Beautiful worship songs have brought God’s voice and presence to me these past few days. The Holy Spirit has entered into these songs and lifted my spirit and carried me to places of deep comfort and peace. I don’t understand why I had a need for assurance this past while, but my restlessness in the night has reflected inner stirrings. Through the lilting and uplifting notes of these songs God spoke, “I love you, you are mine, everything is as it should be, you are enough, you are more than enough” For the past three days, I have woken  in the middle of the night and played these songs over and over.  I have danced in our living room, worshiped and prayed. One night as I danced, I picked up my worship flags and as the flute played, I skipped, danced and floated over mountains, valleys and streams. …

Credit: Erwin/Flickr/Creative Commons

My Courageous Heart

This year, 2017, I choose to embrace my courageous heart. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1;9 NIV) I must admit, though, many times, ‘my courageous heart’ just wants to run and hide. Often, when I start doubting myself and my abilities, I reach for my little book of affirmations — my brightly, colored Peacock book — where I have written statements and declarations that I want to make my own. At times, when I find myself battling self-doubt, I have woken up in the middle of the night, sat down on the couch  and opened this little book of truth to reaffirm God’s love,  intentions and perceptions of me. Every time I do this, I come out on the other side with a clarity and deep knowing that God is with me and has not changed His mind on anything concerning my life. My favourite affirmation at the moment is: …

What voices are you hearing? Credit: Robert Gourley/Flickr/Creative Commons

Whose voice are you listening to?

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT) These wonderful words speak of God’s very personal and deep love for each one of us. As I read them, I realize how often I have not translated these verses and made them personal in my everyday experience. There are times I find myself stepping on the slippery slope of chastisement when I make a simple mistake such as drop an egg on the floor or spill water all over the counter. Statements like I am never going to get it right. I’m so stupid. What’s wrong with me? Such remarks are way over the top for such minor things. Most importantly, this is not how our heavenly Father speaks to us. He would not chastise us for such simple, common errors. But, we do! Hammering ourselves with harsh words breaks the heart …

Every morning you must decide how you will walk your road that day. Credit: Julie Falk/Flickr/Creative Commons

Out of sorts?

My husband had just taken three days off work so we could paint our family room.  We accomplished a lot the first two days and by the third day had the job done. So I thought, now let’s go out for coffee and do a little Christmas shopping. I knew that in the long-term we would  both be better off by letting him have some time to himself.  So, I caught myself before I put on a little performance and a few sighs, to let him know  I  really wanted him to go out with me. I released him from the expectation of joining me that afternoon.  I knew he needed a break. Lately, I have been  purposely releasing myself, family  and friends from  unnecessary and sometimes unrealistic expectations.  It has, in the long run, created better communication and released tension in my relationships. But, recently,  I started feeling out of sorts.   I was  angry most of the time.  It didn’t seem to matter what anyone said or did, it still elicited an angry response …

Credit: Jonathan Chen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Intercessors: Engaging the enemy

I consider myself an intercessor and it has taken the full length and breadth of 30 years to understand what intercession is and who I am in this gifting and calling. Intercessors, in their various roles, stand in the gap for people in prayer and worship to enhance God’s presence, draw people in and bring them into a more intimate experience and connection with God. Not everyone is called to intercede in this way.  There are many roles that intercessors play and one person does not do it all. I am a dancer and along with other women, I dance in church during worship with ribbons, scarves and flags. As intercessors we need to be sensitive to shifts in the spiritual realm.  We often find ourselves pressing into these shifts to enhance the worship and/or step into warfare to exercise authority over the enemy and his strongholds. There are moments in worship on Sunday mornings when I grab a flag and begin to intercede with the flag during the height of worship. At other times, …

Credit: Shutter Runner/Flickr/Creative Commons

Has your church offended you?

As I look back over the past 30 years of our Church life, I realize how much happier my husband and I could have been, if we had only known then what we know now. But like many, we learned the hard way. One of the keys is learning not to be offended by your church. So, how does one protect and guard themselves from getting hurt in church? Reflecting on our spiritual journey this one truth comes back to me over and over again.  Avoid developing unreasonable expectations of the church and its leaders. I am reminded of a time years ago when my husband struggled with personal identity issues in his life.  So much of it was wrapped up in how well he performed at work and he became a workaholic of sorts. I was not perfect during this period and kept heaping unrealistic expectations on him — what he should be doing around the house and even at church. He just couldn’t handle it! These unreasonable expectations were putting distance between him …

Carl Lentz during his interview with Oprah. Credit: Youtube capture/Own Channel

Carl Lentz tells Oprah faith is a journey

Recently Oprah Winfrey interviewed Carl Lentz, the popular and well-known pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City. Lentz is often referred to as the ‘rock star pastor’ with a ‘come as you are’ approach. He sometimes preaches in night clubs and theaters. New York’s Hillsong Church is known for its passionate worship that draws people from all genres, particularly the younger generation. Speaking of his church Lentz states, “we’re a cool church preaching an ancient message” and his mission is to transform the way people experience God. His message is about God being interested in us as a work in progress. He firmly believes our faith involves a journey. Justin Bieber’s baptism s a great example of what Lentz is talking about. Lentz along with Judah Smith, Justin’s pastor, baptized the pop star late one night in a friend’s seven-foot bathtub. Lentz is proud of Justin Bieber wanting to be baptized in the middle of everything he was going through at the time. Baptism showed his desire to start fresh and begin pulling himself …

The trap is set, will you take the bait?

The trap of offense

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Michael Hyatt from ‘Why leaders can’t afford to be offended’’ The other day I did it again and took offense at a comment on Facebook. I chose to make it personal and kept going over it in my mind until my emotions got the better of me. I quickly typed in a comment to straighten that person out. Thankfully, before I hit the send button, I called my husband and shared my offense with him. He calmly advised me to let it go because it would not accomplish any great purpose and probably create more misunderstanding. Not what I wanted to hear! But, I did take his advice because I knew it was wisdom even though I was itching to press the send button. After calming down, I decided I really wanted to get on top of my emotional response to the offense. I was reminded of this verse in the Bible; “It is necessary that temptation come, but woe …

Credit: Jonathan Chen/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does God Dance?

A Bible verse recently caught my attention: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy. He will be quiet in his love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NASV) The Hebrew word, ‘rejoice,’  means to “spin around under violent emotion.” The phrase “rejoice over you” literally means to “dance, skip, leap, and spin in joy.” So, the latter part of this verse is more accurately translated, “He will dance over you with singing.” I love the visualization that comes to my mind when I read this.  God is portrayed as a mighty warrior, singing and dancing over me with shouts of joy. It describes how a warrior must have felt in the Old Testament after winning a hard-fought battle and realizing the victory was his. I can envision power, authority and strength exuding from him as he steps into a victory dance. I imagine whooping, hollering, leaping, dancing and victory shouts. We see it today, as well. It’s not much …

Do you love yourself? Credit: chandrika221/Flickr/Creative Commons

Do we need to love ourselves?

“The second is: ‘You must love others as much as yourself.’ No other commandments are greater than these.” (Mark 12:3) According to Matthew Henry’s commentary, loving yourself from a biblical perspective refers to loving the image of God in you and the way He created you. This is not referring to a conceited, prideful, self-worship type of love. Loving yourself and embracing your significance as a Christian is vital. We need to love and value ourselves in the same way God does. Low self-esteem, beating ourselves up emotionally and physically (body image), defining ourselves through past mistakes and failures are all signs that we are not loving ourselves in the same way God loves us. We can be bitter and unforgiving towards others. But we can also be bitter and unforgiving towards ourselves and God because of the way we perceive ourselves  through our body image or  the way things turned out for us in life. I am learning that it  is just as important to forgive myself  as it is to forgive others. Understanding …

Don't allow storms to rule your life. Photo credit: Bill Collison/Flickr/Creative Commons

What it means to cast your bread upon the water

This past summer, I planned a walk with friends around a beautiful lake in the center of our city. At one point in our journey, we stopped at a quiet little spot along the edge, took our bread crumbs and threw them upon the water and watched them float away. We were symbolically fulfilling the words King Solomon wrote: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, yes, even to eight, for you know not what evil may come upon the earth.” (Ecclesiastes 11: 1–2 AMP) Commentators believe Solomon was referring to ships he sent out full of goods to trade with other nations. During their journey they would encounter prevailing winds, massive storms with surging waves crashing over their small wooden hulls. But they would battle through. They would be gone for days, even weeks, and when they returned home they were laden with valuable merchandise. He was describing an investment that will come back to us particularly in troubled times therefore we …

Battling the storm of worry. Photo: R/Flickr/Creative Commons

Have you lost your mind?

Sometime this past summer, I lost my mind. I sensed a cog slipping and I started losing a grip on my thoughts.  They were coming faster — racing through my mind. Fatigue set in and I eventually crashed emotionally, physically and spiritually. Slowly, I had given my thoughts over to the worries of the next day and the next week. I was living in a place and space of constant uncertainty fueled by doubt and fear. Jesus commanded us not to worry about the next day. “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:34 TLB) We need to learn to live one day at a time. This requires that we stay in the present and not concern ourselves about the future. It does not mean that we don’t plan for the future, but we must not allow the future to flood our thinking. We must simply remind ourselves that we are a child of God and in His care. God will …

Who do you blame for the storms in your life? Photo: 5oulscape/Flickr/Creative Commons

So what’s really bothering you?

I often deal with my frustration by blaming my husband. He is an easy target. And because he is often conveniently close by, I can throw my personal frustrations at him. Yes, he knows something is wrong but has no idea what.  He is not a mind reader as much as I would like him to be. I have begun to look at my frustrations, anger and resentments as signals that the problem is not with the person I am blaming. Often, we blame our partner for the way we feel about our day or even the past. We cast ourselves as the victim and our partner as the villain. Relationship experts Katie and Gay Hendricks describe it this way: “If you feel you are being wronged  and want things to change in your relationship, BEING THE VICTIM NEVER WORKS!” Denying my emotions and the real reason for my frustration (anger, resentment) by blaming an unsuspecting family member creates a vicious cycle that keeps building up inside until it explodes. Though I feel better blaming …

What chains your feet?

All tangled up

“Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so easily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us,  and  let us run with patient and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 AMP) Sin tangles us up and keeps us off course from our purpose. It trips us up and we need to be aware of what it really is and how it affects our life and our purpose. Recently, I got myself all tangled up and without my husband’s help I would have continued to trip over my feet every time I stood up! I was overdoing it when it came to taking care of my parents.  It wasn’t really necessary that I did as much I was. I kept telling myself to slow down and stop running over to see them every other day as they are fine and well taken care of in their present retirement home. But what was driving me to do this. …

Jesus warned us about judging others.

Right back at you

I often find myself silently criticizing others throughout my day without really planning on it. You know how it is, it just happens! Different faces over the years come to mind and one in particular sticks out or should I say is still “sticking it to me” because of the subtle conviction that reminds me that I am no different. The twinge of guilt when I point my finger at someone is a signal meant to redirect my focus and help me face my own unresolved fears and insecurities. It tells me that my weaknesses are being reflected back to me through that  person. Really, I should be grateful! I know that I shouldn’t judge others because Jesus commands it along with a hefty warning that when we judge others, God will also judge us. Judge not , lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1) But, I am learning to pay attention to my criticisms and judgements of others for a different reason. Jesus continues: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your …

We need to have a prophetic element in our prayers. Photo: Matthew Green/Flickr/Creative Commons

Envisioning prayer

Last year, I was praying and seeking an answer and intervention for a particular situation that was very troubling to me. As I desperately sought the answer, I suddenly began to envision it happening right down to the exact details — what would it look like, sound like and feel like if it actually came to pass. After picturing the scenario in my mind’s eye, I spontaneously began to thank and praise God for the answer. My response surprised me. I realized because it had been so real in my mind as I prayed, that my spirit responded with thanksgiving and praise before I even knew what was happening. It was the same response that I would have felt seeing my prayer answered and fulfilled in the flesh. But in this instance it hadn’t happened yet. The incident reminded me of a verse: “Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the non-existent things that (He has foretold and promised) as if they (already) existed.”  (Romans 4:17 AMP) I had meditated and contemplated on …

Photo: Giuseppe Milo www.pixael.com /Flickr/Creative Commons

How unrealistic expectations trip up your child

One of the biggest regrets my husband and I have is the expectations we placed upon our kids especially our son in his younger years. None of the expectations had anything to do with him and everything to do with what we wanted and how we wanted to feel. Expectations are good. Unrealistic expectations are not and do not leave room for flexibility or change. Clinical Psychologist Selena Snow says,  “unrealistic expectations are potentially damaging because they set us and others up for failure.” It took awhile for us to realize that our expectations were unrealistic and taking a toll on our son. Life wasn’t fun for him anymore. He felt trapped and did not want to make a mistake for fear of losing our approval. Taking risks was no longer an option for him. When it comes to our family, our expectations must be placed in God, not our children. Putting our expectations upon our children especially at a young age can create all kinds of frustration, anger and resentment, not just for the …

What we think of ourselves, affects who we are.

Be nice to yourself

My mind can be my best friend or worst enemy depending on what I choose to believe about myself. In other words, my body responds to messages I send it via my thoughts. Many times, while trying on clothes in a store, I have stood in front of the mirror and criticized myself for being fat. There is, undeniably, a mind-body connection and statements like “I am fat” affect our mental, emotional and physical well-being. I have shut myself down many times because of my negative thinking and the demeaning language that followed. Waking up and feeling gloomy because the sun isn’t shining often sets the mood and tone of my day and this in turn determines how productive it will be as well. The Bible tells us that our thoughts dictate who we become. The mind of a man reflects who he really is, not just his actions or words . “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) Guarding the heart really means the inner core of …

Understanding who we are in Christ will change us. Photo: James/Flickr/Creative Commons

Rooted in love

Recently, I heard a beautiful message on having Christ’s love rooted in our lives because it has the power to radically change us. Our pastor talked about Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge , that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.”  (Ephesians 3:17 -19 NASB) This prayer came out of the Apostle Paul’s deep desire that the Ephesians would know their identity in Christ.  Once they grasped who they really were through a revelation of God’s love their perception of themselves and the world would change: Paul was passionate about believers being rooted and grounded in the love of God.  He knew it would bring a stability and security that would produce wholeness and make them complete. Our pastor referred to a story …

Open door Kreg Steppe/Flickr/Creative Commons

The open door that was there all the time

Recently, I read an article with a great analogy regarding personal breakthrough in our lives. The author had been exploring an old abandoned house and heard a frantic buzzing sound coming from the living room. He entered the room to witness a frustrated fly banging its tiny body against the living room window again and again determined to get to  the other side. Its perseverance was admirable.  The  fly could clearly see what it wanted through the window — green grass, flowers and sunshine. The frustration of being trapped inside the house fueled its endless attempts to get out. In an effort to free the fly from its prison the writer opened the front door to let it out. The frantic insect remained unaware of the golden opportunity just a few feet away and the efforts being made to redirect its attention to the open door. There is a very simple truth here. I am sure that I am not the only one who has been so intent on one thing or one way to …

Are you playing the blame game?

A woman’s perspective: Are you playing the blame game?

Too often, many of us are tempted to blame others for our feelings of insignificance.  For a Christian, it is not uncommon to blame the church for one’s unhappiness. We may feel ignored because our gifts or contributions have not been recognized. In our minds, we feel invisible and unable to gain the attention we so desperately need. In other words, we are looking to the church to fulfill our purpose and calling thus taking the responsibility off our shoulders and placing it on theirs. It is a temporary comfort though. When things don’t work out as we hoped, it ends up being the church’s fault and not ours. Often, we blame God as well because we perceive the church as the only means by which God can fulfill our purpose. For many years, I blamed the church for my unhappiness and for not meeting my personal needs. I believed it was their responsibility and not mine. I ashamedly admit it was an attempt to make myself feel better. Deep down I was angry for …

Navigating life with a one track mind. Photo: Blind corner Skagway line in Alaska Ted McGrath/Flickr.Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: Keep on track with a one-track mind

We have all heard the expression, “you have a one-track mind.” It is usually spoken with a negative connotation. Well, I am beginning to think a one-track mind would be great! And, to be honest, I have been working very hard to stay on only one track at a time. I believe this is the way to the “peace that passes all understanding” that Paul talks about in the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul is the perfect example of a one track mind.  He knew his purpose was to preach salvation to the Gentiles and when he stepped into his mission, things became clearer as he kept his focus on that one thing. Nothing was going to deter Paul from his call to the Gentiles.  It was his purpose. I am beginning to understand when we have a single focus in our daily lives there is no room for other thoughts. When we keep that focus, anxiety ceases because there are no other thoughts roaming around in our heads distracting us from our purpose. …

We need to protect our mind. Photo: Joe Goddard/Flickr/Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: The garrison around my mind

This past month I noticed a change in my pattern of worry. At times, it seemed non-existent. My husband knows firsthand my battle with worry and anxiety. I succumb to worry and it’s wandering ways often throughout my day. But lately, it’s as if my thoughts bounce off a guard rail that won’t let them pass through. My thoughts cease to stray and a cloud of peace settles over me.  At times, I have noticed an anxious thought wander in and then just disappear. My mind is protected by an unknown force and I experience peace in a way that I have not known before. It is the “peace” that Paul spoke about: “and the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Philippians 4:17) We exercise our body to stay fit physically and in the same way we need to discipline our mind  and  learn to control our thoughts. The Apostle Paul tells us that we must literally take every thought captive: “and we …

Photo Garret Lesage/Flckr Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: Can forgiving others make you feel lighter and jump higher?

I read an article recently referring to a study reported in Social Psychology and Personality Science that determined the act of forgiving makes us lighter both emotionally and physically? The study involved two groups. One group was to remember a time they forgave someone and the second group was asked to remember a time they couldn’t forgive. Through their mind’s eye, the group that was able to forgive perceived the slope of a nearby hill to be less steep than the second group that was unable to forgive. The researchers said it was the equivalent of a person with a heavy backpack finding it more difficult to climb a hill than a person without. Ryan Fehr, assistant professor of management at the University of Washington, also measured the vertical jumps of each participant in the study. He found that the group who forgave, on average, jumped higher than those who were unable to forgive. Fehr concluded that the act of forgiveness unburdened one’s mind and brought a lightness to their physical being and did in …

Are you a victim of your circumstances or your thinking? Photo Great Beyond/Flickr

Are you a victim of a victim mentality?

A few years ago at a seminar for emotional healing, a group of us were in the hallway waiting for the next session to start. We were all proud that we had survived our traumatic experiences over the years. We walked into the session unprepared for what was next. As the speaker explained the new principle we were learning, we looked at one another. Why should we be surprised that each one of us had operated in survivor mode and were manifesting the symptoms of a “victim mentality?” I was filtering my experiences through a ‘victim mentality’ mindset that created a distorted view of life. A person with such a mentality, expects bad things will happen. They consider themselves a perpetual victim. Because of this perspective, they twist the most innocent things as a personal attack on them. Even the good things are bent out of shape. My perception of life being hard was reinforced daily because of this mindset. Endurance and perseverance were key to weathering the storms of life that never seemed to …

Photo: Alesa Dam/Flickr

Is thanksgiving a key to unlocking answered prayer?

This past year I realized I was receiving noticeable answers to prayer and I believe it was tied to thankfulness. I could keep praying, pleading and asking God for what was on my heart but I knew at some point I needed to start thanking Him for the answers as well. Although I did not understand it at the time, I believe the reason for my prayer answers was a result of consciously including thanksgiving in my petitions. Gratitude acknowledged my faith in God for answers I had not yet received. “Who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” (Romans 4:17 NKV) Thankfulness calls into being that which does not yet exist. It gives life to our requests, creating the movement that brings  answered prayer forward to the present. Being thankful for answers yet to come is the springboard to faith, the catalyst that gives life to our prayers. By being thankful, I was believing instead of doubting. An expectancy accompanied me throughout the day.  The spiritual atmosphere …

Are you being sucked into another time dimension because of worry?

Are you a time traveller?

Recently, I came to the realization that I was a bonafide time traveller and spent most of my time in the future. Rarely did I live in the present. I was worrying about  the next day or the day after or even the following week.  Sometimes it was just a barrage of small things that caught me. I would worry about what to wear when I was going to church in a couple of days or to an event in a few weeks. I spent most of my day in another dimension of time — the future. Travelling to the future and then back to the present, over and over again, sent my thoughts spinning out of control.  I was always anticipating the worst.  My “fight or flight” response was  triggering all the time. Worry was creating fear. Fear propelled me into the future. Time travel was ruining my life. Jesus warned us about living in another time dimension. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough …

Finding the right path through despair. Photo aha42 | tehaha/Foter/CC BY-NC

Finding your way through the valley of despair

Recently, in a Sunday morning message, a friend shared about the loss of his two-year old grandson to cancer. Doctors diagnosed Lucien with leukemia early in his first year.  Cancer treatments and long hospital stays were the norm for this family. The promise of remission brought hope. Sadly, the cancer returned. Two years, two months and two days from his birth, Lucien passed. The prayer and support Lucien’s family received from their church and community during this time was phenomenal. Lucien, in his short time on earth, had become a celebrity in his own right. As well, his young and talented parents became well-known as they bravely fought their greatest battle sharing their journey through Facebook, photos and videos. Their Celtic music brought them reprieve in the dark days following their son’s passing. Gary, the grandfather, shared about the decision he personally faced following his grandson’s death. The family fought the hardest battle of their lives as they hoped, prayed and fasted for Lucien’s recovery. The previous two years had taken every ounce of emotional, …

Who made you judge? Photo: ssalonso/Flickr

Everybody needs somebody, Everybody needs somebody to judge

I have always struggled with being judgmental. I know I should not judge and understand “as you judge others so shall you be judged,” yet, at times I find myself being critical of others and often for no real reason. I needed to find a way not to judge people. Clearly, simply deciding not to judge wasn’t working. I needed something, a word, that would change my perception of people and my instinct to judge. The word “honor” began to present itself.  As I took a closer look at “honor,” I knew this was a word that could deliver me from my judgmental attitude and help change my perception of people. The Apostle Paul said: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another”  (Romans 12:10) An acquaintance recently shared her experience as a foster parent. Megan and her husband Justin decided to become foster parents three years ago.  They determined to build a relationship with the parents of their foster kids as they had opportunity. Megan knew …

Can you share your emotional burden? Photo: Tian Yake/Flickr

A woman’s perspective: Are you willing to share your burden?

Fear gripped me.  Attending this seminar meant I would be honest with myself  and others about the circumstances that created the emotional upheaval in my life. I had chosen to forgive or so I thought, but continued to live with  anger and bitterness. I desperately needed relief from the emotional torment. The  seminar, designed for people like myself, taught principles to  help those struggling with unresolved issues in their life.   I had suppressed them and tried to deny their existence for a long time. On the first day, I met the small group with whom I would share my darkest secrets. They were apprehensive just like me. We stood in a circle and one by one shared one thing that had crushed and wounded us. My turn came.   Guilt, shame, anger and bitterness flooded in.   It took all the strength  and courage I could muster to get through it. “I cannot change or heal what I don’t acknowledge, was the principle we were applying. I took my first steps towards  healing  my damaged …

Matthew McConaughey and Camila: Getty Images

Matthew McConaughey: A modern day covenant

[by Linda Wilson and Barb Smith] There was an intriguing article in The Christian Post last fall about Matthew McConaughey and his girlfriend Camila making a covenant with God. McConaughey and Camila Alves, a Brazilian model, had been together since 2006 and they had two children by the time they married in 2012. McConaughey admits that Camila put some pressure on him to get married.  He says he was open to getting married but not because it was expected of him. “We talked about it spiritually” McConaughey explained to GQ magazine,  “We did a lot of reading and talked to a lot of people that had been divorced, a lot of people that had been happily married.  We talked to our pastor.  In the end our understanding was, let’s go make a covenant, with you, me, and God.” Matthew has Christian roots. According to reports the reason you never hear him referred to as “Matt” is because his mother named him after the Gospel writer Matthew in the New Testament. Because of that, she told …

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France Photo: David McSpadden/Foter/CC BY

A woman’s perspective: Mirror, mirror….

Recently, I over poured the milk in my coffee, making a mess on the counter. “That was  . . . ” and just before I blurted out “dumb” something unusual happened.  The words “I love me” with a little giggle came out instead. I was not only amazed but proud of myself.  Over the past six months I have been intentionally working on this.  Catching myself when negative words were about to my take over my speech and attack me. Changing our attitude and the words we say to ourselves is hard work. Why? Because we love beating ourselves up.  It feels good at first — the self-pity and blame.  Long term,  this unhealthy practice is very damaging. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,  who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; You were bought with a price, therefore honor God with your bodies.  1 Corinthians 6:19 -20 (NIV) Learning to honor ourselves and our bodies through our speech and actions …

Joel and Victoria Osteen: yourfaithchurch/Foter/CC BY-NC-SA

A woman’s perspective: Was Victoria Osteen wrong about worship?

My husband and I were having coffee with friends last September and I shared with them Victoria Osteen’s controversial statement from a video clip of a Sunday worship service where she said: “Do good for yourself, God doesn’t need your worship.  Worship is for you because it makes you happy and God wants you to be happy”. I along with a crowd of verbal naysayers had picked up a stone and hurled it at her. Our friends were silent. Wise friends!  Their silence made me question my tone. Victoria and her husband Joel pastor Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. They have  gathered their share of critics. I turned to my husband for support. He leaned back contemplating her statement.  “I think she is right, God doesn’t need our worship but he deserves it,” he said. I was surprised.  I had hoped he would go along with me. I always believed that worship was for God because He needed it, but does He? Is it our worship that keeps God going day-to-day fueling Him to greater …