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Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Give Away! "What Women Should Know about Letting It Go"

It's time for another book giveaway! I'm so excited to offer Christin Ditchfield's latest book, What Women Should Know about Letting it Go: Breaking Free From the Power of Guilt, Discouragement, and Defeat. Read Christin's excerpt from the book and then see the instructions for the drawing below.

Learning to Let It Go
by Christin Ditchfield

It’s not easy to let go of the wounds we’ve suffered, to extend God’s forgiveness and grace to others -- even when we know how desperately we need it ourselves. Our hearts hurt too much. But holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness is far more damaging to us than it could ever be to those we’ve come to see as our enemies.
Someway, somehow we’ve got to find a way to let it go.

“God says we need to love our enemies. It hard to do. But it can start by telling the truth.” ~ Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark in The Help

Start by being honest – by telling yourself and Jesus the truth. Tell the truth about what happened and how you feel about it – how you really feel. Jesus won’t be shocked or horrified, I promise. He already knows. But until you know, until you’re honest with Him and with yourself, you can’t even begin to heal.

Remember that forgiveness is a process. It takes time to sort through all the thoughts and feelings, to learn to deal with painful memories, and to find (and stay in) an emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy place. 

Tweet that!

It often helps to talk to someone you can trust, someone who can give you perspective and be a good sounding board for you. It helps when you can pray for the people who have wounded you. It helps to remember that Jesus isn’t asking you to do anything He didn’t already do.

Sometimes you have to know that there may not be any resolution, any closure – let alone restoration or reconciliation – this side of eternity. It’s just not possible. The other person may have died – or they may be living, but you may not know where to find them. They may be thoroughly unrepentant, unwilling to even acknowledge what they’ve done or hear your side. They may be unsafe or unstable – totally incapable of having a rational conversation, but fully capable of causing you more harm. 
I’ve been in a few situations like this. It’s so hard. I’ve learned that all I can do is focus on my part, in my own heart. 

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps…When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when he suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:20-23)

Sometimes you can actually get closure. You can get resolution. There may not be much relationship moving forward, but maybe there wasn’t much to begin with. Or maybe with everything that’s happened, it can never be the same. But at least the wrong is acknowledged and addressed. Apologies are made. Perhaps even genuine, heartfelt apologies. Forgiveness is asked for and received. Enough said.  

I’ve experienced this kind of outcome, too. It’s better, a lot better. But it’s not as good as it gets. Sometimes – sometimes – there is the incredible, miraculous, supernatural intervention of God. A couple of broken, mixed-up, messed-up people humble themselves before Him and before each other. And they experience His divine power to forgive. 

Deeply, truly, freely.

The forgiveness is flowing. The love is flowing. The mercy is flowing. The grace is flowing. The tears are flowing. Boy, are they flowing!

And the healing begins. There may have been a series of trembling, hesitant steps leading up to this point – and a series of cautious, careful steps afterward. But the point is, the relationship not only survives but thrives. It’s stronger than ever. 
That’s restoration and reconciliation, and I’ve experienced it, too. I know it’s possible. It does happen. I hear others share their own amazing stories – their testimonies – of divine forgiveness, healing, and restoration every day.

Don’t let your wounds turn you into a person you are not. Let go of bitterness and unforgiveness, so you can be free to be the woman God created you to be. 

Thank you, Christin, for blessing us with your powerful words.

Christin would like to send an autographed copy of her book to the winner of the drawing. To be entered, all you have to do is put in a comment here on the blog or email me: Kathyspeak AT gmail DOT COM. I'll pick the winner Monday evening, February 15th, 2016. I'm sorry that we can only include in the drawing those with USA addresses. 

Christin Ditchfield is a popular conference speaker, syndicated radio host, and author of more than 66 books, including What Women Should Know About Letting It Go: Breaking Free From Guilt, Discouragement, and Defeat. You can connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook, or her blog, www.ChristinDitchfield.com

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How Judy Served God Having MS

Years ago, I had the privilege of being friends with Judy Snider. Judy was bedridden for many years from multiple sclerosis, yet that didn't prevent her from serving God. From an earthly perspective Judy didn't have much of a life. She couldn't move any part of her body except her head--a little. And she was in constant pain. Yet she served God through her her example of trust in Him and through her church's food ministry for many years. 

She made dozens of phone calls a week to coordinate a group of volunteers who delivered donated food to needy people in the community. 

I'm sure you're wondering how she could do that when she's unable to move her hands. Sometimes her husband, George, dialed for her but most often she blew into a contraption connected to her phone to reach an operator, who would then dial for her because she was handicapped. She had memorized everyone's phone number.

Judy explained to me how she became involved in that ministry: "I had read in our church's newsletter that they needed someone to make phone calls for the food fund. At first I thought, 'They wouldn't want me.'

"But after I saw the announcement for the second week, I phoned and found out no one else had called. I've been doing it ever since. People say I take the time to talk to them. I'm glad the Lord has given me two ministries: calling for the food fund and praying for people. God has provided something I can do instead of just lying here doing nothing."

Judy's bedroom walls were lined with photos of those she was praying for. And she remembered to follow through with each one to find out what God was continuing to do and how she could continue praying.

Judy was a blessing to many for years and now can move every part of her glorified body in heaven. I have fond memories of her friendship and even now I am inspired by her selfless service and her example of contentment in the Lord. 

I was also inspired by her husband, George, who served the Lord by serving his handicapped wife. He did everything for her with patience, self-sacrifice, grace, and love. He never called attention to himself and always had a cheerful response to her and any of us who visited. 

You may think you are "handicapped" in some way and unable to serve the Lord. But God is always creative in giving us ways to glorify Him.

Friday, January 29, 2016

I Can Drive Again!

hadn't driven for eleven months. Would I ever be able to drive again? It felt like my epilepsy journey—at least the driving part—came down to last Monday at 3pm. I would be interviewed by phone with a DMV official. Because I hadn't had any seizures for four months, my doctor had put into motion the procedure for me to be able to drive again. He had told me originally, it might take three months or six months. And many people I talked to said they had friends who couldn't drive for a year. Didn't sound promising.

I had no idea what the DMV official would ask or how permission to drive again would be determined. I only knew I wanted to trust God. That morning, I texted, emailed, and requested personally that my praying friends would pray for me—that I would be able to be calm and communicate clearly the right answers to the questions. I tend to get flummoxed under pressure and my brain becomes paralyzed under stress. I wanted to be able to communicate clearly. 

All morning, I used the truth that “even if…” “Even if I’m not able to drive, God knows what He’s doing.” “Even if my driving is delayed, God knows His plan.” Even if…” reminded me of God’s sovereignty and that He knew the best thing for me and those around me—even if it meant Larry would have to continue “Driving Miss Kathy.”

The magic time came. I knew everyone was praying. I felt calm with tinges of tension. And the interview began with Ms. Bibbs. She asked me questions about what had happened and the dates the different seizures occured. That’s when the difficulties started. The doctor had written down on his reports different dates than I had. Then I couldn’t remember the different medicines I was taking. I heeded Larry’s advice to not go on and on with explanations—which is my tendency. I tried to just give the facts, ma’m. Fifteen minutes later, we said goodbye and I couldn’t tell from her voice how she received what I’d said. “You’ll receive a letter from us within seven to ten business days. Good bye.”

It was over. I wanted to be hopeful but I kept thinking of how I should have explained that fact more or I should have thought of the name of that medicine. What should I have done when she said the doctor’s records were at odds with my comments? And I knew I was right! How could the doctors’ records show I had the grand mal seizure fifteen days before I actually did--and which I had written down on my DMV report!

I tried to trust God’s sovereignty, yet, throughout the rest of the day I rehearsed different things of the converation. "But God is in control," I reminded myself. 

That night I went to sleep quickly but then woke up and was awake for over an hour. The words I did say to Ms. Bibbs and the words I should have said rumbled through my mind like a roller coaster riding by on a track. I quoted scripture, I rehearsed truth, but peace didn’t come. I was reminded again that I'm the "second-guessing" queen.

The next morning, I still felt burdened when I headed out for my walk before dawn. As I enjoyed the stars and the full moon, I kept praying and thinking, thinking and praying. “God, what’s going on here? I’m feeling so burdened. I know all the truths but I can’t seem to make them real or something.” 

I knew Satan was flinging his flaming missiles at me and I rebuked him. That helped. Then the most amazing thought came to my mind. “If I did it wrong, then when God fulfills His plan, whatever that is, He will get even more glory because it’s not based on me doing it right.” 

Of course, I wanted to believe that being given permission to drive would show God had done it beyond my abilities. But I knew there wasn’t any guarantee that was His desired plan. 

In that moment, I realized that I was believing a lie I hadn't been aware of before. I was thinking that the fulfillment of His plan and Him receiving glory was dependent upon me doing it “right.” Me saying the right things! But then, I realized, that makes it all about me--not God!

And then a challenge came in a different aspect. I’d asked many people to pray for me for His power to think clearly and speak clearly. When I gave a "report," I admit I stressed the part of doing well. After all, how could I say I’d blown it? Wouldn’t that sound like God hadn’t come through? 

The truth is I hadn’t completely been without stress and tension and my mind was somewhat confused and I didn’t know what to explain and what not to—at least in my after-event evaluation. 

But again, wouldn’t God be primarily glorified through whatever He allows and the strength He gives me to surrender to whatever He allows in His sovereignty?

God's peace finally came. On Tuesday, I knew God had decided what Ms. Bibbs would decide and it was already determined--for His will and glory regardless of what I did or didn’t do. I committed the "event" to him and even though my hindsight evaluations felt negative, I asked for God to guide me and He did—whether I agree with His guidance. 

Now it's Friday and here's my update!

I just received the official DMV letter and I can drive! I only have to have my doctor report on my condition every four months for a year.

I really must admit I had quite a tussle with Satan's flaming missiles after the DMV interview. Even though I was calm, I, the second-guessing queen, kept thinking I should have, could have, would have.... answered better if.... 

Maybe you know the story. It wasn't until I rebuked Satan and surrendered to "even if I didn't do it right, then God will get more glory if He chooses to allow me to drive because He influenced the DMV official, I didn't."

Well, He did it because I sure didn't.

Well, anyway, that's my story--His story of glory--and I'm sticking to it.

(photos from Winnond and worradmu found at www.freedigitalphotos.net).

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ye Old "One-Upman-Ship" Strikes Again!

Ye old "one-upmanship" can hit at any moment. Have you noticed that? Competitiveness can tempt us into pride and envy at any moment and I can succumb quickly.

Any of us can brag about how much more our children accomplish than others. When we hear someone share how she led her relative to Christ, we can interject about how we witnessed to some famous person. If someone in ministry attends a conference with other leaders, she may be tempted to tell about the great success of her Christmas event after another woman talks about the success of her retreat. In large and small ways, it's easy to slip into competing with each other in order to come out on top, or to appear more successful, effective, loving...whatever...than someone else.

One woman who shared with me about her struggle with competitiveness said that watching her cousin speak before a group made her question the ways God had been using her in a local woman's shelter. Her influence seemed small in comparison to her cousin's impact on large groups. This woman's feelings are evidence of a typical way our enemy schemes to make us compare ourselves to others.

But when we realize we're a part of the body of Christ, we don't have to succumb to such a low sense of God's value in us. In Christ's kingdom, we're all on the same level, working toward the same objective: the glorification of Jesus. 

Joseph Stowell wrote about the perspective we citizens of heaven should have: "When I accepted the invitation to serve Christ at the Moody Bible Institute, a friend said to me, 'You really took a step up!' He obviously had not yet been gripped with a sense of kingdom identity. There are no 'steps up' in the kingdom. There are only servants who are sovereignly assigned to strategic places in the vineyard. This sense of identity unifies us as one in Him."

I need to remember that. How about you? 

(graphic by jesadaphorn found at www.freeidigitalphotos.net)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Do You Have a "Stop It!" God?

Do you have a "Stop it!" God?

If you haven't ever watched this Comedy Central skit with Bob Newhart or you have in the past, enjoy it again and consider whether you think of God as a "Stop it!" God.

"Stop it" skit

I don't believe our God is that kind of "Counselor." 

He doesn't listen and then gruffly just tell us to stop our sin. God the Father sent Jesus not only to die for our sins but to experience being human. Even though God created us, and that includes the Son's work, He hadn't experienced what it felt like to be human.

But Jesus came to earth as a human and He did experience the pain of our lives.

You know the following two important verses. Read them again in light of why He isn't a "Stop it!" God. 

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:14-15 ESV).

Then consider the next verse:
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (4:16 ESV).

It doesn't read: "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace so that God can tell us, 'Stop it!'"

Isn't that fabulous? A God who understands yet has the power to help us and eagerly desires for us to come to him to receive help.

The next time you feel condemned, know that God isn't saying, "Stop it!" He's saying, "Come to me confidently, without fear, my precious one who wears Jesus' robe of righteousness. I have the help you need."

Yes, God does want us to stop sinning, because that's best for us. But He's patient as He works in us. (Philippians 1:6).

Go to Him! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Choose Contentment

I heard the neighbors playing and laughing in their pool, and thought, Now that's what I want on a Father's Day. A family playing together in a pool.

We had the pool, but no one wanted to be in it. My two children who were in elementary school at the time were playing at neighbor's houses; Larry was lying on the couch dozing yet watching football, and I moped around the house disgruntled. I felt like my family was falling apart.

Discontent crept over me until tears stung my eyes. Why can't things be different? I wanted to scream. Why can't our family be closer, especially on Father's Day? 

Though I had grown tremendously in my ability to be content over the years, I was convinced I could no longer choose to be content. I just didn't have the emotional energy. Everything seemed of major importance and I felt overwhelmed.

I escaped to my bedroom, knelt by the bed, and poured out my discontent to the Lord. After releasing my frustration, I slowly began to see that even though I didn't have the strength to choose to be content, the Lord could empower me as I made a choice to obey Him. I prayed, "Lord, please empower me to trust You for all these dissatisfying circumstances. I give thanks for the progress that has been made in my marriage and family. I renew my commitment to trust You for the changes You want. Thank you. I love you. Amen."

I set the table with china and silver for a special dinner that would bring the family together at least for a short time. Busying myself with this act of love eventually caused my discontent to slip away. The day wasn't to my preference in every way, but at least I had received God's power to make one small step in arranging some togetherness--and to experiencing some inner peace.

If you are experiencing discontent today, what could you do to obey God regardless of your feelings?

(graphic by Stuart Miles at www.freedigitialphotos.net)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Quotable Quotes: Keep At It

Keep At It

So my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything change you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted.-- 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NCV)

Although serving God gets wearying at times, don’t give up! Persevere! God’s rewards are waiting!

(photo by m_bartosch at www.freedigitalphotos.net)