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Monday, May 25, 2015

Guest Post: "I Felt Unworthy" by Evelyn Jimenez

I'm excited to share with you a story by my friend, Evelyn Jimenez. Thank you, Evelyn, for sharing this powerful story with my readers.

I Felt Unworthy
by Evelyn Jimenez

I hated being seen using my mobility scooter! But I was in so much pain because I needed a hip replacement that it was better to use it than not go anywhere. But I still didn’t want people to see me in it. It felt like I was “less than” from being so needy. After all, I wasn’t giving a good testimony as a victorious Christian.

Of course, I knew the truth. If anyone had asked me about what I was thinking, I could say that I should depend upon my identity as a child of God! But I still feared what people were thinking of me. Certainly they must be judging me as lacking healing. 

Evelyn Jimenez
Because of that I hesitated going to an event my husband, Phillip, was eager to attend. Nick Vujicic (www.lifewithoutlimbs.org), who was born without any limbs, would be speaking. Phillip had signed up to be a counselor for those indicating they wanted to become Christians. Normally I would have done the same but I didn’t want anyone to see my neediness. But somehow my desire to hear Nick overcame my shame and I planned to just try to hide at the back of the seating at the fairgrounds.

But Phillip convinced me to stay with him when he went to the counselor meeting before the event. I sat in my little red mobility scooter, feeling embarrassed, and heard the instructions for counselors. Before I could protest and literally scoot away, Phillip slapped a counselor badge on me. 

But once he did that, I knew it was right. I normally would do that kind of thing. After all, I was a Christian speaker  who had spoken in many groups over the years and shared about Jesus to maybe a thousand people. But I still felt inadequate because of my infirmity.

Even though I hoped no one from my church would see me, I stuck out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t really work to try to blend into the crowd when you’re in a scooter. And when my church friends saw me, they were kind but I still felt embarrassed. After all, hadn’t I stopped helping with the women’s ministry at church? Hadn’t I stopped being available for speaking? And it was all because God hadn’t healed me of my affliction. What kind of “counselor” was that?

Finally the event started and after Nick spoke and invited people to come forward to become Christians, people swarmed forward. After Nick prayed for them, he called for the counselors to come forward. I tried to become invisible and felt awkward knowing I was wearing a counselor badge. I’m sure they didn’t need someone like me. When my friend leaned over and asked if I was going to go help, I gave the excuse that I needed to finish videotaping what was happening. 

I finally told myself, “Get up there!”

So I slowly turned the key on my little red mobility scooter and moved forward to the front in the crowd.

Yet I was still arguing with myself. “But I’ll have to look up at whoever it is I should talk to. That will be so awkward. This isn’t going to work!”

But then I looked to the side and something drew my attention. There at the front was someone called a “little person” in the same brand of mobility scooter like mine! It was even red like mine. In fact, it could have been its twin. And for some reason, I felt compelled to move my scooter close to her and ask, “Are you one of the people that is here to receive Christ?”

She smiled at me. “Yes, and so are my two friends that are right here next to me.”

I looked over and realized that one of those she pointed to had a disability. She only had one arm. And then when her other friend introduced herself, she had trouble talking. 

I had to inwardly smile when my new “little person” friend talked to me from her scooter. She had to look up at me!

Then I began feeling more comfortable and I easily stepped into the role that God had given me. I led all three ladies to the Lord. In one moment I went from feeling inadequate to being a confident Christian doing exactly what I was supposed to do.

I was amazed that God in His mercy was using me. I had no confidence. I had no great faith. Yet he used a broken hearted woman with the need of a new hip who was hiding in the background sitting on a little red scooter. And he used me to reach out to another person with a disability who also sat on a little red scooter. 

After I finished speaking with them and they filled out the information card, I scooted away and felt amazed at how God worked, even through me.

(Note: Evelyn had successful hip replacement surgery and is back to her normal active self!)

Monday, May 18, 2015

God's Omniscience: What's That?

God’s Omniscience

"The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD."--Proverbs 16:33 (NASB)
(photo by jscreationzs at

He has always known and always has a plan.

"God’s knowledge of the future is as complete as is His knowledge of the past and the present, and that, because the future depends entirely upon Himself.--A.W. Pink.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

You Have An Iceberg in Your Heart

You have an iceberg in your heart! Did you know that? 

This photo represents one of the primary foundational premises of our book, Never Ever Be The Same: A New You Starts Today. 

What is above the waterline, what you see in a real iceberg, represents how we behave. We see the actions, reactions, and responses toward life and people and they are either godly or ungodly. 

So often, we try to change some ungodly behavior without any consideration of what motivated it. As a result, we often continue struggling with a particular sin. We've basically scraped ice off the top but it hasn't helped because there's so much ice below where our motives are. We should be paying attention to what's going on below.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed that out repeatedly.  
For instance, He said:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

Jesus is saying that above the waterline, we may look really good. Our righteousness seems to look like clear, pure, clean ice. But below the waterline, the ice is corrupted because our motive is wanting the approval of people and there's no reward in that. It isn't motivated by wanting God's glory.

Matthew 6:1 is a summary of many of His statements in Matthew 5. Like:

You have heard that the ancients were told, "You shall not commit murder" and "Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court." But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, "You good-for-nothing," shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, "You fool," shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (verses 21-22).


You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery"; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (verses 27-28).

He is referring to the iceberg under the waterline: what the heart wants to do and how it fuels the behavior. Most of us have refrained from committing murder but our heart (below the waterline) is angry. As a result, at times, we can't even control our anger and it erupts above the waterline, in ways that we justify, "Oh, I only did that because of what she did to me." 

And we may not commit adultery, but our heart demands our sexual needs be satisfied even if it's through our imagination. No one knows our thoughts so it seems acceptable; but God looks at our hearts and our motives. Again, we have not desired God's glory.

But both these and other sins are fueled by a lack of trust in God's power and goodness. We try to get our own needs met in acceptable or in ways we justify yet our evil motives are known by God.

The first important step is to acknowledge we have a "below the waterline" motivating us. That way we won't just try to continue chipping away at the ice on top. 

And the second step is to ask ourselves, "What's really going on in my heart? What are my true motives? If it's to protect or provide for myself independent of God's plan, then my motives are corrupt."

Yes, we each have an iceberg in our hearts. Thankfully, God wants to reveal what's under the water and help us deal with it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

God Doesn't Want Anyone to Have Fun!

Drum Roll! Shelly is the winner of the Book Giveaway for Moving From Broken to Beautiful by Yvonne Ortega. Shelly, I know you'll enjoy her book! Thank you for entering your name!

You've most likely heard the comments and criticisms: "Look at the Old Testament! It's just full of rules and restrictions. God doesn't want anyone to have fun!" 

It's hard to know how to respond because even we might wonder what's with all those rules? And for some of them, they just don't make sense and thus contribute to a distrust of God.

From www.freedigitalphotos.net
by David Castillo Dominici

I've been studying some of the Old Testament and commentators point out some things that I think will help us and build our trust in God's goodness. After all, if we think He's withholding something from us and restricting us for no good reason, our trust in Him can dissipate. (By the way: isn't that what Satan used for the first temptation? "Oh, look, Eve, God is trying to withhold something good from you." (Tweet this:) Satan really doesn't have any new ideas, does he! 

So here are some ideas:

The Laws clearly state God's plan for being close to Him. He wants fellowship with us and the "rules" and "restrictions" let us know clearly how to avoid becoming separated from His holiness. When I thought of that idea from a parenting standpoint, I could see God as a loving and good Father. 

Maybe you were one of the many children who didn't know the rules of your family. Sometimes your parent(s) came down on you hard on something and other times, for the same disobedience, they didn't. Or sometimes you didn't even know what was allowed and what was forbidden. You went through your childhood feeling insecure not knowing either what was right or your parents were capricious in their response. Would you face a smile of dismissal or anger?

With God's clear and specific rules, there was no insecurity. The Israelites knew what God expected and what to expect if they disobeyed. There was great security in that and God revealed His goodness and lovingkindness. 

Secondly, there were a lot of rules about "clean" and "unclean." Today, when we think of "unclean," we think of "shameful." But that wasn't God's intention. The point was to protect the people from things that could hurt them. It wasn't about their value or worth. It wasn't saying that God no longer loved them. It was for the good of the community because God always intends good, because He is a good God. 

Consider a rule like a woman being declared "unclean" after giving birth and thus is unable to go to worship. Guess what, gals? It was God's way of saying, "You get a break! You've just gone through something that is taxing on your body. Stay home and rest! You aren't required to go to Temple. You don't have to feel guilty because you don't feel up to going. I care about you. I'm a good God and you need to concentrate on your baby and your own health." Sounds good to me!

Remember the rules about mold and leprosy? Those things hurt others if they came into contact with people. God still loved a person with leprosy but unfortunately, there weren't medicines to heal that disease. And there wasn't anything that could take away mold other than destroying the building it was in. Today we know the danger of mold but God first taught them. He cared about them, yes, even the leprous person, but for the good of the community, drastic measures had to be taken. Those with leprosy weren't shameful, they didn't make an ungodly choice, but they shouldn't be allowed to spread it to others.

All this points to God being a good God! He wants what's best for everyone and sometimes that means that restrictions and rules must be enforced.

Does this make sense? It does if we look through a lens that says, "God does everything for good because He is a good God, even rules and restrictions."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Give Away: Moving From Broken to Beautiful

We've all faced challenges, and author/speaker Yvonne Ortega has faced more than her share. But she has persevered in trusting God and shares her wisdom with others. She is making her latest book, Moving From Broken to Beautiful, available for the winner of my book drawing. Check below to find out how you can put in your name. 

Here's my interview with Yvonne to tell you about this wonderful new book. 
Yvonne, you’re celebrating the release of your new book, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward. What led you to write that book?

Friends often asked me how I survived and thrived after a domestic violence marriage, divorce, single parenting, breast cancer, several car accidents, and the loss of my only child. When I answered, they would say, “You need to write a book about that. It would encourage other people.”

After I heard some version of that response dozens of times, I sensed God leading me to write the book.

All those trials make me think the book might be somber or depressing. Is it?

On the contrary. Notice that the subtitle is 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward. The style of writing is positive and hopeful. Friends tell me my sense of humor keeps the message upbeat.

How does your work as a licensed professional counselor influence the book? 

I became a therapist after the divorce. My training and clinical experience helped me to focus on change for the better rather than being stuck in the past. However, my writing and speaking are not based exclusively on my training and clinical experience but also on the life lessons I learned. Although I’ve also used stories from other people, I have changed names and some identifying details to protect their privacy.   

What makes Moving from Broken to Beautiful an interactive book?

The introduction of Moving from Broken to Beautiful suggests how readers can utilize the book. At the end of each chapter, the readers will find three activities, three affirmations, three Scriptural readings, a prayer, and two pages to journal their thoughts and emotions about the life lesson in that chapter. The book emphasizes application of the life lessons. 

What additional resources make Moving from Broken to Beautiful an interactive book that encourages the readers?

Appendix A has thirty additional affirmations to encourage the readers. Appendix B has thirty additional Scriptural readings to give the readers hope that they, too, can move from broken to beautiful. Appendix C lists and describes helpful links for cancer, divorce recovery, domestic violence, grief recovery, and substance use recovery. 

The book has 103 pages. Did you have a reason for keeping it short?

Yes. People who are going through a major illness or some other crisis don’t have a lot of time to read. They want help and hope, but they want them quickly.

Where can the readers purchase Moving from Broken to Beautiful?

They can go to Smashwords, Create Space, and Amazon. They can buy a paperback book or an e-book for the Kindle, iBook, Nook, Sony Books, Deisel, Flipkart (India), and Kobo (Europe).

 Yvonne Ortega is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Substance Abuse Treatment Practitioner, a Clinically Certified Domestic Violence Counselor, and bilingual professional speaker. She is the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Revell). She’s also a contributing author to The Embrace of a Father and Transformed. Her website is www.yvonneortega.com. Yvonne is on the board for Christians in Recovery, speaks for Stonecroft Ministries, and is the Stonecroft Regional Speaker Trainer for Virginia. She loves to speak to audiences in either English or Spanish about her journey in moving from broken to beautiful and enjoys hearing from her readers.

I'm glad Yvonne is willing to make a copy available to the winner of my drawing. Enter your name by making a comment on my blog or email me: KathyCollardMiller @ gmail.com (omit spaces). I'll draw the winner on Friday evening, May 8th. When you make a comment on my blog, please check back to discover the winner since my system doesn't provide me contact information to reach you.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Even Good Events Create Strategies

DRUM ROLL! The winner of Andrea Merrill's book Praying for the Prodigal is: Cheryl! CongratulationsCheryl, please email me your mailing address and the name of the person who the book should be autographed to. Send to: KathyCollardMiller @ gmail.com (omit spaces). 

Have you ever thought about how even good things in childhood can contribute to disregarding God and trying to meet our own needs?

I remember the day as an elementary school-aged girl that I heard my aunt say at a family gathering, “Oh, look how nicely Kathy is sitting. She's such a good little girl.” She smiled at me and patted my head.

Those affirming words and touch were like springs of living water that my thirsty soul lapped up. Of course, I was sucking the mud from a broken cistern (Jeremiah 2:13) but I didn't know that. It just felt good and fed my need for approval, which my parents gave me but it never filled me up.

A new idea turned into a belief that I accepted as true without questioning it. It was, “Be good and you'll get approval.” From that I vowed, “I must look for ways to be good.”

Years later while a young teen, I belonged to a teen-aged girl's organization. Once a year, we spent a weekend in a mountain cabin. At the end of the weekend, one of the adult chaperones announced at our final meal, “We've never done this before, but we want to give a special thank you to Diane who so selflessly helped in the kitchen over the weekend. Diane, come up here, and we have a little stuffed animal for you to say thank you for your generosity.” Everyone clapped as Diane went forward to receive her gift.

My immediate thought was, “If I'd known there was a gift for it, I would have helped in the kitchen too. Next time, I'll do that.” 

Oh! My selfish little heart! My sinful motives replaced any need to look to God to provide approval. My vow to be good in order to avoid pain and experience the pleasure of approval had found another method to lap at the cistern of muddy water. 

Can you think of a childhood experience that contributed to your journey to disregard God and take care of yourself--even if it was a good experience? And has it shaped how you "do what you do"? Let's forsake those things that encourage us to take care of ourselves and instead, learn to trust God more.

(This has been adapted from Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today. Graphic "Bulb and Head" by Idea go from www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Take Off That Dunce Cap

I'm reading Elyse Fitzpatrick's wonderful book Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus (co-authored with her daughter Jessica Thompson) and she writes: "Although your sin does grieve him (Eph. 4:30), he doesn't want you to keep your distance, sitting in a corner wearing a dunce cap until you learn your lessons." (page 132)

That used to be the story of my life. When I was a little girl, I felt like I was always being ushered into the corner to learn my lesson. When I wasn't in the corner, I felt like there was an axe over my head, with God waiting for me to do something wrong. 

Although we went to church, I somehow got the impression and message that God was waiting for me to become perfect so that He could take me out of the corner and lower the axe on my spiritual neck. 

Only after I became a Christian and depended upon Christ's saving work, did I know I never had to return to the corner and that the axe had been destroyed at the foot of the cross, covered by the blood of Jesus. Instead of a dunce cap, I could wear a crown as a part of my inheritance in Christ gained only by Jesus' justifying work for me. 

And yes, He does discipline me as His child, but not to cause me to earn my place back into the family. No, He disciplines me to draw me closer to His loving heart because sin separates me from Him. My guilt of sin makes me want to shy away from Him. But repentance and cleansing frees me of sin and guilt so that I can joyfully run into His presence and trust again His unconditional love. Thus I'm motivated to obey Him because I'm assured He knows best for me.

Hear also these words from Elyse's book:

He doesn't treat his dear children as "disappointments" whose disobedience and failures take him by surprise or shock him. He does not suspend his love until they get their acts back together. He already knows the worst about you (in yourself) and loves and approves you nonetheless (in Christ). (pg 131-132).

Are you wearing a dunce cap sitting in the corner? You don't need to. Your Father God offers complete freedom to run to Him to be instantly forgiven if you've sinned so that you can enjoy His delight of you.