I Will Suffer. Lesson 12 of 40

Jesus had a cross that He had to carry.  The cross is symbolic of the suffering that one must go through.

For today’s lesson I have learned that I can’t insulate myself against suffering, but I CAN CONTROL my response to it.  My pain may be different from yours but the reality of living in a fallen world makes experiencing pain inevitable. I don’t have to deny the pain that is associated with the cross I have to carry but that pain doesn’t have to consume me either.  How is that possible you ask? While I will have seasons of difficulty, I have found that I can go through it with grace.  Not in my own strength but drawing strength from God through prayer.  Listen, Prayer is where it’s at.

Prayer Helps me to have the mind of Christ when the heaviness of my cross makes me feel like I’m about to loose my mind.

Prayer stabilizes me and gives me the ability to mount up with wings as an eagle when the weight of my cross makes me feel like I am going to faint.

Prayer gives me faith to believe that it will get better when everything in my sight says it is O.V.E.R.

I’m not talking about the kind of prayer that you just say in cases of emergency with no sincerity.  This is not the get out of jail free kind of prayer.  I am talking about prayer where you bare your soul before God and ask Him to transform you and make you more like Him.  In this kind of prayer, you are not the only one talking. You stick around long enough to hear His response, and that’s if you talk at all.  This is not a one-time  give me what I want or else kind of prayer.  Instead it’s a consistent everyday kind of prayer, one that builds intimacy between you and the one that will give you the strength to carry your cross.

What cross do you find yourself carrying in this season of your life?  Is it health challenges, broken relationships, deflated finances, etc.  Are you attempting to carry that cross on your own or have you gotten to that place of real prayer?  Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

Be Blessed,

Anika

1 Peter 5:10

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

I’m Not Perfect. Lesson 4 of 40

I am not perfect…surprise! In today’s lesson, I have learned that I don’t have to wear a mask of perfection. I quit my day job of trying to always present a perfect image. The song and dance was exhausting and certainly not worth the pay. The load was just too heavy to carry. Somehow, I became convinced that I needed to always present a perfect image to others, never willing to expose my flaws. The driving force to being perfect was pride, let’s just call it for what it is. I wanted to present perfect because I wanted everyone to think highly of me.

However, on my road to 40, the Lord has helped me to be more vulnerable and share my weaknesses, sometimes more than I care to. Many times, as of late, I come to the end of a conversation and ask myself, ‘did I just tell them all my business, with all the warts and wrinkles?” However, the more transparent I become about past and current areas of brokenness in my life, the more I see the power of God on display. When I am transparent, I realize that people are more willing to open up and share their areas of struggle with me, and I in turn am able to point them to Jesus, the PERFECT ONE! God’s grace is indeed enough, and His power works best in my weakness! No, I am not perfect, but I am clinging to the one who is in the process of perfecting me. How about you? Do you struggle with always trying to present a perfect image? Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Anika

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Mountain or Stepping Stone?

There are some processes that you can’t pray away! Some seasons you can’t fast your way through. There is no bypassing it. The struggle will not end nor will the fire cease until you go through it. Some seasons of difficulties are not meant to be looked at as mountains to be prayed away but more as stepping stones to fulfill our God given purpose.

Jesus’ primary mission when He came to earth was to reconcile mankind back to God. He came to make a way for us to be in right relationship with the father (2 Corinthians 5:21). The crucifixion and the shedding of Jesus’ blood is what made reconciliation possible (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus’ crucifixion was not a mountain to be prayed away, it was a stepping stone, it was a necessary process for Him to fulfill His purpose. He had to go through it!

We can learn a lot from Jesus’ approach in the Garden of Gethsemane right before He was to be crucified in Mathew 26:39-46. Jesus was feeling the burden of what was to come. He was in agony. What does Jesus do? He goes to His father in prayer, not once but three times. He is honest with the father, and He asks Him if there is any way He could bypass what was awaiting Him…the cup, the judgement for sin. Jesus however, does not stay stuck on how He feels. Despite His feelings, Jesus submits to the will of God and concludes, “not my will but your will be done!”

This lets me know that it is through constant prayer that a submitted will is formed and maintained. I don’t have to feel bad about praying the same prayer more than once. Prayer gives me the strength and obedience to do the HARD THING! If you find yourself in a place of difficulty, don’t be quick to assume it’s a mountain to be prayed away, it could very well be a stepping stone to fulfill your God given purpose!

Be Blessed

Anika

Why are you REALLY asking God questions?

I don’t like when I give my children a command to do something and they are constantly asking why?  Let me clarify, I am not speaking of the times in which they are asking “why” for the sake of learning or to get clarity.  There is a difference between asking why because you want to sincerely gain knowledge and asking why because you really don’t want to do what is being asked of you or you are filled with doubt.  As a parent, I can tell the difference and so can God.

God may tell us to do one of the following: change the course of our life, cut off relationships, change our diet, change jobs, or move to a different location. His request disrupts our way of life and makes us uncomfortable.  Instead of responding in obedience, we stop and ask, “BUT WHY GOD?” Sometimes what we are really saying is, “WHY DO I HAVE TO OBEY YOU WHEN I AM HAVING FUN DOING THINGS MY WAY?”

Our questions may also reveal a heart filled with doubt.  A heart that lacks trust in a creator who has never failed His creation.  It takes a great level of trust to not ask questions and just respond with a yes.  Today take a leap of faith and say yes to what God is asking of you.  In the long run, it will be well worth it!

Start in the closet (Part 2/3 : Spiritual Cleaning)

I stopped talking about my need to purge and actually began the process. I started in my closet and I kept thinking, “didn’t I just do some purging last season?  Why is it that I have to purge again?!”  But truth is, purging should never be looked at as a one-time event, naturally or spiritually.  It is so easy to accumulate STUFF in the process of doing life, stuff that can weigh us down.  Stuff that serve no real purpose, only creating clutter in our spirit. Purging always begins in the closet…that secret place, that place no one else sees.  Anyone’s house can appear in order from the outside, but the closet, well that may be another story.

The first thing that I did to begin the decluttering process was to take inventory of what I had in my closet.  Then I asked, “What is worth keeping?” Some of the things that we insist on holding on to are connected to when we were in slavery, the old us. These things though they are no good to us, provide an odd sense of comfort.  Even if they are not useful, we insist on holding on. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to throw things away because it is time to make room for something new.  You have to be willing to let go of the past.

Begin the decluttering process by answering the following questions.

  1. List the things that are just taking up space and serve no beneficial purpose in your life (relationships, music, habit, clothing, old mindsets, etc.)?  They are just creating clutter causing you to trip and stumble in your walk with Christ.
  1. Do you really want to let them go? If not, why do you think you insist on holding on?

Scripture for meditation 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Thank you Lord!

Yesterday I turned 38 and I see God at work in my life in so many ways and the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

I see my reflection in the mirror and I know without a shadow of a doubt that chains have been broken and I am seeing a greater manifestation of what God has promised me. And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

 

I see my husband who continues his tradition of taking the day off work to give me some time to myself. He humors me and satisfies my super sentimental side and decorates our kitchen in the same color scheme of our wedding almost 15 years ago.  I see how much I am loved by him in the simplest ways. And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

me and tyrone on my bday

 

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I see my six healthy children who are excited that it is my birthday.  They know that by the end of the day, we will be sitting in somebodies restaurant celebrating.  One plays happy birthday on the piano. I get a custom made card and hugs and kisses.  And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

me and kids in van on my bday

 

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isaiah eating on my bday

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I see all the numbers of my family and friends displayed on my phone.  They called and texted with happy birthday messages.  I was thought of and I am loved.  And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

I see the pieces of my life coming together.  I see my story unfolding in the most beautiful inconvenient ways.  And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

I see my perspective on my past changing; no more wondering why for the parts that were painful.  Because redemption is stamped all over me.  And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

I see that as I tell every part of my story, God masterfully uses it to bring freedom to others.  And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

I see the words “You were born to fly,” painted on wood as I was strolling in the store ALL BY MYSELF and I smile because that is my testimony.  And the cry of my heart is thank you Lord.

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