Monthly Archives: August 2011

Nikki Survived a Cult,Rape, Self Mutilation and Addiction

Listen to internet radio with breatheagainmagazine on Blog Talk Radio

Episode #25

Listen as Nicole Cleveland interviews  Nikki Rosen, author of In the Eye of Deception.

Held hostage by a cult leader. Raped and addicted to drugs for over 14 years. Self Mutilation, low self esteem and a severe eating disorder are a few habits Nikki had to overcome.

 

In the Eye of Deception details one woman’s struggle to break free from the damaging effects of child abuse, rape and addictions. It’s a story filled with hope, faith, and the realization that God can be trusted to bring about complete healing and recovery.

The Dwelling Place

 

 

 

Providing emergency shelter services to homeless families including children since 1986 in our community. More than 80% of Dwelling Place residents are children. All children of homeless families are at risk for speech and health problems, malnutrition, developmental delays and poor school performance.

The face of homelessness is changing. The perception of homeless adults wandering the streets during the day, sleeping on those same streets at night is no longer accurate. Homelessness today is a family and children’s issue. The average age of a person in a shelter is nine years old. Each night across America more than a million children have no place to call home. These children are America’s hidden homeless. They live in shelters or motels. They move from place to place or live in overcrowded living conditions.

Homelessness is a national crisis and families comprise the fastest growing component in this population. Families make up more than 55 percent of the homeless in Hampton Roads. Families typically become homeless following a destabilizing event such as illness, job loss, or spousal abuse that results in eviction. The target population for The Dwelling Place emergency services is families in crisis due to homelessness.

Eighty-six percent of Dwelling Place residents are children. All children of homeless families are at risk for speech and health problems, malnutrition, developmental delays and poor school performance. Two-thirds of adults in homeless families have recent work experience, but are not currently working when they enter the shelter.

Although homelessness is directly related to poverty and the lack of affordable housing, most homeless families experience multiple problems such as unemployment, social isolation, poor health, substance abuse, victimization or family background that includes multigenerational welfare dependence.

www.thedwellingplaceva.org

True Freedom

 

There is one of two places we live our lives– freedom or bondage. There is no half-way point.

As you embark on the life of parenting alone, it is crucial that you feel empowered and encouraged to persevere. That only comes in freedom through Christ. When I think of freedom, I think of words like:joy, peace, happiness, and forgiveness. I think of living guilt-free from my past and eagerly looking forward to my future.

However, there is the dark, opposite of that- bondage. That word evokes feelings of suffocation, fear, anxiety, and embarrassment, and it is where so many choose to camp.

As a victim of years of physical and sexual abuse at the hand of many men in my own life,  I easily understand the pit that so many of us fall into. We begin to question God’s hand in our lives, the “whys” and “hows” . Many of us pretend that we have never suffered through emotional or physical abuse, or even the trauma of divorce or unwed pregnancy. We gloss over our deep emotions, put a smile on our faces, and attempt to parent. Problem is, we could never effectively parent a child until we have experienced the freedom found in a relationship in Christ.

I have counseled many women who feel living as a Christian is simply too hard. There are too many things that you cannot do, too many parameters to stay within. Let me offer a new perspective.

As the parent of a toddler, we place guidelines on their environment. “Do not touch the stove.” “Do not walk into the street.” These guidelines are not to disappoint our children or limit their fun. They are put in place because we love our children and truly desire them to be safe. Have you considered that is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants?

God is our Heavenly Father who created us. He loves us. He desires for us to live lives full of joy and fun. In order for us to do that, there are things that our Father must disapprove of. Rather than looking at those things as restrictions in our lives, I challenge you to look at them as hot burners on a stove that you do not want to touch for fear of getting burned. If ignored, they can hurt and leave permanent scars. Consider the following verses:

I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” Psalm 119:45 NLT

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. “But we are descendants of Abraham,”they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is a part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”John 8:32-36 NLT

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13 NLT

I want to jump out of my seat when I hear this! It cannot be more plain than this. The Bible explains to use that there is no freedom in living a life of sin. We wind up deeper in misery. Because God designed us, he knows the intricacies of our spirit, our emotions, and our physical well-being. We must trust the he has our best interest in mind, just as you have your child’s best interest in mind.

Imagine what type of parent you would be if you allowed God to fight your battles, releasing past hurts and disappointments, releasing the roller coaster ride of living a life of sin – one foot in Christianity and the other out. We get caught up in wanting to be right, seeking revenge on those who hurt us, or feeling sorry for what has been done to us. We do not give it to God. I challenge you today to turn it all over to him. Begin to see yourself as a new person, a new creation. Allow him to carry the burden of life for you. Start your life, today. Look at parenting with a new perspective. Respect what God has given you. The Creator of this world has entrusted you with the life of a son or daughter.

Be honored. Be free

 

Author/Speaker, Jennifer Maggio, is one of the nation’s leading experts on single parent issues. She has been featured on more than 100 radio and television shows and dozens of magazines. She is the author of two critically-acclaimed books, founder of a free single parent magazine, and founder of one of the nation’s largest single mother support groups. For more info, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com

A Man’s Pride

 
 
“As a boy you learned to win, you learned to pick and choose. Though you learned to play the game, you’re so afraid to loose.  It takes a man, just to understand a man’s pride.  It’s a man’s pride baby, it makes him laugh and makes him cry, it’s a man’s pride that keeps a man alive… It’s a man’s pride baby, something we all should understand. It’s a man’s pride that makes a man a man.” – Morris Day
 
 

I’m sorry, but when I got the email about the topic for this article, I immediately heard the lyrics to this song in my head. If you are a fan of mid-80s music scene, you would know that those words of wisdom are not mine, but from the mouth of the smooth operator extraordinaire himself, Mr.  Morris Day, (formerly known as the lead man of The Time).

The requested topic for this article is “A Man’s Pride”, but there was technically no request for “A Male’s Pride”, and so I do believe man also includes wo-man. (Smile ladies). The same prideful spirit (attitude, or train of thought) that makes a woman upset because he doesn’t express his feelings to you or romance you the way you want, is the same prideful spirit that keeps you from reminding him to take out the trash, or telling him what you need from him, again, just because you feel you shouldn’t have to say it more than once. He’s not a mind-reader he’s a man! And it’s not male pride, it’s just plain Pride!

As I waited to see what I would really like to share with you ladies about “pride”, I looked over at a piece of paper on my office wall that has these powerful words in my own handwriting, “He Decided to DIE”.    OK, so what. What does that have to do with a man’s pride? I tried to push the thought aside, and tuck the words away for a later project; maybe for a future poem, a book, a play, or even a motion picture. (Don’t hate me; it costs you nothing for me to dream.) So I turned to look at it again. He Decided to Die.

when I originally penned those four words, I was receiving them as an answer to a question I asked God about myself, concerning marriage.  I desperately wanted to learn how to not allow dealing with others to move me.

God simply said to me, “Write this down on a piece of paper, and make it big! “He Decided to DIE”.             I began hearing the song in my head… “He would, not, come, down, from, the, cross, just, to, saaaaaaave himself… He Decided to Die, Just to Save me. Wait a minute, I thought. He Decided… to Die. His sacrifice was not a response to the actions of others; it was not an afterthought, but a decision. I read Matthew 26:39 (NLT). He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”

What greater enemy does a man have to battle his pride than the opponent of personal sacrifice? Learning to die to what he wants or desires, for the benefit of another. Do you think you have more on your plate than anyone else? Even if you switched plates with someone else, you would probably beg to get it back. What about Jesus? Can you possibly imagine what was in of His cup when he looked inside?

Husbands have to learn to love sacrificially; fighting the fight of pride by giving of ourselves unselfishly. Sometimes we want the prizes of leadership, but not the pressures that come with the responsibilities. Sometimes we forget that we are the ones responsible for practically taking the word and washing our wives, (and children, and our households) in order to make them holy and clean.

Women will give as much mouth and attitude as they have to give, and they will even borrow extra if they don’t think they have enough to serve at the time. But, they cannot withstand the power of a man who sacrifices his wants or needs for her good, from his heart, under God’s anointing. (Hey, stash your attitude for another time, because you know I’m on point. Just put it away, before you hurt somebody).

If you frequent our church services, you would often hear our pastor spout this marriage disclaimer: “God designed marriage to kill YOU!” So if you are having marital issues, it’s because you’re not dead. What is more romantic to a woman than sacrifice? What is more seducing than the dance of death? What better way to say I Love You, than to give yourself, or your lifestyle for your most valuable friend?

Ladies, ask yourself a few hard questions about your own personal sacrifices. Is an extra hour of sleep really more important than sex with your spouse, when he has been practically begging for your time? (This one always puts me in the doghouse, but I ain’t scared of you!) Regardless of whether or not your child was there in your life before your spouse, is your maternal bond stronger and more valuable than your marriage covenant? If you say yes… you are out of order. Don’t hate me, I’m just the messenger!

When do you know when you are dead? You know that you are dead, when it doesn’t hurt anymore. When it no longer matters to you if you are not compensated for what it cost you; when you don’t expect repayment to do the good you already know to do. Real death is getting to a place where you truly rely on God’s rewards, rather than on your own survival instincts that tell you to protect yourself.

How many times will you have to die? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:31 (NLT) …For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in you. Do you die daily? Are you prepared to, if you have to? Or are you fed up and want to quit?

Focus on the future; don’t meditate on the madness in the middle. For many of us, it’s hard to focus on the future because of the present pain. So how can we achieve this? (Hebrews 12:2 (NLT), We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.)

How dead are you? Can you still feel the pain? Many scriptures refer to something called a burnt offering. That simply means that whatever was sacrificed was set on fire and burned until it was completely consumed, and there was nothing left of it. The whole entire offering was given up,            and there was nothing left of it that could be recognized to identify it. So, is there anything left of you that can be identified as you? Are you still alive and kicking? Have you completely died to your pride?

You deal with your pride (male or female) through your sacrifice. Considering all others before yourself. Not responding, (eventually killing) the selfish and instinctive responses from your flesh, when you don’t get the payment that you feel you deserve, for giving love. We are so used to seeing the word Love, in 1 Corinthians 13, but the word “Love”, is actually “Charity”. When do you generally see this word mostly? Around the holidays, when people freely give something of value away to someone else, without the expectation of a return or reward. Charity… Love, a decision of sacrificial giving – the remedy to Pride.

In my conclusion, I want to add yet another amazingly true quote from the wise sayings of Morris Day. “Love is a game you don’t play to win, you play to survive.”

 

John L. Donelson
Jdonelson.rcm@gmail.com
Copyright © 2011
Revelations Media, LLC

What is It ?

 

What is it that causes you to get up in the morning?  What is it that causes you to stay up at night?  What is it that will not let go of you even after years and years of trying?  Whatever that IT is for you, it is tied to your destiny.

Close your eyes right now.  What do you see?  Keep looking.  What comes into view?  Some of you may say nothing.  Then what do you hear?  Listen closely.  Do you hear your heart calling to you from deep within?  Can you see yourself in a place of true fulfillment and happiness because you are doing what you want to do; you are where you want to be, with whom you want to be with?  If not then know that you can.   Even if you can see it and hear it already, know that it can become clearer and more focused when you actually obtain it!

The key is in the journey of finding your IT and the journey begins at birth.  The moment you breathe your first breath, you are stepping into the rest of your life.  You can spend it chasing your dreams or fulfilling your purpose, only you can make the choice.

We are all born with certain bents in life.  The Bible says to “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)  The way he should go is his’ or her’s bent or God given gifts, talents, and skills.  Once parents study their children they can determine which way to train or lead them into their destiny.   So many times parents want to raise their children to be “mini-me” when in fact God may have an entirely different plan for their lives.  Life truly begins when you find your reasons for living.  When you see the vision, write it down, and make it plain, that’s when you can truly run and ultimately fly into your life’s purpose.

Even after we find God or He finds us there are still things that are calling to us waiting to emerge and be fulfilled.  Sometimes they are felt as nagging aches, or an itch that needs to be scratched but can’t be reached, that is the It that will be revealed and fulfilled in your life as you read this book. Your true purpose and destiny are waiting to come forth because this is your season to Reign with the King!

Rosalind Y. Tompkins is the author of “As Long As There Is Breath In Your Body, There Is Hope”, “Rare Anointing” “You Are Beautiful” and her latest eBook “U Got To Have It: You Can Have It All!”  She is the founder of the grassroots community-based, non-profit organization, Mothers In Crisis, Inc., the television show host of “In The Know with Pastor Rosalind Y. Tompkins”, a prophetic poet, a spiritual life coach, and the senior pastor of Turning Point International Church located in Tallahassee, Florida.

To get your copy of “U Got To Have It” go to www.UGotToHaveIt.com

The Safer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Periodically throughout my lifetime, I’d recall that moment of shame.  I would see in my
minds eye…that tiny little girl walking down the sidewalk toward home with wet pants and the
weight of guilt and shame on her shoulders.

I was six, and in the first grade when it happened.  The teacher hadn’t allowed me to be
excused to go to the bathroom and I’d wet myself.  I was mortified beyond belief, having to sit
there knowing everyone knew.When finally I was dismissed I remember seeing Mom and Dad coming to meet me and how I ran and hid behind the bush on the corner to keep them from seeing me.  It wasn’t until much much later I would realize the significance of that moment and the mighty part it played in my entire life.

My father was a heavy drinker.  We weren’t allowed to call him an alcoholic, though.  I’ve heard the statement “A family is only as healthy as its secrets” and now I know what that means.  As a child, however, I didn’t.  Even though we didn’t admit to this secret we all knew it was there.

We all lived with this crippling pain.

My mother was an emotional person, and had several nervous breakdowns throughout my
growing up years.  She screamed and cried a lot and I always felt it was my fault and grew up
under this shadow of guilt.  She did take us to Sunday school every week, though, and I learned to
love the Lord.  I believe He was the only stable thing in my entire childhood.  But due to the fact I
lived in such a strained environment, I never “really” trusted Him either.  I always felt I was
playing a game, nobody knew about but God and me.  The very fact He knew, too, caused much
stress in my life.

When I became an adult, my faith was there, but it was never strong enough to cause me to
trust God 100%. I never talked about my feelings of inadequacy, because I actually believed if you loved God the way you were supposed to, you would be happy all the time.  I was once more just pretending as I’d always done.  What was wrong with me?

I had a rough time in marriage as well.  It never fulfilled my aching desire for love and I ran
away from them as well.  After two failed marriages, I’d given up on ever finding a life’s mate.  I
wanted no part of love or marriage.  My two teen-aged daughters and I lived alone for seven years.

Then I met Bob.  At last I could be happy…but only six months into the marriage I
awakened to the same old feelings of failure.  At this point I was having anxiety attacks… at times
hardly able to breath.  Hearing the word divorce caused me to want to vomit.  How could I possibly call myself a Christian?  I wanted to run so fast and so far no one would ever find me. I knew of course, this wasn’t the answer, but I was so tired of playing a silly game and not having any idea what the rules were.  I didn’t even want to live if this was the way the rest of my life was going to be.

My sister, who of course, had grown up in the same environment I had, began to go to
A.C.O.A. (Adult children of alcoholics).  I was almost mad because I, then, had to face something
I’d never faced before.  My father, who’d passed away six years prior, had been an alcoholic.
I watched as she became a whole person, I watched as she began admitting things and
allowing the anger she’d hidden for so long, come out.  I began to envy her, and wanted what she
had for myself.  Maybe, just maybe, I could find out what was wrong with me.  I never went to
A.C.O.A. myself, because I felt it was just a bunch of people who blamed their parents for their
own mistakes.  I was wrong.  It is a wonderful support group allowing people to finally talk about
their pasts they had lived with in fear and shame their entire lives.

At this point, I began realizing that maybe I wasn’t to blame for everything.  Finally I began
realizing I was only a product of my environment and was seeking the love and stability I’d never
found as a child, or through marriage.  I couldn’t function as an adult, when I was still a child in a
grown-up body.

I started searching my past for the beginning of my shame.  When had it begun?  What had
caused me to go through an entire lifetime of guilt?  Why would that one tiny insignificant
happening in the first grade cause me to still feel such pain when remembered?  So many questions I’d never given credence to before.I then began to remember my childhood.  It had been a blur except for that one incident of shame I remembered to well.  Why did I have to be so perfect?  Why was I so very very ashamed of wetting my pants.  It wasn’t the end of the world?

My sister began learning about co-dependency and living in a dysfunctional home.  I had a
lot more to admit to than my father being an alcoholic.  As I studied books on this subject, I began
to see things differently.  It wasn’t me alone that caused Dad to drink and mom to have emotional
problems.  They’d had those problems long before I was ever born.  I then became aware that I was trying to be perfect so they wouldn’t have a reason to drink or scream. That was why I felt such shame in the first grade.  Not only shame, but fear; fear dad would be angry, and this would cause him to drink.  Fear mom would be embarrassed and she would start to scream.  This was the reason I’d hidden behind the bush when I saw them coming.

Now I understood.  But there was more to it than that; much more.

One day, Mom and I were talking and I brought up the incident at school.  How I’d run and
hid behind the bush to keep them from seeing me.

“But, Marcia,” she said in a strained voice.  “There was no bush.  You ran to us and cried.”

My heart stood still.  What did she mean no bush?  Why that bush was as real as the
whole experience itself.  I thought I had things kind of straightened out in my mind until I heard
that.  I actually became numb.  Suddenly I knew the truth!  There WAS no bush.  I had invented it in my mind to keep everyone from knowing my pain.  I was forty-five years old and still behind
that bush.  My child-within had never grown beyond that day of shame and fear.  Every time I was forced to face anything that was a challenge I had run and hid behind my safer… my place where no one could see me, and my failures.  I knew them, though, and they were killing me.  No wonder I could not find forgiveness, I was hiding from life, from reality, and God.  I was searching for the perfect love that man cannot give and unable to trust God enough to realize He was the only one who could.

For the first time in my life it all made sense.  I knew I needed to go back to the beginning,
back to my imaginary bush.

I sat alone in my living room and prayed for My Lord to guide me.  Closing my eyes, I
could see myself as I was that very day so long ago.  Alone, tiny, frightened, with straggly hair,
crying softly.  Tears stung my eyes, as my heart went out to this child…. myself.  I called my name and assured this fragile six-year old it was alright to come out.  “It’s Okay, I forgive you, I love you.”  I whispered.  At that moment I became painfully aware of the fact that I’d never loved
myself before.  I wrapped my arms around myself and wept unashamedly as I knew I’d left the
bush behind.

After forty-five years of unnecessary guilt and shame, I was free!

I then knew, I could handle this marriage, because I was no longer seeking a little girls
dream.  Man is not capable of the kind of love I desired.  Only our God in heaven can fill the
emptiness left behind from a dysfunctional childhood.

I can now forgive myself, knowing there was a reason for my behavior.  Even though
dysfunctional living had played a large part in the way I was; I could no longer blame that.  Nor
was my past something I needed to hide from.

God says in His word He forgives sin.  I believe that!  No longer will I allow a past riddled
with shame keep me a shelf below the blessings my Lord has for me.  At last I can face up to life
without shame and guilt clouding the view.

 Marcia Leaser is a freelance Christian author with over nine hundred things published to date.A children’s book Frizzeldee’s Catastrophe was published in 2009 and a women’s devotional  - “Every Step of the Way” will be released in 2012. www.forhismercyandgrace.com

Daddy Issues

By Andrea F.K. Watson

 

As a young single Christian woman, I should clearly understand the concept of love.  I have a relationship with God and He is love. Since renewing my relationship with God, I had decided to become celibate. I decided I would no longer share my body with someone who would not be my life partner, i.e., husband. What I know now that I did not know then is that this would take more effort than I thought. The year I turned 30 years old, bells and whistles began to sound. I was still single, no children, working in a well paying-albeit-dead end job. Many of the accomplishments on my to do list were left unchecked and I was none too happy about it. It was time to do some self-reflection. I finally had to admit I had some issues and I needed to begin to deal with them.

One of the items on my list, would be “daddy” issues.  My biological father, whose genes and utter likeness I share, chose to step away from fatherhood after marital separation. It appears he thought he could convince my mom to stay with him by refusing to have a relationship with me unless she had a relationship with him. I guess it took for me to become an adult, for him to believe she was serious. I have often pondered the question how could he have truly loved me and made this decision. Let it be duly noted that  my mother loves me unconditionally. She is definitely a super mom and deserves to be on the Who’s Who list of Mommies. Our relationship is definitely filled with joyous love and mutual respect. I was nurtured by her in every way a mom should nurture a child and daughter. She married a wonderful man, who became my “dad” (step-father does not fit for him, because he was more than that). But birth fathers are very important to a girl’s development of self-esteem. Without my knowledge the absence of my birth father created a void. I have searched for the love of my father in many different ways and in many men to fill that void. But yet the void remained.

Originally I supposed if my dad walked away, then all men would eventually do the same. How could I remain close or allow myself to ever get to a vulnerable point with men emotionally, if the first man in my life proved to be unstable?  Secondly I had no concrete basis of the concept of father/daughter love. Since my parents separated when I was at a young age, man/woman love was even a foreign concept to me. As a young lady, my thoughts of receiving love from a man were from what my ears and eyes took in on television and by word of mouth from peers. The lesson learned was  that the only way to make a man stay around was through manipulation and/or sexual activity. Before my vow of celibacy, I could do the physical part, but asking me to share my mind and my heart came with a hefty price. I would constantly set great expectations on the men in my life that they could never meet.  Then I would blame them for being selfish and insensitive. I was only asking them to be perfect and shame on them for not stepping up to the plate. I simmered with questions, but there were no answers were available, yet. So at a very young age I started toward a path of looking for love in all the wrong places, only to be afraid that the “love” would eventually stray. Unfortunately I blamed my dad for my bad decisions and also some of the bad things that happened to me by the hands of other men.

I was pretty good at masking my feelings of sadness, unforgiveness, anger and low self-worth in regards to my father, because I never had to deal with them. All of that came to a crashing halt in 2006. My biological dad approached me and advised me that he was worried about his health and his future. He asked me if I would become caretaker of his financial affairs. I needed some time to ponder this. I eventually agreed. Then in early 2007, my father became ill, very ill. He asked me to me help care for him. This would mean moving in with him and caring for his needs. This was around the same  time I would be quitting my job and enrolling in a clinical psychology master’s program.

 

In August 2007 a new chapter in my life opened as I embarked on a new journey in career and school as well as my home life.How does one make a home for two people who do not know each other?  How does a grown-up woman, who feels like a little girl, begin to foster a relationship with her dad, who is unknown to her? The house physically needed so much work before I would even consider moving in. The house needed painting, the carpet needed cleaning, old furniture had to be removed, and the pipes in the basement were leaking, not to mention the smell of the old house. Only by the grace of God has all of this finally been completed. I had my dad’s bedroom and his den all set up. The living room, breakfast nook and kitchen are finished to my liking. The grass is cut and the bushes are trimmed. I began to think I just might be able to live with this man after all. I was quite proud of the accomplishment. If I had been paying attention, I would have realized a pattern manifesting. I was trying to pretty up the minor details (outer layers) without dealing with the major details (inner layers). I should have put more effort into the foundation of our relationship versus the house. I did not want to admit that I did not want to move in. But I was his only child, and he was ill. If I didn’t do it, who would? This could be the only opportunity to get to know him. And maybe as a young Christian woman, I could learn the necessary lesson of forgiving this man and be healed from some past hurts. Love would be the only way to get through this experience.

There is a song by Kirk Franklin (2005) called “First Love.” In the song, he talks about coming back to God, our first love, to receive our healing. For me it brings to mind the scripture in the Bible in Revelations 2:4-5, instructing the church members to return to its first love and to do the works it did at first.  Due to multiple factors such as molestation, absence of a father, premature sexual activity, and so on; my idea of love had become tainted. Love had become a physical act mixed with lust and sexual activity. These were my own thoughts that had gone astray. My mind had to be literally renewed and transformed.  Even though my biological father walked away, my Heavenly Father was always present. In order to learn to love my dad, I had to return to the first love of my Heavenly Father. He is the architect who laid the blueprint for my restoration.  If He can do it for me, He can do it for anyone. Essentially, God taught me to receive love by ultimately giving me the best of what He had, His Son Jesus. Because then all I had to do was receive Jesus.

This has not been seamless at all. Love is patient and love is kind, even when I am neither patient nor kind. But just because it is not easy does not mean I will not get through it. I have learned God really does give strength to the faint, and if you ask Him for patience He will grant it. I have learned that I am not perfect, but God is perfect and my weakness is made perfect in His strength. Also relationships are not always, if ever, truly 50/50; sometimes they are 60/40 or 40/60, sometimes even 70/30. I have learned that commitment and vulnerability are just a part of the game. I have learned relationships take work and effort, all relationships. Finally, I am learning it is OK to receive love.

Everything is not perfect with my dad but I believe everything happens for a reason and our relationship is being perfected. Maybe I need to heal him; maybe he needs to heal me. Maybe it is a little of both. I am open to the process.  Its not always easy. Its different learning him as I imagine it is difficult for him to learn me. I am no longer a little girl.  But the little girl in me needs this. I know in the future I will appreciate his contribution to my life. I hope he will appreciate mine. I am not always sure of the end result but I do believe God has a plan with this thing. I will be wiser, better, and more than anything, I am able to give and receive pure love.

 

 

***My Dad passed away in October of 2008 peacefully after kissing his little girl goodbye and leaving her with a peace and love that only God’s love could orchestrate.

 

 

Excerpt  from  thesis and manuscript, The Experience of a Girl Learning to Receive Love Without A Sexual Touch.

By: Andrea F. K. Watson

 

Scenarios Of Suicide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Rick Sumler

 

Spiraling down out of control
falling from my natural high
depressed from this stressing out
I want to forget about living and die

Cutting my wrist is not the way
to release all the pain
society frowns on men with feelings
making me feel ashamed

I struggled with my curiosity
Identifying with my desires
now comes my moment of truth
realizing I’m not a liar

I told everyone “this is me “
I’m gay and I’m full of pride
my family turned their backs on me
before I committed suicide

No one wants to be my friend
what makes me a terrible person?
pre-teen years really suck
my life is so uncertain

I was so lonely in this big ‘ol world
bullied at school in the halls
teased everyday for no reason
until I ended it all

Just messing around, smoking weed
thinking this is great
until I wanted something more
I needed a stronger taste

I shoot heroin for fifteen years
on the corner as a male prostitute
rain, hail, sleet or snow
towards my addiction in hot pursuit

I’m hungry, tired and broken down
I couldn’t take it anymore
my sister found me three days later
Over dose on purpose on the floor

Eight months ago I lost my job
I needed a helping hand
how could I hold my family together
when I was considered half a man

I cried at night when my wife was asleep
I smiled throughout the day
my Pastor said “you must be strong
things will be okay “

One million dollar insurance policy
should be enough for my wife and kids to survive
Im more valuable to them right now
dead than I was alive

I made sure it was planned out right
hoping they would understand over time
I wished someone would have recognized
my warning signs of
suicide.

Written by: Rickie R. Sumler © 2010

7 Steps to Get Your Courage Back

 

 

 

 

 

By Pam Perry

 

 

What can you do now to be a BRAVE HEART:

1. Don’t be afraid of your shadow. Trust in God and build up your faith. Be strong and take courage. Do not be dismayed even though things seem hard and tough – know that you have God with you wherever you go. Just only believe.

2. Smarten up and sharpen up. You have to put in the time to learn. You have to train, prepare and get your groove back. Learn technology. Integrate, automate and delegate tasks where you can.

3. Figure it out. Information is power. Quit saying you “don’t know” and go get your Google search on. All the information you need is at a click of button on your computer. The more you know, the more you grow and this increases your confidence.

4. Be bold. Be fearless. Be willing to take risks. You have to risk to win. No one who is living large ever did so by going the safe route. Get out of your comfort zone. Quit being “shell shock” and get some CHUTZPAH, some gall, some nerve. Some audacity!

5. Believe in yourself. Know your worth and demand your value. Keep dreaming big dreams, doing your vision board and saying your affirmations. Who cares what others think or what they don’t do for you? Be true to yourself. Stay on your path and stay excited about your goals – no matter what.

6. Keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. If you have to stop to rest, rest in the Lord. He will give you strength. Don’t panic – know God has a plan. Keep doing your part – and know God always come through. He is our “Superman.”

7. Have a coach or mentor that pushes you. Have a network that celebrates you. Know what type of people to stay away from and know who you need to show more gratitude towards. Who you hang are around is who you will become. Don’t “friend” everybody and follow only those who “get it” and are going places, believing God for big things.

Award-winning social media strategist and PR Coach Pam Perry helps African American Christian authors garner publicity and leverage online strategies. As a 20-year PR veteran, she is also the co-author of “Synergy Energy: How to Use the Power of Partnerships to Market Your Book, Grow Your Business and Brand Your Ministry.” For a free MP3 of “What Every Author Should Know,” go to http://www.PamPerryPR.com. She’s also the creator of the ChocolatePagesNetwork, a social network for Christian authors and the Chocolate Pages Show at Blogtalkradio. She offers free help at her blogsite:Ministry Marketing Solutions  with her monthly Ezine and teleclasses. 

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Pam_Perry

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5582052

 

Hold Up, Wait A Minute!

I’ve Had Enough of This Pig Slop
By Gail Davis

We have heard the familiar story about the prodigal son – you know the one who asked his father for his inheritance and having received it prematurely went and squandered it on wild and reckless living then ended up feeding the pigs to survive (Luke 15:11-32).  For many of us, we think life in the pig pen is beyond our sphere of environments, we can’t relate to it because no rational person will allow themselves to go there, not under normal circumstances anyway.

On the contrary, I am here to tell you that all of us, at one time or another, has had what I call a ‘pig slop moment.’  That is a place, and it is not a physical pig pen, but a place where you find yourself in a position of worthlessness – you are at your worse; a repulsive place that absolutely disgusts you, a place where mediocrity, despair and darkness abound, and a place that smells so badly it makes you say Yuk!  because of the things you do.

The joy and revelation the prodigal son brings to us about all of this is there is a better way – the Bible says ‘when he came to his senses…’ that is a Hold Up, Wait A Minute! moment.  That is the moment you recognize there is a better way or you recognize that you are someone special and you belong to someone special, and something better is at your disposal.  The story continues on to say that his father threw him a party and received him back with open arms, gave him new clean clothes, and bestowed honor upon him for him coming to his senses.

Let me explain some pig slop moments then maybe you will be able to relate to the prodigal son and say, ‘yeah, I have been in that place ’or‘ I am still in that place and want to get out!’

Some Pig Slop Moments
When you find yourself in a place where you are tired of being there, fed up, you don’t want to do this anymore, you are ready for transformation.  That’s what a pig slop moment is.

Have you ever gone to a bar or a party, had a few drinks, picked someone up and brought them home with you, and when you awake in the morning you roll over to discover that you don’t remember how they got there or what their name is and you say, ‘what was I thinking?’ – that’s a pig slop moment – you have done it for the last time, you are tired of waking up with strangers and it has left a bad taste in your mouth.

Here are some other examples of pig slop moments:
·    You’re in an abusive relationship, physically and/or emotionally and you find yourself on the floor curled up in a fetal position holding your body and then it hits you like a ton of bricks ‘hold up wait a minute!’ – what am I doing here?
·    You’re addicted to something that is destructive and causes you grief and discomfort it could be a substance, sex, video games, or lying and gossip
·    You stay in a relationship with a married person or someone you know you are not supposed to be with – that is settling for mediocrity
·    You’re controlling and manipulative and you find yourself cut off from people,      no one wants to be around you anymore

You may have your own pig slop moment to add to this list that is personal and pertains to your situation since you were there at one time, or you are still there now.

I know for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was being in a relationship (nine years ago) with a player, an old player at that, who had several women in addition to the one he was living with.  Call it mediocrity at its finest – why, because when you settle for paging someone instead of being able to call them at home, that is mediocrity — I knew about it and stayed there anyway (it was the sex).  As a matter of fact I spent several years in a life of promiscuity after leaving my husband, dabbling with different men searching for God knows what – thrills, comfort, a good time, love, yet all I got after the thrill was gone was a dirty feeling, like I was giving something in me of value away.  I was never satisfied, and I knew there was more to me than my tail.  That was the pig slop moment for me, and when I came to my senses and said, “Hold up wait a minute! why am I settling for mediocrity when I was someone’s queen, their number one, what is my problem? I don’t want to be like this anymore!” there was a shift in the spirit realm.

All of us are not in a prodigal son’s relationship.  For those people who never had an opportunity to have a relationship with the Lord or know about the promises in His Word, let me tell you, God loves you too, and has only the best for you, and the best part for you is there are occasions when the Lord himself has a hold up wait a minute moment for you when you don’t know there is a better way, that there is a loving Father waiting for you.

What’s Holding You Back?
Many times we hold ourselves back after coming to our senses because we let pride interfere and it keeps us from returning to our Father.  Do you realize that pride is a quiet, yet dangerous spirit and it causes us to stay in positions and situations that are harmful, destructive, smelly, and it even prevents us from confessing our sins to God.

The father of the prodigal son forgot all about the fact that his son took his hard earned money and squandered it.  He was more excited about his son having sense to come back to the better way of life then dwelling on the loss.  We will all, at some point or another in our lives, stray off the path of right living and venture into the pleasures of the world; you know that wide gate that Jesus talks about that many will travel on that leads to destruction, but we are to forgive and celebrate when our loved ones, friends and even we ourselves come to our senses.  There should be ‘hold up wait a minute parties’ going on around the clock because somebody is surrendering their old way of life for a new one, a better one and exchanging their old filthy garments for new ones.

Take a minute to examine your life – where you are right now — are you in the pig pen ready and waiting to be transformed?  Are you at the point of surrendering the old lifestyle and old way of thinking that is keeping you in the pig slop?  Are you ready and willing to abolish pride and kill stubbornness so you can move out of that position of stuck in the mud?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you have placed yourself in a position for transformation to take place, positioned to begin a wonderful new journey with the Lord.  If all of this is new to you, your journey begins upon accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord and receiving the free gift of His Holy Spirit who is given to you as a Helper.  We cannot change ourselves – hey who does that willingly anyway?  If left up to us, we would stay in a whole lot of stuff that is ungodly, but thanks be to God who gives to us freely His great gifts.

I developed a wonderful relationship with Holy Spirit whom I call on all the time to help me.  At first I did not think I could survive without sex, but after He lifted that lust demon  and stuck a pin in my tail, I did just fine and I have been fleeing fornication ever since.  I was no longer looked at with those ‘you have any fries to go with that shake’ comments from men when I walked down the street.  Now don’t get me wrong, there have been several bouts with my flesh since the seven year mark, but I call on the Lord for help to get and keep my flesh under subjection.

Celebrate
When the father saw his son returning home in the distance he began rejoicing and assembled his servants to prepare for the biggest celebration ever – God did the same thing for me – there was a party in heaven that went on for hours.  I tell people my angels partied until they passed out – they were so excited for me coming to my senses that God had to wake them up in the morning by saying, ‘uh, don’t y’all have something to do?”  It was at that moment that my transformation began to take effect, that the Lord responded and sent me help to begin the process and begin the journey on the path of righteousness.  I thank God for His Holy Spirit who helped me turn my life around, and ‘No More Sheets’ for allowing me the opportunity to scrub all those men off!

Do not despise your brother or sister’s hold up wait a minute moment.  Just as the father of the prodigal son assured his other son (when he became angry about the celebration) “we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found,” (Luke 15:32 NIV) we have to do the same, if it is that important to God, it has to be important to us as well.  The pig slop is not a place that anyone has to stay in, nor a place to get comfortable in – we have a choice to leave and when that choice is made — celebrate.

So when we see people praising the Lord with all their might, giving God a radical, crazy praise, we don’t know the cost of their praise, their cause for celebration – just celebrate with them, rejoice and give thanks that they even came to their senses, encourage them with songs and hymns.  It is then that we can then sing with sincere appreciation and truth ‘I gave Him my old filthy garments, He gave me a robe of pure white, now I’m feasting on manna from heaven, that is why I’m happy tonight!’

Gail Davis, a native of Brooklyn, New York.
A servant of God and born again Christian, who surrendered her life back to God eight years ago after many years of living life in a backslidden state. She is founder and owner of The Winning Image, a graphic design and marketing company whose mission is “to make you look good on paper.” Services range from logo designs, creation of marketing and advertising materials, brochures, banners, flyers, invitations, souvenir journals – anything printable. Contact Gail at Winimge@aol.com