book review, Men, Women

Be Brave

I’ve been reading 100 Days to Brave: Unlocking Your Most Courageous Self by Annie F. Downs. Little did I know that this was the devotional I needed to be reading. I had searched through many devotionals on a website looking for the one with the “x” factor. Maybe it was the word Brave that stood out to me or the gold accent on the cover? Either way I instinctively knew courage was what I was after. Not that I’m a scaredy cat or live in fear of everything – because I don’t. My whole life is out of my comfort zone and I can look back on my life and see many times I have been brave. I can also look back on my life and see the many times I was not brave. I let insecurity and doubt shut me down. I can also look at my day to day, week to week life and see where I am not stepping up and out. I know God has many things planned for me on the other side of insecurity and doubt.

In the 100 Days to Brave, Annie challenges us to discover what our calling is and narrow it down into one sentence. I had been entertaining an idea like this but it’s been called a personal mission statement. It’s a statement that will give you purpose and direction for your life. Of course, I have over analyzed any idea I’ve had of what the statement would be. So when I read this challenge my brain went to work. For days it was in my peripheral but nothing came to the fore front. I’m called to… I’m called to….? On that Sunday right after worship at church, it came to me.

I’m called to… fortify the weak.

Fortify means to strengthen a place with defensive works so as to protect it against attack, strengthen or invigorate someone mentally or physically.

I reflected on this and could see how over the course of life (so far) I’ve done this in the positions I’ve held in and out of the workplace and within friendships. With a recipe of truth, compassion, and sass I’ve validated and challenged others in the most sensitive times in their life. Whether advocating for others in a court room or meeting, certifying that someone is not crazy for the how they’ve mismanaged their childhood trauma, offering effective solutions for other’s dilemmas, helping someone discern between the truth and a lie, not welcoming the status quo. I’ve heard many times from friends “you make me feel like I’m not crazy.” I used to think – people frequently feel crazy?

This doesn’t mean that I am perfect. I’m far from it. Hearing from the Holy Spirit what my calling is opens up my mind.

The other day I was also thinking of my assignment. I’ve decided there is a difference between your calling and your assignment. Your calling is your purpose. Your assignment is how you are to carry it out.

About a year or more ago, I felt this impression on me that I’m not assigned to minister to those in the church building. I’m not saying this absolves me from any serving that I am to do in my home church. I do serve in a couple of ways. However, there was a distinction I made regarding those already attending church and those lost in the world that don’t even believe they are worthy of salvation, even entering a church building any day of the week. Those so far gone they won’t attend a service or even dare ask God for anything. Those are the people I am assigned to.
I am to be the one that goes into the cave with a flashlight of the Gospel to meet people where they are in their deepest pit. I am to be a light that shines on them while we speak. A light that intrigues them. And when I walk freely out of the cave they’ll want to follow.

I’m drawn to the darkness, not to live but to rescue.

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For the past 10 years, my resume is filled with a variety of jobs. Topics of trauma, philosophies of care, emotional intelligence, trafficking, disorders & diagnoses, physical restraints, juvenile justice, criminology, addiction, self-harm, stages of change, abuse & neglect, sexual assault, domestic violence, CPS, probation, homelessness, and more – all saturate my mind every day. I see the world through these lenses.

I didn’t actually ask for this.

I’ve always been obsessed with the WHY.

Why do people do what they do?
What makes a criminal a criminal?
Why do people choose to do wrong?
How are they different from anyone else?

The Why is often a hard red pill to swallow. We are broken. We are fumbling in the dark with a blindfold on and ear plugs in. As Christians we are to introduce people to the spiritual realm. Ephesians 6:12 tells us there are two frequencies – flesh and blood, dark world –AND- rulers, authorities, spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.

Most people function in the flesh and blood. Everything changes when you tune into Heaven. You become acutely aware of the over developed disease of evil. You should be able to see and hear the enemy roaring, strangling and killing souls.

There are many theories out there, you can spend a lot of money hearing about them, taking exams and writing dissertations on them.

The ills of society, the brokenness of people won’t be answered by theories or a national organization or by a federal program. Those systems can bring awareness to the symptoms but they have no concrete solution.

The solution is Jesus Christ. When Jesus became my Lord, His ministry was put before me.

Love them and lead them back to me.

Loving like Jesus isn’t hard, loving like a human is hard because no one will meet our conditions 100/100.

God has given us special people to love.
-the homeless
-the unborn
-the military
-the developmentally disabled
-the sick
-those trapped in modern day slavery
-pedophiles, rapists
-pimps and johns
-children
-addicts, dealers
-parolees, probationers, felons, death rowers
-those in hospice
-post-abortive mothers and fathers
-the suicidal, the homicidal
-the abused, the raped
-the unseen and unheard
-the invisible

They are everywhere at all times. Your assignment is who God told you to love intimately and fiercely.

Ask Him right now. Who do you want me to love? Show me how to love them well. If you have yet to identify who God wants you to love, you are living in rebellion.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
-Matthew 22:36-40

You don’t want to face God and tell him that you spent your lifetime unburdened for the souls of others. You had an extra ticket to Heaven but you threw it in the trash. Be brave and send out invites on behalf of the Bridegroom.

 

Related Reading:

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs.

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hookup culture, sex, Uncategorized

The Faux-Intimate Generation

As I was driving home from a work event I was listening to Clean by Natalie Grant. A memory came to the forefront and I figured I would have to write about it. I was trying to think of title but I didn’t like, “Don’t be a Cheapskate” or “How I knew I had to Stop having Sex.” Another song I like is a country song called Every Little Thing by Carly Pearce.

“Every little thing, I remember every little thing, the high the hurt the shine the sting of every little thing…”

I love it because I’m one those people that remembers. I remember those little things, all the things that never mattered to the other person.

One of the last times I slept with a particular person (about 5 years ago), I remember we didn’t use any protection. Surprise- Surprise. At that time, I was (pathetically) okay with it because I only did that with him. I wasn’t sleeping with anyone else nor did I want to. I was okay with there not being a boundary. I’m not condoning unprotected sex here but explaining my own poor choices.

The next days after, I realized we should have used protection because although I knew where I had been- I did not know where he had been. I could not account for what he was doing with other women or not doing with other women. He was a wild card. I decided to text him.

“Just so you know I only do that with you.”

His response went something like, “Yea me too…I’m clean…trust me.”

He asked if I was on the pill and I said no.

He said if I got the Plan B pill he would “reimburse” me.

reimburse

Reimburse

REIMBURSE

REEEIMMMBUUURSSSE.

I said I wasn’t worried about being pregnant and joked “we’ll see what happens in 9 months.”

He didn’t think it was funny.

I didn’t think REIMBURSE was funny. I didn’t think REIMBURSE was appropriate. I didn’t want his money. I didn’t like the way he so casually used the word REIMBURSE. How many other women had he REIMBURSED? Reimburse is not something you say to someone you slept with. Reimburse is reserved for business transactions. You get reimbursed for office supplies, mileage. You get reimbursed from petty cash when the vending machine won’t give you your Funyuns. I had been given money to purchase Plan B years prior and I vowed that would not be an experience I would repeat. (The Time I Went to the Abortion Clinic)

I was NOT a transaction.

But I was to him.

This exchange of communication was monumental in my quest. Right now, I can thank God for the word choice of that person. Obviously, it has stayed on my mind all these years. It was another reminder of why I could not keep sleeping with him or anyone. Especially as the times have changed and young men have become even more gluttonous for sex as women have become even more feral.
This is the generation of soul-less faux-intimate transactional sex.

I wondered if the new normal was to sleep with a girl unprotected, and then utilize Plan B as a plan a. Just reimburse her later. I remembered when I was younger the mantra was Do Not Get Pregnant. Do Not get a STD.

Had that changed? Had the plan changed so much in less than a decade?

It seems as though as the years pass on Responsibility has become an outdated tenet. How could that be? You would think that as we get older we get wiser.

As our culture has come to worship sex we’ve placed responsibility under personal self-indulgence.

We began to desire the benefits and none of the responsibility. Men and women equal in foolishness.

That *REIMBURSE* conversation led me to see that I had better get out of the game. The game had changed and it wasn’t for me anymore.

I never want to hear the word Reimburse from a man that I have been intimate with. God never intended for men to run amok reimbursing women for Plan Bs or abortions. He intended for men and women to make a covenant with Him at the center to care of one another. To represent Christ to one another. Anything short of that is faux-intimacy. It’s a foundation of quicksand, you lose your footing before you know it. You’ll be left feeling played and cheap. Don’t be a cheapskate. You’re worth more than $50 for Plan B or the $500 for an abortion.

Ladies, a man isn’t taking care of you by throwing money at what he or you may deem a “problem.” The problem happened before the conception. The problem is your lack of purity. You lack a firm and full understanding of who you are.

Men, what happened to you? When did you begin to sell out? Generations before you welcomed responsibility. Welcomed the opportunity to showcase your provision and protection. Being a man meant taking care of someone other than yourself.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Ephesians 5:25

Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. – Proverbs 31:31

Related Content:

Related Music:

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Journaling, Quick Read, Transformation

Creatures

“God take these chains off of me, take the chains off of my heart off my body off my brain. Take these chains Take these chains off of me. God take these chains. These chains of consequences.

he raped my heart now I’m dealing with the consequences of low self-esteem no confidence. I gave him full reign on my body & mind. It’s all over now, it’s gotta be over. Cuz there’s no other way.”                                                                                               July 7, 2010

 

I wrote that in a journal I found in a box in my closet, literally and figuratively. A box inside my closeted soul. I wrote in the Purge how there was a time in my life where I teetered the line of crazy. That post was centered on a particular individual and the merry-go-round I rode with him.

This post however, I want to focus on myself.

I sat on the floor in my room reading these excruciating types of entries, recalling the events or being shocked at events I never remembered. Texting him in the middle of the night “delete my number and forget about me” and “tell me to stop talking to you.” Most going unanswered, unacknowledged driving me even madder. Never in a million years would I have ever admitted to being that crazy girl. In fact, I had like most people remembered the past as I chose to. Glossing over my own poor behavior and over emphasizing the poor behavior in the other person. After a text was ignored I wrote how I cried “all night” or “until I feel asleep.” This scenario saturated my journal.

I began to cry myself. Six years later, I am 31 years old and so far removed from the person I once was. My heart broke for the young me. Someone so lost. Lost in someone else. Lost in reality. I cried and apologized to God for not knowing Him then. I know YOU now though. You came for me, you never stopped coming for me. I felt shaken to my core.

I never truly saw the cage I was in until the other night reading page of page of utter nonsense. Pages of illogical and immature behavior. I was caged up in insecurity and rejection. An embalmed cycle.

a37bf046da5736c037e5b840871027bb

I told God later, I forgive him [the guy] even though I already have. Just in case there is something still there and I don’t know it. I release him. I forgive myself.

As I continued to process my thoughts and raw emotions, I believe God told me that it was not him [the guy] – it was not flesh and blood but principalities at work.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”    Ephesians 6:12

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only LIGHT drives out darkness. I was in some of the darkest rooms stumbling around, trying to find my way, getting bumped and bruised. The enemy liked me in the dark. Falling down and grasping, hurting myself. My sense of self hanging on the whims of another person [the idea of the other person]. Clouds and storms of dysfunction in between us. Looking back, I now believe there was only a small fraction of our real selves that were present with one another. We came to the surface sporadically only to retreat in fear moments later. What a sad way to live your life.

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The old me died a while ago, specifically on May 31, 2015 when I was baptized. I am a NEW creature and NEW thing in Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”   2 Corinthians 5:17

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”     Isaiah 43:19

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”      Romans 6:4

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—“     Romans 6:6

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”     Romans 6:12-14

new_creature_in_christ_by_marlacalandradesigns-d3hnpdz.jpgRelated Music: 

Once and For All- Lauren Daigle


 

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Gender Issues, Men, Transformation

one for the Boys

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When I watch my nephew “play” I wonder what life is like through his eyes. He is often in the middle of an intense battle between The Hulk, Spiderman, Ironman and often switches in and out of roles. He could also be present in a land of dinosaurs and dragons, he is most often a T-Rex. He enjoys pretending to fall down, or acting out a failed jump from the couch to the floor. He is loud and the source of brash noises that seem to only make sense in his context. He turns simple crayons into rocket ships as they burst through the sky. He loves to explore and offer up his small courage to a “haunty house” [any dark room] and transforms himself into a spooked sense of self while in play mode. Between these scenarios, there are spurts of eating. He eats a variety of foods and yet, quite nothing at all. If you haven’t caught on, I take pride in studying his every move.
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As a woman that grew up with no brothers with male cousins seen sporadically, my nephew’s methods are appealing and adventuresome. At times, he gets to jumping on me too much and I put my hands up in surrender. Okay, that’s enough I say. And he seems unaware of how I don’t like this activity anymore. I offer some of my own preferred activities like coloring, drawing, reading a book. I’d like to take time to brag that now he finds enjoyment drawing his vicious characters and exploring another version of his imagination. I also have adapted my normal way of doing things to ask him to help me. When I ask him “hey can you help me?” his response is of great willingness and attention. He tries to lift the heavy box, he tries to find the item I am looking for. He loves to help at the grocery store by putting items on the counter for me to scan at the self- checkout. This is not a fast process. I name the item and what he offers me may or may not be that item. But I love to see him listen and search, trying to match words to real life pictures. This is a challenge for him and it’s exciting. Did I get it right?! What is frozen green beans again? Most of all, he wants to DO. He doesn’t want to sit and shut up, and I like it that way.
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A backlash of feminism has produced an assault on men.

In high school, I recognized the similarity of many prime time sitcoms, the buffoon dad/husband. This image is different than a Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) or a Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby), these are the Raymond (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Peter Griffin (Family Guy) and some others. There was a shift in the way the husband/father was portrayed in the evening TV shows from decades prior. These men are often displayed at simpletons that just always get it wrong. *insert mechanical laughs now* Without their wife, they would live as 40-something frat boys eating Doritos and sour cream for dinner. These men are incapable of caring for their children appropriately and safely. They are also inept at romancing their wives. I’m not married nor do I have children. However, don’t roll your eyes too far back. I was a child once, a child of two married people. With this image of a man or husband, what modern woman would want to be married? I feel bad this is the way men are depicted not just in TV sitcoms but also big picture movies. This image subconsciously draws us away from each other as men and women. This reiterates that message of I don’t need a man. I can do for myself. These messages are a direct result of feminism.
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Can we make bunkbeds? Soooo???

And so I see many, many men taking a backseat to the feminist agenda. If they speak up they are labeled as a sexist and misogynist. If they fall in line, they are tamed. They become passive. They become the man that just stands there when someone is disrespecting you as a woman. They say nothing. If they open a door for you, I can open a door myself. If they take you out, I can pay for myself. But if you sleep with him, can you call you yourself? By the looks of it, that’s the only time some women want a man. To lay in bed with and then obsess over the lack of texts and phone calls coming in. Some women assert their Independence, but cling to their phones waiting for the sad, majestic elusive text message. There’s no judgment here because I have been that woman. Scared to know a man by any other context aside from that which I can assure myself success. I believed that interactions between myself and men were of a win/lose situation. If you know that I like you, I lose. If I’m nice to you, I lose. I used to say I’m not an ego fluffer. I’m not his personal cheerleader. Some of you may be nodding your head like, Right! Let me finish, I now see those beliefs were being held by an immature and insecure woman. There’s a quote that circulates on social media:
“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine brighter.”

I tried to out-shine my fellow man. I was shallow and needed men to know that I was better. I used to believe a man could offer me nothing. The root of these beliefs are for another day.
Four years ago, I went with my pregnant sister to the doctor where we would find out the sex of her baby. When the tech announced there was a penis and that it was a boy, I said “I guess our man-hating days are over.” I have stuck by that statement. How could I welcome a baby boy into this world holding in resentments towards men? How could honor this new member of the family by subconsciously being repelled by all things masculine? How could I take delight in him if I disapproved of his nature?

These days I don’t trash talk men. I actually listen to a few. Men have so much to say and so much to offer us women. Allow yourself to be a woman, soft and beautiful. Allow a man the chance to come through for you. They want to. If a man disappoints you, I plead with you to not become bitter. Do not become prickly. I can only explain this transformation as one produced by God. Without a willingness to be corrected I could not have the heart I have today. We all have value, and I refuse to put down a man in order to self-soothed my own insecurities.

qwRelated Reading:

http://www.girldefined.com/the_trend_of_the_feminine_guy

http://en.gravatar.com/that1liana

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