Hanging Out In Limbo

shutterstock_108821864Limbo= Lim’bo, Lim’bus

1.    A region bordering on hell, or hell itself.
2.    A place of restraint.

Restraint= (Hebrew) ma’tsowr (mah-tsore’)

Objectively, a hindrance.
Atsar (aw-tsar), Hebrew
A primitive root; to inclose; by analogy, to hold back; also to maintain, rule, assemble; be able, close up, detain, fast, keep (self close, still), prevail, recover, refrain, X reign, restrain, retain, shut (up), slack, stay, stop, withhold (self).

Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.

I have found myself on more than one occasion recently saying to myself and others, “I don’t do limbo well!” It seems as though my life and everything about it is in “limbo” at the moment, my place of residence, my passions, my healing and recovery, my job, my relationships, etc., etc., etc. I have continually viewed this as a bad place to be. Looking at the first definition above, that would prove true. BUT GOD!

As I study the second definition I am beginning to realize “limbo” is not always a bad place to be. The verse Isaiah 54:1 seems to start out as a dark place for most women, a barren place. It is a parable of not just a woman who cannot have a child, but all women who have a dream, calling, pull if you will, on their heart. We have so much that “pulls” us into all directions, and usually at the same time! Limbo can be, if we let it, a place of imprisonment, a place of despair and isolation, and really, if we are honest, that region bordering on hell! YUCK! But God wants it to be a place of recovery, refrain from harm, a stillness to stay in His presence. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 We can prevail in “limbo”! “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 We can also keep steadfast in “limbo.” “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Now, I am not saying that I didn’t struggle in my recent “limbo.” As a matter of fact and in total transparency, I actually quit for a bit! Those close to me observed this first hand. They have shown me mercy and grace during my recovery and healing. But God got ahold of me, that’s a great thing, and began to show me how to transfer my “limbo” from that region to His presence. In His presence, limbo looks like this:

L Love = “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” Psalm 52:8

I Imperfect = “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

M Mercy = “His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.” Luke 1:50

B Beautiful = “and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:3

O Open = “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” Psalm 119:148

So the next time you feel in “limbo”, or maybe you are there right now, call on God, only He can move you from the region bordering hell to His presence.

I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
THEN I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, He saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 116:1-9

Written by Kathy Easley

I Have Decided

shutterstock_137550632It is hard to believe something that you have not seen for your own eyes, especially if you are like me, a visual person who prefers to know the outcome from the beginning. Being that as it may, life is not set up that way, for there is a small five letter word in the dictionary called faith. Faith is something we step out on when we have not seen for ourselves all of the evidence, we have not done all of the research, but we are willing to step out decidedly and take a leap of faith.

As I was doing a personal bible study, the question surfaced on why was a redemptive plan set in place when sin entered the world? Why was the redemptive plan necessary? As I pondered this question, my visual mind wandered to the slide show in my head of the events of the bible. A mighty God casting down a dragon from heaven, creating man in His image, the serpent conniving the woman, sin entering in, and the plan of redemption set into motion. Sounds like something fitting for a fantasy novel doesn’t it?

Which is what many have a hard time with. They don’t fully understand on an intellectual level why God would do that. Where did He come from anyway? What was there before God? Why would He bring man into the world if He knew they would sin and turn their back on Him?

The thing about deciding to live on faith, is that you decide that you will not have all of the answers. Although, once you start seeking out a relationship with God, searching His scriptures and communing with Him in prayer, you start to understand the nature and character of God, and He in turn gives you insight that you did not have before. But before He can show you His truth, you have to decide to step out in faith and that you will believe what He says.

I read once that man says show me and I will believe – while God says believe, and I will show you.

I made a decision long ago to believe and let God show me. He has not let me down yet.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”– 1 Corinthians 2:9

Please help us to see with eyes of faith today Lord, not with eyes of our finite minds. For your ways are higher than our ways and Your thoughts higher than our thoughts. You are able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever think to ask for ourselves. May we see clearer, may we dream bigger, may we leave the boxes of conformity behind and seek You as You are, not as what man has tried to make You to be. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Written by Jamie Stapleton

A daughter needs her Father’s blessing

shutterstock_153959978This is a day that I will never forget. I’m actually going to claim it as a second birthday for what transpired felt like a rebirth! I was already on cloud nine being that my son Antonio was marrying his beautiful bride Amber. The venue was being held at a location that was in a city near us – the challenging part was going to be getting there on time. You see the night before as I was driving to pick up last-minute items the power steering pump went out in my car. Normally I would have gotten upset, panicked, stayed stressed out over it the rest of the night and next day. Instead I just gave it to the Lord and trusted that it would all work out. I then called my sister Rosa who I can always count on. As usual she offered to take me in the morning to run the rest of my errands. I finally got back home to help my elderly parents get ready for the big day. They both were so happy and even had colored coordinated clothes to wear. Once they were ready we got a ride from a friend who was going to the wedding too. I was able to register for our room earlier than quoted which was a blessing in itself, this way my parents had somewhere comfortable to wait until the ceremony began. I had a little more than two hours before I had to get into my “Mother of the Bride” dress. I waited for the very last moment until I had to walk downstairs. So I just stayed in the room with my parents talking to them and preparing for the blessing I was going to release during the ceremony. I helped my youngest daughter Sabrena get into her bridesmaid dress, she then came out showcasing the end result. My parents of course gushed over how beautiful she looked. Then it was finally time for me to get all dolled up:) Sabrena returned the favor by helping me get ready. After everything was tucked in and put into proper order (just being real) I was ready to unveil my dress to my parents. The dress I chose was beautiful. It was an iridescent royal blue color. Now mind you I’m used to my mom complementing me, that’s just who she is. My Dad has always been the complete opposite – he never says anything! His compliments are saved for the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren. I walked out of the changing room and my mom began telling me how beautiful I looked and complimented my dress, I smiled and thanked her. Then my Father began to speak, in my head I heard that commercial I always watched on t.v. growing up saying “When E.F. Hutton speaks everyone listens!” Then all you heard in the background were crickets. At that moment I became a cricket! I just knew that I had to absorb the words that were about to come out of his mouth. My father began saying “Oh you look so beautiful, your dress is beautiful, you look so beautiful.” Those words were music to my ears. A sweet lullaby that was being sung to me for the very first time in my life by my father. Something began to happen to me internally, my spirit was excited. I felt my chest poke out, I stood straight up, my shoulders went back, and my head no longer hung low. I waited 47 years to hear my Daddy tell me that I was his beautiful little girl. I wanted to hug him and sit in his lap all at once and say “Tell me more” but that would’ve startled him:) Instead I just said “Thank you!” He just smiled at me in return. It was time for the ceremony to start so my parents walked down with my brother, I stayed behind to gather my thoughts. As I meditated on what actually had happened I realized that I had just received my “Father’s blessing.” Here it was my son’s wedding day and I was the one given the greatest gift of my life. For years I felt like I was never wanted or loved by my father. I’d go into details but it’s just too much to explain. I know now that everything I felt growing up and even recently were lies straight from the pit of hell. My relationship has been evolving since that day with my Dad, the walls have been torn down making room for love to enter. One day in particular stands out to me I was sitting on the couch exhausted from working the night before. My dad was inviting my mom to the table to come and eat with him, she declined because the news was on. Then I heard my Dad say “Tell Diane to come and eat with me.” I went from being exhausted to getting a burst of energy. See I never felt comfortable sitting at the table and eating with my Dad. I just avoided it at all cost but not this day. We talked about a lot of different subjects, my Dad doesn’t even know how much he blessed me. Then the scripture came to me John 14:3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also” My Daddy prepared the table with the food for us, he asked me to sit with him, where he was I was with him also. God gave me back my Dad at the age of 90 and all I want to do is make him proud! I know that my time is short with him because of his age but I choose to love him and let him know how much he truly means to me every day of his life. I shared this important part of my life to encourage fathers of any age to pour into your daughters especially the young ones! They need to know that you love them and are in their corner. Show them how a real man is supposed to treat them so that they will never settle for anything less than what their Dad did for them. Thank you for reading my very first blog! I’m excited for this new chapter in my life ♥

Written by Diane Regalado

You lead, I’ll follow

shutterstock_24759604It never ceases to amaze me at how the disciples dropped everything and followed Jesus. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and follow him.” (Mark 1: 17-20 NIV) A chance encounter with a man they had never met and they were ready to drop everything they knew in an instant and follow after him.

This inspires me so much because how many times in our daily lives do we barter, kick-back, argue or try to persuade God differently when he tells us to “follow Him.” When we come to Him to believe in Him, when we receive salvation, it seems like we will always have this zeal to follow wherever He leads. And then as time goes on and the honeymoon phase is over and now you are getting down to the nitty-gritty of the relationship with Jesus and He sees your messiness, your selfishness, your insecurities and then you feel He has His standards set really high and you don’t feel like reaching them all of the time. You don’t want to follow all of the time. This is where I am in awe of the disciples and their obedience to Jesus call on their lives.

The battle of the will. Will over emotions. The Word of God over the will. Free will to choose God’s will. The Holy Spirit empowering us to obey. Obeying leading to seeing God. Really seeing God meaning you get to really know God. Had the disciples not stepped out and followed Jesus when they did, they would have missed so many unbelievable miracles. They would have missed out on the opportunity to walk with God in the flesh!!! Oh, to be obedient and follow Jesus, no questions asked like the disciples. To be like Peter when Jesus told him to walk on water! To listen with ears not bent toward a worldly view, but that are set to pick up only the tune of the voice of God.

Today, as you set out to accomplish the things on your to do list, where might the Lord be asking you to follow Him?  What might you need to set down in order that you may go?

Written by Jamie Stapleton

 

Girl Power

shutterstock_16227564855,000,000 abortions have occurred in America since 1973…. 55,000,000 women whose lives have been affected. Where was the help they needed when they were faced with this impossible decision? Is it possible that it was hidden in the hearts of other women? Is it possible that if women loved and supported one another in a unity that was unbreakable regardless of the situation or circumstance her sister, friend, neighbor, enemy or stranger found herself in, that she might have found help? Is it possible that if we laid down our competitiveness and judgments and instead loved each other unconditionally and taught our daughters to do the same, we would have a society that was healthy and redeemed? Call me a dreamer but I would like to see this in my lifetime… I want to see women rise up and take their place… not against something but for love.

We are called to be unified as women who relentlessly love one another regardless of the situation or circumstance. It is time now, to band together. A new sisterhood- all over the world…. Racial and economic division- no more, competition- no more, comparison- no more, jealousy- no more, fighting for the attention of men- no more, tearing each other down- no more. We will be women who rise up, take our places, love our God, respect and honor our men while cherishing and depositing life into our children. We will be women who do not demand respect but give honor. We will be women who love with arms wide open, especially when it hurts because we are confident in the One who has done the same for us. We will give love because it’s been given to us and we give it to those who do not have it to give, without expectation of repayment. We will wear our crowns of royalty with an understanding of the price that has been paid for them. We look on others with kindness. We will be a band of sisters who say no to division, strife and poverty of spirit. We will raise our daughters up to love one another and our sons to cherish our daughters. We will stand guard at the entry of our homes and we will say NO to the influences that contradict what we stand for. We will refuse to be fed the lie that we have to “sell” the image of our bodies to be considered beautiful for beauty radiates from within us. The bride of Christ is awakening and the women of the bride are getting up from their slumber. The sleep is being washed from our eyes and we are seeing clearly- who we are and whose we are.  Women are being redeemed from all that has been stolen from us and we will NEVER be the same again! It is time for us to shed the lie that our enemy is each other and pick up the truth that our purpose is to band together as a strong, beautiful example of what love really looks like. I am believing for a generation of women to rise up and take their place in their realm of influence… we all have one, those within our reach… our circle. We will choose to start the fire of love within those around us and we will fan the flame by not giving up when it gets hard. When we truly love one another, we will cultivate and shape our current generation and generations to come for an influence of love that will be unstoppable. This is girl power.

Written by Kylee Washington

She

shutterstock_142613923This may sound strange, but over the past year I have begged God for a meek and feeble request that he might cause me to fall in love with myself. Not in an arrogant and self-righteous manner, but from an attitude of humility, to view myself from His gaze: by His grace. To love myself with each breath, breathing in simultaneously through one nostril awareness of who I am without Jesus: insufficient, depraved and desperate, and through the other who I am with Him: perfected, loved and redeemed. Both are significant to my existence as a follower of Christ, for me to be known accurately, and to be loved wholly.

What follows describes She— the “person” in all of us that we are ashamed of. My hope for this post is that you will find your identity in Jesus and allow Him to shape the “she” in you. Its not an overnight process, but it is a process that every believer should go through. I pray that you will see who you are without Jesus and who you are with Jesus!

She likes to think she knows who she is. Her answer is sure when she feels loved by God. Self-acceptance is relatively easy when her life is together and support systems are in place. At times, she may even claim that she is coming to love herself. When she is strong, on top, and in control, her sense of control crystalizes. But what happens when she no longer feels loved? When her sin is exposed and her failures are highlighted? What happens when her fears come true and her dreams shatter?

As the pretender, she is a compromiser to her true self: insecure in her own skin and using others for how she might win. She adapts to each evolving situation and as a result she doesn’t have a personality of her own. Her identity comes from meeting the needs of others and performing with excellence. Success to her is people liking and approving of her. Failure is being rejected.

Because of her suffocating need to please others, she cannot say no with the same confidence with which she says yes. Motivated by the fear of not living up to others expectations, she overextends herself in projects, people, and programs. Living out of her creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire her yet she will still remain unknown. Her life becomes a perpetual roller-coaster ride of delight and depression. She is preoccupied with her weight and often grieved by the scale. The reflection of her awkward body shape, her puffy hair, and her freckled face in the mirror kidnaps her attention away from the voice of Jesus. It temporarily robs her of the Truth of His Word and she then becomes obedient to the whisper of lies. The amount of time, energy and thought she devotes to acquiring and maintaining the “perfect” image is quite staggering.

She assumes the passive role in relationships, snuffs out her creative thinking, denies her real feelings, and allows herself to be intimidated by others. Preferring to be plain, she blends in– there is less of her to reject that way. She wants only to be safe, to fit in, to be accepted, to be liked. Out of the fear of rejection, she avoids direct speech; she hedges, waffles, and remains silent. She is devoted to a life in the shadows. To her, silence is safer.

She is in me, in all of us. She is a vital part of our total self, but she must be called out of hiding, be accepted and embraced. The art of gentleness towards her leads me to be gentle with others. The hatred I have towards her, the pretender in me, is actually self-hatred. However, God liberates me from self-condemnation with graciousness and an understanding of human weakness that only He can exhibit. He is the one who saves us from her— from ourselves. His name is freedom. His Word is freedom.

Jesus discloses God’s true feelings towards me in the life He lived when He dwelt among us. The understanding and compassion He offered those He encountered then, He also offers you and me.

Naturally, she will forever be in us. I wouldn’t want her to go away. She is a part of me; a part of you; however, she shouldn’t control us. She might get frazzled at times, and start to act out. But the longer we spend time in the presence of Jesus, the less adoration she will need because she will have discovered that HE is enough. In His presence, she will delight in the discovery of what is means to live by grace and not by performance. And she will truly know who she is in Him: loved, redeemed, and His righteousness.

Written by Meredith Nichols

Patience

shutterstock_164791247To see Your face in the midst of my day to day
When the desire to be Yours drives me to change my ways
and all I want is peace, the sweet release that comes with trusting
And then along comes the girl who desires to control her world
And wants to be patient for nothing
Your patience towards me that I might truly believe
Is designed so that I might have patience
This fact always seems to fly over my head because you see
I don’t like waiting
Taught to believe that if you do, you will receive
I try with all my might to just sit tight
And yet without my knowing, I go back to controlling
Picking up where I think You must have left off
Like Sarah, I think sometimes I can do a better job
And in that moment, I realize that my cries
Are not of a woman who has given her life
But of a woman who is demanding her way
Tears of frustration streaming down her face
And I am spent
Your pursuit of me strong, You never relent
Despite my desire to forge paths you didn’t make
You remind me that it is Your glory that must remain on display
Closing my eyes I feel His presence
The Comforter you sent that connects me with Heaven
A gift to receive, yet you ask will I receive it
Longsuffering is not for the complacent
But for those like me who have trouble with waiting
Our Creator in Heaven knows the dust we were made in
Which is why He provided just what we need
Walk with the Spirit and tell your flesh to take heed
Patience is not for the weak
It is forged in the battle of life versus death
Will I trust You enough with this to watch it slip through my hands?
Will I wait on You rather than build my house on sand?
For to Your creativity there can be no comparison
And so I desire to wait
Capture my heart, Lord,  keep it safe
My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak
Bolster my faith Lord, make me complete

 – Jamie Stapleton