Thursday, February 25, 2010

Friends who bite your back -- Leave Teeth Marks

Hello ... Princess Warriors!

Before I get started on our topic of the day, I wanted to take a moment and invite you to listen to my recent radio guest appearance. This past Saturday, February 20 to be exact, I had the privilege of discussing Princess Warriors for Christ on the radio program: Let's Talk with Stacy and Hutch, on WORD FM 101.5 Pittsburgh -- a long way from Oregon. They were three hours ahead, so sleepy-head-me had to be up and kicking at 6:00 AM my time to take the call from the studio producer. Ugh! Thankfully, with God all things truly are possible. Me up early on a Saturday is indeed a major miracle.

To listen, go directly to the Let's Talk Radio Show's previously recorded messages, that will of course include the Princess Warrior segment, Click here:

When you arrive on the page, you will see the blurb for the radio show. Below that are the dates and topics. Just added, at the top of the list, are the links for the Princess Warrior show. It is not yet titled, but the date is clearly marked. And, off to the right side, you will see a column that says -- LISTEN -- my portion of the show is Part B.

If you click the link you will hear our Princess Warrior Discussion. (please note that the hosts talk briefly following a commercial break before I'm actually on the air) And if you have time, I highly recommend listening to the program (there are several parts with different guests) in its entirety, and then, when time allows, check out their other weekly topics. Great Themes! They deal with real life "stuff" for those of us who are fighting to reign real. Just what we need! Amen!?


On a much different note (a terribly sad one) is the current major headline about a Killer Whale named Tillicum (meaning friend) who pulled his longtime trainer and human friend into his tank at Sea World, killing her in the process.

Now this isn't a blog entry to discuss how we feel about animals in captivity. There are plenty out there for that. I'm actually using this tragic story to segway into another tragedy that can be deadly in its own unique way. Though not likely to kill your physical being, the issue we're exploring can certainly play a significant roll in killing your trust, your relationships, and your faith in others, even God.

I want to believe that Tillicum didn't intend to kill his trainer of ten years when he pulled her into the water. Although, I can't possibly know what goes on in the head of anyone or anything. Only God knows that. Sadly, though, whatever the reason, lives were forever altered. Not only was the woman's family, friends, and coworkers impacted by this horrific event, but also the men, women, and children in the stands were deeply traumatized by what they witnessed. Surely, their lives will be changed forever after seeing such tragedy unfold before them. It was definitely not what they expected. Dawn, his trainer, most certainly didn't expect it as she stroked and played with the familiar animal.

When I read this story, I started thinking about an issue that has caused problems for many women -- both believer and non-believer alike. No one is immune. Only by the grace of God can we rise above this problem. So, what am I talking about? Maybe some of you have already figured it out. The picture above gives a clue. It shows two princesses on either side of a road, a road that leads to one castle. Two princesses, one castle. Hum? Are they a team? Sisters? Maybe friends? For our purposes today, I'm going to say friends. They are both daughters of the King and are traveling the same narrow road to reach their future heavenly home.

What happens when one princess turns on the other? It may not be obvious at first, maybe they've ended up on opposite sides of the road because there is a division between them. Maybe the "G" word got in the way.

Ladies, there is a "G" word -- GOSSIP -- that can reap havoc on our relationships. It is especially painful when the back biting takes place between two friends. When we take our words, and use them like a sword to stab our sisters where it hurts most -- in the back and through the heart, we not only harm ourselves and our friend, we can end up traumatizing those around us.

Gossip, lies, backstabbing all seem to grow. The impact is felt like the aftershocks of an earthquake. People take sides, and battle lines are drawn. Instead of fighting together against our common enemy, we end up fighting amongst ourselves.

The devil just stands back and cheers. He doesn't have to lift a finger. We're the ones raising weapons to wound other warriors.

As Christians, we can even use the Bible, God's truth, as a tool of destruction.

I have a feeling you know what I mean. For example, Julie confessed to her good friend, Jonie, that she has been yelling at her children. She admits to letting the sun go down on her anger, a lot. She requests prayer from Jonie and shares about her struggles in confidence. Jonie, who has struggled with similar problems, suddenly feels a little better about herself as she has improved in this area. For some reason, she is compelled to tell another friend about Julie's confession. Jonie reasons that she is gathering prayer support and really needs advice on how to best support Julie. Get the picture. So the cycle continues. Pretty soon, Julie uncovers the knife in her back, which is now piercing her heart. She becomes disillusioned with her Christian friends, who are all discussing her issues, and she stops attending church. After all, she came to The Church to find true friends, people she could trust. Instead, it's exactly the same gossiping mess she experiences in the world.

And we wonder why so many people avoid Christians, referring to us as judgemental, hypocritical, and worse. Sadly, sometimes we are those very things. I know I've been that and more. I've also been on the receiving end of such treatment. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that it doesn't feel good to be gossipped about.

Friends, we are daughters of the King of Kings. We are to be an example to a hurting and lost world. We are to be set apart, not the same, but different -- holy.

Loyalty to others is a quality every Princess Warrior should exhibit. I know I need to. And not just sometimes, with some people, but all the time, with all people. Granted, alone, this is simply too much for our frail human nature to master on its own. We need heavenly help and earthly support. We need the power of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of safe and trusted friends to hold us accountable.

Won't you take the Stomp out Gossip Challenge with me? Let's try it for a day and then build on that. Wake up and ask the Holy Spirit to put a supernatural block on your tongue. A block that acts as an alarm before negative words and comments are spoken. Once words are out, they stay out. There is no giant eraser that can vanquish our cruel comments. Don't I wish! Rather than say something negative about someone to another person, find a quiet place and talk to God. We can complain to Him. He tells us we can come to Him with any concern. He won't gossip.

That's it; one day without speaking negative words to anyone -- about anyone. Can you do it?

That also means when you're in the grocery store parking lot, and some rather rude woman cuts you off for a highly coveted parking spot, you do not turn to your passenger and complain about her. Keep the mouth shut! We can do this. So, what do you say? Are you with me?

I've said this before, and (forgive the cliche') but I'll likely say it again ... and again. We serve a God of relationship. We, as the body of Christ, are to be Christ's hands extended. We are examples of grace; lights in an often dark world. We need one another! So let's stop wounding our comrades, because as the title so simply states: Back biting leaves teeth marks. Worse yet, it hurts the heart.

What does God's Word have to say about gossiping?

Proverbs 16:28 NIV tells us:

"A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends."

What about 1 Timothy 5:12-13 NIV?

"Thus they bring judgement on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides they get in the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to."

Or Proverbs 20:19 ...

"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man (or woman) who talks to much."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's Love Got to do with it?

Happy (almost) Valentines Day!

The day when we honor love is drawing near. Men and women everywhere will run around searching for those just-right tokens of appreciation to give their loved ones this Sunday. Some will have somehow forgotten the special day and will find themselves stopping at one of those corner flower stands created with the Valentine "Forgetter" in mind. After all, giving a gift shows we love that special person, doesn't it?

Before I answer that question, I want to share about a young woman I know who loves her boyfriend. True story with the names changed, of course, as this tale isn't your typical love story, well, actually, it's far too typical these days. It's a story that I remember well from my own distant past.

We'll call this precious princess, Sally. Since I personally don't know any Sally's, except my daughter's friend's horse, Sallie, we should be okay honoring the privacy of "Sally."

This particular Sally is a single mother who has had to fight hard in order to break free from a number of torturous enemies. Primarily drugs and dysfunctional men. She has worked diligently to change her life -- for the better. Unfortunately, she has never been able to fully grasp her identity as a Princess Warrior who belongs to the ultimate King of the Universe. She's always felt unloved and lives in regret of her past despite the many people encouraging her and cheering her own. Sally has remained hungry for love.

A few months ago, she met a charismatic and handsome guy. He made her feel good. He made her laugh. He brought excitement into her life. All was good -- for a while.

Then the horror began. Suddenly, Sally became a captive to a twisted and dangerous form of false love. This new man-of-her-dreams took control of her life. He wouldn't allow her to answer her own phone or leave the house without him. He threatened and berated her. He became violent, even vengeful, and she was terrified. Things finally got so bad that she was scared for her life. This man told her the reason that he did these things to her was because: He loved her.

Some of you might be wondering why she didn't just get the you-know-what out of dodge. Or why she stayed. Why she continued to endanger herself and her son. Though, I also believe many of you can relate on a very personal level to Sally's misguided "love" relationship. We all know someone, if not ourselves, who has experienced a destructive form of love on some level. Maybe we haven't endured what Sally is enduring, but we understand. We need only turn on an evening drama or daily soap opera to see this type of relationship showcased to some degree. We are being programmed to think this type of insanity is a passionate and intense relationship. Some believe that fighting, at the very least, can liven things up. In actuality, it's destroying us.

My heart breaks knowing that many precious sisters will spend Valentines Day held captive by not only false forms of love, but also by relationships that have turned dangerous, even deadly.

I was so happy a few weeks ago, when Sally came to tell me how she had escaped the relationship, yet I could sense that she had lost almost all hope and that her idea of love had become skewed and distorted. She knew in her head that she didn't deserve such abuse, but by the things she said, I just knew she'd be returning to the hell in her home.

In my job, I see situations like this daily. I watch families torn to shreds by violence, addiction, and lies. I see wounded women accepting despicable treatment in the name of love. I was once one of those women. Thankfully, my story is one of victory not tragedy. I want all the "Sally's" to find healing and hope in Christ. Don't you?

Ladies, those of you who will celebrate this special holiday with a wonderful husband, fiance, or boyfriend -- rejoice. Remember to thank God for your relationship. For love is an incredible gift. And while your rejoicing, please remember those wounded women who are literally dying for love. Don't judge. Love.

We live in a world that perverts the meaning of love. Completely understanding the kind of love that God has for us, is truly beyond our comprehension. We get glimpses of it. We taste the sweetness of it. And someday, when we finally stand face-to-face with the Ultimate Lover of our Souls, only then we will fully embrace the grace, love, and mercy that we've been shown through Jesus Christ.

I know this might seem like a depressing topic for this holiday, but I believe God wants to remind His Princess Warriors that as women, created for loving relationships, too often we accept substitutes when it comes to love. Even when we are blessed with a fantastic, godly relationship, overflowing with God's love, we cannot expect that one person or relationship to fully satisfy our soul. There is only One who can ever quench our thirst for love -- God Himself.

In honor of the Maker of Love -- Make sure to spend some time in His presence this weekend. Give God the gift of your time, treasure, and talents. Worship Him and adore Him. After all, He is the Giver of the wonderful relationships you have. Maybe even design your own special Valentine's card for Him. Write a poem. Sing Him a song. It's not silly; it's simply a tangible way to show God how much you love and appreciate Him.

If you're in doubt about what real love "looks like," you'll want to reacquaint yourself with the following scripture:

From the New Living Translation:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor. 13:4-7

Do you remember that question I asked at the beginning of this post? Does giving a gift show we love that special person? Yes and no. Yes, certainly, a gift is a token or reminder of love. But even the most heartless abuser my give a gift, so indeed we could also answer no. So ...

to be sure you are demonstrating love, refer to the above scripture verses and act accordingly. Then you will be loving the way God tells us to love. After all, the greatest gift of love given us wasn't a bouquet of flowers to display, or a box of candies to snack on -- God's gift was a life -- His own Son's. Jesus died. He rose. And, we, because of this amazing gift, get the most amazing gift of love imaginable -- an everlasting life in the presence of God All Mighty.

Now, ladies, that's what I call love.

Please, take a moment and join me in praying for anyone suffering this Valentine's Day in the name of love:

Dear Lord,

So many women, men too, are experiencing horrible, even life-threatening treatment in the name of love. We don't know exactly why they're in this situation, but, You do. And regardless of the circumstances, You care. You love. Your desire is that we all experience real love that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

You know and understand that letting go of a person or relationship can be heart wrenching, despite any abuse or poor treatment. We can become trapped, entrapped. Our lives can become endangered. You want to set us free in every way to experience Your love, Your hope, and Your future for us.

If someone reading this prayer is currently in an abusive relationship, please show that person Your love. Provide her with an escape plan. Place people in her life that can help. Guide her to the right resources and protect her and her children in the process. You have a plan and purpose for everyone reading these words. Please, give us all a glimpse of that purpose and plan.

Others may have no experience or understanding of the abuse process. Please give those sisters the desire to pray as the warriors they are for their wounded sisters. Give us all hearts of mercy, words of encouragement and hope, and the strength to pray often for the precious princesses still held captive.

This Valentine's Day we celebrate the Author of real love -- You! You, Lord, are the Lover of our Souls. We thank you for Your undying, never-changing love. Please help us show love to those you place on our paths today and everyday. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Together we can!

Greetings Princess Warriors!

I pray that all is well and that God's favor continues to shine upon you, bringing joy, regardless of your circumstances. May God fill you with His strength as you fight your daily battles. May He bring you victory after victory! Amen! I just had to pray a blessing over you. We just can't get enough blessings, can we?

So ...

The other day, I was finally able to visit the "Re-Gifting Store" near my place of employment in Vancouver, WA. I've driven past this unique business for the past couple of months but never seem to have enough time to explore the treasures waiting just beyond the cheerfully painted windows.

I don't know about you, but I like a bargain. I'd already heard this was a great place to find good deals, and that it was operated by good people, people who were helping people in the community make ends meet. Needless to say, I had a great shopping experience while listening to great Christian music. Yes ... this is a Christian owned and operated business that I highly recommend. I plan to do some volunteer work in the near future.

Anyway, as I was preparing to leave, I attempted (being the strong, capable, do-it-yourself kind of woman that I am) to carry all my purchases out to my car all alone. I had a grocery-sized bag of books, including plenty of hardbacks. (They let you fill up a bag of any books for five bucks!) I'd also grabbed a kitty-cat painting for my daughter and a super-cool leather bag.

Me with the bad knee and extra pounds was going to lug this all out without asking for help, thank you very much nice Christian people. Well, thankfully, those nice Christian people were having none of my self-sufficiency. A generous and highly capable volunteer lifted my load and helped me get settled. I was very grateful for the support. I couldn't possibly have made it on my own without breaking something, at the very least a nail.

Silly, wasn't it? Me almost breaking my back trying to accomplish something by my own not-so-super strength.

Seriously, though, how often do we try to do things on our own? How often do we get discouraged fighting battles alone, attempting to wield our swords when our arms are ready to collapse under the weight? Probably more often than we care to admit.

For me, it's especially hard to ask for help when I've made a mistake, when I've sinned or fallen short. I find that I'm ashamed and afraid to let others see me at my worst. Forget about God's grace, it doesn't apply in this situation, I falsely tell myself. Or, I'm facing a huge battle of some kind and I'm out on the battlefield all alone, too tired to lift my weapon and face my enemy. Not a good position to be in -- ever.

I'm so, so glad that this dismal picture can be completely re-adjusted with a little help from my friends.

Think for a moment about Moses. He was one powerful man of God when he allowed God to work powerfully though him. But even Moses didn't fight all by himself. In one of his many adventures, he and the Israelites faced yet another formible enemy -- the Amalekites. Moses stood on top of a hill with his staff raised high. When he kept the staff up, his army was victorious. When he lowered it, well, the results were not so good. Eventually, his arms got tired. I mean can you imagine holding up a huge staff, over your head, for hours on end? I couldn't even hold a bag of books for three minutes!

Thankfully, God had stratigically provided Moses with helpers. Listen to the story:

So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. Exodus 17: 10-12

These two men literaly lifted up their friend's arms. Moses didn't say, "Go away! I can manage by myself." Thank goodness for the Israelites that he was willing to share his burden.

Ladies, we, too, need others to share our burdens and to help us lighten our loads, and whatever those things weighting us down might be, God provides a way lessen our yokes, if we'll let Him. Our walk with Christ is a journey meant to be taken with other Christian travelers. And the battles we fight are meant to be won with friends by our side.

I understand how difficult it can be to humble yourself and seek help. We live in a world that tells us to pull up our bootstraps and hide our tears. But, in reality, what we all need is a person or persons that can hold up our arms when they become to weary to stay raised. Please, precious princess, just because you're a warrior doesn't imply you must stand and fight alone.

Moses, one of the greatest, godliest leaders of all time needed support. Why shouldn't we?

If your armor has become too heavy to put on, reach out. There is an armor bearer standing somewhere nearby who will help prepare you for battle. God doesn't want us to spend our lives struggling alone, oh no! He tells us where two or more are gathered He is in their midst. When God is in our midst, we can expect a victory. Lift us up, Lord. Lift us up!