Boot Camp

When last wrote, I talked about moving into the next phase of My Love Dare with God: Living My Love Dare with God...here we go..

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress,    my God, in whom I trust.’  For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence..” Psalm 91:1-3 (ESV)

Allow those words to sink in  a bit…refuge – fortress – deliverer

I’ve known for some time 40 days of developing a deeper relationship with God was, for the most part, an outline of sorts – still an essential, integral part the journey; but a critical part..a connection with my heart and in my spirit, wasn’t there yet.

The real work was only beginning – taking the concepts introduced in the initial 40 days and putting them into practice – application is always a critical step of development.

My initial confrontation/realization came  last Fall —  my life was changing dramatically and the chain reaction was much more than I could have imagined.  The range of emotions seemed almost too much to bear at times.  I went from certainty to uncertainty  to greater uncertainty day after day.  I felt more alone than I had in a long, long time.  I would soon learn the loneliness I felt had nothing to do with a man – it was about me attempting to venture down a path without completely trusting  God as my guide.

At the time I wrote this entry, I believed I was planning to marry and embark on a new journey.  But the plans were falling apart.  In the blink of an eye, the wedding moved from 60 days away to an undetermined date.  I went from my future husband moving to Texas  to me moving away.  I went from transitioning away from the life I’d known with the help of a partner to feelings of abandonment – on my own to sell  a 30yr old home in need of much repair, moving away from a full-time corp career, being near family and friends, and most of all, remaining in close proximity to my daughter.   In other words, moving from my comfort zone to something unknown.

I was now being thrust into a position where all of the “things” I cherished would be stripped away and I would be responsible for the execution – no one here to physically push me forward.

It had to be intentional surrender and I was in a tailspin of emotions.

I felt abandoned by the man I trusted as a future partner and it was excrutiatingly painful – I kept thinking to myself, “I could do this if he were here.”

You see, even  though God provided great revelation in the 40 day Love Dare, the principles were still theorectical – I had no life application (yet!) and my old tendancies readily moved into play.

I found myself trusting a man…loving a man…an imperfect human more than God.  My instincts weren’t honed yet to look to God first and foremost for my motivation, strength, and support.

You see, God had shown me what was necessary to really take my walk deeeper two years before…

08/04/09: For God to effectively use me, He has to take me completely out of my comfort zone…that way I will be forced to lean on Him.

What does this mean to me? BIG change.

Interesting…I hadn’t read that note since I wrote it 2+ years earlier.  Am I  willing to embrace what God has ahead even if I don’t have a grasp on what the picture looks like?  No one else can do this for me – someone pushing me through won’t achieve God’s objective.

This leg of my journey is intended to be bonding time with God – much like the initial bonding between parent and infant.  In spite of past experiences, in spite of past perceived successes, this is a time of trials where establishing complete trust and dependence on God is critical – and no human can provide the incentive or fuel.

And so, God is providing me with opportunities to trust Him and depend on Him in every single facet of my life – to take refuge in Him when weathering the storms of life changes….

    • Relationships: uncertainty will inevitably create strain – can I trust God to manage it all?
    • Career: it’s not the career I love, but the confidence I have gained – will I surrender so God can redefine my sense of self-worth?
    • Possessions: I must de-clutter my life – voluntary purging of the past is essential for me to be fully available to God

I’m sure there’s so much more I haven’t recognized yet, but it is overwhelmingly apparent I’m not just moving into a new phase – I’m in boot camp to serve the Most High!

©  Celeta’s Journey & My Love Dare with God, 2012. All rights reserved.

Buckle Up!

For the past few months, I’ve been writing the real personal stuff and posting…well, surface thoughts…it’s time to dig in, folks…

It’s been an incredibley bumpy ride…Hebrews 12:11 in action! 

While much of what I will share in the coming weeks may prove a bit painful to share, the joy far outweighs any discomfort – my prayer is it can serve as a message of how good our God is to see us through each and every trial.

My first entry was a synopsis of a message by Joyce Meyer on Discipline & Self-Control…obviously I had no clue what God was about to do in my life!

She talked about Peaceable Fruit – a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness–in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God

11For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

     12So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees,” Hebrews 12:11-12 (AMP)

When God pushes us out of our comfort zones, it’s to deal with issues (yes, even those we thought we’d dealt with) – it’s His way of saying He’s not going to put up with it anymore!

Hebrews 12:12 is basically says: instead of walking around all “woe is me” – shake yourself off, stand up straight, and be thankful God is willing to help me grow.

Wow!  Isn’t that so true? Discipline rarely, if ever, feels good!  What I didn’t realize at the time? I was embarking on Phase II of My Love Dare with God: Living My Love Dare with God

 

Leaps and Bounds

How wonderful it is to see God grow His children by leaps and bounds – it requires real trust on our part though!

He loves to show off!

Stay tuned…

Matters of the Heart – Part 2

Last summer I wrote about duct tape…. I discovered the only way to open myself to others was to completely open myself to God. I had to hand over my sticky plaque-filled heart and let Him do what He does best: Love me, clean away the plaque of life’s hurts and get out there to do what He called us all to do – love others.

We all know heartache comes…and yet we rarely expect it when it does – maybe that’s how you know you’ve completely given your heart to someone or something….

Perhaps the test is to decide what to do with your heart when it feels like it’s been through a meat grinder:

Do you pull out the duct tape and try to piece it back together on your own? OR

Do you call on God and allow Him to provide true healing?

My vote goes to the latter…

God assures us He works ALL things together for good (Rom 8:28) – even heartache….

God assures us He has a plan for our lives…plans to prosper us and not harm us – plans to give us hope and a future (Jer 29:11)

During any transition, we’re reminded not to focus on the circumstance and instead be thankful! He has the pruning shears out – growing us in ways we may not see today, but HE SEES – He knows the harvest to come!

“God looks forward to blessing us every day. Live expectantly.”

Cha-Cha-Changes…

Well, well, well…isn’t it interesting how you can see something directly in front of you, but not see it at all?  Last week I wrote about motion sickness…it made great sense to me, but of course I was looking retrospectively.  Nothing wrong with that, retrospection gives us a clearer picture of experiences God uses to grow us.  The trick is future application!

When I wrote last week’s entry, in my mind I was thinking, “Boy, there are a lot of changes on the horizon! Not worry, Celeta – your focus is exactly where it needs to be!”  Right…

Later in the week I came across a note/journal entry from two years ago that spoke of changes and how God needs to take me completely out of my comfort zone and put me in a scenario where I would have no bearing…the result? Increasing my dependence on Him.

When I read the entry I thought, “Wow! Isn’t that interesting?”  Originally, I thought it meant everything I knew – every facet of my physical existence would be turned on end… Whew! What a relief to realize that although my life was changing dramatically, God wasn’t taking my out of my world, He was bringing someone in to my world to shake things up – I can do that kind of change!  Not so fast, Sparky…as quickly as plans came into view, they started changing…ah geez…that motion sickness was setting in again!

Insecurities seem to be bubbling up like there’s no tomorrow…yet in announcing changes to family and friends, I am reminded of my primary objective…to fulfill God’s purpose in my life.  Yes, that is the desire of my heart…could someone please send the memo to my flesh????

What to do? Focus…or rather Re-Focus on God’s promises…

When I start thinking “I can’t seem to figure things out!” remind myself He will direct my steps…

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

When I start thinking, “this is too much – it’s too hard” remind myself to persevere – He will see me through…

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. ” 2 Chron 28:20

In other words DON’T GIVE UP! No one ever said change is easy…it is however, essential to growth.  My emotions are like a see-saw and even though I’m still struggling with desires of the flesh and desperately trying understand what God is laying out before me, I have to remember and find comfort in the fact that He’s the one who has written the change order, He’s REALLY good at His job, and He will get me where I’m going!

 

 

Struggling with doubt? Check out Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart

Drought Conditions

Are you searching????

Last week as my bible study came to a close in prayer, one of the ladies prayed for relief from the drought…my thoughts immediately conjured up images we’ve all seen…lakes dried up…thousands upon thousands of wildlife succumbing to the lack of nutrition…

Then God prompted me to draw a correlation to the spiritual state so many are in…boy, can I relate!  I’ve been in that desert!  Searching and searching for SOMETHING….dying of thirst and no idea what would quench it…it’s as if I was alone in the parched land with no hope of survival….the only thing I knew was that SOMETHING had to change…

And then God stepped in…actually He was there all along…it was as if I was moving Him aside so I could keep searching for a way to fill the void on my own.    

What I have learned is that God will use tools that may seem quite unconventional to bring us closer to Him.  With me? An unexpected acquaintance with someone so bold for Christ I couldn’t dodge him – believe me, I tried!  So often in life I’ve been successful intimidating others – not intentionally mind you – it usually happens when people start to get too close – I push back and generally they stay back.  Not that time…looking back I’m so incredibly thankful! 

We all need motivation to move towards change and that picture looks different for everyone.  Me? I had to first see God move in the life of  the one person on this earth I cherish most – my daughter.  Then He had to bring in a total stranger – talk about opposite ends of a spectrum!  I needed someone bold enough to show me I couldn’t dictate the circumstances of total surrender – and as my friend so succinctly put it, “that would be a peace treaty and God just doesn’t work that way!” 

The only way to survive a drought is by tapping into the true water source… I’m reminded of a sermon a year or so ago entitled  Digging Our Father’s Well   Great message – I’ll try to hit the hightlights…

Basically, we have to clear debris from our “faith well” – the well represents the place where true spiritual life is sustained.  Life has a way of filling the wells of faith with debris such as false religion, abuse, family curses, etc.  Just as Isaac took on the task of re-digging the wells of his father, we have to re-dig our wells if we want true spiritual life. 

How do you do that you ask?  Here’s a start:

  • Prioritize – our very survival depends upon digging deep for living water.
  • Recognize – life has a way of filling our well with debris that keeps us from the sweet waters of life.
  • Persist – dig past family dysfunction and cultural expectations to tap into the living water.
  • Persevere – never give up and don’t get sidetracked by others who don’t want to see you succeed.

Also, PRAY for God to send you a mentor – someone to help show you His truths. 

The great thing is, regardless of how well we know Him, God is ALWAYS by our side – especially in drought conditions.

Temptation

My words of encouragement this morning is a wonderful reminder to consistently seek Him…

“The good news is that none of us has to cave in to pressure.  In the midst of crazy days when things don’t go right and people get on your nerves, you can still have inner peace.  You can still have God’s perspective on your life.”

Hello! How easy it is to try and carry the pressures of the world on my shoulders – to try and manage life on my own…so many Scriptures come to mind, but this is the first…and not coincidentally, one of my first memory verses!

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.

And God is faithful;

He will not let you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.

But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out

so that you can stand up under it.”

Matters of the Heart

January 29, 2011

Over the past few weeks I’ve been presented with Phil 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “ (NIV)

Guard your hearts…talk about something I’ve tried to manage on my own! Although I’ve recognized the challenge of truly opening myself to others, I’ve spent so many years guarding my heart…I’ve had the proverbial duct tape wound so tightly…layers upon layers…in many ways believing that if I distanced myself enough, whatever the circumstances, my heart could not be damaged. 

But that’s not true, is it? Life still happens.  Damage still occurs – before you realize it, plaque has built up and you’re at the mercy of a professional.  Imagine…if the doctor said, “You need heart surgery – your arteries are filled with plaque – medication isn’t an option – you won’t live without surgery.”

Would you say, “No – thanks, though – I can repair the damage on my own.”  DOUBTFUL! Most likely you’d want to schedule surgery as soon as possible.

Why is it do you suppose, it’s so easy to put our lives in the hands of a surgeon? An acquaintance – at best?   We do a little research and rely COMPLETELY on credentials – we literally put our life in the hands of the surgeon and barely think twice about it. Yet we avoid relying on God at ridiculous costs.

But what about God? The REAL surgeon? The One who has a PERFECT track record? The One who can repair the worst of damage?  He alone can clean the mucky plaque of life and never leave a scar – if we let Him.

So why hold back? Oh, is it because we have to be an active and willing participant? It’s not as if He’s going to knock us out, perform His work, and then we wake up good as new.  No…we have to be awake – fully conscious for this one.

And so why Phil 4:6-7?  Duct tape is great for many things, but when it comes to guarding your heart? Not so much.  Have you ever tried to remove duct tape? After years and layers upon layers, it’s a sticky mess.  And all the damage? Still there!  Sure, I may have achieved the objective of not letting anyone close enough to hurt me, but that’s not really true either…I’d only been hurting myself.

As I’ve been digging my spiritual well, I’ve discovered the only way I’ll be able to open myself to others is to completely open myself to God.  I have to hand over my sticky plaque-filled heart and let Him do what He does best: Love me, clean away the plaque of life’s hurts and get out there to do what He’s called us all to do – love others.  Sure, heartaches will happen, but what about the joy that comes too? Besides, God assures me He works all things for my good – even all that mucky plaque…

I don’t need to be anxious about anything – I’m in great hands! I don’t need the proverbial duct tape – He will guard my heart for me.  I just need a regular check-up with Him – through prayer and petition in every situation, He will keep me in perfect health!

Dig Deep!

January 1, 2011

 

Not so long ago, I recognized the fundamental need in my life – to have a personal relationship with God.  It wasn’t enough to just believe in God – I needed to know His Will for my life! Oh wait…and just how could that be accomplished? As a friend put it so succinctly, “To know God’s Will, you must know God; to know God, you must know His Word.”

 

What have I discovered? God is The Authority.  He longs to be our closest friend, our confidant, our mentor all rolled into one – He alone hears the whispers of our hearts, completely understands our needs, and provides us with a perfect love perspective.  He’s ready and willing – He will never fail to meet us right where we are.  Just like any parent, nothing gives Him more joy than when His children come to him with EVERYTHING – He wants to be on the front burner – the one fueling our lives!

 

It doesn’t matter what’s going on around me…as long as my focus is centered on God, whatever circumstance (pleasant or a bit more challenging) crosses my path, I can work through it…with Him.  And when I view circumstances of others, if I take a moment to try and see it through God’s perspective, I just might see we have so much in common…

 

God made us so beautifully imperfect and unique; but at the same time, our threads of human nature are so tightly interwoven, we are very much alike – I don’t buy the theory of men and women being from different planets – a cute idea, but at our core, I believe we all want the same thing: to love and be loved – we just have to tap into the source…

 

A sermon a few months back painted a picture of what this past year has been for me.  I can’t say it any clearer, so I’ve copied some of the sermon, Digging Our Father’s Well

 

Basically, I’ve been clearing debris from my “faith well” this year.  The well represents the place where true spiritual life is sustained.  History has a way of filling the wells of faith with debris such as false religion, abuse, family curses, etc.  Just as Isaac took on the task of re-digging the wells of his father, I too have to re-dig my well if I want true spiritual life.

 

  • Prioritize – our very survival depends upon digging deep for living water.
  • Recognize – life has a way of filling our well with debris that keeps us from the sweet waters of life.
  • Persist – dig past family dysfunction and cultural expectations to tap into the living water.
  • Persevere – never give up and don’t get sidetracked by others who don’t want to see you succeed.

 

Want to see what digging looks like?  Here are some excerpts from my writings this past year:

 

…What am I so afraid of? Revealing my doubts? My mistakes? Oh, my life? Hmmmm….it seems – no scratch that – I AM most afraid when I’m depending on meCeleta – to work through whatever challenge (big or small) lies in front of me, rather than putting my faith, my confidence for success (whatever that picture looks like) where it belongs – in GOD!

 

…it’s when I start putting the “I” in things is when life gets mucky… that’s my nature…to want to help – yes, even God!  It’s funny, right? But I do it…

 

…If God really is to reign over my life, I have to look beyond all the things I allow to get in the way (worldly expectations, fear, doubt, rejection, guilt, etc.). It’s not complicated…it’s ridiculously simple and I make it complicated…. Just let go. Let God.

 

…how will the messy picture I’ve been trying to fix turn out? I find comfort in knowing it’s going to be a masterpiece because it’s God’s painting, not mine – maybe the when and how depends on how willing I am to move out of the way.

 

…when will I believe the trick to overcoming whatever obstacle (perceived or otherwise) that lies in front of me only has to do with my willingness to believe God has a plan, He’s got it covered, and wants me to succeed?  Will I stay where I am out of fear? Or will I choose to be like Peter and step out of the boat moving forward in faith?

 

…as I gradually give up the pieces of my life I’ve held on to so stubbornly, my heart is lighter and it feels AMAZING!  It’s kind of like when you try to hold your breath and you can’t hold it any longer…that next breath?  It’s incredible – such a relief, right?  Well it’s the same thing when you completely give something to God …His breath fills your life and propels you forward in a way you could never imagine.

 


Each day we have a choice and 2011 will be no different – we can ‘one-cheek’ God and see how well we do on our own…OR we can embrace His abundant blessings – in whatever shapes and sizes He presents them.  I’m choosing to declare His favor over my life, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Keeping Responsibility in Check

 

December 30, 2010
 

The word “Responsibility” brings to mind so many positive connotations – reliability, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, accountability…so to assume responsibility for actions is a good thing, right? Well…not always…a challenge I continue to struggle with is taking responsibility for other’s actions.  It’s certainly not as if I don’t have enough responsibility on my plate, but for some reason I tend to try and pile on more. 

 

A few weeks ago, my bible study group went through the process of writing our testimonies.  It was surprisingly easy to write mine – I suppose because I’ve been writing and sharing discoveries over the past year…but then I went back and took a long look. 

 

The never-ending “if-then” equation…and although I had written the words, lived and breathed the words, I hadn’t completely connected the dots between my head and my heart.  More often than not, my “if-thens” are rooted in feelings of abandonment and being good enough…You see, I know choices of others rarely have ANYTHING to do with me and my shortcomings, but apparently I don’t always buy it.  Why is it so easy to believe I am/was the cause? Perhaps because it’s easier to blame myself rather than someone else?

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum is when I see people NOT taking responsibility, or worse, blaming others for their problems.  It makes my heart so sad to see adults fiercely holding on to that “if-then” equation… their shortcomings being the direct result of someone else’s actions.  But isn’t it equally sad to believe my own perceived shortcomings are to blame? Absolutely!

 

So what am I doing about it?

  • Step One? Acknowledgment – seeing that taking responsibility for other’s actions is a challenge for me
  • Step Two? Action – choosing that I want something different
  • Step Three? Obedience to His Word – only God can transform my mindset and move me forward

 

Oh gee…isn’t it interesting these are the same simple steps in developing a deeper relationship with God? How about that…sort of like washing your hair…lather, rinse, repeat…except there’s no comparison to the cleansing God provides!