Instantly Changed: The Result

Read parts one through four in this series here, here, here, and here.

h2hcI do not want anyone to feel like I think I am perfect. I am not. I am aware of my weaknesses. I also know my strengths. Frank and I were just unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). We are two very different people. He never understood my heart. I used to plead with Frank to open up to me and tell me what was on his heart, but he never would. You see, he had too much to hide. What was really frightening to me was when I received a letter from the woman he was having an affair with. It was his letter to her! He was so open with her. He was bearing his soul to her. He was vulnerable. Frank never showed that part of himself to me and it hurt when I realized that some other woman knew him in that way.

I am an open book. I don’t hide anything and I leave myself very vulnerable to getting hurt. Because of that, I was an easy target for Frank. He was a manipulator and I was easy to manipulate. I let it happen until I started being “real.” Then my life changed for the better. God was answering my prayers. I believe His Word when He said, “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord” (Romans 8:28), and I cling to that hope.

Try to know who you are and what you want in life. Don’t let Satan snatch your future away from you. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. I took some college courses as the kids were growing, but I never finished college to get my bachelor’s degree. I always wish that I had. I really didn’t find out who I was until later in life. Please don’t wait that long. Find out now…prayerfully set your goals, listening for God’s direction, and don’t let anything stop you! Pray that God will help you to become a woman that He will be proud of. May God bless you all!


Instantly Changed: The Divorce

Read parts one through three in this series here, here, and here.

h2hb1After more than 20 years of marriage, we divorced. That was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life. We were in marriage counseling for years and years, and if Frank really wanted to change then he would have in that amount of time. Frank loved himself more than anything or anyone else. I couldn’t take any more of his lies, his unfaithfulness, or his abuse.

I have always felt bad for my kids––for the fact that I didn’t leave Frank sooner and that I was too scared to stand up for myself or for my kids. Whenever I would stand up to Frank, he would get so angry and I would cower to him. He would throw things, break things, and yell so loudly at me or the kids. My oldest child always got the brunt end of his anger for some reason. I felt like I had to keep the peace in my home. I was always catering to Frank so he wouldn’t get angry with the kids.

Frank also used the kids against me. He would lie and tell me they did bad things so that I would get mad at the kids. I stopped doing that when I realized that Frank was manipulating me. He was jealous of my children’s relationship with me.

I feel bad that my kids have come from a broken home, even though they were all grown when we got divorced. There is nothing I can do about that though, because it is reality. They didn’t want me to stay with him. They knew he would still be unfaithful to me. They knew he wasn’t good for me. But I know it is still hard for them, especially during the holidays. I think we all would like to skip right over them all together. My heart aches at times for the pain they have gone through. They are all adjusting well, but it still hurts me, even though the divorce was not my fault, but rather because of Frank’s unfaithfulness.

I remember that while I was married, I always prayed that Frank would be a faithful husband to me, that he would put God first in his life, because if he did then he would be the husband I needed him to be and be the father to my children that he should be.

There was one major problem with that. Frank only loved himself; he wanted to satisfy his own lusts. He put his needs and desires before anyone else’s. Even if I was the most beautiful woman on the earth, I wouldn’t have been enough for him. He wanted to have variety and I couldn’t fulfill that. I always tried to look my best for him. I put makeup on everyday and did my hair. I tried to be attractive to him. I didn’t get it for a long time that it didn’t matter how good I looked. Frank was a cheater. He wasn’t going to change.

h2hb2I had to learn to be “real.” I always had this false hope that everything would work out––that Frank would change. I couldn’t understand why my prayers regarding Frank were going unanswered. I was hurting…deeply…why wasn’t God hearing my pleas? Then one day, I read in the Bible that God gives people over to their debased minds (Romans 1:28). I knew then that I needed to pray for the truth to be revealed to me.

Almost immediately things started presenting themselves to me that showed me reality. My marriage counselor had always told me to “be real.” It was painful––very painful. I was given the answers slowly. God only revealed them to me as I could handle them. Little by little I started growing stronger and trusting in God completely. He had heard my prayers. I just needed to understand that I had to pray for the truth to reveal itself.

There were times that I was on my knees, kneeling in prayer and sobbing. I prayed for God to help me. I didn’t always know what to pray for. I felt so alone. One day, after Frank and I had separated, I was on my way home from church. I was alone, and I wanted so desperately to just die right then, even if it was by my own doing. I thought of my children. I couldn’t do that to them. Even though I was leaning so much on them at that time for support, I knew that they still needed me. Sometime in life, they would need me when I became strong again. I went into my bedroom and fell on the floor, too weak to hold myself up, and I wept harder than I ever had in my life. I just prayed out loud, “Oh God, help me!” I didn’t know what to pray for but I knew that God was the only one Who could help me.

God helped me to get through my divorce. The pain of divorce and of breaking up my children’s home, as they knew it, was devastating for me as well as for them. I am so thankful for my children. Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have had the strength to go through with the inevitable. Frank can’t hurt me emotionally anymore. I won’t allow him to. It is amazing how deeply I loved Frank and now, how numb I am. My dad always told me there is a fine line between love and hate. I don’t hate Frank. I don’t feel anything at all toward him. I’m just numb.

The pain of divorce doesn’t only affect the two people getting the divorce, but it also affects children, extended families, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ. People didn’t know how to treat me anymore, and I kind of became displaced. I was no longer invited to “couples” activities and I sat all by myself at church. I felt all alone.

Check back soon to read the conclusion of this series.


Instantly Changed: The Marriage

Go here and here to read parts one and two in this series.

h2haMy life changed in just an instant of passion. Frank and I married as soon as he was finished with basic training. We lived with my parents for a couple of months and then moved into an apartment. I clung to the hope that Frank truly loved me because he cried and held me tight before he left for basic training. We held each other and we both cried. I took that as my sign that I should go ahead and marry him when he returned. Up until that point, I was still undecided. My parents told me that I didn’t have to marry him just because I was pregnant. They let me make up my own mind.

Being a single, pregnant teenage mom was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I never fit in again with my peers. They were all going off to college to start their lives away from home and to pursue careers. At that time, I felt like I missed a fun time of growing up, and I missed the opportunity to go to college.

Frank got a job his last year of high school and gave me the money for our baby’s expenses. He also sent money home to me while he was in basic training. He did try to provide for us and perhaps he loved me in his own way.

He always had a job; although, throughout our marriage he was fired or lost jobs from time to time. All through our marriage he was emotionally abusive. He was unfaithful to me several times that I knew for certain and countless other times that I couldn’t find a way to prove. His stories never added up, or they were so bizarre that in retrospect, they weren’t even believable. It was a bittersweet marriage. He was way too harsh with the children and at times physically abusive to them. I knew I had to get out, but I didn’t know where to find the strength.

Check back soon to read part four in this series.


Instantly Changed: Sin and Consequence

Go here to read part one in this series.

The sin

h2h1During those three years, I broke up with Frank numerous times. The very last time I broke up with him, he told me that if I ever broke up with him again he would commit suicide. He really messed with my mind. I believed him and I never broke up with him again. Within a few months I was pregnant. I have always felt that it was Frank’s way of making sure that I would never leave him. I thought to myself, what Christian boy would want me now anyway?

It was a very humiliating time for me. Frank didn’t wear the “scarlet letter”; I did. I hid my pregnancy for 4 ½ months from everyone. Since I could sew, I made a couple of baggie tops to wear to camouflage my stomach getting bigger, and just kept my pants unbuttoned.

I never considered abortion and I never wanted to give my baby up for adoption. I was afraid that my parents would make me give my baby up. I was so scared. I had morning sickness and tried to hide that by telling my mom I had the flu. I wanted to run away. I wanted desperately to go to another state and get married to Frank. So many crazy thoughts went through my head, not wanting to tell my parents. I couldn’t hide it any longer and Frank wouldn’t let me run. He made me stay and confront my problems.

Frank came to my parents’ house one evening so that we could tell them about my pregnancy. I don’t think it came as a complete shock to them because one time my mom found a note in my purse that I had written to Frank, stating that I was upset because I was no longer a virgin. I felt so dirty all the time. I felt like a battle was going on inside of me for my soul. I felt so much guilt, which I rightfully should have felt. I felt so lost.

I can’t describe the embarrassment I felt when my parents knew I wasn’t a virgin. I was so ashamed. Sin is so devastating. A few moments of pleasure are not worth the humiliation and the consequences of sin, and those were just my consequences on this Earth! If the earthly pain of sin is so intense, I can’t imagine the consequences we will have in hell if we don’t repent.

h2h2My parents were considerably calm and loving to me and to Frank as well. I felt very blessed that they were my parents. Even still, it was so humiliating. I knew I had let them down, and I had let God down. I really felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter around my neck.

Some of my so-called girlfriends would no longer have anything to do with me because they didn’t want to ruin their reputations by being associated with me, even though several of them had acted in the same ways: they just hadn’t been caught. Most of the people at church were nice to me and I received numerous letters of encouragement from some of them. After my baby was born, they gave me a baby shower.

The consequence

I never, ever felt that my baby was the sin, but rather the consequences of my sin and disobedience to God. I dearly loved my baby from the earliest stages of my pregnancy. I remember feeling the little butterfly feelings of it moving inside me. It took my breath away the first time I felt it. I grew up around children and loved them, and I knew how to take care of them, so I wasn’t scared about becoming a mother.

h2h3I was in my junior year when I became pregnant. I only needed a few more classes to graduate, so I went early in the morning before school started and was tutored in the classes I needed to take. I graduated with the senior class. Graduation day was a totally humiliating experience for me. I cried all the way across the stage to receive my diploma. I wanted to disappear! I couldn’t get across the stage fast enough! My stomach was so huge! I wished I had the diploma mailed to me because that was a very horrible day.

I had my baby that summer following a long and difficult birth. Frank wasn’t there. He had enlisted in the Army and was in basic training. It was embarrassing to be a single, pregnant teenager giving birth. I was so glad to hold my precious new baby in my arms. I was so relieved that my baby was safe.

I’m glad that my mom taught me how to cook, how to care for my home, and how to care for my newborn. My mom was there for me but she was always careful not to intrude on me being my baby’s mama. I have used what my mom taught me all of my life.

I held my little baby close to me and snuggled with it. I would lay my baby across my lap and stroke its hair. My baby was so precious to me! My baby loved me and I dearly loved my baby. I have loved that child from before it was born and my love for this child grows deeper all the time. I loved it so much that when I was pregnant for my second child a few years later, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to divide my love between them. I was wrong. Love doesn’t divide; it multiplies!

Check back next month to read part three.


Instantly Changed: The Boy

extra8This true story was submitted to us anonymously, and will appear in several parts throughout the summer, in our Heart to Heart column.

Think about the choices you make now because one night of sinful indiscretion can change the course you will take and may alter your life forever.

I didn’t give myself a chance for my life to start, or to really know what I wanted in a career or in life, before it was altered after getting pregnant by my boyfriend when I was in high school. We ended up getting married––a marriage that should never have taken place, but one that lasted over twenty years and ended in divorce.

I loved children and homemaking, so I had additional children and stayed at home to raise them, which I never regretted doing. In fact, I don’t regret my life and I like who I am, even with the battle scars of life that I carry. I have overcome trials and have become a much stronger, godlier woman.

I was young, shy, naïve, and very innocent until I met this boy, “Frank,” in my early years of high school. Even as a young girl, I was very knowledgeable about the Bible and I was raised in a Christian family. I was by every definition a “good girl.” When I met Frank, he was very charming, but not at all the type of boy I was used to. My dad was always a very gentle and calm man. Frank was just the opposite. He was loud, he cussed, was dominating and very forceful.

Why the connection was made, I’ll never know. I think that I had a low self-esteem for some reason. He was so dominant that he overpowered me. Quite honestly, I let it happen because I didn’t know how to stand up to him. I didn’t like the way he always yelled at people and got into physical fights, lied, and flirted with other girls, and he was really stuck on himself. He didn’t act the way the Christian boys did at church, but somehow I was drawn in.

He asked me to “go with him.” I wasn’t even allowed to date until I was 16, and at that time I was only 14 years old. I was just so happy that a boy was paying attention to me, so I said yes. It wasn’t long before all the kissing and petting started. Later on, we had sex on a fairly regular basis.

There were many times that I didn’t want to do those things––I was a “good girl” after all. Frank was persistent, testing my “love” if I didn’t participate. After a while I wanted sex just as much as he did. That’s the problem with sin. At first you feel so guilty, but each time you give in to sin, it gets easier and easier. I mistook sex for love. I figured that since we were having sex, then that meant he loved me.

extra7I still battled within myself about having premarital sex. I knew God wouldn’t be proud of me, but somehow Frank would make me feel it was okay because we would be married someday––his idea, not mine. Deep within me, I never felt that we would be married; he just wasn’t the type of boy I liked. He would misquote scripture and twist it to justify having sex with me. I went along with it, and even tried to convince myself that he was right, even while I knew deep down that he was wrong.

During this time, Frank came to my church on his own. A few months later, he was baptized. The boys from church would invite him to their homes, and afterward, Frank would tell me that those Christian boys were just like all other boys and that they were disgusting. It was Frank’s way of manipulating my mind against all Christian boys, because at one time I had told Frank that I wasn’t ever going to marry him, but that I would be marrying a Christian boy someday. In his mind, he had to turn me against them. Frank told me that he was the only person that I could trust. He really knew how to work me, that’s for sure, so I believed anything and everything he told me.

Since I was disillusioned about the boys from church, I let myself believe that Frank and I would be married someday. Then I felt justified in having sex with him. I would hear rumors about Frank having sex with other girls or of him kissing them. Some of the girls would act “all knowing” when they were around him. I sensed that there were secrets between them. When I would confront Frank about the rumors, he would say, “Oh people are just jealous of us and they are trying to break us up”! I always felt guilty for doubting him.

My parents didn’t think he was a boy I should be hanging out with, so they forbade me to date him. Over the course of three years in high school, we snuck around to see each other. I know my parents did what they thought was best for me, and even though it doesn’t excuse my behavior, I wish they would have let me date him, because then I wouldn’t have tried to prove to them what a “great” guy he was. I think I could have been honest with myself about him. Instead, I was continually trying to make him look good, and as a consequence, I didn’t deal with reality. Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t blame my parents. They just did what they felt was the right thing to do. I just wasn’t assertive enough to end my relationship with Frank for good.

Check back next month to read part two.

– Anonymous

A Servant’s Heart

1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

h2h3The above verse is simply saying that we each have a special talent, or gift, so we must use it to the best of our ability, for good, to serve others to glorify God. First Peter 4:11 says, “… whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (emphasis mine). We all have a special, natural ability or capability for certain things. We might have several areas in which we do well. I love being with people of all ages and making them feel at ease. I love cooking and homemaking. When you put all of those together, you have the gift of hospitality! See how easy that is!

Find your talent

Perhaps we have a talent of painting––we could volunteer to do home improvement projects for the elderly, or volunteer for home remodeling at one of the neighborhood charity projects. We could paint crafts and give them as gifts to people. We can use our sewing talents for making things that nursing homes or children’s hospitals need.

We can serve by helping in many ways, such as babysitting free of charge if you love children, or you can read to someone in the nursing home if you love reading. We can rake leaves, plant or water flowers, take a meal to the sick, or write for a Christian magazine! There are all kinds of possible ways to serve and use your talents.

Use your talent

We need to make certain that we use the talents that God gives us. First Timothy 4:14 says, “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you…” Even when we are young women, we are instructed to serve God by being a good example. First Timothy 4:12 tells us to “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” There might be a younger girl who needs a mentor, and who better than you if you are living a godly example before them.

We are each unique and special and have so much to contribute when we take the time to do so. “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…” (Romans 12:6). God wants us to use the abilities that He blessed us with. He placed us each where He wanted us, even if things seem difficult sometimes. We can grow stronger from our trials and perhaps use those circumstances to know how to help others in that same situation.

h2h5Ministering to people’s needs is another way to serve. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to, to cry with, or to laugh with. If you have the ability to talk to people easily, or are a great listener, or are compassionate, that would be a good ministry for you to do. Praying for others might be all we can do at times, so pray earnestly. Colossians 1:9 tells us, “For this reason, since the day we have heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (emphasis mine).

Being a good friend is also serving if you are setting a good example. Titus 2:7–8 says, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Glorify God

We serve God in all we do if we glorify Him and do it to the best of our ability; not begrudgingly, but with cheer and joy. Jesus was the best servant of all. We see by His examples in the Bible that He was continually ministering to people, which means He attended to the wants and needs of others. In every example given, that is what Jesus did. He served and ministered to people’s needs. Matthew 4:23: “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”

Jesus served without taking the credit for Himself. After Jesus cleansed the leper, He told those who witnessed it not to tell anyone (Matthew 8:4). We are also to serve without telling others what we do or bragging about it. We are told, in Matthew 6:3, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.” If we are serving with the right heart, that of genuinely wanting to help others; then we won’t do it just to receive praise, but to glorify God. Whenever we serve the way God instructs us to serve then we will truly have joy in helping those in need.

By Carol Gartman

No Mistakes

Stock PhotoWhen you look at yourself in the mirror what thoughts come to mind? Do you sometimes think that it wouldn’t hurt to lose a little weight, or that your hair didn’t turn out well? I know that there I times that I think those very thoughts, but let me ask you this: Does it ever cross your mind that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Cor. 6:19–20) It can be very hard to grasp this concept, but it’s true––the Holy Spirit lives in each saved member of the church.

God sent His only Son to be sacrificed for all mankind (John 3:16). Now think about that––God sent His only Son to die for you; this is personal! When you confess and repent, you are acknowledging that as the truth and are giving yourself to the Lord. God paid a great price for our lives and our souls. What a great honor and privilege it is to know that we are worth so much to the Lord of lords. We have done nothing to deserve this gift because as Paul writes in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I’m not sure if knowing that does the same thing for you as it does for me but after I think about this fact I feel beautiful! I feel strong and bold because the King of kings loves me. I am a sinner, a weak human, but God looked at me and the rest of His creation and saw us as His children. This fact motivates me to cling to Him and to want to show the world what blessings can come to us by giving our lives to the Lord.

There will still be days when I will think that I could look prettier or thinner, but I will never again call myself ugly. That is the challenge that I am making to you today. Always remember that God created us carefully and skillfully, which means that He made no mistakes––we are exactly what He designed us to be! (Psalm 139:13–14). Be proud of God’s handiwork and show the world how beautiful God made you!

By Shelby Garrett

Living a life of potential

h2h2Webster defines potential as “the inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being.” Jeremiah 29:11 describes it this way: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As a young woman, you no doubt have had many people list your qualities and the potential for your life. The possibilities are truly endless, they might say. When I was a young woman, my parents affirmed that I could be anything that I wanted to be. They encouraged me to try many things, keep an open mind, and have a prayerful heart. For as long as I can remember, though, I have longed to be a wife and a mother. I had no desire to achieve accolades as a great career woman; no longing filled my heart for a prestigious college degree. In my mind’s eye my potential was for homemaking: my talents, my qualities, my aspirations all for this goal. At 21, I found my first dream realized when I married my husband. We have a wonderful marriage, and I am truly blessed. The years began to pass without my second dream fulfilled. No children surrounded me, calling me Momma. I had no one to nurture. In my despair, I was angry with God. How could He allow me this pain? How could He prevent me from living up to what I saw as my true potential? I had so much love to share, so many things to teach my child about God, such a desire to hold my precious children. Perhaps God didn’t have a plan for my life after all. Maybe I was wrong all along in thinking that motherhood was what I was created for. I began to question my very existence and everything I had ever believed.

Through a series of events, God called me back to Him—called me back to the place where His plans for my life could be realized. It was only when I truly surrendered myself to His call, letting go of my grief, placing my life in His hands that I discovered God’s marvelous plan for me. He had been shaping me, preparing me for the work that He had for me to accomplish.

h2h1He had indeed given me great potential. I just needed to allow Him to help me reach it. I had to release my control over my life and take a leap of faith. I had to say, “Yes, God, I will follow your plan for my life, regardless of where it leads me.” I had to be willing to let go of my dreams, of what I had determined my potential was, and allow God to fulfill the plan He had for me.

Now, I have someone to call me Momma. My precious son, whom I love more than life, was born 8000 miles away in India to another mother. He was born in a land I knew nothing about, in a culture that I am still discovering. Yet God had brought us together through the miracle of adoption. He has given me a greater responsibility than just motherhood. He has asked me to care for and raise a child that wasn’t born to me—a child with special needs, a child of a different race and different background. God asked me to give up my longing for a child who resembled my husband, to parent a child who would never be confused as “my own.”

The result of my leap of faith has been joy beyond measure. My son is the light of my life. Home with us now for two years, he is our delight. Parenting him, teaching him about the love of God, beginning to tell him of the plans that God has for him, has fulfilled me in ways I never thought possible. My heart overflows so much that I want to tell the world how adoption has changed our lives. I feel compelled to share with others the plight of the orphan. I want to not only parent this precious child but to tell the world about others like him. I am a mouthpiece. It is my responsibility to show the world that God is the Father of the Fatherless. Showing how He brought a woman desperate for a child to call her own and a small, lonely child together from across the world to become a family—not for my own praise, but to the praise of our Loving Heavenly Father.

h2h3As I look back over my life, I can see God’s hand in shaping me for adoptive motherhood. I see how He created me for this. How different my life would be had I not listened and allowed God to help me reach my potential—His potential for my life. What joy I would be missing had I stubbornly clung to the dreams and aspirations I had for myself. I would never know the deep satisfaction I have every night holding my precious son as he prepares for bed.

This is my story, but there are countless others. In the Bible, Esther never aspired to be queen, yet God saw her true potential. David, being the youngest and a shepherd, had no idea he would one day be a great king of Israel. It never entered his mind that some day, the Messiah would be born from his descendants.

Like these, God is creating in you the ability, the desire, and the passion for His plans. Psalm 139 tells us that God created us—formed us in our mother’s womb. He has fashioned you for a purpose. Will you live up to His potential for you? In the short term, you may grieve something you think you may have lost; but in the end, you will rejoice in the deep satisfaction of knowing that you have lived up to the great potential that God has planned for your life.

By Pam DeArmon

God is Love

2In order for us to love others the way God loves us, we must first understand a little about His love. First we’ll discuss how God loves us in times of sorrow and in times of joy. We’ll also talk about God’s love being a two-way thing; He desires for us to love Him too!

Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1) God loves us in times of sorrow.

A- God loves us when we hurt
God knows when we are hurting. He knows how we’re feeling and He knows our pain. Going through difficult situations may be hard to understand at the time, but often, once it’s over, we can look back and understand why things happened. There are times; however, when we don’t fully understand why but we can still choose to learn from those situations.

When we hurt, God hurts for us, and He’ll comfort us if we allow Him to. Second Corinthians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

B- God loves us when others hurt us
God created humans with the free will to make their own choices. If we didn’t have free will, we’d all be like robots, automatically doing everything we’re supposed to do without any choices to make at all. This free will allows us to make bad choices as well as good choices, and it allows others to make bad choices as well. Unfortunately, others may make bad choices that hurt us, whether it’s physically or emotionally. There is a poem, written by an anonymous author, about how someone else’s bad choices hurt her.

My Dad
Wishing there was a way to hide all the fear
Hoping you were the dad I wanted
h2h3Now that I know from the past thirteen years
But in the end its the fear that haunted

Marks to show the way he is pleading
From them; that’s the only way we bonded
Showing me my father had no meaning
Hate with no love is all that he wanted

Bruising to starving from the bad time then
Wanting to fit in but could not manage
Hoping his anger would just go dim
All the bruises that did the damage

Now I am glad that I’m out of your raft
For once, My life is going by fast

This girl’s father hurt her in terrible ways, and I’m sure that when she wrote this, she didn’t feel that God was close to her. In reality though, He was crying right there with her, longing for her pain to stop.

As much as it hurts us when others are hateful, it hurts God even more. As difficult as it is to do, if we endure the pain, we will get through it, and we will be stronger people because of it. First Peter 5:10: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

Christ loves us through our pain, and if we lean on Him, not only will we get through the bad times, but we will fully overcome them and we will thrive because of Him.

C- God loves us when we sin
Sometimes we do things that are so terrible we don’t love ourselves, so we don’t think God can possibly love us. God does love us, though, and He’s waiting with open arms to welcome us back whenever we turn back to Him and ask for His forgiveness. First John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and will take us back no matter what! There is no sin that is too big for Him to forgive, and no heartache that is too much for Him to bear. Colossians 1:13-14: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

h2h5When we sin, we need God, and we need to ask His forgiveness for our sins, and allow ourselves to be reconciled to Him through the blood of Christ. Colossians 1:21-22: “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”

When we ask God for forgiveness, we can ask Him to help others forgive us. If we’ve done something to hurt someone else, we also need to go to that person, confess our sin to them, and ask their forgiveness. After we’ve done that, we also need to forgive ourselves, and to learn from our sins so we don’t make the same choices in the future.

We also need to make sure to forgive others when they sin against us, because God forgives us in the same measure we forgive others. John 20:23: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” When we are unwilling to forgive others, it’s usually due to a problem with the ugliness and sin in our own hearts, which will also contribute toward making us feel unloved. We need to get rid of that ugliness, and allow ourselves to love enough to forgive others of their wrongs. There will be times when we will need the same grace from someone else, and we’ll be more likely to receive grace if we’ve been merciful to others.

We need to remember that God loves us no matter what. He hates our sin, but loves us, and wants us to feel loved and be obedient to Him so that we can enjoy the blessings He has to offer for our lives.

2) God loves us in times of joy

God rejoices with us and He wants us to share our joys with Him. Just as He knows when we’re sad, God also knows when we are happy. True contentedness and happiness can only be found in Christ. Without Him, there is a void that can never be filled. Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

h2h4God wants us to be happy, and He knows that true happiness can only be found in living a life that’s fully dedicated to Him. Colossians 3:14-15: “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

3) God wants us to love Him

A- God deserves our love
Deuteronomy 30:20: “And that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

There are people who think that God has nothing to do with the life they’re living, the days that they survive, or even the time that goes by. God is in control and He has something to do with everything that happens to us––from how long we live, to how our life is at the time if we allow Him to be involved. God put all of us in this world for a reason. He wants us to know what having a life feels like, whether we want to accept it or not. He wants nothing more than for us to learn about Him, get to know Him, and allow Him to be in our lives. God deserves to be the center of our lives. He brought us here, and is showing us the world, letting us live amazing lives filled with different memories, whether they’re good or bad. Sometimes bad things happen to us, and we can’t change that, but we can choose how we handle ourselves in trying times. We can choose to love God. He deserves our love. Even though things won’t be perfect until we get to Heaven, if we choose to love and serve God, we will live content and fulfilling lives on earth, no matter what the circumstances. Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

B- God desires our love
God wants us to love Him. He sent Jesus to this earth to live a perfect life and die for our sins so that we can be made whole in Him. God loves us so much that He was willing to watch His son die so we could have the hope of eternal life. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

We can’t fully enjoy God’s blessings unless we love Him, and He wants to give us those blessings!

C- God will take care of us when we truly love Him

3It’s important for us to understand that our lives can change in the blink of an eye. We could, at any minute of any day, lose our life. It could be from a horrible, unexpected accident, or we could die because of bad health. James 4:14 says, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Understanding who God is and what he stands for should really change our lives. It should affect us in so many ways, such as the way we live our lives, the way we talk, and how we dress.

Bad things will happen to all of us at times, but trust Him through the bad, too.  All things are in God’s hands, and His plans are always better than the plans we can make for ourselves.  Something good will come out of even the bad if we allow it to, just as we’re told in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”


In conclusion:
We hope that you realize that God is love, as the Bible tells us in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God loves us in times of sorrow and in times of joy. God wants us to love Him too, and to share that love with others. Mark 16:15: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” So, ladies, let’s be the best role models we can be in order to show others how God helps and loves us.

We hope that you’ll choose to share the love of God with others, so they can also learn about Him, love Him, and choose to follow Him. We should all live, and teach others to live, in a way that will give us the hope of one day entering the Kingdom of Heaven, according to the promise made in Jude 1:21: “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

By Michelle Jane and Davonne Parks

Resolution of the Heart

h2h1Psalm 51:10–12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your Salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.”

It’s the beginning of a new year and people everywhere are making New Year’s resolutions. Most people make goals of losing weight and eating right, exercising more, and being on time for school or work. While those things are important, we can’t neglect the most important thing of all. That is to renew our hearts to be godly women.

Beware of hypocrisy

We need to live our lives so that we are not hypocritical. What is a hypocrite? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says it’s “a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.” The Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, 3rd Edition, says a hypocrite is a person “who pretends or is deceitful; actor, cheat, crook, fake, imposter, phony, pretender, two-faced, liar, pharisaical, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

It’s interesting to note some of the antonyms, or opposites, for hypocrite. They are: honest, just, real, reliable, righteous, sincere, truthful, and upright. The opposites of hypocrite are exactly how God tells us to be as a Christian. If these are the opposites of a hypocrite, then we definitely know that being hypocritical goes against God’s commandments. First Timothy 1:5: “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”

I have heard Christians say, “We are all hypocrites.” Is that really true? If we are truly living our lives as God expects us to, then there is no room to be hypocritical. If we fill our hearts with goodness and love and live each day the way God tells us to live then that is not hypocritical. We all sin, sometimes unknowingly and sometimes purposefully, and perhaps we don’t mean to. Romans 7:19-20: “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

h2h2We become a hypocrite whenever we know how we are suppose to live or we have secret sins and yet we display ourselves as a righteous woman of God. If people would be shocked by our actions, words, or thoughts done in secret, then we know we are being a hypocrite. We can’t act godly and then go behind closed doors and commit our secret sins. God warns us what will happen to us if we do those evil things.

Obtain a pure heart

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1-2). Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

We cannot teach people about God and how to live a righteous life and then read filthy novels that depict all sorts of wickedness. We cannot watch television shows or movies that show nudity, sinfulness, and evil. We cannot gossip or tell lies about others.

There’s a song we all learned as children: “Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little mouth what you say, be careful little hands what you do, and be careful little feet where you go.” As a Christian, we have to continually be careful what we see, hear, say, and do because we show verbally and by our actions exactly what our heart is made of. “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speak” (Luke 6:45).

If we continue living against God’s commands, He will grow weary of us and our unrepentant heart. Remember, God and sin cannot dwell in the same place at the same time. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

h2h3We also cannot continue in the same sin and expect God to forgive us repeatedly. We must be sincerely sorry and repentant in our prayers when we ask for forgiveness. Repent means to change. If we are sinning, and ask God to forgive us, we need to make sure that we are truly repentant, because God knows our hearts. Romans 6:1–2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Stand firm

We need to stand firm in God’s Word, to be immovable and steadfast. What does it mean to be steadfast? It means to be “firmly fixed in place; not subject to change; firm in belief; determination or adherence,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 1Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

A clean heart is unblemished, pure, not dirty. Like mopping a dirty floor, once it was grimy with flecks of dirt and dust balls all over it. Then we swept and mopped it all clean until it sparkled. “Create in me a clean heart.” Psalm 51:10–12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your Salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.”

While we’re making our New Year’s resolutions, let’s remember to always live our lives according to God’s Word and to always strive to be the women God desires us to be. We need to study His Word to know His instructions for us to live by and for it to be a natural part of our being; of who we are. It’s never too late to change our hypocritical heart and be the young women we should be and to make God proud of us.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Please help me to be the woman You want me to be. Help me to know my weaknesses and to not be hypocritical. I want to live so that You are proud of me. Help me to be careful what I say, hear, and do so that I may glorify You in my life.

In Jesus’ Name,

By Carol Gartman