Just a little personal plug here. Both Charlie and Dillon are in the play. Given the exhausted looks on their faces after five hour practices, daily, I’d say they’ve been working hard. Come on out and join us and support these wonderful kids.
I’m breaking all rules of blogging today. This is wordless Wed, and yet, I have words. Lots of them. I’m relaying a story and not engaging in a dialog, and I’m very self indulgently using the word “I” more than “you.” Even so, I want you to read this. I’m trying to be careful how I write what I want to write today. Even though I opened with a picture of Ken Davis, this blog isn’t about a person – it isn’t even really about me, it’s about God.
If you walk away from this post with nothing but one thought – I hope it’s this – God meets our needs before we know we have them and if our remember-er breaks, he will make it new.
Have you ever had a dream? I do. This year, I’ve chosen to invest in myself and those dreams that can only come of God. I want to be a professional speaker. You my friends, went with me on the neurotic ride when I stepped out on faith and went to the Professional Communicator’s Summit a few months ago, and I appreciate that.
I was scared spitless traveling to Nashville by myself. I used to travel all the time, but that was before I became MOM. I felt guilty about spending money on a class that could have been used towards the boys. I felt a lot of things. I also felt joy in following something I knew God had placed before me and trusting him with the results. Today’s wordless Wednesday photo is in part a reminder to keep your dreams alive, no matter how you feel on the inside, it is also a reminder to me about the faithfulness of God.
I loved being there, and I’m still digesting everything they taught. I worked up the courage for that by going to Speak Up with Confidence in 2008. The success from that gave me enough personal confidence to take more classes this year.
It’s been a few years since I chosen to invest in myself. The last time I did that was when I joined the Christian Writers Guild writing classes six years ago. We didn’t have the money to pay for it ($2,000) and after much prayer I submitted my application before the funds were available. Not how I typically roll. The following Sunday, I saw an ad in my church bulletin for a church receptionist opening across town. I applied for the job and was hired two weeks later. My classes were now paid for. I acted on faith – not foolish faith – but prayerful faith, and He responded. What I did not expect was the all out spiritual warfare that ensued. I fell on my butt pretty hard and it took me a long time to get over that. I never finished the classes even though I had paid for them.
Choosing to pick that dream back up, and start taking classes again, is scary. Knowing the God is in the middle of it makes it all worth it.
When Jeff told me he was being demoted at work and we needed to cut back on all financial expenditures, I questioned the wisdom of my dream and the money it would take to fulfill it. I also fell into a small pity party, but I’ll spare you those details for today. Today, I want to relay something else.
I have been speaking publicly since Spring of 1979. A family member had joined AA the summer before and I was dragged into Alateen the following Spring, ungrateful and less than willing but present. Strangely enough, I stayed and they stuck me behind a podium to tell my story the following year. Shy as I was, I learned that I have natural talent for speaking and I’ve been speaking nationally at conferences, retreats, and groups since then. Feeling bored with the “adult child” stories, I stopped giving 12 step talks five years ago. They just don’t seem relevant anymore. I do, however, still speak and want to pursue that as a profession today.
I have spent the last five years, learning how to bring my recovery story into church and rework my 12 step talk into my Christian testimony. I’ve had a few false starts, stumbling on words and making people laugh hysterically without meaning to. (Classic testimony gone bad: I have a few catch phrases, one of them being referring to revelations from God as “Burning Bush Moments.” – perfectly acceptable phrase, UNLESS it is paired with a story about how I accidentally set my dress on fire trying to hide the fact that I was smoking from a pastor. I learned what “mortified” really means that day.)
With the financial uncertainties of today’s economy and Jeff’s current demotion, I really started to question myself and doubted that I was really called to do this. I thought that maybe I should find something else. And I know that’s Satan and not God speaking. How I face obstacles speaks volumes of my character. Do I cave at the first sign of difficulty or do I persevere? Do I trust God to provide the means necessary? I’ve learned I do a little bit of both, and that I pray a lot like King David in the process. “How Long, Oh Lord…” (Wrist on forehead for effect.)
And then God, in a way only God can… spoke to my heart when I least expected it. He reminded me of something this Sunday while I was teaching a class.
I went to my very first women’s retreat in 1995ish (I can’t remember the actual year.) My former pastor’s wife was a huge Ken Davis fan and showed his videos a lot. At one of those retreats, the leader showed a video called Healer of the Wounded Heart. It was one of those stories that really touches my heart. It has a great message about how much God loves us and how we should love others, and yet there was a hidden story that I’d forgotten. I really do not remember the story as his, but it must be as it really is in the video- and I have no idea why it’s in his talk – other than as an example of a father’s love.
I own his videos today, and like Lisa, I show them when appropriate. What thrills me about teaching, is how much God teaches me in the process. In my “where are you in this God?” questions over the past two weeks – He chose to remind me of a time he was there before I knew of the need. I showed Wounded Heart in my Sunday School class this week. It’s been years since I’ve watched that video, and I only chose to show it this week because we are in a gap between classes. We just finished one series and do not start the new one until May 10. I brought it because it fit pastor’s sermon for the day: “God Heals a Broken Heart.” I thought the video fit perfectly.
In Wounded Heart, Ken relays a very short story about a time he saw a speaker and while this man was delivering his message a child comes on stage to speak him. Ken was surprised to see the man stop speaking, turn to the child, whisper in his ear and kiss his cheek. Ken asked him about it later – and turns out the child was his son and this was routine. No matter what, at bed time, the child would find his dad and the man would stop what he was doing whisper in his ear, tell him he loves him, and pray over him that God would send his angels to watch over him and protect him while he sleeps. For the sake of the video – it’s really just a nice little story that gives a picture of a Father’s Love. In the grand scheme of the whole video -I thought it was kind of a throw away story. It’s not a key point that one would keep with them or so I thought. It’s not one he stayed on for very long anyway. And it’s not one I recalled hearing, ever.
I first saw that video in February of 2000. Lisa had moved away and Zeal was now doing the retreats. This was her keynote video for the retreat. I remember the whole “Love Monster” thing as that is what she pulled out. The whole retreat was about God being the Passionate Pursuer of our Hearts. Christianity isn’t a list of dos and do nots, rather it is about loving one another. It’s about that God Shaped hole in our hearts that needs to be filled. It’s about a lot of things. The over all message was not about praying for angels to watch over a child and yet there it was – a word for me that I apparently received and put into action without realizing it.
I speak at times on the Eyes of Angels – and how when Dillon was first diagnosed with Epilepsy, (Summer of 2000) we would pray for God to send his angels to watch over him while he slept and keep him safe. Up until Sunday, people ask me where I learned to pray that and I would say had no idea, I must have have heard it somewhere. It’s not a normal prayer. It’s not a prayer I’d ever read about or learned about, I just remember I heard it somewhere and thought I’d try it. It is also scripturally accurate. I didn’t know that until I studied it.
I don’ t remember learning that from Wounded Heart, but I must have. The timing fits perfectly.
And so, here God speaks to my heart. “I was there for you then before you knew you had a need, and I’m there for you still. I won’t leave you hanging, I promise.”
God used a video at a retreat, to teach me a new prayer before I even knew I was going to need it. And he used that same video almost ten years later to remind me that he was there for me then, and he is there for me now.
One of the greatest gifts about teaching and about speaking, is how much He teaches me about love, about himself, and about us in the process.
I’ve closed with this in my talks many times, and it is as true for me today as it ever was.
We are at times those eyes of angels sent by God to watch out for one another. Whether it is upfront and personal, or in a talk where we allow him to speak through us. We are also that God with skin on (or the “Love Monster” as Ken calls it in his video)whether it is for that person hiding in the back corners of our churches or someone who may be sitting next to us who is walking through something they have never had to walk through before: Cancer, a divorce, the loss of a job, or maybe the death of a child or spouse. And we know, either for the first time in our lives, or as reminder yet again, that we are never alone.
God is not only in the middle of all that is happening right now, he’s already written the ending. All we have to do is step out the day to day and remember that we are not alone.
What about you? Now that I’ve shared this story with you. Are you willing to share a story about God’s provision in your life? Leave me a comment. Let’s talk about.
My mother covets my garden! Oh my gosh. My mother, my muse. The woman who has gardens that rival any botanical place you can find, and she covets THIS picture above. It seems neither she, nor my aunt, can get sweet potato vine to grow like I can. They want to know my secret.
All I did was lose all of my roses to fire blight, and needed something to fill this bed.
I thought the vine was overrun, she thought it was great and told me they are jealous. I needed that perspective this week. And you know, just hearing that is enough to keep me going.
Now if I can only figure out how to kill the monkey grass in the back.
I AM says, “You Are…” Understanding Your Identity in Christ is the first book by Bible teacher and speaker CJ Rapp. Not only does this book explore your rock solid identity in Christ, it also helps the reader identify patterns of thinking that threaten healthy self-esteem. For each daily devotional, questions have been included. These questions provide an opportunity for personal study or for sharing the journey with a small group. It’s perfect for women’s ministry groups to use as a six week study.
What inspired you to write I AM says, “You Are…” Understanding Your Identity in Christ?
One of the biggest challenges in my life has been overcoming insecurity and low self-esteem. In fact, my journey was long and difficult. My low self-esteem began during my teen years and remained into my thirties.
In my late twenties I began to follow Christ. I committed my life to Him and began to read the Bible. As I read, I discovered that His Word actually contradicted lies I had long believed about my worth and my value. His words were kind, compassionate, and full of love. The more I read the more I realized that God loved me and that he didn’t think I was stupid, ugly, or worthless. Instead His Word says that I am priceless, a masterpiece, a treasure, and I am His child. He even loved me enough to send His Son to die for me. That was shocking! The girl who grew up believing that she had little worth or value was passionately loved and desired by the Creator of the universe! It was life changing for me. Through my study, acceptance of His truth, and application of God’s Word I was set free. I like to say that God replaced the trash, my negative thoughts, with the truth or the treasure of God’s Word.
The more I read the more I realized I held the keys to freedom and healing in my hands. Not just for me but for other people just like me. Three years ago God impressed on my heart the importance of sharing my journey with others. My heart’s desire in writing this devotional Bible study is to help other people find the same hope, freedom, and healing that I have found.
Who is the target audience for I AM says, “You Are…”?
Understanding your identity in Christ is important for women of all ages. This devotional is written so women in all stages of life can relate to the topic of discussion. For example, day one is titled, I AM says, “You Are Significant.” Women of all ages need to know that they are significant to God’s plan.
What are some of the topics covered?
Each day begins with this identity statement, I AM says, “You Are…” The thirty daily themes cover many aspects of our identity in Christ such as:
I AM says, “You Are loved.”
I AM says, “You Are beautiful.”
I AM says, “You Are unique.”
I AM says, “You Are forgiven.”
Do you have a website or blog for your audience to check out?
Yes! I have a blog site for women to interact and share their thoughts on the daily themes. Small groups and Women’s Ministries also have a tab on the blog where they can share their insights and idea’s.
I AM says, “You Are…” Understanding Your Identity in Christ provides women with a glimpse of God’s heart for them. Embracing the truths from Scripture found in this book can help women overcome the low self-esteem that studies say over 80% of American women suffer from. The quickest way to get your copy is to order from amazon.com. For more information about CJ Rapp visit her website.
Don’t forget that this study can be used in small groups and as a church wide women’s ministry study.
Leave a comment or ask a question and you will be entered in a drawing (on May 1, 2009) for a free copy of I AM says, “You Are…” Understanding Your Identity in Christ.
Have you ever been called names, as a kid maybe, or worse, as an adult? I have. Have you ever received these lies as truth? Been there, done that as well. I’ll spare you the gritty details, just know that I have. Okay?
There is an old saying that goes along the lines of “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” There is a lie straight from hell if I ever heard one. Names hurt. Lies hurt. And so many of us, get stuck looking through the wrong mirror that we lose our focus on who God says we are.
I’d like you to join me on Sunday while I interview Christan Speaker, Author, and Bible Teacher, CJ Rapp. CJ has written a new 30 day devotional titled I AM says “You Are…” This study is is designed to allow women to embrace their rock solid identity in Christ and get rid of the lies we’ve carried around with us for so long.
Join us on Sunday to find out more about the wonderful and timely Word for all women today.
1. After I had shared the details of my week with some friends, they told me that God (through the Holy Spirit) had impressed me on their hearts for prayer earlier in the week and did not know why. – He already had people praying for me before I knew I had a need.
2. God had a word for me, before I knew I needed it – Pastor went on vacation for the week and wrote his sermon before he left. He does not know about our week. His scripture verse for today: Lamentations 3:21-25 (New International Version) Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
3. I took a road trip to Van Buren Arkansas with my girlfriend Michele VanDusen last night and laughed myself stupid, both on the way and at the show. Girlfriends are great like that. We were even able to pop in during intermission and say hi to Chonda and crew. What a kick. I usually only get to see her when I’m working promotion. This was so much fun. Chonda also picked up two new to her, but not new to comedy gals to perform with her. Zan and Victoria are wonderful and the three of them, make an excellent combination. The show lasted three and a half hours!
Christian Comics, Zan, Chonda Pierce,(me), Victoria Jackson(From SNL), and Michele VanDusen at Intermission.
During the show, Zan said that comics come from the land of misfit toys and I fell out of my chair laughing hysterically. Hanging with comics brings me incredible joy for many reasons. For one, I feel “normal” when I’m around comics. I don’t always say that outloud it sounds like I mean “wow, compared to your messed up self, I feel normal” and that’s not how I mean that.
I have never really fit in anywhere. I kinda of stand out in an uncomfortable way. I have spent my whole life feeling like there was this world I missed where people see through the same lenses I do. The Land of Misfit Toys, that is so it! When I’m with comics, there is a real me that comes out that feels whole and relaxed, and that’s a good thing. At Michele’s encouragement, I am learning a new craft right now. I’m going from teaching and sharing and making people laugh on accident, to finding humor in my stories and in life and learning the timing needed to let people laugh on purpose. My stories are dead on, my set up, the punch lines, are all good and now I am working on delivery. Practice, practice, practice. Stage time is my hardest thing to find. The Looney Bin Open Mic night is a great place for me to learn and practice. All I need now is courage to ride the ride.
I have no idea what God is going to do with this desire and weird gifts that He planted in me, I just know that it will honor him or he wouldn’t have given them to me. I don’t know where it is going to take me. I just know to trust Him and know that in all things (not some things or a few things, but ALL things), He works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose. – my life verse.
I don’t know how things are going to turn out with Jeff’s job, or Dillon’s school and friends. I just flat don’t know a lot of things. I do, however, know Jesus and that is enough.
Yes, God did really say we have hope that overflows. That is what the entire Bible is about. It’s a book full of hope. But even more so Christianity isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship. Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, is being in a relationship of certainty, and not just wishful thinking.
(Heb. 11:1) 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
“May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
I still don’t understand all of the whys and who’s of what God is doing and has been doing in my life over the past few years. I am still learning how to enjoy the ride and trust that I have a Daddy who LOVES me. And in knowing that, and because of the Holy Spirit, He lavishes me with hope that overflows.
I tell my Sunday School class to keep a prayer journal. Prayer Journals are a way for us to communicate with God. It gets stuff out of my head and down on paper and that act alone can take away the sting of a situation and provide clarity. Prayer journals also help me keep an account of the faithfulness of God.
Four years ago, my prayer journal was full of my concerns for my oldest. Charlie was a freshman then and he was so unhappy. His classmates argued constantly. Everyone seemed harsh and judgemental, and no one liked themselves much less each other.
Oh yeah, freshman year. Lord of the flies from junior high bleeding over into high school.
Charlie had no clue who he was then. He was a loner with very few friends. He hated school and he hated life. My heart ached for my wonderful son who was and is so brilliant, so funny and so endearing. It’s the same heartache I feel for my youngest, who not surprisingly is going through the same questions. “Am I a man? Do I have worth? Where do I fit.” Halfway through 10th grade, Charlie came into his own. He found his identity and he found new friends. He has learned that he has a talent for writing, for comedy, and is graduating top of his class (Three way tie for valedictorian right now). Charlie even has a girlfriend for the first time. He’s doing just fine.
I’ve been here before, watching my boys walk this crazy road called adolescence and I’d forgotten that. Ninth grade is merciless, but it doesn’t last forever. My youngest, will survive just like his brother did and just like we did. I’d forgotten that, but God didn’t. He was faithful then, and He will be faithful now. I just lost my remember-er for a few days.