Indulgence

IndulgenceInteresting word. Conjures up images of spoiled children, sneaking the last bit of chocolate or in my case, a spoon and a pint of buttered pecan ice cream. The root word indulge means to yield to, satisfy or gratify desires, to yield to the wishes or whims of another. Indulgence is the act or practice of indulging, treating someone with special kindness when it’s not a good thing.

Well then.

Sounds like my previous marriage. I yielded who I was and attempted to gratify his desires at his whim. On top of that I showered him with kindness when I should have thrown his behind in jail instead of appeasing him.

Personally I think the word has gotten a bad rap. The definition assumes the one you are yielding to is not trustworthy. Even the bible in II Peter 2:10 NAS says, “…and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires…” The Greek word Poreuomai is also translated as following, go on their way, journey, or pursued a course. Which really doesn’t sound bad by itself.

What if we changed who or what we indulged in? What if we catered to someone who would reciprocate our kindness, someone trustworthy?

What if I found my fulfillment and gratification in the extravagant love of the Father? What if all along that was the root problem? That I sought satisfaction in a man instead of the Creator of man.

What if indulgence is a good thing and something I should be doing every day?

We are to be on a journey of pursuing The One who knows my deepest darkest secrets and still loves me extravagantly. The One who wants to indulge me by pouring out His favor by showering me with kindness, who wants to pamper me even when I am acting like a spoiled child. The One whose love accepts me where I am today but willing to nudge me towards who He created me to be.

I want to be an indulger. To be one who yields and finds gratification in the whims of The One who is trustworthy.

What about you? Ready to indulge?

 

 

Let’s take a journey together

BeautyHope you don’t mind but I am changing things up. Instead of writing about the ugliness of abuse I would rather take you on a journey so you can experience how unbelievably amazing and extraordinary God is.

He is peace. He is love. He is good. He is beauty. All the things He wants you, His sons and daughters to experience.

Do you know how much He loves and adores you? I hope you do and even if you do or aren’t really sure that’s ok too. I don’t think any of us can truly grasp the extent and depth of His love. It’s way beyond John 3:16.

Before we begin. Find a quiet place. Leave your cell phone in the other room unless like me it’s your source for music. Close the door, lights down low and clear your mind of the clutter, shake off whatever’s tugging at you and relax. Put on your favorite music and close your eyes.

It’s time to soak in His presence.

Imagine with me….feel the oil of His love pour over you. Do you feel the warmth of His love? Do you hear His words as He speaks over you?

“My child, I was there when you were formed in your mama’s womb. I was there through your life, I saw you in the darkness and the light. I loved you even when you didn’t love me. Even now my love for you is limitless. Nothing and no one can snatch you out of my hand and though the mountains may move my love for you will never end. No matter what you have done or will do.”

What else is He saying just to you? Ask Him, do you like me?

Listen to the music…hear each chord, strum, the pounding of the drums and the bow across the strings. Peace.

Do you feel it? He speaks and it is. Peace, my child. No matter what turmoil is going on in your life, He fills you with peace and His goodness.

Beautiful.

Don’t question it or doubt it. Man or woman – take it in…beauty. His beauty fills you from the inside out, shining out of your eyes. Ephesians 5:26 in the Message say’s, His words evoke our beauty. When He speaks beauty into us our beauty comes out for all to see. And it has nothing to do with what you look like on the outside, but everything to do with the inside. What’s in our heart is what comes out. I would rather have beauty come out instead of ugly wouldn’t you?

Take a few moments and listen to what He wants to say to you. Remember, His words are never condemning. Now bask in his love, peace, goodness and beauty.

And while you are about your day, pass it on to those around.

Have a glorious day as you carry His presence throughout the day.

Are you in prison?

AbuseMy heart’s desire is to see women free from abuse. Not just physically, but spiritually. I’ve met women who were free physically however you could see in their eyes they were still trapped in the abuse.

It’s the prisoner mindset. The bars are gone, you are free to come and go as you please but you act as if you are still in prison. As if you are surrounded by bars on every side. I read something today which took me back in time when I was the helpless one. Remembering that though I was free from the abusive marriage I lived, acted and responded as if I was still in prison.

When I came to Texas I was a hot mess. Skittish, fearful and broken. My family surrounded me with love and care which I took advantage of. I allowed them to make decisions for me, drive me where I needed to go and pay my way. I was helpless, licking my wounds and bemoaning all that had happened to me. All I would talk about was the pain I endured to whomever would listen. I was stuck in the victim role and had no idea how to get out of it. Like a hamster stuck on the wheel I didn’t know how to get off.

It was all about me. I couldn’t hear anyone else. I was locked into the pain. And anyone who came around me got sucked into my darkness. It did separate out those who were true friends. My family. They were stuck with me. Actually they stuck by me even when I was at my worst and most pitiful.

I had a choice to make. Stay a victim and wallow in what was done to me or allow love to invade my life. As I allowed love to consume me, the fear fled. Fear could not stand in the face of love. As the fear fled love returned, power was restored and my mind cleared. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I crawled out of the pit of despair and decided to live life to the fullest. When I did I was given beauty instead of ashes, blessing instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair. God took the acorn of my life and planted me deep in His soil of love and I grew into an oak tree. Standing tall with deep roots all for His glory.

We can allow the abuse to define us or we can allow it refine us. I chose to let it refine me, to allow God to bring good and purpose out of the mess I made of my life. I’d take two steps forward and three steps back and sometimes you would find me in a muddy pit. It took time to heal and learn how to live in freedom.

Are you ready to begin your journey into freedom!

 

 

Beyond the Veil

Delight

By Shelley Shrader

She studied her face in the mirror. Her skin glistened like a newlywed bride showcasing a jubilant smile. Her joy came from the depth of knowing who she was and whose she was. Her eyes reflected beauty and worth like that of rare coins.

It was only a year ago she looked in the same mirror and saw a different person marked by shame, guilt and a deep sadness. But something wonderful and exciting happened to her this past year. It was a life-changing experience.

As a young girl, she dreamed of being wooed and romanced by the perfect handsome gentleman, somebody who would treat her like a queen. She longed to be swept off her feet by a man who loved and desired her more than life. Who relished every moment with her and gave her his undivided attention. She wondered if such a man existed.

One day, she closed her eyes and saw her knight in shining armor. He was dressed in a dazzling pure white robe and riding a white horse. She was wearing a stunning beautiful white gown fit for royalty. It resembled the Renaissance era; simple but elegant.

She wore a crown of white roses and solemnly stood in a downpour of rain. The small mudslide developing under her feet almost carried her away. But suddenly, she found herself swept up by this noble gentleman. He extended his hand to her and hoisted her up on his majestic steed. He carried her through the storm into a calm, peaceful, serene garden. There was not a dark cloud in sight. The atmosphere changed in a moment and she found herself surrounded by beauty, love and warmth. The sun shone down upon them in a beautiful ray of light.

She felt as though she was living inside a Thomas Kinkaid painting with all the vibrant color surrounding her, flowers and plants of every kind. They dismounted and strolled the garden holding hands. She thought to herself, this must be what life was like in the garden for Adam and Eve. So surreal. So beautiful.

He said something to her she will never forget, “My darling you are beautiful. I see no flaw in you. I want you to stop beating yourself up. You must learn to love yourself as I love you.” They continued walking and sharing their innermost secrets with one another. Then he turned to her, stopped and put his hand gently under her chin. He looked intently into her hazel eyes and simply said, “I made this world and everything in it. Including you, my beloved. You are the apple of my eye. Sing for joy in yourself.”

She was captivated by His presence and the words of life He spoke. It was like blinders had been lifted from her eyes. She now saw a different person when she looked in the mirror. She saw someone worth pursuing, irreplaceable and utterly beautiful. She saw Jesus. He is her Knight in shining armor who came to rescue her and make her whole again.

 

Shelley Shrader is a stay-at-home mom who loves The Lord. When she is not volunteering at her church she is dabbling in creative endeavors, scrapbooking, card making, bead work, and prophetic art. She has been active in ministry for 15 years as a Bible Study leader and Altar Prayer Minister.

Because Jesus set her free, she is passionate about leading others to freedom through a personal encounter with Christ. Currently she serves on the Freedom Ministry Team at Lighthouse Fellowship in Fort Worth, TX.

 

 

Being Leah

BrokenheartedLeah was the good girl, the plain one, constantly compared to her sister, Rachel. The beautiful one. Never quite good enough, reminded of it every day, “Why can’t you be like Rachel? Fix your hair, put on a little makeup, sit up straight and while you are at it change your dress.” Rachel never let Leah forget who the beautiful one was.

And now Jacob blamed Leah for Laban’s deceit. As if she had a choice. He made it clear he didn’t love her, like her and barely tolerated her. I would say I can’t imagine how she felt but that would not be the case. It starts with devastation which eventually leads to numbness. Taking on the burden that it must be you.

I can hear her cries each night as she pleads with God to bend down and hear her pain. We know He not only heard Leah. He saw her.

Genesis 29:31 NLT says, “The Lord saw Leah was unloved.” The Hebrew word for unloved is Sane′ which means to hate, hater, enemy. Whoa. Harsh words. The word is also translated as detest and hated her intensely.

Unloved was a nice way of saying Jacob hated her with a passion. How do you sleep with someone you hate? Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am. Get on. Get off. Not an ounce of kindness or tenderness. Just doing his duty. And making sure she knew it.

You can see the progression as her hope faded after each of her children were born (Genesis 29:31 – 30:21)

Reuben: The Lord noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me. But he didn’t.

Simeon: The Lord heard I was hated and has given me another son. Even a son wasn’t enough.

Levi: Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons. Not even then.

Judah: Now I will praise the Lord! He was her rock.

Gad (by Zilpah): How fortunate I am! I’m just lucky.

Asher (by Zilpah): What joy is mine! Now other women will celebrate with me. Maybe the women will be happy for me.

Issachar: God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife. Really?

Zebulun: God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons. Not a chance.

Dinah: Judgment. What more is there to say?

She went from hoping her husband would love her to just maybe he would like her to praising God to lucky to other women being happy for her to rewarded for giving her husband to another woman to hoping for respect to judgment. Ouch. She was battered on every side.

What was it like being Leah? Hated. Rejected. Dishonored. Not even liked. How did it impact the way her kids treated her? I can answer that one. Though my ex-husband made it clear our children were to treat me with respect, they followed his behavior, not his words. They heard what he said and how he said it, followed by ‘I was joking’.

Proverbs 26:18 – 19 (NLT) Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend (spouse or child) and then says, “I was only joking.”

The bible compares ‘just joking’ to getting shot by a madman whose only goal is to kill and maim in order to release their pain. The wound is buried so deep, the bleeding invisible to the naked eye until it’s released in a hail of gunfire. Which aptly describes Leah’s life.

We saw how her boys were impacted when they cut loose on Joseph and made sure he paid because daddy loved Rachel and the spoiled brat Joseph.

Jacob blamed Leah for being the oldest, for her father’s betrayal. It never occurred to him that he was reaping what he sowed in his life. Deception and manipulation.

One day Jacob had an encounter with the God of his father and grandfather. I wonder if Jacob changed his treatment of Leah after his night of wrestling with God. Surely if he could reconcile with his brother Esau, just maybe his heart softened towards Leah.

And if it did, was it too late? After years of emotional abuse could she open her heart to trust again? No matter her relationship with Jacob, her relationship with God was firm. She knew Him as the God who sees, hears and knows. Her. When her world caved in she did all she knew to do…Praise the One who heals broken hearts.

 

When a man doesn’t love a woman

Faithful loveThe most glorious thing is to be loved by a man, according to my mother. But what if a man doesn’t love a woman?

I shivered as the veil was slipped on my head. My father was using me to deceive Jacob. Explaining how this was best for everyone. Everyone but her that is. It was her duty to follow her father’s plan. Even at the cost of herself.

My wishes didn’t matter, it was all about the beautiful one and her father’s desire to trick Jacob. Poor pitiful Leah, isn’t she sweet. Always compliant and willing to do whatever was asked of her. As if she had a choice. Betrayed by my own father.

From the moment Jacob walked into our camp, I fell. Hard. He was handsome if you liked the rugged type. Being the eldest daughter has its advantages. For a brief moment I thought I had a chance until I saw his face as he looked at Rachel. It was clear he only had eyes for the beautiful one.

I became a pawn believing I could make Jacob love me. Giving him all of me in hopes of gaining his love. Naïve I know. My sister may be the beautiful one, but I was the devoted one. I was selfless and she the selfish.

Darkness descended after a long day of celebration. It was time. My heart pounded in my chest with the anticipation of becoming Jacob’s wife. As I stepped into the tent reality set in as Jacob whispered Rachel’s name. It took everything in me to keep silent as he kissed me and declared his passion. Not waiting for my body to be ready he took me with one goal. Release.

Tears streamed down my face as he proclaimed his love for the beautiful one. I vowed to make him love me. So I whispered back my love for him as we made love once again slowly. He took his time to awaken love as he caressed and kissed me. Desire welled up within as I gave myself to him with abandonment, knowing after this night he would be mine.

It was not to be. Startled awake by the sound of my name…

LEAH!

My heart shattered at the look on his face as he ran out of the tent yelling for my father. “How could you do this to me? I worked seven long years for Rachel! Why would you trick me?”

“Jacob. It wouldn’t be right to marry off Rachel before her sister Leah. Once the bridal week is over I will give you Rachel. If, you work another seven years.”

Betrayed once again. My humiliation was complete as Jacob agreed to my father’s demands. Though it didn’t stop him from coming into to me each night. The week ended all too quickly.

Tossed aside for the beautiful one I slipped back into my tent to pour out my heart to the Lord, the all-seeing One. He saw I was unloved and spoke into the recesses of my heart.

How gracious He was to me! I could feel life growing in me. When our son was born I named him Reuben because the Lord saw my misery and now, just maybe now, my husband would love me. It was not to be. He only came to me when it was my turn.

Again God was gracious to me. Revealing His love for me by giving me another son. By the time our third son was born, I gave up hope on ever being loved by Jacob. Just maybe he would like me. After all, I gave him three sons while Rachel gave him none.

By the time Judah was born I gave up that he would even show me kindness. Though I would never know love from Jacob, I would continue to praise the Lord for His love for me.

Secretly I enjoyed Rachel’s jealousy of me. She may be the beautiful one but I am the one who gave Jacob sons. Hearing them argue was my secret pleasure.

“Give me children or I will die.” Rachel sobbed.

“Seriously Rachel. I’m not God. He’s the one who is keeping you from having children!”

Rachel thought she was winning when her servant gave her two boys. She had a long way to go to catch up to me. Between us, my servant and I gave Jacob six sons. Rachel was still barren. One day my son found some mandrakes, when Rachel saw them she wanted them. She knew they could help her to become pregnant. She was desperate, begging me for just one. My anger erupted as I lashed out at her, “first you steal my husband and now you want my mandrakes too!”

“Fine.” She shouted. “You can sleep with him tonight, if you give me some of your mandrakes.”

So I traded mandrakes for Jacob. They worked because I had two more sons. And to top it off I had a precious little girl, Dinah. My hopes that he would at least respect me as the mother of his children were dashed. He only came to me to fulfill his duty.

I never gained love, kindness or honor from my husband. I lived my entire life without the love of a man. Every day was a constant reminder of being unwanted and unloved.

When a man doesn’t love a woman…it pierces deep in your soul. A place only God can touch. He was gracious to me and never abandoned me in my darkest hours.

 

 

The Nail

The NailBut the LORD of Heaven’s Armies also says: “The time will come when I will pull out the nail that seemed so firm. It will come out and fall to the ground. Everything it supports will fall with it. I, the LORD have spoken!” Isaiah 22:25

This is one of those verses you read a hundred times and skim over until it jumps off the page. I imagined the Nail being most anything good or bad that holds our life together. As I pondered the verse my first thought was the nail represented bondage however by the end of the day The Nail took on new meaning. The Nail became disappointment, not just a small disappointment like they don’t have my size but the kind that rocks your world and questions what you believe about God.

I believe without a doubt that God has a plan and destiny for each one of us and we are given the opportunity to choose to fulfill our destiny. There are some who know what their destiny is – when you speak with them you can hear their passion in the intensity of their voice. You believe with them, you see God’s hand on their life. You see how others respect them. You watch as the fulfillment of their destiny draws closer and closer. Then the day comes when your destiny becomes intertwined with his when you say “I do”.

Did you know God’s timing is not the same as ours? Months go by when finally it is here, the day you find out your/his DESTINY. Your stomach is in knots as you wait for him to return home. When he walked in the door I looked in his face, I did not see joy; the words he spoke were not registering. “You’re kidding” came out of my mouth without thinking, like he would kid about something this important.

In a blink of an eye – poof, it was gone! The foundation of what you believed is now vapor. You know God brought you both to this moment and at the last second it seems He pulled the rug out from under you and said “kidding”. It’s all just a cruel joke. The disappointment and devastation are complete.

Yet you know that you know that you know God is merciful, kind and loving. What you just experienced causes you to wonder and then you hear his voice “Do you trust me?” What can you say but yes because deep in your heart you know you can.

You hang on those words even when the desire to understand what happened plagues you. And you want to know WHY, knowing God does not need to explain himself, just ask Job. The hurt is deep.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you …” What if what you thought was His plan really wasn’t His plan and if it wasn’t His plan why didn’t He speak up? “Hey this isn’t my plan for you, looks like it, feels like it but it’s not.” He allowed you to hang on the plan even when He asked questions of you like “what if…?” or “could you…?” Never thinking it was a nudge from God that maybe this wasn’t His plan after all.

He rocks our world not out of meanness but because our focus is off and He knows we made an idol out of our passion and plans. We thought we were made for this when in reality his plans are so much larger than ours. “For my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

I don’t know about you but I have some good plans, there have been times in my life when I let God know if He would just listen to all I have laid out it would fix whatever problem I was having at the time. I know He just patted me on the head saying, “child, child” while shaking His head. The sad part is that I implemented some of those plans and ended up in a worse mess.

Months later, we still do not understand why, however disappointment has turned to trust. The nail which was so firm was pulled out and because our foundation was firm, it did not collapse, the Lord did speak. Instead of asking why, we now ask Him what He wants to say to us about The Nail – it is all about trust, trusting He has something so much bigger for him than even he or I could imagine.

So here you are with The Nail pulled out, you have no idea what God’s plan is or even what He can do with the mess when The Nail came out…

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!” Ephesians 3:20 NLT

Enough said.

Originally posted on MyPurposeNow.org 10/16/2011