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Guest Spot: Tami from Lessons by Heart- “Is Your Skirt Flapping in the Breeze?”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. Thanks Tami of Lessons by Heart for this great post that helps us get a new perspective on our armor of God! 🙂 

beat up

photo credit: Robert Johnson aka lasoda on stock.xchng

The battle was fierce, and I was losing ground.

Correction, I had no “ground” anymore, and was getting my butt royally kicked by the enemy!

The fight, to the outsider, seems to be a silly one. I hesitate to reveal it for that reason. However, it’s not over and I’ve discovered that the best way to fight is in the light of confession, not the darkness of my mind, so here goes!

Since infancy, I have loved music. It’s what inspires, encourages, and comforts me. I am never more alive than when singing with our worship team as we exalt our Lord on Sundays.

As a young child, play often involved music. My bed became a jeep, the records being played on my phonograph the score for the “musical” in which I was the star. Elvis and The Monkeys were often co-stars in my mini-productions!

My mom had an apparatus for hanging freshly-ironed clothes. It became my microphone stand. I would push one handle of my jump rope onto its top, and use the other handle as my microphone. We had one of the big console TVs that also had a radio in the top on one side, and a phonograph on the other. The record player became my “band” and I would sing along with Chubby Checkers, the Beatles, and a host of others.

In fifth grade, I joined the school choir. The songs I recall from that year were “Both Sides Now” and “Obla Dee Obla Dah.” We learned parts, and I loved it!

In sixth grade, my mom bought me a clarinet so I could join the school band. I quickly removed it from the case, assembled it, and in no time was playing songs on it (before my first lesson!).

By eighth grade I was “first chair first clarinet.” I had conquered the instrument and eager to learn something new.

My brother received a guitar for Christmas, but really had no interest in learning to play. My teacher played guitar for a weekly sing-along, so I asked if he would teach me. He kindly gave me one of the lyric packets we sang from, along with chord diagrams. Within six months I could play them all.

On and on it went. By the end of High School, I was playing clarinet, guitar, piano, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, baritone, drums, glockenspiel, and flute. I took private singing lessons as well, and sang with the school choir and the small choral group called “Der Menga Singers.” I’d also written several songs.

Did I mention that I love music? I “knew” it was what God created me to do.

However, very few saw this in me.

My parents were tolerant of my musical pursuits. They had purchased my clarinet, and we later acquired a piano (free). Any of the other instruments I learned to play I got myself, and paid for my voice lessons too.

Mostly they would tell me to quit playing around and do something useful with my life. To follow my dreams was a colossal waste of time and effort, and I was sure to end up living in a cardboard box, they assured me. I had to produce something that people actually needed if I was going to have value to society.

My dad was especially critical of my musical talent. (This is a long story, and one I’ll save for another day.) Suffice it to say that at every opportunity, he tore me down, and ripped my musical heart to shreds in the process.

By the time I was twenty, I began to see the “truth” of their counsel. Add to that one preacher’s well-meant, but theologically inaccurate message about killing the thing we loved the most to prove our love to God. (You can read the story here: I Offered the Wrong Sacrifice) I quit playing instruments, quit singing, and quit writing songs.

Thirty plus years later, I was recording a CD for my nurse friends in Nicaragua. Between takes, I would break down and cry, sure that something “bad” was going to happen if I continued. This went on for three weeks.

During the recording of my last song, I began crying out to the Lord, asking Him for help. What came next took me by surprise.

attentionIn a stern voice I heard Him say, “Get up!” 

“What?” I asked, stunned.

“I said, ‘Get up!’ I have given you Armor to wear. Do you have it on?”

“Yes, Sir.” I rattled off the various pieces so He’d know that I had them.

“Okay, you have all the components. Then what are you doing hunkered down on the ground?”

“Lord, despite your armor, I’m getting my butt kicked by the enemy. I don’t understand.”

At that moment, a mental picture showed on the screen of my mind. There I was in all my armor, on my knees with my face to the ground…

…my skirt flapping in the breeze…

…with the enemy behind me, kicking for all he was worth!

“I didn’t give you armor for that part of your anatomy. Stand up!”

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. When I saw this one, the problem became instantly clear.

Standing to my feet, my shield before me, I raised the Sword of the Spirit…the Word of God…and fought this enemy in the power of God’s might.

He fled. What else could he do?

Like me, are you engaged in a battle? Have you put on the armor God provided for our protection? Having done so, are you standing firm…

…or is your skirt flapping in the breeze?

Want more on the importance of our armor? Don’t miss Lions Eat Christians? What?

Tami, wife, mother, and grandmother, first fell in love with Jesus as a child. For 40 years she tried desperately – and failed miserably – to be a “religious” person. In His time, God showed her that what He really wanted was an intimate relationship with her; that grace was His gift to her, and could not be earned. She longs to invite others into this same relationship through her stories of lessons learned at the feet of Jesus – and shared with you.   http://lessonsbyheart.wordpress.com/

See the original post at http://lessonsbyheart.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/is-your-skirt-flapping-in-the-breeze/

Published by permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com. 

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Prayer Monday- Prayer of Peace

So our loyal readers, you may have noticed that we have been dropping the ball here at Being Rebekah.  We have a goal of posting daily and it’s pretty clear that last week, that didn’t happen. We usually try to fill in for each other when that happens but everyone has been a bit in over their head. In it all though, God has been SO amazing.

sadnessIn follow up to my last post- Honor Thy Father:  after his stone cold reception of my weeping apology, I tried to hold strong, believing that God saw and loved me and was proud of me.  The next day, I see-sawed between despair and faith.  I wanted to believe my dad would eventually come around, but it was breaking my heart that although EVERYONE was so proud of me, I felt as if my own father was disowning me and saying I was beyond hope.  I remember sobbing in front of my computer, broken-hearted, and telling my friend it just hurt SO much.

The amazing part- God spoke to my dad.  God was the one who truly heard all of our prayers (including you readers who prayed for him!!!) and brought peace to his heart.  I was so proud and happy when he was asked to lead church prayer on Sunday and he was praising God for His peace.  He confessed that he recently went through a time of just not wanting to talk to anyone; in a complete pit of despair that nothing would get better or change. But GOD. God came down and brought him peace and he was proclaiming to the congregation that God could do the same for them all.  What a wonderful God we serve!!!

Readers- THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!!!  I know our hope here at BeingRebekah is to be a blessing to you all- but you all truly blessed my life by praying for my father.

One thing I will say that I learned in all this- when things were bad and even my mom was still pushing my past bad actions to the forefront despite my sincere repentance and promise to try to be better- I begged her to just stop everything with me and pray.  GOD took over. He brought peace.  He brought life and re-built bridges.  He truly is the redeemer. He truly is our hope and savior.

surrenderSO much was dug up in my time of praying.  So many things all the way back from my childhood were brought up, things I blamed my dad for (but didn’t realize until I prayed through it). Once I acknowledged them, forgave him for it, and let go- THEN that’s how I just haven’t yelled. The anger is gone. The quick temper with only my dad is gone.  He has a personality where he wants peace so he’ll sometimes just not say anything, not even in defense of his children who are being put down by his own family.  I had to forgive him and when that was let out and let go, I gained even more strength to live a life that honors God and my parents.

Readers, know that this God of peace, He can help you figure out what is the root behind your actions.  Is there only one person in your life that you have an irrational anger with? Someone who has the lowest thresh-hold when it comes to getting you angry? Know that God can help you with that!! Just as I had things in my heart that I had to dig out and finally let go of, you may find that is the same for you. LET IT GO.  I am free now.  Free. These last few days have been more peaceful in my relationship with my dad than… I’m not even sure when.  Praise God! I’m glad I can finally have a real relationship with my dad.

Thank You Jesus for truly being the Prince of Peace!

Rebekah M.

Related Post:

https://beingrebekah.com/2013/06/06/honor-thy-father/

Honor Thy Father

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. ~Ex 20:12

fatherSo I have a confession to make: in everything that has happened in my life I’m pretty successful on paper, but I have had one HUGE, MAJOR flaw. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but I’ve treated him pretty horrible in the past.  I just have this pre-set tendency to be angry and to yell at him.  Do I have reasons for this- yes. I honestly feel like he doesn’t hear me. I’m not even talking physically, I mean I feel like he shuts me out when I’m speaking.  So earlier this morning, my mom sat me down and we had a discussion about it. With tears in her eyes, she was pleading with me to treat my dad right.  For anyone who knows me, they know that I love my parents SO much. I praise them often and, in my mind, I think respect them. God has used my mom (and kind of my brother) to open my eyes to the fact that I haven’t been. Of every one in my life, my mom is THE person to get through to me and for God to have her essentially crying before me… it ripped up my heart a little.

angryIt is never right for a child to yell at her father. Even if she’s saying “Mashed potatoes. Hey dad, I want mashed potatoes. Just tell mom I want mashed potatoes! DAD, TWO WORDS- MASHED POTATOES YOU CAN SAY THAT TO HER! WHY WON’T YOU JUST LISTEN AND TELL HER THOSE TWO WORDS?! MASHED. POTATOES.”  lol At the end of the day if I had just opened the car door and said it to my mom versus yelling at my dad (who was getting out of the car) to relay those words when all he kept saying in response was “tell your mother,” what’s the difference?

I realized the difference and why I didn’t just go the more peaceful route is because I just feel unheard. And in thinking about it, I realized that I HATE feeling like I’m not heard. For so long, a huge part of my life, I felt SO ignored and looked down upon. Not necessary by my parents, but I have had moments where I felt I had no voice and the memory of that feeling has never left me.

So as time has gone on and more and more incidents have occurred that left me feeling like I’m not heard (not always by my dad), it caused me to become quick to anger and yell at my dad. Was it right? NO. A big “N.” “O.” Am I justifying my actions? No because I have truly broken one of the 10 commandments.  I have endeavored from this day forward to honor my father even when I feel like he doesn’t hear my words.  However, I am saying that the biggest key in everything that happened today was to recognize within myself the “WHY” behind my actions.

I sat down with both my parents earlier today to talk things through and my dad actually literally did EXACTLY what I said was the reasoning behind why I acted the way I did- he shut me out. He literally would not hear my words. I was saying “I’m sorry for how I acted, it was unacceptable behavior and I’m sorry. I reflected and realized it was because for so long now, I have felt as if you don’t hear me and I’m sorry that my frustration about that has come out as yelling.” His response? To say that I’m moving in a few short days so it doesn’t really matter and all I was saying to him was that yet once again, it’s his fault- always his fault- none of mine.  Miracle of miracles though- even though he was literally proving my point- I didn’t yell. I actually prayed. “God, give me wisdom to know how to reach my dad. Help me mend this bridge that I have broken with my anger and yelling. Forgive me and help me honor him.”

Sometimes we’re called to swallow our pride and just keep apologizing until the other person accepts it. If that never happens though- I know that today, I honored my father like I never have before and I know that God is smiling. So dear readers, pray for my dad? I know he loves me, but I also know that he has SUCH a weight on him from everything else going on and this only added to it. I allowed myself to be an instrument of further burden to my dad. My brother’s job has been in the balance lately, my “sister” has been in a spiritual battle, I’m moving away officially… there’s a lot weighing on his heart. He needs God’s peace. He needs God’s love to shine on him more than ever.  So in advance, I thank you for your prayers for peace over my dad and I pray you all do a better job at honor your parents than I have done in my past 🙂

In Him and to a new future of truly honoring my parents,

Rebekah M.

Prayer Monday: Purge Me

I haven’t been doing so well lately.  Something in me is restless. I found myself easily angered by stupid things. I found myself frustrated beyond belief unnecessarily. I found myself recently failing a trial. Today while driving home, I just poured my heart out. Sobbing to the One who can comfort me, I told Him just how much I was sorry for failing once again. I told Him how much I just wanted to be free of the things that seem to trip me up.  I was torn up and broken before Him. In that time though, of truly allowing my heart to be open before Him, I found Him just going in and dumping out all the muck. He dug in, taking out the things that I have no power to take out on my own. As He did His work, I felt His incredible sorrow that I wrote about ME feeling for a friend of mine (in the post God’s Sorrow)… but His sorrow was just as deep and directed AT ME.  Then… as I poured more of myself out, I felt Him opening up my heart and letting His light shine. To bring back life and hope. So that I could feel His forgiveness. To see His divine purpose.  To realize that He had more things to burn away from my soul, but that everything is allowed in an effort so that I can be His light. So that I will be ready for the ministry He has in store for me.

So reader, if you feel led to, join me in this prayer:

Jesus, 

I’m desperate for You. I’m longing for You. Come like a flood, purge me of myself, and saturate me now with You. You’re all I want. Clean out everything within me, burn out the bad in me, and make me whole and new in You. As my dad once prayed for me, give me a new bottle… all the different kinds of bottles that hold all the different kinds of promises- of family, of jobs, of friends, of ministry… give us all new bottles- ones filled with hope and YOUR blessings. Things that seem dead and stale in our lives and hearts, purge them, and replace them with YOU.  Be everything in our lives. Fill every last crevice that was cleaned out as You purged us. Fill it with Your love, Your purpose, Your plan.  Use us to share Your good news! You are alive! You want to give us good lives! Praise You Jesus! Praise You God! 

Rebekah M. 

P.S. Below I’ve put a video up of a song I recently put on facebook. This song is still resonating in my heart today, even stronger actually.

Stretch Forth Thine Hand

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. ~ Mark 3:1-5

God had used this passage of verses before to touch my heart as I wrote about back in October last year.  These past few days, God allowed me the chance to go to a ladies’ conference which has been SO good for my soul!  One of the nights, they had “prayer tunnel” created by having two lines facing each other of ministers’ wives and all the ladies lined up to walk in between the two lines. As you walked through, the ministers’ wives prayed over us. As I went through something in my so deeply prayed for a husband and for God to just do whatever else He wanted with my life- use me as He will, move me where He will, keep me with my sicknesses or take them away.  As I finished up handthe line I went to sit back in my seat and felt the need to open my Bible. It automatically fell on the above passage and instantly I felt God saying that He wanted to make the final healing in my heart.  I will NEVER be ready for Isaac without a fully healed heart.  As I allowed the words to sink in, I cried, thanking God and I stretched forth first one hand and then the other.  Tears streaming down, I let go of the things in my heart. I stretched my hands out in faith, believing Him faithful to heal me.  I post this in faith, continuing to believe that I was healed! My heart is whole- whole from Ex #1, whole from Ex #2, even whole from giving up the third guy- unofficially an ex… from consciously choosing God over the first guy to treat me like gold.  I know I made the right choice and either he’ll come to God and we’ll end up together, or God will send someone else- but I know more than ever that I did make the right choice and that I have hope.  I have hope that God will honor my choice- that He will not leave my soul in pain unless there is a plan and a reason- even if it’s because my Isaac has more to grow before he’s ready to be the man I need.  I trust you God, I trust You Jesus. I stretched forth my hand and I am healed!!!

Rebekah M.

Related post:

https://beingrebekah.com/2012/10/07/forgiveness-and-renewal-revisited/

Restoration (Part III)

“So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30: 1-8, 18-19).

Four years ago I went through a very trying time in my faith. My spiritual family and I were hurt very deeply during this time. My godparents were falsely accused of many terrible things. Through much prayer, I eventually made the decision to leave that church and within a few days my god-parents were asked to leave as well. By the end of that year I had lost several close friends.

frriendsOne of these was a dear friend to me that I had defended repeatedly in her time of trouble. Yet when my time of trouble came, she turned her back on me. She sent me disparaging emails, unfriended me on facebook, and disconnected from me socially and spiritually. I was heart-broken.

Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).

All communication between us stopped – with one exception. Every year on her birthday I sent her a one line email wishing her a good year and a happy birthday. Occasionally, I also tried to encourage her in other more subtle ways; for example, leaving uplifting comments on a mutual friend’s post in reply to one of her comments. We were no longer “friends”, but by way of mutual contacts I knew that she could see some of those things. For the most part, my efforts were ignored.

I admit it was difficult for me. I was hurt that she rejected me. I was angry that she was judging me without knowing or understanding what had really happened at the church. I was sad that we were no longer friends. I missed her.

It took me some time, but eventually I forgave her. She was doing what she felt she had to. In shunning me, she was following the direction of her leadership. I understood that to go against the church leadership is rebellion; she was trying to do the right thing. Yes, I had defended her vehemently to that same leadership when they were falsely accusing her of things, but she never knew that. Yes, she believed the false reports spoken about us, but they were constructed in such a way as to be very convincing. In the end I felt badly for her that she was still in that situation when I had found my way to freedom.

Indeed, while that was the most difficult time I have had to endure since becoming a Christian, it was also the catalyst for helping me to grow in Christ and to dig deeper into Him. I have been incredibly blessed in this last four years. I now attend a wonderfully loving church with very supportive leadership. I have been able to attend Bible College, coach the youth in Bible Quizzing, be involved in a Chinese Home Church and meet many wonderful new friends. Everything that I lost was restored to me and then some! Is the church I attend now a perfect church? No, of course not. But it is exactly what I need in my life and it has afforded me many opportunities that would have been closed to me at my old church.

“For I will restore health to you, and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, because they called you an outcast saying: This is Zion; No one seeks her.” (Jeremiah 30:17).

I have learned that truly all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and that going through that time helped to bring me to where I am now.  I also have a greater love and appreciation for those around me because I understand that things can change at any time and I know what a blessing it is to have them in my life.

Today, my dear friend that I lost four years ago sent me a friend request on Facebook. This may seem like a small thing, but I assure you, this is no small thing! Tears instantly welled behind my eyes when I saw it. Perhaps we will never be able to recover a friendship like the one we used to have, but I gladly welcome her back into my life. I pray she is well and that God is blessing her.

We truly serve a God of restoration!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Related Posts:

 

Bitterness: A Spiritual Abscess

When something gets infected, sometimes instead of healing the right way, puss builds up in a pocket and as the pressure builds, the patient feels increasing amounts of pain. The area becomes red, hot, and can even ooze a little. Sometimes it will finally burst open.

This past winter when I was working the ER, there were multiple patients that I had to help perform an I&D on (incision and drainage- cutting it open and getting all the muck out).  The ER doctor said to me “THE definitive treatment of an abscess is an I&D. You can give them all the antibiotics you want, but unless you go in there and get that infection out, most will come back with it again.  And you can’t just cut it a little and push on it a little, you have to give it a good cut, use an instrument to break up the locules (little pockets), and really squeeze hard to make sure you get EVERYTHING out or else you’ve done nothing for them.”

When we are injured in life- be it from family, friends, people from church, or various circumstances- we either heal the right way (which can take some time), heal with deep scars, or even end up with a deep root of bitterness in our heart.  As the bitterness festers, the anger, hatred, and dark feelings grow and grow. It can overflow a little here and there but ultimately, when it is bad enough, God needs to go in and do surgery on our hearts.  He had to do so on me once before.  For those who have been following along with my journey, over a year and a half ago, my first boyfriend broke my heart to pieces and even though God did help me heal some, I had a root of bitterness that had grown in deep. The cut was so deep within my soul, and I hid it away for so long, that it took visiting my brother and sister in law in California with my parents and two guest preachers working in sync with the Spirit to get God to muck out much of it.  I wrote about the experience in a post but that was not the only time God has worked on me.

Sometimes it feels like we are being torn up from the inside out. It feels like our souls are being mucked out, pushed, prodded, and broken up in ways we never imagined. This process though, can be of God to help break up the walls that have been created that hide the infection of bitterness, anger, and hatred.  As time has gone on, God has continued to break down the walls I have against my ex and his friends.  I am MUCH improved but I know God is making me go to the city of our (and also my.. as in ever in my life) first kiss for residency to help make sure that the last walls are broken down.  I cannot be fully ready to accept my future “Isaac” unless every last wall and pocket of bitterness/anger/pain is broken down and cleaned out.

What do you have festering in your heart today? Is there anything that God needs to go in and muck out? Are there pockets hiding away in your heart built up to protect you from things in your past? Do you see that all those walls are doing only keeps pain/bitterness in your heart?  Let it go! Let God work on you! He will heal you more completely than you could ever imagine. He will bind you up with His love and give you a new heart. Just trust His process and see that He truly is the great physician!

Thank You Jesus. Thank You for Your amazing ways.  Help us be wiling to go through Your “I&Ds.” Help us trust that even if it hurts at the time, it is for our good.  I love You Jesus. 

Rebekah M. 

Related posts:

https://beingrebekah.com/2012/10/07/forgiveness-and-renewal-revisited/