Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shields Up!

Talking to DA, I was telling him about already being under spiritual attack. I was preparing to take a trip to meet someone to do a radio show, and tell my story. I had waited two weeks for this to get here, and now just two days before I am to go, the attacks had begun. But this time, something amazing and wonderful had begun to happen. Instead of those negative thoughts, imaginary confrontations and conversations stirring up the oppression once again, whenever they would try to pop into my mind, immediately they would bounce off and away. 

At first this was a little confusing to me. Because they would begin as they always have, only this time they weren't as clear for me to hear. They sounded sort of muffled. It helped me to identify them more quickly and in doing so, I could shut them down. When I would shut them down (a mentally uttered, "Stop it" or a verbal "No") I could literally feel them bounce off of "something" within me. 

It wasn't until later in the evening, when I was talking to DA that it came to me; Shields! My shields were up! I remember saying, "It's like on Star Trek Next Generation, when Captain Picard yelled, "Shields up!" There is literally a force field around me that when those oppressive thoughts and comments try to come in, they immediately bounce back off!" Of course, DA just looked at me. He's not a "Trekky." But I knew what it was, and talking about it out loud helped me to identify it. It was my FAITH.

When you put your faith and trust in Jesus, believe Him for your protection, and you are truly working to follow Him, you will have shields and they will always be up! Here's how I know...

"Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God..." ~Ephesians 6:14-17 (emphasis mine)
Treasure Island, Florida

When someone tries to drag you down because of what you are doing, your shields will protect you from their hurtful words. I have had enough hurtful words to keep me down for the rest of my life. But Hallelujah! when the Lord set me free from that, He put my shields up and as long as I'm following Him, they'll stay up!

So let the enemy fire at me! Let people try to drag me down. I don't need Commander Data to keep an eye on my shields. I have the Holy Spirit. As long as I stay in God's Word (the Bible), and keep talking to Him (in prayer), my shields (my faith) will remain intact. If I start to feel them slipping, or feel a hole in my shields, I will go to God, not Geordi La Forge, and He will strengthen me and restore my shields.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who Is Shelley?

Looking at an "About Me" post written by my friend Patty, I started to wonder about my "About Me" post. I didn't have one. I needed one. But what could I say that didn't sound like I was bragging on myself, or copying off her? So here I was, still without an "About Me" post. Does anyone even WANT to know about me? Where do I start? In Walt Disney's animated movie, Alice in Wonderland, Alice is at a tea party with the Mad Hatter and Marsh Hare. They have just asked her to explain why she's having trouble and they both advise her, "Start at the beginning...and when you come to the end... stop!" I think I'll start there. Anyone got any tea?

Okay here are some silly, and serious (maybe) things about me. Who is Shelley? 
     The real Shelley...

  • an extent. (stop snickering, it's true)
  • Loves Disney movies 
  • Loves my kids 
  • Adores my grand boys! Radley and Abraham are the loves of my life.
  • Married to Don (DA) for a LONG time now.
  • Hates noise (loud or otherwise)
  • Loves the Lord!
  • Loves the mountains, music (all kinds, almost), and motorcycles. 
  • Loves wearing mismatched socks.
  • Favorite season is Fall
  • Favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Okay, Halloween, too...but only because I also like candy.)
My broom stands alone!
  • Okay, my family says that secretly I like Halloween because I can legally fly on my broom. Not so! (I can fly on it any time I want to...I just choose not to) *wink
  • Hates housework
  • Is a junk-food junkie
  • Loves jammy days
  • Will make a special trip to Sonic for a large unsweet tea with blackberry flavoring (then add 2 pkts of Stevia) ~ It's my "Magic Power Drink"
  • Likes to make people laugh.
  • Loves writing, obviously.
  • Procrastinates too much.

Okay, there it is. Hmm...looks like a lot. But it's a start. On a serious note though, I was saved when I was about 17 (a year before I got married). But I didn't start learning about God for about 17 more years, and even then didn't start really serving Him until the year 2000. But the BIG CHANGE didn't occur until He healed me of the many years of oppression and hurt and depression which happened on May 30, 2012. At which time I decided to get serious about writing. Because I have been writing since I was 12 years old. I never realized that God wanted me to use that gift to tell others about Him, or even that my story may just help someone else. I know now!

I don't have a professional bio blurb.* Probably because I don't have a professional agent wanting a professional bio blurb from me! That might be a blessing in disguise. *wink* One of these days though, who knows? 

*Okay, it's been four years since I wrote my About Me post and I still don't have a professional agent wanting a professional bio blurb from me. However, I do have a professional editor who asked for an Author Bio from me during the publishing of my first book, Walking Healed. *insert large, surprised eyes and face here* So I wrote one, then re-wrote it, the re-re-wrote it and came up with the following. You'll see it in my books.

Shelley Wilburn was born and raised in West Frankfort, Illinois. She began writing when she was twelve years old. She has written several articles and devotions for various newspapers, women's magazines, and newsletters. In addition to writing, Shelley is also an avid reader, book reviewer, blogger, and speaker. Using her love of writing, motorcycle riding, and wearing mismatched socks, Shelley has developed a unique ministry of encouraging others using biblical truths and stories from her own personal life. Shelley is married to her high school sweetheart D.A. and together they have celebrated over thirty years of marriage. They have three grown, married children and three grandsons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I'm doing a writing challenge from the website of my friend, Patty. It's a weekly challenge and it's called "a2z." This week's challenge: Write something beginning with the letter "Y" ... Hmm. This is harder than it sounds. Yellow? No. Yummy? Hm, I'm hungry. No. Stay focused! Yesterday I could have thought of a hundred things. Oh wait! There it is! Yesterday!

The Beatles did a song called "Yesterday." In fact the first line of the song goes, "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it seems as though they're here to stay. Oh I believe in yesterday."

Apparently Paul McCartney would rather have had his yesterday, because he thought it was better back there than it was where he was at that moment (according to the song). But the Apostle Paul (totally different dude), was choosing to forget yesterday.

"Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it (spiritual maturity). But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead..." (Philippians 3:13 HCSB)

Wedding Day - June 18, 1983

There are some things in my "yesterday" that I would simply like to forget. But there are other things that I would love to hold onto forever: 

My beautiful kids: Rachel, Katie, & Logan
(Logan is standing)
My wedding day. My babies' first steps. The goofy times I've had with each of my kids. The birth of each of my grandbabies, just to name a few... Good thing we took pictures.

Precious Grandsons: Abraham & Radley
(They are cousins, not brothers)

I guess it's good to remember the good things, the funny things, and the things that make you smile. But we also need to remember to let go of the yesterdays that were not so good. We need to focus on what lies ahead, because it can only get better. In verse 14, Paul says, "I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus." 

We will never be perfect while we're still on this earth. That's why it's important to stay focused on the things ahead. Practice and work, just like an athlete practices and works for his goal. At the end of the race, he is called forward to receive his prize. And if we stay focused on Jesus, our yesterday won't matter and one day we'll be called forward to receive our prize, too. The Beatles may have believed in yesterday...but I believe in eternity.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Setting Boundaries

Joyce Meyer said it best when she said, "When we give in to fear we always run away from something we should be confronting." For years I gave in to fear. I allowed it to come in and control my life. I allowed it to build a fortress around me, and I ran every chance I got from the things that I needed to confront and take charge of. Sadly, I feared almost everything, and in so doing caused many people to have very little respect for me. I lived in a constant state of oppression. I didn't stand up for myself because I didn't want to "rock the boat."

I had been conditioned that if I didn't "obey" everyone, I would "get in trouble." I continued this into adulthood. I neglected to set boundaries for those in my family, for my friends, and acquaintances. Now, there are those who, when you stand up to them, will use that as ammunition to attack you more. These are the people who only cause divisions and problems, and these are the people we need to distance ourselves from. 

"Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them, for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words." ~Romans 16:17-18 (HCSB)

By distancing yourself from oppressive people often causes them to lash out at you more. However, by staying away from them, you have set your boundaries. You have let them know that, 1) God is first in your life; 2) You will not allow these people to control your life; and 3) You will not allow them to use you as the chopping block to make themselves look better. Yes, they will cut you to shreds behind your back. However, you do not have to listen to them, and whatever they say about you will eventually come back on them.

"I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." ~Matthew 12:36-37 (HCSB)

People who are oppressive speak the true nature of their hearts. If they try to control others with manipulation, intimidation, and oppression, these are people to stay away from. Before you totally remove yourself from these people though, you need to make sure that they know where you stand. Make sure that you explain to them, "Look, I love you but, I will not allow you to put me down and call me names no matter how much you say you are joking. It is hurtful. If you want me to respect you, you must respect me in return. If you can't accept this, then I cannot be around you.

I will tell you up front, some people you can do this with. Others, you cannot. You know the people in your life better than anyone. Sometimes, to confront those who oppress you only causes more arguments and more ridicule for you. Some of them will have no idea that they've been hurting you. It might just be a healing for the both of you. 

No matter your situation, always put Christ first and trust Him to help you through your situations. It's always good to pray first, then confront. Let the Holy Spirit give you the words to say. Do it gently, in a Godly manner, and in love. Set your boundaries and regardless of how others treat you, they will know where you stand, and the Lord will back you up.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Do It Afraid!

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." ~Psalm 111:10

 For years I feared the Lord. I thought He was this huge ruler, sitting on a throne (the Bible says He sits on a throne (Heb. 1:8), waiting for me to mess up so He could "zap" me! I would hear how we were supposed to work for the Lord, and how if we didn't work then our faith was dead (James 2:17), etc. I would always timidly serve my part wherever I was needed. Always knowing in my heart what I was supposed to do. No one understood that though. I would hear things like, "Oh, we really NEED you here" or "We've been talking and we think you should do this." I would never say a word. I would always comply, quietly going to do the job no one wanted, quietly wondering why I couldn't do what I knew the Lord called me to do. I was afraid.

I was afraid to step out. I was afraid to stand up for myself. You see, I had been conditioned to always do what I was told to do. If I didn't, I would get into trouble and the consequences were devastating. If I got into trouble at school, just plan on being in trouble at home, only more severely. And somehow I always brought it on myself. I'm still trying to figure that one out. Intimidation and manipulation. It filtered into my adult life. If I didn't obey my husband, then the consequences were going to be devastating. Oh wait a minute...MY husband is loving, kind, a man of God, someone who loves the Lord and loves me, too. He never raises his voice. He never raises his hand to me. He never cuts me down. He never does any of the things I was told a husband would do if a wife didn't obey him. But you know what? A marriage isn't supposed to be like that anyway. A marriage between a man and woman is supposed to be loving, kind, patient, gentle, and above all respectful. I had all those things in my husband, yet I was still afraid. Not of him, but of what "might" happen. I lived in fear every day, when I didn't need to.

How hurtful do you think it is to someone to know that while they love you for who you are, you still are afraid of them and are intimidated by them? How do you think the Lord feels? This must be what my husband felt, and has felt for most of the 29 years we've been married. I have apologized to him and do you know what he has said to me? "Honey, I love you."

Until the Lord finally healed me of the years of oppression and hurt that I was packing deep inside me, I lived in a constant state of indecision, confusion, and fear. None of that is of God. None of it. "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace..." ~1 Corinthians 14:33

Over the years, my oppressors have had many different forms; family members, church members, friends, friends of friends, friends of family. One would think that I would have overcome this. I finally did. And let me tell you, although I'm healed, I'm still learning what to do with my healed self! It's a whole new ballgame out there now. But people who know me have noticed that there's a change. Something is different in me. There's a new confidence. There's joy. There's a light in my eyes that wasn't there before. The major fear is gone and replaced with the confidence that once was missing. Oh, I'm still afraid, but not of getting in trouble. I'm afraid in an excited nervousness of what the Lord is teaching me and having me do. But this time I won't let fear control me. This time I'm forging ahead. I'm going to do it afraid!

Let me encourage you today. If the Lord has given you a task, don't sit and work yourself up into a tizzy in fear. The enemy would like nothing better than for you to get so afraid that you chicken out before you can complete your task. So here's my encouragement: DO IT AFRAID! If you do, I promise you that the Lord will meet you as soon as you take the first step in faith and the rest will be easy-peasy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Finding Your Treasure

Have you any idea how rich you are? You may not think so. You've been oppressed and beat down for so long that you don't think that there's anything good inside you. But there is! If you know Jesus, there is a light shining within you. You are a clay jar with cracks and that light will shine through the crack, peeking out and letting others see that hey, there is definitely something about that person! I know this from personal experience. 

"We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure."~ 2 Corinthians 4:7a (NLT)

You see, when God healed me of the many years of hurt, oppression, depression, anxiety, and all those things that various women have done to me my entire life, a change happened within me. Oh, I knew the Lord. I had accepted Him a year before I got married. But that's about as far as it ever went. I was saved. What more did I need to know? Apparently a LOT more! But sometimes we have to get to a certain point in our lives where we are actually READY for God to use us. And God has to get us to that certain point in our lives when the "clay" is ready for "the Master's hands." I was at that point when I went in the floor and God healed me.

When I say that I "went in the floor" I mean that I had been praying, others had been praying, and a very Godly man prayed with me, invoking the help of the Holy Spirit, and when he touched me, the Holy Spirit washed over me and my knees buckled and I literally went down to the floor. Thanks to whomever was behind me and caught me and laid me gently on the floor because I couldn't have supported myself if I had wanted to! It all sounds so unreal, doesn't it? Well, it wasn't! But my point is this: when the Holy Spirit came over me, when I prayed and received Him more fully into my life, He began to work on me and filled all those cracks in my clay jar. I have a lot of cracks in my pot too, but the Lord turned the lights on and now I'm a beautiful light, shining out to those of you who are hurting, oppressed, depressed, and have been beaten down for as long as you can remember. And I want to help you find the light switch within you and turn it on, too!

"The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed."~ Psalm 103:7

You were made for so much more than what others are telling you. So let's do a little emotional exercise. It won't hurt a bit and you'll be glad you did it. Right where you are I want you to pray and ask the Lord to remove the shackles of oppression from you. Believe in your heart that He wants to heal you. Say, "I believe it!" Then receive it. Say, "I receive it." Say, "In the name of Jesus!" If you truly mean it, He WILL heal you. He WILL remove it from you, and you WILL be healed! You don't have to fall in the floor to be healed. You can be healed right this minute. Matthew 21:22 says, "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Basically, if you believe when you pray, then whatever you ask for you will receive. And let me just say that the riches He will give you will be beyond anything you can imagine! The peace, the peace of mind, the rest, actual rest for once in your life, the tension removed, and many other things that you wouldn't have dreamed could happen, will! Your clay jar will be filled with even more treasure!

I want to hear from you. If you have been oppressed by others for years, let me know. I want to pray for you. Because someone took the time with me, I want to take the time to pray for you. God CAN heal you from it. He can use you. He loves you so much and has a purpose for your life. But you have to be willing to let Him and willing to stop letting others drag you down and control you. We have no control over what others say and do. But we DO have control over what WE say and do. Let's start fresh every morning with the Lord, and allow Him to show you which way to go. He has given me a freedom and a ministry to help others. I have the "Lifeline." Would you like to grab hold of it and find your treasure?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Caffeine & the Holy Spirit

Standing in the parking lot, in the sun, heat beating down upon us, I told my a man. A man who understood what I was saying...because we were talking about the Lord. I was telling my story of healing to the guy who had just put fourteen boards in the back of my truck. I was on an errand to the lumber yard for my husband and son, who were waiting for me to return with their supplies. But the supplies would have to wait because the door opened on opportunity, and it didn't even have to knock. It was cracked just a little and I segued myself right through the crack, bursting the door on its hinges and went through.

I had been standing just inside the lumber yard's open building, waiting for the guy to pull the boards from the second floor loft, hand them down to the first floor, and prop them on the wall. I then had to wait for him to come back down from the second floor to pick the boards up and load them into the back of my truck. As he came toward me, he smiled and said, "I really appreciate a patient woman."

"Thank you! That's a learned behavior." We both laughed at that.

"You're right about that."

"I wasn't always like that. This (meaning my patience) is a gift from God."

He smiled. "Yes, it is." I told him that I was once someone else entirely. Then I segued right into my testimony of healing from the Lord. He stopped and gave me his undivided attention. As I began to speak, I said to him, "What I'm about to tell you may be hard to believe, but I assure you, it was all God." He encouraged me by letting me know that he was raised in church and that he was fully aware of what the Lord was capable of doing. So, encouraged and motivated, I continued. And we both were blessed as the result.

How exciting it is to stand and testify of the Lord's goodness, His healing, and His miracles! Before I went into the lumber yard to order those supplies I had been listening to praise & worship music, sipping on a diet coke. Now, I have all but stopped drinking diet coke. So I haven't really had much in quite a while (since May 30, 2012). When I started to shake while giving my testimony, I thought it might be the caffeine causing them. I was wrong. 

Never mistake the touch of the Holy Spirit with the effects of caffeine. There is a definite difference! The caffeine wasn't having an affect on me. Not by a long shot. Or any shot! The Holy Spirit however, was all over me and not only was I shaky, but I was excited, happy, joyful, might say I was a regular ball of electricity. Every time I tell someone about the night God healed me, this is what happens. 

My point to all this is that when the Holy Spirit gets a grip on you, you will NOT forget it! It's electrifying! Then the next time He's encouraging you, you'll remember that touch. You know the touch of your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends. But the touch you'll remember the most, that will affect you the most, is the touch of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Take Off Your Mask

Is your life a masquerade? Have you been oppressed for so long that you're living behind a mask, not even knowing who you are anymore? I was like that, too. For years I lamented over "wish I could's" and "what if's," never knowing that there was something wonderful lying just under the surface. The problem was that I didn't know how to tap into it and bring it forth to move myself forward. In addition to that, quite frankly, even if I could tap into it, I was scared to death of what would happen if I did! Who was going to get mad? Who was going to confront me? On, and on, and on...

The night that God healed me and delivered me of those many years of oppression though, everything that was lurking deep within me came flooding to the surface. And guess what? It was everything that I already knew, everything that I am, and everything that I've always wanted to more! I found things within me that I had no idea that I was capable of doing. All of a sudden, I could look people in the eye, I could speak to people without fear, I could smile again, and laugh. I could write with a flowing power that had eluded me before. But the most amazing thing that I discovered was that I had a compassion for people and could actually talk to them without fear. I was finally able to take off the mask I had been wearing for years, break it, and get rid of it. I don't need it anymore.

What kind of mask are you wearing? Is it one of fear? Oppression? Depression? Verbal and mental abuse? Whatever mask you're hiding behind, let God remove it from you! When you go to Him, fully trusting Him and allowing Him to heal you from the inside out, He will remove that mask you wear and crush it, never to be worn again! I promise you that! God knows the real you. He made you! And He has a purpose for you. The enemy has had you in so much turmoil, using the very people you know and love, to keep you down and keep you from being the wonderful you that God made you to be! I know. I've been there. And now I'm out, and I'm throwing you a lifeline. Grab on, we'll move forward together! 

I'm not saying that you'll never come under attack again from your oppressors. But here's the really cool part: When God heals you, those attacks will roll off you as if you're covered in some kind of anti-adhesive. Because you are! Jesus has covered you and has become your protective sealant. Those fiery darts thrown at you from all sides just bounce off. Of course you can hear them. You may even feel them hit you. But they have no affect on you anymore, because when God fixes something...He does it up right! So let the enemy try. He won't succeed. Because if you truly accepted the healing of God, there isn't a person anywhere who can put a mask back on you!

Welcome to the REAL you! Mask free!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Past is Past

Isn't is awesome how when Jesus saves us, we become a completely new person? He can take all of our sins and cast them as far as the east is from the west. He can cleanse and heal us from old hurts and scars. He can make us as fresh as a field full of Lavender (I happen to like Lavender). We truly are a new person. God remembers our past no more. Too bad everyone else doesn't forget, too. 

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."  ~Psalm 103:12

Too often, our friends and family refuse to forget our mistakes and our mishaps. We are dragged through the mud by statements like, "Don't give me that 'Holy Roller' attitude! I know what you're REALLY like!" or "I know who you REALLY are!"

Well no, you don't. Because the ones who want to slander you are holding onto that one moment in time when you slipped up, or didn't live for Christ, or maybe didn't even know Him at all! To them, it doesn't matter if it was 20 or 30 years ago, or 20 or 30 minutes ago. Your accusers will remember the smallest detail of your life forever. But to God, it's forgotten. We often allow those we love though, to oppress us, keeping us in that black hole of the sin that God forgave us for. They simply refuse to allow us out, always pushing us back down into it. We allow them to because simply put, we just don't know how to get over it and forgive ourselves, or may not even know that we're allowing it to happen. Who cares what you did wherever or whenever? If you have asked God to forgive you...He DID. The past is in the past.

Many times the reason we come under so much attack by our family and friends is because, 1) Our relationship with Christ makes them uncomfortable; and 2) they simply refuse to let go of the past. Yes, it is a little more difficult when dealing with family. They watched us grow up. We like to live in the past, remembering the "good 'ol days," and unfortunately remembering the mistakes others have made.

One of the hardest things I've ever done is to separate myself from certain people, friends or family. Because frankly, I don't like who I become when I'm around them. They belittle me, trash talk about me (whether I'm present or not), and always try to trip me up by asking me question after question about the things I do. And when finally I get flustered and mess up, they are the first ones to attack. "Well I thought YOU were a perfect Christian?" You can't pass that off as "just joking." Yes, I am a Christian. And the beauty of being one is that I know I'm forgiven of my sins. It doesn't mean I'm perfect.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" ~2 Corinthians 5:17-18

How sad that people only want to remember what you did "back when," but can't accept who you are right now. Honestly, they're missing the best part of you! Let me encourage you today: Don't listen to them! Be who you are in Christ. Enjoy the new you, and don't let anyone try to push you back into the pit!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Make New Friends

I love having friends! My friends are so special to me, each and every one of them. Some of my friends have been with me so long that they have become more family than friends. Some of my friends are new friends, but we have bonded and become close. Some of my friends are no longer my friends and some of them I haven't spoken to for quite a while, but I know that if I were in a jam, they would be there in a heartbeat.

One of my newest friends happens to be a writer herself. She and I became friends inadvertently through a class I took that her husband was also part of. He had mentioned her one evening in class and that she had her own website, then gave the web address. I went home and looked it up and immediately fell in love with her writing style and the things she was posting. I knew that she and I would mesh if we had the chance to converse. But many times writers are a fickle lot and often are not willing to give out their writing "secrets," much less give any advice to another writer. Not that I wanted to know everything about my soon to be new friend. I just needed a little guidance and a push in the right direction. I felt that she could help me with that. My next step was to send her an email and hope she would respond.

Within a short time, I received a return email from her, stating how glad she was to have another writer who was "local" whom she could bounce ideas off of, too! We agreed to meet and that was the beginning of a new friendship. Patty and I hit it off right from the start. She is a joy to talk to. Reading her posts, I am encouraged, challenged, and inspired.

The point of this story is that God places people in our path at various times in our lives. Some are sent for a reason; maybe to lift you up out of the mire, help you heal, and help you get back on track. Some are sent for a season; to help you become closer to the Lord, help you find the Lord, or maybe just to help you through a specific issue. Still, some people are sent to you for a lifetime. These are the treasures of life. The ones who stick by you through thick and thin, who never judge you because of your mistakes, and who will always be there regardless of whether you spoke yesterday or last year.

There was a song we used to sing in Girl Scouts when I was little, the words went; "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." Friends are definitely a treasure. If you have friends, treasure them. But make new friends, too. Pray for your friends and let them pray for you. If they lift you up, they truly are a treasure. If they drag you down, then it might be time to put some distance between you and they. Whatever your situation, I hope you pray for, and treasure your friends as much as I treasure mine!

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time." ~Proverbs 17:17

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Deflating Balloons

How's your journey going? Have you had any bumps in the road? Had any bridges to cross, or "One Way" street signs posted on you? How about any detours? Yes? Congratulations! You're going in the right direction! Believe me, I'm not laughing at you...I'm laughing with you...even if you aren't laughing yet. Seriously though, it's not funny when the enemy throws his darts at us, is it! But throw them he does, and any time we can continue with our journey and get past what the enemy throws our way, I stand an applaud you. I'm so proud of you, and I rejoice with you in continuing your journey regardless of what is placed before you!

"Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing." ~James 1:2-4

Trials along the journey are normal. Of course we're going to have them, it's a given. But here's some good news; if we are prepared, the trials won't seem so bad. In fact, they will seem so ridiculous that we laugh them off. And let me tell you, the funniest thing to me is when someone tries to trip you up and you don't trip, but instead laugh it off. It confuses them so bad that they don't know what to do next! Oh yes, I have experienced that firsthand. When we don't take offense to those who try to insult us in front of others, drag us into a tete-a-tete, or even resist when they try to get us to gossip about someone not present, immediately they become confused and you can literally see all the hot air blubber out of their balloon. You just took all the fun out of their game. Instead, you got to have fun and enjoy yourself along with everyone else while your would-be oppressor sits and tries to figure out what just happened. That's God...and I love that! 

I'm thinking of a particular incident in my last paragraph. Let me just say that starting out being nice to me, then shooting a barb my way didn't work. I laughed it off. I never asked, "What do you mean by that?" nor did I fall quiet, as I used to do, which would elevate my angst and cause me to not have any fun. This time, I'm the one who had fun and my oppressor sat quietly for a while. Thank You, Jesus!

Listen, I'm not saying to be mean to those who try to oppress you. No way! I wasn't mean to anyone. What I AM saying is to be nice to them! Love on them! Let them know that you have been delivered from your oppression and that it is NOT okay for them to try to treat you that way anymore.

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." ~Proverbs 25:21-22 

I used to jokingly say that I liked that "heap burning coals on his head" part. But you know what? That is really sad. It's sad that it takes such a drastic measure to get through to someone who wants nothing but to attack you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, in public, whatever. How do we heap burning coals on someone's head? By being nice to them! By loving them! I have literally seen someone get mad because I'm being nice and having a good time. I have been called petty because I live by what the Bible says. Hey, I'm following Jesus. Come along and go with me. You'll be happier, too! Sadly though, many people won't. They literally enjoy being where they are and think that you are crazy for what you are doing and where you are at. 

Let me encourage you today; You can and will go farther in healing your mind, emotions, and spirit when you trust the Lord for everything within you. I can't say it enough, and you'll just have to go along with me here, but it's the truth; When I was laying in the floor, washed in the Holy Spirit, I lay in the floor because what was happening to me I couldn't stand up for. It was such an overwhelming cleansing, a "surgery" of sorts, but I was lifted, delivered, and healed of those many years of people saying negative things to me to keep me down. You can have it, too! Trust me! Just pray and ask for it! Believe it. Receive it. Then bask in His glory, because you have begun your journey to forgiveness!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stop Listening to Lies

I learned a very important lesson. Just now. Oh, I've know about it for quite some time. But then I actually heard it spoken out loud by someone else and the light bulb came on! The lesson? When the devil starts talking to you in your ear, you can speak out loud out of your mouth and he'll have to shut his! Never run at your giants with your mouth shut. Remember that verse of Scripture that says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."  (James 4:7) Well, it's more true than you realize!

How many years have you lived in oppression? How many lies have you believed? You aren't pretty enough. You aren't thin enough. You don't clean your house right. You don't raise your kids right. You don't dress right. Blah, blah, blah, blah! Over and over and over again. It's never enough, is it! I heard it for many years. I lived it many more. When my oppressors were no longer present, their words were. I kept hearing their hurtful words, like a broken record in my mind. It got to a point where I would purposely avoid doing dishes, laundry, or housework of any kind because when I would do those things, the hurtful words would pop back in there and make me miserable. Before I could finish a job, I had worked myself into a nervous wreck. So, I avoided it. If I didn't do the dishes, I wouldn't hear those voices of shame. But if I didn't do the dishes, they would pile up, and before long the voices would start saying other things. "See? You'll never amount to anything." Lies, lies, and more lies. All of them straight from the devil. All of them straight from hell. 

For years, you've been listening to the same broken record that I have. Of course, your voices may sound different than mine, but the theme is the same: to keep you in the past and from moving forward.

It's time to stop looking at our past and look toward our future. So what if those things happened to you in the past? Are you going to continue to let the enemy keep you in that, making your life miserable until you die? I say NO! God wants to prosper you, not harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants to love you and for you to love Him. But more than that, God wants to do something new in and with you! 

"Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."~Isaiah 43:19

The night I asked for more of Jesus, more of the Holy Spirit, and surrendered to what He wants me to do, a wellspring of stories bubbled up within me and the words kept coming, and coming, and coming. Now, I can type fast, but sometimes I can't type fast enough! God speaks faster than I can type at times. What is it that God has gifted you to do? Do you have a heart for care giving? Do you love to work with children? Do you love working with teenagers? Are you a good baker, love taking things to others to brighten their day? Give it to God, give yourself to Him and watch what happens! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Don't let anyone tell you it's a stupid idea. Because if God has called you to do it, He will also equip you to do it and make a way for you. So stop listening to the enemy! Say out loud right now, "NO!" Tell the devil, "That's enough!" He has to shut his mouth and leave you alone. Do this every time you hear something negative whispered in your ear. Before long, you will begin to feel peaceful. You will begin to get excited about what the Lord wants you to do. You will be happy to do it and can't wait to get going every morning.

"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." ~Romans 12:2 (HCSB)

Set your mind and keep it set.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sticks and Stones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me." Remember that little ditty? Well, it's a lie. We learned it when we were kids, so that when other kids picked on us, or called us names, we could sing-song it back to them to let them know they didn't hurt us. But they did, didn't they! 

Years of hurtful words, by many people, pushed into that lock box in the dark corners of your mind. The box no one can open unless they say something hurtful to you. Then those words go into the already overstocked box and pushed farther into the corner. Only now it's so full that it can't contain everything you want to hide in there and it's actually not even in the corner anymore, but out in the middle of your mind. Those little hurtful words have festered into very sensitive little sores within you and people step on them every day. The least little thing can set you off. You've prayed about it, but you can't seem to get rid of those hurts. What can you do?

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

That's what you do! You cast it upon the Lord. He can handle it. He wants it. Casting it upon Him (literally throwing it) rids you of the many burdens you've been trying to carry and deal with. But you were never meant to deal with them! Did you know that? Jesus told us to bring everything to Him. If He wasn't serious, He wouldn't have said it!

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." ~Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

I carried one burden after another for years upon years. I thought I was giving everything to Him when I prayed, but before long, my words seemed to hit a brick wall. I literally could not figure out why I couldn't get rid of all those things that people had said to me over the years. They were suffocating me. All those things in that locked box were spilling out, making me sick, both mentally and emotionally. It was time for a cleansing...

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." ~Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV)

The night the Holy Spirit washed over me, I had many people praying for me and over me. When I cried out to the Lord, He most definitely answered me. He began a healing within me. Then He began showing me many things. Let me tell you, when God promises you something, you better get ready, because He definitely does NOT go back on His Word! Since beginning this journey to forgiveness, God has shown me great things and mighty things, and wonderful things, and He continues every day to show me something else. Every day He gives me a new story to write. Yes, I remember many of the hurtful things that have been said to me. But those things have no affect on me now. Instead, I'm using them to get my message across to you who are hurting, so you too, can begin to heal.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." ~2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Detour on the Road Trip

A journey is a trip. Some trips take a few days, some take longer. Some journeys can last several months or even several years. Many journeys last a lifetime. I don't know how long my journey is going to last. But when I get to where I'm going, I'll let you know. In fact, why not journey with me? We'll all take a road trip together...this is our Journey to Forgiveness

If you've been with me since "Part 1" you know that we've already covered many, many miles. You also know that it has taken me many long and suffering years to get to where I am now. And it only took God one evening to send me in the direction I needed to go! How exciting that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He is willing to wait, take His time with us, and never give up on us! I love that "never give up on us" part!

I mentioned before how I've been writing in a journal for the past three or four months about forgiveness. I literally started writing in it on February 29, 2012. When I began writing it was because everywhere I turned, there was a song, or a commercial on TV, or a devotion, or something that mentioned forgiveness. It dawned on me that the Lord might just be tapping me on the shoulder wanting me to pay attention. So I began writing about it. I thought, you know that might come in handy one day. I might just need to write a book about forgiveness. And then Joyce Meyer came out with her book on Forgiveness! Doh!

You see, every time I would see someone come out with a book or story about something I had an idea to write about, I thought I couldn't write about it then. Someone "stole" my idea! No, they didn't really. But the situation I was in at the time, I was being lied to by the enemy, convincing me that God really didn't call me to write. So I would lay aside my ideas. But here's the really nifty part: they never left me. They stayed & floated around in my mind, wanting me to do something with them.

Here I am now. I'm a little late, but that's okay. Timing is everything, and it's God's timing that needs to be kept. Therefore, my journey to forgiveness has truly begun. I kept thinking about it, wondering how I was going to write about it when way down deep in my soul, there was a void. Not that I didn't know Jesus. I did. I do. But it was as if there was literally a big, brick wall built up inside of me that I couldn't get over or around. On May 30th, God broke that wall down so I could continue on my journey. 

The enemy will set up road blocks along your journey. He will cause you to take detours that you didn't intend to take. But if you'll read the "Map" and ask for directions, you'll have less road blocks and less detours. My mistake was in not asking for directions. I put my Map down and decided I could drive on my own. Not that everything was my fault. Because many of the things that was preventing my journey were due to my past. There were things in my life that I had no idea were there, but God has been bringing things to mind so that I can purge them from my life. They don't need to be spoken here, but just know this, you have things in your life too. Little things. Things you have pushed to the far, dark corners of your mind. Things you don't want to deal with. Things that didn't seem important. But they ARE important. If they are preventing you from continuing with your journey, they're important enough to be dealt with. 

I'm asking you right now to bring them out and let the Lord handle them for you. You may need to call in some Godly people who can pray with you. That's okay. That's what we're supposed to do! Pray for each other! 

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up..." ~James 5:13-15(a) (NKJV)

Are you ready to continue the road trip?

Monday, June 11, 2012

God Can Still Use You

When God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, he ran. Moses murdered someone. David committed adultery. Rahab was a prostitute. Mary Magdalene had seven demons in her. But God still used every one of these people in ministry! So, why couldn't He use you? Who said that He couldn't?

It took me nearly 30 years to figure that out. Through many years of oppression. Through many years of hurts, depression, being told "women can't preach," and that if you've committed "bad sins" then God can't use you. What exactly were the "bad sins?" Because when I'd read the Bible, it listed some things, but it never said anything about committing "bad sins" that would cause God not to be able to use you. In fact, in the book Romans it says that nothing can separate us from the love of God!

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  ~Romans 3:38-39 (NKJV)

If nothing can separate us from the love of God, then that must mean that God loves us ALWAYS! And if He could use Jonah, Moses, David, Rahab, and Mary Magdalene, even after the things they had done, (Rahab is even in the lineage of David and Jesus!) then why couldn't he use you, too? He CAN! And He wants to! However some of us, myself included, have to figure it out the hard way. Of course, Moses took the hard road, too. As did Jonah, and most of the other people in the Bible. Jesus drove seven demons out of Mary Magdalene before she began following Him! But follow Him she did! You see, we are all pieces of the puzzle God is working on. Every puzzle piece is needed. Every puzzle piece is unique. And every puzzle piece fits into the unique spots that the Lord wants them to fit into. Including you

Although I got saved in 1982, I didn't learn much about being a Christian, much less following Christ nor serving Him until around 1999. When I became part of a Christ centered health program and began doing Bible study and learning Scripture by memory, I began learning things about God that I didn't know. But it took even more time than that before I REALLY began serving Him and making Him Lord of my life. Including the Holy Spirit coming over me in such a way that put me in the floor! I'm a slow learner sometimes. 

May I encourage you today to not ask for anyone's approval for what you do for the Lord. After I had some very Godly people pray for me, helping me find the freedom in Christ that I'd been searching for and didn't know it, I found a freedom, peace, excitement, and a ministry, that had been waiting for me for 30 years, maybe longer, I don't know! Oh, I'm SO glad that God is patient. 

I knew I was saved. But I didn't realize that He could use even me. This is what the devil did to me.... But God can still use me, and since I've sent the enemy packing, I can now focus on what God wants me to do. You can, too! 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Get Rid of Your "BUT!"

When God healed me of the many years of oppression, offense, unforgiveness, bitterness, and whatever else it was that I was harboring, He also began to work on getting rid of my "but." No, not my backside. Not my derriere. But my "BUT." Huh? You've got a "but" too. Your big 'ol "but" is padding between truth and the lies of the enemy.

"I know I need to forgive that person BUT..." 
"I know I need to pray more BUT..."
"She asked me to forgive her BUT..."

Get the picture yet? For many years, I had a "But." I'm still not completely rid of it, but it's a lot smaller than it used to be. Thanks to the Lord doing "surgery" on my soul, my "but" has begun to shrink. Let me tell you, I'm a lot happier, much more peaceful, and a whole lot lighter feeling as the result!

When you harbor ill thoughts for a long period of time, it begins to weigh heavily on you. It will drag you down. It will make you miserable. Bitterness will set in. Depression, oppression, fatigue, stress, unhappiness, etc. A whole multitude of ailments will assail you. Believe me, I've been there. I've done it. I've said I wasn't going back, but found myself there time and time again. Why? Because I believed the lies that the enemy was telling me. Oh they were disguised as many things. Conversations from a "friend" who encouraged me in the fact that I was justified in my feelings. Thoughts that would pop into my head disguised as "the right thing to do." And the sad thing is, I would also use Scripture to justify myself and my actions! Now, how sad is THAT?

You may be saying, "I understand that, "but" it's just too hard!" No, it's not. It's not too hard. You just don't want to get rid of it yet. You're still dabbling in whatever it is that you don't want to get rid of. You have not made a conscious effort to get rid of it. And there lies your problem. I'm right there with you, because I've been in that position. And let me tell you, this is how you give the enemy the power to control you. Sometimes we say we want to stop doing one thing or another, or that we want to forgive someone, or we want forgiveness for something, but we don't really mean it. Otherwise we'd be on our faces before the Lord confessing those things and asking Him to remove them out of our lives.

"But" what about when we ask and God doesn't remove it? "But" what about when God doesn't answer? How about this: instead of questioning with a "But," get rid of your "but" pull out your Bible and look for the answer, the reassurance, or the guidance you need? Many times we really just want to hold onto our "but" and question God's seeming lack of interest in us. Because let's face it, we really don't want to give up our insecurities, our qualms, or our sins. We just want to complain about them, don't we? I know! I was the same way! I wanted to wallow in self-pity, making things look the way I wanted them to look, get people on my side and just wallow. And then God stepped in and BOOM! Down in the floor I went, when the Holy Spirit washed over me, doing spiritual surgery on me, getting rid of every negative thing within me...including my "but."

You see, I had gotten out of church for a while, because of some bad hurts. I had stopped reading my Bible. I had stopped praying, because I didn't have the words. I literally could not think what to say! I KNEW God wanted me for something, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then someone invited me to come to a church they had been attending. They told me how awesome it was. I was skeptical, but went. The rest is history. I wouldn't be writing this right now had I not taken someone up on an invitation to go to church. God is moving. God is healing. God loves you right where you are. And He wants to get rid of your "but." The only thing holding you back is you. YOU have to be willing. YOU have to ask Him, believe Him, and receive it! Are you ready?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Revelation to Revolution

I spent the majority of my growing up years trying to please everyone. When I couldn't, I became depressed, often closing myself up in my room and existing in a make-believe world that I created. Inside this world, everything was perfect. Like Alice in Wonderland I lived "in a world of my own." I created this world when I was very small.  As any little kid would do, make-believe was something that was okay to do. All little kids use their imaginations and it's wonderful. But my world grew up with me. I made my own rules, I lived in this world whenever I didn't have to perform in the real world.

This may not make any sense to you at the moment. You may be thinking that I'm a bit weird, or that I'm crazy. On the contrary. You see, in my make-believe world no one put me down. No one made fun of me. No one laughed at me. No one said hurtful words to me. In a world of my own, I was pretty. I was funny. Everyone loved me. Everyone wanted to be my true friend. I had control.

This is exactly how the enemy keeps us in slavery to ourselves, our sins, and his lies. And yes, he does lie to us! If he can keep us down, he keeps us from progressing and from moving into the ministry and the relationships that the Lord wants to place us in. Many, many times we believe those lies and it keeps us from the happiness that God wants to see us in. But let me tell you something I've learned: Satan only has the power that YOU give him! Did you know that? It's true! Here's how I know:  

In Isaiah 14:12-14 it talks about the fall of Lucifer (yes, that's his name!). It talks about how he fell, and it talks about how he wanted to be higher than God. But he fell. Yes, FELL. In verse 16 it says, "Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: "Is this the man who made the earth tremble..." What does that mean? It means that one day we'll realize, wait a minute, is THIS the man who made us shake with fear? Is THIS the one who caused us so much pain? Satan is lower than we are. He was one of the angels in heaven, but he got "too big for his britches" and God cast him out!

Hold on a second...he was an angel? Yes, and angels have no power other than the power God gives them to do the things He tells them to do. Look what Hebrews 1:5-7 says, "For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You?" And again: "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."
So Jesus is higher than the angels, has more power than they do. And when we accept Jesus as Lord & Savior, we become joint heirs with Him. So that means that Satan, the enemy, has NO POWER over me! Hallelujah! There it is! When I realized this, I had a "revelation." It's as if a light bulb went on in my head. When that happened, it began a "revolution" in my heart! No more will anyone drag me down with unkind words. No more will I be told, "That's stupid!" or asked, "What do you want to do that for?" when friends or family hear about the ministry God has called me into. No more will the enemy drag me down with negative thoughts, or my past failures, or my past in general. That is gone! Now I use my past to show how God brought me OUT of it! Yes, I lived that way for years, in a constant state of oppression. Because I thought I wasn't worth the salt I put on my french fries. But you know what? I'm worth MORE than that!

I have begun to resist the enemy. I stand up and I say, "Get behind me Satan!" And he HAS to leave. He has to! The moment you say NO, Satan has to stop. He cannot stop you. Take an active role in your life now and actively oppose the enemy. When you feel you are being dragged down and you think you have no way out, you are becoming a slave to whatever you choose to obey. For years I chose to obey those who told me that I'd never amount to anything. I was destined to be fat, I was destined to be just like my mother and grandmother. Well let me tell you, my mother died from cancer and my grandmother sat in a rocker/recliner getting larger and larger, and more and more bitter and hateful. Did I want that? NO! I refuse to become that! I am NOT my mother. I am NOT my grandmother. I am ME. I am Shelley! I am a daughter of the Living God and He has called me out, and set me apart for His service and with all the breath that is in me, with all the strength He puts in my fingers to type, I AM GOING TO USE IT!! And my revolution has begun! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! (Can you see me jumping up and down, waving my arms?)

God has been calling me into this ministry for years. I could hear him, faintly across the waves of my turmoil. Faintly in the depths of the pit I was in. But Glory to God, He pulled me out of that pit and placed me in the spot that He wanted me to be in. It was as if He were saying to me, "Okay, you've been in there long enough. You've made an effort to come out, but couldn't quite get there, so I'm pulling you the rest of the way out. Now...go do what I've been calling you to do." And then He nudged me in that direction and away I went!

Yes, I have moments of doubt. I have moments of stress, when those ugly, imaginary arguments crop up and those people in my head try to tell me I can't do that. But those arguments aren't real. Those arguments are straight from the pit that the Lord pulled me out of! And I say, "NO!" And they leave. It's a constant battle, but let me tell you something....the Lord is with me and we are winning! You can win, too! Make your decision to get out there. Have a revelation so that you can have a revolution! Don't be afraid! I spent too many years being afraid. You don't have to be, either. Don't give the devil any more authority. He has none. YOU have the authority! By the power that God gives you, you have the authority to cast out the enemy, too! Use it!

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