more, More, MORE!!!!!!

I Want More!!!

I want more and I’m not the only one. All of us want more of SOMETHING. Some want more money, others more peace, some a larger house, others, more children. You have those who want more success, and others who want to come home to more than the sound of their own voice. There are those who want a better car, want to lose more weight, and spouses that want more attention. It’s quite a natural tendency to want more. Some of the things we want more of aren’t ungodly at all in and of themselves. But too often we miss what matters MOST. The greatest tragedy is when there is the desire for more of ONE thing over which not a single one of us has any control; the desire for more TIME. Time to be content.

The hype of the New Year has begun to die down. People are settling back in to their routines. Yes, routines….after resolutions and all. But while we look forward to the possibilities and expectations of this year, the reality is that many are wishing for just one more hug, one more conversation, one more chance to apologize- regretting that they didn’t have in yesteryear, the clarity that they have now. While we know that “all things work together” (Romans 8:28), there are still some mistakes we wish not to repeat. Most of us desire to do and feel better. While we cannot control the loss of the seasons or the opportunities and relationships that we miss and crave, we CAN do something about the ache of discontentment that plagues us. Few things are as disappointing as acquiring EXACTLY what we pursued, and then finding that we’re STILL discontent.  This is an indication, that you have scratched the wrong spot; that you missed the itch. This is a prime time for some of us to sit back with a proverbial cup of hot chocolate and think about what is REALLY motivating us to pursue goals that aren’t satisfying our deepest needs.

Many of us fall short of where we desire to be, not because of God’s inability or unwillingness to provide, but because His integrity will not allow us to contaminate and defile promises that are precious and pure, with motives that are rooted in bondage. Insecurity is BONDAGE! Low self-esteem is BONDAGE. The absence of self-love is BONDAGE. Bitterness is BONDAGE. Pride is BONDAGE.  Our Father is waiting for us to walk out of the open door to our freedom! It is time for us to see what He is showing us about our hearts- the seat of our motives. We must take the time to re-evaluate WHY we want what we desire. Do you want to be married to prove to your ex or to yourself that you are lovable? Do you want to be thinner, have a nose job, breast implants, or tummy tuck, because it takes validation from someone else to make you feel attractive?  Do you want a bigger house for others to see the perks of being a “faithful servant”?  Are you tenacious about obtaining success because you have something to prove to the people who told you that you couldn’t do it?  Take a deep look at what is motivating you.  Is discontentment robbing you of the joy you should be experiencing in a life in Christ?

As Christians, what we achieve is for the glory of God. Even our successes should bring God glory. It is His faithfulness and love that should fuel you to be great [for Him], not anger, rejection, low self-esteem or the “I’ll show you a thing or two!!!” mentality. If you can identify with any of the above, it’s time to redirect your energy towards the healing of your emotional wounds. Nothing or no one can fill the void you feel except God Himself. Nothing on the exterior will soothe the ache on the interior. Being healed, set free and whole will enable you to live the abundant life Christ died for you to live (John 10:10)! Desire to be great and do great things, in honor, appreciation and acknowledgement of the potential He put inside of you. And in the process, bring someone else along! Our adversary and the wounds he has caused should not be our motivators, nor his tactics our energizers. What would have happened had Joseph been bitter and determined to get even with his brothers (Genesis 50:17&20)?

Our walk and our purpose are so much bigger than us! God saw something in you that made your life worth living. He saw something in you that made you worth dying for, and He makes no mistakes. As a child, during recess, when the captain of the kickball team chose you, weren’t you glad that you weren’t left behind on the sideline? I know I was! I would take my stance and yell “baby bouncies” and kick with all of my might!!! Well now we have nothing to prove, but everything to gain. He’s chosen you for eternity. He loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). And He isn’t going to change His mind about you.

Acknowledge Him and obey His guidance in order to avoid the wrong paths. After all, being where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing and reaching those we are supposed to be reaching is how we will find ourselves LIVING ON PURPOSE! Now THAT should be a resolution we can’t ignore. NOTHING will be more fulfilling! May we all look over our shoulders at the end of our journey on this side and then wave, smile and KNOW we lived our BEST life and desire no “do-overs”!!! Start NOW!!!!

Waiting….., AGAIN?!?!?!?!

Waiting, AGAIN?!?!?!

 

Sometimes you just have to make a decision. There are times when you will wake up morning after morning and find the “situation” hasn’t changed. You’ve prayed, you’ve cried out, and believed every which way you know how, only to find that a NOT YET has slapped you and left your face stinging. And right at that moment you have to make a few decisions. You must DECIDE not to become frustrated. You must DECIDE to still believe God for what is best for you. You must DECIDE that you are still very blessed. Finally, you must DECIDE that God is STILL good despite this nagging, chewing, biting, stabbing “influence” that is pushing you to complain or throw in the towel altogether. This “influence” pushes you to stop believing God, and although few would care to admit it, it pushes you to question how good He really is.  Well, He’s good enough to make you wait.  I said to myself this morning: I’m still waiting, BUT God is still good and He’s sovereign, PERIOD. I trust His judgment. You say it: I trust His judgment.

Often times “Waiting” is that relative you hate to see coming when you’re in a rush to get somewhere. Every time you’ve got somewhere important to go, here he comes shuffling along. And it seems like he always picks the times when you don’t have a moment to spare. And it’s easy to become ESPECIALLY frustrated when he tries to come between you and your blessing. But since my Father keeps allowing him to come to my house, I’ve begun to question whether or not, it’s really him (Waiting) who is making me late.

I was trying to think of someone who could relate. And then I remembered and decided to call on my girl Hannah. I remembered how loooooong she endured Waiting’s visit with her, how much he used to bug her and how eventually she stopped talking about him and lived a life that exceeded the one she felt Waiting was making her late for. Each time I visit with her I learn something.

I walked away from our time together realizing that just like her, we all have a rival -an adversary; in a more contemporary vernacular, “haters”. Hannah had her husband’s love and a double portion of the meat. And her “hater”, Peninnah vexed her, teased her, poked fun at her and made her feel worthless, because she didn’t have children. Peninnah, his other wife (don’t ask) had all of his sons, yet he LOVED Hannah. And that woman had the nerve to make her feel badly about it. Why? Because even with all of their husband’s sons, she STILL wanted what only Hannah had. Unfortunately, while Hannah was loved, favored and received a double portion, she stirred in the place of discontentment. What a WASTE of time! I realized that for us, that (discontentment) is the door. Once you walk through it, it closes and camouflages with the walls, making it difficult to find it again and get out. Too many of us remain in the room of discontentment feeling bewildered, embittered and victimized. During my visit, I looked at ALL that Hannah had and wondered how her husband must have felt about not being able to please her. He even asked her one day, “Aren’t I more to you then ten sons?”   Now, THAT made me think. It makes you wonder how the Father feels when we are rich with grace and blessings and yet walk around miserable and complaining about what we don’t have.

Your haters are under the influence of THE hater, your adversary. And we have to pray for them because they are merely being used when they cause us to demean our blessings, question God’s faithfulness and sit in a place of thanklessness. We must make up our minds not to belittle what we have. God has been too good for that! If we didn’t have something they wanted, they wouldn’t be “hatin’” ; spending their time making sure we don’t’ enjoy what and who is in our possession. That’s a trick of the enemy if I’ve ever seen one. We’ve been redeemed and he CAN’T be redeemed. Now do you understand why he’s angry? Instead of thinking about what we don’t have and what hasn’t happened yet, we should relish in what we do have and what is going well RIGHT NOW, because RIGHT NOW at this very moment God is on the throne and He is watching over everything that concerns us (Psalm 138:8).

Things changed for Hannah when she stopped asking for a son just to satisfy her insecurity, and started asking for one so that she could give God glory with him. She promised God that if He provided a son for her, she would give Him right back to Him to use as He pleases. God provided, she kept her word and God KEPT providing. Even after she released her son to the Father, she visited regularly and blessed him. And she would go home and conceive over and over again. She NEVER “beat God giving”.

While you are believing God for the manifestations of your heart’s desire, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Are you presently thankful and appreciative?
  2. Are you willing to commit the blessing to God and His will?
  3. Can you promise not to abandon it? In other words, no matter how the blessing presents itself, it being from God, are you willing to cherish, cultivate and be faithful to it while it remains in the Lord’s care?

If you can’t surrender a “YES” to any of these three questions, you may have found the answer to why Waiting keeps coming to your house and visiting [too] long.

Storyline extracted from 1 Samuel

 

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Clarity is Divine, Part Deux….

“Part Deux”

 

Don’t be angry about what happened to me in the Caldecott Tunnel. Be angry that I wasn’t DONE. Be angry that when he came back I took him. Be angry that I can’t honestly tell you how many more times in the course of that relationship that I endured the “Caldecott Experience”. Be angry about the fact that YEARS later on the day of his wedding, when I had FINALLY stopped taking his calls and he had FINALLY stuck with a choice, I cried in a fetal position the ENTIRE day. Be angry that I STILL felt like I had lost. Hopefully, you’ll be angry enough to assassinate the mindset that influences us to accept anything less than God’s best for our lives. Kill the mindset on sight. Kill it in yourself, in your loved ones, in him, in her and wherever else it appears. We MUST speak up when we see others headed down the same path that almost destroyed us!!!

 

Why do we do that? In any other context, would the definition be masochism? We say it hurts, but we stay. Why do we do that? We cry, threaten to leave, tremble, yell, “check ‘em”, but then stay.  WHY do we do that? It comes in different forms and circumstances, but it’s all the same. Mine may play out with me telling him that I know my value, that I deserve better, that I’ve been too good to him to be treated this way and that I will NOT stand for it. Yours may have played out with you begging them not to leave you, asking them to [just] tell you what you have to do and you will fix it.

 

One of you may have found out about ANOTHER betrayal at the doctor’s office where you heard yourself say, “I have a what?!!!” And you were too embarrassed to admit that the only person you had been sleeping with was your…………… And maybe your recollection of the incident fades with the memory of leaving the doctor’s office in shame, getting to your car and weeping loudly from the blow that has you feeling like you will NEVER recover.

 

Oh, but there’s another sister who is badly bruised inside and out. Her eyes are bloodshot from being choked, her ribs hurt, her arms are bruised, her head is pounding and through her rapid breathing and trembling body, she SWEARS she’ll never go back to him.

 

What about the brother who just punched a hole in the wall, because he has NEVER been what she’s accused him of being? He’s paid her rent, accepted her abuse, and stumbled upon pictures in her cell phone that were NOT sent to him. He’s the OPPOSITE of the man most women complain about. He’s the one who went to work, helped her out in every way possible, remembered birthdays and really was the best man he could be; and he is now saying to himself: “She stepped out again?” Or better yet, “This one cheated too???”

 

There’s also you, the sister who receives a call from your girlfriend telling you that she saw “him” at the “swanky” place with “her” [the other her], eating a “surf & turf” and through your tears and headache, all you can think about is EVERYTHING you’ve doled out. You’ve cooked, you’ve cleaned, you’ve encouraged, you’ve sexed, birthed, aborted and yet YOU weren’t worth a steak and lobster?! Why is a stranger who has nothing invested “worth” more than you???

 

The scenarios change like the weather. We ALL have a story. Let’s take the focus off of the offender and answer the aforementioned question: Why do we do that? After making empty threats that I wouldn’t tolerate being mistreated and would leave him, why did I pick up the phone and call? After leaving the doctor, why did you confront him in anger DEMANDING to know xyz when all that should have mattered was that you had contracted a sexually transmitted disease? Why did you beg someone to stay who made it clear that they wanted to leave? Why did you walk past the mirror at your battered and bruised reflection and OPEN THE DOOR for the one who had your blood on his hands? Why were you paying her rent knowing you were checking her phone every chance you got? And finally, WHY did you feel the need to REMIND him of everything you’ve done for him when you KNOW he hadn’t forgotten?

 

Why do we do that??? Whyyyyy do we do it? Why do we sell ourselves short? Why do we give our ALL in response to getting very little? Why do we fear the pain of being without, more than we hate being mistreated? It’s a serious question because being mistreated really does hurt. So again, why do we do it?

 

Don’t be deceived. If you have experienced ANY of the pain I’ve described as a result of accepting less than what you’ve deserved, it is imperative that you find the answer to THE question. If you don’t DEAL [with it], you won’t HEAL [from it]. It isn’t fair when the person who damaged you the most was loved by a better version of you, and the person who is better for you is forced to work with the jaded leftovers of the person you used to be. Shouldn’t you be your best for the person who is best for you?

 

What if the mate you have dreamed of is in the wings somewhere waiting for you to love yourself? What if God’s blessing is being withheld until you lose your appetite for toxicity? What if God is simply waiting for you to love Him enough to keep His commandments?

 

Driving home one night, after another verbal assault to my esteem, I cried out to the Lord.  I whimpered and whined about how badly I was being treated. I was arrested by an epiphany that I still believe I heard. I don’t want to smear the focus of this article by getting into a theological debate about whether or not the Holy Spirit quoted a line out of Star Trek. But this revelation that I heard stopped me “mid- whimper”:  “There is no honor amongst thieves.”

 

My entire perspective changed at that moment. I understood that I had violated God’s principles and was in turn crying to Him that I had been violated. It is as asinine as stealing from a person only to run home and find that the same person was at your house stealing from you, and then complaining to the police with the object you stole still in your hand.

 

I had to take responsibility for my actions and shift my allegiance to the word and will of God. We leave ourselves open to all kinds of assaults when through deliberate sin in our lives we have stepped out from under the covering of obedience. Many of us have to look at our past or present situations and admit fault. We must take responsibility for granting access to the enemy of our souls through actions that oppose God’s word. And trust that once the enemy makes it in, he wants to wreak havoc.

 

Honoring Godly principles keeps us blessed, righteous (in right standing with Him), and safe. When our aim is pleasing Him and obeying Him out of love instead of what we will get out of it, our appetites begin to change. One may argue their interpretation of Psalm 37:4 as, we get what we want (our desires) when we delight ourselves in Him, but my conviction is that when we delight ourselves in Him, thus losing ourselves in Him, our desires for ourselves line up with His desires for us and we are granted them. In other words, just lose yourself in seeking God and you will end up in a much more fulfilling place.

 

Whether you’re currently in “a situation” or have been delivered out of one, my prayer for us is that we will do the work required to be the BEST that we can be.  Build upon your prayer life. Increase your time in the word of God. Ask Him to reveal to you the personal tendencies that landed you in relationships that didn’t reflect self-love or God’s love for you. Allow the spirit of God to BANISH the fear that seduced you into thinking you couldn’t have better. All of us have “a story”, but we triumph when we embrace the lessons we’ve learned and eventually end up in better shape than before we entered the relationship. If you’re reading this, you have survived. This is your opportunity to be stronger and wiser. What was meant to subtract from you actually positioned you for wonderful additions to your life! I encourage you to strip pain of its power by dancing in your victory and singing in your success. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37)! God is CERTAINLY good. Accountability is honest. And Clarity is Divine.

 

 

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Clarity is Divine…

Clarity is Divine……..

As I drove through the Caldecott Tunnel in Berkeley, CA the words were simple. They were very clear in fact. The voice on the other end of the phone said, “I don’t love you anymore.”

Have you ever experienced a moment that seemed to separate your life into “Before and After”? That was my moment. At the time, I thought my path was clear. We would marry, “do ministry”, build a family, grow his business and life would be as God intended-good.  He told me he was SURE I was God’s choice for him and that his faith had been sealed in a vision. I went against everything screaming within me to wait a while, not to rush and grow more in understanding. I ignored how he treated his ex-girlfriend, how we even got to this place (he told me they broke up, but her version was that I “stole” him), I ignored his addiction to various women, and his proclivity towards fibbing. I ignored his mood swings and how inconsistent he was with me. He asked me to believe in him, not to give up on him and I obliged. I DECIDED that being married, settled in ministry with a clear path as a helpmeet was worth the kinks in the relationship that would be worked out in time.

No one advised me to examine myself to see why I would even accept such treatment and ambiguity. No one expressed to me the importance of evaluating a suitor’s “character set”, as you would a job applicant’s skill set. No one told me that I needed to be comfortable in my own skin or content as a single person before I even CONSIDERED marriage.  Hmmmm, well, honestly, maybe if I had shared the ugly truths of the relationship, someone would have told me these things. Sometimes we don’t share so that we won’t have to hear the bitter truth. We’d rather remain deluded. Until that point, living single had been reduced to a season of waiting to be married. Period. This was an ideal situation, right? It was biblical, wasn’t it? I was saved and so was he. I had given my life to ministry and he had too. He knew the importance of prayer and washing his wife with the word and I knew the importance of serving as a helpmeet. I was told that I needed a “covering” [needed to be married] as I embarked on ministry. Three different people had prophesied to me that this was my husband- two of them while he was still with the other young lady. I wasn’t mature enough to know that such prophecies were out of order as they made me feel entitled to him, although a sister in Christ was hurting. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I threw caution to the wind. This was my LIFE. God had FINALLY revealed His plan for MY LIFE. So, I drove the car in a trance while holding the phone to my ear.

All I could muster was, “What did you just say? What do you mean you don’t love me anymore?” All I was thinking was,  “He doesn’t get to say this to me.” My thinking was, we’re MARRIED, well, not really, but as good as married in my imagination and heart. I had committed to this! Later when he handed me a shoebox of my belongings in his driveway, I didn’t cry or yell. I softly reminded him that this was HIS idea and that he had asked me to believe in him. I reminded him that I went against the warnings of my parents, my friends and the entire church was gossiping about me because of the scorned ex-girlfriend’s spin on their break-up and that now he was abandoning me.  He told me he had made a mistake- that he must have misinterpreted “the vision”. He expressed that he wanted to go back to his ex and that after dating HER for a few more years and restoring her trust, he would marry HER and that he wished me the best. This is where I probably wanted to pinch myself. This couldn’t be real, right? What is happening to MY LIFE???

The path that I had seen so vividly for the past few months was growing dimmer and dimmer and the door to my depression was the realization that without him, I didn’t have a plan. I couldn’t even remember who I was apart from the identity I had embraced as his future wife. “What am I going to do now?”…… That is all I heard in my mind for a very long time. “What am I going to do now?” The seed of rejection had been planted and my self-esteem [already low], took a nosedive.

Today, I flash back to that scene and I THANK GOD!!! I am now thankful for the opportunity to acquire wisdom before becoming anyone’s wife. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn my own value; and establish that God has a plan for ME, alone and independent of my role in someone else’s life (Jeremiah 29:11). I embrace wholeheartedly the fact that what I perceived as rejection was actually an “ejection” from a situation that was not God’s best for me. I cannot imagine who I would have become if I had operated in a marriage as deficient as I was in godly wisdom and understanding.

I will share with you several of the things I have learned:

  1. You never want to build a relationship on someone else’s back. No matter what story he or she tells you, if another person is still hurt, you probably need to probe a little deeper into the situation to see where there are loose ends and if something was handled inappropriately. If he/she betrayed the last person, they will likely do the same to you. Never take part in doing anything to someone else, that you wouldn’t want done to you.
  2. Pay attention to how someone speaks of having hurt someone. Are they indifferent or callous?
  3. Be cautious of an individual that vacillates often, because God is NOT the author of confusion.
  4. Share with an accountability partner or a mentor EVERY facet of the relationship, not just the parts you aren’t embarrassed to tell. Emotions can impede your ability to make sound decisions.
  5. Pray fervently and consistently for direction. We have a God who loves us to the point that He will steer us around potholes and reveal things that are hidden to the natural eye. If a person is not right for you, He WILL reveal it. It is your job to heed the warning.
  6. Yield your desire to be married to Him, being resolved that you will hold out for His best for you. We must remember that He knows not only where we are, but where we are going and He will give us a mate that can accommodate both.
  7. Timing is EVERYTHING. To be out of God’s timing is to be out of His will. When He says “not yet”, that is exactly what He means.
  8. Never invest in a relationship on a spousal level until you are a spouse.
  9. Finally, be committed to bringing out the best in someone and aiding them in being the best servant or maidservant they can be for Christ; keeping that in mind will help you to resist sexual temptation. When you make a decision to be on the Lord’s side, you don’t want to be the person luring them into sin.

Sometimes I sit back and wonder what I ever did to deserve being spared a very painful marriage and then I realize it wasn’t anything I earned.  Hey, I was ALL in, remember? I cried [some] long nights for many years. I felt cursed, forgotten and unlovable. The seed of rejection flourished into a plant that stagnated my progress; however, growing in Christ has changed my perspective. For every embarrassing time I had to express to someone that “it didn’t work out”, I am now very thankful. I desire that my marriage be built on a strong, solid foundation in the word of God. And I wish the same for you. The word of God tells me what He wants for me in a husband (1Peter 3, Ephesians 5). And now I am confident [in Him] that I will recognize it when I see it. God is CERTAINLY good and Clarity is divine.

Revelations…….

I love revelations. To me, a revelation is the sudden occurrence that exists between knowing and not knowing. It is the INSTANT that a question ceases to be. It’s the moment that the 500 pieces [from a jigsaw puzzle] of a problem are vacuumed together to complete order. It can take so long to gather data, build your understanding and increase your capacity for perspective, but revelation itself is instantaneous. In a split second you go from searching to holding. The way I see it, every  problem has a solution and every question an answer. And while I am resolved that there are some things we will never understand on this plane, when the answer is attainable I want it. The God we are connected to is ALL knowing. It may take prayer, meditation, searching the scriptures, adding perspective (like subscribing to this blog), but there is usually a revelation that can soothe you. It may not be the answer you want, or the convenient option; but there’s a peace that comes with knowing why things are, as well as knowing the way things need to be at the moment. When I don’t know the when or where- when I don’t understand the how- when I don’t comprehend an action or lack there of, there’s a peace in seeing the entanglement of variables and principles. It may not be the way it should, but I enjoy seeing the “why” it is. Revelations…….

When my mind is moving faster than my hand- are you still able to understand?