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Beauty For Ashes

Crunching metal and shattering glass were the last things Linda heard before she blacked out. When she opened her eyes, paramedics and police were hovering over her.

“Where’s my baby? Where are my boys?” Through the fog of regaining consciousness, the painful reality slowly sunk in. Though Linda and her two older boys had miraculously survived the head-on collision, her two-year-old son had been killed instantly.

Just weeks before, Linda had discovered her husband’s affair. She was devastated to realize it had been going on for years. Trauma Booklet.

“Why, God? Why did You take my baby from me, why did my husband cheat on me? Are You punishing me?”

Free From the Arrow of Depression

For the next several years she went through the motions of caring for her boys, learning how to be a single mom in the aftermath of her husband leaving. It was as if her heart had died that day of the head-on collision.

Years went by. Years of numbness and a deep ache that never went away. Then came the day when she got the news that her ex-husband was in critical condition in the hospital. Though Linda knew her boys had a right to visit their father, she didn’t want to see him or talk to him. She dropped them off at the hospital and waited in the car for them to come out.

That night in the quietness of her bedroom, Linda raged at God. “Why should I care what happens to him? After all he’s done for me, I don’t care if he dies.” Waves of hurt and painful memories came crashing over her again.

Free from the Arrows of Anger, Rejection, and Shame

Forgive him. The thought came quietly, unexpectedly, after the storm of tears. “What? Forgive him? How can I? He’s never apologized! He’s hurt me so much!”

Forgive him. The message was gentle, persistent. “No! Never! I can’t ever forgive him for what he’s done! It’s too painful!”

Forgive him. Finally, in desperation, Linda quietly surrendered. “OK, Lord. Because YOU have forgiven me, I will forgive my ex-husband. But You have to help me! I don’t want to do it, but I will do it because You ask me to.”

Inexplicably, a deep sense of peace settled in Linda’s heart. The raging inner battle was over. Free to Forgive. It was in God’s hands now. And there was such sweet release – as if a huge weight had been lifted off her chest.

Restored Joy

As Linda told my friend and I her story, she pulled out a small photo from her wallet.

“This was me fifteen years ago, after my husband left and my son was killed.” She pointed to a picture of a woman with deep lines in her face and great heaviness in her eyes. I couldn’t believe it. She looked fifteen years OLDER in that picture than she did now! I wouldn’t have even recognized her as the same person.

“God has given me back my joy!” Linda smiled, her face radiant. “When I forgave my husband and released the pain of the loss of my son to Him, He gave me such peace and freedom.”

Our Heavenly Father wants to do the same for you! Will you give your hurt to Him today, in exchange for His grace and peace? Only He can transform the deep pain of loss into a story of forgiveness, healing, and inexplicable joy! He is the only One who can give “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV).

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Called by a New Name

Balancing a stack of dirty dishes and silverware, I was on my way to the kitchen when Diego and Giovanni intercepted me.

“Let us carry those for you, Michelle,” Giovanni smiled, taking the plates from me.

“But it’s my turn to do dishes today,” I protested.

“Yeah, but we want the dishes to make it to the kitchen in one piece,” laughed Diego.

“I can always tell when Michelle is on dish duty,” jumped in Daniel, “by the sounds of plates breaking and glasses shattering!” The others in the dining hall of the Central American Bible school chuckled as my face turned red. Smiling weakly, I slunk into the kitchen, humiliated.

False Labels

My clumsiness was a running joke among the students and staff. All eyes seemed to be on me when I was carrying something precarious, waiting for the inevitable catastrophe. “Don’t fall, Michelle! Don’t trip! Don’t break that!” my fellow students would call out. That only made me more nervous and self-conscious, and then I was more likely to fulfill their expectations!

Though I would laugh along when others made jokes about me being “accident-prone” or a “klutz,” I started to identify with those labels, accepting the fact that everyone expected me to fail.

But I’m not defined by others’ opinions. God has redeemed me out of that place of shame and given me a new name. I don’t have to identify with the labels of “clumsy” and “a klutz” anymore. He says I’m a beloved daughter, adopted into His royal family, given honor and treated with grace. Isaiah 6:2 says, “The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the Lord will designate” (NASB).

I still sometimes drop things, break things, spill things, or trip over my own feet. But now when friends laugh and make comments about it, I just smile and say I’m trying to slow down and be more careful. I’ve forgiven those in the Central American Bible school who labelled me a klutz, and I’ve rejected those false labels of shame and being untrustworthy. I’m learning to embrace my “new name” that the Lord has given me – “full of grace.”

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Out of Focus

“Read the letters on this line for me,” the opthalmic technician prompted. Looking intently at the screen, I tried hard to make sense of the fuzzy black lines. My stronger right eye was covered up and my weaker left eye was getting tired from the strain. The letters went in and out of focus.

Come on, you can do this, I told myself. The seconds ticked on. I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. My mouth felt dry.

“Umm… ok, let me see… The first one is P, I think… no, it’s F! And then D, then Q… or is it O? Yeah, it’s O. And the last one is T. …Maybe,” I ended weakly.

The truth was, I could barely make anything out. I was just guessing at the letters. But why did I feel such pressure to get the “right answers”?

It’s no surprise to those who know me that I hate being wrong. I want to get a perfect score, every time. But in the case of my eye exam, it was actually causing more harm than good when I guessed at the letters. The doctors couldn’t help me find an accurate prescription if I wasn’t honest about my vision!

Honesty, Not Pride

This drive for perfection stems from a deeper issue – the lie that my value comes from my performance. At the root of that lie is pride. Pride says that I can do it all, be it all, get it all right. Pride deceives me into thinking that I can be perfect.

But all my striving for perfection will just end in frustration and disappointment. No matter how hard I try to get it all right, I can’t earn God’s favor. Nothing I do will win my Heavenly Father’s approval or acceptance. His grace is free and can’t be earned! Ephesians 2: 8 and 9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (NIV).

“Can you read these letters?” the technician at the eye doctor’s office flipped to another line of type. No matter how hard I squinted and blinked and strained, this time I had to admit that it all looked like fuzzy blobs. “I’m sorry, I really can’t see anything,” I mumbled. “Well, then,” she said briskly, “now we know where to start. Let’s see if we can find a prescription that will help you.”

I let out a deep breath of relief. That wasn’t so bad. Once I’m honest about my weakness, I can finally start to get the help I need! As I try on my new contact lenses, I realize that it’s a good thing I don’t have to get all the right answers to earn God’s approval. I’m so thankful that He freely gives His grace to all who ask – helping me get my life back in focus.

Going Vertical!
MJ

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How a Blonde (Almost) Ruined My Life

My toes tapped anxiously on the floor of the long hallway. Shifting in my folding chair, I craned my neck to look at the clock for the hundredth time. How much longer? There was nothing to do but wait and wonder.

Finally a thin woman stepped out into the hallway. “Michelle?” I jumped up anxiously. “You can come in,” she said, turning back to the large room. I followed her silently. “We’d like you to read the part of the princess again,” the woman said, thrusting a script in my hand. “Charles will be reading for the prince.” She nodded at a boy of about twelve.

At eleven years old, it was my dream to be an actress. I’d always been in school plays and church musicals, but this was the first time I’d had a real audition – for a local theater production of”Sleeping Beauty.” The directors had already called me back several times to read different scenes with various prince hopefuls. Now they seemed to have selected the prince, and it was down to me and one other girl for the part of Sleeping Beauty.

Wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans, I clutched the paper and swallowed hard before plunging into the scene with everything I had. When I finished, the adults behind the table had a hushed conversation for a few minutes. I hardly dared to breathe.

“Michelle, we think you read the part wonderfully,” the thin woman began. “But we are looking for someone a bit taller, and with blonde hair.” She looked at a young blonde girl standing to the side. “Anna is a better fit for the part. I’m sorry.”

Crushed, I tried to answer politely before stumbling back to the hallway where my mom was waiting. “I’m not tall enough. And I’m not blonde.” There was nothing more to say.

It’s not fair! I thought as we drove home – I have no control over my height or my hair color. I KNOW I’m a better actress than that other girl. But I’m not pretty enough. If only I were taller. If only I were blonde…

A lie started to take root in my heart at that moment: I’ll never be good enough – there will always be someone prettier, more talented, or more popular than me. As I got into my teens, I started comparing myself more with others, finding reasons to be dissatisfied with my own physical appearance. She’s thinner than me. She has better hair than me. Her clothes are cuter than mine. I was falling victim to a mis-placed identity.

The very first woman on earth wasn’t satisfied with the way she was and wanted to be like someone else. She believed the lie of the serpent that she could be “like God” if she ate the fruit God had said not to eat. “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5, NIV).

Eve didn’t realize that she already was perfect in the eyes of her Creator. By trying to attain something that wasn’t intended for her, Eve was plunged into a cycle of guilt, shame, rejection, and separation from God.

We often make the same mistake as Eve did. Desiring to be like someone else, comparing ourselves with others, not satisfied with our bodies or abilities or circumstances, we forget that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NIV).

But I don’t want to be caught in the comparison trap any longer. So today I choose to forgive that blonde girl who took the role of Sleeping Beauty. I forgive the directors of the play who gave her the part instead of me. Their opinion of me doesn’t define me. And I break the lie that said I’m not good enough or pretty enough and I don’t measure up to others. My identity is rooted in the fact that I’m a beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father. And I know He made me just the way He wants me to be – brown hair, freckles, and all!

Going Vertical!

MJ

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14, NIV
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A Spaghetti Story

“We brought you something,” my American friend Lisa grinned as she came in the door. Her husband Robert thrust a long thin box into my hands, beaming at me like a school kid.

“We discovered it yesterday!” Lisa said. “We knew you would want some.”
I stared at the box in my hands, not knowing what to say. It was spaghetti. Real, imported Italian spaghetti noodles. These were a real treasure in our small east Asian town.
The handful of foreigners living here had scouted out all the supermarkets in our city, and found only one store that carried them in a tiny imported foods section. Then one day, for no apparent reason, the shop had stopped carrying spaghetti. I looked for it week after week, month after month, but there was none to be found. I asked my other foreign friends, and they all said the same thing – our pasta supply had inexplicably dried up.
So when I discovered this week that the supermarket had spaghetti again, I was ecstatic. I cleared the shelf and bought every single box in stock – about 16 boxes of noodles. And now here my American friends were generously offering me one of their valuable boxes of spaghetti, unaware that my cabinet was stuffed with pasta.
I felt sick. How greedy and selfish could I be? It had never occurred to me to share my precious purchase with my other foreign friends in town. All I’d thought about was myself.

Not an Orphan

I was reminded of some friends who had adopted a little boy from Russia. Every night at supper he would stuff his pockets with rolls from the table, then hide them under his pillow for later. His years in the Russian orphanage had taught him that he had to fight for his food if he wanted to have enough to eat. But slowly he began to learn that his new parents would feed him again the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. And he stopped hiding bread in his room. He started to see himself as a son.
Now here I was, acting exactly like an orphan. Orphans fight for what they want, because no one else will fight for them. They hoard what they have, because they don’t know what they’ll get tomorrow. Orphans only look out for themselves, because there’s no one else to care for them.
But I’m not an orphan! I’ve been adopted into God’s family. Why didn’t I trust Him to give me what I need? Matthew 7:9-11 says, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (NIV) I have a good Father, and I know He will provide for me.

A Beloved Daughter

Ashamed and embarrassed, I confessed to my friends Lisa and Robert the whole story of the spaghetti noodles, showing them my overflowing cupboard. They laughed and accepted my peace offering of several boxes of pasta, and all was well.
But that day reminded me to be careful not to slip into an “orphan mentality.” If I find myself feeling like I need to hoard something special and not share with others, or start to worry that I won’t have what I need in the future, I remember that I’m no longer an orphan. I’m a beloved daughter, and I have a good Father who takes good care of me!
Going Vertical!
MJ
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Pushing the “Pause” Button on Life

Sitting on my towel on the sand, watching the waves come in and recede, I feel strangely restless and uncomfortable. My cousin Nathalie and I had planned an afternoon getaway to the beach, but we apparently had come with different visions of what that would look like. I’ve lived no more than thirty minutes from the ocean most of my life, and I love any excuse to go to the beach. But growing up in a family with three brothers, my experience of beach trips has always been full of physical activity – swimming, boogey-boarding, frisbee, volleyball, building sand-sculptures, etc.

So when Nathalie stretches out on her towel with a magazine she’s brought, I’m at a loss for what to do. It never occurred to me to bring reading material to the beach. I shift on my towel and scan the shoreline. Aren’t we going to DO something? Sensing my discomfort, my cousin turns to look at me, shaking her head.

“You need to learn to relax,” she chides gently.

“I AM relaxing!” I protest.

“No, you’re not,” she says. “You’re all tense, ready to jump up at any minute. We came to the beach to relax!”

She’s right. I am tense. It’s hard for me to completely relax. Even when I’m at the beach, I’m always busy. I guess if I’m active, even if it’s swimming or boogie-boarding, I feel like I’m being productive, like I’m accomplishing something. But when I sit still for just a few minutes, I start to feel guilty. There’s so much to do – emails to respond to, projects to work on, errands to run, phone calls to make… How can I just sit here and do NOTHING?

But why do I feel guilty if I slow down and take time to rest? Am I placing my value in what I accomplish? Is my worth determined by what I produce? My security doesn’t lie in what I do, but in Who I belong to. I’m an adopted daughter of the Heavenly Father, and He accepts me and loves me. Ephesians 1 says, “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:5-6, NAS).

Lying back on the towel, I exhale slowly, trying to take my cousin’s advice. Relax, relax, I tell myself. I watch the seagulls wheeling overhead in the bright blue sky. I close my eyes and feel the sun warming my face. And I listen to the surf crashing on the sand, and children giggling and squealing as they play in the water.

Emails can wait. Projects will still be there when I get home. Worrying about it or feeling guilty about it doesn’t help anything! My relationship as a daughter of the King isn’t dependent on what I accomplish today. I don’t need to prove myself or try to earn my acceptance. I can rest in my relationship with Him, and enjoy these “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19, NIV).

What about YOU? In all your rushing around and busy-ness, are you willing to push the “PAUSE” button on life? Take time today to exhale and rest and be refreshed in the security of your Heavenly Father’s love for you!

Going Vertical!

MJ

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Precious to Him

“This is for you, Miss J.” Gabby smiled shyly as she handed me a two-inch square piece of blue construction paper with lopsided scalloped edges. Two smiling stick figures with long purple hair and triangle dresses were side by side, with the names “Miss J” and “Gabby” printed neatly above their heads.

It was my first time as a substitute teacher in this kindergarten class, but Gabby had quickly attached herself to me, asking to hold my hand as we walked in line to recess, wanting to sit close to me as I read a book on the carpet for story-time.

Now as I admired the picture, Gabby stuck her thumb in her mouth and grinned, brown eyes gleaming proudly. I carefully placed the precious paper on the teacher’s desk as we went on with the day’s activities. But at the end of the day, between helping Chase tie his shoes, locating Arianna’s missing lunchbox, and trying to get 16 kindergarten students out the door to go home, Gabby’s drawing was accidentally left behind.

“You forgot the picture I made for you, Miss J!” Gabby reminded me several days later when I was subbing for third grade. Gabby’s class was at recess and she had come to find me. “I still have it for you.” Apologizing, I promised I would come pick it up at the end of the day. But once again it was left behind, only remembered after I got home.

Two weeks later, I was back in Gabby’s kindergarten class as a substitue for the morning. Gabby’s eyes lit up as soon as she saw me. “Miss J! Now can I give you your picture?”

I watched as she walked over to the bookshelves on the far side of the room, pulled out a large Bible from the second shelf, and flipped through the pages to find the small blue square.

“I kept it for you,” she explained as she handed me her special drawing.

“Thank you so much! It’s beautiful.” I gave her a hug. “This time I won’t forget it!” As Gabby skipped happily to her seat, I put the picture in my purse so it wouldn’t get lost again.

Though it doesn’t seem like much, that little blue square of construction paper with the two smiling stick figures represents a little girl’s love. Though I had forgotten several times about the picture, Gabby hadn’t forgotten. Because it was so important to her, it became important to me.

Sometimes I worry that I’m bothering God when I come to Him with my problems or concerns. With all the billions of people in the world, my heart issues seem insignificant and unimportant. He must have better things to do than to listen to me, I think.

But we are important to our Heavenly Father. We are His children, and He wants to hear from us. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Isaiah 43:4 says we are “precious and honored” in His sight. He cares about our thoughts and feelings.

I keep Gabby’s picture in my planner now. Every time I see it, I’m reminded of our Father’s love. You can always go to Jesus with whatever is bothering you. He’s never too busy to listen. He cares about your heart. You are precious to Him!

Going Vertical!
MJ

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Confessions of a Driver’s Ed Hooligan

“What have I told you about taking notes in class?”

My head jerked up to find Mr. Lawson towering over me, arms folded across his chest, glaring at my incriminating paper. He was clearly annoyed at having to interrupt his lecture on traffic signals and roadsigns.

“I… I’m sorry, sir. I was just doodling. I didn’t mean to…” My face grew hot as I could feel the eyes of the entire driver’s education class on me.

“Hooligan! I’ve told you not to write anything in class! I want you to listen to me when I’m speaking! Go stand in the corner for the rest of class.”

Horrified, I stared at Mr. Lawson, thinking he must be joking. Would he really make an 18-year-old stand in the corner? But he merely pointed to the far end of the room, waiting for me to move. Utterly humiliated, I quickly gathered my books and slunk off, trying to ignore the laughter and whispers of the other students.

Painful Emotions

It’s so unfair! I steamed. I’m a good student. I’m NOT a hooligan! And I WAS listening to him. That’s such a stupid rule. Taking notes helps me to pay attention in class! I hate him.

It’s been years since that humiliating experience in driver’s ed class, but each time I replay that scenario in my head, I dredge up those painful emotions again and stoke the fires of bitterness. I feel the burning shame of being falsely accused and the anger of the injustice. I’ve never forgiven Mr. Lawson for what he did.

But I don’t WANT to forgive him! My heart protests. He had NO right to treat me that way. He doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.

If I stay angry, somehow it feels like I’m punishing him. But if I ever want to be FREE of these painful memories, I need to consciously and specifically forgive him. Though it’s been more than 15 years since that driver’s ed class, this morning, in my living room, I take some time to walk through the steps of forgiveness, with the Processing the Issues of My Heart booklet.

When I finish, there are no choirs of angels singing, no bright pools of light or warm electric tingles. But deep in my spirit, I know something significant has happened today.

After all these years, I have finally relinquished my spot on the “judge’s seat” and torn up my list of offenses and injustices. That painful experience doesn’t have a hold on me anymore. That shame and humiliation doesn’t define me. That anger and bitterness doesn’t control me. Shame OFF me, in Jesus’ name! I will have to forgive again and again if these memories came back, but I will continue to CHOOSE to forgive, because Christ has forgiven me and set me FREE!

Going Vertical!

MJ

“Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me. Make haste, O Lord, to help me. Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me; Thou art my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.”

Psalm 40:13, 17

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The Blame Game

It’s hard not to blame myself. I thought I was doing the right thing.

Mornings are always hard for my 100-year-old grandmother. It takes her awhile to wake up and figure out what’s going on and get enough energy to sit up and ease out of bed. But this recent Sunday morning she was moaning every time I touched her right leg or tried to move it. It’s her bad side, affected from all the strokes, further weakened by the fall and hip surgery she had earlier this year. And some days are worse than others. So this morning when she was reluctant to move her leg at all, I gave her some liquid pain medicine we’ve received from the home health nurses for that purpose.

Finally we managed to get her up and dressed and ready for church – it was Mother’s Day, so we didn’t want to miss the service. But she was falling asleep at breakfast and hardly ate any cereal or drank any of her orange juice – unusual for her. Even after a four-hour afternoon nap, Grandma still couldn’t stay awake long enough to finish chewing a couple bites of cracker with tuna, or to swallow sips of her favorite chocolate-flavored protein drink.

It wasn’t until late in the day that I figured out the problem. Apparently this pain reliever is much stronger than I realized, and Grandma’s only supposed to have a quarter of the recommended dose on the label. The medication I gave her this morning was the cause of the extreme drowsiness all day. And I’m kicking myself for not knowing that.

The Blame Game

Too many times I’ve done what I thought was the right thing in a certain situation, only to find out that I’d committed a social faux pas or done something culturally unacceptable in that context. I’ve opened my mouth and put my foot in it many times by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. And then I dwell on what I should have done or shouldn’t have done for days and weeks and months… and sometimes for years.

“Why did I SAY that? That was so stupid!” “I can’t believe I did that! What was I THINKING?” “Why do I DO things like that?” Conversations replay in my head in the middle of the night like a movie stuck in an endless loop, as I relive awkward moments and painful scenarios. And I just can’t and won’t forgive myself for what I did.

But beating myself up about my mistakes only leaves me sleepless and miserable. Just like it doesn’t do any good to feel guilty for giving the wrong dose of medicine to Grandma. I learned from my mistake and marked the bottle accordingly for next time. And Grandma was fine. She was sleepy, but we just let her go to bed early that night. The next day she was back to her normal self.

Are there regrets and mistakes that keep you awake in the middle of the night? Are you having a hard time forgiving yourself for things you’ve said or done that you shouldn’t have? Quit the cycle of shame and blame. Our God is always willing to forgive. Give it all to Him and let Him help you have a fresh start today!

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” I Peter 5:7 (NLT)

Going Vertical!

MJ

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NOT THE SAME GIRL

Pulling into a space in the familiar parking lot, I turn off the engine and lean back in my seat. I don’t want to think about how many years it’s been since I’ve walked those halls. Yet looking at the brick and cement building looming before me, I feel all that painful awkwardness of being seventeen and on the outside of the popular circles. Sitting at the “outcast” table at lunch. Knowing that everyone was going to a party that I didn’t get invited to. Wanting to hide in the bathroom and never come out. High school was not the happiest time for me.

Old Memories

Now, years later, I’m back at my old school. But this morning I’m going to be speaking about forgiveness to the 300 high school students. And all at once I feel like that painfully shy, terribly insecure, completely uncool kid again. “They’re going to laugh at me,” I tell myself. “They’re going to think I’m stupid.” I briefly consider driving back out of the parking lot and giving the whole thing up.

I shake my head to dissolve the old memories. “Snap out of it, Michelle. You’re not in high school anymore. This isn’t about you anyway. It’s about the message God has given you for these kids. So get over it!”

Gripping the steering wheel, I slowly let out my breath. “God, you’re gonna have to help me do this. Speak through me today.”

Standing in front of the assembly of 300 students, I share about a difficult friendship and the hurt I suffered from it. The rustling and fidgeting quiet down as the students get wrapped up in the story.

“I was holding on to a list of what this person ‘owed me’,” I explain, holding up a sheet of paper. “I thought she owed me an apology. Saying she was sorry. Admitting she was wrong. Undoing the damage she caused. Changing her behavior. But when I made the decision to forgive, I was choosing to cancel that debt and let it go.” I begin ripping the paper into smaller and smaller pieces. “She owes me nothing.” I throw the pieces on the floor.

Hope and Healing

Something’s happening to me as the pieces of paper flutter to the ground. I’m finally letting go of those long-ago hurts from when I was in high school – the rejection of being left out, looked down on, and made fun of. God, I’m letting it go, I pray silently. It has no hold on me anymore. I’m a new person.

“This was a message we needed to hear today,” the principal says to the assembly as I take my seat. “The Holy Spirit has spoken to our hearts, and we’re going to take time to respond.” Though it’s already past time for chapel to end, he announces that they’ll be breaking up into small groups for discussion and application, using the steps laid out in “Processing The Issues of Your Heart.”

I’m so thankful I didn’t drive off earlier this morning when I was confronted with those doubts and insecurities from so many years ago. I’m not the same girl I was in high school. My confidence is not in myself, but in Christ. And it’s only because of what He has done in me that I can share this hope and healing with others.

Going Vertical!

MJ

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” II Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)