Why I Write (A Blog Hop)

3 Words Thank You God

I was invited to this blog hop by a sweet, dear friend, Cheryl Lutz who writes at Securely Held. Cheryl and I met through Jo Ann Fore’s Book Launch Team. Cheryl writes about her journey through spiritual warfare with such authenticity and transparency that I suggest you sign up so you never miss a blog post and they easily come into your mailbox.

You can read her past posts and sign up for her new posts at http://www.securelyheld.com.

Now for the questions

1) What am I writing or working on?
I am currently writing my first draft of my first book. It is based on overcoming rejection by parents and friends as you are growing up. I am also continuing to work in my ministry My Cup of Grace Ministries, Inc. At this time I am renovating my website and updating my logo. I have a passion for encouraging young ladies and gentlemen of all ages but especially those who are in transition from high school and college out into the real world. Too many of today’s youth are coming from single parent homes out into the world without any preparedness and without knowing they do have a father that loves them and wants to rain down His grace and mercy new every morning.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I grew up in a home with divorced parents and had to become an adult at the young age of thirteen because of my mother’s health which consisted of multiple autoimmune diseases. I can relate to the young adults as someone who has been where they are and had to figure out life on my own with just minor guidance from my mom.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I write what I do as God leads me. I now suffer with many health issues including the autoimmune diseases that my mother had, but I still feel called to work with the young adults to help them learn what is expected of them as productive members of society. I help her/him set goals, figure out what they want to do as a career and then learn how they can go about obtaining their goals. There are some that just need minor guidance and then there are some that need help in learning how to make correct choices or better choices. I write to help others learn about themselves, our Heavenly Father, or how He is there even when you think nobody is there for you.

4) How does my writing process work?
I don’t know if my writing is great but I feel like when I follow our Heavenly Father’s will and make sure my writing brings Glory to Him that He blesses the words and will make sure the right people read them. As for the actual process, usually I have a topic come to mind or laid on my heart. At that point I pray asking God to guide me so the right amount of the story is told and Glory is brought to God when the writing is complete.
Now for the fun part! Instead of introducing two or three bloggers to you I am going to provide you with a list of a few blogs I have met over the past year or so and I think you would be blessed to take the time to drop in and read some of their posts.

1. Cheryl Lutz – http://www.securelyheld.com
2. Jo Ann Fore – http://www.joannfore.com
3. Melinda McCray – http://www.melindamccray.com
4. Sarah Knepper – http://www.redemptiondiary.com
5. Nicki Edwards – http://www.nickiedwards.wordpress.com

Thank you for taking the time to check out my post and dropping by the above blogs. I promise you will not be disappointed.

The Throwaway Child

You may or may not know me, you may or may not even be like me, my name is John* and I am a throwaway child. I am one half of a set of fraternal twins, my sister and I are not yet teenagers and we have an older brother who is of legal age.

When we were younger and had our own home as a family my dad worked a lot and when he was at home, if he wasn’t drinking too much, he and my brother worked on things around the place. Usually, I was too little to be with them so I was told to go do something else. I was the throwaway child.

My mom was heavily into prescription drug abuse and drinking vodka. She would usually tell us to go play or watch television if she was awake and not mad. She loved my older brother because he could cook and help take care of us, and my sister was my mom’s “princess” so she was given a lot of attention. I was the throwaway child.

You see when my parents had use for my brother and sister but not me, I started doing things I shouldn’t have done. When my dad was at work or drinking and my mom was doing her thing they expected my brother (older by about six years) to take care of and raise us. Well I began fighting, running and hiding, tearing things up, anything I could do to get attention. Well what I usually ended up with was a spanking with the belt and then told to go do something else. So the only attention I received was the time it took to spank me with the belt. I was the throwaway child.

When we were old enough to start school my brother would get us up and ready for school. When I noticed my sister and others getting attention while I wasn’t I started becoming aggressive at school, just for attention, again I would get in trouble and then be ignored again. Even at school I was the throwaway child.

The school began contacting the Department of Children Services because of the way I behaved and the way things were at home. After my parents spent some time trying not to get into trouble and lying about things at home they had a couple of weekends of heavy drinking and pill use which resulted in our trailer no longer being livable so we left our home and moved to a new city twenty miles away to live with my maternal grandmother. Nothing changed when we moved I was still a throwaway child.

After a few months of my continuing behavior and my parents living apart, my parents decided it might be better if I was institutionalized in a hospital so people there could figure out what was wrong and fix me. I was a throwaway child. During my time at the hospital I was diagnosed as having ADHD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. After being in there for a few months, having individual and family counseling and having a medication schedule I was sent back home where nothing changed, I was still a throwaway child.

Mom and we three kids lived with my grandmother for the next couple of years, while dad lived with another family member. Dad wasn’t working as much now but he continued to drink off and on along with taking some prescription medication. Mom and grandma were telling everyone they were homeschooling my sister and me but we never did that much work. Mom and grandma spent each day doing prescription medications. We would be asked to take the pills from one of them to another. We would also watch them get to a point they could barely talk but still my sister was mom’s princess and daddy’s little girl and I was the throwaway child.

Several months ago my life was changed forever when I woke up and realized there was something wrong with my mom. By the time I could get my grandma awake and she called the paramedics my mom was dead. The autopsy showed an accidental drug overdose. Evidentially my mom enjoyed doing the drugs more than being around for her three children. My brother turned to his girlfriend and her family, my sister had my grandma, and our dad was too upset about losing his “everything,” I was a throwaway child.

After my mom’s funeral I was sent to live with an aunt on my mom’s side of the family about forty miles from everyone. I did fairly well with my behavior with her and she listened to me when I had nightmares over my mom. At the time though I decided, I still wanted to stay with my grandma where I could do whatever I wanted, I didn’t have a curfew and there were no house rules. Nobody cared what I did, I was still a throwaway child.

My sister was allowed to be involved in things with my dad, he would come and get her and she would spend the night with him. He enrolled her in school in the district where he was staying so she stayed with him every night and went to school from there. I was left at my grandma’s. I was a throwaway child.

Finally my dad had a situation come up that forced him to go live with my paternal grandpa who lives with a different aunt and uncle for health reasons. They had him bring me out to stay too and I will say the first few weeks were not easy. They have house rules and consequences if they are not followed. I think I tested just about every rule and suffered many of the consequences. My dad still doesn’t usually want me around but my grandpa, aunt, uncle and older cousin does. I still have my moments, but I am now being homeschooled to try and catch up on all I have missed out, I have clothes now that fit and plenty of food to eat. I have people that will listen to me if I have a problem or just want to talk. My dad and I still argue a lot and he still calls me names and I still say things I shouldn’t but now I try to apologize much quicker. I know if my dad moves and takes me with him I will be a throwaway child again but for now, I may have found a place where I am wanted. One day soon I many no longer be a throwaway child.

Stay tuned for further updates to my story

*name was changed for the best interest of the child.

Meet a Recovering Control Addict

Yesterday I was reading my morning devotional and I came across this

“Walk with Me in holy trust, responding to My initiatives rather than trying to make things fit your plans. I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning. When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear My voice. A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to Me. Listen to Me and live abundantly!” from “Jesus Calling” by: Sarah Young

That once was me and if I don’t talk with God about it often, I still become that person. I like having my days planned out. Before my health crashed in 2009 I had my daily to-do list, my weekly to-do list and my monthly to-do list. Then there was my hubby’s honey do list and my daughter’s to-do list (based on her age). Then let us plan an extended weekend or vacation when our daughter was dancing a national competition and I would have an itinerary down to the minute.

Well guess how much fun I was to have around when my business partner interrupted me, my husband was taking longer than I thought necessary to complete his items, my daughter was not working on her to-do list because she was, are you ready for this….a five year old who thought playing was much more fun than completing mom’s to-do list?

I started hearing teaching about not being able to have control that God is the one who is really in control and I really thought I was doing well on giving up control…well in some areas, but yet there were still to-do lists every place and I still was not the most relaxed person to have around.

Then I started paying more attention to God being in control and not me as my life spiraled out of control over the course of two years beginning in 2009. There was my health crash which I am still dealing with, having to close my business, financial issues and losing my mother. You name it and our family probably faced it at one time or another. The thing is during this time I was still hearing teachings on God being the one in control, not me and then this scripture came at me

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” —Proverbs 19:21

Ummm, yes I decided that is what I want. I want God’s purpose and control not my own.

Looking back now over the years through all my ups and downs, life is much easier when I quit trying to control my life and everyone else in it.

Sit back for a minute and imagine this for a day of your vacation (without having a panic attack for those who are still control addicts). There is no set itinerary, maybe just a short list or a few brochures of things you would like to do. You get ready to go to bed and you do not sit an alarm. You and your family just sleep until one of you wake up, then you lounge around, talk about what you may feel like doing that day. Maybe check the weather to make sure you can plan around that so you have indoor stuff to do if it is going to rain a day or two while you are there. Then you get ready and head out for your day just nice and relaxed with some direction for the day but with the attitude of we will see what God allows time for us to see and that is it.

Wow wouldn’t that be much more fun and relaxing for both you and your family instead of getting up at dawn because you have places to go and things to see and there is no time for being late or the schedule will be off and that just can’t happen because you don’t want the vacation ruined. So it is waking everyone up, even if they are still tired (which means probably grumpy at some point), it is rushing to dress, rushing to eat, rush from place to place because we want to do and see as many things as possible while we are here.

Now sit back and compare the two, which one do you think you and your family would enjoy more? What about your everyday life, where could you let some control go and just enjoy time together? It is not easy to let go of control, it is like any other addiction or habit but I promise you the improvement you will see in your life and the lives of those around you will be well worth the change.

I found It and I’m No Longer Afraid to Use It

My VOICE that is!

Unfortunately I started having my unavoidable life confrontational experiences when I was a teenager and as with everyone they continued into adulthood. The sad thing was I didn’t rededicate my life to God until 2002 and at that time I just tried to not have any conversations with negative connotations, but when I did have to have them they didn’t go well. Finally, after much studying of God’s Word and reading “When a Woman Finds Her Voice” I have, at the age of 42, found my voice. Now I am not always perfect, but with God’s help my voice allows me to have both hard and blessed conversations with many people.

Since I have started using my voice in the correct ways, I have found my relationships becoming stronger. My husband and I can be honest with each other without having to worry about the anger because we know if one of us doesn’t agree with other it is okay, we are going to work through it. It may mean in the end, we agree to disagree, on that particular subject but we both have the freedom to express our feelings. This has been even more beneficial since my husband was injured in November and we have been together almost 24/7 and will be until at least March.
I am able to try and explain to my daughter now, how she can have the dreadful confrontations that sometimes have to take place on the set, with the director or producer, in the work place or in dealing with parents as she is coaching their children but yet do so in a God honoring, respectful way. She can also do this with her own teammates, the owner of the studio, the Athletic Director at the school, the parents at the school and the co-head coach. As I mentioned to her, it is much better to learn this at age 20 as supposed to age 42. It will allow her to cultivate many more relationships than to burn the bridges.

The best thing I have found in using my voice is a closer walk with God, I realized one of the first and most consistent things I must do each day to find my voice is renew my mind and to do that I had to catch every one of the thoughts that entered my mind. Each time a thought came in I had to determine if it was something God would want me to think, if not I had to replace it. If a scripture or another truth of God’s didn’t come to mind fast enough I had a five statement pledge of faith I had memorized from another popular Bible study teacher that I would say to myself and that way no matter where my focus it was put right back on God.

Please don’t feel like these were quick, easy tasks. If you decide to go down this path there will be times of heartache, frustration, tears and times when you just want to give up as you wonder why you decided to go this way, just remember the enemy only attacks those he is threatened by and sees is getting closer to Christ. In the midst of the hard times you will have times that are happy, joyous, peaceful and loving. Leaving you to wonder why you waited so long to start this and do this. In the end as I continue to work through all of this I just know that I wouldn’t want it any other way, even in the bad times I will talk with God, turn on worship music, write in my journal, call a friend and sometimes just have a good therapeutic cry. You can do this with God on your side, nothing is impossible, just keep using your voice.

THE BEST BUT ONE OF THE HARDEST DECISIONS EVER

BEING OBEDIENT TO GOD

I am learning during this study to delight in my obedience to God as Lysa encourages us to do in chapter 7 instead of being defined by a number. This has never been and still isn’t easy for me. I am someone who has been dealing with my weight numbers since age seven, for a total of 35 years. I am learning, however, that if I hang in there with God I can do anything that is in His will, if I work at with Him, being Obedient.

This is not a time to use the excuse of evidentially it is not in God’s will for me to be thin. Well maybe looking thin is not in God’s will but I know eating healthy is in His will. I also should not say well I handed it over to God but He did not show up. This is not an issue where we should expect Him to do all the work. We put ourselves in this situation and therefore we need God to guide us, giving us His strength and peace and walking with us through this hard walk but we need to be right in there with Him working just as hard.

I have become more obedient to God and less defined by the number by first praying to God and listening to what I thought He was directing me to do and making sure I discussed it with my husband to see if he was getting the same direction from God.  I felt God told me to make sure I was only weighing myself no more frequently than once a week and sometimes not even that often. My father lives with us because of his health and our 20 year old daughter still lives with us so I talked with my husband and we made some food swapping choices and then relayed those to my dad and our daughter who were both on board and so gradually we have made the changes. No more vegetable oil, things we do decide to sear or fry is done in olive oil, more fruits in the house than junk food along with other changes.

Finally the other change I worked on last year and continue with it this year is the renewing of my mind. Although that can be a Bible study in itself I think it is important to be working on your thought process while you are trying to get healthy. The enemy knows food is one of your weaknesses so that will be one of the ways he will certainly try to attack you. Now every time a thought comes to my mind I immediately try to stop it and see if it would be a Godly thought, if not then I come up with a scripture or a Godly truth to replace it and if I can’t come up with something then I go straight to my five statement of faith pledge I memorized several years ago in another Bible Study. No matter what I do my best to get that thought replaced with a Godly one so I can grow closer to Him.

These are the things I have found that are working for me and my family. I do still get cravings but not has often except for soda. I don’t deprive myself of anything, if I still want sometime several minutes after the first thought of it then I go ahead with it in small amounts until I am satisfied.

When I am encouraging others, I fill then in on what my family has found that works but I also suggest the book to them. I also tell them to make sure they pray first to see where God leads them. If they think he is leading them one direction and it doesn’t work when they do it then go back and start over with prayer to make sure that is what He wants them to do.

Do You Have Your Word, if so What is it? Also, Will you be one of my five WINNERS?

Over the years I hear people talk about asking God for a word. “A word,’ I thought. Then the Bible study teachers, friends, those that had been talking about the “word” finally explained it. The “word” is the one they ask God for or He just gives them while they prepare for the next year. Of course, this may not work for everyone, others may have their own way of working things with God, but I kept thinking about this “word” and what would that be like. Then over time when I was gathering details on how this “word” thing worked, the different people listed the words, trust, fear, patience, faith, confidence, friendship, obedience, and on they went, I thought well I need to work on all of these along with many more so God how do we just work on one? How can I do any work for you, Lord when I have so much to work on? The Lord provided His response “Since you will never be perfect this side of Glory you will always have work to do with me, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work for me at the same time.” From that moment on I try to always ask God and wait to hear what we will be working on next. It doesn’t mean we only work on one thing for a year, we work on it as long as God feels we need too. As an example the word Fear we ended up working on for over two years. I’ve also learned in God’s sense of humor ways, I can think we are done with an issue and it can come right back and we are working on it again or sometimes we are working on more than one issue at a time. This past year God kept putting Psalm 25 and Psalm 91 on my heart frequently and I would even go to sleep at night having them read to me by my IPhone. You only have to read as far as the first couple of verses of each of those chapters to find out David is talking about his Trust in God. God helped me to see I was great at telling others to trust Him, and great at trusting Him in some matters, but not in ALL THINGS. So needless to say when I tried to get a new word from God for 2014 He kept telling me” Psalm 25 and Psalm 91 Trust”. My response was “but God look at all the places I learned to trust you this year. I’ve trusted you in all the medical things, I’ve started a chemo plan potentially for life, I’ve trusted you with my family issues, I trusted you with financial issues.” Finally, God was able to get a word in and was saying “hush! You may have trusted me during some of those issues but that is what you get for thinking!! I don’t think you want me to sit here and list all the times in 2013 alone that you didn’t trust me, now do you? We still have a lot of work to do and no that doesn’t mean your work with fear and faith is over because you will deal with fear and many of the other issues while you are working on trusting me even more and in all areas.” Ouch, well I guess my hoping for an adventure is at least going to come true, God must have one good adventure one planned for me with all the things He has been sending our way the last few months. We are trying to stay focused on Him, His adventure and what all He has planned for us in 2014. I hope you will all decide to follow along with us as we take this ride.

What about you, do you have any idea what you and God may be working on this year? If so how do you go about finding out what He may want you to work on with Him?

Five people that comment will be given their choice of a prize. If we only get five replies then you will all win! :) If more than five reply I will use a program, enter all the names and let it pick the five names at random. I will give you the name of the program I use if we need to do that.

Hearing The Voice

Do you hear it? No, not the noise of the television, the radio, or the kids playing not even the to-do list screaming in your head. I mean the real soft whisper, the one that you struggle to hear, the one many times you respond to in your mind saying “oh that was good, I need to make note of that, I will do it later,” then you get busy and usually forget.

Later that day, that week or that month you find yourself talking with others about how you don’t know how to tell if you are really hearing from God or if it is just yourself talking because it is something you really want. The conversation might also be with a friend discussing the issue where you just don’t hear God speak to you at all and you don’t understand why.

I have spent years bouncing between the two statements above, either not hearing His voice or if I was hearing a whispering voice wondering how I would know it was God. After spending all kind of time listening to podcasts, sermons, reading blogs, asking Bible study teachers, pastors and friends I finally realized a few things.

One, I was making this way too hard, analyzing way too much. Like most people I probably will not hear a booming voice out loud. That doesn’t mean I am not going to hear from God, it just means I’m going to have to listen closer.

Which brings me to number two to hear God I have to do the one thing I don’t like, spend time with myself, and no other noise. I don’t like doing this because it is easier to hear the convictions of things I do wrong and need to ask forgiveness (I don’t have a problem asking for forgiveness, I have trouble fighting perfectionism.) It is also time when I have to relive some extremely painful times in my life that still need healing and I keep looking every place else for it when I know the only person that can provide the healing is God.

While reading Jo Ann Fore’s book “When A Woman Finds Her Voice” I read this statement
“As you learn to recognize my voice, you will uncover yours-a voice directly tied to your identity and purpose, to my plans for you.”
Oh, I’m so grateful for this book, for Jo Ann listening to God and writing this book, for God placing me as part of her launch team, I can’t tell you how I have been blessed over the last several weeks. I can tell you I did get confirmation on one last thing of hearing God and of also finding my voice.

The final thing I learned was there were a few steps I needed to follow and as long as I do these things, God has yet to not show up in His perfect timing. Those steps are:

Get quiet and listen closely. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I do my best to remember it usually means God wants me to spend some time with Him. I can usually look back and see where I have not been doing my quiet time as I need too.

As Jo Ann stated “On this journey to find our voices, we must first hear his.”

If I’m not sure I’m getting a clear direction, God is accustomed to my hard head so I just ask Him to provide clarification or more of an explanation. I have so many stories on how He has provided this to me, from family members, songs, television shows, mail I have received or just the same message repeated, the same scripture showing up.

I make sure it lines up with scripture. I do my best to find out if what I think I should be doing is going to honor God and make sure He gets the glory.

Many women are now stepping out and taking a pledge to find their voices and help others, I am one of them, would you please join us, come on, take that first step of faith, there are many of us that are right beside you!

Pledge: I will become a Silence-Breaker, courageously speaking what God presses me to share.

Link to the Pledge: http://joannfore.com/take-the-pledge/

To purchase the book you can follow the link below:

Long link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/When-Woman-Finds-Her-Voice/dp/0891123873

Check out what Jo Ann Fore has to say: http://www.writewhereithurts.org/2013/10/when-god-calls-your-bluff

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