femmefuel-nov-28-2016

Advent Message

There is no limit to the Wholeness He will bring.  As we ride sometimes on a roller coaster and sometimes in slow motion, we catch of glimpse of our own faith.  Maybe from a mirror reflection.  Perhaps from a relationship.  Sometimes in tangible moments with God.

I have seen glimpses of myself recently.  I had the very honest moment of speaking out loud the fear I have been holding onto for as long as I can remember.  I have been brave on many occasions.  I even have a large well of peace and calm that the people I am close to see in me.  But, at the floor of it all, I have stored fear.

Ruth is my personal hero.  I always think of her on the threshing floor speaking truth in the dark night to Boaz.  I like to think I would do the same under the same set of circumstances.  And, I probably would.  But, there on the floor, I would still be holding onto my fear.

Something happened the last few days.  Because God is good, He had no plan for me to store up my fear until kingdom come.  I unexpectedly spoke my fear out loud to someone I trust.  She prayed and prayed and I listened and listened.

If you are whole, there is no fear.  I used to be afraid about things that are too personal to share here.  I have gifts in me to give and it’s okay that some may not want them.  I have faith in the future of my kids despite my imperfect life.  I used to be afraid but that is gone now.  I am not in chains anymore.  Ultimately, I am free to love God as my Savior.

I have always believed in the miracles of the holiday season.  I am embracing Advent in a way I have not before.  I came across Isaiah 9:2-7 in the Message.  He is the Prince of Wholeness and there will be no limits to the wholeness He brings.  If you are speeding or in slow motion this season, catch of glimpse of your faith.  There is no better time of year to let go of the bottom of you and let Whole seep in to every part of yourself.  There is no limit to the Wholeness He has for you.  Go ahead and believe in December miracles.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

For those who lived in a land of deep shadows — light! sunbursts of light!

You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy.

Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!

Festival joy!

The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.

The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants —

all their whips and cudgels and curses —

Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising

and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.

The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,

Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days!

For a child has been born — for us!

the gift of a son — for us!

He’ll take over the running of the world.

His names will be:

Amazing Counselor,

Strong God,

Eternal Father,

Prince of Wholeness.

His ruling authority will grow,

and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom.

He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going

With fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always.

The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

Isaiah 9:2-7

To You, Sue

By Bindu Adai Mathew

Today the world lost an amazing person – Susan (Sue) Varghese Thomas – after nearly a 10 month battle with cancer. She had a bright smile, endless optimism, a creative energy, and a beautiful heart.  In many ways, I considered her a kindred spirit because like me, she was an aspiring writer. We shared similar struggles with getting published along with the ups and downs of carving a legitimate career out of our passion for writing. She was Indian and Malayalee like me, and most importantly, she was a sister in Christ.

But I never met Sue. In person, that is.  It was a close friend we had in common, Suja Jacob, who brought us together. Because of our shared love of writing, Suja always told us about each other. So when Sue published her book, The World from My Fire Escape, I felt personally invested in her success as a writer. I followed her on her blog, and when Facebook became popular, we also became Facebook friends.

It was through Suja that I first learned Sue had cancer. It was also through Suja that I learned that Sue’s cancer had worsened when she called me a week ago after seeing Sue. She was in tears after seeing Sue’s condition.

“I really thought God would have healed her,” Suja said, her voice and spirit broken with pain. “I don’t even know how to pray. Do I pray for God to take her so she’s no longer in pain? Or do I pray for her to be healed? Of course, I want her to be healed, but I don’t want to see her suffer like this.”

“You definitely pray for her utter and complete healing, “ I encouraged her, my voice strong with conviction. “With her body wracked in pain, you must stand in the gap and believe for her. You believe God, despite Sue’s condition, can and is willing to heal her. And then you pray for God’s will to be done.”  As I spoke encouragement, I felt faith well up in my own spirit. Yes, I felt, God is the healer. He who brought the dead back to life, He who created Life out of nothingness, He is able. What is impossible for him? Nothing.

“If it’s not her time, she won’t go,” I reminded Suja. “No one, but God can give or take life.”

So this week, I really prayed for Sue. I prayed the pain she was in would subside and be tolerable. I especially prayed for her complete healing and that she, too, would have the strength to believe despite her pain and circumstances.

So you can imagine my shock when I got the call that Sue had died this morning. As I comforted my friend, I felt sadness overwhelm me as well. Gone too soon. I think of all the books she still had in her, waiting to be discovered by new readers. The places she had yet to explore. The love she still had yet to share.

And then suddenly her passing seemed so wrong. But we prayed fervently, I reminded myself. And I know God heard us. And just like all things we don’t understand, I am reminded that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and while He was fully able to heal Susan, He decided it was her time.  And then I’m reminded she is in Heaven. HEAVEN. What am I mourning but our loss? For she has truly gained her reward. As she is pain-free in Heaven in the presence of a God whom she truly believed and loved.

As it reads in 2 Timothy 4:7:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Now enjoy your reward, Susan. You’ve earned it. I just wish you could have written about your experience… oh what a bestseller that would be!

FF July 4

Let Your Faith Take a Turn

The neat thing about faith is that it is always taking turns.  If you ever feel it stop moving, it is time to stop and let it move.  I’m in a moving season.  My faith has started to take a turn.  It’s like standing in front of an IMax screen and getting ready to step inside.

Part of what leads me to move has to do with friendships, the words I read, quiet moments.  Funny enough, exhaustion that brings me to spend most of day laying on the couch also brings my faith to move.

I’ve been writing a book about time.  As I have been wrapped up in my thoughts about time and eternity, I am being moved by what time really means and how that meaning ought to drive how we live life.

Emily P. Freeman shared an article by Ed Cyzewski about the contrast between a salvation moment and a life long conversation with God.  We are converted throughout our lives as we learn what it is to abide and to receive the life and transformation that God slowly brings. It’s not that we have a ticket that we can either protect or lose. It’s that God’s passionate love is pursuing each of us right now, and we can choose to either abide in it or go about our own business. 

We can abide in Him or we can go about our own business.  It may feel like an easy answer to choose to abide in Him.  It’s an easy Yes.  But in the hundreds of little choices you will make today, will you choose to abide in Him?  The decision is easy, the action point is harder.

I’m reading a book called Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.  She tucks in a few lines that speak to my thoughts on time and how it plays into our long term life.  What if the [bible] passage you are fighting to understand today suddenly makes sense to you when you most need it, ten years from now?  It has been said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten.  Are you willing to invest ten years in waiting for understanding?

I think we are meant to live like there is no time.  We are meant to live and move and breathe in a place and a space of depth.  Where we are not lassoed in by time constraints, judgmental time lines or frozen by time.  I think we were meant to live in the light of eternity.  Where there is no time.

 

FF June 6

Walking & Talking on Mountains

I was walking in the sun with my daughter training for our summer mountain climb.  We were with about ten other women on what we affectionately call Trash Mountain.  In Florida, we have flat and, when we want an incline, we go to the local trash mountain.

There we were, sweating bullets in groups of two and threes, hiking up and down the sides of the man-made hill.  As I held my daughter’s hand and walked, I listened to the conversation ahead and behind me.  I leaned into my own conversation with my daughter and thought about the magic taking place.

There is something profound that happens when like-minded women gather together for a purpose.  Without any agenda, the conversations run deep on Trash Mountain.  The words shared mirror the seasons of parenting and speak of children still small and others taller than their mamas.  The conversations speak of concerns only women know.  The conversations dig up past experience and contemplate the future.  The conversations echo and resonate among the group of hiking ladies. I walk with my daughter and ponder the beauty and depth taking place.

Women have an uncanny knack for seeing more than meets the eye.  I see this gift at work as women on this mountain walk and talk.  As I hike with my daughter, I want her to be invited into the depth.  I want her to hear the thoughts of women as they talk through motherhood, education, the beginnings and ends of things.  Of times past and times to come.  I am proud of her when she enters into the conversation in her ten year old way.

This is the beginning of her introduction to womanhood, to motherhood and to friendship.  In this community, she will find in herself the knack to sense the needs of others.  She will become attuned to how needs can be met through walking and talking along side another woman.  She will understand why women gather for a purpose.

She will understand that, while she is young, she has a lot to learn from the mamas around her.  She will know unity and community well enough to enter in even as a girl.  Over many walks and talks, she will understand that she has both much to learn and much to give.  She will take in the value of becoming wise and in giving freely.  And, someday, when her path has stretched over many years, she will continue the walk and the talk of mamas.  She will continue to share and love and embrace the magic of hiking with like-minded women on mountains.

If you like the idea of hiking on mountains for a purpose, check out thefreedomchallenge.com.  You may find yourself in Machu Picchu in the the Fall of 2017. 

FF May 30

Being Impractical Has Its Gain

There is a voice on the inside that speaks through your heart.  The voice is wiser than your own.  The thoughts expressed are higher than your own.  This voice doesn’t have any motivation beyond love.  The voice always knows the way, always speaks the truth and always points you to the light.

The voice gives you inspiration and insight.  There are many things that will be accomplished in a lifetime, but the voice particularly speaks to the great adventures that were written for you before time.  You can think of the great people you know and you can think of the great people throughout history.  Both the small and the larger than life live out a dream that the voice once began to speak about deep within.

There is a woman who heard a voice.  Against all practicality, she walked to a home in Bethany where Jesus was having dinner at a table with a handful of followers.  She brought with her a beautiful alabaster jar filled with a fragrant essential oil.    With faith and love tucked in her soul by the voice, she poured the oil or perfume over Jesus’ head.

There are so many reasons why her act of kindness was against practicality.  It was probably late in the day when she began to walk; maybe it was sunset or perhaps night.  Not the best time to start a journey.  The alabaster jar of oil she carried was worth a year’s wages.  Whether the jar was a gift or whether she earned the money to purchase it, the idea of giving it away was a big decision.  As to her act, she probably knew it would not be understood by some or all.

Journeys are this way.  It is never the best time.  There is always cost.  We risk the chance of being misunderstood.

For those of us who have had the courage to acknowledge the voice that is wiser than our own.  For those who have tilted an ear to listen to the voice that loves us more than we will ever know.  For those of us who have begun journeys or who are thinking about beginning.  Remember this.  The woman with the alabaster jar met Jesus face to face because she listened to the voice. Our journeys are always this way.  The voice that calls will always be the voice that meets you.  He will be with you always, even to the end of the age.

 

sometimes rather than look to improve, it is time to disassemble(1)

Get on the Disassembly Line

In a world that regularly points to self improvement, I have been thinking about disassembly.  When we take a look at ourselves, it’s easy to look for the traits that we consider weaknesses.  Those things about ourselves that we think look like a C- or D on paper.  In the midst of comparison and achievement, short comings are easy to focus on.  But, lately, I’ve been toying with the idea that some of those things I put on the D list may just be a part of who I am.

I’ve shared before that I’m not a small talk person.  I will probably bore you at a cocktail party, but definitely not over coffee or tea.  Take me to a big room of networkers passing business cards and I may take a long personal call in the lobby.  I can do small groups or talk from a stage or podium, but just don’t put me in a sea of people and expect success. For a long time, I took this as a weakness or lack of determination or skill.  I don’t anymore.  God made me this way.  I can’t small talk and that’s okay.

The fact of the matter is that God made you and He likes who you are.  Go ahead and be her.  Go ahead and trash self improvement this week.  Disassemble.  Inside of you, there is lurking a gift that is being masked by a weakness.  Throw off your opinion of your weakness.  See right through the hype of self improvement and seek that part of your self that is just waiting to bless your own soul and others.

And, as always, I invite you to share what you found in your soul on Facebook, Instagram or email me at sasha@femmefuel.com.

 

 

lay-1166

A Mother’s Heart is Universal

The wind doesn’t just blow. The origin of its direction and momentum begins with a breath from a maker.  We cannot always see this invisible leading, but it is always there. This leading is the same with our mothers.

Winds carry us, and even turn our direction, when necessary. Winds blow our hair away from our eyes so that we can see what is in front of us. Winds toss objects that were headed for us, away from us. This protection is the same with our mothers.

Winds do not follow maps, but intuitively cooperate with an orchestra that is masterfully playing. Winds arrive and disappear exactly at the perfect time. This intuition is the same with our mothers.

Mothers lead, protect and intervene in their child’s lives. When there is heartache, a mother comforts and supports. When there is pain, a mother mends with wisdom and strength. Where there is victory, a mother rejoices.

With confidence, I can say that a mother’s heart is universal. These qualities of leading, protecting and encouragement pass cultural lines. International boundaries. Shades of skin and belief systems. When a mother cries out for her child, she is heard and felt by the heart of many mothers.

This is why my heart cries for the daughters – – the victims – –  of human trafficking.  There is no other evil that declares its enemy quite as decisively as the sex trade. A daughter is the target of this darkness. The target of this weapon is her unique ability to lead and protect.  This weapon depletes her freedom, steals her hope and breaks her body. My heart cries for these daughters, their mothers and their grandmothers.

This is why we are four generations – – daughter, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – –  standing for daughters who are trapped and living with only a grain of hope.  This is why the four of us are traveling to the Grand Tetons with Freedom Challenge this summer. We are accepting a physical challenge to climb. We are claiming victory for the daughters who cannot yet claim their own freedom.

This generational effort is only a mirror of the strength that has been displayed to me over the years. Who I am and who I hope to be has been spoken into me by the words and prayers of my mother and grandmother. Their spiritual and emotional strength has been matched by their time and resources. Their winds, sometimes gentle and sometimes like a hurricane, have blessed and moved mountains in my life. I believe that the strength of four generations climbing has the power to move global mountains.

If you are a woman, you were made to blow strong like the wind. Your invisible strengths like wisdom and intuition have great power to impact many daughters. Your visible power such as time and resources has immeasurable power to change the lives of many hopeless and trapped daughters.  Your winds can blow for local and global change. Blow, gentle Spirit, blow in us so that even our very last breath is one that carries another daughter to her freedom.

This post was recently shared on Freedom Challenge’s blog.  I encourage you to learn more about human trafficking and The Freedom Challenge.  You just may find yourself climbing for another woman’s freedom.