It’s Already Paid For

Not too long ago, the Femmefuel writers dedicated the month of July to the Body-Mind-Spirit Connection. Two years later, Bindu, JMathis and I are in completely different places. Literally and figuratively. Bindu is a published author seeing the first fruits of her creativity and obedience to God’s call on her life. JMathis has moved many miles away from South Florida pushing herself to the next level in her career. And, me, as I look back at all of the topics the three of us have blogged and lived over the past few years, I praise God that He let us be ourselves in an honest way that, ultimately, helped us grow. And, you reader-friends, I am sure you have sprouted seeds that have become hearty and strong.

I like the idea of thinking back in the month of July and to the Body-Mind-Spirit Connection. There is no greater challenge for women than this connection. It is the connection of these three parts that keep us healthy, vibrant and serving Him in strength. I believe that when we are seeking Him to stay connected, that balance that we all seek is possible. In fact, I would go as far as to say that when I seek Him to keep connected in the way of Body-Mind-Spirit, He is more effectively able to work out my daily details. And, the more I am in sync with Him for my daily details, the more I am able to be a fruitful role in the workings of His larger plan for humankind.

These thoughts come to me out of my recent challenges of working through more stress than I have ever had to bear. Going through this season has pushed me to my mental capacity. I am learning how to give God the bill for my groceries. My grocery bags are so heavy. He is watching me obediently carrying the bags. He says, “Give me the bill for that.” “I will check you out of the grocery line and will cover the cost.” In His sweet, Fatherly way, He says, “Just keep walking with the bags, my son already paid the bill.” In part, I am learning that there are just some things that I was not intended to do, and for those things I am incapable of, He doesn’t just have them covered, He already paid the bill.

I want to share with you an exerpt from my morning devotion. “If you don’t know the plan God has for you, ask Him to show you. Tell Him that you are ready to carry out all that He has for you to do . . . You are an important part of His overall plan in this world. So go ahead. Walk in that plan.” Wonderfully Made (Barbour Publishing). I like that call to action because God has a lot for you to do that will bring you great joy and fullfillment and Him great glory. There is no more empty place to be that out of whack with His plan for you and disconnected in the ways He planned for you to be connected. I am encouraging you to grab onto His strong arm, lean into His ever listening ear and ask Him some heartfelt questions. The gulf and wealth of what He has for us is wise and sweet and life changing. And, more than that, it is already paid for – – you only need to pick up a few grocery bags and walk.

Whole in His Holiness

Go to fullsize imageBy Bindu Adai-Mathew

Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Friend. Employee. Aren’t there times when you feel like there are so many pieces of yourself that you give away throughout the day that you feel as though you have nothing for yourself, much less God? Since becoming a wife and especially after becoming a mother, between work and my family, I often feel like I am being pulled, tugged, twisted, and yanked in so many directions…and while at times I have no idea which direction I’m headed, the only thing that seems clear is that I’m further and further from accomplishing my personal dreams and goals.

I recall the person I dreamed I would be by this age. Married. With Children. That part doesn’t seem surprising. But yet even after marriage, for several years, I didn’t recognize the person that stared back at me in the mirror. The medals and trophies that line up my parents’ living room, tokens of a bygone era of accomplishment, now lay tarnished amongst my current reality—the reality that the person who was once voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by her graduating class now seems anything but successful and accomplished. Often I felt I was no better than one of the statuettes I had won in my earlier days. Like them, I was tarnished. Stashed away in the corner. Forgotten. Stuck in the past. Old. Hollow.

Somewhere, somehow, I had gone missing…in my own life.

But as JMathis reminded us yesterday…we are “missing no longer.” Despite our pasts, our wrong mistakes, how we’ve been wronged, God knows us. He knows every hair on our head. He knows our pasts, and He knows our future.

Once I realized that no matter where I was…in a good place…in a bad place…all that mattered is that I get my focus back on God. It is while basking in His light that chases the shadows of lies away, that illuminates the truth that was there all along. When I focused on that rather than my own life and my own mistakes, doors that remained shut slowly began swinging open. Regret began melting in my heart, and I could once again start living my life, believing that I was right where I needed to be. I was right where God wanted me to be. Soon my “wrong” turns weren’t so wrong.

Even recently an open door now seems to be shutting. And while I waded in self-pity for a few days, I soon straightened my shoulders and began looking around for my next open door. For I know the truth.   God promises us blessings and a future.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.

Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Friend. Employee. Child of God. All these are fragments of me, but it is the latter than makes me truly whole. It’s the latter that allows God to fill in those gaping Holes, piecing everything together, making me Whole in His Holiness.

No Longer a “Missing Person”

By JMathis

I have a client who is a very successful architectural engineer. When she was just a baby, she and her twin sister were brutally raped by their father, to the point where their reproductive systems were savagely torn and mutilated beyond recognition.

True story.

Satan tried to steal parts of her body, hoping to gain access to the rest of her—her mind, her spirit. He had hoped that by breaking her body, he would eradicate all hopes that she would ever have of bearing children. With that, he would then have the opportunity to destroy her well-being and crush her spirit.

God had other plans for her missing parts.

God lovingly scooped her up, nurtured her and placed her into His cocoon, where she stayed until her healing was complete. He kept her within His embrace until her missing parts were restored.

Today, she has a loving husband who adores her beyond comprehension, two beautiful, adopted children who are bright, precocious and passionate about the Lord, along with a profitable business where she is highly respected by her clients and peers.

God has plans for your missing parts, too.

Just because you have missing parts, does not mean that you should place your identity as one among the “missing”:

I was molested.

I am an alcoholic.

I am anorexic.

I am infertile.

I am fat.

I am unemployed.

I am a failure.  

Isn’t it time to move out of the land of the “missing” and find your identity in the life-sustaining promises of Jesus? How long are you willing to be a missing person?

Revelation 21:5. “…Behold, I make all things new…”

2 Corinthians 5: 17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

If you have read these scriptures, or if you have ever heard the song Amazing Grace, you know that you have been found, my friend, and made new.

You’re not missing parts; you’re not a missing person.

Christ died so that you would be found.

You have been found.

So, rejoice.

You are missing no more.

“…He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Luke 4:18

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Missing Parts

By AbbyA

We pass through life with some missing parts.  Our life stories shed some light on what was missed along the way.  One of His greatest wonders is His care for missing parts.  He digs right inside our hearts and minds to the questions we ask only to ourselves.  He reaches into the hopes you secretly have.  To the dreams you don’t dare to share.  He reaches in, in such a way, that you and He acknowledge silently that there is a missing part.

But it doesn’t end there.  God is a God of delivering missing parts.  He sees them in you – – chips at your heart, dents in your smile, limps, broken arms and, well, missing parts.  And, instead of delivering the missing parts in UPS boxes to your home, He goes through far more trouble.  He spreads out His omniscience to the far ends of the earth.  He calls on His hands and His feet – – through cousins and colleagues, friend and foe, pastors and parents.  He hints at His delivery in many languages to be sure you understand.    He puts in motion innumerable “coincidences” to ensure that you are confident that the true recipient is you.  He takes His time so your heart is ready for receipt.  There is no end to what He will do to show His love to you.

When the missing part is delivered, you first have few words.  Your heart and mind can’t quite comprehend how someone as small as yourself, with so many missing parts, in a world of so many needy people, has been delivered – – in such a personal way.  While you receive with joy your missing parts, there is a present and lasting wonder at the care God took in delivering His love to you.  It is the overwhelming thought that the invisible God  – – who is holding the galaxies in His Hands  – – has set out to deeply communicate His love for you.

Your God spends past, present and future revealing Himself to you.  Like a huge domino display, the momentum of each of domino falls in His orchestrated direction.  Until the last domino falls into your lap.   All in the name of making His love personal to you.  In the name of proving that His love will not only deliver and but deliver missing parts.

Over Before it Began?

By JMathis

I learned over the weekend that another set of my friends is getting divorced. My third set of friends this year, and we’re only into July.

Well, this year is turning into quite a doozy, isn’t it?

The very weird and perplexing part about this particular relationship is that Brian feels completely blindsided by Dara’s actions. In Brian’s mind, Dara suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, made the big announcement that from this day forward, we’re over.

I talked to Dara about it, and in a way, Brian is not that far from the truth. Dara doesn’t want to try counseling and she doesn’t want to work it out. She just claims that the relationship is beyond repair and not worth fixing.

She’s just so final and resolute about it all, and honestly, I’m not really sure what to make of Dara’s stoic inflexibility about her decision.

She keeps giving me these very Hollywood answers: the relationship has run its course; we’re both moving in two different directions; we just grew apart, J.

From what I understand, we’re not dealing with issues of abuse, infidelity, neglect or constant fighting.

We’re just dealing with over.

Brian, on the other hand, feels like he was never even given a chance to make things right, and that Dara should have opened up much earlier, as to what she had been feeling over the years.

She never revealed to him that their relationship was in trouble. She never gave him a clue as to what was being bottled up inside of her for so long.

From what I can observe from my conversations with Dara, she evidently had all sorts of expectations for Brian—some sort of mental checklist of everything he should have been—and when these expectations didn’t come to fruition, she just decided to just walk away.

I know Brian and Dara are probably an extreme example, but sometimes, I do think God feels blindsided by us in the same way that Brian feels.

We have all of these expectations for God (give me, give me, give me), and yet, like Bindu said, we don’t even bother to really trust Him, get to know Him, or love Him with ALL of our strength.

We don’t spend time with Him everyday, we don’t seek Him out for His presence, and we don’t pick His brain about the little decisions or the big ones.

We expect Him to drive our mind-body-spirit connection, but yet we refuse to give Him the keys.

Instead, we just want, want, want. When we don’t receive, we don’t understand. When we don’t understand, we get frustrated. With frustration, comes blame, and a lifetime of resentful feelings that somehow God just didn’t come through for us.

And then, one day, we declare that it’s over with God. No heads-up, no warning, no explanation. Not even a Dear God letter.

We just walk away. Like Dara.

No one in a relationship needs to be treated with such a lack of respect. Especially God.

Before walking away, or before you start pointing the finger at God asking Him about all of the Why’s and the Why Nots of your life, ask yourself if you ever even made the effort to make your relationship with God truly work.

Did you ever really give it a fair shot? Did you ever really talk to Him beyond a few minutes each day? Did you ever spend time to read the book He wrote just for you? Did you ever love, cherish and trust Him with every fiber of your being? Even when your world is falling apart?

Or, do you just childishly declare that it’s over?

Over before it even had a chance to begin?

With All My Strength

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30

Last week in my blog, I quoted a similar scripture that was found in Matthew. But I found this verse in Mark a little more interesting because of the last four words in it…with all of your strength.

We are not only to love God with all three parts of our selves…but we are supposed to love him with everything we got. And I’m not talking theoretical love. In theory, who wouldn’t say they love God 100%? I’m talking practical, real day-to-day love. I’m talking spending time with God when you’re “too busy.” When you’d rather watch TV than read your Bible. Or would rather sleep in on Sunday then go to church and worship Him.

I think of last week. Last week started off good…great, in fact. I am five months into a new job that I felt was nothing less than an answer to prayer. Close to home, great pay, great co-workers, flexible boss. Wednesday morning, I even emailed a good friend who moved away just as I started my new job. I wanted to see how she was doing, but I also wanted to share how good God had been to me with this job.  But not less than six hours later, everything changed.

At 5 pm, I received an email from the company’s CEO announcing that our company is being bought out by our competitor, and their headquarters are located in Atlanta.  As I tried to hold on to my optimism that somehow my position would remain intact, our boss called a meeting to confirm that yes, the company would be undergoing a merger within two months, and while no discussions had been formally made regarding our jobs, he gravely advised us to start looking for new jobs.  Don’t wait for the new company to lay us all off, he said, glancing around the room and then sternly added, start working on your resumes.

To me, loving God=trusting God, and that isn’t always easy 100% of the time. It really does sometimes require all of our strength, doesn’t it?

Love the Lord with all my strength. But why, Lord, why? Wasn’t this the job you wanted me at? If it wasn’t, why did it fall together so well? Why did it feel so riiight?

Love the Lord with all my strength. Why me, Lord, why me? Why do these things happen to me? Why would you give me this job, only to yank it away from me like this?

Love the Lord with all my strength. But what’s going to happen, Lord? You know I need this job. You know we need my insurance. I have a family to take care of, Lord.

Yes, that is what I spent doing the last four days. Loving the Lord with all my strength. Trusting that He knew what was best, even if it didn’t make sense to me. Trusting that there was something even better. I had to go back to the basics and cling to what I knew to be true.

Matthew 6:31-32
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

Matthew 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Luke 12:7
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything; you may have an abundance for every good deed.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:34
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This month we’ve delved, dissected, and discussed the body, mind, and soul connection to God and how it affects our relationship with Him. No matter how strong your faith is, difficult times will come, and they will test what you know. When those times come, go back to the scriptures. Feed on them and let them remind you of the goodness of God. Let them remind you of His promise to take care of you. Connect back to Him with everything you got: body, mind, and soul.

Jesus Girl v. The ‘Rest of Me’ Girl

By JMathis

I want to smell, see, touch, taste and hear the Holy Spirit in the everyday. I want to experience Christ authentically, richly and truly, and move beyond any and all of my childhood notions of “canned spirituality”.

I no longer want to compartmentalize my life into Jesus Girl v. The ‘Rest of Me’ Girl.

Instead, I want the dreams in my heart to be intertwined and inseparable from God’s vision and blueprint for my life.

As I smell cafecitos and fresh pastelitos waft through the hearth of my local Cuban bakery, I want that aroma to remind me that the scent of my life needs to change. That the aura and demeanor I project everyday is no longer something that is bitter, jaded and frustrated, but instead, a fragrance that is soothing, holy and pleasing to the Lord.

As I see how far the sand runs along to the left and right of me at the beach, and how the ocean knows no boundary or end, I want the expanse of the shoreline to reveal the endlessness and vastness of God’s love for me. I want to see how there is no limit to His mercy and forgiveness, despite my daily, minute-by-minute screw-ups and pettiness.

As I touch my daughter’s cheek as she sleeps, I want to imagine God touching my cheek as I sleep, as He prays blessings and speaks words of purpose and healing over my life. I want to take delight in my Father in the same way He delights in me—as His child worthy of love, redemption and forgiveness.

As I taste fresh, juicy strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, exploding on my tongue with the flavors and boldness of summer, I want to be thankful that God has created so much in nature to help heal and restore the damage I have done to my physical body over the years. I want to be the walking, tangible embodiment of the sweet-tasting fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

As I hear the hustle and bustle of the city, I want to listen for the stillness of the Holy Spirit, guiding me through the storms and insanity of my day. When the client is yelling, the car horns are angrily honking, and the baby’s cries are deafening, I just want to seek solitude in the voice of the Spirit, as He leads me back to a place of safety and peace.

I want my senses to be awakened with mad, passionate love for my Savior. I am ready to stop seeing Him as a faceless Sunday morning deity that has no relevance in my day-to-day.

I know there is probably a long, grueling road ahead of me in making this decision, with mountains of personal doubt, setbacks, failures and “I Told You So’s,” but I’m ready to say goodbye to The ‘Rest of Me’ Girl.

Are you?