Overcoming Shame to Inspire Hope

Today I saw a beautiful illustration of hope on Instagram. It was a picture of a root deep below the dirt.  The caption on that picture said, “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.”  I love that.  That’s called hope.  It’s the light at the end of the tunnel that tells you that you can make it and better days are coming.  That’s what I aspire to represent for others.  I want people to see me, hear my story and be inspired by hope.

I learned an important lesson about giving hope.  It starts with overcoming shame.  We don’t go through storms and make it to the other side so we can hide the past.  We aren’t supposed to bury our struggles and challenges.  I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t have a story.  There’s something lurking in everyone’s closet that is a part of their past.  If you don’t get healed from it, that thing will continue to lurk around and you will never be able to inspire hope in others.  I personally cannot and will not be ashamed of where I have come from, where I am, or where I’m going.  Walking in shame says that I don’t appreciate what God has done for me and keeps me from acknowledging my progress.  On top of that shame is like being shackled and bound.  It’s oppression.  It’s also pride and my bible says that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Like I said I want to be the person that people look to for hope and inspiration.  Don’t look at my life and think about perfection. See the struggles and the journey that has brought me to where I am today, then you can look at your own life and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you too can make it.  You are bigger than your circumstances and trials in life do not have to define you. You can be victorious while walking through the storm and triumphant when you choose not to be consumed by your issues.

I haven’t always been this passionate about overcoming shame.  At the end of 2011 I found out that my husband was “dealing” (selling).  Yes.  I said it.  At the end of 2012, he went to jail to serve a four year sentence.  I was devastated.  Here I am this Christian woman known for loving Jesus and my husband is a wannabe thug.  It’s okay. You can laugh.  I was a stay at home with three kids (one with autism) and I had never lived on my own before.  I cried out to God and screamed and hollered.  I had to move into a new house without the help of my husband.  I have been raising our three children since 2012 by myself.

At first I wanted to die.  Seriously, I just wanted to die. I couldn’t believe that something like this was happening to me.  Not me!  Yes me.  I even stopped going to church for almost a year.  It was too embarrassing.  I was so worried about what religious folks and naysayers would say about me that I couldn’t bring myself to go and be ministered to.  Crazy huh?

Let me tell you what I learned during that time.  First of all, I have the best family in the world. I love them.  They love me.  Nuff said.  They rallied around me and my sister, God bless her and her husband, they have come to my rescue so many times I lost count.  This journey was as much about my husband’s rehabilitation as it was about mine.  For years I have learned to rely on others. The thought of standing on my own two feet was terrifying.  I am the prime example of the damsel in distress who awaits her knight in shining armor. I had to decide that I was either going to be crushed by this trial or I was going to grow stronger.  Like I’ve said before, I have always had a desire to motivate and encourage others so I had to make a decision that I was NOT going to allow this situation to take over. I am not someone else’s mistakes. I am not a damsel in distress. I am not weak.  I am an overcomer.  I am a warrior and I am not alone.

I started reading the Bible after I picked myself up off of the floor.  “He will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).  I eventually went back to church and even got involved in the infant’s ministry and I served as a greeter/usher a few times.  I had to move beyond self.  It was hard.  I stuffed tears back into my eyes many times.  (You know how you look all the way up so the tears roll back?)

Let’s cut to the end shall we? I went back to school with a determination like never before.  I worked and really learned what life is like as a single parent.  It aint’ easy, but I survived.  I learned to pay bills…on time.  I learned to take out that nasty trash…on time.  I learned to be thankful for every blessing that I have.  I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got up.  I graduated from Regent University on May 9, 2015.  I had an amazing teacher that talked me into writing this blog.

Guess what else?  My marriage is the most surprising part of the whole story in my opinion.  We didn’t fall apart.  Nope. Even though our union seems impossible, I learned that nothing is impossible with God.  He keeps showing me this over and over again.  It’s refreshing each time I relearn the lesson.  We are still a work in progress. I don’t want to take away from his testimony because he can’t wait to get out and share it so I won’t go too much further on that topic.  I will end with this.  It ain’t easy, but I survived and I’m doing well.  I have a smile on my face and I’m happy.  I haven’t been able to say that in a long time.  I’m happy.  Feels good to say and to type.  Guess what?  You can make it too!  Don’t let the naysayers and religious folks keep you from walking in victory.  Hold your head up.  You are an overcomer who triumphs not because you’re perfect, but because you don’t quit.  Don’t roll over.  So long as you have breath in your lungs you keep fighting and keep believing.  “He will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).  Be inspired!  #loveshopeheals

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What Are You Feeding Your Spirit?

Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to the ways of the world but instead we should be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.”

Every single day we are bombarded with the things of the world.  We are bombarded with images on televisions and messages in the media that contradict the word of God.  We hear about horrible things happening all around us that cause us to grieve.  It’s so easy to get trapped in the sorrow and hopelessness of the world.

If we allow this “stuff” to outweigh the word of truth then life will seem too hard to bear.  The things that we hear and see settle in our spirits and if we don’t have something down there to combat the world’s tainted view of life we will eventually begin to conform.  Our lives will seem empty and our hearts will feel a void.  We’ll struggle with blurring lines of right and wrong and eventually “our truth” won’t be far from the “world’s truth.”  We become like an old instrument that is out of tune.  Our spirits aren’t strong and vibrant anymore and the weight of life will beat us down.

Oh to be full of the life of Christ!  It doesn’t come because we “will” for it to exist in our lives.  Since we know that we are constantly besieged with the world’s views we have to intentionally fill our spirits with the word of truth.  God’s word is our two edged sword and it is strong enough to combat the fiery darts of the enemy.

When feelings of loneliness arise just remember:

“…he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8

When you feel ugly or inadequate remember:

“Thank you for making me wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14 NLT

When you feel defeated and burned out remember:

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29 NLT

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139:14 The Message

What are you feeding your spirit today?

Dreams and Storms

Sometimes God gives us dreams in order to give us hope.  It doesn’t mean that the dream will be fulfilled tomorrow.  It means that He knows the struggles that we will face but He also knows the victory that is on the other side if we can just stay focused on our goal.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future.”  God gave that word to His people after they had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon.  He told the people to “pray, live and be fruitful” (Jer.29).

Remember Joseph?  Joseph was given a dream that his brothers would one day bow down to him.  He was so excited about the dream that he couldn’t stop talking about it.  Before that dream was fulfilled he was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused, thrown into jail, and he even watched the dreams of others being fulfilled.  When he finally landed in a position of power and authority he had been taken through the fire.  He had developed all of the characteristics of a good leader.  He learned to be patient. Waiting on God tends to have that effect.  Joseph became a humble man as a result of his storms and when the time was right he served as the king’s right hand man. “Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities” (Luke 12:48 The Message).

You want to know why God tells us that He knows the plans he has for us?  It’s a reminder to us that He has not forgotten.  When life hits hard it is easy to feel like He’s pulled an Elvis and left the building but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Sometimes in order to get to the promise and truly appreciate what He has in store for us we need circumstances to shake us up a little.  Those trials build character.  Does God make bad things happen to us?  Absolutely not!  God is a good God.  Somebody sing, “Yes He is!”  Does He allow things to happen?  Yes He does.  It’s not to make us crumble and fall apart and it’s not for us to crash and burn.  During those times of brokenness we have to trust in His plan even more.  Only God can take the broken pieces and transform them into beauty.  He has plans for you, so hold on to your dreams!

In brokenness Lord, bring me to my knees.

Give me a song to sing, from a heart that grieves.

In brokenness Lord, create a better me

a humble me, a disciplined me.

In brokenness Lord, make me something new

something beautiful that glorifies you.

You.Are.Free!

freedom

Ripped apart and torn to shreds

she bows her head and goes to bed

Listless life with nothing more

she turns herself into a whore

Her body’s beauty he stamps out

And when she looks at him he shouts:

“Worthless girl so full of shame

You’re the one who is to blame.”

He smacks and beats her to a pulp

until she loses all her hope

She lives in fear and misery

for fear that she cannot be free

Empty life and empty soul

It’s not enough, he wants more

She bares it all in hopes that he

will someday see who she can be

But nothing satisfies this pain

All for loss and none for gain

Shameful girl lift up your head

Alas my friend you are NOT dead

There is one who sees what you can’t believe.

One whose pain was for your gain

One who went to Calvary

to break the chains and set you free

So remove your woeful frock of shame

and take up victory as your name.

You.Are.Free!

–Cheylly Purch

Let’s Talk About Fear!

Healing words of Faith and Hope

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.”  It’s living behind a mask that veils who you are.  Moments of fear are like panic attacks that completely consume you.  You step outside of yourself and explode causing you to react in a ridiculous manner.  Sometimes you sink further into yourself and implode as you cower, hunker down and try your best to prepare for danger, pain or harm.  You feel compelled to go against what you believe to be right in hopes to prevent that thing from happening.  You use words that you probably don’t mean.  You run.  You hide.  You cry.  The longer you linger in said fear the more you begin to chip away at that which makes you who you are.

Ah, but wisdom….Proverbs 1:7 says that, “The fear of the Lord is the…

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