Just Be Yourself

We are admonished and encouraged to be ourselves. Yet, a strange thing happens when we get involved in relationships.

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What was considered attractive, becomes unattractive. Where there were once praises, there are expletives. Those things which were adored, now are despised.

Why is that?

Suddenly, you are no longer able to be yourself, because being “yourself” is unacceptable.

You sit back and try to analyze where things went wrong and how you got to this point? Why you feel less than adequate? Where you don’t quite measure up.

Believe me, I know exactly where you are at and how you feel. You are not alone.

I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with you. You are fine just the way you are. Despite what anyone else around you says or thinks.

Think about it a minute…, what gives anyone the right to judge, criticize or put you down?

No one has the right to be allowed to make you feel like you are not good enough or don’t measure up. Who are they?

You shouldn’t have to feel stigmatized for being who you are, and who God created you to be.

You shouldn’t have to feel “less than” or “inadequate” based on someone else’s opinion of you.

No one reserves the right to put you down or make you feel like there is something wrong with you.

This is something I have been battling for years. I have been subjected to people wanting to change me.

I implore you to live your life. If someone doesn’t accept who you are, don’t deal with them. Life is too short to be wasting your precious time and energy trying to please others by becoming someone you are not.

God made you the way you are for a reason and if someone doesn’t resonate with who you are, you don’t need to be around them.

Just be yourself.

Is this something you struggle with? What are the ways in which you deal with it?

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One Reason Why Marriages Fail

There seems to be an epidemic with failed marriages. It’s not only happening in secular circles, but also in Christian ones too.

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I’m not a marriage expert. I only share things based on my own personal observation and experience.

This famous expression holds true, Know Thyself.

One of the reasons why marriages fail is because people rush, instead of taking their time and getting to know themselves first.

If you don’t know who you are, how can you possibly select the right person to spend the rest of your life with?

We bought into the lie Hollywood sold us, falling for an illusion or fantasy of romance and marriage.

We want to be swept off our feet and saved by another person. So, we convince ourselves that when we finally meet someone, we will be happy and fulfilled.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Only God can save us, not a person. People can’t give us what we don’t already have inside.

We are in such a rush to hook up with someone and get married that we wind up marrying the wrong person.

I understand that we don’t want to be alone. However, in our desperation, we rush and don’t take the time to analyze whether or not the person is right for us.

Feelings can be deceiving. Those warm and fuzzy feelings pass like gas.

God admonishes us to be patient and exercise wisdom in all things. Being desperate or rushing into anything, especially a marriage, is a huge mistake.

When we get caught up or obsessed in finding a partner, instead of learning who we are and what we want first, we can end up with the wrong person.

Rush, rush, rush… Hurry, hurry, hurry… leads to misery.

So many people are falling in and out of love these days, it’s mind boggling. However, I am realizing why that is, and it’s because people don’t know who they are.

When you don’t know who you are and what you want, your ability to choose the right person is hindered.

People don’t want to do the preliminary work necessary to be with someone or become the right person for their future partner.

We think “love” if the only thing we need. Don’t get me wrong, love is important. However, it’s not everything. There are other factors contingent upon sustaining a long term, healthy and fulfilling marriage.

It all comes down to knowing yourself. If you know and love yourself first, then you have a better chance of finding the right person to marry and not end up disappointed, disillusioned and ultimately, divorced.

Trust me, I’ve been at this for a while now. Do yourself a favor and readjust your focus. Instead of obsessing on marriage, get to know who you are and what you want first. You will save yourself a lot of grief, and hurt in the long run.

Have you taken the time necessary to get to know yourself or heal from your past, instead of focusing on finding someone and getting married?

 

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Everyone Deserves A Second Chance

Last week I was on vacation. We were able to get away for a few days, which was nice.

What I found interesting was that by changing my environment and routine, I was better able to connect with my creative side.

I still woke up early for writing practice and as I wrote, ideas flooded my consciousness. I realized I need to do this sort of thing on a regular basis. I need to unplug and change my environment to be able to get in touch with myself; to think, write and create.

One of the things that came to mind on my vacation was the concept of second chances.

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I believe people deserve second chances. Yes, even those who may have done atrocities.

Look at Paul in the Bible, before Jesus appeared to him, he was killing His followers.

So what makes Paul different than anyone else in God’s eyes?

Humans are the only ones who seem to put limits on God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

We are the harshest critics and judge of others.

Why do Christians believe they can get on their high horse and be self righteous of others they “deem” as unforgivable?

Christians forget where they came from. They get cleaned up and then they begin noticing the dirt on others. All the while oblivious to how dirty they were before God pulled them out of the mire.

Excuse me, but what right do we have to judge those who are in prison for instance?

As Christians, we shouldn’t be uttering under our breaths how they deserve everything they get or how they must of done something bad to be where they are in the first place.

We mock, we criticize and we judge. We act as if we are better, and have attained some high moral standard which allows us the right to point our fingers at others.

We read our bibles, pray, attend church and tithe, yet, we are not Christ like in the least.

We preach a good game, and mastered Christianese. However, we are so far from the heart of God and loving the outcasts of society.

We look down at and snub the homeless, the drug addicts, alcoholics and prostitutes. We look at those who are in prison like they’re lower than animals.

This grieves me. I see Christians all around me convinced they are living out the Bible. Meanwhile they can’t even control their tongues as they pour out their unrestrained and thoughtless criticism on others around them.

Their attitudes are far from what it means to love others as Christ does.

And we wonder why there are so many Christian marriages failing today.

This sums up the equation: Christians + Church = Hypocrites.

I want to assure my readers that I love Jesus. However, I don’t love religion or judgmental and religious people.

My vision of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is much greater than the limited and legalistic Christians who I see a lot of nowadays. I have no interest in mixing with them. I’ll pray for them, but I’m not playing religion. I’m also done pretending, it’s not for me. I’d rather walk this walk alone than be fake or phony.

I’m not the type to preach at people or tell people what I think they should or shouldn’t be doing. That’s not me. I will be the first to admit I have not arrived and am a work in progress. I refuse to walk around high and mighty, like I have my stuff together and have all the answers, because I don’t.

Nor will I look down my nose at anyone, not those selling their bodies, not homosexuals, not criminals, not murderers, not drug addicts or drug dealers, or alcoholics.

God loves everyone. He loves the sinner, but hates the sin. And guess what? We are all sinners, even those who have been saved by grace. We still contend with a sin nature, even after we get saved.

What I’m saying is there is no one better than the next guy. We are all the same in God’s eyes.

I know it’s a hard pill for some Christians to swallow, but it’s the truth. The reason why some have a hard time grasping this truth is because they feel the need to be superior or important.

God loves the humble and lowly.

Yes, I love Jesus, because Jesus is the only one who loves us in a way, no human is able to emulate. His love, compassion and forgiveness is all encompassing and far from our limited reach.

We want to put Jesus in a box and project what we think His love should be. All we’ve managed to accomplish is forming and following a god of our own warped understanding.

God is greater than anything we can come up with. Our vision is clouded to see Him as He truly is.

Jesus is loving and invites everyone, especially the outcasts and rejects of society.

He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Mahatma Gandhi said it best — ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’  Truer words were never spoken.

Do you believe everyone deserves a second chance?

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Precipice Of The Impossible

I am standing on a precipice of the impossible.

by Rafaelll90 in Manipulations

On the edge, ready to free fall into the unknown.

If you have been following my posts recently, you will know that I’ve been involved in advocating for someone who has been wrongfully convicted. I’m trying to help as best I can, but I am continually reminded of my own limitations.

This is probably the biggest test of faith I have ever experienced. This situation is like climbing the Mt. Everest. It seems impossible!

Having faith and believing God has taken on a whole other meaning.

As doubt invades my consciousness like a cancer and a war wages in my heart, I feel impotent to make a difference.

I don’t have money, I don’t have connections, I don’t have prestige.

However, I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to help bring awareness or attention to a gross injustice.

Patience is not one of my virtues. I want everything yesterday. This type of thinking comes with living and working in a fast paced city. A city where everything is dependent upon results.

Day in and day out, I’m not seeing any results. It’s beyond discouraging.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I want to throw in the towel and give up. But then I think, what if tomorrow is the day things change?

I am an ordinary servant dependent upon an extraordinary God, who has the ability to change the impossible to possible in an instant.

I would love nothing more than to see God move on this man’s behalf.

But, what I’m learning the hard way is that it’s not going to happen when I want it to. It will happen in His timing, not mine.

I am not in control, He is. I don’t call the shots, He does.

I am a co-laborer with God. (I Corinthians 3:9)  I just need to do my part and leave the rest to Him.

I’m desperate to prove this man’s innocence and have other’s see what I see. However, only God has the power to move on man’s hearts, open blind eyes and deaf ears.

It is “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)

As I stand on a precipice of the impossible, I may not see the results, but God sees everything. He knows this man is innocent better than I do and in His perfect timing, justice will prevail.

It’s just a matter of time. When it does happen, may the Lord receive all the glory, honor and praise.

Have you ever faced something that was bigger than you? A situation that seemed impossible? Did God come through for you?

 

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Racism, Injustice and Innocence

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a thing about injustice. Especially racial injustice.

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I am against racism, prejudice, inequality and injustice that black and hispanics are faced with everyday.

White people turn away and pretend it doesn’t exist, but it does. You would think in 2014 we would be past all this. But unfortunately, racial injustice is alive and well.

I haven’t been blogging as I’ve been busy and advocating for a black man who was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit. He’s sentenced for life without parole and is in SHU (Special Housing Unit, which is just a fancy word for solitary confinement).

This man is one of many who are kept in a 9 by 12 cell, (which is a little larger than your average bathroom or elevator), for 22 hours a day. He is allowed two hours of recreation daily, which he takes advantage of, rain or shine.

It pains me to know he and many others are innocent and paying for crimes they didn’t commit.

Our politicians, judges, district attorney’s, and law enforcement are all in it together to continue incarcerating the poor, blacks and hispanics. So long as they get their promotions and money. Everything is motivated by ambition and greed.

There are many in prison right now who should have been released a long time ago, but because they are trapped in a backwards and draconian system called Rockefeller drug laws, they remain incarcerated.

The average statistics show the racial disparity that exists in prisons across America. They seem to find any excuse to put a black or latino man behind bars.

Inmates across America are treated like animals, instead of human beings. Our flawed justice system is more focussed on penalization, than rehabilitation. And people wonder why the rate of recidivism is so high. There is nothing in place to help rehabilitate those who are incarcerated or programs offered when they are released.

How are things suppose to improve if there is nothing implemented for change to take place? They think they can turn a blind eye at the problem that exists. They continue the vicious cycle of putting someone’s father, son, uncle, brother, and pregnant mother behind bars. They have deluded themselves into thinking things will improve on their own accord.

The system is set up for failure.

Our society has forgotten those in prison. The mentality is “lock them up and throw away the key”. Not only by society, but by family and friends too.

How can friends and family disassociate themselves from their loved ones and act as if they don’t exist or died? Those in prison are stripped of everything, and are no longer considered human.

What happened to redemption and second chances?

Can you imagine those sitting on death row right now waiting for their execution or serving life sentences who are innocent? Imagine these same people not having the financial means to afford proper legal representation to help prove their innocence? Even when they reach out to The Innocence Project, they get no response and are ignored. What hope do they have of ever getting help?

Furthermore, how many innocent people were executed or rotting in prison?

It’s a sad situation and those who are black or hispanic are victims in this flawed and corrupt system. They are subjected to penalization and are at the mercy of “whatever”, if they don’t have the money to hire a good lawyer to help them.

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s impossible to get a lawyer willing to help. They will not get involved unless they are paid a lot of money. There is no such thing as pro bono anymore.

So, what chance do they have in a system designed to keep them there? Once they exhaust all their funds, they are stuck and unable to get out of the vicious cycle.

I agree with Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

Something needs to be done to set change in motion. Those who are innocent, need access to proper legal representation, even if they don’t have the money. There needs to be more help for organizations such as The Innocence Project. There are solutions, but our government and politicians are not interested, they are only fixated on their own interests, instead of advocating for change.

How do you think we can mobilize change for those stuck in our broken justice and prison system? How can those in prison get the help they need? Please share your comments below.

 

 

 

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Web of Lies

We want life to be predictable. All nice, neat and tidy. Not messy.

We want to believe life is fair, justice prevails and everything happens for reason.

We strive to build our worlds, our little kingdoms here on earth, only to find ourselves spinning a web of lies.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

We want everything to be black or white. Not gray. Where everything makes sense.

What if I told you life is messy? Would you believe me?

We grope around like someone finding their way in the dark. We’re reluctant to face our own mortality because it’s frightening.

Toiling for meaning, we spin our web, creating pseudo realities, convinced we control our destinies.

Weaving idyllic fantasies. Subtle urges vying for our attention. Secret longings tugging and desires dancing upon hearts.

Warm breezes caress our faces like a gentle hand, whispering sweet nothings in our ears of what once was.

Enticed, seduced, we plunge further into an abyss, a quick sand of hopelessness.

We are like that butterfly caught in a spider’s web, fighting to be set free.

 

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God’s Pen

This morning I had a dream. I was in that in between state, when I heard these words, “You are God’s pen.”

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You would think that at 47, I would have figured out my calling or purpose in life.

Here I am 25 years later attending college at night to pursue my undergraduate degree. I’m working long hours, and writing a novel too. I’m enduring the torturous process of taking remedial math, algebra classes and writing fiction. Yet, when it comes to knowing my major or calling is, I haven’t a clue.

This week I was brainstorming with some colleagues, and one said I should continue writing. The other said perhaps I can study forensic psychology or become a detective. She mentioned I like to research, which is true. I can spend hours researching topics of interest.

I was also thinking about becoming a lawyer, so I could help those who are facing injustice. But at the rate I’m going, I would be over 60 by the time I finish.

This morning I heard, “You are God’s pen.” I have been praying and asking God for guidance and direction. Maybe this is His answer.

But how could I possibly help people by writing and not “doing” something to make a difference?

I love to see God move in people’s lives. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to co-labor with God and see justice prevail. My passion is communicating, bringing awareness and advocating change for those facing injustice.

You see friends, I’m not into doing anything if there isn’t a higher purpose for someone to benefit from. Most writers write because they are satisfied with just writing as an art form. Don’t get me wrong, I love art. But, there is something deeper that’s propelling me. The purpose of writing for me has to be more than just making art, or for entertainment.

I am half way through my life. I don’t feel like I have much time left to be putzing around. I pray God makes it clear as to what He wants me to do and shows me the way.

Do you think writing can make a difference and change things? In what ways? Please explain in the comment section below.

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Be A Voice For Change

Little did I know, writing a novel would have such an impact on me.

It all began with an idea. An idea which lead me to research on mass incarceration and correspond with prison inmates.

Courtesy of Creative Commons ~ Torture ~ Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi

Never realizing, it would lead me to want to become an activist and lobby for change in our prison system.

In my research and corresponding with inmates, I have come to learn about the gross injustice that exists in their world.

Some would say, if not most, “You do the crime, you do the time.” This is true, however, God doesn’t punish us to the degree that humans do.

Yes, I am aware there are consequences to our choices. However, I also know throwing people in prison to rot and die isn’t exactly helping them or solving the issue at hand.

Currently, funding has been cut to such a degree that there is a scarcity of rehabilitation programs being offered within our prison system. As a matter of fact, most will say, people coming out of prison are far worse than when they went in. Obviously, something is wrong with this picture.

Not only that, our government is making an exorbitant amount of money off of those who they incarcerate.

There is a large number of mentally ill people in prison, who are also in solitary confinement and not receiving the help or proper medication they require to get better.

As it stands, the prison system is broken and needs to be fixed.

The only way this is going to happen is if we advocate for it. It is not going to magically change on its own.

I don’t believe you have to have a family member who is or was in prison to care or have compassion. Personally, I have not experienced a parent, family member or friend who is or was incarcerated when I was growing up. I have never stepped foot inside a prison my entire life, yet I do care, have compassion and want to make a difference.

I feel compelled to try and do something. I just can’t stand by and watch, knowing all that I know and not do anything about it. I have a responsibility to get the word out, and to be about the change, not just talk or write about it.

Which is why I will be joining hundreds of people on May 5th to lobby against solitary confinement in Albany. I want to be a voice for the voiceless and advocate for change in our laws to help stop the torture of solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement is torture. Trust me, prison is bad enough than to add the isolation and poor conditions of solitary confinement on a human being. We treat our animals better in this country than we do humans. This is a sad testament to the state of affairs and it needs to change.

If you are interested in joining us on May 5th, please click here for the details and sign up.

Has writing brought awareness on a particular cause in your life? If so, please share in the comment section below.

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The Making Of A Prophet by Jennifer LeClaire

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Chosen Books (February 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800795628
ISBN-13: 978-0800795627
Price: $12.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Now what?

In this book, leading prophetic voice Jennifer LeClaire guides readers along the journey of a prophet– from the initial call all the way through to maturity.

This process is anything but easy. But LeClaire offers honest, accessible counsel to help you move into your prophetic call. Her spiritual insights will help you overcome the fear of man, identify and eliminate wrong motives and, above all, pursue intimacy with God.

Many prophets are called . . . but not everyone endures the making process; to his or her prophetic destiny.

God is looking for people to entrust with the secrets of His heart.

Embrace the journey toward your call with this comprehensive, practical guide, and experience the awesome process of being formed into a mouthpiece for the God of the universe.

Review

I have read many books on this topic and The Making of a Prophet was the best I’ve read thus far.

When I first selected this book to review, I was on the fence about it. Since the other books I read were a disappointment. This book was different than all the other books I’ve read on this subject.

The Making of a Prophet is a practical and biblical guide to what it truly is to be used of God as a prophet and also, the great responsibility and cost that is associated with this office.

LeClaire does not sugar coat anything. She tells it like it is. She derives and shares from her own personal experiences; the mistakes as well as the victories.

Her writing style is honest, down to earth and real which I find refreshing in this day and age.

Especially with so many today in the prophetic ministry, who call themselves “prophets” and go around using, abusing and exploiting their so-called gift for their own personal gain, status or recognition.

If you want to read a sound and no nonsense book on this subject, I highly recommend you read, The Making of a Prophet.*

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Jennifer LeClaire is a prophetic voice and teacher with a growing media ministry. She directs IHOP-Fort Lauderdale and serves as news editor of Charisma magazine. In addition, she writes one of Charisma‘s most popular prophetic columns, “The Plumb Line,” and frequently contributes to Charisma‘s Prophetic Insight newsletter. Her media ministry includes her website, 40,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a growing newsletter list. She lives in south Florida. Learn more at www.jenniferleclaire.org.

 

 

 

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Jesus Isn’t A Racist or A Murderer

A few weeks ago, I read this letter by Ray Jasper who was executed last Wednesday night in Texas.

Ray Jasper

Ray Jasper was 18 years old when he murdered David Alejandro.

David Alejandro

At the age of 33, David Alejandro was a lead singer of a Christian band besides running his own recording studio. Before Ray Jasper, an aspiring rapper, killed him.

Jasper had previous sessions in Alejandro’s recording studio prior to the attack. He devised a plan with two others to steal Alejandro’s studio equipment.

I’m not sure what possessed Jasper to make a tragic mistake in taking the life of someone he considered one of the nicest people he ever met.

But what I do know is that his final letter evidenced a changed man prior to his execution last Wednesday night.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, which is why I consider the death penalty unethical. I know there are Christians who don’t agree with me.

They quote bible verses in the Old Testament as their justification and reason for why they believe capital punishment is allowed by God. However, when I look at the New Testament, the new covenant, Jesus didn’t go around killing anyone.

Saul (before his name was changed to Paul) persecuted and killed Christians. If Jesus was in favor of the death penalty, he would have killed Paul on the road to Damascus. Yet, Jesus didn’t kill him, He showed him mercy, grace, love and forgiveness.

There are thirty-two states in the USA supporting the death penalty. Meanwhile, there are many on death row (or serving life sentences in solitary confinement) who are innocent.

Currently, there is a series on CNN called Death Row Stories, which is revealing a few of the many cases of those who were on death row and are now exonerated.

I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t want to be those who are killing people by lethal injection, and have innocent blood on my hands the day I see Jesus.

In my humble opinion, the prison system is modern day slavery and the death penalty is a modern day genocide, where whites still lynch blacks by lethal injection.

Yes, I’m white and writing this. I refuse to pretend or turn a blind eye on the reality of racism in this country.

Jesus isn’t a racist, so therefore, neither am I.

As Christians, I believe we shouldn’t be in agreement or in favor of the death penalty. My heart grieves for all those who are innocent and sitting on death row or serving life sentences in solitary confinement.

Christians need to take a stand for change and be a voice for the voiceless. The death penalty is antiquated, inhumane, unethical, barbaric, and needs to be abolished.

Human beings do not have a right to dictate who lives and who dies; only God reserves that right.

What are some of the ways which we can advocate to abolish the death penalty?

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My Writing Journey

I apologize for not blogging in awhile. One day runs into the next and before you know it, a month has passed.

I need to get better about blogging at least once a week. I have been writing a lot, just not blogging.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned I’m working on a novel.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

It all began last October when I decided to participate in NanoWriMo without ever writing a piece of fiction in my life. I know it sounds crazy. It was hard, but I felt the most alive.

I am glad I pushed through the fear and took the dive, because I’ve discovered I enjoy writing fiction.

Thus, my focus has been more on my novel and less on blogging.

I began this blog a couple of years ago with the focus on book reviews. I still enjoy writing book reviews, however, recently my reading has been exclusive to research.

I’m learning a great deal about the discipline and art of fiction writing. It’s been an interesting journey to say the least.

I just wanted to take the time to update you, since I didn’t want any of you to think I fell off the map.

There has been so much on my heart I’ve wanted to share. But each time I tried, I would choke up and not write anything at all.

For me, good writing is like eating a gourmet meal and not fast food. I want to be able to write something of substance and quality; and not regurgitate the same ole, same ole.

I want to thank all of you for hanging in there with me as I find my way on this writing journey.

Do you struggle to write when your heart and mind are full? What do you do to push past it?

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