“The Masquerade Ball”

A friend and I were recently discussing the fact that many of us were brought up with the teaching that you should avoid conflict, keep quiet and sweep things under the rug. That way of thinking has convinced many to believe that by ignoring problems they will simply go away. Simply stated, if you don’t talk about something, it will heal itself. Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth.

When you pretend that everything is well with you and internalize issues or problems, your body reacts to the stress of those unresolved issues. The stress shows itself through high blood pressure, rashes, ulcers, sleeplessness, tears, outbursts and other ailments.

Do you ever wonder why it is more acceptable or preferable to suffer in silence, rather than confront the problems, pressures and people who cause you pain or discomfort? It could be that we’ve gotten comfortable wearing   masks instead of making waves. There is a time and a place for everything and bad behavior shouldn’t be tolerated, especially at the risk of you being physically or emotionally harmed. Standing up and speaking your peace may not be comfortable, but it can be liberating.

True healing will begin when we are bold enough to remove our masks and let others see who we really are (pains and flaws) without worrying about what they will think. Your transparency may encourage someone else to remove their mask and begin their own journey toward healing.

Take action now: Meditate on James 5:16 – “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results”. (New Living Translation)

Embrace this truth: Bandaids don’t heal wounds. They only cover them.

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“Father’s Day Tribute”

My parents separated and divorced when I was 10 years old. Although my parents had plenty of loud disagreements, it wasn’t as common for parents to split up then as it is now. I now understand that having a home filled with peace and mutual respect between husbands and wives is vital to having a great marriage.

I can still remember how confused I was in the first few days after we left my dad. Although my mom separated from my dad for her own peace of mind, I was concerned about how our absence hurt my dad and how alone he must have felt without us. I cried many nights, hoping that the nightmare would end and that my parents would reconcile. That never happened and both of my parents eventually got married to other people. I guess that both my mom and dad learned from their failed marriage to one another, because both sets of parents will celebrate 40 years of marriage to their respective spouses.

One thing that stands out with me about my dad is that he never, ever missed a beat in his responsibilities when it came to supporting his children. He attended every concert, every track meet and every game that we participated in and he continued to do so even when we played sports or participated in programs as adults. He was in the stands or audience smiling proudly and cheering for us. My dad is close to 80 years old, but he is still my hero and his legacy of love and support will live on long after he’s gone.

I’d like to encourage men to keep a visible presence in your children’s lives. It doesn’t matter if you and your child’s mother don’t get along. Love your children more than you despise their mother. They need you.

Take action now: Meditate on Malachi 4:6 : He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.” (The Message Bible)

Embrace this truth: Being a father is not a part-time job. It requires full-time commitment — forever.

“Unlimited Mercy”

As I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize that all of the mistakes that I made when I was younger were crucial to shaping who I am today. My younger years can best be described as fast, furious and foolish.  I know now that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was, but I was too foolish to know that at the time. Just like young people today (and all the generations before me), I thought I knew everything.

On more than one occasion I found myself in situations that could have turned tragic quickly, but because of God’s grace I am still here. Mistakes can make or break you. It depends on whether you learn from your mistake and take steps in the right direction or if you allow your mistakes to define your future. Everyone is faced with choices every day. We can choose to do right or not. If we choose to do wrong, we have to be willing to deal with any consequences that will result.

Remember, nobody is perfect and we need to show others as much mercy as we expect to be shown to us when we stumble and miss the mark. We have to stop expecting others to measure up to the unrealistic standards that we set for them.

One thing I’ve learned is that we can’t be ashamed to share our testimony with others. I now boldly proclaim that, “yes, I have been there and done that, but look at me now”.  

Take action now: Meditate on Galatians 6:1 – “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (NIV).

Embrace this truth: Everybody has a past, but every believer has a future.

“Break Every Chain”

As I prepare to attend a women’s conference this coming weekend, I am impressed with the powerful theme: Break Every Chain. When I visualize what chains represent, several things come to mind. The first visual is of someone in bondage/someone who doesn’t have freedom, such as a prisoner. However, when I think about what broken chains represent, my heart rejoices because broken chains indicate that the FORMER captive or prisoner has been set free or has been released! He or she is able to run, shout, dance and declare, ‘I AM FREE’!

Bondage looks different for everybody. Maybe you are bound by bad habits, such as drugs, alcohol, gossip, promiscuity or cheating. Maybe you feel stuck or bound because you’re in an abusive or dead-end relationship. Maybe you are bound by feelings or thoughts of low self-esteem or you struggle with your worthiness and value. Maybe you’re bound by the limitations that you or others have uttered about you not being good enough or pretty enough. What you think about yourself and your abilities (or inabilities) will either propel you to greatness or cause you to get stuck in neutral and not move forward.

Realizing how powerful your thoughts are will be instrumental in your decision to take risks to make your dreams come true. Ask yourself what you want your life to look like and then set about to make it happen. You are free to make your life wonderful! Remember that all journeys begin by taking that first step.

Take action now: Meditate on Galatians 6:1 – “Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Embrace this truth: Free your mind and the rest will follow.