Guest blog by Carmille Akande.

Today I have a guest blog by Carmille Akande.

She has this on her blogsite:

This blog is about my journey in Christianity as I strive to follow the commands of Matthew 25. I want to love the “least of these”, just as my Father has loved me. This blog covers my own personal struggles, my encouragement for others in the struggle, and hopefully a challenge for others to join me and others as we strive to love as Jesus did.

This is what Camille posted on August 12, 2014. It really spoke to me. More than ever before I want to be that person. I want to be that place.

Suicide and Pain: What Are We Missing?

This morning I was prepared to write about being a sacred place where others could come for healing, encouragement and restoration. I had no idea Robin Williams committed suicide yesterday. I didn’t hear the news because all evening I was sitting with a friend who is going through one of the most difficult times in her life. I also rushed out the door this morning with two friends on my heart who were also going through a great deal of suffering. It was late morning before I found out Robin Williams passed away. Robin Williams, the great comedian? The one who warmed my heart in Patch Adams.The man who challenged me,through Patch Adams,not to just be a professional, but a professional who cared for people.

I’ve read a lot of post on Facebook about how we (those still living) never know what a person is going through on the inside. I’ve read that a person can be smiling on the outside, but hurting on the inside. While this is certainly true for some, I find many who are hurting tell us they are hurting. In their efforts to reach out, we often shut the door on them. Sure, the first time or two we listen and tell them we are going to pray for them, but then they become “needy.” I don’t know how many times Christians have warned me to stay away from a person because they are “needy” or “too clingy.” I remember one time thinking, “Why wouldn’t they be needy?” I thought this because we both (the commentor and I) knew the horrible situation our sister was in. I couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through. However, this person believed our sister in Christ was being too “needy.”

While I believe that we should never replace God by trying to be the Savior, I do believe we should be a place where those who are hurting can come. A sacred place. Our sisters and brothers (or anyone) should be able to come to us, when they are hurting. A place where they can come to lament, weep, be angry, vulnerable, and real. Our sisters and brothers (or anyone) should be able to come to us, when they are hurting.

I once heard someone say, “If you can’t be transparent in your church, you are in the wrong church.” Pain is real. Pain can sometimes feel unbearable. Pain can make you feel like you can’t go on another second. It happens to believers and nonbelievers alike. Yet, I hear many Christians criticizing those who are hurting by telling them to have more faith or telling them they should just get over it. Or maybe even worse, not say anything at all. They don’t even have time for them.

Relationships are hard. Discipleship is messy. Love takes sacrifice. But I believe, it is what Jesus has called for us to do! Jesus had compassion for others. He cared for those who were hurting. He spent time with people. One of my favorite healing stories in the bible is in Mark 1: 40-45. A leper, an outcast of society, came to Jesus for healing. I know because of his condition, no one had time for him. No one offered him a place of belonging. A place where he could feel loved and accepted. No one offered him a sacred place. But, when Jesus saw him, the bible tells us that He was moved with compassion. Jesus reached out and touched him! He was willing to heal him.

The people that we see everyday may not have leprosy, but they may have some type of pain. They may be going through a difficult time and need someone to have compassion on them. A place to receive love. A place where someone will listen. A place where they don’t receive scriptural formulas, but a heart poured out for them. Can you be that person? Can you provide a place? Will you be that place?

We are all broken in some way. We all need encouragement from others. Let us all strive to be a sacred, healing presence for others. We will never have all the answers about suicide, but we can certainly start by making time for others. Not to lecture them, but to provide a sacred place for pain.

Posted byCarmille Akande at 9:59 AM

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Dealing With Brokenness

“Lord, I’m worn out by my job, and I’m weary of the evils in this world,” I proclaimed to the Lord yesterday.

It especially hurt to think about how the evil in the world was affecting my family members and loved ones.

I had been attempting to live in the present instead of ruminating over the past and dreading the future. But the truth that bombarded me was this: there is pain in the present.

As I thought of all that was happening in the present and my inability to change the circumstances as well as my weaknesses in handling hard situations, the word that came to mind was brokenness.  

At the core of my brokenness was this truth: “I’m not all that I desire to be, those I love are not all I desire them to be, and there’s nothing I can do about it. “ At first sadness concerning this overwhelmed me.

But God whispered Romans 8:28 to my soul:

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ESV

I could see how He had brought good out of so many difficult situations in my life. My childhood hurts had led me to help others overcome theirs and work in mental health. Difficulties in our marriage had led to me write numerous articles to help others find healing through the Lord as I called out to God in the midst of hopelessness.

The Lord reassured me that the difficulties I was presently facing were also working together for good—even though I couldn’t see how at the moment.  

Today I turned on Youtube and listened to songs that had to do with brokenness. I was reminded that brokenness can lead me to a better place in my Christian walk.

One site online presented this on the subject: “Genuine brokenness realizes its dependency on Christ and humbles itself to repent and follow hard after God.”

I realized I spent too much time trying to fix situations instead of fixing my eyes on the Lord. And I had been doing this for years and kept slipping back into it.

But on the other side of repenting of this—again—I experienced joy. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I embraced the fact that God knows my weaknesses and loves me anyway. He is not surprised by my tendency to want to do things my way and try to make something happen. And He is there to comfort me and lead me on when I feel broken over how I haven’t been dedicated to His way and to trusting Him.

One good thing I’ve learned over the years is that when I feel broken over my sinfulness, I need to move toward the Lord instead of away from Him. He is always there to embrace me in His arms of mercy. This promise from Scripture is beautiful:

…a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

How about you? Are you willing to come to the Lord in the midst of brokenness? What joy you will experience as you turn to Him.

Here is a song I heard for the first time today. It expresses so well where my heart is right now. I pray you will be blessed by it as well.

It is “In Brokenness, I Come To You” sung by Esther Mui  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opBeDVq2CSA

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When Someone Points To The Past

Not long ago I wrote about how God has continued to deal with me in the area of living in the present instead of having regrets and resentments about the past and fears concerning the future.

This has been the theme of a number of pieces I’ve written over the past several years. One reason is because I keep failing in this area. I do believe God is trying to bring me a vital truth and is also urging me to pass this truth along to others.

So lately as I’ve been determined to live in the present, I ran into something that can keep me focused on the past. That is when people bring up something I did wrong. It can be an action from yesterday or some way I failed a decade or more ago.

That happened recently when my adult daughter recalled out loud to me what I did wrong as a mom many years ago. She didn’t do it to be mean, but was just thinking back to her growing up years and told about an incident that happened which she didn’t like.

It had to do with food. She said (and I don’t remember this) that I tried to feed her and and my other daughter some meat that was past its prime and seemed like it was spoiled.

I confess that I hate to waste food, and it might have happened that I determined after eating some myself that it wasn’t spoiled and urged them to eat it.

I apologized, but still that comment brought me back to the past and thinking about all the ways I had fallen short as a mom. Regret began to creep in and threatened to ruin a nice day and special time with family.

Instead of falling into the trap of being filled with regret about the past, I asked God to bring me back to and keep me in the present.

And when He did, this is what happened.

I remembered that this same daughter had also complained a number of times that I had many outdated bottles in the refrigerator. Some days when she was over visiting she would go to use something and ask, “How old is this?” She’d look at the date and say, “Mother, you have to get rid of this old, outdated food.” Sometimes she’d throw a bottle or two away.

I’d be surprised when I looked at the product since it would seem that it was only weeks instead of years ago that I had bought it.

So in the present, I dealt with the issue that was brought up from the past.

The day after my daughter’s comment, I went through every product in my refrigerator and dumped out the contents of each into the sink if it was outdated. (Of course I had to save the bottles for recycling.)

In all there were at least 15 bottles of salad dressings, mustard, marinades and other outdated food products—some more than two years past their “best by” dates. I determined that I would use up food products I bought instead of letting them languish in the fridge.

And I felt better after doing that. I reported my “present” actions to my daughter, and she was pleased.

As I was busy doing my dumping into the sink, I thought of three things that keep me in the present. They are praises, prayers, and promises. As I praise the Lord for all I have right now, pray to Him about the present concerns of my heart, and also embrace the promises in His Word which apply to this present moment, I am able to live in the now.

One promise I’m reminded of that I love is from Psalm 16:11:

“In Your presence is fullness of joy…” AMP

I have access to God’s presence only in the present, so it is also true that in the present there is fullness of joy.

Thank You, Lord, for bringing me this life-changing truth.

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Letting Go of Fear of the Future–Again

As I’ve been examining my thought life in recent days, I notice how often I am thinking fearful thoughts about the future. Here is a blog I first posted in June 16, 2010. Even though I wrote this over four years ago, the truths are ones I needed to be reminded of again. I pray that they also minister to you.

Lately as I’ve been dealing with fears, I see that many of them have to do with fear of the future. When I think of family and finances, worries about whatwillhappen in these two realmscan plague me.

When I think of politics and employment, it’sthe future of both that can cause me to get strangled by what ifs.

When I contemplate my church life and my writing life, it’sfear about the future of these two entities that can cause me to want to give up hope on bothandconsider pursuing a path of self-gratification instead.

As I pondered my battle with fear of the future, God whispered a truth to me–that these fearsgenerally don’t originate with me. He brought me back to theY2K scare where Christian groups I was a part of were in a panic about crises that would happen when the year 2000 arrived. They talked about stocking up on food and buying generators.Often they reprimanded me for doing nothing and for not joining them in being afraid.But I was convinced there was nothing to fear. Still they wanted me to “catch their fear.”

The same goes on these days with politics and finances. Christianstry to convince me Democrats are ruining the financial world and the world in general. They insist I must do something–at the very least be very afraid. Rarely do they tell meto do the thing God has called us to do.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” 2 Timothy 2:1-3

I confess I’ve sometimes succumbed to fears that orginate with others–even though I believe God is in control and will lead me through any difficulties that may arise. And yes, He may call me to do something, but out of obedience, not fear. Also, hard times can cause people to become more hungry to receive Jesus as their Savior, which is a good thing.

Now that I’m aware of this passing on of fears, I’m better able to resist it. One way is to deletecertain emails and avoid various TV and radio programs. I also change the subject or say, “Let’s pray about that.”

God wants me to stay focused on Him and not on problems in the world or in my family or church family, or at my job or in my writing life. Repeatedly He reminds me of this verse:

“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 NIV.

Often I tell those who try to pass along fears that I believe God is in control, and nothing man does can change what God has planned–either for me, the body of Christ, or our nation. I remind them God has taken care of His own all these years, and He’s not going to stop because of what someone is doing in Washington or anywhere else in the world.

And I hold to what my 6-year-old granddaughter, Destiny, said to me one day, “I will not let fear ruin my life.”

Is there someone in your life that is trying to pass along fear to you? Determine to deal with the situation God’s way.

The following song reminds me that God is in control of my future.

“Already There” by Casting Crowns. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s099Omqw1_E

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Collecting Recipes and Wisdom

“Wow, that looks good.”

It’s usually the photo that catches my attention.

Then I read over the recipe and decide, I’ve got to write this down.

I grab some paper or at times write out my new-found treasure in the back pages of my journal all the while thinking, I can’t wait to make this.

I usually write out the recipe instead of tearing out the page from the magazine because I want to keep the magazine intact to give away or it’s in someone else’s magazine—at a doctor’s office or other location.

I’ve done this repeatedly over the years.

There is just one problem with this habit of excitedly writing down recipes.

I rarely make or bake the recipes I collect. They are in various locations in my kitchen. Right now I have a bunch of them in a large clip attached to a magnet on my refridgerator figuring if I leave them there I will more likely do something with them. Those have been there for several years.

Others are stuck in my cookbooks or crammed in a folder in the cupboard with the cookbooks.

Sometimes I look through the recipes and once again I say, “Oh, that would taste so good.” But still I do nothing to bring those words to life.

One of my latest recipes is for zuchinni soup It’s in my journal, but soon this journal will be full, and I’ll put it on the shelf in my office and start a new one. Who knows when I will get that journal out again. I could copy it on the copy machine and put it with that collection on the fridge…

My passion for collecting recipes reminds me of how I am with wisdom from the Lord. How I love to write things down in my journal in Bible studies or during the sermon at church. The problem is that too often it ends up just stuck in my journal, and I forget about it shortly after writing it.

Sometimes my wisdom comes in prayer time, and it’s the Lord speaking to me. But too often I treat lightly the powerful words He’s laying on my heart. Recently this is what He spoke

LIVE IN THE PRESENT, ELAINE. THE PAST WILL TRY TO TAUNT YOU. THE FUTURE WILL TRY TO TERRIFY YOU. I AM IN THE PRESENT. THAT’S WHERE MY PEACE, JOY, AND HOPE RESIDE. IF YOU SENSE YOU ARE LOSING ONE OR ALL OF THESE IT’S BECAUSE YOU’VE MOVED IN YOUR MIND FROM THE PRESENT TO THE PAST OR FUTURE.

But this time I insisted I wanted to go beyond the collecting of words. I longed to live it out in my life. First I passed the wisdom on to others in person, and hey I’m doing it here too. That’s what I like about a blog. You can share an insight from the Lord right away.

I’m also asking God how to make what He said to me bring about a difference in my life instead of being just something I talk about like telling my friends what great recipes I’ve collected. How much better to bring them a piece of the cake I baked or truly learn to live in the present with them, so that we can really enjoy our time together instead of anxiously rehashing what happened in the past and worrying out loud to them about the future.

I want this time to be different.

Give me grace, Lord, so that I can obey this verse:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV).

Before bed tonight I’m going to assess the thoughts running through my mind and see which ones are about the future, which ones are about the past, and which ones are concentrated on the present. Then I’m going to pray God will show me how to live more in the present as I repent over how much time I’ve wasted getting stuck in feeling guilty and angry about the past and having dread about the future.

And then tomorrow I may make some zucchini soup.

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Story of Victory–The Gift Wrapped in Pain

Lately I have been reflecting on James 1:2: “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (NIV)

Today I have a guest blog from Elnora Hinson who calls her trial “The Gift.” I met Elnora, an RN, while working with the mentally ill. Even though she is not a professional writer, she has encouraged me and many others to embrace God’s truth by sending out devotions via email.

Here is Elnora’s encouragement for those of you who are struggling in your faith as you face various trials in your life. Thank you, Elnora.

I have encountered many trials in my recent past that if not for God’s grace and mercy, I would not have survived. Someone once said “Trials come to make us strong.” Well, I have to say I wanted the strength, but I did not want the trials.

In August 2011 at the age of 62, my life course began to change. I now know and believe that God had different plans for my life. You see, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and that changed the lives of my husband, me and my entire family. Life as we knew it would never be the same.

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was tell my husband of my abnormal examination and possible cancer. On August 9,2011 the tissue sample was tested. Then the waiting began. My husband by my side trying to reassure me and love me through the hard times. Waiting for the dreaded call. Well, we didn’t have to wait long. The call came the following day. The doctor called and said the tests confirmed just as she had suspected…..Cancer.

I don’t remember much after that call. My husband heard me sobbing uncontrollably from the other room and was immediately at my side. He held me and cried as I cried, sharing my pain, as I told him the news.

Hearing those dreaded words began the change and transformations for many areas of my life. It changed how I look at life–every area of my life. I have now discovered a whole new level of relationship and communication with my husband and most especially with the Holy Spirit.

It has been nearly 3 years now, and I truly give God the glory and praise for my “Gift” wrapped in pain. For without the “Gift” of testing I would not be where I am today.

My husband and I endured the challenges together. I could not have made it without him–through the mastectomy, the late night tears and restless, sleepless nights. I know without a doubt that God gave us the strength to be there for each other.

I have to say that it was tough to realize that the pain of poor health came to make me strong. How? How could this make me strong when the pain was so intense? How, could I see these trials as “Gifts Wrapped in Pain”? How could cancer be a “Gift”? Surely God must have made a mistake!

If a gift is well-wrapped it may take a while to open it, but once inside we find the true, unanticipated gift of a lifetime. It is sometimes very difficult to anticipate something good inside when we are unable to see past the wrapping.

But God has a plan that we may be incapable of seeing. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)

The greatest “Gift” is knowing that our struggles could be something that God could use for His glory. God turned the pain and struggle that my husband endured to define us and has brought our relationship to a whole new and deeper level. I now know that my true purpose is to tell all who will listen about “The Gift.”

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God’s Faithful Humbling

“How could that person be so out of it that he doesn’t realize his headlights aren’t on?” I wondered out loud.

I was driving down a street near my home on a recent evening when I noticed a car coming toward me with no lights on.

That’s dangerous.” Once again I spoke my thoughts out.

Here we’re on a narrow road with no shouders, minimal street lights, and ditches on each side of the road…

I made a move to flash my lights at the driver when I noticed something disturbing.

My headlights weren’t on either.

The car I was driving that evening was a rental car since mine was being repaired. Since it was a 2014, I assumed that it had automatic lights like our newer car. I quickly turned on my lights just as my fellow negligent driver turned down a side street.

The question now was, How did I not notice my lights weren’t on? I had been out since before dark, and I was on familiar roads. I’m sure the other driver also had his reasons or excuses.

That incident humbled me and made me think of my spiritual life–exspecially since light and being in the dark was involved. I realized again how easily I can slip into a haughty, “I’m doing things right; what’s wrong with these other people?” attitude.That’s when I’m busy focusing on their faults and failings so that I stop noticing mine.

I recall that not too long ago I got upset that my husband yelled at my granddaughter over what seemed like something petty. My attitude was, I would never be that harsh with her.

Later that day, I gave my granddaughter an instruction, and she defiantly ignored me even after I repeated it. I responded in a louder, harsher way than my husband had earlier.

I thought of two verses as I contemplated what had happened,

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 NIV

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV

Another verse that spoke of judging was Romans 2:1:

…at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning youself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. NIV

I’m praying once again that God will continue to reprimand me and give me a gentler, more merciful view toward everyone in my life.

Reading a section of Psalm 139 has repeatedly been a reminder to deal with the issues in my own life instead of judging and trying to fix them in the lives of those around me. These verses came to my mind again lately.

David writes in Psalm 139:19-22:

If only you would slay the wicked, O God!…They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up again you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them as enemies.

David was focused on wicked people around him—people not living life God’s way. Instead of praying for them, David is asking God to slay them and giving in to hate. Oh, how easy it is to go there.

But then something happens to David between verse 22 & 23. He changes his focus:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (23-24—emphasis mine).

I want to live life God’s way. Instead of judging others when they don’t and giving in to pride, I can allow the light of Jesus to flow to me and through me. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. To stay humble all I have to do is remember what I was like before I knew the Lord. That brings me back to the place of humility and mercy.

Here is a link to a song that speaks of how Jesus sees people who are doing wrong things. It is “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipwEtvWL_3c

 

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