Be Inspired. Be Honest. Be You.

SMC Women's Ministry

Be inspired. Be honest. Be You.

Posts tagged freedom
What Makes You Feel So Alive?

IMG_5636 It was girl’s night out!  Don’t we need those every so often?  I still remember from a few months ago when I celebrate friend’s birthday with a group of girlfriends at a Paint Nite party.  Have you ever been to one of those?  I had never been to one but had always wanted to when I first heard about them.  I was really looking forward to the time to catch up with my friends’ lives as we ate dinner before painting at a restaurant in Mebane, NC.  When it was time, we walked into their side room where the restaurant had been transformed into a make-shift art studio.  When I walked in that room, my heart literally skipped a beat and a smile grew on my face that I couldn’t control and I don’t think it went away until I fell asleep that night.

Even though I received a degree in Art many years ago (and haven’t practiced it in almost just as many years), I have hardly ever used the medium paint.  My specialty involved ink, charcoal and chalk pastels.  But that night the medium didn’t matter, it’s just the art itself that ignited my passion.  For me that night, it was the art of simply being.  I had honestly not felt alive for a while but with a blank canvas in front of me, four paint-speckled paintbrushes, and a white, Styrofoam plate with puddles of red, yellow, blue and white acrylic paint on it, I came back to life.

The first strokes on the canvas of light blue paint for the sky made me feel like I was flying in it.   Adding pale pink, pastel yellow and white for the clouds seemed to magically appear.  We were to stop painting to let the sky dry before beginning the next section of the painting, but it was hard not to!  The next instruction was to swirling together a little bit of blue and a little more of yellow to create a nature green for tall grass with the brush, I started at the bottom of the canvas, stroked the brush onto the canvas in an upward motion as blades of grass and stems of flowers grew.  When finished with those, I dipped my brush into yellow, orange, even blue and purple paint to create dots.  It was an explosion of color as the flowers popped on the canvas.

Creating my own colors, the smoothness of running a brush up the canvas that left a colorful blade of grass behind it was so simple yet so fulfilling.  It felt like Someone was pouring, almost dumping, colors of happiness, hope, joy and resurrection into what had been feeling like a lifeless soul.

I agree with the words of artist Paul Cezanne: “A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”

The field of flowers I painted was no masterpiece, but it did not lack any emotion.  Enthusiastic. Light-hearted. Happy and joy-full. They were all rekindled within me. Another Paul wrote these words in the Bible, For we are God’s masterpieces.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:10)

I embraced every second of that hour, and still think of that night often. Being comforted with friends, being gifted with a blank canvas and some paint, being refreshed with hope and joy are what I embraced.

What is your art?  What is your passion?  What is the thing that you enjoy doing that makes your heart become even more alive?

Is it music, sewing, painting, crafting, writing, or taking photographs?  Is it playing a sport, dancing, holding babies, baking, gardening, walking barefoot along the beach shore, spending time with friends or having an hour, day or weekend of solitude?

You, my friend, are God’s masterpiece whom He created with unique passions and abilities to use to glorify Him.  When what you’re doing makes you feel more alive, free, smile, laugh and full of deep joy, then do that as often as possible!  Our Father loves to see us thrive and doing the things He knows we enjoy doing and are even good at.  Those are true gifts from Him.  I once read that when we don't open our gifts from God, or hide it, or if we do open it, and put it back in the box and slide it under the bed, then we're insulting God.  I had never thought of it that way and humbled me. So, FIND a place to play with the gift He has given you!

He has created you anew in Christ Jesus, friend!

Beth Hildebrand

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There's More Than One Way To Find Freedom

4th-of-july-america-american-flag-774316 Ahh…. July 4th. The day we Americans celebrate our freedom. Our clothes are red, white and blue; we gather with friends and family; we grill and we watch fireworks. As I plan and prepare what patriotic clothes I will wear and the menu for the cookout, I reflect on how much I appreciate freedom. I recognize how I am grateful for the vision of our forefathers to establish a free country where its citizens enjoy rights that shouldn’t be taken away.

Our Declaration of Independence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Unalienable is defined by Merriam-Webster as “incapable of being alienated, surrendered or transferred.”

Living in the United States of America allows me the ability to do what makes me happy – within reason of course. I’m able to pursue happiness and for me a big part of my happiness comes from being able to worship God in the ways I believe are true and right. This past week, I attended Johnathan Creek – a Christian camp in Kentucky for students from 7th through 12th grade. I was privileged to be one of the leaders for the SMC group. It was a moving experience that I will never forget. I was reminded of the sacrifice of Christ that gives us freedom in Him.

Freedom in Christ is a little different, but perhaps it delivers even more powerful results. As Christ-followers, we are called to walk in love. In all situations. “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Galatians 5:1 (NLT)

I grew up in the Catholic church which has rules for the rules. On top of that, my Dad was in the Marine Corps. More rules. I. Am. A. Rule. Follower. I find it very difficult not to follow rules and sometimes it’s also hard for me to be around rule breakers. I don’t understand them and they REALLY put my love walk to the test. I am learning that relationships are more important than rules, but after nearly 50 years of living rules, this passage is difficult for me to follow.

But God gave us Christ so we could be free from law. “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” Romans 6:14

That good ol’ grace that this human sometimes finds difficult to achieve. It’s almost impossible for me to wrap my head around God’s endless grace. It seems unattainable for me to emulate at times.

But as Christians we do have certain laws to follow. Think 10 Commandments. And it’s not just rules and laws. In Matthew, Jesus told the Pharisees important commandments not found in the original ten. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39. We are called to be in relationship with Him so we may become one with Him. There is no other way to love Him heart, soul and mind.

“They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” 2 Peter 2:19

In 2018, what does control us? We have MANY options to choose from. Does Christ have our hearts, souls and minds? Have we become a slave to Him, or is it our phones; money; food; clothes; sports; our children that take first priority? Ironic, isn’t it, that when we give over our life to Christ and become obedient to Him, that’s when we become most free. When we allow THINGS to control us, instead of our walk with Christ, it becomes a negative thing.

We arrived at camp Monday afternoon. Soon after, the leaders took phones away from the teenagers until Friday night. It was important for them to devote their time and stay focused on God and His word. When asked, my group of 14-year-old girls didn’t really miss their phones. In fact, I think in many ways, they were happy not to have the pressures of social media on them constantly.

Have you ever felt like there was something that was put on your heart to do? An idea or thought that wouldn’t go away and you couldn’t shake? What if that is God directing you to your calling? What if in those thoughts or ideas we were to find our true purpose? Further, what if in that calling, we were to find complete freedom in life because we were fulfilling our purpose? Pursuing and ultimately finding, our true happiness.

We know God loves us and wants nothing but good for us. One place we learn of this is in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you future and a hope.”

The saying freedom isn’t free is not only true for our country. Being a Christian is hard and it comes at a price. But when we devote our lives to Christ heart, soul and mind, the freedom that follows will bring us to our heart’s desire.

Peaceful blessings, Angela Hailey

 

Forgiveness Is A Gift To Your Heart

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing...” (Luke 23:34)

After our Lent and Easter blog series, I feel it’s appropriate to write about forgiveness. While Jesus suffered immensely on the cross, He asked God to forgive the ones who crucified Him. It was a very powerful request to our Heavenly Father, who does not forget the sinner, but He forgets the sin. We have such an amazing God!

Forgiveness is something we are reluctant to mention, offer it, or accept it. It’s complicated. It’s painful. We need to bring healing to a hopeless and wounded heart, which starts with forgiving someone or accepting someone’s forgiveness. By not forgiving someone, regardless of how recent or long ago, it will slowly steal your soul and chip away at the very core of a person. It is cruel making us feel as if our hearts are under the greatest of attacks.

Something unspeakable happened to me a couple of decades ago from a random act of violence, which I carried hatred, victimization, and a heavy burden in my heart for so many years. It took away my soul. One moment I was fine; the other moment, my life was in someone else’s hands. I consistently reminded myself of the defining moment I faced death. Instead of trying to focus on healing, I spent so much energy remembering the attack with such revenge, hatred and insecurity. I was filled with rage and hostility. Holding all of this pain, fear, and insecurity came very, very close in taking my own life. My life turned into a sea of fear that threatened to drown me…I felt crippled.

"Never be bitter, angry, or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ." (Ephesians 4:21-32)

Fast forwarding to the present, I recognized the desperate need to forgive. While becoming a Jesus follower over a decade ago, I was able to immediately distinguish the significance of forgiveness and needed to act on it! It brings peace. Your heart and soul become one. It definitely reminded me how Jesus forgave me of my sins…and still does! Sixteen years after the crime, I found it in my heart to forgive the man who stole my freedom, peace and security. Almost immediately, the emotional pain was gently and peacefully removed. Gone in an instant by just one simple act of forgiveness. That’s when my healing began. No amount of professional counseling sessions and anti-anxiety drugs could ever provide me with such overwhelming gratitude, hope and peace. It was from God.

Here are a few one-liners on forgiveness I’d like to share:

An apology is a good way to have the last word.

The only petition in the Lord’s Prayer that has a condition attached is the one on forgiveness.

It is far better to forgive and forget than resent and remember.

Love is asking to forgive what courtesy would have avoided.

Never has the human soul become so strong when it dares to forgive an injury.

Quarrels would not last long if there were not faults on both sides.

God forgives our sins, buries them in the sea of forgetfulness and puts up a sign: “No Fishing.”

Any area of our lives that lacks forgiveness lacks the breath of God. The Lord is the Creator of all pure hope, and He desires His children to live a life full of hope and joy. We can’t change what a person has said and done to hurt us, but we can learn to forgive them to set our hearts free. The adversary knows that if he can steal hope from God’s children, he can cripple the plans and purposes God has for our lives. Eventually we completely deviate from our God-given purpose and are left with a life void of hope.

"But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too." Mark 11:25

Forgiveness is the best form of love as it takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive. Are you willing to free your wounded heart and accept someone’s forgiveness or extend forgiveness? The things in life you can’t forget are the ones you hadn’t planned for.

With Faith, Lynne