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Dear Friends,

As a reminder, Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday, Feb 17.  It is the traditional beginning of the Season of Lent.

The Season of Lent is a 40-day preparation time for the celebration of Easter.  It is to be a personal, sacred, prayerful, reflective time and traditionally involves fasting –  abstinence from food or particular behaviors.  My personal understanding of the purpose of Lent is to:

  • become more spiritual and to draw closer to God
  • acknowledge the sacrifice Christ made for you
  • reflect on God’s love for us – enough to send His beloved Son to live among us and then die a tortuous death for our salvation – saving us from our sins and showing us the way to heaven.

The 40-day period represents the time Jesus was fasting in the wilderness while being tempted by Satan.

I encourage you to prayerfully consider observing the Season of Lent.  Even if you choose not to fast or abstain from a particular indulgence or habit, you can give an offering of your time each day to pray and reflect.

I choose to observe Lent because I want to offer myself in some way to God to honor the sacrifice Jesus made for me and to give something of myself in return.  I begin in prayer, offering my sacrifice to God.  When I find myself wanting the food from which I’m fasting, I am reminded of the purpose of my fast, say a silent prayer, and remind myself that my sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifice Jesus made.  At times I have found myself accidentally eating something that I’ve vowed to give up.  When that happens, I immediately ask for forgiveness and am reminded of how easily we can slip up in sin, which gives me a greater appreciation of the forgiveness we have in Christ.

The Pharisees made a great show of their praying and fasting to impress others with their so-called ‘spirituality’.  Their efforts were not genuine acts from their hearts.  Jesus commands that we are not to make a ‘show’ of our praying and fasting.  They are to be personal acts of worship with God.  (With that said, please know that I write this to help share an understanding of Lent with others, not to ‘make a show’ of my personal actions.)

My prayer is that you will choose to observe the Season of Lent by prayerfully offering yourself in some way to God and that, in so doing, your relationship with the Lord will be blessed, leading you to the joy of the Spirit at Easter and always.

The above is just my personal expression of Lent.  For more information or a more theological explanation of the Season of Lent, go to www.kencollins.com , select About Holy Days, then select Lent.  You can also do a Google search.  There are many good sites that explain the Season of Lent.

Seasons blessings to you all,

Renee

I REALLY didn’t want to do jury duty today, and was very anxious and apprehensive about it – dreading it.  I didn’t know where those feelings were coming from, so it was hard to deal with them.  As I drove toward uptown Charlotte in the heavy morning traffic, I prayed and turned my apprehensions over to God and asked Him to PLEASE be with me throughout the day.  As I prayed, a car somehow got ahead of me in the thick traffic.  Its license plate said:

ALLISWEL   (all is well)

 That was too cool!  Thank You, God!   Seeing that license plate was an immediate answer to my prayers and an immediate remedy to my negative feelings.  I was fine then!  After all, God said all was well – and it was.   🙂 

Praise be to God.

Did you see the tribute to Michael Jackson on the Grammy’s?  If so, did you see and hear the performance of The Earth Song?  It was amazing! The song and images from the video haven’t left my mind.  They’re haunting me in an inspiring and positive way.  

The Earth Song is a song Michael wrote expressing his concern for all the wrongs and injustices going on in the world today.  He addresses everything from the damage man is doing to the created things of this earth to social injustices against humanity itself.  It’s the most powerful song and video I’ve ever heard – literally.  I’ve never been moved by a song like this. 

Perhaps what moves and fascinates me most is the realization that Michael wrote this song to God.  Michael pours out his heart to God, much like David did in the Psalms of the Old Testament. Michael’s heart cries out from deep within  his soul when asking God about the killing of children.  He mentions God sending His only Son that we might have peace, and asks about the Holy Land and Abraham.  All the while, the song repeats, “What about us?”  He’s crying out to God about all the wrongs of the world, while also asking what it all means for us.  What will become of us?  What are we to do?  What can we do? 

Michael was a man of God, and seemingly a man to whom God gave a message to share – yes, like a modern day prophet.  What a shame he had to die before sharing his heart of faith with the world.  Did Satan win a battle and take Michael’s life before he could do God’s work?  Or did God feel that Michael’s message would be better served in his death than in his life?  Only God knows the answers to those questions.  Regardless, Michael Jackson left us with an amazing song that is having quite an impact on me. 

Two of Michael’s children accepted Michael’s achievement award from the Grammy’s.  His oldest child, Prince, began by thanking God for watching over them during the past seven months.  How wonderful it is that Michael’s being raised to know God, too.  May God continue to watch over them, and may they continue to look to God and give Him praise.

You can watch the Michael Jackson tribute and performance of the Earth Song by googling:  The Earth Song Grammys. 

After doing so, please take another few minutes to google:  The Earth Song with lyrics. 

It’s the orignal video, much more intense, but also more expressive, and more powerful when you can watch the video and read the lyrics at the same time.  I hope you’re inspired,  too!

She was on the Dr. Phil Show.  The caption below her pretty face said: 

Renee       Was Bullied in School

This got my attention because my name is Renee and I was bullied in school, too.   I was harassed, stalked and threatened by a group of girls (former friends) throughout all of our high school years.  They made my life miserable at times and kept me from truly enjoying high school.  I never knew why they treated me like they did.  Some of them admitted there wasn’t a specific reason.  Years later, when we (my husband, sons and I) moved from Indiana to North Carolina, I felt relief knowing I’d probably never run into them again and wouldn’t have to worry about my kids going to school with their kids.   I was surprised that I carried those thoughts into my adulthood, especially since those people were no longer part of my life.

The Renee who appeared on tv was bullied on the school bus with name calling.  The hurts and insults stayed with her into her adult life.   She asked Dr. Phil how to get rid of the hurt she still felt from the bullying that happened so many years ago.  Even though she had become a beautiful, successful woman and loving mother, and claimed that she forgave those who bullied her, she was still haunted by the hurtful words she heard in her head.

That’s where our stories differed.  The Renee on tv replayed the insults in her head, hearing them over and over, and internalized them.  I, on the other hand, didn’t allow myself to be defined by the girls who harassed and bullied me.  I knew I hadn’t done anything to them and I didn’t deserve their treatment. 

Friends, NO ONE deserves that kind of treatment!  I don’t care who you are, what you’ve done, who your parents are, what kind of  house you live in, what you look like, or what others think of you.  You don’t deserve bullish treatment from others!  You don’t deserve to be bullied, beaten or abused.  Before you were anything to anyone else, you were a child of God!  He created you as beautiful being.  Even when the world doesn’t see our beauty, God does.    As a child of God you are entitled to His love.  The rest of us are commanded by God to love you.  Jesus says we’re to love our neighbors as ourselves!  That’s how much God loves us – that He commands us through the teachings of Jesus to love each other! 

TRAITS BULLIED VICTIMS SHARE (Given by  Dr. Phil on show dated 2-2-10):

1. Experience doubt about their self-worth    

2. Internalize the ‘toxic messages’ of the bullies (name calling and insults)  

 3. Unwilling to test the ‘toxic messages’ against reality.   (Are you really what their names say you are?)  

4. Unwilling to generate an alternate reality-based dialogue.  (ex:  I am not ugly or stupid.  I don’t deserve this treatment.  I deserve better!)

DR. PHIL’S ADVICE TO OVERCOME THE ‘TOXIC MESSAGES’:

1.  Is the message true?

2. Does hearing this in my head serve my best interest?

3. Will hearing these toxic messages protect or prolong my health?

4.  Do these thoughts give me what I want?

I’ve learned that quite often what we want is justification and for those who have wronged us to experience consequences  for their actions.  We want them to admit fault and say they’re sorry for what they’ve done.  Sometimes these things aren’t going to happen, so we have to accept our past and move on.  Someone recently shared this definition of acceptance:

ACCEPTANCE:  Not waiting for a better past.

I love that!  The past won’t change, but YOU can!  

I accepted what happened and chose to move on.  Holding on to negative things in my heart wasn’t healthy. Experiencing God’s love in my life changed my heart and my perspectives.  I gave up waiting for the day when they’d apologize.  I forgave them anyway.  Now I hope I do see them again, and have reached out to some of them through Facebook.

Don’t let the bullies of your past beat up on you anymore!  Chase their toxic messages out of your head!  And when you do, replace them with loving and positive thoughts instead.

Here are a few good thoughts to get that process started: 

God  loves YOU no matter what!  He created you with His own plans and purposes for your life (Jeremiah 29:11-2).  You are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him, His hand of blessing is upon your head (Psalm 139), and He wants only the best for you! 

PREVENT BULLYING:

Talk to your kids about how harmful their words and actions can be.  Don’t allow your children to make fun of others, call them names, or insult others in any ways. 

WERE YOU A BULLY? 

If you were a bully – teased, insulted, harassed others, or put them down – please find a way to apologize to those you might have hurt.  This act of kindness will mean more than you’ll ever know. 

Dear God, I pray for those who have been bullied, that they’ll be able to overcome the hurts of their past so they can move forward in a healthy, positive way.  I pray for those who are being bullied now, that they won’t give in to the ‘toxic messages’ of others and that they’ll allow themselves to see the true beauty You see in them.  I pray we no longer allow ourselves to be defined by the negative treatment and insults of others, and that we allow You to soften our hearts and remove the hardened places inside us.  Help us to accept and forgive others; and most importantly, Lord, help us to care enough about ourselves that we won’t allow others to hurt us anymore.  Your banner over us is love (Song of Solomon 2:4).  May Your love comfort, heal and strengthen us.  To You my Heavenly Father I pray, with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and in the love of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

~  Taken from the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:10   (Beatitudes is a Latin word for ‘blessings’.)

 

 

 

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