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Are you sick of insecurity?   Or has it been your friend these many years, eating dinner with you, whispering your worthlessness whenever it can? It’s time to say SCAT. Why? Because insecurity does nothing for you. It undermines your confidence. It makes you feel like you have nothing to contribute to the world. It makes you fear and shrink back from what God has called you to do.

And even when you experience success, Insecurity howls at you, tells you it’s probably a fluke.

I’ve been there. I am there.

I recently had a conversation where I let insecurity taint my words <http://www.marydemuth.com/2010/05/approval-money/> . I demeaned my own success, preferring to see what I hadn’t accomplished, forgetting what I had. The person I shared with was shocked. “But when I see you, I see success. You’ve arrived. You’ve made it.”

Isn’t it funny that even when you do find success, insecurity rips away the part of you that can rejoice in it? Instead there is always a need to prove your worth more and more and more until you work so hard, you end up exhausted and unsatisfied.

We need to see insecurity as an intruder instead of a familiar friend. Sure, we’ve come to adapt to insecurity’s presence, become quite comfortable with its mean words in our heads, but that doesn’t mean we can’t realistically look at insecurity and give it the boot.

The opposite of insecurity isn’t security as much as it’s peace. It’s not that war won’t come or pain or hurt. It’s that when it does, we have the peace to be okay with ourselves in the midst of it. When life smacks us down, when we’re more apt to welcome the voice of insecurity, we can instead ask the Prince of Peace to settle our worth, calm our hearts, and give us peace.

Here’s the difference between the two:

  • Insecure folks blame others for their lack. Peaceful folks take blame when needed and deflect when it’s not warranted.
  • Insecure folks belittle others or themselves with harsh words. Peaceful folks look for ways to bolster another and aren’t afraid to say, “I am a wonderful, well-loved person.”
  • Insecure folks wear masks to cover up their shortcomings. Peaceful folks are authentic without fear.
  • Insecure folks hide. Peaceful folks live openhearted lives, risking in relationships.

So where are you in this list? Have you welcomed insecurity as a friend? What do you struggle with most?

 Sue KeddyMay the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. – 2 Thessalonians 3:5

I spent almost two decades in Asia where haggling for a good price was a sport.  I loved the thrill of going back and forth with the shopkeeper until I wore them down and I was walking away with a bargain.  My parents told me that even as a child if I was convinced of something I would never back down.  My husband agreed.  Some would call that being stubborn but I like to call it being persistent!

Persistence is the main character trait in many a Bible Story which proves to me that God values it.  Matthew records that when two blind men sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by they began to shout for mercy.  The crowd tried to hush them but they shouted even louder! As a result Jesus stopped and asked them what they wanted.  They told him they wanted their sight and in the next blink of an eye, they were seeing! (Matthew 21:29-34)  Bartimaeus was a blind beggar who hollered until Jesus heard him.  The crowd told him to ‘STOP!’ but Jesus told him to ‘COME!’  He threw his coat off and ran in the direction of Jesus’ voice.  Jesus opened his eyes and Bartimaeus became a Christ follower (Mark 10:46-52).  A distraught Mom came to Jesus because her daughter was possessed by an evil spirit.  She fell at his feet and begged unashamedly for Jesus to intervene.  He assured her he had and when she returned home her daughter was free of the demon (Mark 7:24-30). Jesus tells a story about a widow who wouldn’t leave a judge alone until she got the protection she needed from an adversary and about a neighbor who continuously knocked on his friends door at midnight until he got bread to feed an unexpected guest  (Luke 18:1-5; 11:5-8).

Desperation breeds either despair or persistence. I choose persistence because the alternative is unthinkable.  Jesus responds to persistence. Blind eyes were opened and demons were cast out!  Justice was granted and provisions were supplied! Jesus wants us to persevere as he persevered for us!  He doesn’t want us to give up or give in.  In fact he honours those who keep asking, seeking and knocking.

My sister, don’t let anyone or anything muzzle your cries!  Start expecting the miraculous!   Be prepared to be amazed!

_MG_1777 (2) 3Ann Goodfellow Tells Us Her Story

My first book was accepted for publication the year I reached 71. I had begun writing Prayers and Devotions more than 25 years before, through a weekly prayer letter for my church. I enjoyed writing, but never thought of publication. But after I retired God kept prompting me to write books. Yes! Books. Not just one!

The first book took over 3 years to put together – and many more years of rejection after rejection from publishers.

God always has a plan though! I had submitted my proposal to a new publisher, just 1 week after I had been rejected again. Three weeks later I received a phone call from overseas, showing interest, but the book was far too long, and would be difficult to promote from an unknown author. They suggested reducing the 52 weeks of daily devotions to make the book an acceptable length. We worked well together and the first book was received in December 2008.

Most publishers tend to publish only already known and affirmed authors. So God really wanted this book to be out there for people to read and grow to know Him in a deep and personal way, through a daily quiet time.

Now came yet another challenge! Distribution!

I had received 500 books for my own personal contacts and started to promote them to my church, friends, family, and by word of mouth. I have successfully distributed all 500 of the first book – praise God.

Goodfellow_Cover (2)Since then I have written another four books, and they have been successfully published, not only in printed form, but also as eBooks – so they are readily available all over the world. My newest will be available in two months time.

2 Corinthians 8 : 11 says, “On with it, then, and finish the job! Be as eager to finish it as you were to plan it, and do it with what you now have.”

My husband of 48 years died just two months before the first book was delivered to me, but he had always been very supportive. I have since moved into a retirement village, and am glad to be able to fill my days with writing for God. Writing and publication has been a wonderfully satisfying new career, and I give God all the glory as I promote Him to all who desire to read about His love.

Ann’s books will be available at the Beauty for Ashes conference book table. They are also available as eBooks here.

Shirley Corder, author of Strength Renewed

Shirley Corder, author of Strength Renewed

One beautiful, sunny African afternoon, my life changed forever.

For two years, I had asked my gynaecologist for a mammogram. For two years, he had told me it wasn’t necessary. Finally another specialist sent me for a “routine mammogram and ultrasound” which turned out to not be as routine as I’d hoped. I had breast cancer. And because it hadn’t been discovered earlier, it had already spread to the glands.

How can I describe the experience? 

It was like when you are tearing along the road, enjoying the scenery and eager to arrive at your destination, and all of a sudden the road turns back on itself. You jam on brakes and grip the steering wheel in an effort to keep the car under control as you attempt to navigate the U-turn you hadn’t seen coming.

It was just like that.

I jammed on brakes, gripped my steering wheel, and sped into battle against what turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer. With the use of a skilled surgeon, an unconventional and courageous oncologist, a supportive family, and a team of praying friends, God pulled me through that dreadful year of treatment. Not only did I survive the U-turn, I found myself travelling, as you do with a U-turn, in a different direction. I went from being a nursing sister to being a published author.

God promises in His Word that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). It took me a while to see it. But I began to realise how many invaluable lessons God taught me during my “cancer year,” and it wasn’t long before He prompted me to share these lessons with others in the form of meditations.

The words of Isaiah 40:31 followed me throughout the whole cancer experience:

“They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” 

StrengthRenewed-3DI wanted so badly to have my strength renewed, but how do you wait on anyone, even the Lord, when you are told you have cancer?

The Lord was ready and willing to teach me. Sometimes I got it right, and sometimes I didn’t. But gradually and patiently He led me through many bumpy experiences, and I emerged from the journey closer to Him than ever before.

Last year, Revell/Baker in the states published Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer, telling about 90 of those experiences and the lessons I learned. It is my prayer that my readers will be blessed and helped as they navigate the U-turns in their lives—hopefully with more control over the steering wheel than I often had.

You can read the first seven devotions online here for free. It will be on sale at the Beauty for Ashes women’s conference, 24-25 May 2013. You will enjoy reading Shirley’s informative website, Rise and Soar – above the cancer valley.

Best friends – Kathy Troccoli & Ellie Lofaro

It ended as most women’s retreats do.  Hugs.  Clasped arms and hands.  Tears of joy, of hope, of surrender.  Renewed faith.  Proclamations.  Newly made promises to self, family, and God.  Resolutions.  Determination to keep them.  A deeper sense of the Lord’s love and mercy.  The altar was deep and wide with women bowing, kneeling, sitting—praying, singing, weeping.

As always, I come away from women’s gatherings in awe of God.  Being the guest speaker is both exhilarating and exhausting.  It is a privilege that I pray I’ll never take for granted.  I am always humbled by the idea that women are coming to “fill up” for a weekend and that I’ve been asked to hold the nozzle.  There is a holy fear about filling their tanks sloppily; pouring too much or too little.  I am sober about the judgment I bring on myself should I serve something watered-down or contaminated.

Most women had exited the sanctuary to go to the wonderful luncheon that awaited.  A few lingered to finish their conversations with God and one another.  A sweet, diminutive woman who I had never met approached me slowly.  There was a certain pain in her eyes and they were moist as she spoke.  Her head tilted a bit to one side as she shyly inched closer.

“Someone told me you know Kathy Troccoli.”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.”

“Do you know her well?”

“Yes, very well.”

The woman looked encouraged.

“Would you give her a message for me?”

“Of course, I’d be happy to.”

Her warm blue eyes filled and a tear ran down the center of each cheek.

“I lost my daughter six months ago and Kathy’s song “Goodbye For Now’ has given me strength and courage.  There were some nights when I didn’t think I would ever handle the grief or make it to the morning.  That song has blessed my family and me more than anyone will ever know.  Will you tell her for me?”

“I promise I will.  It really is an anointed song, isn’t it?  I’ve heard many people say it helped them through the loss of a loved one.  I know that was Kathy’s hope when she wrote it.  She is certainly familiar with grief.  She has buried her parents, her grandparents, and recently her aunt.  Although cancer is prevalent in the family history, Kathy has chosen faith over fear.  She is one of those people who looks forward to a big reunion!”

I smiled,  hoping I hadn’t sounded like  Pollyanna.  I didn’t know where to take the conversation from there.  Six months is so recent—so raw.  What condition would I be in after the death of a child?  Would I attend a women’s retreat?  Would I put myself around so many women who had endless stories (and photos) or their children?  I was hesitant to ask about her daughter.  Yet, I have often been told that grieving people need to talk about the person who they are missing so badly.

“What was your daughter’s name?  Did she have your pretty eyes?”

The woman wiped her nose with a crushed, damp tissue and offered a half-smile.

“Cindy was only twenty-one.  It’s been so hard.”

My thoughts raced and I wondered if her daughter had died in a car accident or if she had lost a battle with cancer.  I returned the half-smile and squeezed the weary mother’s arm.

“I am so sorry.  How wonderful that you’ve come here this weekend to be encouraged.  How is the rest of the family doing?”

“Her younger brother is taking it the worst. You see, Cindy was bi-polar and we all suffered with it the last ten years.  She had good times and bad ones.  She loved the Lord but she got tired of her struggle. Every day had become a painful battle.  She lost the will to go on.  We know she is with the Lord.  That is why Kathy’s song has been so meaningful to all of us.”

The sweet face suddenly seemed pained, as if something had jabbed her.

“Cindy took her own life.”  The woman’s shoulders started to shudder and I stepped closer so my hands were now cupping each of her forearms.  Her eyes searched mine for permission to go on with her heartbreaking account.  I nodded reassuringly.

“Who found her?” I asked.

“It was a nightmare I thought would never end.   Her body was recovered four days after she jumped to her death from the Brooklyn Bridge.  We found a letter and a journal.  She was just tired.  She gave up.  I would give anything to hug her one more time.  How I wish we could have her back.  We can’t …for now.  But…someday.”

“Yes,” I whispered—“someday.”

I held the stranger-turned-sister for a long minute and our warm tears ran together.  She cried for her daughter and I cried for her.  And I think I cried for me.

I thought of my children and my husband and my parents and thanked the Lord for their health and their lives.  I thought of my four grandparents and especially of my sweet “Nona”, whom I sorely miss.  I thought of  Kathy and the many  deaths of loved ones that she has so valiantly faced with unwavering faith.  I thought of Judy Raftery and Lorraine Hansen and Martha Loredo and Eleanor Nash and Linda Roiland and Phyllis Caroleo and Kathy Fardig.  No camera crews arrived when these special women passed away.  No monuments were built, no lengthy obituaries were written.  They weren’t celebrities by the world’s standards but they were shining stars to their families and friends…and to me.

Easter Sunday is soon upon us and when I bow my head in worship, I will once again celebrate the incredibly, overwhelmingly, amazingly fabulous news that my Savior has conquered sin and death and granted everlasting life to all who believe in His name.  What a great reunion that will be.  

I can’t believe that you’re really gone now

Seems like it’s all just a dream.

How can it be that the world will go on

When something has died within me?

But there will be a time when I’ll see your face

And I’ll hear your voice and there we will laugh again.

And there will come a day when I’ll hold you close

No more tears to cry cause we’ll have forever.

But I’ll say goodbye for now.

                        “Goodbye For Now” (abridged)  Lyrics by Kathy Troccoli

One of the best parts of coming to be with the beautiful women of South Africa is that I’m coming with one of my best friends in the whole world; Lisa Whelchel! When Aldyth approached each of us to invite us, she didn’t even know Lisa and I were best friends. God did though! You’ve just gotta get your best friends and come join us. It really will be such a special time.

Here’s a peak  for you into mine and Lisa’s friendship through an excerpt from my “Me, Myself and Lies” Bible Study:

One of the most generous things anyone has ever done for me was something Lisa Welchel did.  She and I became friends several years ago and began to walk together with honest accountability and closeness.  One day she told me how much strength she was receiving from praying warfare prayers which she read from a book by John Eldridge.  I sighed in interest and she said, “Let me read you some.”  Curled up on my gold couch in the living room, I remember I listened and prayed along with her, holding my cell phone to my ear.  After she finished, she said, “These aren’t on audio but I want you to have them.  I’m going to type these out for you so Baby Del (my computer) can read them.”

“Aren’t there a lot?”

“Yeah, but I’ll pray as I type.”

1, 359 words later, Lisa had tired fingers and an energized soul!  I think she really beat up the enemy and kept God’s attention as she stood in the gap and prayed and typed.

Two important things happened with her gift of typing.  First, she prayed.  That is the primary strategy for fortifying your Thought Closet.  Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 26:41 to “watch and pray.”

The word “watch” in Greek is gregoreuo, meaning to arouse oneself so that you can pay attention.  In other words, awake your soul and pray!  Your prayer is most effective when you are spiritually alert to your own weaknesses and your enemy’s schemes.

Jesus could have said, “Pay attention and speak Truth to your soul, lest you fall into temptation.” But He didn’t.  Being alert to the enemy and telling yourself the Truth is imperative but it isn’t the same as “be alert and pray”.  Sin is tempting and the enemy knows it well!  Do you?  Seriously, do you recognize your temptation trouble spots?

Prayer is a simple strategy with profound results…pray.  Don’t stop.  My friend, pray.

 The second important thing Lisa did through her tireless typing and praying is to establish agreement and accountability.  We need each other.  The roaring lion seeks whom he may devour, but I can guarantee you he will become a “scaredy cat” and think twice if the “whom” he is trying to attack is locked arms with a bunch of Bible-believing, praying women!  The enemy goes for the solitary and the silent.  You already speak silent words to yourself and they can remain tools of the enemy if you don’t confess them to God and make yourself accountable to a friend.  If you keep speaking silent lies to yourself, you are providing the enemy with the weapons he most wants to use against you.  Unconfessed sin and unacknowledged weaknesses are what he can use to destroy you.  Don’t give him weapons; give him a united front and a fight!!

Ecclesiastes 4:12  reminds us  that a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The 3-stranded cord is not “me, myself and I!”  It’s you, a buddy and Jesus.

So, place yourself in relationship with someone with whom you can be honest and accountable.

 Jennifer Rothschild

God, Will You Ever Use Me?

February 3, 2011

Do you read about the amazing things other women have done with a sinking heart? “Why can’t I do something like that?” “She’s obviously got more faith, talents or opportunities than me.”

The truth is that each of us has a unique life and God opens different doors for us all. Remember Psalm 139 that says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”  …and again, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Corrie ten Boom once said that “the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the perfect preparation for the work he has called us to do.” Things we regret, or wished we could have avoided, often become the very things that open our eyes to needs that we now truly understand and feel deeply about. It is so easy to underestimate God’s redemptive hand in our lives.

Purpose in pain

My mother had a friend whose son was profoundly deaf and this led her into a fruitful life of working for that cause. She was dismayed when she first heard the news about her son, and could never have anticipated the twists and turns her life would take after that, but it was not long before she was attending conferences, chairing committees and lobbying the government on their behalf.

“The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the perfect preparation for the work he has called us to do.” – Corrie ten Boom

Carol Kent, our 2008 Beauty for Ashes Women’s Conference speaker, started a ministry to prison inmates and their families when her twenty-five year old son, Jason Paul Kent, shot and killed his wife’s ex-husband and was jailed for life without the possibility of parole. In the devastation that followed, Carol could not have imagined that she would come to have such a love for prison inmates. From standing in queues with the families of other prisoners at visiting times, she also became aware of their needs and so a ministry was born out of her pain and anguish.

God works in seasons

Does this mean that God can only use us if we have had a huge misfortune in our lives? Not at all. Sometimes we just need to wait for the right season while God gives us the necessary experience for our future work. He is always at work in our present, though. Having small children, caring for an invalid, or a host of other things, can sometimes be the season when we are not free to do much else. God knows and understands your season and this does not mean that he is not at work in your life. While David was out in the fields looking after his father’s sheep, he was learning how to use his sling with the deadly accuracy that would one day bring Goliath down. He may have thought that his life was constricted and confining (after all he didn’t even get to choose to be a shepherd), but God knew exactly where he was and had his loving eye on him. (Without those years we would probably never have had Psalm 23 – imagine that!)

What to do when you are waiting

The main thing to do during those ‘waiting’ years is to develop your relationship with God, to learn to trust his leading, to learn obedience, and above all to be faithful with the smaller things he has given you to do. David faithfully looked after and protected his father’s sheep. It is God’s job to open doors for you – and he will! A faithful heart will always find lots to do for the Lord! Remember that…a noble life is not a blaze of sudden glory won, but just an adding up of days in which good work is done…and God ordained each of those days for you.

This article by Aldyth Thomson first appeared in the December 2010 issue of JOY! magazine. Used with permission.

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