(Really) Crazy Faith

My tuition has not yet been paid and I’ve been attending classes for the last 3 1/2 weeks.  My children’s instrument rental fees are still overdue and I’ve received postcards, emails, letters, and phone calls to that effect.  My vehicle finance company has been calling and leaving messages and sending emails and letters.  My cardiologist is sending bills to cover what my insurance (which should have covered everything) did not pay for.  My water bill is a little more than $400.  The temperature in my home fluctuates between 80-93 degrees on a daily basis.  The smell of what I believe to be a rotting corpse is getting louder and louder outside and has begun to drift into my home through the air conditioning vent.  My mother needs a kidney transplant.  My brother is struggling with addiction.  My father has not been seen (by me) in over a year nor heard from since my brother died 5 months ago.  My rent is 3 months late.  My cell phone, cable, and internet service have all been shut off.  My kids are starting to worry a little more and pray a little harder and the stress of not having certain things is starting to show on their faces and through their attitudes.  I tell them to keep all their valuable items with them at all times because it could happen at any moment.

A T . . . A N Y . . . M O M E N T . . .

At any moment a repo truck could come pick up the van that we have had for less than a year.  At any moment a sheriff’s deputy could come serve me with eviction papers or my electricity could be shut off.  At any moment, I could lose all the things that I count as necessities and begin to believe that God has not heard my prayers or that I misunderstood His instructions.  At any moment I could begin to question whether or not those were His instructions at all.  At any moment my faith could waiver, at any moment I could run back to the job I left to pursue the life I believe God called me to.  At any moment anything bad could happen. But, I am determined to continue holding on to the promises He whispered in my heart through His word.

I left my job a few months ago to pursue entrepreneurship (again).  This time, I would put my all into it.  This time, I had to because this time the “bright idea” was Holy Spirit Inspired it was HIS idea.  At least that is what I believe.  I would never have thought to start my own cleaning service.  Mostly because under normal circumstances I dread cleaning my own home.  All my hard work becomes invisible after about a week or so.  Stains return to doors, light fixtures, and walls.  I still find food that I was unaware we had in my home on the floor from time to time.  The chore chart I worked so hard to create is often overlooked.  So I asked God, “How can I clean for other people and I don’t even like cleaning my house?”  His answer -a flood of vivid memories accompanied by a sense of happiness.  As the images of smiling and grateful faces of my family members, boyfriends, and friends came to my mind, I remembered how much I loved cleaning for other people.  I loved giving someone a break.  I would often find myself in the homes of people who worked hard.  They worked hard and their home was a mess, so without an invitation, I served them in the best way I could.  I cleaned.

Okay God, that’s pretty clever.  I asked for a way to make money to take care of my children and you showed me writing and entrepreneurship.  I told you I didn’t really have time for either because I needed to work the part-time job I had so I could at lease have a dependable source of income.  I asked you to teach me how to manage my finances and to increase them.  Now, all I have after I stepped out on faith is stress and heartache.  Was my vision of success a vision for someone else?  Did I fabricate it?  Did you really mean to take away everything that I had after I asked you to teach me how to manage and increase the small amount that I had?  It doesn’t feel fair, or right.  Did I do something wrong?  Is there unrepented sin in my life that I need to confess?  Have I ever really heard from you or has it all been a figment of my imagination?  Can’t you just use your power to cancel all my debts and give me some money?  Please?

I wallowed in the muck of self-pity and did not like how it looked on me, so I cried about that.  I cried and I prayed.  I cried and I listened.  I learned new ways of praying because perhaps this mess was just too huge for God to acknowledge through just a simple petition.  Now that I’m crying and praying and fasting and crying and praying and writing and crying and praying and sobbing and laying prostrate and turning my face to the wall and begging and pleading and anointing things with oil, surely He will deliver me from this mess. Surely He will speak the answer into my spirit. Silence.

Anger, frustration, sadness, doubt, and shame have all risen up inside of me.  How could the God who has answered my prayers in the past leave me now?  Why do I keep ending up in situations like this when I’m trying so hard?  I’m starting to feel like I never do anything right.  I’m failing in front of my children.  Do I really believe? Did God really answer my prayers in the past or was it all coincidence?  How can I go back to the same people and ask for help again? They’ll think I’m on drugs or something!  So many emotions, so many fears, so much disappointment and so much stress!  The only thing I can be certain of is that it could all happen AT ANY MOMENT.  What will I do then?

The 32nd chapter of Genesis tells the story of a man named Jacob.  Jacob had done some pretty deceitful things to his brother and he was afraid that he would pay for his deeds with his life.  He had a serious need.  He needed a blessing from God, a blessing he had asked for previously but because he had not seen the blessing he became desperate. So desperate that Jacob clung to the closest thing he could get to God -an angel.  In verse 26, Jacob is said to have told that angel he would not let go until the angel blessed him.  That is what I have decided to do.

I will cling desperately to the God I believe still sits on the throne of grace.  I will cling to my belief in Immanuel -God with us.  I will cling to Jehovah-Jireh -my provider.  I will refuse to let go of Jehovah-Shalom because He is my only peace in this season.  I will wrap my mind tightly around Jehovah-Shammah knowing that He is present with me in this very situation though in spite of the fact that I can’t hear Him.  I will, I must, I’m determined to cling to God in every way.  All of His attributes, all of His promises, and all of His truth.  I have to because it could happen at any moment.

AT… ANY… MOMENT…

At any moment my Heavenly Father could pour me out a blessing that I don’t have room enough to receive.  At any moment, He could manifest His promises.  At any moment I could praise my way through to my blessing.  At any moment I could realize that God shows His strength in my weakness.  At any moment I could just fully and completely trust in Him and all my worries will fade away.  Something good could happen in the midst of the bad AT ANY MOMENT…

…this is my moment

 

 

Lifted

Raped. Abused. Ashamed. Confused. Alone. Lost. Found. Forgiven. Saved. Free.

Now that I’ve told you about my life in ten words, let me properly introduced myself. My name is Shawntay Alfreda and I am a princess.

For the longest time, I did not know who I was. Sure, I knew my name, my date of birth, my social security number, and I could describe what I looked like.  But I did not know who I was.  I was in an identity crisis and because of it, I made a A LOT of mistakes that nearly cost me my inheritance.

In order to be lifted, you have to be in a place that is lower than where you are being taken.  Depending on how deep down you are you may or may not be able to “lift” yourself.  I was deeply DEEPLY embedded in sin.  I was so far down that all I could see was my sin and I thought that the hole I had dug for myself was where I was supposed to be.  I was often uncomfortable in that place and I often wished myself out but instead of trying to climb up, I dug deeper and tried to get comfortable in my sin.

I drank, I smoked, I had sex without protecting my body or my heart.  I lied, I cheated, I stole precious time and positive memories from my children, family, and friends.  I was a horrible person.  But then one day, a bright light pierced my darkness.  For a moment I was intrigued by it, but I quickly became afraid of it because I was not ready to leave the dark place I had created for myself.  So I ran away from the light by digging myself down even deeper.

After five children, numerous burned bridges, abusive romantic relationships, and a failed marriage; I began to long for the light I had seen before.  I believed that even a sliver of it would help me to see my way out of the home I was so desperate to leave even though I had built it with my own hands.  One day it happened.  A stranger called out to me and when I answered light flooded my darkness.  I could see everything that had been hidden.  Every thought, every ideal, every chain that was connected to my pain and held me bound to the prison I had created with my mind.

I had been saved!  In the moment that a hand reached down into the depths of my sin and pulled me out of it, I realized I had a purpose and a place.  I realized that I was free and that I was loved.  What moved me most of all, is that I had been forgiven.  For all the times I had disrespected my mother, my children, and myself…Forgiven.  For all the times I lied and cheated and tried to destroy the relationships other people had worked so hard to build…Forgiven.  For all the times I cursed, and ignored, and ran away…Forgiven.  I did not understand this forgiveness but I needed it, I felt it, and I believed it was mine.

Being forgiven opened up so many doors.  Doors that I never walked through alone.  Doors that enabled me to extend forgiveness in naturally unforgivable situations.  Doors that would give me the boldness to tell people that they too could be forgiven.

I know that not all of you who read this will understand what I’m saying because there is quite a bit that remains unsaid.  Simply put, I experienced some horrible things early in my life.  I used my horrible experiences as an excuse to be a horrible person.  When my inner voice told me seek God, I tried but I ran away because in a very short time, I felt ashamed.  I found myself in a church with people who looked perfect and I did not believe that with my history, I could ever belong to a place with people who appeared to be so perfect.  So I turned away from God and went back to my old lifestyle and things went from bad to worse.

Abusive relationships, depression, rape, isolation, destitutuion, and estrangement from my family were the things that I turned to.  The things that I was most comfortable with because no matter how much they hurt, they were familiar.  I did horrible things intentionally and non-intentionally and I continued to experience horrible things.  The whole time that inner voice was calling out to me.  When I finally paid attention to it I was in such a mess.  I thought that things would only get worse and I was certain that I would not survive it all but in my desperation, I sought God.

God found me pregnant, homeless, separated from my abusive husband and my children.  He found me vulnerable and exhausted from trying to keep living.  He found me.  Not only that, He lifted me up from the mess I made of my life and the he cleansed me of it all!  By reading the Bible and going to church, I found out what God said about me, about forgiveness, about love, about my value.  What I was most fond of was that I found out that the day I turned away from my sinful ways and began to seek Him, He adopted me into his family.  Because God is the King of kings, I am a Princess.

My sin almost cost me my inheritance.  But God!

First Things First

A Prayer For Single Mothers

Heavenly Father, I come to you right now in Jesus’ name. I ask that you shower favor upon the single mother who has found herself reading these words. And for this purpose God, I don’t mean single as the world determines singleness, God I mean the woman who is raising her children without you. For this purpose, God I’m referring to the married woman, the divorced woman, the widowed woman, and the never married woman, who is raising a child that she has not declared to be, recognized to be, or determined to be, YOURS.  Forgive her for anything she has said or done or failed to do or say that caused a separation between you and her. Forgive her for not seeking you, for turning away from you, for thinking she could do this all on her own. Forgive her for the mess she made as she set out to raise her child on her own. Wash her heart clean Lord, shower her with your tender mercies and saturate her with your Holy Spirit. Give her an abundance of wisdom in both natural and spiritual matters. God please open doors that will enable her to reach her child in a way she never has before. Open lines of communication in her home where none were previously found. God cause her prayer life to be strategic. Teach her to pray prayers over herself and her family that are powerful enough even in simplicity –to cover and exceed all the needs of her household. Teach her that it is okay to reach out to those around her for help because you have placed gifts and words in others that are meant to bless her specifically. Give her more of the beautiful things in life, things like: good relationships, faith, kindness, patience, humbleness, joy, peace, strength wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and God most importantly give her more of YOU!  Speak into the hearts of those around her so that they are prompted to pray for her often and not just when she is visibly going through something. Give her discernment and teach her how to hear your still small voice when noise and chaos surround her. Teach her to be courageously obedient to your voice. Illuminate her world so that things she needs to be aware of, see, and deal with are clearly visible. Please give her rest at the first sign of weariness; spiritual rest, emotional rest, and physical rest. God give her the strength to press on when she is losing hope and feels like giving up. God, allow her to see you when her child faces major illness, when her own health fails, when jobs don’t do her right, when she is slighted and let down by those who she expected to love and assist her. God encourage her when her heart is broken. Speak to her as she cries in the midnight hour. Ignite a path before her when she doesn’t know which way is best. God enable her to rule and control her emotions so that her emotions do not rule and control her life. Help her to be mindful of the words she speaks, especially when she is speaking to her or anyone else’s children. Help her to know the importance and the power of her words so that she speaks life into her children & not death; victory & not defeat, blessings instead of condemnation, prayers instead of profanities. God, right now I ask that you remove depression, defeat, slothfulness, idleness, discouragement, confusion, and worry from this mother. I ask that you heal and rebuild her from the inside out so that there are no more broken places, so that the scars of her past are transformed into medals of Honor, Valor, and Victory. Bless her right now God to BE an overcomer, to see that she IS and overcomer, and to KNOW that overcomers will inherit all things. God I don’t know and could never know every need that she may have, but Lord you do, so please help her to understand that you are her Father. Help her to know that as YOUR daughter, she is valuable, cared about, loved, and blessed. Allow her to experience you in Your majesty and allow your most Holy Spirit to tickle her heart daily so that she knows her Father is with her and that You see her when people treat her as if she is irrelevant, so that she knows You love her and accept her and have a blessing waiting for her if she would only follow you instead of being immobilized by the voice of the devil. God bless this single mother right now. God bless her according to what is written in your Word. God bless her in the name of Jesus. God, bless her as only you can. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(The above prayer is an excerpt from “Messy Mommy” by Shawntay Alfreda)