Author Archives: Jenene

Old Habits

by Suni Bradford

I was at work doing my regular duties, one of which is making late payment calls. When a word, one that should not have come out of the mouth of a professed Christian (my words). A short time later, my co-worker asked me softly, how I felt about speaking like that as someone who is working in a ministry sharing Jesus Christ through her blogs? “Ouch”- is all I can say. I felt like a hypocrite with no integrity. I have heard comments in the past about Christians being “hypocrites” and I have responded with they are not hypocrites but sinners. I certainly do not want to be a hypocrite but more so I don’t want to miss the opportunity to shine Jesus light on someone. Whether this light be spoken or felt in kindness.

We talked about how these “old habits” are, oh so stubborn to die. It seems words and actions tend to come so quickly without a conscious decision is made. Romans 7:15 came to mind. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. How many times I’ve read that scripture and thought, how true.

A leader in the area of personal growth Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. explains how bad habits are actually recorded in neural pathways in our brain and we have to do reprogramming like we would with a computer. Couldn’t we just do a defrag and clean it all up, like we do on our computers? No. Unfortunately,it takes practice.

God can and may do this “clean up” of the brain for some but I believe He is shaping me through the changes, disciplines and practices. Changes that “I” must make. Habits that I must create. He has taken away many of the things that held me in bondage, such as a desire for alcohol and drugs. Praise Jesus. I want to break these habits that keep me from the fullness God has for me.

This has been a great lesson about integrity and humility. I was reminded of the responsibility of being a representative of Jesus Christ. To show Him to others through my words and actions.

Hypocrisy: The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

I am grateful that today I can sincerely thank my friend for pointing out my shortcomings. Also I am extremely grateful that God has shaped me into a woman that handled it with grace.

Live bold and blessed, Suni

Find You On My Knees

by Jenene Stafford

I felt like I hit rock bottom this morning in my journey to find God’s purpose.

How could it possibly be fulfilled in the midst of the challenges of my life? I am apparently lacking faith in this very annoying and hormonal season of life. Yuck!

Sometimes God is very direct, but vague. I am constantly left with more questions. I despise my “control freak” limitations. I imagine myself annoyingly saying to God, “Could you give me a little more to go on please?”

God, being the gracious God He is gave me an answer this morning.

But, the answer didn’t look the way I thought it would look. It was more like, “No, I’m not going to give you a little more to go on so get over yourself, I have everything under control.”

Notice, He said, I have everything under control, implying that I don’t. That’s not too hard to figure out! I cannot believe what a failure He is having me be. It’s been said that most people fear success. Not me, I fear failure. In fact, I downright hate it. Basically my personality is being destroyed in the midst of it.

Imagine that! God is changing my natural personality. Transformation is painful. Now I have to trust that something beautiful is going to come out on the other side. Right now it feels ugly.

I just want to say, “God, if you tell me what the point is, it would move things along a little faster.” See, I even want to tell God how to do His job.

I didn’t realize it, but my focus gets off of God sometimes during the journey of discovering what’s next. My determination can become to find the answers to all of my questions instead of the desire of my heart being to know God’s will for today.

I hope you get a good laugh at this and I’m sure some of you ladies can totally relate. The journey is seriously challenging and the answers are found on our knees. We have to hold on to His Word and forget all that comes against His plan, including our own voice and our own plans.

Jer. 29:11- 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.

Will I Survive Bootcamp?

by Jenene Stafford

Story #1: Our stories have a purpose

Last night I slept with one eye open again, if I slept much at all.

My stomach is full of knots, doing everything possible to keep my heart from pounding right out of my chest so the bed would not shake. I pretended often to be asleep. I lived in shear terror for years of what he would do to me when I should of been dreaming beautiful dreams.

The ten years of physical and mental abuse by my former husband has taken its toll on me and I can’t help but question God as to why He allowed this?

Was it not enough to survive rape, physical and mental abuse, the torture of not being allowed to sleep, being forced to sit in a corner like a bad child all night. If I dozed off to sleep my psycho husband would pinch me hard to wake me up.

The humiliation of sitting in a corner for hours or days, praying he’d allow me to use the restroom. My children would have to come and visit me in the corner in the bedroom which was only one place where he would control me and torture my body, mind and spirit.

I want you to know in this moment I despise through tears telling this tiny glimpse of a story. I don’t want to feel like I’m giving him one ounce of my attention or thoughts after all these years. I don’t want to recall the torture he put me through during these episodes of control, manipulation and attempts to break me, to brainwash me.

And yet . . .

The Lord Jesus speaks so gently to me and says, “Jenene, you’re telling this story for me, for my purpose and it’s ok with me that you’re angry about it. It’s ok if it causes you distress and discomfort, but trust me,  I have a good plan.”

Deep down I know He’s telling me the truth and why should I be surprised. I knew these stories would have to be shared. I’m surprised that I am so childishly reluctant. It must be part of the journey.

I have to take a break just to work through crying like a baby.  I’m begging God not to make me relive or rethink this past life. I know in my heart so many stories are yet to come.

Like Jacob, I know I have wrestled with God and He has given me a limp as a reminder of his graciousness. There is a battle He and I have fought together as I am still learning  tragedy after tragedy and moment by moment to understand His ways.

I fight for the God-inspired purpose. It does not come easy by any stretch of the imagination.

It is in this fight to discover the true meaning of humility, of laying everything at the throne of His grace, this battle to endure the enemy and to run the race victoriously that we become . . . Lady Champions.

I fervently pray and I wonder when will this bootcamp end.

With Much Love, Jenene

 

Fear Stops Me

by Jenene Stafford

Fear wants to stop our stories.

He is something that ultimately will end in doom, hoping to take humanity with him.

He is ultimately powerless.

But, regardless of how desperate humanity is to be a champion, the darkness wins out far too often.

It shouldn’t be.

People need faith, hope and light.

Real light . . .eternal.

The Bible says,” We are to be that light in a dark place, not hidden under anything.”

I for one want to live brilliantly today.

What voice, what face, what thought stands in the way? Fear has so many faces.

How do I go from fear to freedom?

From fear to boldness?

Am I willing to be that naked, that authentic, that exposed?

Are you?

Will you share your brokenness?

I am so tired.

I’m more tired of being beaten down by fear than anything else.

I’m tired of feeling alone, forever alone in this unusual journey.

Unfolding and revealing my story of the Truth.

Wondering who will stand with me.

I know I can’t fight fear by myself.

It will take THE TRUTH. The Truth we forget too easily. The Truth that sets you and me free.

This Truth, “I did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

That’s the voice, I want to listen to-I must listen to.

I can’t be afraid of coming into the Light anymore.

How can we be brilliant unless we are living in His Light?

How can I be a brilliant leader if I will not take the first step?

Much Love, Jenene

(inspired by Anne Jackson)

 

 

 

Let Your Light Shine

by Jenene Stafford

Yesterday I was watching a video from a well known female coach. In her training video, she said “Please don’t take a offense to what I’m about to say, but if one more woman says she wants to be a light, I think I might scream. What does than mean anyway?”

It got under my skin.

But, I got her point and it was well taken.

So many women talk about being a light and letting their light shine, it’s sounding over-used.

Perhaps it leaves people feeling good, but it needs to be followed up with what it means.

The world is becoming more “spiritual” and letting their light shine so how do we set ourselves apart as Christians?

You are a light of the world- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

One thing for sure, Jesus made a declaration!

He didn’t say I think you should be a light, He said, “You are a light.”

So be encouraged! He was letting us know that being a light is a position of authority and favor. This is what it boils down to for me:

  • We bring light to all the platforms God makes available to us
  • We impact the world through good deeds
  • We glorify the Father in Heaven by being recognized for good deeds
  • No one will know you credit your successes back to the Father unless you verbally give Him the credit as someone following His example
  • (Matthew 5:17-20) In context, you better make sure you’re living righteously and not just trying to look good, but keep your heart and motives pure (unlike the teachers of religious law and Pharisees.)

Live Brilliantly Today!

Jenene

Permission to Speak Freely

I sent this email below to Anne Jackson just a few minutes ago. Don’t know who she is? She’s an author of an awesome and raw book called Permission to Speak Freely. She poses the question, “What is the one thing you feel you can’t say in the church?” It’s a brilliant question. In posing the question, she asked people to send in their artistic confessions and she says her responses were “beyond anything I could have imagined”.

I was moved greatly by her courage and her story. The Lord has been encouraging me to write my own book and include other women’s stories of what they’ve survived- only by the grace of God. I am finding women hesitating, holding back and considering sharing their story.

My email to Anne Jackson:

Hello Anne,

 I am not expecting a response to this email, but I had to share with you how inspired I was by your book Permission to Speak Freely. I basically had to get that off my chest. I want to honor you for your boldness and authenticity. What a breathe of fresh air! The Lord has asked me to do a campaign called “Share Your Story” for a book He wants me to write. I am looking for women to share their stories. On the web page I have an option of, yes, no, considering. I am finding a lot of women choosing the considering option. So, in reading your story, it just made me think, “how do I get women to share the story that God is calling them to share?” How do I find the women who are bold enough that they will tell their story even in the face of their fear of rejection or judgment?  I love your rawness and I believe it’s time for this. It’s time to be raw so we can brilliantly share the love of Christ. May the Lord bless abundantly you for the courageous work you are doing.

The 30-Day Challenge To Let Go

Hi Ladies,

The Lord challenged me 18 days ago to do a 30-Day Challenge to let go and let God. If I judge myself I am failing miserably, but I am trusting God to provide at least 1 major breakthrough. Actually I’ve already had sooo many!  I felt He challenged me to use dance/movement as my challenge. In my case I needed to slow down to be present enough to let Him work through me, so my dance is all about slowing myself down, otherwise it would not be a challenge.

I realized that the challenge is seriously about letting go of myself so God can work through me. Basically, I really want to get out of His way so my divine purpose will be fulfilled. The videos I’m posting on Youtube are a way for me to physically see Him inside my movement. How much of the movement is about me? How much of it is Him using me?

Am I truly spirit led as I claim to be? I think the authentic answer is sometimes I am. However, what I’m learning through this journey is that lots of distractions get in the way. Being present is really easy when there’s nothing in the way that would have us resist, therefore, I guess you could say there’s no challenge in that.

If you go to our Youtube channel you’ll see the progression, stumbling blocks and the journey that we’re going through. Here’s Day 7. You can watch the others if you want you’ll see them labeled. I also, put one of the videos below. This one is about pushing through all that attempts to stop you.

The goal is to let the Lord move us forward. I believe it is no accident that the Lord has directed me to dance (a practice in presence and being, Cindy to lead music (leadership and being) at church and Suni to make time to write (time management).

The goal of all of our challenges is to grow, let go, be present and be the woman God created us to be. To flourish, to fly, to be abundant, to love fully, to share our stories and vulnerabilities is all for a divine purpose greater than ourselves.

If the Lord is challenging you in a particular area, just be God’s “yes” Girl. Just do it, let Him challenge you. Don’t fight the process. Enjoy the journey! We’re right there with you.

Live Brilliantly Today!

Choose to Do God Things, Not Good Things

by Jenene Stafford

Hi Ladies,

Today Suni and I were having a conversation and as I was giving her a little personal coaching, this divine moment showed up and this statement flew out of my mouth.

I said, “Suni, you can spend your life doing good things or you can spend your life doing God things. It’s your choice.”  Suni was so excited, she said, you’ve got to create an ebook or product with that title.

Needless to say, I give God all the credit because He inspired the thought. Anyway, she left a few minutes later and I spontaneously created this video.

Since I know that all of us in our heart of hearts want to live our divine purpose and walk the God-inspired path for our life, I put this video together to help.  I pray it will inspire you to have a breakthrough in the area of purpose.

 

The Joy In Being A Loved Child

by Suni Bradford

Even at the fine age of 48 I love going to visit my Mom & Dad.

As I headed up I-5 to Redding, California, the joy and anticipation of a weekend of fun, visiting and rest was a treat. I cherish the opportunity to spend time with them.

Many times when I tell someone I’m headed to Redding they respond with “oh, that drive is so boring”.  I really enjoy the drive,  it’s usually a time I look forward to, time filled with solitude, reflection, anticipation and praise.

There had been a very light shower earlier in the day, which is almost always a promise for a pretty sky, and it was.  The sky was a crisp teal blue with huge white fluffy clouds, the sun would shine behind the clouds as if peeking through, creating a vibrant display of rays.

The scene reminds me of God’s greatness.

I can envision His gloriousness emanating from the clouds.   His welcoming arms reaching out to me.

Beautiful….

There were many eye pleasing landscapes that I could go into as well as the awesome time I had with my parents but what I really want to share with you is the love God has for His children and how this love can change everything.

Our Heavenly Father wants to be just that “Our Father”.

Many have had earthly fathers that have failed them. God, the Father will never fail us.  James 4:8 tells us clearly that, “God the Father is loving, compassionate, and full of mercy.” He longs to hold us in his arms and to heal, comfort and encourage us. He wants to be our loving daddy. We are assured of his response to us as his children: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  And again in Lamentations 3:22-23, “We can know that He wants to love and care for us everyday.    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”

The Bible is full of scripture regarding His love for us.
Paul prayed for the people in Ephesians 3:18-19, “I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is.  I pray that you will know the love of Christ. His love goes beyond anything we can understand. I pray that you will be filled with God Himself.”

Whether you have been a believer for some time or your just wondering about what He is all about.  Open your heart and mind; be ready to be loved by the greatest Father ever.  Sounds like a greeting card but it’s true.  Rest in His arms and hang on for the best ride of your life.

Love, Suni

P.S. Mom’s we know you love us too.

A Matter of Perspective

by Suni Bradford

We were on a well-deserved weekend trip in the bay area. We were strolling along the pier enjoying the sea air, the sound of seagulls and knick-knack shops, when we stumbled upon an art gallery nestled back in a corner. There were many different types of art. The collections were directed to all types of tastes and personalities. There were beautiful, creative and then there were the pieces that I thought were very bizarre and some downright scary. I have pondered on what the artist’s thoughts and feelings were at the time they created their works of art. How they must get out a lot of different emotions out through this form of release.

What a fun way to praise and relieve stress. I can see it now.
Praise music cranked up
Easel, canvas & paintbrush
Paint & painting apron

Think of all the money they save on therapy! I’m just kidding, not everyone needs therapy, that’s what we have girlfriends, mentors and prayer partners for.

I know that I’ve had beautiful, creative, bizarre and some downright scary emotions and perspectives on things in my life and my surroundings. I have been resistant to change, in some areas through the years. Actually I’ve been downright stubborn and lazy about it, I’m not sure why because resistance usually doesn’t feel good (unless I’m on a healthy eating plan and resisting a brownie).

Realizing that I do at times need a paradigm shift in some of my thought patterns. I’ve found the best way to do this is, talking to God, listening to God and reading His word. I am a sinner that fights with impatience and intolerance when things don’t go my way. Sounds like a spoiled brat, huh? Anyone else?

A video on youtube named Paradigm shift by Fellowship Bible Church Littlerock, AR. hit a little to close to home because it pointed out to me my selfishness and self-centeredness. www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlRK1vqcuvg

I feel comforted that God has the bird’s eye view of our lives and He has planted the desire to be transformed into His likeness in my heart. Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Now it’s up to me to get it into my mind. To change my perspective will be a constant discipline but the payoff comes when having compassion and loving others comes a little more natural. Take a look at Philippians 4:8, as Paul’s gives us direction as to our thoughts 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I pray God is pulling on your heartstrings as well to live intentionally in thoughts and actions today.

Love to all, Suni