Category Archives: Real Life Issues

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

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)

 

 

 

Jesus Loves The Bad Girls, Do You?

By Jenene Stafford

I didn’t grow up with Joan and Ward Cleaver as my parents. My childhood was no picnic. It was really tough and I honestly wondered if I would survive those first 26 years. Looking back I can only believe it was a miracle from God that I went from a victim to a survivor and ultimately a thriver.

Sometimes when we’re punished inappropriately by our parents we create an identity for ourselves. In my case, I was a good little girl, who felt like a bad girl.

At some point, I became that and began living out the lie. For nearly 40 years I suffered with a BAD GIRL complex even when I was way beyond living like a bad girl.

Anytime I didn’t do something just perfect, or if I made a not-so-good decision I would get physically sick to my stomach.

If my husband didn’t like something about my work in our company I would worry and feel sick about it. It was really weird.

It took me years to figure out why I constantly would physically feel like I was in trouble if I didn’t do everything perfect.

But, after years of digging to find this deep-rooted hang up, a faithful God freed me completely of this.

Along the way, I discovered something wonderful about Jesus. He gets you and me better than anyone.

This is the truth about Jesus . . .

He loves the “Bad  Girls”

He is unconditional love, contrary to what many may think right now. This comes with a disclaimer: This doesn’t mean you’ll live life without some major hurts and challenges along the way.

He is the Savior of our souls and our constant stupidity and trouble we tend to get ourselves into. He’s the person that says, “Well done, my good and faithful child, when it takes everything not to have a sexual affair that every pour in your body is craving.”

He’s the God who comforts you when you’ve just finished watching 2 hours of porn and you’re now sick to your stomach and your spirit aches and your body is still unsatisfied.

He’s the lover of the Mary Magdalene’s. He’s the God who sadly watches his molested daughters grow up to be prostitutes, knowing that every suffering of evil can be used for good.

He’s the Jesus that says to the Father, “Forgive them for they know not what they do”, after we’ve just aborted our child. He’s the healer of our guilt, not the cause.

He’s the God who desires above all that we come to know Him personally.

Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, he saves us from ourselves and accepts us no matter how many wrong choices we make. But, what he does not do, is force you to believe he is real. He’s not only some great prophet that lived a couple of thousands of years ago. He was all that and so much more. He died a horrible death and rose from the dead 3 days later, proving to the world that he was God in human form.

He’s the Father to the fatherless. The love to the woman with an aching heart for a husband. He’s the comforter when we turn to him. He’s the healer of our broken hearts and broken bodies.

He’s our greatest teacher.

He speaks to us.

He makes us new so we don’t have to keep living in the past with all it’s mistakes and pain.

His arms are always open if we’ll let him help us. He’s a gentleman and doesn’t push his will on us. He gives us freedom to choose.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, he never did anything like that for me.” I’d have to ask you, Have you ever fully surrendered to Him?

He wants to be in your life. Jesus isn’t a far off God like some like to think. He’s an intimate God. He is our Spiritual Father and he can love you better than any human father ever could.

He knows every hair of your head and made you completely and uniquely different than every other woman on the planet. That is so cool!

The more we trust him and learn about him the more we’re able to see him working in our lives. He’s the only reason I survived the first 26 years of my life. He’s the most amazing, full of humor, wise, creative, loving, forgiving, kind, gentle, powerful, humble person I know. The best person on the planet can’t even measure up because he is perfectly God and his Spirit still lives on with us.

Our spirits are all craving something more and we will try everything to fill that void. Underneath it all, it’s a real God we want to know. We’re all on a search for a real and living God.

I’m here to tell you, Jesus is all that and more. His love is so far out of what we could ever imagine and his peace will save you from suicide.

He’s the God that heals us of our broken lives and broken spirits. He’s the God that heals you of addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, prescription drugs, co-dependency, pornography and every other hang up.

He is faithful to us, but we haven’t done a very good job of being faithful to him. We ignore him because we want to do things our own way, even when his way is far superior.

He is a place of faith, hope and true love.

He is waiting for you to get that He gets you.

Live Brilliantly Today!

Jenene, xoxo

Growing Through Life’s Challenges

By Suni Bradford

Most of us, believers and non-believers, tend to go to God for help when painful issues such as marital, lost children, financial issues arise.  Our fears that stem from not knowing how to handle these pains can sometimes put us into a numb, frozen state.  We go searching for relief, peace and direction.  We desperately need some help and may feel the need for others input when there seems to be no immediate answers from our Loving Counselor.  If we are a non-believer this can be very lonely and non productive.

There are two directions we can choose. One being, God’s will in our lives and the other being self will. By trusting God at and through His word, we can feel the relief of knowing that He does have our best interest at heart.  His word tells us over and over that He is in control.  He has a perfect plan for us.

Jeremiah 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

We see such a small glimpse of our lives and in our humanness cannot see as He sees.  The full picture is far more then we can ever imagine.  We have so many scriptures to got to for peace.

Romans 8:18 “Consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  More is always revealed.

Jeremiah 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.

Romans 8:28 tells us, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

Secondly, we can operate in self-will.  The need for instant answers can easily bring us more discomfort, anxiety and perhaps guilt for hasty decisions made or actions taken.  By rushing to make these decisions because we feel guilt from someone else or lose of control is not a healthy emotional state. The result on our mental and physical wounds can show up in many forms such as isolation and illness.  By looking to God for clarity in our motives we can take responsibility for our part and leave the rest to what it is.  Keeping in mind that the only people we can control is ourselves.  If financial hardship is the challenge and we are making efforts to change our circumstances, faith is our lifesaver.

A prayer that I rely upon is the serenity prayer.  “God grant me serenity to accept the things cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”. This is a simple rule but can be a challenge to live by.

Many challenges will come our way through our life, the Word tells us this and yet we continue to be taken back when they hit. As we learn to go to God in all things, the good, the bad and the ugly, we can begin to understand His amazing love for us.  He wants to be our all.  We were designed that way.  We can choose to take advantage of the free gift.  By practicing waiting on the Lord we can have a completely different view of these growing pains.  We can grow to have more Christ like characteristics.  In turn helping us to handle future challenges with more grace and perhaps helping another to do the same.

We sometimes think that God should deliver an immediate answer for tough decisions that we need to make.  Especially when we are doing the right things, like prayer, meditation, time in the word and Godly counsel.  His answer may simply be “be still and wait”.

I can picture Jesus sitting waiting for His hurt children to come sit on His lap and be soothed.  As so many of us have done with our earthly parents, for example; when scuffing a knee or being bullied.  He feels our hurts.

Live Brilliantly Today™

Bold Steps of Faith

By Cindy Grasso

It is time for insecurities to go. For doubt and fears to fly away and be replaced by a confidence that comes straight from the throne of God.

“God is not offended by your biggest or boldest prayers.”- Mark Batterson from his new book, The Circle Maker.

Last night a friend of ours crashed on our couch last night on his way up to Redding, Ca. I didn’t see him but for a minute early this morning, but my husband got to talk with him and catch up. He told my husband the story of his journey from Las Vegas to Nepal. James’ heart beats stronger on foreign soil than it does on his native soil and has a strong call to missions.

Here’s the story:

Before he went to Nepal, he felt God wanted him to make right some mistakes he had made in Vegas- unpaid perfect parking tickets, an unresolved car accident, etc. So he walked into the police station and asked them to bring up all the records and see what he needed to to. Turns out that the amount came to about $8000. James went about getting any job he could, anywhere he could. From one odd job to another, James found himself in South Carolina and working as a painter. He found a good group of Christian men to work with and made $800 on the completion of the job. He thought to himself,” I am finally getting somewhere and will make a dent in the debt!” He went to church in South Carolina on the next Sunday thanking God for it. During the service, James felt the Lord impress him to give all the money to the Pastor’s son- all $800. So, he did it. For James, it was the widows mite – all he had. He gave it that day. On Monday, he received a call from from the government. “Oh no,” he thought, “more trouble.”  But the call was regarding a claim he had put in six years earlier for a pension his father had earned. His father had passed away and James was dealing with the estate. He filed the claim but nothing had come of it. Now they were calling to say, yes, it had come through: over a hundred thousand dollars to be split between the six siblings. James got $25,000. He paid off his debts and used the money to make his way to Nepal to share God’s love with the people there.

This isn’t a story about money, it is a story about God’s currency: faith. In God’s economy money is metal and paper, the real currency if life is faith. It is a reminder that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.  I don’t know about you, but I forget that God can do a whole lot more with what I have than I can. He works in multiplication while I inch along in addition.  Hearing my husband pass along this story reminded me that walking in faith is never easy but always worth it. He can do  “more than we could ask or imagine.”

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV)

I think the enemy wants to keep us held captive in small thinking and small faith. He feeds our insecurity and doubts to keep us from moving forward.

It is time to shake off our insecurities. To step out in faith and confidence to live your life in joy and freedom. The freedom to live the adventurous plan God has for you.

1.  The negative thoughts will come- take them captive.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)

2. The attack on your attitude will happen- up your worship and gratitude.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

3.  Your sight (what you see around you) will be challenging, up your faith threshold – purposely focusing upward and God’s perspective.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV84)

Live Brilliantly Today™

Healthy Living and Spirituality

By Suni Bradford

This probably sounds like a strange concept but I have noticed the link between treating myself well and my connection with God.

In the past I would treat myself in the areas of food, which meant indulging in any and every yummy thing I wanted or by getting that extra hour or two to sleep rather than exercising and reading my Bible, thinking that I was enjoying life. My idea of “treating myself” was actually doing the opposite, inflicting harm to myself.  After taking a good look at my habits, I now see how destructive they were.   In looking at the effects they can have on our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being, I’ve got a new outlook on living a clearer more satisfying life.

Spiritual well being

The emptiness we feel and try to fill with everything else in life can be replaced by peace and contentment through intimacy with Christ.  We may not even know what is eating us, but we know something is missing.   By remembering when I hear myself saying these things, either out loud or in my head, that the source of these lies are the enemy.  God has a much better plan. Jeremiah 9:11 “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”.

Mental well being

The constant stream of negative thoughts, such as I can’t stop eating my ice cream, oh, I could never lose weight, I’ve never been one to keep up on any of my resolutions or goals.  This is one of the enemy’s best tools for keeping us sidetracked and in pain. If he can keep us thinking we cannot change, he has done his job in destructing our self-esteem and self worth as well as distracting us from our relationship with God.  By remembering our value.  Genesis 1:26-27 tells us, “Our value comes from the fact that we are wonderfully made in the image of God”. One of my favorite reminders is Matthew 10:30

“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Wow…. That pretty much clears it up”.  He loves us.

Emotional well being

By identifying our feelings we can learn to control our urges that we are attempting to mask. Emotions can trigger cravings as we feel that they comfort us.  As we develop a closer relationship with our loving God we are able to achieve more balance in the tough times as well as the good times. 1 John 2:16-17 “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever”.

Physical well being

The damage we can do to our health by over eating and not moderating our eating of things that are unhealthy for our bodies such as high fat foods, imitation/ processed foods, a diet high in sugar as well as yo- yo dieting.  Some of the effects may be headaches, irritability, fatigue, feeling like we are in fog all the time or worse yet, the stress on our hearts, arteries etc. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 “ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”.  This also says to me the importance of exercise.  Keeping our bodies strong and mobile is beneficial now and as we age.

The energy boost resulting from the increased intake of oxygen, the building of muscles as well as the mental clarity is worth the lost sleep.  The confidence, a result of the discipline we develop, can help us to put out a positive energy to the people around us.  They’ll wonder what got into you.  Perhaps creating friendships and opportunity to share the love of Christ with them.

Accountability can be extremely helpful in the area of goal setting and encouragement.  I encourage you to not do as I did in the beginning of my transitioning to a healthier life.  I picked a pal that we would both say heck with exercise this morning, lets go have breakfast. However, we did work our biceps, right…

In believing that our lives can be more rewarding in all areas when the clutters of our previous patterns are cleared of negative aspects. Be renewed by Christ’s healing and forgiveness.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I pray this article will encourage the desire to change from unhealthy patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving into peace, joy and a newfound confidence that God has a plan for us to prosper in every area of this great life.

“I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Now, go share the love.

Live Brilliantly Today™

 

Abundant Life

By Cindy Grasso

There is more to life than a mundane existence. More to life than a half hearted push to the deep breathing, joy fulfilling, purposeful life you crave.

Yes, it takes guts.
Yes, it takes risk.
And yes….you are made for it.

You are made to live an abundant life.
Not a half life,
Not an almost life,
But an abundant life.

This the word Jesus used to describe the kind of life he came to provide in John 10:10:

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. ” (NKJV)

The Greek word used here for abundance is perissos. It carries in it the sense of beyond as in beyond what you can think or dream. Just the very first definition of perissos, floors me:

1) exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
a) over and above, more than is necessary, superadded

What’s the number you have set as a goal?
What is your measure of success?
Where do you rank in the world?
What do you need?

Goals are good, important and needed. It is also good, important and needed to know that God has something beyond all of those things. He is not limited by numbers, measures, ranks or needs. In fact he has come to give you life beyond them. He has a plan that far exceeds them.

God wants to lead you into a life that is living in a realm that is over and above just “the good life”. Leading you past what is just necessary and into what is extraordinary.

Jesus didn’t say, “I have come they might have an easy life and one easier than easy.”  No, he does not say that it will be easy, he says it will be brilliant.

Jesus also issues a warning in this verse. He warns that there is a thief out to sabotage your journey, to tempt you in a silky voice to quit, stop, to cease and desist. To convince you that you need to take your destiny into your own hands and do something with it. Leave the fold, get out of the cage, do it yourself. This is the voice of the thief, a professional liar who only wants your destruction. To steal your destiny, kill your potential.

In this wonderful verse, Jesus describes himself as a shepherd- The Good Shepherd. A provider who knows his sheep, takes care of them, guards them, and is ready to lay down his life for them. In the context of this kind of love and loyalty, Jesus says “I have come so you can have life and can have it more abundantly.”

There is more life for you. More life in your body. More life in your marriage, more life in your business, more life in your life. Abundant life.

This power packed word is the same one used in Ephesians 3:20-

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (NKJV)

I love how the Message version translates it:

“God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (MSG)

How do you walk in your abundant life?
• Let go of your limits.
• Listen to the voice of your Shepherd.
• Follow his lead.
• Trust and obey him, one step at a time.
• Repeat daily.

Live Brilliantly Today™