An Abundant Life

 

People jumpingYears went by before I thought about what happened the night my virginity was stolen. I journaled the details as they played back in my mind through a letter I wrote to my mother as part of my healing process.

I had planned on waiting until marriage to give myself to my husband. I heard in youth group the best way to start a marriage is to be sexually pure. But everything changed after my parent’s divorce.

As I wrote the letter to my mother almost twenty years after Josh raped me, I remembered a conversation just days before my boyfriend had broken up with me. My mother had suggested I go on the pill. She knew I was dating an older guy and she feared I would become pregnant. She explained that older guys would expect me to have sex with them.

Years later anger poured out of me as I scribbled the memories on the page of my journal. I realized my mother had given me permission to have sex. She had told me guys expected it. Her words caused me to question the idea of the sanctity of marriage. Instead of telling me to save and value myself she told me to give myself away.

I realized that when Josh pushed his way into me I never fought him, I never yelled, I never ran-away, but I succumbed. I never told anyone. I thought it was my fault. I never should have gone to my girlfriend’s house to visit her brother when no one else was home. But was I asking for sex? I had told Josh “no”, but he never listened. He took what was mine. He raped me, but I never called it rape. Could it be that I thought he expected sex and I should give in to him, because of what my mother told me?

From that point on, at sixteen, I vowed that no one would dump me at my doorstep again like Josh had done. Next time I would be good enough, not to be rejected. When my ex-boyfriend returned to me I won him over sexually. I secured my place in his life by moving into his apartment before my senior year of high school.

Although I knew he cheated on me, he smoked, he drank, and he had no ambition for his life I feared that I would never find someone else to love me. Finally, after two and a half years my mother’s loving words gave me confidence and courage to leave that unhealthy relationship behind. She said, “Kirsten, you’re a special young lady and you deserve so much better than Ed. I love you and I want you to move back home.”

My mother’s words changed the direction of my life. She spoke truth to me in love when I was heading down the wrong road with the wrong man.

Josh’s choice led me down a path to win a man over by being sexual. Josh is only partially to blame, as are my father’s comments toward women, his infidelity, abandonment and betrayal of our family. Today I also blame the music, movies, and media that encourage women to be sexual and promiscuous. But ultimately the choice was mine.

I chose to turn from God and go down the wide road that led to my destruction.

God was calling me to forgive Josh as I wrote the memories on the page of my journal. I decided to believe that my friend’s brother didn’t fully understand the impact of his selfish choice to take my innocence. I looked to Jesus as my example. If Jesus could say, after being brutally beat and nailed to a cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” (Luke 23:34) then I could forgive Josh.

When I started praying for God to bless Josh, I knew I truly forgave him. I wanted Josh to know God’s healing. Jesus died for Josh and for me. God showed us grace, the free gift of salvation, with Jesus death on a cross. He took the punishment of our sin. I must show Josh and others the same undeserved grace that I receive from a forgiving God. When I do, I am set free to love.

We are confused, wounded and broken children looking for love. I can now see the pain and woundedness of those who hurt me. We try to fill the God void in our lives with the temporary self-gratification of sex, material possessions, wealth, and power. I learned that only Jesus can satisfy our hearts desire for what we most long for: to be loved. He will heal our brokenness and help us to forgive those who hurt us when we ask.

I have experienced freedom from the bondage of bitterness to help others who are struggling with past pain that is causing conflict in their lives. Through my book and classes  many are living the abundant life that Christ promised. I help people recognize the lies and deception of the enemy that keeps people from experiencing all that God has for them and replacing those lies with the truth of God’s Word. Jesus said, “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” (John 10:10).

Are you ready for an abundant life? Healing can happen for you.

God’s Word to Live By:
I will bring health and healing; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. (Jeremiah 33:6,8)

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. (Micah 7:18)

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14)

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (Mark 11:25)

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (1 John 2:12)

Come Be With Me

come be with me     As you know, life can get busy. And in our busyness we can encounter conflict at home, in the workplace, community, and even at church. In fact, we all struggle from time to time with people we know and love. At least I do.

Recently, I was reminded that I need to take the time to “fight” to maintain good healthy relationships. We’re in a spiritual battle and it’s impossible to do life on our own. That’s why God designed the church. We need each other!

Sometimes, it takes a little tune-up with some practical advice, a Word of truth, and powerful prayer to get back on track. The good news is that God wants to transform our lives.

That’s why I’m a Faith Coach! I love to help people experience God and the abundant life He has for them.

Come be with me for my next class at the San Diego Rock Church. http://www.sdrock.com/rocku/216/overcome-conflict-with-confidence/.

This class should be fun! You know me, I’m passionate about what I teach, which helps after a long day at work. No boring stuff from me! Instead, I guarantee entertaining and transparent stories with engaging conversation that will keep you alert. And maybe even on the edge of your seat.

I really want to connect! I want to help. I want to pray for healing and reconciliation. I want God to do more than we can ask or imagine with the power at work within us, all for His glory and praise.

If you’re busy, out of town, and cannot come to this class, please consider buying my book for yourself or someone you know and love. Check out what people are saying on Amazon. And if you’ve already read my book, will you consider writing an honest review and telling someone about my book? Your endorsement is always appreciated.

My heart’s desire is for you and your loved ones to experience a life of victory. I want to be a part of that process. So let’s stay connected. Sign-up to receive my blog at http://www.KirstenStrawn.com.

Leading You To Abundant Life.

Schedule me to speak.

 

 

Rule Out Rejection

rule out rejectionRejected people act in unlovable ways. Even the fear of rejection can cause people to be rude and aloof in an effort to protect their hearts from those who may reject them.

The desire to be accepted compels many of us to compromise what’s right to do whatever it takes to be loved.

For me, I find myself hiding from confrontation, avoiding conflict by not expressing the truth. Instead of addressing the problem, I live a sneaky life of deception as I pretend everything is alright.

Some over spend to be accepted by their neighbors. Others, consume alcohol to attempt to fit in or to bury the pain of abandonment.

Criticism,, control, and complacency push spouses into the arms of lovers. Confused unwed girls and women seek refuge in abortion clinics to be tormented with the fear of rejection if their secret is found out. Over a million teens runaway each year in an attempt to protect themselves from abuse to seek acceptance on the streets.

What are you doing to be accepted?

The truth is that we are accepted and loved by God who will never leave us or reject us. He is with us and for us and has plans to prosper us when we seek Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

How does knowing that God fully loves you through the sacrifice of His Son cause you to not fear man, but to trust Him completely and follow Him?

What Motivates You?

Motivation signAre you motivated by a desire to glorify God or to glorify self; to protect or to punish; to encourage or tear down; to accept imperfect people like Jesus accepts you or to reject them; to serve others, including the unlovable, or to serve yourself; to express your feelings in gentleness or to attack in defensiveness?

Recently, God has convicted me of my impure motives. Yes, I love Jesus and I want people to know Him, but at the same time I’m too concerned about me…about my reputation, about me offending someone if I preach boldly for Christ, or about how many people like or comment on my posts.

God has convicted me. I’ve been a wimpy Christian, living in fear of rejection, fear of rocking the boat or making someone uncomfortable, fear of man instead of the fear and wrath of God. God has shown me that we can put our faith in people, possessions, power, blog posts and what is said and done to us instead of what God says and has done for us on the cross.

Quite honestly, I’m tired of being a wimp! I want more of Jesus and what God has for me through Him. There is nothing more important than Jesus and my relationship with Him. I’m tired of pretending to read God’s Word and teach God’s Word without letting it be my life’s desire to ingest and digest and regurgitate God’s Word until it becomes alive in me and feeds my very soul and spews out of me because I cannot contain it. I want to memorize God’s Word until the very words that come out of my mouth and heart reflect Jesus in the flesh.

Check your motives.

  • Do you live in fear of what people might think, say, or do?
  • Do you love Jesus more than life itself?
  • Do you feel sorry for yourself and play victim by blaming and judging others?
  • Do you have a spirit of unbelief that God can handle your problem?
  • Do you lust after possessions, pleasure, or position?
  • Do you live with a spirit of pride trying to prove you’re powerful, perfect, and better than others?

Self-righteousness, self-pity, defensiveness, disrespect, greed, lust, unbelief, and fear of man are all forms of pride. The enemy is out to destroy relationships, but the fact is we destroy relationships through pride. We cause quarrels by thinking we’re right or smarter or justified or better than others.

The Bible says in Proverbs 13:10, “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.”

I’m not here to argue with you, but sometimes God uses people tell us what we need to hear, but we become defensive or at least I do. I’m learning to STOP to listen to God and ask myself, what is God trying to tell me through this person? What advice do I need to take?

I am repulsed by my heart and humbled before the Living God who already knows my heart and intentions. May I suggest that you ask God to show you your heart? Are you motivated by pride, fear, envy, greed, or lust? When He convicts you, repent. Turn from what motivated you before to be motivated to proclaim salvation in Christ Jesus. Die to yourself and live for Christ alone to bring hope to those who are hurting. Jesus is the answer to every problem people are facing today.

So, I confess to you that I am no longer a wimpy Christian. I will proclaim the gospel boldly for people to be saved. I might step on toes and be persecuted and even put to death someday, but I would rather have God say, “Well done my good and faithful servant” than to be spit out and have Him say, “I never knew you.”

Faithfully Following Jesus,

Kirsten Strawn

Turn Confrontation into Connectedness

confrontation to connectednessBe wise in how you respond in your relationships. Approach every conversation or confrontation with the intent to gain understanding into what makes them unique. Be slow to respond and quick to listen to gain clarity. We are all created differently to come together to accomplish great things. If we were all the same nothing would get done. Instead of becoming frustrated, we can rejoice in the way we are different. In fact, the following steps can turn a confrontation into connectedness when you put the focus onto learning about others.

Steps to Wise-Up to LEARN

  1. Listen without becoming defensive. Take a deep breath and bite your tongue if you have to! Pay attention and nod to demonstrate that you care and that you are listening. This does not mean that you agree, but your opinion or side of the story can be shared in a few minutes.
  2. Express appreciation for their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. We all want to be known and valued. We long for adoration, affirmation, and acceptance by people in our homes, businesses, and in our communities. Say, “I want to hear what you have to say.” I appreciate that you’re sharing how you feel.” I want to know where you’re coming from.”
  3. Ask questions to learn about the person to meet their need to be heard and to be known. If you’re in a disagreement, clarify by asking, “So, are you saying _________?” “I want to know you, can you tell me _________? (See list of questions below to learn.)
  4. Remember what s/he tells you and follow-up with a question about the test in Algebra or the meeting at work or by making her favorite meal or suggest watching his favorite show, or know the score of the football game.
  5. Notice behavior to identify feelings. Read body language to understand and learn what might not be said. Say something like, “I notice you seem (disappointed, frustrated, excited) today. What’s going on in your life?” Wise-up to the following areas, although it may appear insignificant, it can change your relationship.

Questions to ask to communicate that you care:

  • What is your favorite (food, book, movies and TV show)?
  • What’s happening at (work, school, soccer, etc.)?
  • Who do you admire on your team?
  • What do you like about your friend?
  • What are your plans for today?
  • If you could do anything this weekend what would you do?
  • Do you feel nurtured by being indoors or outside in nature?
  • Do you get energized with people or spending time alone?
  • What are your best memories or most challenging times?

Whether at work, home, or in your community slow down to hear the heart of those who are in your sphere of influence. Discover their likes, dislikes, and feelings. To gain insight into the person’s daily life will transform your relationship. Ask open-ended questions to discover their pain, perspective, and personality to live the life of purpose God has for you. You are created to care for others.

The enemy of this world wants to deceive, destroy, and distract you from living the abundant life God has for you. Satan is most successful at doing this by causing confusion, chaos, and misunderstandings in your relationships. The Bible says,

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20).

For years I was defensive and blaming, but then I realized the enemy wanted to deceive me. Once I understood that my purpose is to minister love, grace, and mercy to the hearts of hurting people. Those of us who lash out or pull away are in pain. We all feel unloved, rejected, and misunderstood. That’s why it’s important to take every opportunity to be wise and not foolish in the words that we say. To argue or give the silent treatment is foolishness and pride. Does that mean we agree with everyone? No, of course not.

Stop to LEARN to demonstrate a heart of humility that will transform your life with the joy and peace that comes from living life God’s way. Rejoice in Him with a thankful heart that He is using you to minister the love of Jesus.

Dear Wise Father, Please give me wisdom and insight into my relationships. Help me to slow down to learn about others by being humble and taking the focus off of me. When I’m in a disagreement, please remind me to stop to listen to what they say instead of proving that I’m right and they are wrong or trying to defend myself. Help me to express appreciation for their thoughts, opinions, and viewpoints. Lord, let me slow down to ask questions to seek understanding and clarity to know those who I’m in relationship with. Help me to remember their likes and dislikes to prove my love and concern for them. Give me a sensitivity to how others are feeling that I may mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. I praise you for every circumstance, conversation, and confrontation that gives me the opportunity demonstrate your love. I want to honor and glorify you everyday in Jesus name. Amen.

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