The Power of Testimony

melissa1

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. Rev 12:11

Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has suffered pain and sorrow. So many have chosen to allow that suffering to hold them back. Jesus said” The thief comes to kill steal and destroy but I  have come that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Guilt and shame will try to bully us into secrecy. It deceives us into believing that we are worthless, or that we are beyond help. It convinces us to stay quiet and suffer alone. That is the lie I bought for years.

As a young adult woman living with a tormented mind over my past of abuse, adoption and rejection I started asking God for answers. It was through the testimonies of other people that I found hope for my life. I found out through the stories of other that my past does not have to have power over me anymore. In fact I learned to see my past as a gift that has allowed me to reach out to others and have a compassion and understanding that I would probably not have had otherwise.

We are encouraged by people who have overcome. We can learn from the testimonies of others. If Christ came to give us a more abundant life than we need to seek out that life and go after the best He has for us, which I know includes freedom from a tormented mind and a defeated life.

That is the purpose behind this blog…..to allow people to see that there is hope for the hopeless.

By melissasmccormick

Hooray For Cheerleaders!!

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“We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit how about you?”  “Spirit NO, a headache YES, now please get out of my way so I can watch the game” (or at least that good-looking QB). Now, don’t you all act innocent and self-righteous like I am the only one who had those thoughts against those super happy upbeat girls who were all obstructing my view of  “whats his name”.

 Admittedly, I was never a big fan of the Cheerleader until the last few years. I gained a new respect for the Cheerleader when I watched my two daughters cheer. When my youngest was being tossed into the air and twisting her body (in ways that make me hurt just watching) I was thankful for the strength of the girls like my second daughter who locked arms to catch her.

 Though the stunting was impressive it is the rallying of the crowd that caught my attention as the more tedious work. I have been to many games between high school and raising four kids and I have come to the conclusion that Cheerleaders have to be so thankful for the student section. The kids are always pumped up ready to make fools of themselves if need be to cheer their teams on. The older crowd on the other hand is more subdued and often act more agitated with the Cheerleaders than encouraged by them (that was me when my girls weren’t cheering). The Cheerleader was definitely under-appreciated.

 Twenty six years later, I have learned a new appreciation for the Cheerleaders in my life. Overly zealous, positive or extremely encouraging people in my mind were just over caffeinated or on a temporary emotional high. It wasn’t until I met this spunky woman with four (now five) boys that seems to live her life cheering on those around her, that I realized how important the role of the Cheerleader is. Her attitude and outlook has been a huge inspiration to me.

 A quick glance over my life reminded me of who the Cheerleaders were, soon I was remembering what some of their cheers were as well. Their cheers  prayed me through, wiped my tears, wouldn’t let me give up when my strength was gone, pointed out my gifts and talents and believed in me despite the odds. They helped me to see the good in others and encouraged me to forgive and love. I believe that every one of these “Cheerleaders” was heaven-sent and I am so thankful for each one.

 God continues to bring Cheerleaders into my life, each has a different cheer for whatever opponent I am facing but I am determined to learn their cheers and teach them to others.

 Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (NIV)

By melissasmccormick

Fighting Fear

fer not

I’m running into more and more people of all ages who are gripped with fear. My two-year old grandson has become afraid of his room. He fears someone or something in there at night. It angers me that fear torments this sweet little boy at all let alone at such a young age.

Then there is a sixty-six year old woman who continually shares her fear with me. She is so afraid, that panic attacks and anxiety have become a way of life. It determines whether or not she goes anywhere everyday, it controls her. I have friends who have been tormented with fear for years. Even during counseling with different women fear is almost always somewhere in the mix. Everywhere I turn, someone is gripped with fear.

What are we so afraid of? I think the better question is what aren’t we afraid of? I tried to find an approximate number of fears and phobias, the answers ranged from 590 documented phobias to thousands. I could try to list some but it would be a waste of time. The more important thing to look at is what can we do about fear?

God knew we would have problems with fear when He inspired man to write the Bible. There are enough scriptures on fear for each day of the year. For me it was very helpful to learn some of those scriptures. I often quoted 2 Tim 1:7 “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love and a sound mind”. Learning those scriptures helped me realize that fear is not something that God wants us to be controlled by. The more I studied about fear, the more I realized that we have the power to take control of our thoughts and not be bullied by the stronghold called fear.

Every thought that pops into our mind is not truth. It has long been thought that talking to yourself meant you are crazy. I’m convinced that if some of us don’t start talking to ourselves we will go crazy. Sometimes we need to recognize the lies that pop into our minds and counter them with truth

I was so terrified of dying after my massive pulmonary embolism that I dealt with fear and anxiety for months. There was a real fear of dying there until I decided that the worst thing that could happen to me was that I would die and go to Heaven and be with Jesus. I made my committment to Him years ago, so I knew where I would go. Reminding myself of those things has helped me to settle my fear of death.

During other moments of fear in my life (there have been many) since that time, I have had to “cast down imaginations”. Soon as a fear surfaces, refusing to let it get a foothold is key. The moment we let those thoughts in, we give them life. The more we dwell on them the stronger they become. Soon fear is the one in control.

We were created with a will, that means we have a choice as to what we allow our minds to think on. We may lack self-control and discipline over our thoughts but it does not have to be that way. The more we practice taking our thoughts captive the more freedom we will find. We will face fear in life, that is inevitable but we don’t have to be controlled by it.

Finally, it is important to remember that we are never alone in our times of fear. God is with us, He will give us the strength to face and overcome all our fears. I prayed for my little grandson before he went to sleep the other night, I said “Gracen Jesus will be with you and he will help you”, he looked up at me and said “He will help you too”. I am so thankful at two years old that he is being taught something that many adults have never learned.

By melissasmccormick

Imperfection Holding You Back?

ok no perfection

Does being a doctor disqualify him from needing medical attention? Does a marriage counselor have the perfect marriage? Does being a financial adviser mean she won’t ever have money problems? How does a pastor preach the Word of God unless He has reached perfection?

As a young person I remember thinking that pastors must have obtained a level of perfection only reserved for the chosen men and women of God. I was certain they had the perfect marriage, the perfect children and without a doubt the perfect heart. They did not make mistakes like the rest of us.

I was quite shocked when I married a man whose father was a pastor. He was as godly and as wonderful a man as you would ever want to meet, but I soon found out that he was far from perfect. Through the years I got to see his weaknesses, but it made him no less a man loved and called by God to preach the Gospel. He did it to the best of his ability despite character flaws and challenges in his flesh. Though he was weakened by illness, he never stopped preaching God’s Word. When he could no longer do it from the pulpit, he continued to do so in his actions until God released him from his pain.

When my own husband became a pastor, I questioned him on the difficulty of preaching God’s Word in his imperfection. He reminded me that the message isn’t flawed just the messengers. How much more do we need God’s Word as we recognize our weakness? If we were only allowed to share the Gospel based on our perfection then it would never be preached. We ALL need Jesus, we ALL fall short of His glory. He made it easy for us to obtain the grace and mercy that we need for salvation, He did the hard work at the Cross and in return He asks two very simple things of us. He asks that we accept it and that we offer it to others. When Christ gave up His life for the sins of man He knew none of us would reach perfection until we were united with Him in heaven. He knew it would be a flawed mankind passing on a flawless message.

We have complicated the Gospel message with expectations put on ourselves and others. Christians have been called hypocrites for years we have even labeled each other. Like the word legalism, I think the word hypocrite is one of the most misused words used both by the Christian and secular communities. A hypocrite is one who is “play acting”, they put on a face with the intention of deceiving others into believing they are something they are not. It is a deliberate deception. It is not one who is trying to live out the life they feel God has called them too live, but falls short in the process. The misuse of this word has left some feeling so badly about their faults that they have disqualified themselves from being used by God.

What is hindering you from doing what God has put on your heart to do? Is it constant bombardment of your own weaknesses? Do you feel like a hypocrite because you have not obtained the perfection YOU feel you need to obtain? If you are waiting for that perfection, than you will never do anything. Whether you step out in faith or sit around waiting to obtain perfection you will still fall short. You might as well be doing something good while you are waiting. Chances are that you will find yourself growing more toward the desired perfection as you stumble along the way, tripping and getting back up.

By melissasmccormick

“Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings”

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“Feelings nothing more than feelings”. Those are words I’m sure most of us are familiar with as we sing along with Morris Albert. It is simply a song about feelings of love. What I have come to realize is that feelings lead to many different things and true love is rarely one of them.

As one who has spent much of my life lead by my feelings I have learned a few things.

Feelings are often mistaken as truth. People will base life changing decisions on how they feel at that very moment. One day the marriage is good and a couple feels so in love, another day they are at each other’s throats and feel hatred for one another. “I feel that I don’t love you anymore”, “I have feelings for another person”. “I don’t feel like working here anymore”, “I don’t feel loved by anyone”. “I feel hopeless”. The list of feeling moments is endless. The point is whether they are feelings of euphoria or depression people tend to believe what is in their mind based on how they are feeling at that time. It is a dangerous way to live.

I am not saying don’t feel, what I am saying is that we need to meet feelings with caution and challenge them with truth. God has given us emotions and feelings but we must learn to use them in a way that is not destructive to ourselves or others. The Bible says “be angry and sin not” (Eph. 4:26) this scripture tells me that God is aware that we become angry, but it also tells me that we must challenge those feelings of anger and use self control to keep from doing something foolish with those feelings.

There are negative feelings that we follow into bad situations but we also follow feelings of excitement and euphoria into some questionable situations as well. It is a big mistake to think that because it feels right it is a good decision. We are a society of pleasure seekers, that seeking is often led by feelings.

In the religious circle I have witnessed “hype” movements that had people upbeat and excited about the things of God but when the excitement wears off those same ones back down because they no longer “feel” God. A relationship with Christ should not be based on feelings. He does not move in and out of our lives based on how He feels about us that day. We should not base our relationship with Him on how we feel either. Good feelings can be a blessing but not the driving force in our lives.

My husband has pointed out several times in the past how I was acting on my feelings. Once I could challenge my feelings of anger at him for pointing out my weaknesses (lol) and see the truth in what he was saying, I realized how much of my life had been guided by feelings. I think this will be a life long challenge, but recognizing it has put me in a position to take action.

As I watch others destroy their lives with choices made on a whim based on feelings, I am reminded of two things. First is that we are to have self control and the second is that we do have a choice with what we do when feelings pop up. I am ashamed of some of the choices I have made in the past when confronted with feeling of anger, jealousy, hurt, insecurity, pride etc. I know I have done damage with my words or actions but my goal for the future is to be more careful in how I react to my feelings.

If I truly love others than my response to my feelings would not be so impulsive as I would contemplate the results before wounding another.

By melissasmccormick
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Extending Hope

Extending Hope

“There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”. Ecc. 3:4

Life has many seasons of which we all must pass. While we are passing through one season, someone else is passing through another. It is easy to forget that while we are on a mountain top, someone else may be in a valley. Rather than look at each other with a critical spirit, we must reach down from our high place and extend a hand to help them out of the abyss.

Whether we are at a pinnacle in life or low in a pit, we can become so absorbed with ourselves and what is going on in our own lives that we fail to recognize where others are at in theirs. It is human nature to be drawn to the upbeat person who always seems to be happy and yet withdraw from the ones who are down. If it is only the upbeat that we care about and desire to be around and we find ourselves avoiding the disheartened than I question if our hearts are truly for the hurting.

We are told in the Word to weep with those who weep as well as to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:1). It is always easy to rejoice, be happy and celebrate but who wants to truly deal with the brokenhearted? Jesus does, and He asks us to do the same. Jesus Himself wept with Mary and Martha (John 11:35). He met them where they were at and showed compassion. When Lazarus came back to life the mourning ended and undoubtedly a time of great celebration ensued.

No one will deny that the times of weeping and mourning will come but how many recall the times of laughter and dancing that follow. We must give hope and remind one another that “ Weeping may last the night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)
We are all at different places in our journey but we must be aware of the one who’s head is hanging low as well as the one who is forcing a smile for the sake of others. We must stay sensitive to others so that we might recognize that they are in a low place. We must also take the time to pray with them and hold their hand as they walk through that dark place. Finally, we must encourage them never to lose hope.

One day we may be the one reaching up for a hand of hope.

By melissasmccormick

The Heart Behind Beauty

beauty and beast

In May of 2000 I was given the prestigious title of Mrs. Michigan International. With that title I was given the opportunity to go to the International competition and compete with some very beautiful women from around the world. More importantly I walked away having learned some valuable lessons.

My experience introduced me to some gorgeous women who truly radiated beauty from the inside out. I was also introduced to the outwardly beautiful woman, whose beauty began to diminish with every word she spoke. As catty women snarled at one another and melted down over very petty insignificant issues, the word “beauty” quickly took on a new look.

I, personally, had perceived the Mrs. International as a fun girls week away. Winning would leave me with a great experience, but it was not worth compromising my values for. My guess is that the majority of the women had the same mentality that I did. On the other hand, there were a handful who were more concerned about winning the crown then they were their character or integrity.

The judges were not fooled by superficial beauty, they picked Mrs. Georgia, a woman of true beauty and grace. She was worthy of the title.

From that experience I learned about true beauty. I found out that a person’s heart can increase their beauty or make them down right ugly. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks  (Matt 12:34). What is on the inside of us always manages to find its way out.

Why is my experience from 12 years ago of importance now? Today I realized that I am surrounded by some truly beautiful people, who only seem to get more beautiful the more I get to know them.

I have the privilege of knowing some of the most kind, loving, humble, helpful people that anyone could have the honor of knowing. These are beautiful people. They are physically attractive, but their hearts make them even more beautiful.

There is something curious about these people. These people are kind, when the world is not kind to them. They smile and make sacrifices for others when their bodies are aching. They are reaching out to help heal others when their own families are struggling. When their spirits have been wounded, they still show love, even to the one who has wounded them. They often go the extra mile without a complaint. In the saddest, ugliest of circumstances they are radiant.

These people are not super human, they are not perfect. They face trials and temptations and often blow it. These are simply people whose hearts have been changed.

Proverbs 31:30–Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised

 

 

By melissasmccormick

No Longer A Fool

The older I get the more I appreciate the wisdom around me. When I was young I looked at older people as being “old school” “stuffy” or “out of touch”. I had little use for their “fuddy duddy” views. My lack of wisdom was quite evident as I foolishly judged and labeled their wisdom as “religious” among other things.

I despised the counsel of those that were trying to help me as I trusted more and more in my own wisdom. The results often landed me in a world of regret.

With age I have gained some wisdom. I have learned to value and appreciate those around me who have greater wisdom than I. I am now thankful for the lessons and experiences of others that have guided me through the years. I have no problem seeking out the counsel of those whose wisdom has become evident to me.

What exactly is wisdom?  The World English Dictionary defines wisdom as “The ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.” It is not enough to have knowledge but to be able to understand and use that knowledge.

The Bible in Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools ( a stupid fellow) despise wisdom and instruction.” It is important to be teachable and humble. There is always wisdom to be gained as long as we are alive.  Not only does the fool despise wisdom but I believe it is the fool who thinks he is wiser than he is.

With each passing day, I see a greater need for wisdom. The older I get the more it seems that I find myself seeking the wisdom of God as well as the counsel of others.  I have discovered a valuable gift that I desire and pray fervently for.

 

By melissasmccormick

I Choose Thankfulness

 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for but often take those things for granted. I often reflect over my life and stand in amazement over how blessed I am. As a teenager, I could never have dreamed my life would have turned out as wonderful as it has. As great as I have it, I must admit to complaining when it comes to the stress of the holidays.

Twenty-three years ago I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital giving birth to my precious first son. It was the best Thanksgiving ever. No football, no turkey, no cooking, no cleaning up dinner dishes. I got to just sit and snuggle my new baby all day.  I didn’t even mind the hospital food, it beat Turkey. This Thanksgiving my daughter could have the same wonderful experience that I did as she could give birth any minute.

Though I am not a big fan of Thanksgiving food and I admittedly get grumpy at all the prep work and clean up at times. I must remember that one day these times spent with family will eventually become faded memories. As parents age and grandkids get married and start their own families, we will be forced to change our traditions. One large family will morph into many smaller ones as we find less space available to house all of us at once.

So this Thanksgiving I will be thankful that I get to spend the holidays with family, for there are others who are all alone without anybody this year. I will be thankful for my spouse, for some are spending their holiday without theirs. I will be thankful for my children and grandchildren for there are those who long for children of their own. I will be thankful for my food because there are some who are starving. I will be thankful this holiday because I do not know who will be around to share it with next year.

Being thankful is a choice. I can choose to be thankful and appreciate the things in my life or I can be ungrateful and whine about things I don’t like. My attitude has been checked and I will choose thankfulness.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

By melissasmccormick

My Father’s Eyes

Today I met my biological father for the second time since being adopted as a little girl. He was so kind and so sweet. He kept hugging me. Every time he sat near me or stood near me he was touching my back or somehow showing physical affection. He even teased with me, picking on my little sister and I. There was a spark in his eyes that made me fight back tears in mine. I recognized that spark from being a parent myself. For the first time in my life I got to feel the love and pride of an earthly father. I not only felt it, but I could see it. I had waited my whole life for this moment.

I don’t understand why this was taking place at this time of my life. My first instinct was to get angry at why I had to miss out on having a daddy who would love his little princess the way my husband loved our girls, or the way my son-in-law loves my grand-daughter. I wanted to cry for the little girl who missed out. After a little pity party I opted to view the situation differently.

What a blessing it is that I have been given this one night to experience what I have waited a life time to feel. My dad is getting up there in age, and I am not sure I will get to see him again this side of heaven. Should our paths not cross again, I feel I received a precious gift from God that allowed a little hole in my heart to be filled.

Looking into my dads blue eyes I saw mine, glancing quickly into his tender heart, I could see mine. His need to always be on the go doing something, he passed on to me as well. Had circumstances been different I have a feeling I would have been a daddy’s girl. All I can do now is speculate in vain what things could have been like, or accept and enjoy what I have been given today.

It has always been difficult for me to understand God as a loving Father because I did not know what that truly looked like. I have met some pretty wonderful guys who were good fathers, but it is quite different going your whole life just seeing it  than actually experiencing it.

My meeting with my dad reminded me of God the Father. I imagine the spark that I saw in my dad’s eyes can also be seen in my heavenly Father’s eyes, only magnified. Though I fail and fall very short, His love for me remains unconditional. Though I do nothing spectacular in this world’s eyes, He is proud of me just because I am His daughter. His love is perfect, it never fails and it never ends.

I am grateful to have met my dad, but I am thankful that through all those years I have always had a Father in God.

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV) – “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty

By melissasmccormick

Seasons Change

It is no coincidence that I have joined a conference team titled Legacy Seasons of Beauty in the last year. The team name alone reminds me of the beauty that can be found in every season of my life. Some seasons may not seem as beautiful as others but the beauty can always be found if we look for it. The hardest, toughest times of life can hold some of the most value.

I love to look out my window and watch the seasons change. Nothing is more beautiful to me than seeing the leaves change into gorgeous colors of red, yellow, orange and purple. The smell of fall in the air excites me because I know the holidays will follow shortly. One new season prepares us for the next.

Each season can be met with excitement, and optimism or it can be met with fear and negativity. It really is up to us to decide which glasses we will view it through.

I am learning through this season of my life to resist fear and step out into faith at what I feel God is calling me to do. My children are grown, my days of being a stay at mom are done. After 25 years, I am going back to work after just completing my bachelors degree. Other doors of opportunity are opening that could potentially be very frightening.  Fear has clawed at me and tried to get me to back down but faith gives me the strength to push on. I ignore the voice of fear and run optimistically into the next season of life trusting in Gods word to guide me.

By melissasmccormick