Traditions and Blessings

I am sitting in Starbucks on the eve of Christmas Eve. You can feel the tingle in the air. It is the feel of hope, the expectancy of gifts, family, friends, familiar foods, new beginnings.

But in the midst of the tingle, I have a challenge for you this year. Celebrate with intention. Invest more of your heart than swiping a card.

What I am thinking involves two words: tradition and blessing.

The word tradition means “the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction.” Beliefs passed from one generation to another without written instruction…. This is a tall order to me, but I am going to go for it.  I want the loved ones in my life to know WHY we do WHAT we do.

So this Christmas focus on passing down the truths of God to those around you. Don’t worry about their reactions, just cast out seeds of truth.  Be creative, either through game, song, food, decoration, or reading aloud, just tell the wonderful story of God come to dwell among us.

In like manner, the word blessing means “to communicate encouragement or approval, to give thanks for, or to ask favor to be poured out upon.” We talked about this in conjunction with birthday blessings, but my challenge to myself, the WGR class, and now you, is for you to bless your family and friends. Consciously, purposely speak words of thanks, encouragement and blessing on those you love. It may be a card or face to face, but let the words of blessing flow.

Again, don’t worry about the reactions. Jesus was ever blessing people, even those who rejected Him. But Jesus trusted his Father to take care of the seeds He cast out. Just like with Him, some of our kinds words may fall to the ground, rejected. But what joy we have when some of our seeds are planted in the hearts of those who desperately need a loving word.

Speak the truths of God. Bless those around you. May this be our Christmas gift to our loving Father.

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:6

Let Earth Receive Her King – Part III

So through the surprise birthday bash, God has shown me that He can be trusted with the desires of my heart (Part 1), and that I have to learn to receive good from His hand through others (Part 2). And He is still revealing. So here is Part 3.

At the party, Chuck Spicka leaned over and whispered something in my ear and I looked at him wide-eyed and panicked.

It was the same reaction when Lyschel Burket made the announcement in the WGR class.

“We want to do Birthday Blessings for Jana.”

My body went into immediate shock: heart racing, pits sweating, hands clinching and feet positioned in the “Swim away, swim away” mode. To further the conflict, in my heart of hearts I did have honest desires, needs and wants. But I didn’t know how to approach our Giving God with hope and expectation for me personally and interact with the human race at the same time. I was in a pickle. Can’t run. Don’t want to miss it.

And then came the Birthday Blessings. If you are not familiar with it, it is a time each year to give words of thanks, blessing, and affirmation. We saw this sweet tradition acted out in the Michalik family and were so blown away by the beauty of loving words that we immediately began it our own family.

Here is how it works: family and friends each take a turn and tell the “Blessee” what they like, how they have been impacted, what they love about that person. One time a year to pour in grace and truth. It is so, so fun to do. I mean really, how often do you purposely take a few minutes and just tell someone that you are with on a daily or regular basis what you really love and appreciate? We are so impacted by others as we share life, but rarely tell them just how much their presence influences us.

Anyway. To do this with family and close friends is one thing. But doing it with a broader circle of friends is quite another. And did I mention that to be the “Blesser” is radically being different that being the “Blessee”? We just aren’t conditioned to receive praise and love like that. Well most of us aren’t. My youngest daughter on her birthday said, “Hey are you all done eatin’? I am ready to have my birthday blessings! Bring on the blessin’s!” But she is an unusual case. Or is it that she is the normal one, and the rest of us have just had all of the desire and need for affirmation beaten out of us…?

When it was all done at both events, my heart was swelling. If you knew how many years I had spent alone, or crying, or rejected. If you knew how many birthdays had passed by, just begging the Lord to bless me in the middle of my isolation, then you would know just how rich was that drink of water. It was amazing to hear these beautiful words pouring over me, washing me and watering me, all the while having an internal conversation with God at the same time.

“Steady,” He would say. “Steady, just receive.”
“But Lord, this is crazy. I feel so awkward. This is about you, not me,” I would protest.
“It is still about Me. I put that love in them, for you. I am loving you through them.”
“But what if they reject me later?”
“Jana, today, receive the gift of today,” He said.
When someone would say something that seemed over the top, putting me in too high of a position, I would flinch and object.
But He would whisper, “Just be loved. I will correct the course.”

Just be loved.

Chuck asked me what was the most important thing I had learned in my 48 years. (YES, I am 48!) I told him I have learned that the God life was easier than I had ever been taught. To receive His love, to believe I am loved by Him is the bottom line that changes everything. Every relationship, goal and problem. Just be loved.

Who knew? He did! The great Giving God who restored the years the locusts had eaten; Who makes all things new; Who is the Giver of new life, hope and healing. Oh earth, receive your King!!

Living the Gospel

As we continue to talk about Rest and the life of God in us, I want to share an excerpt about the power of the gospel.  The author’s definition of “gospel” is not just praying the prayer, but the death-to-life transformation that God has begun and will complete according to the promise through His Resurrected Son.

“In much of the popular writing on spiritual formation there is a tendency to convey a very stunted view of the gospel.  We get the idea that what unbelievers need is the gospel, and then, once they accept Christ as Savior, they move on to “needing  discipleship,” which consists of learning about Christ,  developing the fruit of the Spirit, learning how to have a quiet time, and so forth.

However, the picture that the New Testament gives is remarkably different.

We must remember the description  of the gospel as the power of God for the beginning, the middle, and the end of salvation.  Often we do not really understand all the vast implications and applications of the gospel. Only as we apply the gospel more and more deeply and radically —only as we think out all its truth — does it bear fruit and grow. The key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the persistent rediscovery of the gospel.

All our spiritual problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. This is true for us both as a community and as individuals.”

page 32 of Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered, James C. Wilhoit

Death Begets Death

Normally, we try to look at one real question on Wednesdays. Today, I’m not answering just one question. I’m answering ten! I know this is a loaded topic…BUT one worth talking about since it affects 1 out of 5 women. I was approached by a high school student with these questions and thought I would share my answers.

1. Do you believe abortion is morally correct?

2. In what circumstances do you believe abortion is socially acceptable?

3. In your opinion, is the third trimester too late to perform an abortion?

4. Do you believe abortion can cause depression or mental side effects?
Absolutely. In addition, it can cause nightmares, rage attacks, self-hatred leading to eating disorders, cutting, addictions to drugs and alcohol. Anything to numb the pain. It also causes long- lasting trauma to relationships, something people rarely discuss. This breach in conscience prevents future trusting relationships, especially with men.

5. What do you believe causes the women to have abortion as an option?
Fear. Fear of being alone, of being stuck with baby, of being “fat”, of being found out, of losing their life, of being a bad mother.

6. As an estimate, how many people do you know who have had an abortion?
I know personally 20+ but have counseled more than a 100 women.

7. Under the circumstances, what age is most common related to abortions?
17-25 is my guess.  Middle school girls think having a baby is “cool” and often decide to parent rather than release for adoption. Most occur around end of high school or in college when a woman feels like “she has her whole life ahead of her.”  Funny that the mother’s life has greater value than the life of her unborn baby.

8. Do you believe that the male has a substantial part in the decision process of an abortion?
Ahhhh, tough question. Yes, I do morally now. But when faced with that, I moved forward regardless of his decision.

9. Do you believe that the parents of the female play an important role in the decision process of abortion?
Many many abortions happen with the push of over active parents. They are more concerned with reputation than the value of life and the value of hardship in character building for their child. And many girls also have abortions out of fear of their parents finding out. They are trying to hide the evidence, as it were.

10. Can previous abortions cause emotional problems in future relationships and the start of a family?
I mentioned this but absolutely… Many women I have counseled with “withheld” this secret for fear of rejection from their husbands. So they are grieving in silence. It causes sexual disconnect and all kinds of trauma around having children in the future. “I killed one baby how can I welcome this one,” is the mentality.

Also there is a HUGE medical issue of damage done during the procedure where STDs are spread, damage to the cervix and tearing of the uterus.  Abortion is one of the riskiest medical procedures ever and it has NO medical oversight or accountability.  It absolutely affects the ability to bear children in the future.

A few more comments if I may?
I had an abortion at the age of 18. It was one of the most painful things I had ever lived through, physically, emotional and spiritually.  No one ever told me the truth about any of those things prior to the procedure. But more information is not the answer necessarily.  At that time, we made sure it was never called a baby, so when I found that out, I was doubly horrified. Today, we know it is a baby and call it a baby, but we so undervalue the intrinsic worth of a human being, it causes perhaps more harm. Mom has no value so baby has no value. And so even after abortion, mom continues to suffer from lack of value and worth which often leads to more sex, dirtier partners, more pregnancies, more abortions, etc.

I debated a woman from Planned Parenthood once and challenged her point that she was “empowering women.”  Empowering women is not accomplished by killing women and men, even if they are in fetus stage. Empowering women is to teach them about actions and consequences; sex leads to babies. But also about the overwhelming energy given to a woman when she is taught how to harness her passions and focus them on good and long-term results.  Parenting and adoption is incredibly hard. But they are choices that lead to life and hope and possibilty.

Abortion is quick and final. No life, no hope, no possibility.

Healing is my final point. I know many women who have tried many things to wash away the guilt of the blood on their hands. It has been my experience that only the blood of Jesus has the power to do that. I am not a church lady. But my life was radically transformed when I realized that even though I was a murderer, God still loved me.  It was a long arduous road to recover my heart, but one I am thankful for beyond measure.

Separated from Satan

“Mama, my teacher said that when someone goes to hell they are separated from God forever,” Charis said, her eyes bright and shining.

“That’s right,” I said, typing on my computer.

“Well,” she continued, “I am going to be separated from the devil forever when I go to heaven.”

I stopped typing and sat stunned for a moment, just letting my mind reflect on this. That IS right. Separated from our enemy forever.

And I heard the Lord say in my spirit. “What can separate us from the love of God?”

Then it hit me. We are already separated. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” He completed, bridged, redeemed, restored all that the enemy had stolen from us. There is a New Covenant because He is the New Adam. We are New creations. There is “therefore no condemnation in Christ Jesus,” says Romans 8. “The old has gone. The NEW has come,” Paul declared to the Corinthians and to us.

Would you today reflect on the great love of the Father?  Would you declare out loud the words from Romans:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—
how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God Story: The Aroma of Christ

Wow.  That’s all I could say last night as woman after woman through tears, laughter and awe poured out their God stories. Stories of hearing God speak to them, stories of hearing their names, or receiving much needed comfort, or rejoicing in gifts given.  All revelations and encounters with the Living God.

It is so like the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and then poured fragrant oil on His head.  The whole room was stunned silent as the scent of perfume reached every person present. Continue reading

Doing the Hard Work – WGR Class – 11.03.09

Warning: Reality Ahead


I’m excited to invite you on this journey toward God and the freedom that comes from knowing Him intimately. But let me warn you: there’s Reality ahead.

We talk about real issues, we cry real tears, and we look for His real healing.  Sex, addiction, self-worth – it’s not always G-rated.  Life’s not always G-rated. Some gritty words may fly.

But we’re looking for Truth. We want to know Him.  We want Truth to set us free. Free to revel in Him.  Free to know what He says about us.  Free to reflect His glory.

Join us as we link arms and journey toward His Reality together.

Additional Note: There are advertisements that are placed on the video by the online source we use. These advertisements are not necessarily the beliefs of Women Getting Real Ministries.