Unbound

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend an Unbound Conference. “Unbound” is a book written by Neal Lozano. The main theme is to be delivered from the foundational lies that have been placed in us and renounce them. When people hear about the book it is common for people to think that going to a conference they are going to see crazy things and demons cast out of people and to be honest I was kind of hoping to experience a little of that too. Neal quickly set all these misconceptions to rest in his introduction. Neal’s method is a lot more subtle, he calls it a non-confrontational approach. He doesn’t make the enemy the main character. He said making the enemy the main focus would be like saying the main focus of the Exodus in the Old Testament was Pharaoh. I greatly appreciated Neal’s subtleties, just because they were subtle did not make them any less impactful.

Neal opened the conference by saying that you may not have even realized how God had been preparing you for this conference. This statement hit me hard. For the past few months I had been going through immense emotional turmoil. I had been experiencing intense feelings of anger and hatred. All of this was centered around my childhood home, my parents have made the decision to sell it and this decision truly broke my spirit. I hated them for this, I felt betrayed and lied to. This anger that had been building in me for the past few months took control of my entire life. My world was suddenly placed under great darkness from which I was unable to escape and I could not hear the Lord. The anger inside of me created a barrier which made it impossible to be close to Him or trust Him and I hated Him too. He knows how important that house is to me. How could He allow this it to be taken away? Within the first few minutes of that conference I knew that God had planned this all along. I had to come to understand this anger and darkness for me to truly be willing to be delivered from it.

I had no idea how the Lord was going to get me “unbound” from this hatred. In my mind it was a very tall order but I wanted it because the power of the darkness was unbearable. I was open to whatever miracle the Lord had in store. I realized that my identity was tied to that house therefore whenever my parents said they wanted to sell the house I was hearing that they wanted to “sell” me. I felt abandoned and unwanted by my parents even though their actions did not affirm that belief in the slightest. I was going off the foundational lies in which the enemy had placed in me during my childhood. Through the conference I uncovered several lies that I had allowed into my spirit from a young age. As these lies were revealed I was able to renounce them. I was also able to forgive not only my parents but myself as well. How was this possible? It was through Jesus Christ because there is true power in His name. In the name of Jesus Christ I renounced anger. In the name of Jesus Christ I renounced hatred. Through His name the enemy has no power and the enemy is bound to do whatever Jesus Christ tells them to do.

At the end of the conference I was blessed to have a private session in which I was prayed over. I renounced all the spirits that had been plaguing me and told them to leave. Again, it was a very subtle change but I could feel them leave me and I felt lighter. I am not “bound” to my house anymore. I still will grieve the loss of my childhood but the spirit of anger is not binding me to it. God was not done yet, my prayer session ended with the Father’s blessings. I stood in the middle with the leader and intercessory prayers standing around me. As they prayed they said that the Lord was proud of me and He has seen my progress I had made in New York and He was proud of me. In the grand finale the Lord freed me from the greatest lie that I have been bound to, the lie that I was not loved by my Holy Father.

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Hannah’s Prayer

I have been avoiding writing this blog because I don’t want to sound too negative. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit continues to prompt me and I feel like I need to listen. I continue to find myself in an extremely dark space while living in New York. The things that once bore great fruit now bring only sadness and anger. I have taken this change in attitude as a clear sign that it is time to move on. While I was going through this great darkness I was called to pray and meditate over the passage regarding Hannah, the mother of Samuel, from the book of Samuel.

Samuel 1-

10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

The prayer that she spoke I could say to God verbatim. As I read the passage I literally felt like I could take on the troubles of Hannah. “Look upon me with mercy my Lord for I am an unhappy woman!” She asked that the Lord remember her and after she prayed she suddenly didn’t look down trodden and had a renewed spirit. I prayed her same prayer this past Sunday and I truly believe the Lord remembered me as He did with Hannah. Since that day I have adapted a more positive attitude and the world no longer seems so dark. Nothing has really changed, I am still in a confining situation that I desperately want to get out of but I generally feel better about it. Even my father remarked about it, He asked what had changed. It gave me pause because nothing had changed not that was visible anyway. The thing that had changed was that I surrendered myself to the Lord.

I have full faith that I am going to move out of New York and it will be according to the Lord’s will. I spoke with a close friend who affirmed what I needed to do. He said, “get hungry.” He added that I should get prepared because I have heard the call and I need to be ready to answer the call when it comes. I ended the conversation with a strong direction and conviction. I am hungry for change and I am hungry to see more of the Lord’s world. Jesus sent out His disciples to move through out the world preaching His word and spreading His message. God brought me to New York to awaken the authority of my voice through writing and thanks to this blog I feel that the Holy Spirit is working through me giving inspiration in what I write. “I am hungry” for this next chapter in my life. If I thought New York was exciting I cannot wait to see what comes next. When I first got to New York I started to ask Him to surprise me each day and He has done so. I know the next month more surprises will come because like Hannah experienced, the Lord remembered His daughter. The Lord has remembered me.

Change of Heart

I am returning to New York after a long weekend visiting home in Colorado. It was a quick trip but it felt like a lifetime probably because I had to make quite a few life decisions. New York has been an incredible adventure. I have no doubt that I needed to move to New York because God used New York to bring me back to Him. Not only did He reveal Himself, He also revealed who I was. I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes and I allowed that diagnosis to keep me from the person the Lord had planned me to be. I had no idea how dead inside I was until Jesus Christ brought me back to life. Like a Phoenix I was born again from my ashes and was made new, even stronger than before. Once Jesus reminded me who I was He took me a step farther and showed me the person I am meant to be. I am so grateful to the Lord for granting me the courage to move to New York. As beautiful as that chapter was it also takes courage to recognize when it is time to move onto the next chapter. Where I used to finding blessing and peace I am now faced with sadness and anger. God provided me a job that allowed me to walk the streets of New York after work. I could walk for hours talking with Jesus. I looked forward to that time because it was always a surprise of what new things He would reveal to me. Those walks no longer bring revelation and instead bring hatred and frustration.

When I went home this weekend it felt as though I was coming out of a great darkness. I could see, hear and feel again. I was confronted with the question of whether or not it was a good idea to remain in New York. My answer surprised me, I did not want to remain there. I woke up this morning crying and I continued to cry troughout the entire journey back to New York. I am once again faced with the same thoughts that brought me to New York in the first place. “I only have one life and I can’t waste it.” The same thoughts that drew me to New York are now drawing me out. There are bigger and greater things to do and because of my new and strengthened trust in Christ I now have the ability to do them.

My time in New York is not done and in this time I believe the Holy Spirit has challenged me to live without abandon, live each day as though it is my last. God has blessed me with this time to truly live without fear and to speak the Lord’s word, the Lord’s truth. I have nothing to lose my time there is coming to an end and I am going to make the most of it.

I have no idea what is to come after the conclusion of this chapter but I know that it will be graced by God. Today New York City but tomorrow the World!

Be Kind

“I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. Have courage and be kind. When there is kindness, there is goodness.” This quote came from a recent remake of Cinderella done by Disney. To be honest I was never too fond of it but this quote stuck with me especially during the past few days.

I am currently enduring a brutal nine day trial of working none stop. I don’t know what it was about yesterday but there was something that made everyone and everything just go crazy. All the refrigerators at my job broke so most of the day people was focused on moving product so that it didn’t go bad. Then someone managed to steal $100 from a cash register. The poor cashier was in tears because she was worried she was going to get blamed for it. Next a customer mouthed off to another coworker. Finally, I was verbally attacked by another customer for simply answering a question. I had already been beaten down by several other customers that day and she was just the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” I ended up crying and fleeing to the bathroom. When I finally came out the general manager working that day actually noticed I was upset and asked if I was okay. I broke down and told him he should fire me. I am terrible with customers, the “regulars” that come to the store hate me. People will avoid calling in to place orders on the days that I work because they don’t like me. I expressed all this to the manager with more tears just building up within me. To my surprise he was took my side in the situation. He normally takes the customers side or to put it better he puts the all mighty dollar before the employee. Word spread like wildfire that some customer had made me cry. It was truly beautiful to see how much support I received from my coworkers. It was true affirmation that I do count and I am valued in the store. The manager said later that I am valued by management.

As uplifting as those sentiments were I was faced with a heartbreaking reality. The words of the customer still stung. Who likes to be called “dumb” or an “idiot.” The fact of the matter is we are all God’s creatures and God does not make idiots or fouls. Later a coworker said to me that customers should think twice about complaining when they do not know how their complaint will effect the employee. That job might be their welfare and that complaint may cause that to be taken away. There are always three sides to every story their story, your story and the truth. God is the truth. Everyone is going through something at sometime. I know it is hard but we have to remember this when getting frustrated with others and especially when we feel we have been wronged by others. We are quick to turn against one another and place blame. I am trying my best to forgive that customer and I admit I am struggling to do so but it is as Jesus Christ himself said, “ forgive them for they know not what they do.” I know that I have been just as cruel and quick to judge like she did. We are all sinners and this is why it is so important to have courage and be kind.

Dark Knight of the Soul

Due to circumstances beyond my control I ended up having three days off from work. This never happens so I decided that I should take advantage and get out of the city. It was a good opportunity for me to get some rest and possibly regain some of my sanity. This three day break was truly an answer to prayer for literally the day before I received my work schedule I asked the Lord to give me a chance to get rest. I retreated to White Plains, NY. Living in New York City it is hard to see true Fall color and I have heard White Plains is a nice place to see them.

While being out here it has reminded me what it is like to breathe. I must admit when I am in the city it is easy to get comfortable with the uncomfortable but stepping outside allows me the get a better perspective. I am remember why I feel so trapped inside the city specifically with my work constraints. It is so wonderful being away from the “concrete jungle.” Unfortunately, the more comfortable I get with my new surroundings the more aware I am that I would soon have to go back. I started to ask God why He brought me out here. Why would He dangle this sense of peace and beauty just to take me away from it again? The answer came in a rather alarming way.

Westchester County is much more laid back than New York City and as a result so is their bus system. I went there planning to rely on buses as main mode of transportation. When I arrived I came to the sad realization that the bus schedule was rarely correct. I ended up taking more Ubers and Lyfts than I originally budgeted for. By the end of today I was beginning to worry about my spending and I still needed to get back to my hotel. I had spent the day in a nearby town only a 15 minute drive from my hotel which translated into about a two hour walk according to Google Maps. In the effort to save some money and to enjoy more of the Fall scenery I decided to walk. I walk so much in the city two hours won’t be bad, right? What I forgot was that when it gets dark out here it gets really dark. I am not in the city anymore and the city lights are gone. About an hour into the walk it became pitch back and all I had was the flashlight on my phone. I turned it on and began to pray. I don’t think I have ever felt so alone before and I probably went through the some of the scariest moments of my life. I was reminded of the words a priest told me when I expressed to him that sometimes I wish God would just appear to me and tell me exactly what I should do. That way I would have no question in my mind that I was carrying out His will. The priest smiled and kind of laughed at me. The priest confessed that God does not work that way. He continued and illustrated a picture that we all are walking along this journey and we cannot see anything further than two or three steps ahead and we have to trust the Lord that He will guide you to your destination. Does this sound familiar? Not only do I feel like I am walking blindly in my current life situation but now I am actually walking blindly down a dark road in the wilderness only able to see two or three steps ahead of me. All I had was the Lord, as I realized the significance of this dark night of the soul I found myself feeling strengthened in my confidence of the Lord’s plan for my life. Even though I was extremely terrified walking through that darkness I had complete trust the God would bring me out of it. If I have such strong faith that He will bring me out of this darkness I should have even greater trust that He will bring me out of the darkness I find myself living in my day to day life especially with my work.

I did make it back to my hotel and tomorrow I will journey back to the city and back to reality but as a stronger person. For I have a promise from God that as long as I trust Him, He will get me out of even the worst of situations. In the darkest of nights the Lord is truly a knight in shining armor.

Walk on Water

And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matthew 14: 25-33)

Recently, I was asked to pray and meditate on this scripture passage. I have never prayed over scripture before. I have always wanted to but never followed through mainly because I always found it difficult imagining the scene. For the first time picturing the story came easy but the picture did not look like what the text described. Instead, my mind put me in the place of Peter and I was walking out towards Jesus.

After reading over the scripture three times it became clear that the Lord was really asking me to reevaluate my life and see what aspects of it were keeping me from looking to Him and trusting in Him. It was evident that my life is truly in the heart of the storm. Everyday at my work there are too many things causing me to look away from Jesus. I have been in transition at my job, moving from the pastry department to customer service. It is a positive move because it gives me more opportunities for advancement but I have failed to see how much disruption it has placed on my well being. Each day is unlike the next and I cannot predict what will be asked of me. I literally feel as though my boat is “being tossed about by the waves, for the winds are against it.” (Matthew 14:24) There are times when I feel completely alone left do deal with endless tasks and I am terrified I do not have the ability to carry them out. The pressure and demands of the customers I come in contact with can be overwhelming and going into the holiday season the demands are only going to get worse. What I am forgetting is that I am never alone because Jesus is truly right in front of me asking me to get out of the boat and trust the He will not let me sink. In the midst of the chaos I need to let go and remember why I am called to be there. I do not like my job and it continues to be a struggle getting there each day but there is a purpose for being there and I need to trust in that and more importantly trust Jesus Christ. It is always darkest before the dawn! When I am in the height of the storm and it is at the “fourth watch of the night,” that is when I have to get out of the boat. Besides, I have always wanted to walk on water!

The Prodigal Daughter

There is one girl I work with that I believe Mary has a special plan for. She was born on the Holy day, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven and she shares her birthday with her grandmother. She always struck me as having a certain light about her. At first I perceived her as innocent and untainted by this sinful world. I remember her being incredibly quiet when she first started working. She got excited by the simplest of things and addressed customers in a genuine way. One day Sarah Jessica Parker came into the store and everyone was completely star struck having no idea what to do or say around her. Not her though, she went right up to her and said she loved her in “Sex and the City” and she asked for a hug. Sarah Jessica Parker just melted and gave her such a big hug if you had seen it you would have thought they were long time friends.

As I got to know her I realized that she wasn’t innocent at all. She had a child and she was addicted to marijuana, over eating, and sex. When she hit her lowest point she was seeing a guy who completely manipulated her. I believe he was the driving force that led to her darkest hours. I felt a call to pray for her while I was on pilgrimage in France specifically while in Lourdes. I believe Mary asked me to offer up my prayer intentions for her when I took the bath in the miraculous water. When I returned from France I witnessed her transformation forsaking the use of marijuana, putting her daughter first, resolving to eat better, and ultimately breaking up with this guy. At some point she began to see me as a confidant and was eager to tell me about her progress. “I am working out more, I want to loose 30 lbs.” “That guy texted me again but I didn’t respond.” I could tell when she is really proud of something that she achieved because it was always the first thing she said to me. It had gotten to the point where she sought me out.

I have started to see her wavering though. She is using language like, “I want to be bad today.” She says this when she wants a treat from the pastry department, the treats she had given up for her diet. A few days ago she told me that she had gone back to that guy. I was immediately struck by fear for her. I wanted to talk with her about it and went into “fix it” mode but it was a busy day at work and we kept in getting interrupted. I was overcome with doubt and my mind was filled with conflicting thoughts. “Had I failed Mary?” “Has all this energy that Mary had placed in her been in vain?” “What should I do?”

I know Mary has special purpose for her. When I heard that she was born on the feast of the Assumption I found myself saying, “you know Mary has touched you.” I don’t even know where that came from, it definitely wasn’t the words I would normally use. She has also been drawn to my Miraculous Medal which I bought in France. She once pointed to it and said “is the medal that is shining Mary?” She didn’t say shiny but shining, it is a subtle but important difference.

When she made the commitment to better herself I felt as though I was witnessing the prodigal son make his way back home and then welcomed with great joy by the Father. Of course we never hear the rest of the story. Were there times when the son questioned his decision to come back? Did the Father ever worry that his son would leave again? It was so beautiful getting to see my coworkers journey back to the Lord I don’t want her to stray again not when she has made such great progress. I have such faith in this girl and in Mary’s role in her life. I just have to pray that Mary’s presence continues to grow in her life.