Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

When No One is Watching

This walk of faith is not always an easy one. I am inspired every day to make changes in my attitude and in the way I live my life. Years ago there was a bracelet that many people wore: “WWJD,” a reminder to ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” in any given circumstance. For me, a bracelet is not enough. I have to feed my heart and soul regularly to know what God would have me do, especially when no one is watching.

What are you doing and saying when no one from church is watching you? What activities are you involved in that you hope no one finds outs about? What words are you using that you would never use in front of your pastor? How are you feeding your spirit when you aren’t sitting in the pew on Sunday morning? What behavior is living inside you that takes you away from being that person of faith you wish you were?

In his letters to the church in Rome (Romans 7:14 – 25), Paul asks himself these very same questions about his behavior and his heart. He knows what the right thing to do is; but still he finds himself drawn away from that. He struggles, like most of us; to do what his heart tells him is the right thing to do. He thinks he is forever trapped by his sinful nature. But he does have an answer for us.

How are you speaking today? Are you speaking with patience to the person waiting on you in the store that might be working their second job for the day and is doing the best they can? Are you smiling and letting them take their time and thanking them for being there for you? Are you holding your tongue when you feel words like “idiot,” “stupid,” or “reject” enter your mind and replacing them with “child of God,” “and “fellow human?” Can you not cuss out the driver that cut you off, especially since he can’t hear you anyway? Can you instead ask God to make you a better driver and an example—even if no one is paying attention? Can you let someone in when they need to merge and pass on that behavior not what you just experienced?

What are you watching on TV? What images are you filling your mind with? Are you watching porn when no one sees you? Did you sneak a movie in while you were on travel because no one will know? Are you watching shows that make fun of other people? Are you filling your brain with negative responses and examples or are you looking for positive reinforcement for good behavior? Can you change the channel and find something else to do? Can you ask for help—go to Celebrate Recovery—to break the bonds that porn or other negative images have on your thinking?

How are you spending your money today? Did you go buy something new instead of paying a bill? Did you hear about a friend in need and think “wow, they are really messed up,” or did you think: “how can I help?” Did you borrow money from someone and really need to start paying them back because you are doing better now? Can you help someone else out without judging them? Are you not giving at church or to charity because you are afraid you won’t have money to buy that thing you don’t really need anyway? Can you find a way to start giving a little today and commit to giving regularly? Can you volunteer somewhere to make meals or reach the homeless?

Are you standing so firm on being right that you have lost compassion for those in need? Have you buried your healing from brokenness so deep that your redeemed life is hidden from others? Is there someone suffering from their bad choices that you feel better than and can’t be bothered with? Are you feeling self-satisfied because you don’t have “that” sin in your life and forget you have others? Are you willing to step down from your pedestal and reach a hand out to help the wounded and hurting that they too might know God’s grace? Did you ask someone if you could pray for them? Did you invite them to your home—to your church?

These things I struggle with. There are things I wish I did differently today and I am taking Paul’s example and I am asking Jesus to free me from these negative behaviors. I am praying to act better today. I am asking that he change my nature. I am asking what to do when no one is watching and that what I do is positive and honors his example. I will fall short. I will fail. And I will keep moving forward, closer to who he wants me to be and how he wants me to behave—when no one is watching.

If this is helpful to you, please feel free to share my posting and blog with others. Together we can grow stronger and live better examples of Jesus in our lives.

© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

The Healing Secrets We Keep

These days I am rather transparent about the life I have led and the choices I have made. I share my experiences because many of them, by the Grace of God, are now behind me. I share my secrets so that others might believe that God still loves them. I share my stories that others who struggle may know that a new life awaits them. I share my story so that others don’t make my mistakes, and if they have made similar mistakes, they know it is not the end. I share hope.

All too often those of us who come through the refining fire refuse to share our stories. I think it is selfish not to tell others how God has changed and redeemed your life. I also believe, that the secrets of our mistakes that we keep hidden, could be the stories that save lives. Yet, many still continue to hide behind some veil of shame refusing to tell others this wonderful thing God has done in their lives. Yes, there may be pain in talking about the past, however, that shared pain may just be what another needs to hear as they struggle with the choices in their lives.

Have you lived through an abusive relationship and are now on the other side living free from fear? Your story of courage and freedom may be what someone else needs to hear for their freedom and to save their life. Share your fears and how you were able to get away and are free to live with joy today.

Have you had an abortion and lived through the tears to finally find forgiveness. Would you do it differently today? Your story could save the life of a child today. Your story could help another woman avoid the pain and loss you experienced.

Did alcohol or drugs once control your life? Did you live with someone abusing alcohol or drugs? Have you found recovery and a new day? Get over anonymity! Share your healing story that another drunk or addict might ask to go to a meeting with you.

Were you once so far in debt or without money that you weren’t sure if you could feed your kids? Have you ever been without a home or a car? Are you out of debt and in control of your finances today? Let go of yesterday and share how you did it with someone like me. Teach us how to work a plan.

Is suicide a part of your family? Have you lost, or nearly, lost someone because of mental illness? Is depression something you have struggled with? Is there hope today that you never had before? Tell your life-giving story that someone who wants to die might live. Share so someone who has lost a loved one might come to understand and feel freedom from guilt. Save a life today.

I could go on with examples. We all have a story. Even those of deep life-long faith have a story. Let your testimony be real. Make what God has done in your life something you don’t think twice about sharing. Share your secrets—especially if you are drowning in your secret today. Reach out and share with someone you trust that they may walk with you. Don’t let your secrets destroy you.

Pass along the gift God has given to you. Multiply his mercy and grace. I encourage you to read The Parable of the Buried Treasure found in Matthew 25. Invest in others. Don’t be the one whose gift is lost.

Categories
Poetry

What Day this Day?

Sunrise is outside my window.
People are rushing in the cold air,
Into their cars or off to the bus.
I watch from my warm perch.

The day is firmly upon us.
Work and school are calling us to them,
Forcing us into this new day now.
And still I sit: watching.

Streams of “must do” thoughts fill my head.
Coffee in one hand, pen in the other,
I contemplate actions for today.
Knowing I can’t just watch.

I turn now from my window perch.
I’m just like the leaves flowing downstream,
following a path set before me.
From watcher to doer.

What path this morning of new days?
What achievements for this day of days?
What simple steps do I take forward?
The answers lie outside.

Into the world we throw ourselves.
We need not go it alone or blind.
Draw from the stream of his words and life.
Set the day on his path.

This day before the sunset comes.
I pray I saw more clearly God’s path,
for with his love and grace I moved on.
This day of days is his.

© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

Slowly Transformed

Walking in the zoo the other day, I saw this tree that was beginning to turn into autumn colors. Way at the top, just a hint of red was showing through. It was surrounded by other tress that were already fully converted to fall and full of red and bright orange leaves. And there were trees around it that remained a stubborn green. And I thought; “isn’t that like us—some just starting to transform, some well on our way, and some who are holding back?”

My transformation journey took me to a few key passages in the Bible which I cling to as my inspiration to change. One is Psalm 25 and the other influential passage on my life is Romans 12:2. I heard it at a youth conference and was so moved that it became my mantra and one I often share with others to encourage them. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (NLT)

Every time I read this passage I am reminded that God wants me to be and do more with my life than what I was and am doing. Every day he wants me to move forward and a little closer to his image. I learned here that God could change me in ways I could never change myself. He could break the bonds to hurtful times in my life and set me on a new path unlike any I was living. He could fulfil my “if only” dreams of a better life. But it had to begin by changing the way I think, or maybe enriching the way I think.

Yesterday I began a list of things I wish I did differently. I wish I gossiped less and complained about people less. I wish I was fully doing what I believe God has called me to do. I wish I could forgive quicker and show mercy faster. I wish I was doing a better job with managing my finances. I wish I gave more time and money to others. I wish I could lose these 50 extra pounds of unhealthy living. I wish I was fully living out God’s purpose for my life.

And then I looked at the things I am good at and the things I have accomplished. I feel loved when I never trusted love. I am better at seeing people as God sees them and not judging them. I am not hiding relationships that I should not be a part of. I have time I never had to change the things above and to answer God’s call. I am being honest about my financial situation and have a plan forward. I am eating healthier and losing a little weight at a time. I have a strong rich spiritual life and an unshakeable faith. I know what God wants from me and I have put one foot forward to get where I’m going. I am happy. I am content. I have real joy.

These things came slowly. Just like the slowly changing tree, I am making progress on my wish list. And some of the things I started to change a few years ago are now full blown and bright spots in my life. And yes, I am still probably digging my heels in on some things—but God will get me on them when he is ready for me to get on them.

Transformation—a process forward. What inspires you to change? What motivates you to take the first step? Where are you heading and how are you getting there? I would love to hear your story and weave it into my God-story. Please share your ideas below.

Blessings,

Maggie M.
© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
Transformation Stories

Letting Go of Resentments with Mercy

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Holding on to our resentments does less to the person we are angry with and more to hurt ourselves. Learning to release the person who offended us from our hate list may take real effort on our part, especially if they have been on the list for some time. Did you know that resentment is just another word for jealous? Did you know that mercy is the greatest gift you can offer another and yourself at the same time?

Offering mercy may take a deliberate effort on your part. It means offering forgiveness and meaning it. It means treating the other person with God’s love when your love isn’t there. It means being kind and treating the other person with understanding that we too are not perfect and we may have some responsibility for the situation. It means being compassionate when they hurt instead of laughing. And it does mean…

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A Psalm 25 Study for Personal Transformation My Faith & Transformation Journey

Letting Go of Resentments with Mercy

Holding on to our resentments does less to the person we are angry with and more to hurt ourselves. Learning to release the person who offended us from our hate list may take real effort on our part, especially if they have been on the list for some time. Did you know that resentment is just another word for jealous? Did you know that mercy is the greatest gift you can offer another and yourself at the same time?

Offering mercy may take a deliberate effort on your part. It means offering forgiveness and meaning it. It means treating the other person with God’s love when your love isn’t there. It means being kind and treating the other person with understanding that we too are not perfect and we may have some responsibility for the situation. It means being compassionate when they hurt instead of laughing. And it does mean celebrating when good things come their way, even when we would like to think the good fortune should be ours. Mercy is sincere—it can’t be faked because above all, mercy means that we pray for all things God would have in their lives. We especially pray that they know the Lord and are transformed by his love and mercy. We ask that we too are transformed as we pray for them.

My daughter is one the greatest examples of a mercy-giver that I know. Even as a teenager she could find a way to forgive or overlook a person’s misdeeds toward her. She always seems to take the high road in relationships and give it one—or seven times seven— more chances. I have seen her rekindle relationships that I would never have gone back to and I have seen her grow more as she let go of her resentment. I have seen the freedom that comes from her mercy. She is the kid whose friends turned away from her when she wouldn’t go down the path they were heading, and still she managed to re-establish friendships with some of those people years later because she was willing to let the past be in the past. Like many young women, she has been hurt in relationships, and yet she has found a way to forgive and accept rich friendships on new terms. She has even shown her old mom mercy from time to time, understanding that I make mistakes and sometimes my problems have caused rather uncomfortable circumstances for us. She keeps moving forward and she inspires me to be all those things Jesus told us to be. She is one of the best examples I have of living a life in the image of Jesus.

As we ask for God’s mercy when we are in distress or have acted in a way that does not honor him, let us ask that he show us to whom we need to extend the same kind of mercy. We ask that he change our hearts and save us from carrying a burning coal that eats through our own heart. We ask for all things good for those we resent or envy and that we can be happy for their success. We ask to see them as God does, knowing he loves them. We ask that he inspire us to get on a path that takes us forward and frees us of the burden of disdain we carry.

Do you have a way you approach others with mercy? Do you have a success story of a time you gave or received mercy? I would love to hear your story. Please share it in the comments below.

“Turn to me and have mercy on me, for I am alone and in deep distress.” Psalm 25:16
© maggiemarcum.com

Categories
My Faith & Transformation Journey

No Regrets: No Do-overs, No Repeats

I came to the place of a transformed person the hard way. I had a strong Christian heritage but it took a few walks on the wild side to solidify those beliefs for myself. As I write and share the story of my transformation journey, I do it so that others may learn from it. So that others may avoid some of the errors of my ways. So that others who have jumped off the path can get back on. So that those who have never thought they were on the path will see that God does indeed have a path set ahead for you and he is waiting for you to put one foot on and begin the healing.

When I reflect on my life it is easy to get hung up on the regrets. If only my parents had protected me more. If only I hadn’t acted out as a result of my family and sexual abuse. If only I had been less naïve in the financial decisions I made. If only I had _____: fill in the blank. So many times I have asked God to turn the clock back, just this one time so I would not do what I did. He never does. I never get the do-over I would like to have. Truth is, I probably would do something else equally stupid!

I actually have no regrets though. Each of the things that happened to me and that I did to me is part of the fabric of my salvation story. From the moment I personally accepted Jesus and asked the Holy Spirit to become my guide, God has lifted the veil on my behaviors and healed me. Layer by layer; step by step, I have been able to let go of the past and move forward.

It is a moving forward process, this forgiveness thing. God doesn’t want us to remain trapped by our behavior and bad choices. He wants us to learn from them, to grown from them, and to never repeat them. It has been harder to accept God’s forgiveness for some of those things and it has been harder to change some behavior than others. But I had a willingness to change. I was inspired by the lives of others around me. I was motivated to become a different person and slowly it is happening. Happening. I am still growing and changing and God is still revealing and I am learning.

This Sunday morning, leave your regrets at the altar. Pray a prayer of forgiveness. Let go of what you can’t change and ask what you can change today. Commit to not repeating those things which you consider sins or poor behavior. Move forward today. Accept a brighter future.

Have you had to let go of something and have you seen the change in your life? I would love to hear your story. Please leave a comment below that others may grow from your experience.

Blessings,
Maggie

© maggiemarcum.com

“These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who lives at the end of the age.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 New Living Translation

Categories
Transformation Stories

When I Forget to Pray

I have days, sometimes many days, in which I rush out the door and I forget to take the time to pray. It shows in everything I do, from not writing here to a less than gracious attitude with people. I have to feed my heart and soul everyday with the truth or I find myself living the lies again.

Praying for me begins with a reading from the Bible—usually Psalm 25 and something from the New Testament. I like the so-called “red letter words,” or those words spoken by Jesus. I also like to read other scriptures that remind me I will always be on a road of transformation because no matter how deep my faith runs, I can always be better. I can always learn more and be more for others. I can never be satisfied that God turned my life around because I know without digging into the words and praying regularly, I am just as capable of slipping into poor behavior as the next guy.

In Matthew 26:41 Jesus said to the disciples: “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (NLT) Temptation comes to us all. We are foolish to think that we are immune to it or somehow set apart because we are believers in Jesus Christ. We all want to remain faithful. None of us wants to walk on the dark side, especially if we have been there before. Watch and pray—be guarded and ask for the strength to do the next right thing when you feel pulled in a different direction. Our spirit may want to stay on the path set before us, but as humans our bodies can fail us. Our body—including our minds—can overtake us if we are not careful. If we want to avoid making the same mistakes of the past, or finding new mistakes to make, we must be diligent and feed the spirit with positive words that our actions may follow along.

My new commitment is rather simple. Before the feet hit the floor, I will take time to think about the day ahead. I will take time to ask for God’s blessing on my life and on those who come to mind. I will ask that the next hour or so be focused on his word and dedicated to sharing what God reveals in the morning hours. Before I walk out the door, I will make sure that I am spiritually fed and better equipped to face the challenges of the day. And as the day progresses, I will pray for guidance and wisdom in all my activities. Starting my day with God, even if it is only the prayers in bed, I know I am better positioned to make the right choices I desire to make.

How do you keep a prayerful life? Do you have suggestions you can share that might inspire others? Click on LEAVE A REPLY below – We would love to hear from you.