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Patty’s Blog – Should I… or Do I want To

Written by Patty Riera

It was a few minutes after midnight. I sat at in airport chair waiting for my flight to Amsterdam and said out loud “Thank God for the seat upgrade! I will be able to sleep comfortably and nobody will interrupt me, or hit me with their elbows! I just want to sleep!!!” I could not wait to get to Amsterdam and London. I knew the schedule would be hectic and I needed to be on top of my game, but at the same time I was SO EXHAUSTED!

It has been one of the toughest seasons of my life. The last few months I slept every week in a different bed, traveled anything between 6 and 16 hours… sleeping everywhere I could including airplane seats, eating pretzels for dinner and falling asleep and snoring in taxis (yes…I do snore when I am really tired!). There were weekends where, as a family, we had less than 24 hours together, because one of us came back to Dubai Friday night and the next one was leaving Saturday evening. It was crazy…

My work has exploded since I took a new role in March and, professionally, I know I am where God wants me to be and He is using me to make an impact in this region but also around the world.

I’ll be honest – I am living my dream. My job is my passion and my calling! It is like a hobby I am being paid for. I have an incredible husband who supports me, pushes me to go forward and fully believes in me. I have a wonderful son, who is my joy and my pride… And I am very proud of all this.

As much as I was fine with the work schedule and assignments, something felt different the last few weeks. It was almost like, in spite of my confidence and belief, I had all these thoughts/voices and perceptions that were telling me what kind of mother or wife I should be: Should I leave my son for a few days and go away for work? Should I always leave food in the freezer so my husband has food when I am away? Should I make sure I prepare this incredible birthday party this year for Philippe? Should I really invest so much in further University education and put all the time in research and development? … and many other “should I” questions were just running rampant in my head… Some of it came from my own thinking and some of it from the people in my systems that don’t always understand or approve of me, my choices, and question what wife and mom I am.

Some weeks ago I went to Qatar to deliver an Executive Coach Training. In the middle of a demo coaching session for the group, God spoke to me through a model I was presenting. He reminded me of all the “should’s” I have been telling myself and said,

“I need you to come back to what you want to BE, to all the dreams and images I have given you as a woman, wife and mother. I want you to come back to the core of how I have created you and what desires and hunger I put in you…. And when you connect with it, the right doing will flow and you will have what you want to be”.

I was literally in awe… I stood in front of this group and could not believe the personal breakthrough that I just had while delivering the workshop. I was there to support others in their personal and professional growth… and there it is, God speaking to me…

That afternoon I came back to my hotel room and sat on a sofa… OK God … what do I want to BE! and I started writing…

I want you to BE – DO – HAVE rather than HAVE – DO – BE.

I want to be your daughter, mom and wife and a business woman…

“I want to be a strong and confident woman, the one who God created me to be. I want to be a successful businesswoman and at the same time an incredible mother and wife. I want my son to have a mother that he looks up to because she fully believed in the calling that God has put on her heart and worked extremely hard to fulfill it. I want to be a mom that shows him that even in hard times, God is the answer and my support. I want him to see a mom that loves others, sees potential in everybody and supports their growth, in order for people to fully live to the potential that God has given them. I want him to have a mom that he bakes with when he comes back from the nursery or school. I want to be a mom that will take him on business trips at some point, to create memories of us two going somewhere together. I want to be a wife that supports, cherishes and pushes her husband for the incredible things that God has for him as a leader, husband, and father. I want to be a wife that stays true to herself and to the purpose of why God has put us as a couple together. I want to make a difference in the world by providing new knowledge and challenging what good leadership looks like in organizations…I want to be known for being a person of encouragement and authenticity… I want to be real….” And the list went on and on…

And then He spoke again… “Now go and start believing it… and when you do… the doing will come… and you will have what you want to be!”

I am your daughter…

I realized how important it is to proclaim these words over my life, not just as a way to believe it but as a reminder of who God has created me to be. I decided to start creating boundaries around my life, a space I can fully operate in. I did not always have that space, mostly because I was scared of what others would say or think, would they approve of the person I am, would I fit in, would I belong.

Why was this important to me? I understood that when I operate in faith and with a clear picture of what God wants, my own boundaries and understanding of what I want and what I don’t want is so much clearer. This means I can be generous in the space that I am operating in and not worry about what I should be doing, because my core belief is my foundation and will keep me on track, even when distractions and interferences come.

This does not mean my boundaries will stay the same for the rest of my life, but I know I need them in order to be the person He has called me to be. I love the verse in Luke 6:43 which says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, or does a bad tree bear good fruit”. In order to bring the best of me, my tree needs to be healthy and founded on Him. I am sufficient in Him and all my hope, rest and strength comes from Him.

I am a daughter, wife and mother, and a businesswoman…and as separate as these roles are, they are also very interconnected as well. The challenge for me personally is to not to allow my work, my passion, and feeling of responsibility to take over and control what daughter, wife, and mother I am.

I don’t think I have it all figured out…well, let’s be honest… I definitely don’t… and that’s ok… and there will be different priorities in different seasons of our lives. Our life is a constant learning journey and every time, we are stretched and we grow, we move forward sometimes by running, sometimes by taking small steps.

But at the same time, I want to remember that He has created me and put dreams and desires in my heart. He gave me visions and images of what is possible through Him in me for Him. Whatever he has planned me to do and influence, He will provide strength and wisdom to do it and manage it – I am enough in Him!

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5

His word and His guidance is my bulletproof vest… He is my rest and He is my confidence and assurance! Even if a bullet hits me, it won’t go through, because He is my shield. It might hurt, but it will not wound me.

 

 

 

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Through the eyes of grace

Written by Starla Webster

When reading through The Passion Translation of Luke this week I was struck by a beautiful prayer, prayed by Zechariah:

“Praise be to the exalted Lord God for he has seen us through eyes of grace and he comes as our Hero-God to set us free!”

I paused, meditating on this one line: God sees us through the eyes of grace

Do you look at yourself through eyes of grace or do you look at yourself through eyes of criticism? Do you live our life under the restful cover of grace or do you live it under an incessant stream of Should Do’s and Should Be’s? That voice that tells you, “I should be doing more, I should be more,” is not the voice of God but the voice of the enemy who stands behind you driving you and leaving you hopeless as you compare yourself, perhaps, to other women that you perceive as having it all together. I want to remind you that the difference in your life is that God’s voice leads you, not the enemy’s. God isn’t this militant, ungracious God that looks at your circumstances and says you are not enough—you need to do more and be more—but He is an empathetic, personal God that says in 2 Corinthians “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Therefore, you can boast in your weakness and your inability to “have it all together” so that the power of Christ can work in you and through you.

There is no anxiety in God—only perfect peace. He is, after all, known as the Prince of Peace. As it says in Colossians 3:15,

“let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace and always be thankful.”

Anxiety is a sense of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. When our days are filled with anxiety, we forget to be thankful for the present and for what’s before our very eyes. Jesus encourages you to cast all your anxieties on to Him because He cares for you, and He is in control.

I remember a moment quite recently where my workload very nearly sent me into a spiral of panic. I looked at my calendar, at all the daily demands people were placing on me, and my heart began to race. I had to immediately stop what I was doing, go to God, and be honest with Him. I had to tell Him: Lord, I’m not coping. I felt God speak into my spirit. He took me to the scriptures and spoke words of encouragement and life over me through Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified.

“I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfil His purpose]—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.”

I had heard and read this scripture many times before, but this time it completely transformed me and my pe rspective after mediating on it that day. Where I had lost confidence, God promised a confident peace. Where I had grown weary and weak, God promised to inject me with His strength. He reminded me that I could rest in the assurance that if He has called me to do something, He will empower me to do it.

I encourage you today—instead of looking at your to-do list first thing in the morning and being overwhelmed by the Should Do’s and Should Be’s—to draw close to God and ask Him what He wants of you that day. Knowing God’s nature, He will speak words of life to you through His word, and by His Spirit He will say to you:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28- 30

Have you stopped, to look into the eyes of grace? I can guarantee you that when you look into Jesus’ loving and grace-filled eyes, your heart will overflow with thanksgiving and peace. You will cease all the fruitless striving and enjoy God’s grace, which is more than enough. There is nothing more amazing than God’s Grace! So let us not stray far from God’s enabling grace, but rest in His power, draw from His strength, and walk with Him daily.

 

 

 

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The Power of Persistent Prayer

Written by Starla Webster

Last weekend during our time of worship, I asked God to hear my prayer and to hear the prayers of many others that have been praying with me. I felt the presence of God begin to rush through me with a word of encouragement. He gave me a picture, and in that picture, I saw Him in Heaven, seated on his throne. There were bowls before Him. As I continued to pray, the prayers that I had so diligently prayed day after day, month after month, year after year began to pour into one of the bowls. As the bowl filled with my prayers, intercessions and petitions, the bowl began to overflow and spill out all over me. God showed me that all these prayers and blessings are stored up for us in heaven, and they pour out all over us. So often, I have viewed God as disinterested when I hadn’t received answers from him. When He was silent, I would agonise over whether God really cared about me or loved me at all. This picture encouraged me so much, because it reminded me that [God does hear my prayers, and that even when it seems like nothing is happening, things are being stored up for a heavenly outpouring.] 

It’s always exciting when God affirms our pictures of encouragement with what is written in the Word of God. In the book of Revelations, John describes golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints—in other words the prayers of God’s people collectively fill heavenly bowls with a sweet aroma.

Revelations 8:3-5:

3 Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. 5 Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.

Jentzen Franklin said, “What a marvelous image! When you pray, you are filling the prayer bowls of heaven. In God’s perfect timing, your prayers are mixed with the fire of God (His power) and cast back down to earth to change your situation… Even if you don’t feel like anything is happening in the natural world, when you pray, you are filling the prayer bowls in the spirit realm. When they are full, they will tilt and pour out answers to your prayers!”

Given the UAE’s extremely sunny weather, it is home to several water parks. In the kid’s sections of these waterparks, you often find children standing under a giant bucket that hangs overheard. The bucket fills with water little by little and as it draws near to the tipping point, their anticipation and excitement is written so clearly on their faces because they know what’s coming—a great outpouring. Suddenly, the bucket tips over and a great flood of refreshment crashes down on the expectant kids.

Oftentimes we have grown weary from praying the same prayer over and over. Fatigued, sometimes we walk away from the bucket—just before receiving the refreshing outpouring. This is not about works—trying to make something happen in our own strength—but about consistency and persistence. 

In Luke 18:1-8 in the Message, Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.  He said,

“There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’ 4-5 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’” 6-8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”

Persistence is powerful. Persistence means to continue in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty and opposition. God is encouraging us to be persistent in our prayers and to trust that He is listening and that our bowls in heaven are in the process of being filled. We must trust that there will be an incredible time when every prayer and every petition mixed with every tear and cry from your heart has been heard and captured and will be poured back over you in full, delightful measure—and not only will you be refreshed but all those standing with you and trusting with you will join in the celebration.

We can take comfort in the words written in Deuteronomy 7:9:

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”

So keep praying, persisting and persevering. Even when it’s difficult and it seems like there’s no point in uttering the same words again and again. God hears us, and He will answer in time.

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maude’s story

maude

A story of restoration

I believe everyone has a story to tell. Inside your story might be an untold chapter of your life that has been too painful or shameful to share.  It could contain something that has devastated your life, shattered your heart and broken it beyond repair. You could feel trapped and unable to move forward with your life. That was my story, and if that is your story, you desperately need Jesus to come into that dark and vulnerable place in your life to mend your heart and free your tormented and wounded soul.

For many years I was broken. I felt rejected. I lived with this overwhelming sense of fear, guilt and shame. These feelings followed me and vexed me wherever I went. These emotions became so much a part of my life and had such a stronghold over me that I had absolutely no control.  The thought of sharing my story with the world was unimaginable.  Every time I felt brave enough to share my story with someone I trusted, fear would grip me. My heart would race wildly and I wouldn’t be able to utter a word.  I was wary of people and isolated myself from them. I did not want people to get too close to me for fear of being exposed and rejected.

All this changed for me a few years ago when God started speaking to me about a very traumatic and sad period in my childhood. I was still trying to come to terms with the experience I’d had and was in denial that something so destructive could have actually happened to me. God asked me to give Him that broken part of my life, along with all the disappointments and losses. He wanted to restore, heal and deliver me from it, but I was not ready to let it go – it was too painful.

Then one night I had a dream that I was being held captive by the devil, a knife pressed against my throat. In the dream I was too afraid to move or scream. I woke up in a cold sweat, shaken. God revealed to me that the enemy was using fear, guilt and shame like a knife against my throat – just like in the dream – to stop me from sharing my testimony. God also began to speak to me about my identity in Him as His daughter. He reminded me of His Word in Romans 8:15, “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” I began to understand that I belong to Him. He is my Father, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. I started memorizing some scriptures that I would speak aloud whenever I felt fearful, abandoned or needed to reaffirm my identity in Christ.

Since then, God has not stopped speaking to me. He has continued to tell me how much He loves me and how He wants to restore my life and use me and my story to bring hope and deliverance to people who felt like I did ­– trapped, unloved, lonely and rejected. He wants me to live in freedom – free from the pain of rejection and free from the guilt and shame of my past. My dream life changed drastically and I started to understand what God was saying to me in dreams. All my dreams revolved around the subjects of deliverance from strongholds in my life that were holding me back. Now when I dream, God will drop a word in my spirit before I wake. He’ll speak a word like “generation curse,” or “stronghold,” so I know what he wants me to deal with. I then research the meaning of the word and listen to sermons about it. I came across teachings from Dereck Prince that included practical prayers to take you through self-deliverance. I started to feel better and stronger every day until I was finally ready to surrender my whole painful past to Jesus. I became so desperate for God to heal, deliver and restore my life that I connected with a deliverance ministry that led me through prayers of forgiveness. They helped me break free from the fear, rejection, guilt and shame that have kept me captive for so many years. Soon after that I met up one by one with all my friends and for the first time I was able to share my life story with them. I would like to share that story with you now.

I am the youngest of four children. My father was an alcoholic that could not keep a job. My mother had serious health and mental problems and was physically unable to look after us. When I was four years old, my parents were declared unfit to take care of us. We were placed into a foster home for one year with an elderly couple. I do not remember us ever going to church or hearing about Jesus at that point, but one day I asked my sister if Jesus was dead. She replied that, no Jesus was not dead. She told me that He was dead, but is not dead anymore. He woke up from the dead and went back to His home in heaven on a cloud. Now I see how, through her innocent, childlike answer, I first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A year later, the four of us were transferred to the same children’s home, where we were separated and placed in different homes according to age and gender. I was placed into a home for preschool children, my sister went to a home for the older girls and my two brothers went to a boy’s home. I was a quiet and shy child and found it hard to adjust to my new surroundings and circumstances without my big brothers and sister whom I missed so much. One great thing was that I started attending nursery school, which I loved – especially the arts and crafts and storytelling. Our teacher started every day with a story from a beautifully illustrated children’s bible. My favorite of the stories told of how Jesus calls children to come to Him. It expressed how much He loves little children. It made me happy to know that Jesus loved children and that He loved me.

One of the nursery school teachers was very loving and kind to me, and she started to take me home with her every day after school. She had a daughter who was an only child and was about the same age as me. The two of us connected immediately and would play together for hours on end. During a time that I desperately needed love, comfort and companionship, God faithfully provided me with a second family and a new sister that are still very part of my life today.

One morning, I woke up and was told by the housemother at the home that it was my birthday. I was six years old, and it was the first time that my birthday had ever been celebrated. I felt very special when all the children sang happy birthday together and clapped their hands to wish me well. I was now a big girl now and ready to start primary school. I was ecstatic because going to primary school meant being reunited with my siblings.

The first day at school was epic. My brothers and sister walked me to school and took turns carrying my school bag. They were so proud and protective of me and during the break times they showed me off to all their teachers and friends. I was very happy. Life was good. I made friends and did well in school. From time to time we received a letter from our mother, who tried her best to keep in contact with us.

One afternoon after school, the welfare worker at the children’s home requested the four of us to visit her at the office. She gave us an update about the situation back home with our parents. It did not look good for us. My father had left my mother and disappeared without a trace. My mother’s physical and mental health had deteriorated and she had been admitted to mental home. We were also informed that we would never be able to go home to them and live a normal happy life as a family. I still remember the shock and sadness we had felt. But, as children do, we were able to bounce back from the disappointment and continue with our lives until we all finished high school.

In the homes we were brought up with strict, traditional Christian values. From a young age I attended church and Sunday school every week. I heard the gospel many times, but it was more of a religious tradition to me that did not really make sense. One night when I was fourteen years old I had my first significant dream. In the dream Jesus came from heaven to earth on a cloud. I knew it was the second coming of Jesus, yet I felt disappointed in myself as I had heard about Jesus often, but had never invited Him into my life. In my dream Jesus walked straight up to me and looked me in the eyes as He showed me the scars on His hands and feet. That dream will always stay with me. It was the first time that God revealed Himself to me in such a personal and intimate way.

I had another supernatural encounter when I was eighteen years old and gave my life to Jesus. A friend from Sunday school became radically saved. He was constantly sharing the gospel with me and had a prayer group that interceded for my salvation. I tried to avoid him, but one day he cornered me and gave a bible where every word Jesus spoke was highlighted. When I got home I went to my room and started reading all the highlighted portions and something became alive inside of me as I encounter the power of the Holy Spirit for the first time.

Looking back at my life, I know that I had a good life. Times were hard, but I had many amazing opportunities growing up as a child and was privileged to have hundreds of brothers and sisters in the home with me. God has always been there for me and has proven Himself faithful in my life many times. Many doors have opened for me that I know were not due to my own abilities, influence or strengths.

Today, I am free from rejection, guilt and shame. My heart is healed and my identity as a Child of God is restored. I want to encourage everyone that has gone through real, heartbreaking experiences to put their hope and trust in Jesus. He is your forever friend and help in time of need. Do not let your story become an untold chapter of your life. Your redemption story could help, encourage and bring hope to someone else in time of need.

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share your dreams with GOD

As I ponder on the year ahead, with so many thoughts and aspirations stirring in my heart, I wonder, how will these things happen?… these BIG impossible dreams. Can I pull this off? Will it be a success or will it fail? Am I taking on too much? How do I add another thing to my plate? What sacrifices do I have to make? Is it worth it?

I love it when a word interrupts my chaotic thoughts and brings peace and confirmation. This morning while reading Proverbs, I couldn’t move past this incredible scripture. In proverbs 16:3 it says,

‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will Succeed.’

What an incredible promise of success. As I began to pray and lay out my thoughts, dreams and hopes before God I continued to be anxious wondering if this is really all I need to do? God, can you be trusted to make my plans a success as i commit them to you? Surely the dreams I have buried in my heart are the dreams you have given me?

This is where Faith & Trust come in. Scripture says in Psalm 37:5,

Commit your way to the Lord, TRUST in Him and He will do this.

Trust is a BIG word! Anyone else have Trust issues?? It would be so much easier to have success guaranteed up front right? But thats not the way of Faith and we know that without Faith its impossible to please God.

As I had finished committing my plans to God for the year ahead. I received an email with the answer I was looking for, a confirmation of something BIG that I’ve been hoping for. (I cant share now but will share soon!!) God is FAITHFUL! He always starts with a whisper…

So what does God require of us? To have Faith & Believe that He will do what He has promised. To Trust Him and believe that He is who He says He is and to commit your plans to God sharing your life with Him and showing your dependance on Him.

Everything points to a relationship with Jesus, He delights in taking this journey with you. Proverbs 3:6,

 In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

love,

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