For the Sake of Friendship

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The theme of the retreat was “Surrender” and it was based on my book, “I Am Hagar: Forgotten No More”.  The retreat was held offsite at a Christian retreat center – great for camping during the summer or renting an upscale cottage anytime of the year.

On this particular retreat we were set up in one of their beautiful cottages that made us feel right at home and provided most of us with the rest and relaxation we needed.  Each cottage had its own special name.  Happiness, Faith, Joy, Jubilee, just to name a few.  However, there was one name that was disturbing and somewhat alarming to some of us.  The name?  “Amistad” – with the word “Friendship” below it.

 

 

First of all, for those who may not know, “Amistad” was the name of a ship that transported slaves and was featured in the well known movie by the same name. On it the slaves endured horrible atrocities which have lingered in the memories and hearts of many African Americans as a painful reminder of what was done to their ancestors.

Below the nameplate at the “Amistad” cottage was the word “Friendship”.  It was also the only sign that had an explanation word after it.  Actually, it felt like an oxymoron.

 

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Secondly, all the other cottage names were positive and self-explanatory while this one didn’t seem to fit. Although it did need explaining, the word “friendship” didn’t help.  Needless to say, none of us were impressed with what appeared to be a very insensitive and demeaning message on that cottage.

In defense of the decision-makers at the camp, we didn’t know them or understand the reason behind the decision.  Perhaps it was in effort to be inclusive.  Perhaps there was something of significance to the name that we didn’t know. We wondered if they included the word, “friendship” after it so as “not to offend”.  However, it did offend.  A powerful name like “Amistad” is too full of historical pain and anguish for a lot of people.  Some of us wondered how the nameplate was accepted in the first place.  We chalked it up for effort through ignorance, which is probably one of the most common ways people offend.

All-in-all, it left many of us feeling unsettled, disappointed, embarrassed and yes, even angry for what our African American sisters were feeling.  During the retreat, a few of the women who were staying in that cottage revealed their feelings of  frustration and anger about the sign.  It brought deep sadness and hurt that someone would do such a thing, especially at a Christian camp.

That was enough for the leaders of the retreat. They decided to call the contact person of the camp and lodge a complaint.  It was received and within an hour the sign was removed.

Following the retreat, a formal letter was sent to the leadership of the camp and the issue will be addressed at their next board meeting.  The church group is suggesting that the new name be “Surrender”.  I personally think that’s a great idea!!

 

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This whole scenario played out in the hours between my second and third talk that I gave on that day.  Why is that significant?  First because there were various cultures and races represented at the retreat and secondly, my third talk was entitled, “He Sees Us”.  During that session, I challenged the women to consider what their “us” looked like on a personal level and for them to think about how they include other cultures and races in their personal relationships. I also challenged them to look at their “us” from a women’s ministry angle and then as a church community.

How might God  use them/us to stand together with the people He has put among them/us?

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That day and through the experience with the sign, we were not only given the opportunity to stand with our sisters of colour in what they were experiencing but we also witnessed first hand how the Holy Spirit was very present and showed us in a clear way that He saw us!!

We should hurt when our brothers and sisters hurt.  In this case, it happened to be around the issue of race and slavery. That is true unity in Christ.

Friends, it is our Unity in Christ that binds us to each other.  Unfortunately, we often allow the messages of the world, the flesh and the devil fracture that unity.

Let us not take our oneness for granted or to excuse away our ignorance.

Let us keep learning and growing forward with our brothers and sisters of all races and cultures.

Let us not only keep the lines of communication open between each other but especially between us and God.  If we do so, we will be able to hear what the Holy Spirit wants us to do to be part of the solution instead of the problem as far as the sin of racism is concerned.

Let us give and receive forgiveness (for misunderstandings) freely as Christ forgave us WHILE we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).  His forgiveness is available for all of us.  He went to the Cross on our behalf and sent his Spirit in order that we would be drawn to Him with confession on our tongues and a receptive heart for His forgiveness.

Have you been forgiven much?  Then I remind myself and encourage you to share that forgiveness freely.

REFLECTION:

What “sign(s)” has God put in your life to challenge your walk with Him?

What circumstance(s) has God put in your life to grow a deeper intimacy with Him?

Who has God brought into your “us”?

How is God leading you to stand / walk beside another person to become part of the solution and not part of the problem?

 

For more information on this retreat, the “Understanding Culture” workshop or other topics, and how you can have them at your church or community group, check out

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/188  (retreat)

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/586  (Understanding Culture)

https://wordpress.com/page/kinitaschripsema.com/413  (Speaking Topics)

Or please feel free to contact me at kinitaathome@att.net.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Kinita

 

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Tears for Fears

Shout, Shout, let it all out
These are the things we can do without
Come on, I’m talking to you, Come on!!!

Yes, these are the lyrics from an 80’s band that inspired the title of this post by the same name. If you aren’t familiar with them, you might be too young to be reading this blog.

NOTE: some of the following fears are ones I have had personally while others I have shared by permission from friends.

I have a fear of failure.
I have a fear of success.
I have a fear of marriage.
I have a fear of divorce.
I have a fear of staying single forever.
I have a fear of failing my children.
I have a fear of losing it with my children.
I have a fear of failing my husband.
I have a fear of failing my friends.
I have a fear of spiders and other crawly things.
I have a fear of getting into a car accident.
I have a fear of getting cancer.
I have a fear of rejection.
I have a fear of acceptance.
I have a fear of being real in case I get rejected.
I have a fear of peanut butter.
I have a fear of thunderstorms.
I have a fear of the dark.
I have a fear of confined spaces.
I have a fear of death.
I have a fear of heights.
I have a fear of sharks while swimming in fresh water.
I have a fear of underwater things.
I have a fear of financial ruin.
I have a fear of snakes.

Is your fear listed?

Well then….

Shout, shout, let it all out!!!!

I don’t know about you, but I have had a lot of tears for a lot of fears over the years. (I know, too many rhymes!!!). Many a pillow has been soaked, tissues drenched and shoulders anointed with those tears.

There is good news…..

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind”.
Since God doesn’t give us that fear, then it is the Enemy who does. The more space you allow him in your life, the more he will take. Don’t embrace that fear, dear one.

1 John 4:18 says, “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
That Perfect Love is Jesus. It is only by His hand that the fear leaves us. If you are a follower of Jesus, don’t allow that fear to keep you trapped. If you don’t understand what it means to trust in Jesus and you are reading this, perhaps it is God’s way of pursuing you to let you know that you also don’t need to carry that fear around in your soul.

So shout, shout and let it all out. These are the fears we can do without. Come on, I AM talking to you.

You know who you are.

I know who I was when I carried these fears deep in my soul. They kept me trapped and caused me to struggle in just about every situation. I found myself making excuses instead of learning to make a way through those debilitating moments that seemed to go on for months.

Don’t make the same mistake….only you can choose to get free from the fears that keep you trapped.

How, you ask?

tears for fearsConfession and surrender.
Are you a believer? Then stop allowing your fears to rule your life. Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
FEAR FREE!!!
The Enemy’s job isn’t to convince us not to believe in God but to keep us bound up in our fear trap so we won’t serve The King of kings and Lord of lords. If he can succeed in keeping us distracted by our fears we do little to nothing for the Kingdom.

The Enemy wants you to think you are a “good for nothing” person. But once you become a follower of Christ, you become a “good for something” person. You are God’s purposes!!
Ephesians 2:10, “you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works that He planned in advance for you to do.” Don’t let fear have more power in your life than Jesus.

How long, dear friend, will you allow your fears to control you?

Will you join me? Will you shout, shout and let it all out? Leave the fear and doubt at the foot of the Cross once and for all and move forward on the path God has for you!!

I need you to be fear-less. I need your help in the Kingdom. You need me to be fear-less. With God’s help we both can be fear-free!!!

BTW – from the list above, did you catch the one about “sharks in fresh water”? Totally unfounded. Sharks live in salt water. Some fears can be dispelled by shear knowledge and information around them.

REFLECTION:

What do you fear?
How do you respond to a fear?
What has helped you get over your fears?

I LOOKED UP (Part 2 – the story continues…)

This was my fourth trip to Nepal to serve with a ministry that buys and frees slaves. We hold women’s conferences in a church and as the speaker, I encourage the women to grow in their relationships with Jesus Christ through various topics that lend themselves to the Discipleship process already going on there.

I am very intentional in preparing a team for the ministry, opportunities and experiences we might have there. The number one way in which I insist they prepare is to, “stay in The Word“. God is writing each of our stories and as we stay in His Word, we will grow to see how it weaves into the fabric of our lives. I cannot stress enough how important it is for ALL of us to take time to “seek first the Kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).

This trip would prove to be one that would challenge each of us to rely on God through the unique relationship we had cultivated with Him during that preparation.

In the hours following the initial earthquake….. (excerpt from my journal on April 25, 2015, following the Nepal earthquake).

“Fear, anxiety and emotions are running high. I think I am internalizing them now. I pray, I sing, I claim the power of God. The aftershocks continue as we sit outside the church. We are being encouraged to move to the open field behind the church to seek greater safety”.

As I walked out to the clearing I began to sing, “I’m gonna go with Jesus anywhere, no matter the roughness of the road….”, a worship song we have often sung in our church. The Holy Spirit reminded me of Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

That day, I also chose to trust God with every shaking fiber of my body.

 

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area.  A very rough place to walk.

field for squatters and animals running wild. Lots of human and animal waste and trash littering the area. A very rough place to walk.

Once in the field, I look up and see power lines criss-crossing the sky, which presents more danger and uncertainty if they were to fall. But before more fear can take hold, the Holy Spirit showed me what He wanted me to see instead.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip..."

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip…”

For the first time, in a few hours, I felt a twinge of peace in my soul that “everything was going to be alright”. God was truly present and He would see us through this. No matter how uncertain the circumstances were going to be, I could be certain that God would continue to be faithful in this situation. Looks like He chose to calm His child instead of calming the earth storm.

We hung out in the field for awhile and once it was “safe enough” (which was debateable), we headed back to the church site.

By now you might be thinking that “Kinita is really good at memorizing scripture”. I assure you, I am not. I can usually remember the words of a passage but not where it is found. Or I will remember that a certain book and chapter of the Bible is significant but can’t remember why.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time.  Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit's presence.

A random white bird landed on a branch near by during this time. Perhaps as another visual reminder of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

That day, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me the help I needed by speaking those words into my ear. When I got home, I looked them up and found them in print.

Believers in Jesus…..here’s how it works. When we say, “we died and we are now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), it means first we have died to our own desires, passions and expectations and that God is our protector, shield and guard. The Holy Spirit is our companion. Unfortunately, so many people say this and then in a crisis, run and hide behind idols. That day, something died in me for good. Even though I can’t quite put into words what died in me that day, I can say with more clarity and vigor, that God’s Words and His Presence became more alive and palpable than ever before in my life.

We have an incredible gift of His “Shadow” (Psalm 91) and yet some still choose the things of this earth.

Please understand, I haven’t arrived. God continues to refine me. My prayer is that God will use this experience in my life to give you the Hope that He wants for you.

That day as Kathmandu was lifted approximately 1 meter in the air (statement made in a report I read), I believe I was lifted onto God’s shoulders as a reminder of His care for me (Luke 15:5 was prayed over us before we left on the trip).

Although I continue to deal with some physical ailments from that day, my heart is stronger today because of how God showed Himself to me when I looked up.

“Shoulders” by King & Country …was a great inspiration and a song I held in my heart throughout this particular trip and as I prepared for going.

Thank you for journeying with me. May the LORD be gracious to you when you look up.

REFLECTION:

Where is the earth moving under your feet and causing you uncertainty?

What is the earthly storm you are going through?

Where are you looking?

How do you respond to the “aftershocks” surrounding the crisis in your own journey?

 

Anger Management

My quills are sharp and ready to fire. I need to protect myself from you, from her, from him and from them. Welcome to my wake up call.

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I was a young wife and mother and had become a porcupine, “one who rises in anger”. I had an anger problem. Notice I said, “had”? Well, some of those emotions have come up in me again. The good news is, I am not her anymore.

…let me explain…

Years ago, I had a real problem with anger. I self-classified myself as an almost-errupting-volcano often. You wouldn’t recognize me today if you knew me then. I would yell at my kids and fight with my husband and for certain, didn’t like myself very much. It was a tough road to travel for sure. One that had me trapped in fear, anxiety, mistrust and rejection. Who would want to hug a porcupine anyway? I believed I deserved the treatment I was receiving. The results of that anger soon had a ripple effect from my marriage to my parenting to my friendships that eventually lead me to counseling and even anti-depressants for a short time. The marks of my quills had scarred my children, my husband and my soul. I believed I was beyond forgiveness.

I was wrong.

With the help of some trusted friends, my counsellor, my husband and the Holy Spirit, I began to address the reasons behind my anger. As much as the feelings I experienced were justified, my choice to sin in that anger were not. I needed true forgiveness. I received it from all parties involved.

At one point, I even made a list…a very long list, of all the things and people that were making me angry. I sat before the LORD and spoke out my anger to Him. Over the following months and years He covered my quills with His healing, grace, comfort, patience, peace, restoration, sensitivity, confidence, acceptance and His value for me.

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It was as though I had become a sheep. He had covered all of my quills and transformed me completely.

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So here we are now, years later with the pressures of the past year taking their toll on me. In the past few months especially, I have been wondering why I am feeling so prickly again.

Then it happens…..the LORD shows me myself. Not how He sees me – a sheep. He shows me what I am becoming again – a porcupine.

Thus my wake up call.

I am seeing my quills exposed again in some areas and I am ready to fire them if I need to. But I don’t because of the Grace of God in my life and I don’t want the enemy to win.

I know God is still protecting me but I also know that the Enemy is roaming around like a lion waiting for someone to devour. Even though I have felt the need to protect myself, I will not give in to his taunts to fail and go back to being my old self.  angry porcupine 1

I start to realize that the more I try to protect myself, the more angry I become because it isn’t working.

What am I to do?

I am to put my spiritual armor on (Ephesians 6). I am to confess my shortcomings, frustrations and feelings. I am to surround myself with people who will pray me through this. I will fight the Enemy and trust God to protect every inch of my being.

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You see, I need Jesus!! I need Him every minute of every hour of every day. I cannot do this life without Him. He is my Covering. He is my Peace. He is my Protector. He is my Rock. He is my only Comfort in life and in death. He is my Portion. He is my Shield. I am His sheep.

Underneath, I am still the porcupine but as I remain close to Jesus, my Shepherd, He continues to see me as a sheep.

I choose to see me as a sheep as well.

I choose to submit to God with all my heart.

I choose to take every thought and feeling captive.

I choose to remember that God will never leave me or forsake me.

I choose to trust God to soften my hard spots.

I choose to stand on His Word, my Rock.

I choose to surrender.

How about you?

How do you manage your anger?

Are you a porcupine or a sheep?

How do you tend to protect yourself?

What gets your quills fired up?

Where are you seeing the covering of God in your life?

Thank you for taking this journey with me.

Blessings,

Kinita

Rough Waters

Dozens of cookies we made last year out of inspiration and time!!

Dozens of cookies we made last year out of inspiration and time!!

Cookies, cookies and more cookies....last year!!

Cookies, cookies and more cookies….last year!!

2 Samuel 22:5-7 says,

“The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came to His ears.”

I have been wading through some rough waters lately – waters of parenting teenagers, doing my part to help our daughter deal with adoption pain, rough waters of communication struggles in our marriage, loneliness in leadership, and the racial tension we are facing in this country just to name a few.

Sometimes I feel that if I don’t stay engaged with the above mentioned situations, then I will be taken over by them. I know, I know, sometimes that only makes things worse. However, at times I felt like I was drowning. Have you ever felt like that?

I debated about giving this blog post the title, “It Takes A Village”, to quote a famous politician from several years ago. Her message really was “it takes a village to raise a child”. She is right. It does take a village to raise a child. However, my world is bigger than that of parenting and I imagine yours is as well. Learning to navigate rough waters in every aspect of life is normal. From work to relationships to health and illness. I believe anything that has the potential to be impacted by the world, the flesh, or the devil is a great place to foster rough waters. As I go up and down with every swell of waves, I’m tired. No, I’m exhausted. I need someone to throw me a life ring. I just want to close my eyes and sleep.

And then it happens…….

I am reminded in Jonah 1:4, “But the LORD sent a strong wind on the sea, and the storm was so violent that the ship was in danger of breaking up”. I know God allows these things in my life and as I feel like I am in danger of breaking up / aka: crashing, I know the Truth that God is holding me right now. “Nothing touches my life without going through His fingers first”.

In Job 37:1, I am told, “The storm makes my heart beat wildly”, almost making me want to throw up. BUT GOD calms my spirit with His.

When Psalm 48:7 says, “…like ships tossing in a furious storm”, I am sensing dread but am reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind”. These rough waters are crazy!!!! Back-and-forth-back-and-forth, I feel tossed.

Because God is a keeper of promises, I choose to trust that He will do what He says He will do in Psalm 107:29, “He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet”….and I can trust Him because He has done this for me before and will do so again. At other times He has calmed my inner spirit so as to strengthen me for a particular storm in my life.

Oh, how I craved the quiet waters and the peaceful sunset.

Oh, how I craved the quiet waters and the peaceful sunset.

Proverbs 10:25 also says, “Storms come, and the wicked are blown away, but honest people are always safe”. I can be safe. I am safe. Are you?

We are in the throws of the Christmas Season right now. Just a couple of days away in fact. As much as I have enjoyed the hustle and bustle, to some extent, I have found myself often close to tears, physically tired, and sometimes even clenching my teeth.

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So I let the tears flow and I cry out to Jesus. He hears me. He reminds me of His love, peace and presence and that He is sending His Son as a baby in a manger as a greater reminder of things to come. God is my Rescuer. My disappointments and struggle lead me to believe that I only need a village. Yes, I do need others. But first I need Jesus to strengthen, heal and help me surrender the pain some situations and some people are causing along the way.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the storm will go away, but for me it means He will give me His peace and His joy. The rough waters need to run their course, as the LORD shapes me to look more like Him. In the meantime…..I hang on for dear life and perhaps look around for what village He is calling me to be part of.

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I want to close with this truth from 2 Samuel 22: 17 – 20.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

My comfort in these weeks has come from saying,

“I CHOOSE joy. I CHOOSE peace. I CHOOSE Jesus!!”

He is seeing me through my storm and He wants to do the same for you.

Will you trust Him for that Peace and Joy you crave deep in your spirit?

Whether you are in the swells of the rough waters or diving into the depths of the struggles. My prayer is that you will finish out this year well and know and believe that you have a Rescuer Who hears you.

Christmas blessings to you and yours,

Kinita

Overcoming Bridges

Ah, yes the subtle ways the enemy uses to derail our lives. A situation or relationship is “SO hard” that we find ourselves either avoiding the person or ignoring how we really feel because it’s just SO hard. As time goes on, we give up trying.

We don’t realize it but all of a sudden (or so we think) the relationship becomes TOO hard. TOO hard to work at, TOO hard to forgive, TOO hard to accept and sometimes even TOO hard to pray about. We have for so long focused on how it was SO hard that we just don’t have the strength or willingness to try anymore. It’s just TOO hard. We give up. (not to be confused with surrender, unless surrender is where we land).

The bridge from “SO hard to TOO hard” can become a reality in every aspect of life.

What is something in your life that is really difficult and super challenging for you right now? Is it a job, a parent-child relationship, a marriage, finances, your health? You fill in the blank.

Is it SO hard or TOO hard? Are you at your wits end? Or are you persevering through the rough waters and finding the strength to go another day. Maybe even another minute?

I had that as a parent of a challenging child. It was just SO hard for so long. So many times I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. But by the Grace of God, I didn’t. I stayed true to my commitment to God to raise that child into adulthood, I got help from a counsellor, I communicated to my husband more clearly what I was feeling along the way and most of all I surrendered my responsibility and calling of motherhood to God. But I tell you, it was SO hard. For the readers I know, I can picture some of you nodding your heads in agreement.

I believe the LORD gave me the strength to go another day. He surrounded me with truth-tellers and Jesus-lovers while exposing the judgemental and critical voices in my life. I needed help to move forward and He provided it.

There were days where I felt that the situation was becoming TOO hard (and it was).

Sometimes it was my own sin that would create the bridge from SO hard to TOO hard.

God’s word would often remind me that “with Him all things were possible” (Matthew 19:26). Or on other days, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). It was clear, the enemy didn’t have a chance, but I assure you he tried everything he could. One time I even fell on the verse, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Those were my “ugly cry” days. Don’t judge, you’ve had them too.

Ironically, now when young moms come to me about their struggles in parenting or their marriage, I chuckle inside at the journey I survived. Yes, that is how it felt sometimes. A matter of survival. Can you relate?

It was SO hard.

I survived because I had Jesus. I thrived because I chose to wear my armour during the battle for those relationships (Ephesians 6).  I survived because I chose to receive love and encouragement from those who supported me whether they understood or not.

He didn’t allow the enemy to finish the bridge that was being built from my SO hard to the TOO hard. Jesus held my hand througout the journey, especially when the people who promised they would stay, let go.

The enemy wanted me to give up on my child, my marriage, my family. I said “NO!!”.

God wanted me to grow into an overcomer. To Him I said, “YES!!

What bridge do you need to overcome?

What is in your story?

Is it SO hard or TOO hard that you want to quit?

Don’t give up, it’s not too late. God loves you and wants the best for you. You matter to Him!!

If you are reading this blog, it might be His way of pursuing you, especially if you are hearing about Him for the first time.

Thank you for sharing in my journey.  Blessings on yours.

Kinita