A More Excellent Way

The following blog is a product of my recent life experiences and personal story that I feel will help any and every one of us that can be truly honest about our lives. I apologize for the out of the ordinary lengthiness, but I felt that this needed to be said. I humbly ask all who read it to hang in there, and read without judgement to the very end. (I’ve even thrown in some pictures for those of you who have wandering minds lol) I believe you will be encouraged, challenged to be courageous, think freely and even learn something 🙂https://i0.wp.com/static.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/MjAxMi02ODM5MDdiNWMwNzRiODAw.png

Many of us have our own moral code or way of approaching situations. We may be nonchalant about it or opinionated, but there are thoughts, ideas in our minds where we see things in black and white, most often about almost every situation and person other than ourselves. We are still shackled by the curse that accompanies the burden of having to uphold the Law. We thrive on it, find our life’s meaning in it, and unfortunately, look to it to earn us brownie points with God, or as some would say karma. You sow what you reap…so you better not sow badly.

While a law is a law, and there is much truth behind that view point, it does not change us at our core, but simply serves as a reminder of how much we fail, and that others fail us.

But there is a more excellent way. A way that requires faith alone, for God to finish the work that He has started in us. Faith to believe that God’s love for us, continually transforms us to be like Our Lord Christ Jesus. Love. God’s love toward us. It assures us that it is not our measly efforts to keep His commands and to live morally that warrant our blessing, but rather, simple faith in the ransom paid for us by His Son that finishes the work. A faith that knows that nothing in this life, no hardship and difficulties, not even death can separate us from the Love of God. And that it is okay to struggle and try and figure things out, knowing that God’s hold on us is a lot stronger than our grip to hold on for dear life, is ever going to be.

I feel that often enough, we don’t talk about the hard times. Facebookhttps://i0.wp.com/cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/400x/24930864.jpg and many other social media are so focused on celebrating the successes – which are amazing, who doesn’t enjoy them? Or the optimistic lifestyle – which again is great, but leaves everyone, and I say EVERYONE feeling like there’s something wrong with them on days that are not quite our best. Pardon the negativity/french in the above image to, but I believe it proves a good point! (Side note: not endorsing you to facebook your problems instead of facing them either – just saying)

But the Truth is that things often get worse before they get better. It may take one many attempts before things finally fall into place. Things get messier before they get put in order. And all our efforts to pretend that we have it all together in the end, is a big FAT lie. For Rome, was not built in a day. Neither was the light bulb created in one attempt. And most millionaires have hit bankruptcy several times, before they achieved their widely celebrated status that they have today.

As Christians, or I should say, Followers of Christ, we are not promised a rosy road with no challenges. If Our Lord had gone through them, be sure, we will too. But He does promise to be with us through it and see us through. Maybe even change us a bit more into His image, if we allow Him to, through the process. And whttp://kingdomnewtestament.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/love-inspirational-daily.jpge are not to fear the ‘process’ like it’s some kind of curse word, implying that we are not enjoying God’s blessings, or that there’s something wrong with us. Nor are we to fear what the enemy of our soul can bring into our lives to harm us. For in the end, we are our Father’s children. And the Love that God lavishes on us will always supersede any plan that the enemy has to destroy us and turn into good.

There will be times, as tough as it is, a good parent has to step back and let our little ones face a difficultly. Not for us to get a joy out of it, but in order that they may grow stronger and learn from it. We can expect no less from a Heavenly Father who is more interested in our character being built, than our comfort being accommodated.

But there is a more excellent way: We shall be known by our love for God and for one another. In the end, those are the greatest commandments. It is His Spirit that helps us live up to God standards by His great grace…not our wasted human efforts, as sincere as they may be. Perhaps that is why so many in around have looked to those who follow Jesus with disdain for ages…I have to be honest and say that I myself along with many others have at times felt the exact the same way about our so-called family of God. And perhaps others have looked at me and felt the same. We are all imperfect broken people. All hypocrites in some area or another, whether we acknowledge it or not. Pretending that we have it together in our lives, when a deeper look would plainly reveal that we do not. And what’s worse, we’re fully aware of it.

Today, after having my eyes opened to the beauty of God’s Forgiveness and Grace, I am ashamed to think that any of my efforts to earn God’s favor were worth what He freely gives me. What He freely gives you. Jesus paid a price not for us to pretend that we’ve arrived or to put on a show. He is interested in owning us through and through. He wants to ensure that we’re the real deal. Inside and out. 100% genuine.

There is no cost to it, but to surrender your heart to Him. Trust Him to know that He knows what is best for your life, and allow Him to be the Great Creator, creating in you all that you were meant to be. For like Michael Angelo, He is able to see beyond the one to the beauty of who you are truly meant to be. A masterpiece all around. Isn’t the reality that we need help because we don’t have it all together? And deep inside, we know that we never really will? It is liberating to let go. To stop pretending, to stop fighting.

https://i0.wp.com/images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/15200000/Batman-and-Joker-funkyrach01-15288458-1024-768.jpgWe need a Saviour, a Hero. Isn’t that why so many TV shows with superheroes and comics exist? Somewhere deep inside we recognize this need. We need a Savior to not only save us from the evil we have coming because of our own actions, and the evil out in the world, but most of all, we need to be saved from evil within ourselves – our own selfish ways.

I am here to say that if you were hurt by another person, especially a Christian, to please not judge Our Lord and allow it to ruin your faith and trust in Him or your opportunity to know Jesus Christ personally. I apologize on behalf of us all for often doing a poor job to represent His Love, Forgiveness, Grace and Mercy. And the reason for that is just that. We have been doing a poor job… instead of allowing Him to grow us into a place where He does an extravagant job through us.

Let us be patient and loving toward one another, understanding that we are all on a journey, and a ‘process’ towards Love Himself.

Our religious attitude (applies to all of us) at times is evidence of our human frailty – mixed with good intentions to keep His commands or those of our own code, can sometimes have us forgetting how much we’ve been forgiven for and cause us to come down hard on those around us.  But if we endure the process, allow each other room to grow, nurture and encourage each other, https://i0.wp.com/25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mehcxzk1Ql1rlt7kco1_500.jpgwe will soon discover that as long as we remain in relationship with Christ, He will ensure that we most assuredly will bear fruit. That we will indeed mature into a people who can not only say that we love God with our words, but demonstrate that love toward others effortlessly.

It is time to choose the more excellent way. Love. The world around us awaits it. Are you ready?

Blog submitted by LA member: Dona Constantino

What you have in common with Christina Aguilera…

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Well, here we are, February 2013 is more than half way gone and we eagerly await the milder Spring weather. Time sure does fly doesn’t it?!

If you had a difficult 2012 and were glad to see it go, 2013 must already seem a lot easier.  But, if it seems like some of the tough stuff from last year has somehow trickled into the beginning of your new year, you may find yourself wishing that the time would fly by even more quickly!

Isn’t it funny how the good times fly by, but the difficult times seem to leave us stuck in a wilderness for what seems like an eternity? The sun still rises and sets at it’s given times, but our days just seem soooo loooonngg.

If that’s you today, I encourage you to hang in there, know that life’s trouble comes to all of us, and that you are not alone. There are still many precious moments and blessings we can give thanks for, and, fill our 2013 favorite memories jar with! (see previous blogs for reference).

Often when we stop to look at the bright side, and foster an attitude of gratefulness for the smallest things, our outlook and disposition during the darkest of times, instantly starts to glow.

The truth is, the difficult times that we go through, train and teach us how to persevere and develop character. They are not punishment from an angry God, but just a part of life’s pressures that help us bring forth the diamond within.

Looking back, I can see how so many things that felt like my world was capsizing are no longer in the picture, and have made me stronger. I’m not sure if they were left behind, or if my perspective changed, or maybe a bit of both. What I do know is that they served to make me a stronger – whether I realized it at the time or not.https://i0.wp.com/1-ps.googleusercontent.com/h/entertainment.inquirer.net/files/2012/12/623x350xChristina-Aguilera-1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.OF_v0Oehum.jpg

“Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter.”
– “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera

*Blog submitted by Lady Advocate: Dona Constantino-Nathan, Burlington ON Canada.

“Jump in with b…

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“Jump in with both feet”

We all get to a crossroads in our lives where we feel strongly that we need “to take the plunge, jump in with both feet, just do it”, but often this can be very scary. And why not? It means that we have to forsake the familiar, let go of the comfortable, challenge ourselves and learn new things.

While it is human nature to try and resist anything uncomfortable, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking things through and counting the costs (especially with major decisions), we all reach a place at times where we have a ‘knowing’ in our hearts – whether you want to call it God’s leading or intuition – to make a certain decision.

It is said that the greatest victories or accomplishments are found when we jump in with both feet and take a risk. Love, Marriage, Relationships, Parenting all require an element of Faith, knowing that things have not, or will not line up in a neat & tidy line for us, but if we choose to give into it, we can have the most beautiful memories despite the challenges that may accompany it at times.

In the end…it is always worth it. So if you have an inkling to explore, or a strong sense that it is time to embark on a faith journey, whether to God, the love of your life, a new friend, a career change, etc…it may be time to stop ‘pussyfooting’ around and with courageously ‘jump in with both feet!’

New Year Memories

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Starting a New Year

This is a time where lots of people have started the year with resolutions, most of which are too difficult to keep or have fallen by the way side in a month or two.

Why not create something tangible that helps reflect on the great memories, thankful moments, kinds words, etc you received/encountered through 2013 instead?

You can decorate a jar or simply label it, and place it in a space where you, and maybe the whole family can add to along the year.

It is a great way to keep track of wonderful memories, as well as provides a neat activity for end of year celebrations when it’s time to look back.

Life is a gift! Celebrate it 🙂

Happy 2013 everyone!

Speak with Care…

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Speak with Care

“What you say can mean life or death. Those who speak with care will be rewarded.”
– the Book of Proverbs

Our last blog presented the challenge of choosing to live in the ‘Here and Now’. Embracing our present as the gift that it is, instead of dwelling on things in our current situations that aren’t quite the way we’d like. Focusing on the present gives us the opportunity to choose a better future by ensuring that we make the necessary choices and changes in our thinking and actions today.

If you are having difficulties identifying things or patterns from your past that still have a grip on you, the easiest way to discover what they are is by paying attention to the words that often drop from your lips.

“I am not skinny enough. I am so stupid. I look fat. I can’t do that. I will never be good at anything. I am not good enough. Nobody would want to be with me. I am not good looking enough. My family never accepted me. No one cares. I have not accomplished anything worthwhile in my life. Nobody loves me. If people only knew…”

Or, it could be something that someone  you care/d about or perhaps a few people said to you:

“You’re ugly. You’re fat. You’re good for nothing. You’re not good enough, etc etc.”

Unfortunately, kids can be cruel at times. For some people, family situations may have been ugly in whatever capacity, or perhaps it was friends, co-workers or an ex.

We have all experienced the power of negative words in our own lives. How they produce death – a feeling of hopelessness, depression, discouragement. I’m sure that in the above lists, we can all identify 1 or more things that we have thought about often. Perhaps even allowed them to dictate our life’s choices, or even spent our time trying desperately to prove that they are not true.

The good news is that those words are not a finality in our life and we don’t have to accept them. We can truly rest knowing that we were created to be just the way we are. Unique. We may not be perfect, but nobody is. The whole idea of looking just right, having all the nice things, living in the perfect situation does not exist. They are just ideas pushed on us through the media. Ideas we made up to try escape the imperfection that is us. Don’t believe me? Look at the lives of the so-called celebrities we idolize? Most are not happy, even with the money, good looks, lifestyle they have, they are lonely, still struggling with insecurity and the same personal issues as everyone else.

But what if we could free of our attempts to achieve the futile goal of measuring up? Free to be who we are and be okay with ourselves?

As the New Year approaches, let’s choose to put a stop to the words and thoughts that have been holding us back from our true potential. Let’s speak about ourselves and others with care, and reap the rewards of it!

The ‘Here & Now’

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We all have a tendency to either hope for a brighter future, or be bogged down by our past – good or bad.

We may be waiting for that day when we win the lottery, or break the bank and then, only then, life will be good or worth it. OR, we may be reminiscing of the good ‘ol days wishing things could be the way they were.  For some of us (or maybe all of us), there may be areas in our lives (large or small) that were deeply impacted by some unfortunate position we found ourselves in – whether it was of our own doing, or we were the victim. This incident or pattern has led us to feel shame, guilt, fear or lack of self confidence to some capacity. It has been dragging us down and not letting go, so we can never truly move ahead.

At last month’s meeting, we discussed the importance of living in the Here & Now – Embracing the Present as the gift that it truly is. This is because despite our aspirations for a perfect or successful future or, the pain of a leaving behind a past that needs a reckoning – we all are alive TODAY and we have much to be thankful for. There are many memories in the making that are worth treasuring right here and now – Don’t miss them!. Today, there is forgiveness and wholeness awaiting us, regardless of our past mistakes.

You can CHOOSE to be the best you can be today!

I realize that this is more easily said than done, so the ladies decided together that we would come up with a practical way to make this a reality in our own lives, and apply what we learned over the month. We would then come together and discuss some of our experiences at our next meeting this month (November).

So, for all the LA members out there (both present and future, as well as those who just live far far away 🙂 ), we encourage you to CHOOSE to live TODAY and make the small changes needed to improve your lives NOW.  Small decisions that will lead to a better YOU – that will encourage you to break free of any deadweight that is holding you back from your true potential and/or keeping you from enjoying the many blessings today. Whether that means accepting where you now are and moving on, or facing past challenges head on and confronting them.

You were designed to be unique & loved! Break free from conformity and people’s expectations of you.

Be all that you were created to BE!

I am Woman

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“I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.”

From the popular song in the 1970s, these words ring true in my soul.

WELCOME to the Lady Advocates NEW blog where we hope to inspire, make you laugh, cry, learn, help others, AND ENJOY life together – as Women.

Although the song “I am Woman,” ended up becoming a theme song for the women’s lib movement, the writer intended it for so much more than that.

It was more about the celebration and identity of a woman. We were made unique. Different but equal. And that is worth discovering and celebrating!

Today, we live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with ideas, thoughts, expectations of who we should be, what we should look like, and even competition to keep up, and prove ourselves equal or better than the opposite sex.

This blog is about freedom from all of the above. It is about recognizing our beauty and rising above it all. For when we know who we are, no one can take that away from us, and there is nothing left to prove. Then, and only then, can we function in full capacity of who we were created to be, what we were created to do.

So for every woman out there longing to discover ‘the ART of being a WOMAN’ this blog is for you. Because you are STRONG, INVINCIBLE, YOU are WOMAN!

This post by LA: Dona Constantino-Nathan