LoveLivesFree.com

600453_723190618832_471224537_nLovelivesfree.com is a site that has ONE purpose, and that is to get as many people as possible to LIVE in the FREEDOM that LOVE has to offer. This site will earnestly strive to write articles that encourage all people to love their God, themselves, and others. This blog site has something for everyone. In the category labeled To the Unknown God, you will find a daily devotion and articles that encourage people to be transparent with God about EVERYTHING. The SINGLE Challenge is for the Single person that is not dating or has decided to join me in the journey of Self-Discovery (click the tab to find out more).  A Family Affair is the  area that explores the good, bad, and the ooougly parts of being a friend, a family member, and a servant.  Last but not least, we have theTalk About It area where readers can  answer the Question of the Day, provide topic suggestions, comments, ask questions, and dialogue with other readers. Now that you have read about it, jump in and discover how it feels when LOVE LIVES FREE!-Charity Israel

Confessions of a Ménage à Trois

As I was laying in my bed fighting the fact that I was awake, my stepfather came to mind. I begin to think about all the broken promises He made to my family. He used to tell us we were going to Disneyland, Hawaii, and etc. He promised us extravagant gifts, and he never delivered on them. As you get older you start to realize that he’s a liar, and you will never see the things he promises. Completely unbeknownst to me, my stepfather was creating my image of men. His empty words created a mistrust in me towards men. My stepfather’s actions coupled with my biological father’s decision to be missing in action was a perfect concoction for trust issues in future relationships. By age five, all I had come to know about men is  they will lie to you or abandon you. That was my perception based on my experience with them.
I remember my first heartbreak came in the fifth grade. I was dating this guy named Gary. I went away for a special school trip. When I returned it was rumored that he and Tara, a fully developed and sexually advanced fifth grader, were doing some things in the bushes. Those activities led to them being in a relationship and me being dumped without my knowledge. When I confronted Gary, he lied and denied everything. Once we were all at recess their actions told another story. I remember running to the bathroom and weeping alone. I had never felt such humiliation and betrayal from any other male than my fathers. This experience watered those seeds of distrust and abandonment. Distrust mutated into mistrust, and I became suspicious of every man that entered my life.
After Gary, I seemed to attract guys who were either bankrupt of love or felt they had too much loving to give. Many of my short-lived relationships consisted of me trying to convince a guy they were worthy of my love, or convincing myself that cheating was okay because I wasn’t having sex with them. From jr.high to high school, mistrust and abandonment were blossoming into glorious Weeping Willows without my permission.
In college, I changed up my dating strategy. Throughout college my dating relationships were long distance. In retrospect, I believe I did this to avoid another Gary and Tara situation on campus. I found these relationships to be easier on my heart. I didn’t have to overlook stuff, question them, and etc. I was completely committed to them, and those relationships brought about some of my fondest memories of being in a relationship. However, those relationships came to a sad ending due to fear. By the time a man was seriously interested in loving me, my insecurities wouldn’t allow me to receive it. So I ran like Usain Bolt!
My last relationship was the most devastating of them all. It was the one I gave 100% percent of me. It was the one I shared every truth I knew about myself. It was the one I made a conscious effort to ignore the Weeping Willows in my heart. It was the one that I went shopping for a wedding dress. We looked at rings, venues, and honeymoon destinations. It was the one I gave my virginity to because I just knew forever would be how long we would spend together. However, life happens and you end up back alone.

Fast forward to today, I am 32 and single. Well actually I’m not. Mistrust and Abandonment have been my most intimate companions for some time now. They have been constant friends reminding me that men cannot be trusted; one will never truly love you; and when you choose to love them they will abandon you. Their lies have become my truth, and they have painted my perception of men and my relationship with them.

Today, I felt a strong unction to simply forgive my stepfather for every lie and unkept promise. I will no longer allow those things to rent space in my heart and mind. I also release my biological father from the expectations I had for him as a father. His purpose was served by getting me here; and I’ll be forever grateful to him for getting that part right. I release every toxic and dysfunctional relationship that has tainted my perception of real love. I forgive myself for allowing my insecurities to sabotage past relationships, and today I pray that the Weeping Willows, abandonment and mistrust, be cursed at their roots never to live again. I renounce my allegiance to their ideologies, and I choose to believe “Good men who value the integrity of their word do exist.” Last but not least, to those who I hurt by allowing my perception of men to get in the way of what you were trying to show me please forgive me. I truly did not mean you any harm; and I hate that what I did in the name of protecting me harmed you.
Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://goo.gl/images/1Mh2PT

Needs, Wants, and an Anxiety Attack

But God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.-Philippians 4:19

Blog photoThis morning, as I thought of all the things that I was in “need” of this week, I found myself in a slight panic. My money hadn’t been funny for awhile, but this month has been a reminder of those days. As I sat trying to figure out how to handle things financially, I felt my body bracing itself for  an Anxiety Attack. My palms were getting sweaty. My heart was starting to race; and right before I started to hyperventilate, Philippians 4:19 came to my mind.  It says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This was Paul’s response of gratitude for what the church of Philippi did for him; but it became the anecdote for the anxiety that was trying to overtake me. As I continued to recite the verse, peace started to flood my heart. Repeating the words “God shall supply all your need”  began to put things into perspective for me. I had become so flustered over the temporary loss of certain luxuries that I allowed it to rob me of my peace. I had completely ignored the fact that ALL MY NEEDS were met.

As I searched for commentary on the scripture, none of the writers bothered to discuss what a need entailed. They may have thought it is one of those things that is understood; but I took the liberty of finding a definition for those of us who are unable to distinguish a need from a want. It was difficult finding a detailed definition for the word “need,” but Wikipedia defines it as “something necessary for an organism to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants in that, in the case of a need, a deficiency causes a clear adverse outcome: dysfunction or death.” Basically a need is something you literally cannot function properly without. You need food, but you want a meal from Fogo de Chao. You need clothing, but you want Oscar de la Renta, BCBG, and etc. You need shelter, but you want a 2,500 square ft. home near the beach. We often fail to miss the beauty of God’s provision being made available to us because we allow our wants to dictate our lives. When our wants are pursued over appreciating what has already been provided, we exchange our peace for anxiety/worry. Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that desiring the finer things in life is bad. I enjoy nice things. However, when our future desires rob us of being content with Today’s provision, we have to stop and put things back into perspective.

To add to the internal madness, many of us listen to “Christian” teachings that make God appear to be some kind of genie. We gravitate to teachings  that suggest “whatever you ask for, you shall receive;” “God wants you to ONLY have the best;” and things of that nature. As a result of such teachings, we often internalize but rarely verbalize, “If my wants are not granted, God has failed to be God for me.” However, God is not responsible for granting our wants. As our Creator, he is solely responsible for providing us with the things that will sustain our lives (Luke 12:22-30). This is something he does on a daily basis, and he reminds us in Matthew 6:31-34 not to worry about those things:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)

Today,  I encourage you to look around and see if you have access to these three things: food, clothing, and shelter. If you do, God has kept his promise to you as your Creator. Yes, housing conditions could be more comfortable; the food choice could be better; and the clothes could be more fashionable; but you are NOT without. I hope this truth will allow you to live free from the worry that wants, bills, and envy can bring. I pray you find rest in the truth that God has provided all you need for today. Enjoy this day, and trust God with your tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note to Self: I am His!!!

Fact: There are days when I question, “am I saved enough?” This isn’t because I’m not secure in my salvation, but moreso due to me looking at how others respond to God or what they consider the things of God. I’m​ not into “churching” aka being in church for the sake of being in church(powerless services, conferences, and etc.). I don’t observe Jewish holidays, and I don’t care to be so “deep” in the things of the Spirit that I fail to love in my pursuit of this knowledge. As I start to focus on what others are doing, I begin to think simply loving Him and loving others is not enough. Then these two verses come to mind, and I get back on track:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”- John 13: 34,35

He provides me with the will to do what pleases Him, and ultimately that is to love Him and others more. Sometimes the reminder is needed that I am His and his love flowing through me proves it. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

How to Make Your Dreams Come True: Five Lessons from Watching Kevin Durant

I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of the game known as Basketball, and I will also admit that I could care less about who wins or loses the NBA Finals. However, I do stay in the loop of things for conversation purposes. I never want to be the lady that is clueless when people are talking sports. With that being said, I remember the rage that was shown by Oklahoma fans around the country when Kevin Durant announced he was headed to Cali. He left his royal throne in Oklahoma and settled for being on the King’s (Steph Curry) Advisory Board. Many called Durant a traitor. In their loyalty as a fans, they failed to see the NBA as the business that it is and “loyalty” is not a business practice of the organization. Kevin made a decision to do what would make his dream come true. Watching Kevin Durant’s transition in the last year has provided me with some nuggets for life. Here they are:
1. Never forget the vision. Last night KD shared during a Postgame interview that he told his mom at eight years old that he would win a NBA Championship. Since the age of eight, he saw himself as an NBA Championship winner. Although, a team would be required to win a championship, it was a PERSONAL goal for Durant. No matter how much success you are having in a place, if it keeps your from the vision for you life, leaving is necessary.

2. Be courageous enough to make the move. Kevin Durant took the same heat that any great player takes when opting to leave a team. The same people who praised him quickly turned into persecutors as he chose to play for a better team. With all that would be said about him, he packed his things and left in hopes of fulfilling the vision he had for his career. Your next move may leave you in the hands of persecutors for a moment, but the reward will outweigh their words.

3. Take Humility with You. There is no way that Golden State Warriors would be 2017 NBA Champions if Kevin Durant chose to be a thorn in the flesh of GSW instead of a team player. He could have made things about himself, but he got with the GSW program and added to their greatness. With every great move you make in life, take humility with you. Be willing to adjust, learn, and add to the greatness of the people you are serving.

4. Loyalty at the cost of your life’s vision is death. Kevin Durant gave nine seasons to OKC before deciding to go to Golden State. Nine years of his life was devoted to a team that he tried to ensure a NBA Championship, and it did not happen. There are some places and people that you cannot afford to remain loyal to solely based off the principle of loyalty. Kevin Durant gave all he could to OKC, and it was in his best interest to try to win with another team. When choosing to be loyal, one must ask themselves, “Would this decision cause me to forfeit my dreams?” If the answer is “yes,” you may need to reconsider the decision. Life without fulfilling your dreams is a slow and painful death that you have chosen for yourself.

5. Everyone won’t appreciate your accomplishment. As previously stated, the man gave nine years of his life to OKC, and he was absolutely deserving of winning MVP last night. However, some of the “crabs in the bucket” could not get pass the route he had to take to accomplish his dreams; or they could not get pass his hair being uncombed during a basketball game. Side note: He’s a millionaire, do you really think a haircut is beyond his reach? Back to the topic, there will be people during your moments of victory that will focus on everything except the effort you put into accomplishing your dreams. To that I say, let them enjoy their misery as you partake in enjoying the fruit of your labor.

There are many more things that could be said, but I  am tired of typing. I will say this, please do not be afraid to do what it takes to accomplish your dreams. As long as your decisions are producing peace in your life, continue on that path. People may not understand every decision you make, and that’s okay. People will go back and forth with their praise and criticism of you. KEEP GOING!!! No matter what keep the vision in front of you. It is your roadmap to keep you on course when comfort tries to convince you to become stagnant. Your life is a summation of all the choices you have made, and at any moment you can choose to change its course. Why settle for being a king, when you can be a god? God meaning one of the greatest to ever live in your field of expertise. Last night, Kevin Durant became one, and I hope you will too. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

P.S. GO COWBOYS!!!! LOL

 

 

Photo Credit: http://uproxx.com/dimemag/kevin-durant-mvp-speech-2017-nba-finals/

No Wedding, No Love: Life After Heartbreak

no loveWednesday night, I cried myself to sleep. Out of nowhere, it hit me that my dreams of marriage had been shattered once again. I started replaying the moments of excitement looking at rings, searching for a venue, and trying on dresses. I started to think about how I finally had someone who loved me and wanted me as his wife. This marriage was meant to be the validation I needed to prove that I am desirable. The abrupt departure of my father at age five had left me wondering will I ever be wanted and loved. I had come to see marriage as a form of redeeming that piece of me. However on December 31, 2016 we had the breakup of all breakups, and my dream was shattered. All my hopes for us were robbed and ” hope deferred makes the heart sick…” became my reality.(Proverbs 13:12)

I believe one of the greatest pains of our human experience is a broken heart. Its pain is piercing and relentless. With all the strength you possess you try quickly to move past it, but broken things often heal slowly. You are simply forced to endure its pain. Some try to sedate it with sex, liquor, and drugs, but it refuses to leave. Some try to work it away, but the moment you take a break, it’s there. Some try to reason it away, but heartache supersedes knowledge; and you will never truly understand why your heart hurts so bad.

One of my greatest fears was to be where I am now, and that’s on the back side of a failed engagement. I read stories and met women who had gone through it; but I never wanted to be acquainted with its grief.  Now three months removed from it today, I can testify there is life after it. The first 30 days consisted of bitter tears. I wept because I felt like I had wasted my time. I mourned because I loved him. I sobbed because I made the decision to call the relationship off.  I lamented the death of the relationship because I had never been completely committed to a relationship the way I was with him (mind, body, and soul).  I cried because I no longer saw myself part of his dreams.

I would be lying if I said this experience did not rip the fabric of the way I view love. It was almost successful in making me give up on it. I was almost convinced not to love wholeheartedly ever again, but shutting myself off to loving someone keeps me from fulfilling my purpose. We were created to love. Choosing not to do so makes one defective because you are not fulfilling the Great Manufacturer’s purpose for creating you.

During the first 30 days, all I could remember was the broken promises. I had forgotten about all the joy and life our love had given me. Although the flaws of our humanity brought on the demise of our relationship, the love we shared was pure, healing, and refreshing. I learned so much about me, and I appreciate every lesson his love came to teach me. I assumed it was for forever, but I am grateful I was able to experience it in this lifetime.

I am not sure what the future holds for me, and I am quite alright with its uncertainty. I no longer see marriage as the validation I needed to prove I am worthy of love. I rest in the fact that I was created to love, and at the appointed time that love will be received and reciprocated by the man it was created to serve. I am no longer bitter about the outcome, and I am hopeful that I will love again.-Charity Israel

Photo Credit: http://hammerandgem.com/wedding-rings-101-dos-donts-wedding-ring-ownership/

Nuggets from Noah: The Perks of Living in an Ark

This reflection was written July 8, 2016 in one of my journals. Today I was reminded of it. I was encouraged all over again. I pray it encourages you:

Today I felt led to read the story of Noah (Genesis 7:9-17). While reading, I tried to rush through it assuming I knew everything there was about Noah. The Holy Spirit, said “slow down and read all of it.”  As I started to take my time to read, I recognized the time it took for Noah’s world to return to its regularly scheduled programming (i.e. no animals, no living in an ark, and etc.). It took well over a year for things to return to “normal.” It took 40 days to flood the earth and over a year to restore the land.

As I read this story, I started to see my life. I too have been in an ark, a place of protection during the flood of life.  It is as if all that was good, honest, and true were permitted to remain while every lie, deception, past mistake, and negative mindset were left out of my ark. The world as I knew it was being destroyed around me; and I was forced to be by myself as things from my past were being drowned by the torrential rains of God’s love, truth, forgiveness, and grace. It was cold and dark, but I was never alone. Being in similar situations, I assumed it would not take as long to get out the ark. However almost 7 ½ months later, I am still in the ark. Things are slowly returning to normal, and the sun is starting to shine again. It is not quite time to come out, but I have more hope that the doors will be opening soon.

I must retract my statement about Noah’s life returning to normal. Nothing was normal about Noah’s life after leaving the ark. In the beginning of the story, he had just a piece of land to call his own. Now, he had the world as his possession. He already had authority as the patriarch of his family; but he obtained dominion over the earth upon leaving the ark. His family had been entrusted with replenishing the earth for the glory of God. He went into the ark as a servant, and he left it as a Ruler. He went into the ark following commands, but he left it free to do what his heart desired.  Noah was a completely different man a year or so later after being in the ark. He had become wiser; skilled at taming animals; and a great strategist dealing with the issues that arouse on the ark. Noah’s patience was perfected while waiting to be released from the ark. He became a master at caring for creation. He developed a deeper understanding of God while enduring the flood. Building the ark proved God to be a provider. Living in the ark proved God to be a protector and sustainer of His creation.

 Today you may be in what appears to be the greatest storm of your life. Having gone through a few storms, you assumed God would have responded by now. However, you do not know what is being prepared beyond your limited view of the situation. God is developing a place where you can thrive, have dominion, and enjoy His creation. Take a lesson from Noah and wait on God. Allow God to handle what is outside of your power, and you tend to what you can fix. Allow this time to perfect your love and skills. Let the truth of God’s love for you assure you that this time will not last forever.

Noah received new instructions upon leaving the ark, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:2) Initially, he was restricted by what could go into the ark. Once Noah was released, he was given permission to produce as much as he could for as long as he could. Authority is given to those who submit themselves to God’s will during the time of a storm. I pray you will be found submitting yourself to God’s will while in your storm. There is something God is working inside of you and outside of the ark. Yield to the process and watch God keep his promise of protection and provision. You’ll be released from the ark at the perfect time. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day: The Difference a Year Makes…

This time last year I was spending this holiday with the man I thought would be my husband. There was no exchange of gifts just quality time. We made dinner. Actually, I watched him make dinner and prepared myself for it. LOL After dinner, we watched a movie; cleaned the kitchen; turned on some music; and the kitchen became our dance floor for the evening. It was the best Valentine’s Day ever. We had a great time just being with each other.

Today is quite different from last year. I am single again. Instead of preparing myself to enjoy a dinner with the one I love, I am writing this blog and answering emails. It is amazing how the seasons of life change. You can go from ‘Dangerously in Love” to ‘Severely Single’ or vice versa in a wink of an eye. I am not writing this to put a damper on the day of Love. However, I do want to encourage those who may be in my position with a few things that have helped me process through one of the greatest pains I have known, Love Lost:

  1. All love does not last forever, and that is okay. I know you wanted it to last forever, but forever was not the plan. That person came as a precursor to the love you are going to experience. Try not to spend your time regretting the energy you invested.
  2. They loved you at their highest capacity; and once they  maxed out everyone had to move on. It is a horrible reality that hurts deeply; but it is a necessary truth that must be accepted by both parties.
  3. Their love taught you how to perfect your own. You were able to see your reflection and challenged to fix those things that were wrong with your understanding of Love.
  4.  Their love forced you to realize your “roses really smell like boo boo.” You had to face some harsh realities about who you were and the parts of your past  that were sabotaging your relationship.
  5. Their love brought you a joy that you did not know before them. You are now more equipped to recognize what Love looks, feels, and acts like because of them.
  6. Their love reminded you of  your awesomeness. They encouraged the good in you; and they taught you that the things you deemed unworthy of love would be accepted by someone willing to love you.

Today I hope you will not be found soaking in the misery of love lost but excited about the love that is to come. You gave love a chance, and that is something I pray you learn not to regret. You will love again. Being single is not the end of the world. Resist bitterness and be open to the opportunities that Love will bring your way. Happy Valentine’s Day to you. I’m praying for your heart today.

Happy Birthday Mr. Godiva: 38 Reasons to Love You

On this day 38 years ago you were born, and eight years ago God allowed our paths to cross briefly. Two years ago, I believe he gave us the okay to go ahead and see what life could be like alongside each other. #mybestfriend Next to you, I have learned about the depths of love, and the great challenges it will produce in a selfish heart that longs to know its beauty. #talkingaboutme I think it is only fitting that on your birthday I share at least 38 Reasons Why I Love You:

  1. Your love for God produces a genuine love for others inside of you.
  2. Your wisdom has guided me in moments of uncertainty.
  3. Your laugh makes me feel like i’m the funniest person on earth.
  4. Your compassion for others challenges me to give more away daily.
  5. Your patience never cease to amaze me.
  6. Your passion. You manage to put it into everything you touch.
  7. You protect those you love.
  8. You are a visionary.
  9. Your leadership can be trusted.
  10. You are a humble man.
  11. You are pleasant to the eyes and nice to touch.
  12. You are quick to listen and slow to speak.
  13. You are an over-comer, and you manage to make the best out of adversity.
  14. You are straightforward, and there is no guessing where you stand on a matter.
  15. You are a giver, and you do not mind helping when you can.
  16. You love my family as your own.
  17. You are a family man.
  18. You are an amazing chef!
  19. You are a wonderful teacher.
  20. You are gentle with those who need it.
  21. You are bold when the time calls for it.
  22. You are absolutely comfortable in your milk chocolate skin.
  23. You have the best walk I have ever seen! LOL
  24. You are willing to admit when you are wrong, and you are not too prideful to apologize.
  25. You are strong.
  26. You allow me to be myself, and you challenge me to be better than I was the day before.
  27. You do everything with a spirit of excellence.
  28. You are driven, and your dreams will manifest because of your drive.
  29. You are a hard worker.
  30. You are great at solving the problems I cause. LOL #computerstuff
  31. You have the heart of a warrior, and you fight for what you believe in and what you love.
  32. Your voice. It make my heart do strange things when you speak.
  33. Your food is amazing.
  34. You are a good steward of your body. #musclesandstuff
  35. You are not comfortable with being average, and you make every effort to be a better man daily.
  36. You are a man of great faith, and this year will be a great year for you.
  37. Your arms! They are my favorite place.
  38.  Your story. Everything I have learned about you is further proof that God exist. The fact that you are all of these wonderful things in spite of your past makes me so excited about your future.

Mr. Godiva my prayer for you is that God would cause the uncertain parts of your life to make sense now more than ever. I pray that as all of the pieces come together, you will find yourself overjoyed by His goodness, favor, love, and kindness in your life. Your life has definitely been a gift to mine, and I pray that it will be a gift to all who encounter you. You are an amazing human being, and I’m truly grateful to know you!!! I cannot wait until the world experiences your A.R.T!!!! Happy Birthday!!!-Charity Israel

Confessions of an Ex-Racist Christian

This morning I woke up and felt led to open one of my journals. As I read it, I laughed at a few of my foolish request, and I smiled at my growth as a human trying to learn how to live this life. Since it is  Throw back Thursday, I will share an entry of Introspection from September 9, 2015:

I believe one of the hardest thing for a person to admit,especially a Christian, is he or she is a racist. No one who claims to love God wants to admit they have a problem with His creation; but it is  part of the Church’s reality. It took me roughly 25 years, six years ago, to admit racism lived in my heart. It was something I tried to ignore, but, living in the South and becoming more aware of the injustices of my tribe, I found myself HATING white people. I  found it difficult to admit my racism because I had friends I genuinely cared about although I could care less about their kind. To my credit, I did not hate my friends just all of the “other” white people smh… I figured, if I refrained from watching slave movies that it would go away. I thought, if I tried harder to befriend them that it would go away. I assumed, if I tried to replace negative thoughts about them with good ones my problem would be fixed. Oh how I assumed incorrectly! The more I attempted to fix a heart issue with my logic, I despised them more. Finally, I had a moment of truth with God because the hate in my heart was conflicting with the cry of my heart to love him and his people.  I poured my heart out to Him concerning the matter. I confessed that I was in fact a racist, and I held deep hate in my heart towards Caucasians. I confessed that my knowledge of how their ancestors treated my tribe and how some treat us today makes it difficult to forgive and love them. I even admitted that I felt I had both the right and plenty of reasons to stay angry with them. I repented for claiming to love God and hate his creation. I knew I could not be an effective dispenser of God’s love to the world with this kind of hate in my heart towards people. I asked God to change my heart and teach me how to gather knowledge without hate being attached to it. When I decided to be honest about the condition of my heart, God did an amazing work in it. I no longer carry that Hate I did towards my lighter brothers and sisters. I stopped  accusing them all of being one way based on the actions of a few. I truly make a conscious effort to judge a person by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Life has truly been much sweeter with hate out of my heart. Thank you God for helping me!-Charity

For those who will read this, particularly those who claim to be Christians, please consider your ways.  Take the time to tell God how you truly feel about certain groups of people. 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” My encouragement to each of us is to be honest about who we are in God’s presence so that we can love as God commands us. We as believers cannot expect the condition of the world to change when we refuse to change and deal with the hate in our hearts. I am praying for each us that we would truly allow the love of God to permeate our hearts and be the change this world needs. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

Freedom Friday: 20 Years of Torture & Unnecessary Shame

img_20160930_144721You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous.”-Psalm 139:13,14 NLT

I will admit that this has been one of the hardest scriptures for me to believe in the bible. It has been very difficult for me to say, “Thank you for my body.” This is due to all of its deformities. I have a severely clubbed right foot that makes my right leg and foot significantly smaller than the left side. I was born with a dislocated hip, congenital scoliosis, and missing chest bone. I will admit that after my hair and face, in my most jaded opinion, my body goes downhill.

To add to the disfigurement, I am also left with scars on my foot, leg, and back as doctors made attempts to correct the way I was “knitted together in my mother’s womb.” It has been very difficult for me to believe that a God who carefully created creation seemed to have missed a few steps while creating me. Of my mother’s four children, I seemed to carry the physical deformities for everyone. No one else was born with a physical deformity. For years I never questioned it, but I would be lying if I said at one point or another that I did not find myself envious of their “normal” bodies and disgusted by mine.

At 12 years old, I pronounced a life sentence of shame and hiding upon myself. I stopped wearing clothes that would reveal what I hated most about me. I stopped wearing sandals because I no longer felt like explaining my condition to people. I did not want pity or sympathy. I just wanted to be normal. So I became a hider, and into my closet I went hoping to never have to face these legs of mine again. If I hid them, they would eventually go away. Now that I am 31 years old, I can say that was the dumbest idea ever in the history of Charity’s dumb ideas. I literally signed my life away when I decided to start hiding my legs. I stopped swimming. I did not try out for any dance or cheer team because it meant I would have to show my legs. I almost quit softball one year because I thought they were going to make me wear shorts. I removed myself from any activity that required your legs or feet to be seen.

As God would have it, the one activity I could continue was dancing. Our liturgical attire was always long and covered! The only thing that gave me assurance that God meant to put me in this body is that even with my deformities, I am still able to dance. Some of my moves are limited, but I am able to dance unto His glory. He gave me a voice, and I use it for his glory. He has given me the gift of counsel, wisdom, and writing. I use them all  for his Glory. The interesting thing is nothing about my physical deformities have stopped the gifts of God from operating through me. The only thing that has hindered those things at any time have been my mind. I have allowed the “what ifs” to keep me from doing. What if my legs become a meme? What if the men who follow me find out and unsubscribe? What if people start treating me with pity because they discover the truth? I never considered what if I share my story and help others overcome their own insecurities? What if my process of freedom convinces others to find freedom? What if God placed me on this earth as an example that the package is only limited by the mind not by its deformities or flaws? For 20 year I have allowed something that I had absolutely no control over ruin and rule my life. I was completely convinced that because I was born this way I was undeserving of love, friendship, and fulfilling my dreams. That was all a lie.

For years I was afraid of  photo tag notifications. I just knew that someone from elementary school would post a picture that would expose the secret I was hiding, and I would lose everyone once they found out the truth. None of my friends from junior high up until now have been privy of this information, minus those who knew before I started hiding and those who were at Oral Roberts University my Freshmen year. I was just too afraid of rejection, and the enemy had my mind convinced that if people knew the truth about me they would not want me around. However, now that I understand my purpose I must take that risk. God cannot get all the glory that is due Him if I remain in hiding.

The photo being used for this blog was taken on my birthday, July 25th, as I declared the 31st year of my life to be my year of freedom. I asked my sister to capture it because I wanted to see what freedom looked like. It has been twenty years since I have seen myself photographed in a dress and sandals. I had every intention of posting this pic that day but fear convinced me to wait. Well i’m tired of fear and shame ruling my life, and I did not consult them this time. I am tired of preaching freedom and living enslaved to thoughts of fear, rejection, and shame. I am tired of worrying myself with how people will respond to something beyond my control. I am tired of being hot during the summer LOL, and today is the day I free me for good. Even with what is deformed, disfigured, and ugly about me, I am still His workmanship. I am finally choosing freedom over fear, and that my friends is a marvelous thing!-Charity Israel