Thursday, January 24, 2013

Do You Believe in Generational Curses??


 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." Exodus 34:6-7 (NIV)

 In prison I'm often confronted with women who grew up in highly dysfunctional families. The most shocking reality is the dysfunction did not begin with their generation; sometimes they're the third or fourth generation to continue the cycle of destruction and what many call, a generational curse. 

Currently there's a woman in my class whose grandmother shot her own brother, her mother is an addict and whom years ago chose her boyfriend over her daughter who was being abused by this boyfriend, now she's a drug addict, pregnant and in jail for possible prostitution and she has a 15 year old daughter she has never seen, who's rumored to be wild and violent.  Did you count the number of generations in this saga?  Yup, 4 generations.  If we believe in generational curses; this family is doomed.  

We throw around the term "generational curse" without fully knowing its implications. You do know it implies that a person whose father and mother sinned greatly is pretty much condemned. You do know we are suggesting that God's grace and mercy is limited. It's easy for us to write off these families and say there is no hope. It's easy for us to give easy answers to complicated situations. We do not understand why in some dysfunctional homes all of the children do not turn out as dysfunctional as the parents. We do not understand how a child can continue to repeat the same behaviors that caused them great pain and suffering. 

We cannot simply stop at the above scripture. Yes God is a God of wrath, his wrath scares me often but his grace amazes me the more.  

Yes watching mom and dad live dysfunctional lives will definitely have an impact on the children; it's all they know. They're the first people to teach them about the world, about love and trust.

However, we are all responsible for our own actions. At the end of the day we all have choices to make. This is the message of hope for the woman stuck in a cycle of destruction. This is the message of hope for those who earnestly want to get out of that destructive cycle but see no light in sight. This is the message of hope for those who seem to be held captive by the sins of their father. 

Is it difficult to break free from the sins of your parents? Indeed it is! It is harder to break that cycle than many of us think.  Is it possible? All things are possible with Christ! There is hope with Christ!  For all the women caught in this cycle of destruction and what seems to be a generational curse, there's hope! It's up to you to break the chain of violence and destruction in your generation.

Cry out to him and plead for mercy. God hears and honors the cry of his children.

"But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: He does not eat at the mountain shrines or look to the idols of the house of Israel... He does not oppress anyone... He does not commit robbery, but gives his food to the hungry and provides clothing for the naked... He will not die for his father's sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people. Yet you ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him."  Ezekiel 18:14-16,18-20 (NIV)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mean Girls/Women Can Change

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. (Philippians 4:11, 12 NLT)

In the spirit of truth telling in the new year, I have a confession to make: I haven't always liked being in the presence of other women. My faith in the sisterhood was squelched not just by the mean girls but also by well intended mean women. I have had a long history with these girls/women. 

In grade school, I was a muted, newly Haiti emigrated foreign girl who was always a direct target for mean girls. I was never pretty enough, light enough and I could not speak a word of English to save my life. 

Then there was high school and you know how the story goes; outcast and never to be seen. But I was an academically astute student, so I created my own little world. 

Then was college, the place I found my voice. I started a great friendship with some of the finest women I had ever met. These women continue to be my rock, support and inspiration. We created our own sorority. This was the first time I felt like I entered the sisterhood. They helped me believe in the sisterhood again, they helped me believe in me.

As an adult, I started realizing that women sometimes continue their "mean girl" tendencies but in more nuanced ways. A snide comment here or there about your parenting. Gossip about challenges another sister may be experiencing in life. Subtle ways to make another sister feel less than. And one of the saddest cover up for bruising your sister is: truth telling; "I was just telling you the truth in love". That's funny because those words of truth felt more like a kick in the gut. On and on it goes and it breaks my heart. 

Over the years, I've made some observations about these mean girls/women, here are some generalizations about them:

1) They have a fear of not being enough--when one feels as if they are not enough, they have to find ways to be enough and sadly it usually results in putting someone else down in order to feel enough.

2) Jealousy-mean girls/women are really narcissistic; they want all attention to point to them and only them and when it is not, jealousy is the result 

3) A lack of contentment-when you're always complaining of where you are in life, be careful you may be walking down the path of self comparison and finding fault in others

4) A lack in some area in life. Lack of self esteem. Lack of friendship. Lack of family support. When you feel that there is a lack is some area, trust me, you are a good candidate to be a mean girl/woman; you tend to be bitter all of the time and bitter women don't make the best of friends/sister

But there's hope....

If you've struggled with any of the above, there's hope. You do not have to put others down to feel good about yourself. Here are some principles to be mindful of: 

1) Accept your journey! The biggest obstacle to your journey is not accepting it; living under false pretenses, under an illusion that you are someone you're not. Look at your life, what do you do? Are you married? Single? Black? White? Alone? With money? Without money? Accept your journey, accept your circumstances, only then you'll have the power to change some things around.  
2) Be honest about you! I can't be great at everything, I can only be one thing and my job is to try to be great at it. Stop trying to have everything. You can't be married and single at the same time. You can't be the band but you can be a part of the band.
3) Find your calling-if you are not where you would like to be in life, find out where God is calling you to be and live your life on purpose. Stop putting others down because you have not yet arrived. Keep working at it, you'll get there! 
4) Compliment others-The more you develop the habit of telling others about how well they are at something the more energy you will gain in pursuing your own dreams. Start learning to tell your sisters that they're beautiful, they sing well, they write well, they speak well, they lead well...you will be surprised how quickly that chip leaves your shoulder. 

You are one step closer to a better you...ask God for help to a you that is whole.

I have another confession to make; I have learned to appreciate being around other women because I am now more accepting of me; imperfect, but with great skills in building people for the glory of God! 

Provided by ElevateHer International Ministries...Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Prostitutes Hate Prostituting

Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. (Joshua 2:1 NLT)

I once heard someone say "prostitutes must love what they do otherwise they would not engage in such activities to make money".  You don't say.  Well last night, this theory was debunked by none other than the prostitutes themselves.

Last night I led a group of 20 women in Dallas prison many of which were in prison for prostitution. For the next few weeks my task is to dissect the story of Rahab as found in Joshua 2 as inspiration for their own change. Studying about Rahab means learning a little about her history. Well the bible doesn't tell us much about Rahab's background other than the fact that she was a prostitute and some other minor details. Well who else can fill in the gaps other than modern day prostitutes.

The first question to put the puzzle pieces together was: can you describe what that occupation must have been like for Rahab? Without missing a beat one woman spoke up saying "it was hell for Rahab". Many of them chimed in saying: the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, we are like vampires coming out at night...like we're some nocturnal creatures, we are ashamed and embarrassed, it is a demeaning and degrading job, this is not some job you can do during the day and on and on they went. We could've gone on for hours. My heart broke when one said: I'm now dating a man and I'm afraid to give myself over to him sexually since I've given myself to so many others.

Yes, I constantly have to remind myself that Jesus can handle the myriads of issues these women struggle with.

Another question I asked to get a better understanding of Rahab and the girls was: why do you think Rahab was a prostitute? Many answers were given: she was desperate, she felt like she had no choice, fast money...but one woman personalized her answer, "maybe Rahab was abused because I was sexually abused every single day for 12 years and when something like that happens to you, you just don't consider yourself to be worth anything at all"...

So yeah prostitutes hate what they do, so the next time you you drive past a woman whom you suspect of prostituting, pray for her and ask God to invade her world as he invaded Rahab's. These women are looking for help, hope and someone to look at them with dignity.

I share these women's stories to give them a voice and to see how we can all join the mission to help women find life.

If you would like to know more about helping either email me or go on hopelit.org for more info.

And if you like to partner with me in the form of a gift to this ministry God has laid on my heart, there are many ways to do that:

Consider giving a financial donation: all of the work I'm doing in prison is on a volunteer basis; in addition to personal expenses to cover gas, parking and curriculum development. And I would love to do more to enhance the women's learning experience and possibly teach more than one class, the needs are immense. If so use the PayPal donate button on this blog.

Consider praying; I can't tell you how overwhelming it is to see so many needs and not being able to do anything more to help these women. Pray for healing. Pray for more hands. Pray for God's covering and protection. And pray that these women will choose a different path for the future.

Provided by: ElevateHer International Ministries, more details coming soon...