Heart of Refuge

Unveiling The Hidden Beauty Of Your Heart

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October DV awareness month – Christian Woman’s Testimony

In continuing in the vein of domestic violence awareness month, I am sharing my second story today.

The link below is from a woman who experienced domestic violence for many years and she is now using her story to empower others and train churches. her story will bless you.

 

God’s Best Kept Secret ~ Zenice Harasymchuk

God’s Best Kept Secret ~ Being a Military Wife by Maxine Reyes


The difference between a non-military wife and a military wife is the challenges that we face when it comes to separation from our husbands, knowing that separation is inevitable. Being a dual military wife is even more challenging because we get to experience deployments multiplied by two.  Deployments take a toll on most marriages of military couples.  Deployment separation has been a key contributor or the cause of many divorces.  Ken and I have experienced hardships that challenged our relationship, but we never consider allowing those challenges to overpower our love for each other.  We have been huge supporters of each other’s careers and personal goals and we refused to let the forces of the world stop us from having the best marriage that we know we can have with God leading us.

Placing trust in God and knowing that we must keep Him at the forefront of our marriage at all times, has allowed us to face our challenges with the utmost boldness. Ken and I are definitely each other’s soul mates.  We feel one another’s pain and happiness and always find ways to make each other feel special and uplifted during unhappy times.  Our Happily Joint movement blog has allowed us to display our determination to love and care for each other for the rest of our lives while living a joyful and sacred Christian life.  Couples who know us usually compliment us and ask us our recipe to happiness.  We have written a book to share experience with others.  There is no trick to a happy marriage, but we will definitely share what works for us.  We teach resiliency in relationships to couples in order for them to have the ability to withstand the challenges of marriage and find ways to recover from difficult times.

After 19 years, we are at a beautiful point of our marriage where we know more about what makes us happy and sad. We know our priorities and are absolutely supportive of our careers and personal goals.  Ken is the most wonderful person I know and I am so grateful for his love and his adoration.  I am most grateful for the father that he is to our adorable daughter.  He is such a gentleman and I can speak all day about him in a positive way.

Success for me is persevering through my lifelong goals. We have always kept God at the forefront of our life.  Being an empowered career woman while being a wife can be challenging.  Women get treated sometimes tougher than our male counter parts so we have to work twice as hard.  I am blessed to have a husband like mine who encourages me to be a strong woman.  He empowers me to pursue my dreams and he makes me feel confident in being his wife.  My husband makes it so much easier for me to pursue my passion.  I am grateful for our relationship with Jesus, which has allowed me to be a successful mother and wife.   Our faith has taken us a long way and we look forward to growing old together.

 

 

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courtesy of Maxine Reyes

MAXINE REYES – Bio

Maxine Reyes is a burgeoning singer/songwriter/speaker whose vocal talent have embellished countless of people around the world.

Born in Kingston and raised in Manchester, Jamaica, her family sang in the community church where she was encouraged to share her special talent. With her rich and earthly Jamaican accent seasoned with grounded grace, you can see right away when she shares her infectious smile that you have just met a new friend.

These endearing qualities also helped Maxine, when she moved to Pembroke Pines, Florida as a teenager – where she began participating in local talent vocal competitions and winning on numerous occasions. It was at that point that she gained the confidence as a vocalist that allowed both her inner and outer beauty to transcend.

Voted Most Talented” of her graduating class at Miramar High School, FL. Maxine desired to pursue singing, but also having a strong sense of reality and being very mindful that is was also more important to be a positive representation of her native Jamaica, Maxine decided at that point of her life that it was much more important to secure her advance educational goals. She also felt like she had a higher calling to serve in the United States Military.

After graduating from High School, Maxine joined the United States Air Force which afforded her advanced education. However, this vibrant and energetic artist still kept her passion to share her gift of song by volunteering to sing at numerous nationally supported Military related events.

Maxine continued to not only sing whenever she can, but she also elevated her service to the Country by proudly becoming a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army and earned her Master of Arts in Management and Leadership. She is currently the Company Commander of the United States Army Recruiting Company in Orlando, FL. It is this same presentation of excellence that makes her performances a breath of fresh air to all. Maxine founded Happily Joint, Inc along with her husband. Happily Joint is an organization that helps couples deal with challenges in their relationships while living their best life with each other. Maxine and Ken know too well the challenges of keeping a relationship together as they met when they were teenagers and have been married for 18 years, both being under the age of 40. With multiple military separations some up to 15 months, the couple kept their marriage in tack and uphold an image that is admired by many. They have vowed to help others who deal with similar challenges as they have by hosting seminars and speaking to audiences interested in Maxine and Ken’s story. They are in the process of writing their first book together “The Happily Joint Guide.”

 

Additional Activities and Musical Performances:

  • Performed at sports games and ceremonies filed with dignitaries on multiple occasions when she sang the National Anthem at Orlando City Soccer, Independence Day Celebration, NBA game San Antonio Spurs vs Charlotte Bobcats at the Time Warner Arena, Ambassador of Qatar and government officials of Qatar, Fort Lauderdale Air and Sea Show, Toyota Indy 300, Miami Grand Prix and Marlins Opening ceremony.
  • She has performed for the President of the United States of America at the Miami Arena.
  • Maxine is loved by many and her broad appeal has won ardent supporters wherever she has performed. She returned home in April of 2014 after a year of serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Qatar and Afghanistan where she entertained Coalition forces in the area where she was based.
  • Her versatility and diverse background makes her the perfect ambassador for her nation. Maxine’s style can be described as “Reggae Soul” blending sultry inspiring Inspirational love R&B/Jazz grooves with Reggae.
  • Her Patriotic song “I’ve Got You/Military Wife” which she penned after her husband’s First Sergeant was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2012 tugs at the heart and displays her writing skills and soulful vocal style. The song is perfect for any function honouring veterans, their spouses and the memories of the lives lost in the fight against terror.
  • Besides work, she is active in her community volunteering for different causes at every moment that she can. She is currently working on creating a non-profit organization, which offers mentoring and educational opportunities for the young girls. She actively supports her primary school back in Jamaica with her very own Maxine Reyes/Doctor Bird Award Program since 2000. It is a program that encourages students to work hard in school and reach for the stars in everything that they do. It fosters education, positive attitudes and selflessness. Her passion for people and her family is commendable and is noticed by the way she cares for her Soldiers and their families.

 

Social Media and contact Information

Happily Joint
Www.HappilyJoint.com
IG,FB,Twitter,Pinterest @HappilyJ

Mental Health Awareness Week 16th to 22nd May 2016 – Encouragement from My Heart to Yours

Image result for christians and mental health

image from www.christiansontheleft.org.uk

 

Mental Health Awareness week is 16th to 22nd May 2016 and I wanted to write a post about mental health that would encourage someone who maybe experiencing mental health challenges, especially in the church setting.

I have been in church for over forty years and it is only in recent years that the church is becoming comfortable with discussing mental issues.

So many people suffer in silence in church because it is not discussed from the pulpit or the stigma of it is too much for them to bear in their community.

MIND (www.mind.org.uk) the organisation that offers support to sufferers and their family, lists reasons why people suffer from periods of poor mental health. They include:

The following factors could potentially trigger a period of poor mental health:

  • childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect
  • social isolation or loneliness
  • experiencing discrimination and stigma
  • the death of someone close to you
  • severe or long-term stress
  • unemployment or losing your job
  • social disadvantage, poverty or debt
  • homelessness or poor housing
  • caring for a family member or friend
  • a long-term physical health condition
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • domestic violence or other abuse as an adult
  • significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious accident or being the victim of a violent crime
  • physical causes – for example, a head injury or a condition such as epilepsy can have an impact on behaviour and mood (it is important to rule out causes such as this before seeking further treatment for a mental health problem)
  • genetic factors – researchers are currently investigating whether there might be a genetic cause of various mental health problems but there is no clear proof yet.

The first thing I want to encourage you with is that Jesus came to set you free. I love how Luke 4:18 reads in the Amplified bible.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah), Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),”

This dear heart is what Jesus has for you; this is what he died for, for you to be whole in your mind and body. He came to release you from the trappings and pain of your past.

If you need to seek professional help then please ensure that you do, but I just wanted to let you know that you are loved and appreciated and a new day awaits you. The best in life is ahead of you so please do not allow the pain of your past to keep you caged, isolated and alone. Jesus promised to never leave you nor forsake you, he promised to be with you always. Believe that with me today.

Prayer

Father, right now I lift up to you anyone who is reading this blog post and is having mental health challenges. I pray restoration and healing for their mind and life. Father, minister to them in a unique and tangible way that they will know that you love and care about them. Touch them like only you can do Lord in Jesus name. AMEN

 

For more information  please visit

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/causes/#.Vye1M9LmrIU

 

 

 

From the Heart of a Man – Ashley Taylor

Living every day, looking into a mirror” 

It took me a while to sit down and write this blog, I guess because the topic is quite personal and sensitive. If there are two things in my life that I treasure above all, it’s my relationship with God and the relationship with my wife.

When I got married, or rather when I got engaged I was only 20 years old. I took the time to make sure my proposal was amazing for my bride to be (which it was – if you don’t believe me ask her! LOL). I married at 21 and so this new life began with a young lady who I have the responsibility of loving and taking care of. My marriage didn’t start in the clouds of love, floating away into the sunset, but it started in reality. No money, living in one bedroom within a Brixton South London crack-house, and I now have to learn how to be a husband in the worst conditions. Although my wife and I were committed to each other to be together no doubt, the truth is we had to learn how to love each other.

Does that sound backwards? Well, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t – but that was our reality. Having the questions going back and forth in both our minds – Did I make the right decision? Was I too young? Did I hear God right or wrong about this person? As I write this blog, my marriage has survived good days, bad days, arguments, laughs, a pregnancy, a miscarriage, a miracle baby, counselling, bank overdrafts, poor financial decisions, homelessness, miracle money, depression, new cities, redundancy, new homes, new jobs – but most of all, new love. You see, I had to grow up a whole lot to become a real man.

Almost being married for 6 years now, I can say that it was my relationship with God that changed my marriage. I had to force myself to ask myself the question, “Do I love her like Christ loves me?” This means, do I love her faults, forgive, cover her, and be there for her like Christ does the same for me? This question changed my perspective forever when it came to my marriage. I realised I had no right to be mean, cold, selfish and distant – because I treat Christ so awful many times, but guess what He still loves me! Wow, that’s amazing. It was when I got a revelation of the love of Jesus Christ, I was able to love my wife in a brand new way.

Though we still have many years ahead of us, I know without a doubt that we are in our best years now. I challenge any young man out there, if you want to get married, get ready to live everyday looking in a mirror. When you see your lady, get ready to see yourself: flawed & imperfect – but just like Jesus you have to pour out love and care.

 

Ashley Taylor – BIO

Ashley Taylor, 26, a dreamer & visionary favoured by God, currently resides in Nottingham, England with his wife Sabrina and son, River. Having been in Christian ministry since he was 8 years old, yet not one to be in the spotlight of church circuits and circles, Ashley recognises that God has kept him hidden. He understands that He has been called to be a major influence cross-denominationally within Christian and church environments, and is therefore ever heeding to the instruction of God found in Psalm 2:8, “Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.” Ashley is an active member in ministry at Heart Church – based in Nottingham, under the leadership & covering of his spiritual father, Pastor Malcolm Baxter.

 

From The Heart of a Man – Micheal Smith

A Man of Faith by Micheal Smith

Courtesy of Micheal Smith MBE

Whatever we as men do in our lives, we have an underlying desire to be great in the eyes of our family. We strive to prove that we are the provider, defender and ruler of the home. The truth is we are overshadowed by our spouse who really runs the home, builds bridges between us and our children and generally keeps the home in order. For some men this can be uncomfortable because we feel out of control, even to a point that the home feels like a bucket with many holes and we struggle to keep everything and everyone together in that bucket. A good man soon learns to operate in the areas of the home that is his domain and allows his spouse and children to operate freely in theirs. No matter what we do, at the end of the day it always comes down to family and the value we place on it.

 

There are many things that drive men to become successful. The one thing that has driven me to do my best is my desire to please my God. I am a firm believer that if we serve God with all our heart and all our energy, he will take care of everything in our lives. I have learned to trust God totally to be my guide, my provider and a very present help in times of difficulty. If we want to really please God, we must first believe that he is God and allow him to be in total control of the steering wheel, the accelerator and the brake of our life vehicle.

That vehicle becomes ‘the desire of our heart’ and we need to get to the point where we recognise that it is God’s calling on our life and we have the choice to accept it or decline that calling. An important saying to remember is this, “A winner never quits and a quitter never wins” we must keep pressing forward. A book by John Maxwell called ‘Failing Forward’ (ISBN: 8601300489926), taught me that failing your way to success is commonplace with most, if not all of the most successful people in the world. Another important secret of success is “Never, Never, Never quit!”

 

Micheal’s Bio
Born and bred in Britain and son of Jamaican parents, Michael had a thirst for excitement in life and as such pursued a path that has led to his current position, as a committed Christian, husband and father.

As a young man Michael was destined for leadership and at age 15 he joined the Air Training Corps where he got a marksmanship in shooting before even getting his uniform and went on to becoming a Sargent. He wanted to be a fighter pilot and went on to gain a Glider Pilots Licence and also flew single-engined light aircraft. After deciding not to join the Royal Air Force as it may have involved taking the life of another, he decided to join the Police, where a major change was needed to improve the poor relationship between black people and the police.

He served as Police Officer for over 22 years, during which time he developed a desire to positively address knife and gun crime amongst young people. In 2007 he founded the charitable organisation Word 4 Weapons, the UK’s first weapons surrender and exchange programme. To date they have removed over 20,000 weapons from UK’s streets. Michael pursued this venture alongside his full-time job and in 2015 took early retirement to spend more time developing Word 4 Weapons. In March 2016 Michael was awarded a MBE by The Queen for his dedication to making the UK a safer place be. In addition, Michael and his wife Angela have now started a new venture offering respite care for Church Leaders and a service to couples experiencing difficulties in their marriage.

The One who lifts My Head

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Image from www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

But you, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head ~ Psalms 3:3 (Amplified Bible)

I remember during a certain period of my life that the only glory I had was that of the Lord. I fasted until I could fast no more, I prayed and prayed and prayed until I felt I could pray no more. But you know in the midst of the intense onslaught of the enemy the Lord showed me and covered me with his glory. His glory brought an unusual peace, it became my shield, defence and shelter.

During times of pain and hopelessness the Lord was my glory! When I cried and could not see my way out the Lord was my glory! When I felt like giving up the Lord was my glory!

He was and still is the shield and protector of my heart. Sometimes I don’t know what to say in prayer and all I can do is thank him from my heart,  my heart that he covers with his love.

I would like to encourage you dear heart, that Jesus wants to be your glory and strength. You will daily face challenges but be assured that daily he will lift your head.

Be Blessed!

 

Communicating forgiveness to Yourself and Others. Part 3

Banner, Header, Cross, Pray, Faith, Christianity

image from www.pixabay.com

Scriptures: Matthew 6:12-15    Mark 11:25

Communicating forgiveness to yourself and others is vital for you to be able to embrace your future. Prayerfully consider the following three points as you take this important journey.

  1. Let people into your life. If you need to ask for help to help you forgive yourself and other then look for it. A few years ago I had to get that help as I could not forgive myself for things that had taken place in my past. I thank God that I did, because it untied the invisible chains of guilt and shame and released me into my God given future.
  2. Write forgiveness letters. In the past I have prayerfully written a list of people that I need to forgive. The list was so long I was embarrassed!!! Try it and then take the list to God in prayer and give each person to him and ask him to help you release them from you heart. Remember forgiveness is between you and God!
  3. Ask for forgiveness from others.  If you feel that you have wronged someone ask them to forgive you. It can help to resolve issues and free you in the process.

My prayer for you is that as you take each of these steps that you will truly experience the freedom self forgiveness and forgiving others brings.

God’s Best Kept Secret Series introducing Beatrice Byemanzi

 At His Feet By Beatrice Byemanzi

“I am a wife and mom”. I am a lawyer” I am a writer”…The words we use to describe ourselves are usually about the role we play in society, not really about ourselves: Us. WHO WE ARE, beyond the roles and responsibilities…

You see, little girls are taught to nurture from the day they can hold a doll. We play mommy, and somehow before we know it, our value is pegged to what we can do for others.

We are celebrated for our upright behavior, good grades, acceptable manners…the things we do.

These are great things to celebrate. But if our identity is attached mostly to what we can do, then we are in trouble, because the things we can do are both temporary and limited.

Unfortunately, we carry this attitude into our relationship with our Father – God. We start to measure ourselves by what we can do FOR Him; how many religious meetings we attend, how much scripture we can quote, as opposed to what He has done for us.

I truly believe that the most important role of a child of God is to receive His love.

We are not able to give what we have not received. If we want to be givers of LOVE, we must receive love from Love Himself constantly. And that requires a complete change of mentality.

One of my favorite scriptures about what God really values in our relationship with Him is the story in Luke 10:38-41 about Mary, Martha and Jesus.

Martha and Mary are sisters, and are friends of Jesus. Martha invites Jesus over to her home, and she lives with her sister Mary. When Jesus gets there, Mary sits at His feet to hear His words, and Martha, according to the Bible is “distracted with much serving”.

Martha asks Jesus “…do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

Jesus’ answer in verse 41 is “And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

That’s it. Never replace relationship with service

God calls us first to have a relationship with Him. That’s the one thing that cannot be taken away from us. And He says it is the one thing that is needed.

He also refers to our need to serve as a distraction. Serving God is great, and we should do it. But it should never become the definition of our relationship with Him. Service should be a result of relationship with the Father.

The world (and the church at times) will celebrate our service to God more than our relationship with Him, but we must remember that Jesus said “one thing is needed”- relationship. That is the fuel for service.

God is interested in you. Not what you can give Him.

Our labor for God can be taken away. But our relationship cannot. However if all we know is service, once it goes, we are left bitter, empty and alone.

Choose that good part that will NOT be taken away from you.

How do you define yourself; is it first as a child of God or a servant of God?

What if everything you do for God was taken away? Would you still be ok? What truly defines you?

You are an heir. A daughter of the King. Don’t compete to be named a servant.

 

Beatrice has been married for 7 years,  she has two girls, ages five and two. She pastors with her husband at one of the locations within Worship Harvest Ministries in Uganda. Her passion is adding value to people, mostly through communication: speaking and writing.

You can follow her on:

Facebook Page – Beatrice Byemanzi – Bee3

Twitter – @Bee3Byemanzi

Blog – bee3blog.wordpress.com

 

KBS Domestic Violence Awareness Faith Conference.

   

 
I had the privilidge of attending  this conference on Saturday and It was so impacting. It was great to see women and men for the church and other faiths share their stories.
In our communities we tend to hide what is going on because of the shame associated with it and we go to church each week and worship God who sees our pain and scars from the abuse suffered.
Over the past week I have met and spoken with people who are determined to bring this out from under the carpet. It is time to heal from the shame. It’s time to come out of the darkness and into the light. Jesus came and took our shame and has provided a garment of praise and joy for us to wear.
Exposing the pain and wounds of domestic violence is a journey of healing not just as individuals but as a community of believers. I listened to stories of christian women who suffered silently for years in their church with no support from those shepherding them. A representative from a male DV organisation shared stories about men who suffer in silence. 
So many people sit in church and pretend and then go home to a living hell. My encouragement to you is to get the help that you need. It is not going to be easy but take it one step at a time.
This conference showed me that church communities have a responsibility to administer healing to this hidden issue by firstly creating forums and raising awareness from their platforms and pulpits. 
Over the last week I realised that the The Holy Spirit is at work by using people to bring this hidden abuse out and into the open. 

Please visit Kim’s Website at  www.Kimbacchus.com

Please also visit my Domestic Violence Awareness page at the top of my blog for church resources and other information.

Jenny Allen’s Voice ~ Domestic Violence in The Church (Part 2)

This video shares the story of a couple who searched for help from their local church. The husband is in church leadership. Please take the time to watch.

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