Sarah Laughed | From Disbelief to Hope-Filled Joy

Sarah Laughed | From Disbelief to Hope-Filled Joy

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Hebrew 11:11:

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.”

I love it so much because I read the ‘original’ version back in Genesis and I know that Sarah full of faith was first Sarah full of laughter (Genesis 18:9-15). It wasn’t joyful laughter, but incredulous, disbelieving laughter. It was the wrong time laughter, laugh at a funeral laughter, or maybe more like a snide snicker, where she thought herself unseen and unheard. 

Abraham and Sarah were old and getting on in years. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. So she laughed to herself: “After I am worn out and my Lord is old, will I have delight?” But the Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Can I really have a baby when I’m old?’ Is anything impossible for the Lord ?

At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son.” Sarah denied it. “I did not laugh,” she said, because she was afraid. But he replied, “No, you did laugh.”

Genesis 18:11‭-‬15 CSB 

 But c’mon it was pretty laughable…. they were old, old, old. Sarah had waited a very long time. She and Abraham had been waiting…..and waiting…..AND WAITING. Twenty-five years they had been waiting. Proverbs says hope delayed makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) When it’s loooooooooong past the promise given, it can be hard to accept the promise as it grows near.

proverbs 1312

We may have lost our faith, we may have felt fooled and foolish and it may have twisted into cynicism in our heart. We may have locked up our deepest desires & longings in the vault of our heart because it seems too painful to venture to those places. 

 God does seem to like to wait until every last glowing ember of our fires have completely gone out and hold no heat, no life, nothing but charred ashes so that he might blow his divine breath upon them to create life that I cannot take any credit for.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:3 NLT

But sometimes it’s not until our longing seems a place of desolation, burned up ashes, that the Lord will bring the river to the desert to transform our barren wasteland into a garden of delight, a place of prosperity and beauty. 

It’s almost as if what I count as the end of a thing, God views as the start. Maybe he has to wait until I forsake my scheming ways to bring to pass HIS promise by MY hand (Remember Ishmael?), before he can finally perform on my behalf.

Hebrews 11:11 gives me such hope that God is rewriting my history from one of doubt, failure and defeat to one of faith, victory and overcoming. 

Psalm 18:24 The Message

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. 

 I thank God that he has allowed my history and yours to be written loosely in the sand, where the tide of forgiveness and mercy comes in on the shores of his love and softens the hard lines we’ve written. His love rewrites our story weaving it into HIS story. In tender mercy, he removes our doubt and skepticism from our eternal story, commending us for things he bore the brunt of.

 God hears our mocking laughter, our disbelief, but he does not turn his back on us. He draws near and turns our laugh of derision and disbelief into the laughter of joy and hope fulfilled. Isaac, the child of promise. Isaac the name that means laughter. 

Jenne
Embrace the Awkward

Embrace the Awkward

Hi, I’m Destinee and I have a major struggle with social anxiety. I’ve battled it my entire life… As I’ve gotten older and pushed myself to do what God has called me to do it has gotten better.

But it is still there; The breathlessness I feel when having to talk to someone I don’t know, the avoidance of making phone calls to make appts, the racing heart, the shaky hands, the chains that choke out the true me inside.

There was recently an event at my church called Carry the Love and we were invited to come down for prayer if we felt we weren’t giving God 100% of ourselves (basically). I knew I needed prayer for the social anxiety that kept me from being all God called me to be. I want to be that, I want to move mountains, but these chains choke it out of me.

As much as I’d like for this to be one of those things God removes completely with a snap of a finger, I see that it’s a thing he’ll allow me to work through and stick close to him to overcome.

Though I didn’t feel it, even had anxiety talking with the woman who prayed with me, I claimed healing in faith.

About a month later I was talking to one of my buddies from the worship team at church. I mentioned how I was socially awkward, as I often do. Normally  I get, “don’t speak that over yourself, don’t claim that.” And well, I can stop saying it but I still deeply feel my awkwardness.

This wasn’t the response he gave me… he said, “Good! The people who did the most in the Bible were awkward!” My mind was blown…. no one has ever encouraged me to embrace the awkwardness as a positive thing.

He even gave a challenge for everyone on his social media to go out and be awkward with someone. When I heard that I was thinking, “yeeaaaahhh, no. I’m not looking for that. No thank you.”  I feel anxious just thinking about looking for someone to talk to. 

Well, God is funny…. a couple days later I was sitting at Flying Star trying to get some work done while the kids were at school. These two ladies sat down near me and I could hear parts of their conversation. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help but hear the struggle this woman went through, because I had gone through the same thing! 

Then God urges me, “Tell her you’ve been through the same thing and show her your website (this one). ” Suddenly the anxiety struck, my heart started beating out of my chest, I couldn’t breathe, and I wanted to throw up. “Noooo, I can’t do that God, I’m so scared!” 

I felt completely paralyzed. Luckily, it happened to be the time my friend, the culprit of this challenge to be awkward, was on lunch so I angrily messaged him, and I quote, “You and your darn challenge for me to be awkward! God heard you!! Arrrrgggghhhhhh!!!! “

After he laughed at me, he encouraged me, “just make it real awkward for one moment. You can do it!” After a ton of back and forth and many many excuses of why I couldn’t do it, I said a little prayer, “God give me grace, give me provision.” And I committed to not leaving the café until I said something to this woman. 

Leading up to this moment it felt like I was standing in the doorway of an airplane, getting ready to jump from 10,000 feet. Once you hit that freefall it’s a rush of exciting adrenaline and the fear just dissipates. 

Both women at the table were very kind and accepted my interruption to their conversation with grace. The other woman even exclaimed, “Isn’t that lovely!? An angel in street clothes!” 

God gave me a short word to tell the woman who had gone through what I went through… It kept replaying through my mind as I battled the anxiety to approach her. 

“God loves you and He is not disappointed in you.” 

I’m not sure what all that meant to her, but I do know that it had to be something deep in her heart that she may have been wrestling with… That’s how the Holy Spirit works. 

What if I let the fear win? What if I didn’t get to be a part of speaking God’s healing to this person’s heart? I want to be used to bring heaven down into the hearts of people, otherwise, what are we even here for? We must embrace the awkwardness of being that person who speaks life even when we know nothing about the person or what the word even means to them. 

The things we fear never end up being as scary as we make them out to be. And I know as I continue to step out of my comfort zone, face these anxieties, and do what God has called me to (love people!) I will grow in confidence, it will become easier.

So take the dive, trust your parachute (Jesus), and watch the fear float away as you step into those awkward moments; They end up being the most beautiful moments. 

Broken But Beautifully Made

Broken But Beautifully Made

Hey There,

Where do I even begin, there was a time in my life that all I could think of was giving up and that nothing mattered to me anymore. Life became so bleak that every little thing pushed me to the edge. I remember saying, “if one more incident occurs, I am going to lose it.”  

Have you ever had that kind of moment in your life?

Have you ever had that kind of moment in your life? Because I sure had plenty. The feeling of simply losing it is such an awful feeling. At that time, I did not understand why I was going through what I was going through. I thought God was just punishing me for all of the mistakes I have made in my life. I felt so abandoned, rejected, and simply unwanted.

Broken But Beautifully Made Book

It took losing everything for me to finally realize that nothing matters more than God and that I am not in control of my life. I was so broken that I could not see the beauty in life. I went through so much trauma since childhood that all the dysfunction I was in felt normal and that everything was the way It was supposed to be. Then one day, when I reached rock bottom all I had to turn to was God. I could not run away anymore and all I could do was face myself, God, and everything that was going on with my life.

 I encourage you today to get out of denial, to be honest with yourself, and stay true to yourself. It is okay to not be okay … just don’t stay there for too long. God created us for a purpose and for so much more. He does not want us to live our lives in pain and suffering but to live a joyful life. There is so much beauty in our brokenness, but it will take careful observation and dedication to see the beauty in it.

Do not fall for the devils’ trap to do what he wants you to do when you are sad.

Do the opposite instead! Remember, you are the daughter of the High King and the power that raised Lazarus from the dead is also in you!

Stand still, be encouraged, and be brave to know that you may be broken but you are beautifully made in His image. There is purpose in our pain; it may not make sense right now, but I promise in due time that purpose will reveal itself to you.

Keep seeking your truth and identity in Christ for He will never fail you or forsake you.

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Clarice Cregger

Clarice Cregger

Clarice Cregger (AKA “Coach Claire”) was born and raised in Olongapo City, Philippines. She currently resides in Albuquerque, NM with her husband, Richard Torres. Clarice is an Amazon best-selling author, publishing her first book in 2020 as a co-author of “Heart of God for Her: 45 Day Devotional – Revealing God’s Love for His Leading Ladies.” Clarice is a creative entrepreneur, specializing in life coaching and professional photography. As a certified life coach, she thankfully utilizes her craft of transformational coaching with a keen focus on breaking harmful patterns and overcoming guilt and shame. With a compelling backstory of her own, Clarice is very passionate about helping women find their voice, strength, and beauty while overcoming past hurts. With a backdrop of faith in God, Clarice helps women and anyone in need fulfill their God-given purpose in life.

I Changed My Sheets Today… Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I Changed My Sheets Today… Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I changed my sheets today…

Hardly worthy of a blog, eh?

Except I haven’t made my bed but once in the past 3 months when it is normally something I do every day.

 

Changing your sheets

After my mom’s death, I found it harder and harder to keep my home picked up and when I got COVID I struggled to do the smallest tasks.

I keep seeking. I keep knocking. I reach out to God, to friends, to counselors and to doctors. I keep adding healthful bits and pieces and sometimes it is like getting 2/3 up the hill, to slide halfway back down.

At the church prayer meeting last Sunday, I received miraculous healing of extreme weakness and breathlessness. Friday night was the first time in months I could stand for worship let alone lift my arms. It was beautiful to again involve my body in praise & worship of the Lord.

 

I keep coming to Christ. I keep knocking. I keep seeking even when it feels like 2 steps forward and one back.

 

My living room is now mostly picked up. As is my kitchen. Tonight I tackled my bed, half buried in clean clothes that never got put away. (They’re on the chair now.) Pulled everything off and made the darn bed, only to realize I grabbed the torn sheet that I hold onto because…honestly, I don’t know why I hold onto it.

 

Two steps forward. One step back. 

 

I’ll get there. You’ll get there. We’ll make it. It will work out. It will all be okay.

Jenne
Prisoner of HOPE

Prisoner of HOPE

Defining moments are those which come into our lives and suddenly happen. They are a stopping point. A lapse in time in which everything combusts and crashes.

2015 had a moment like that for me.
It was the year in which I awakened to a shattered reality, the most painful state of the human soul.

Disconcerted I asked myself, “how did I get here?”

In my book, a memoir about reclaiming identity and finding hope in God’s love. I tell the story of the chapter of my life in which I survived a nervous breakdown.

Lost in the moment I tried to end my life.
In this level of pain and darkness, it is the mind that collapses first. When all schemes fail and it feels cornered, it turns against itself, betraying the human heart and its right to live.

Some people think that suicide is a cowardly choice, but it takes bravery to face a demon so powerful that not all its victims escape and live to tell.

I lived it, the void is real, it’s cold and it drags a wounded and abandoned heart to the depths of complete loss. A moment devoid of all hope.

Georgina Fourzan

Pain choked out my life.
I had failed to attain the one thing that could never be bought.

The one thing that is freely and willingly given by the One who is love; God.
And since I did not know what love is, I settled for a counterfeit idea of it; conditional
love.

Trying to make people love me was something I strived for continuously.
That was the lie that informed my identity, “love is earned”.

I couldn’t see past the moment so ending my life seemed like the only option left…but
was it?

After my failed attempt I had survived and now I needed to find a way to live again.
My journey through recovery was about reclaiming that which was lost or stolen; ME.

Reclaiming my true identity was a slow conquest.

Throughout my life, I had tried to earn love. I was so focused on what people thought of me, I would do anything to be accepted.

I call this behavioral phenomenon “twirling”. Yes, you read right, “twirling.”

Have you ever seen those jewelry boxes that have a mechanical ballerina attached
inside?

 

  As you open it the music plays and the ballerina twirls in front of the mirror. She dances to please those who catch a glimpse.

Just like the mechanical ballerina I loved to twirl. I had it down to an art. With every effort, I’d get the applause, the affirmation which was my sure fix of self-worth.

 The outcomes of these behavior patterns were the quicksand in which I had anchored
my hope. When my so-called life collapsed, I discovered that true hope can only be found in a
person who is steady and faithful and true.

Not only that but He doesn’t demand any performing on my part.
That person is Jesus. He was the only one who stood by my side when everyone else left.

Through the journey of recovery, I found out who I truly am. I discovered true love, not the kind that we see in the movies. No, I mean a love so real, so pure and intense that it can be easily perceived and felt if
we’re willing to seek it.

I began discovering the truth about myself and God. I found out who I was not. Dismantling my false identity was the only way I could become free. My freedom to exist is the most valuable thing I have. But choosing to stay with God and not run has been an act of falling in love. A dance that persuades me with the truth. A hope that presently breathes life into me, and I think I finally found it! Unshakable hope found in God’s love.


I hope you journey with me, allow yourself to know who you truly are. There are things I
want to share which I know will help you become free and full of hope.

 

Georgina Fourzan

GEORGINA FOURZAN
Licensed Foursquare Pastor
Celebrate Recovery Ministry Leader
East Gate Church Albuquerque New Mexico
ISSA Certified Sports & Fitness Nutrition Specialist – Health & Nutrition Solutions

Pastor Georgina Fourzan is an advocate and active speaker for health and wholeness of mind, body, and spirit. She’s passionate about teaching people to regain physical and emotional healing through faith-based recovery principles.
Her ministry is to help people find their true identity in Christ.

She is notable for her enthusiasm for God and equipping disciples with the spiritual tools to fulfill their God-given purpose. Since 2018, Georgina has been the ministry leader for Celebrate Recovery at her home church East Gate.

She’s currently writing her first book, a memoir about reclaiming identity, surviving a nervous breakdown, and finding unshakable hope in God’s love.

 

You can find her writing featured in her blog “Chronicles Under The Fig Tree.”

Reflections on Being Loved: A New Year of Life

Reflections on Being Loved: A New Year of Life

Today is my birthday. About 4 years ago I began a tradition of not waiting on someone else to celebrate me, instead, I would plan to celebrate myself. And I had some really great celebrations with friends; from Starbucks trips, concerts, and fancy lunches to paint night, sushi, and late-night ice cream. 

Then, one year, I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I think I was burnt out from ministry and over-extending myself. So, instead, I mostly took the time to rest. This year is weird too. Though I had been separated for about 4 years, this is the first year that I am divorced… officially single. 

I am in a season of drought and burning fire. God spoke to me, He told me it was for my good, that this needed to happen and it would be painful and lonely… that doesn’t make it any easier. 

So, instead of my usual, “Woo hoo! It’s my Birthday!” mood, I’ve just felt like crying all morning. I’m sitting in a coffee shop now holding back the tears. Ugh, crying in public is the worst. 

Why write this blog? Well, maybe it’s because I am a known over-sharer… or maybe I just want to encourage someone who may be going through a similar season. 

 

Destinee Solano

God has been teaching me how to love myself and how to allow myself to be truly loved by him. I’ve spent a good amount of my life codependently looking for worth and love in people. This way of living included never rocking the boat or speaking up for myself because I feared being rejected by people. I had rejection PTSD.

In my pursuit of love, I failed to love myself. And God tells me that I can’t even fully love another selflessly until I’m able to love myself and allow Him to love me. Why? Because without seeing myself as worthy and treating myself with love and respect which goes hand in hand with allowing God to fully love me, I will be looking for fulfilment in people. This means that I am not selflessly loving, I’m loving with the intent of getting myself filled up.

When I see myself as lovable and worthy and treat myself as such, I’m able to be filled up with God’s love. It’s not something I must strive for or earn. It just is. Once I can fully grasp this amazing, grandiose, heavenly love, I can extend that love to others from my abundance. Love that comes from a deficiency isn’t a godly agape love.

Agape love is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. It is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible.

John 6:68

The past few years have been a consistent lesson on loving myself, caring for myself, and allowing God to fully love me, but this new year has felt like boot camp in these areas. Sometimes God needs to break our hearts to get rid of the habits, lies, and things that never belonged there. He is refining with fire, purifying with pressure, and pruning every branch that doesn’t belong. 

And that is exactly how my heart has been feeling: broken. Not broken for a person or a relationship, but broken from letting go of the codependency, people pleasing, and acceptance chasing that my life once was. Those things were comfortable, they were a source of feeling loved and worthy, but they were the wrong source. They were broken wells that couldn’t hold water. So, I’m transitioning from that life into learning how to be completely fulfilled by God, letting him be my ultimate source of love and being content in Him alone.

The space in-between those places is barren and lonely. It’s painful and it tests where my loyalty really lies. Under pressure will I run back to the comfort of fleeting, dysfunctional, toxic relationships, or will I run towards God, hang onto His hand and ride this out with Him? I choose the latter. I choose the creator of my heart, the one who has loved me beyond anyone else in this world, the one who has the words of LIFE. Where else could I go? That’s a rhetorical question of course… 😉

 

 

In love and understanding,