How do you determine your important relationships? God has beyond blessed me with some terrific women from all walks of life. I am convinced that who you surround yourself with determines who you become and where you will go in life.


For many years, I’ve had people come and go in my life. Some have been lovely people God had brought through for a season. Some have been in my life to teach me very valuable lessons.


When I felt God leading me to begin a Women’s Ministry and write a book that I believe God placed in my heart to help women in their spiritual journey, I never thought it would take me down the path it has.


I have met so many authors and speakers that are finding their way just as I am. We are finding that we are better and stronger together. Learning from each other has been a blessing.


I am reminded of the scripture in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” The answer to that question is no. But I have found many that have been walking together in agreement and unity, being led by the Spirit.


There are many stories I love of true friendship in the Bible. This particular friendship is between Jonathan, the son of Saul, the king of Israel and David, the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, and Jonathan's presumed rival for the crown. David would one day become king. The covenant the two men had formed eventually led to David, after Jonathan's death, graciously seating Jonathan's son Mephibosheth at his own royal table instead of eradicating the former king’s lineage.


Another story is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus and her cousin, Elizabeth. It is said that after receiving the news that she would be the mother of the son of God, the Messiah, Mary went to stay with her cousin, Elizabeth who was pregnant with John, the Baptist.


Such a beautiful story it is for Mary hurried to the hill country, to the house of Zacharias and greeted her cousin. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 


She cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Then Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months.


So, just these two stories give such great examples of what true friendship looks like. My prayer is that you surround yourself with such friends that come alongside you when you are in need. That they are trustworthy and are committed to you and your well-being as you are to them.


One of the things I feel contributes to a winning mindset is who you surround yourself with. I’ve also been blessed by my friends Delphine Kirkland and Doris Cush who are like sisters to do life and ministry together with.


We are committed to you, in our desire to see you grow with us as we develop great friendships, more like a sisterhood. We want you to know we are here for you the whole way. 


In fact, here are a couple of examples of how we see our circle of this sisterhood growing, based on feedback from our Beyond workshop and conference attendees...


One woman felt the camaraderie refreshing and welcoming. Many felt a sense of connection beyond the learning they received. Another testimonial was that the time spent with our “Beyond” group has been encouraging and extremely hope-giving.


As you can see, we’re dedicated to you getting the best experience possible. I’d love to know just what your needs are and if we can address them in our upcoming time together on Saturday, October 17th where we’ll be celebrating with some laughs as well as learning together at our upcoming “We Thrive” Conference! Link here for Eventbrite Tickets. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/we-thrive-conference-tickets-120668872847




Proverbs 27:9, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad; So does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart.”


May your friendships make your heart glad like a sweet fragrance of perfume.




I always chuckle a bit when I hear someone say they are on “the struggle bus”. Seems like an understatement to me. The truth is looking back, I don’t think anyone’s year has gone as planned. We all seem to have been reluctant passengers on the bus to perpetual struggle this year.


Recently, I was reading a magazine article that said, “God is the God of the past, present and future.” It made me think of the scripture that says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17


Today, we remember 9/11. It certainly was a day for which no one was prepared. It was a difficult day for New Yorkers. We know first-hand the horror of that fateful day. We remember like it was yesterday. I remember well the sheer terror. Not knowing what was happening or where family members and friends were as the Twin Towers were burning.


For some, today is just another day. Many wake up not realizing the significance of this day. I can remember answering the phone early that morning. My sister was living in Seattle and her voice was terrified, asking if I had put the news on yet. I did not. I was happily making breakfast for my daughter and myself.


Being caught unaware was so jarring. We sat shocked, unable to speak. Our brother worked in the city. I didn’t hear from him right away. I wouldn’t hear from him until later in the day, when he was walking with thousands of other New Yorkers to the bridges or seaports. Fellow citizens were using their privately-owned boats to ferry people across to safety to New Jersey.


When we remember such traumatic experiences, we can’t help but feel the pain of those moments.


I have another memory. It is the night Hurricane Sandy came through our area. We were driving in the rain, being rerouted due to downed trees, power lines and flooding. My husband and I looked at one another after being frustrated street after street, thinking we were not going to make it to his father’s house. My children sat in the back of the van with our dogs, everyone silent in fear.


In the devotional, “Overcoming Tough Times”, I read that,

“Some of life’s greatest roadblocks are not the ones we see through the windshield; instead, they are the roadblocks that seem to fill the rear view mirror.”

Many times we find ourselves allowing painful memories to consume our thoughts, stealing our present as well as our future. Some of us simply can’t seem to let go of our pain and we relive it over and over, constantly coming to the same impasse. 


Thankfully, God has other plans. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” He has plans to prosper you and give you a hopeful future.


The Apostle Paul describes the need to reach toward the future, forgetting the things which are behind, looking forward to those things which are up ahead. Philippians 3:13-14.


We forget that God has always known what was coming up ahead. He is never caught by surprise. I take great comfort in knowing that He knows and I place my trust in Him having my best in mind, regardless what is happening. I choose to place my mind on things above. Not on the things of this earth and that God has a future ahead where He will bring some good out of present circumstances.


Why is it so difficult to focus on the future? Partly, it is due to focusing too intently on the past. Oftentimes we allow anger, bitterness, unforgiveness or hurt to build up into regret. Worrying about our present or future will never change what is or what is to come. But what we can do is accept what was and realize that those experiences are gone.


Placing our trust in God, turning to Him when we have fears and questions and when we are weak or discouraged fills you with His love and grace.


Believe me, I know this is hard work. It isn’t something that is easily accomplished. But if you have had a difficult past and do not learn from it’s lessons, you will feel as if you are driving in circles up and down the same streets, never arriving at your destination.


The devotional states, “Give all your yesterdays to God, celebrating this day with hope in your heart and praise on your lips. Your Creator intends to use you (and your past) in unexpected ways if you will let Him. But first, God wants you to make peace with your past.”


Once we make peace with our past, we are freed to then become fully engaged in the present, enabled to build a better future.

“If you are God’s child, you are no longer bound to your past or to what you were. You are a brand new creature in Christ Jesus.” ~ Kay Arthur


Here are some Bible verses to cling to when you are dealing with painful past memories.


Isaiah 43:18-19, “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”


Colossians 3:3, “Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.”


My favorite devotional is written by Oswald Chambers and he said this, “God can transform (your past) into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ. Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”


Amen.




There is a phrase that brings me great comfort found in Isaiah 61.


In Luke 4:18, we find Jesus standing before the religious leaders in the synagogue, echoing the words of Isaiah. Unfortunately, His words would be rejected by the very people who should have received it as good news.


Isaiah 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, for the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent Me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 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."


I cling to these words of hope and promise. It says to all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty instead of the ashes of mourning they were experiencing.


After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we New Yorkers, were all too familiar with the ashes that surrounded what once was, the Twin Towers. The clean-up seemed insurmountable for our first responders. It is difficult to describe the heartbreak.


There is another city that suffered destruction at the hands of it’s enemies in 1 Samuel 30.


King David and his men arrived home after being away on assignment and found that their enemies, the Amalekites, had made a raid; they had crushed Ziklag and burned it to the ground. They had carried off the women and children and everyone else.


When David and his men saw the ruins and realized what had happened to their families, they wept until they could weep no more. David’s two wives were among those captured. David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters and they began to talk of stoning him.


But David found strength in the Lord His God.

He sent for the ephod from Abiathar the priest which was special clothing used to pray and communicate with God. Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?”


The Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”


David and 600 of his men set out and they came to a certain place where 200 of the men became too exhausted to continue. So David pushed on, with 400 of his men.


They found the Amalekites spread out across fields, eating, drinking and dancing with joy because of the vast amount of plunder they had taken. David and his men rushed into the fight, battling them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening.


David’s men crushed their enemies and got back everything that was taken, as well as his two wives. Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, or anything else that had been taken. David brought back everything including all their flocks and herds.


There is much to be learned from David's example. Here are 3 keys to transitioning from "ashes to beauty":


1. Remember how God has delivered you in the past. 


David remembered how God protected him when he was in the wilderness as a young shepherd. God gave him the ability to kill a bear and a lion to protect his flocks.


David encouraged himself by turning away from discouragement, negativity and negative people. He remembered the goodness of the Lord in the land and the living.


David remembered that God gave Him the victory against the giant, Goliath.


Hebrews 10:32 says to think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even throughout terrible suffering, learning all God wanted to show you.


2. You cannot allow your emotions to rule you. 


The enemy of your soul wants to bring discouragement but focusing on how God delivered you out of previous troubles helps to break through depression. You cannot feed off the ashes of your troubles. Feed off of the past miracles of the Lord. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived by hopelessness. You can allow yourself to be led into bitterness, anger and unforgiveness. David did not sit in the sadness. He encouraged himself in the Lord.


The enemy wants to convince you that you will be dealing with ashes for the rest of your life. Remind him of God’s faithfulness to you because He’ll be faithful again. 


You must set your mind on things above. Pray scriptures out loud like Psalm 118:24, “This the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Stand on promises of His faithfulness and His blessings like I Chronicles 16:11-12, “Search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. Remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles, and the rulings He has given.”


3. When you’re going through troubles, you have to go into your secret place to get instructions.


Psalm 91 says, “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”


David did not sit in depression like his men did. He used the ephod. He went into the presence of the Lord and got direction from God. You cannot allow your circumstances to keep you away from the presence of God. Even when you do not feel like going, you can trade the ashes for beauty and joy as you praise Him.


Some of you reading this may have given up on some things because you are sitting in the ashes of your situation. There may be a child who is in trouble. There may be seemingly insurmountable debt. There may be a terminal diagnosis. It may look like your marriage is over.


Well let me tell you, God works His best miracles right there in the midst of the ashes of your life. The Lord speaks to you in the midst of dead situations. It was at that moment when David encouraged himself in the Lord by reminding himself of God’s past faithfulness. The Lord said to go after it, to pursue, overtake and recover all that was stolen from him.


God wants us to go after those things that are messed up and broken. We serve a God who is able to take what looks like ashes and turn it into something beautiful. God took the burned out ashes of a city that day and turned it into a victory. He wants to give you the beauty of your dreams that you’ve walked away from. He wants to grant you those promises you’ve held onto for years.


All David needed was a word from the Lord. When David asked and God answered, He went after it. When David arrived at the place where his wives and children were being held captive, He recovered ALL that the Amalekites had taken. David rescued their families. There was nothing lacking. 


Know that the Spirit of the Living God rests on you and will give you instructions. The anointing of God will never leave you in a depressed place. The anointing of God will never leave you in a dry place.


Isaiah 44:3 says, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring.”


So as long as the Spirit of the Living God is upon you, you should not live in a dry place. You will experience victory and the spoils, beauty for ashes.


Get ready to see everything that God has been doing for you behind the scenes. Let this be the month of beauty instead of ashes. Prepare your hearts for receiving everything God has been preparing you to have.



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