Can we be honest?

Protecting ourselves is human nature, it’s part of our “fight or flight” defense. We only want people to see the best parts of ourselves (think about your social media posts!) But what if everything we did was broadcast?

Do you have a part of your life that you hide or keep to yourself in order to prevent others from REALLY knowing who you are? Hiding the truth can be exhausting and will ultimately lead us further from God.

I kept a very big secret until I was 41 years old. I was sexually abused by my father and had never told anyone. I had lived a life that was far from honest and had tried to ignore it. I knew that it was standing in the way of my relationship with God, but didn’t know what to do about it.

The truth is that God already knows everything about us. So until we confess our sins, we aren’t being truthful with Him.

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

When we decide to pursue living honestly, we will find ourselves on the way to becoming truly free.

So how do we do this?

The first step it to be honest with God. Ask for forgiveness and guidance for how to live an honest life. The payoff to being honest with God is freedom, hope and purpose.

“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Psalm 32:5 (NLT)

The second step is to be honest with ourselves. I had to understand that my abuse was affecting my life, no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. Once I was honest with God and myself, it became clear to me that I needed to forgive my parents.

The third step is the hardest- to be honest with others. Once I addressed my abuse with my parents and started to tell others about my past, I was able to help myself grow closer to freedom. I share my story publicly to show others how trusting God with every part of our life and being honest with ourselves and others is healthy.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)

I hope that if you are hiding part of your life, you will start searching for honesty and forgiveness with God, yourself and others. I promise that it will lead to contentment and love!

To read more of my story go to http://www.traceycasciano.com

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Food Fight!

This past weekend my family and I were able to take part in a very special event called 2016 Food Fight at the Dulles Expo Center in Virginia. The NorthStar Church Network and my church (New Hope Church in Lorton, VA) hosted a 3 day mobile pack for Feed My Starving Children. Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and they ship these meals to their distribution partners.

In 3 days, volunteers came with giving hearts and packed four simple ingredients into each bag: dried vegetables, protein powder, soy and rice. When mixed with boiling water, each bag feeds 6 children.

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Over the course of those 3 days, we saw many different churches, youth organizations, families and individuals donate their time and energy to pack the meals. In the end we cried tears of joy as they announced:

Number of meals packed for 2016 Food Fight: 5,044,248!!

Number of children to be fed for a year: 13,819!!

I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11

13179372_10153519156451969_271801579122191706_n12631505_10153320951521969_6850529860977729953_n13119029_10153495564356969_2648733358523230242_nFeed My Starving Children provides life-saving meals to people who need them most all over the world — from countries affected by natural disaster to places enduring economic despair. FMSC meals have been distributed in nearly 70 countries through missionary partnerships at orphanages, schools, clinics, refugee camps and malnourishment centers.

 

FMSC believes in sustainability – they don’t simply send one shipment of food to a country. Instead, they continue to provide their mission partners with the food they need to maintain their feeding programs.

 

 

If you would like more information about this amazing organization, I would recommend visiting their website http://www.fmsc.org.

To my husband on Mother’s Day

On this Mother’s Day I want to take a moment to reflect on the years that I have had with my incredible husband and father of our four sons.

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An oldie, but a goodie!

We started our journey together in 1989 as freshman on a large college campus. First we were just friends, but quickly our relationship blossomed and we became inseparable. He was encouraging, fun, and very loving. I had never experienced the type of friendship and bond that we developed and as our love for each other grew over the next five years, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. We were married in 1994 and began our journey as husband and wife together.

My life before meeting my husband was full of shame and guilt as I was raised in a home that was far from normal. My mother was an alcoholic and my father sexually abused me. My life at home led me to have low self esteem and I never told anyone what my life was really like. I was good at hiding my pain and no one ever knew, including my new husband. The night I finally told him the truth was the best and worst night of our young marriage. I feared that his anger towards my parents would suddenly disrupt all my attempts of denying and avoiding the truth. As we clung to each other he promised to protect me and love me as I deserved to be.

Fast forward to today…almost 23 years of marriage together. We have been together every step of the way as we have navigated through many wonderful days and some storms along our journey. Our faith has grown as our relationship has and I believe it has brought us closer together. My husband supported me as I chose to forgive my parents and was there for me when I had to bury my father. He understands my frustration and difficult relationship with my mother and is always ready to listen when I need to vent.

He gave me the biggest joy of our lives, our four sons. It w6830a16418f573f5e701e02c93527f45asn’t always easy, but now that they are older, I am so proud of the young men that they have become. I know their kind hearts, strong work ethic and success is in part because of the wonderful father that they have. The daddy who took them to get donuts on the weekends, cheered them on at every game and worked hard so that they could have everything that they need. My sons know that their pancake maker, grill master and workout buddy will be there for them no matter what. I love my husband for being that father and for blessing me with the title, “Mom”.

I hope that this will encourage all the hardworking dads out there. Remember that you do each day matters. It matters to your kids and to your wives. Take time to enjoy your family and be proud of the kids who you are making into wonderful people.

 

Leave Your Past Behind (guest blog)

I am so happy when I hear about others who share their story to help others. Lisa and I met in the blogging world and immediately connected. Her message of God’s grace is a wonderful reminder of His love for all of us, even when we’re not perfect.

Leave Your Past Behind by Lisa Roberts Bell

As I looked at my mom’s beautiful face, she drew her last breath and was immediately with Jesus in Heaven. Wait! What? MY mother, who I loved so very much, was now not with me any longer. She was with her Savior and out of severe pain.

I managed to hold myself together for a few days after her death. After those few calm days, here came hurricane Lisa. I went into self-destruction mode. I drank wine and other liquor until I became numb as to not feel the deep pain from losing my mom to colon cancer. I slept in my own vomit, I hurt all of the people I loved, I lied, I cheated, and found myself in places and situations in which I should have never been.

Yes I was a Christian. I had been a Christian for 20 years at that time. I moved away from God because if I prayed and asked Him for help, my mom’s death would become real. I couldn’t bear it; especially without God. So I continued in my own way to handle the pain.

This lasted for a year and a half. My life was a hot mess and I even knew I needed help. I went to my doctor for help, but there was nothing wrong with me physically. I needed psychological help. IMMEDIATELY!

Fortunately, God led me to a Christian counseling program. In this program I discovered my issues went much deeper than I thought. I didn’t learn good core values as a child so I didn’t love myself enough to make good decisions in my life; thus the poor self-image and self-destruction.

Don’t misunderstand, I had great parents. They, however, were dealing with their own poor self-esteem issues. My mom was sexually abused by a family member and dad was physically abused by his dad. My parents loved me and took care of my every need, but they were tormented by their past while trying to raise three children.
After therapy I gained a new a refreshing self-image. Life will always be full of troubles, especially for Christians, but I was able to leave my unwanted childhood memories behind and discover how much my Lord loved me. And guess what? I learned that I needed to love myself. And I started making good decisions.

This journey opened my eyes to others that were hurting. And in speaking with them found that they too didn’t receive the validation or core values they needed as a child.
God gave me a loving heart for people and to share my story with them. To make them see I am living proof that you can leave your past behind you and begin a fresh, new life. God used me as a vessel to write a book that would prayerfully help others to avoid the obstacles I encountered. To discover their worth in God and learn to love themselves properly. I began writing, blogging, mentoring, and speaking to groups that desperately needed a new start.

I’m so thankful that God is using imperfect me to help and love people and show them how I became a better person on the other side of my storm. And most importantly how I grew closer to God.

My desire for myself and everyone is to be better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today. TO BECOME OUR BEST SELVES. Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 (NLT.)

LisaRoberts-1234Lisa has been a Christian for 25 years. She has a background in human resources and career development. She has spent most of her life teaching others to look inside themselves and find their worth. Having felt the hand of God on her since childhood, she has recently began ministering by writing and public speaking. Lisa currently mentors ladies who have been victims of human trafficking and are looking to begin a new life. She does public speaking engagements in churches and other places as well. With her down to earth personality as well as the transparency about her own psychotic episode, she is able to touch hearts as people are made aware of Jesus’s love for them.

Lisa blogs at http://www.becomingourbestselfblog.wordpress.com, http://www.inspirationfortoday.wordpress.com

She guest blogs at http://www.doctormariomagnonelife.com.

You can also connect with her at:
http://www.twitter.com/bellrlisa
http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisarobertsbell
http://www.pinterest.com/lisaroberts1804
http://www.instagram.com/lisa.bell
http://www.lisarobertsbell.tumblr.com
http://www.facebook.com/lisa.robertsbell
http://www.plus.google.com
http://www.goodreads.com

Lisa has two books available:

A Time to Keep and a Time to Throw Away – it is an eBook and can be purchased at http://www.lulu.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, http://www.amazon.com.

9781682704080medLeave Your Past Behind; Uncover the Secret of a New Beginning – you can purchase it in paperback or download an eBook at http://www.tatepublishing.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, http://www.amazon.com .

 

Oh Charlie!

Today I’m going to stray a bit and talk about motherhood. I became a mother almost 19 years ago to our first son. It was magical, scary and exhausting! Surprisingly, he survived our first time parent fears and freak outs and grew into a happy, healthy toddler. At the age of 21 months, our first born became a big brother.

Our second son is the star of the show today. His name is Charlie and I have his permission to share about him. He was the only one of our four sons to be born without induction and I swear he came out smiling. He was a cuddly, easy going baby and adored by his older brother. As Charlie became mobile, he didn’t walk, he RAN. (I’m not kidding). 17 months after he was born we introduced our third son into the world.

To say that I was overwhelmed is an understatement! I had three kids in diapers and Charlie refused to stay in one place for more than a minute. I remember leaving our oldest (age 3 1/2) with the baby so that I could run to chase Charlie. At the time, the movie “The Incredibles” had been released and we called Charlie “Dash” after the character who could run super fast. Charlie was happy, always smiling, and ready to offer a hug at all times. As he entered preschool I began to worry. Everyone said, “Oh, he’s just all boy.” We were restricted to playgrounds and friends houses with fences for fear of him running off. We had several near death experiences as he jumped in the end of the deep end of the pool, disappeared at the beach, and ran off in a busy parking lot. He got expelled from preschool for “using scissors inappropriately” and didn’t seem to fear anything. I would stay up at night worrying about the future of my adorable Charlie.  Every year on his birthday I thanked God for keeping him safe.

So imagine my pride as I write this today, just hours after his drivers license ceremony. My eyes filled with tears as I looked at him, listening to the judge talk about safety. He has grown into a wonderful young man who loves Jesus, works hard, and has a charismatic personality. Just last week we traveled together to tour colleges and he is looking forward to pursuing a future in graphic design. I am confident that he will do great things and am so happy that God chose me to be his mom!

“Love is patient, love is kind” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV).

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You are good enough!

I have a friend who is a wonderfully talented singer. She leads worship at our church and every time she opens her mouth, it is amazing. I often find myself wishing that I could sing as well as she can. I have another friend who has a high powered job and is very successful in the business world and travels a lot. I think about how great it would be to have a job like her.

Isn’t that typical? We compare ourselves to others wishing that we had their job, voice, hair, skin, or talents. Our culture encourages us to do this and it leads to us feeling inadequate. We are left wanting more….COMPARISON-590x295

Who you are and what you do already pleases God!

He has given each of us a unique gift and wants us to use these gifts to show our love for Him. How can we do this?

“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” Romans 12:7-9.

The best way that we can show our love to God is to use the special gifts that He has given us. Remember that we are all designed to have different talents and that is what makes us unique. So the next time you find yourself feeling less than adequate, remind yourself that we each have our own special gifts. Not sure what yours is? Ask a friend!

Do what you do best and do it without comparison, for it brings Him much joy!

Lead Me

It must be you God,

leading me down this path.

l-301503Sometimes slowly,

other times at a lightning pace.

It must be you God,

leading me to be a voice for others.
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Years ago I couldn’t have,

but now I feel your grace and love.

It must be you God,

encouraging me to to push ahead.

I feel your presence now,

guiding me when it gets tough.

It must be you God,

trusting me with this task.

You’ve shown me how to forgive,

to leave my hurt in the past.

It must be you God,

giving me this courage.

I’ll do my best to make you proud;

you’ve given me so much.

It must be you God,

Filling me with this joy.

I feel a sense of urgency,

a new found purpose.

It must be you God,

leading me down this path.