I Want You

what-does-god-want

Father in Heaven, You breathed another day into life. And I take part in it as I recognize Your presence. Today, I make it about You. Take my heart and make it Yours. Make it Your home to do as You please. I am pleased with the change You bring about in me and I can’t help but acknowledge You’ve been guiding me all along. I want to thank You for that. I want You to do great things today as You had yesterday, and I want You to keep my eyes open to those great things, so that I can thank You and praise You right away, so that my heart recognizes again who made these things possible. I want to take those blessings You give me to bless others along the way. I want many things my Lord, but I know without a doubt as long as I focus on You, You show me and give me greater things I thought I was never worthy of. I want You to help me keep my eyes on You as I am willing to follow. I pray this in Your name, Amen.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Isaac’s Race

188465_1002974588113_7554_nI have a brother who laughs with great confidence. In fact his name means “One who makes me laugh” or “laughter”. I love his innocence and I love his growing knowledge of the world. But he doesn’t think he has enough confidence in himself. I tell him “Today is going to be a great day.” He replies by repeating the same words, except I can see in his eyes a slight struggle to believe. Every night I put him to bed with a reminder, “Tomorrow is going to be a great day.” And he replies with eyes that I’d like to see the same way the next day. I was mad and jealous to my guts when this boy was just a fetus. I knew that my life would basically end, because I would then become the middle child, and my needs would be non-existent. I had become a mother to a younger brother from the same mother. Straight out of high school. I had no choice. But the Big Man put the responsibility in my small hands, because He knew I could handle Isaac. God helped me make sense of it, and I believe He let Isaac in on it too. I remember one night when he was 8 years old, I helped him with homework that had me convulsing with anger. He looked at me and said, “You’re going to be a great mother one day because I’m your training ground.” I wish our parents had told me something similar along the lines the day the unplanned boy was due. Without him, I would not laugh with confidence. I would not feel like the child at heart I am today. I would not be the sister or daughter striving to be a better example. Without him, I could care less about the responsibilities that would shape my character. And without him, I would not pray so much for confidence. It’s perfect the way God had planned it. I would become his closest friend and he would be mine. And I would point out to him who he can get his confidence from. God. He has a speech to make today, and Lord knows I try my best as his coach. He wants to be the next 5th grade class treasurer. As I run my own race, I pray he runs his with confidence and gusto. 🙂

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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God Bless Your Success

Growing up, I was taught that you can only have success if you’re either a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. So I believed that as long as I studied to become one of these, I would definitely fit the bill for success. I’ve tried to be so many things I wasn’t just to feel that I belonged in my family. And the harder I tried, the more I felt I did not belong. I always thought that you could have success if you loved money enough. And the more I tried to interest myself with money, the more it left me empty handed. I was taught that in order to have success, you would have to forget about everyone else and only focus on yourself. This was the toughest thing I was expected to do next to forgiving. I was confused, because at the same time my freedom was taken away from me. And the more I helped myself, and only myself, the more success seemed like miles away.

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It wasn’t until I came to the revelation that love was the way to success. For so long I had such a hard time loving people and keeping friends because of traumatic experiences in my past. I could not trust, I could not forgive, and I didn’t have a real sense of love for myself. Jesus was the one who taught me how to love myself after realizing what He did for me. He loves me so much, so that I could love others and have real relationships with them. I believe that real, loving relationships/friendships is the key to success in this world. A genuine heart for another can only build up their self-esteem, which in turn helps and encourages ourselves to keep pursuing a life of positivity. Because when we live with such an attitude, God puts the right people in our lives or directs us to them, so that we may be encouraged and helped along the way, at the same time inspiring and encouraging others as well. The journey/walk of love is the accomplishment itself. For when we focus on the worldly view that success is the goal, we’ll never be content with what we have or where we are. But when we focus on Love, which is Christ, He will show us great and mighty things which we did not know was even possible.

So Christ is Love and we’re taught that He is the way to God. The Holy Spirit guides our success, and thus God becomes our Goal. Success only becomes the Goal when we have a full understanding of the relationship between the Son and the Father, when we learn how to love genuinely and unconditionally. This is why our relationship with Him should never halt, but rather continue. Jesus wants us to become a success in the Father. In other words, He wants and reminds us to become one with Him by letting the Holy Spirit live in us, because He wants the best for us, which is God Himself. Those who have a materialistic/worldly sense of success have a materialistic/worldly sense of love. They are never content, always seeking for more happiness. Money can never buy you love or joy. If you love only to be happy, then your success will only make you happy. There will be no joy. The joy of the Lord is your strength…your strength to love and thus find success to help you press on to your goal. Keep walking with Love and stay strong. God gave you the ability to love…that’s if you accept that He loved you first. Then, watch your life become a success as you love others whole-heartedly. What does success mean to you?

Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Better.Bigger.Bolder.Believer.

I believe in the word ‘believe’ because it gives profound meaning to my confidence. This I believe, otherwise my opinions have no voice, religion and faith have no place in my heart, honesty and trust are indifferent to this world, what I see and hear has no interest to anyone, ethics are irrelevant, concerning the possibilities are impractical, imagination can’t fancy itself with mystery and magic, I’m not who I say I am to anyone or myself, and everything I think, and know about has no source. This word provides me with an understanding of life.

I admit I’m impressionable, yet I still don’t believe everything I see or hear. I have the choice to acknowledge or not. Believing gives me hope, opens opportunities, promotes knowledge, bends to shape my own truth or idea, belongs to everyone, and it’s free. On paper, letter, or conversation, ‘I’ stands solid, encouraged, followed by ‘believe’. Whether I believe this or that, it or you, I am right because I believe. It offers persons their claim to be authentic/genuine.

Genesis 1:1 states “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I choose to believe this. I would have a difficult time believing the rest of the Bible if I can’t accept this first sentence, if I can’t accept this as true. Undoubtedly, I would question my faith in God. When I do lack faith I ask myself, “What good is your faith if you don’t believe? What essence is truth if you don’t believe?” In the dictionary, ‘belief’ is a principle or idea accepted as true, especially without proof. Just believe! That’s why faith has substance, hope persists, and love has magnitude. I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t believe these three words.

What you do with believing matters. Dreams are mere ideas unless you take belief in them and shape those beliefs to be worth reaching. I believe that everything I set my heart and mind to believe is the beauty it unfolds. Results will feed upon what beliefs I nurture it with. Believing for the benefit of yourself can lead you a long way in life. Having certain beliefs sets each person apart from the other. How would views and attitudes matter if everyone in the world believed the same people and things, or if everyone didn’t believe in anything? I believe in believing because it secures my individuality. And I believe God shapes my character.

Sometimes I’m challenged to believe in myself. This only reminds me to trust my faith. After all, trust is confidence within. Then of course my faith tells me to trust God. I believe in this word because it insists having no room for doubt. If I don’t believe in myself, then no one will believe in my God. I find joy in applying it to anything I choose. I like this word because it goes everywhere you go, only if you choose to take it with you. I believe in the word ‘choose’ and choosing as many positive words over negative ones. Believing should only thrive on your character’s makeup when you fall short of integrity. Believing makes me use it to my advantage. Believing compels me to think positive. I choose to believe that the Big Boss above me makes me a better, bigger, braver, and bolder believer.

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I hope that anyone reading this has been empowered to be a bigger believer. I originally wrote this as speech that was meant to be memorized for a communications class, and I was moved to see that my classmates were also positively moved by it. This assignment was a chance for each person to enter their own revelation of core values to an independent, non profit organization called This I Believe, Inc. When I performed it, I had only mentioned God twice, but this season I’ve added a few more sentences, and I am not holding back. 🙂

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt
Mixed media on board. 22″x26″ 2012

 

View this artwork in my Gallery. I copied straight off of a printed photograph taken by a good friend, Stephan Arias from Southern California. He’s a freelancer specializing in engagement and wedding photography. Check out his site: Stephan Arias Photography

 

It was the best I could do as a wedding gift to my sister Kim and brother-in-law, Scott. It’s been a year since I walked down the aisle. 😉 I love them and pray for them. They do not want to have any children. Zip. Nada. Forever. And I think it’s a shame. But I understand. Maybe it’s because they deal with enough kids every single day of the week, and the thought of having a few at home makes them hurl. They did however, bring up the possibility of using me as a surrogate mom. But if they are going to borrow my uterus, I want a cockapoo, a chocolate labradoodle, and a Toyota Prius, Hybrid.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Drunk in the Holy Spirit

It’s 9:04 pm and I’m suppose to be at the MGM Grand Hotel having shots with friends and people I don’t know before heading out for a night of blistered feet from dancing, and grinding, while sipping on my own cherry voldka and other people’s drinks. My cousin from California had extended her birthday invitation, and I had a month to anticipate. Obviously, it would be on my side of town, club hopping as we’d normally do. So I didn’t think twice about it and she counted me in. I’ve been a people pleaser since I can remember, but I know that it has got to stop. Then, deep down a gentle tug felt as if God was saying “I’ve got it all under control.” I prayed about it several times. “It’s under His control, not mine. I trust His will.”

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I remember the many Saturday nights I would sit on the toilet bowl, drowning in a whirlwind of self-pity, conviction, naïveté, vanity, self-righteousness, and truth. In that short time of privacy, I’d make myself believe I could pull it together, because God was watching me. But as soon as I stood up, my legs would wobble and I would leave the stall full of doubts. I imagine that’s how a Catholic would feel like (minus the drunkenness), after leaving the confession booth not convinced that her sins were pardoned. Then the innocent voice in my head would always remind me “But hey, it’s not like you do this every single weekend anyway.” My hang-overs were bearable the next day, but my shame on the other hand would opt to skip church.

Everything is/was under His control. And so it was. The Lord threw all kinds of things at me and I didn’t even have to sugar coat my excuses for not coming out. My grandma, my uncle and aunt, along with their fireball of a daughter decided to come out and visit us from California. There were plenty of chores to do, catching up, and plenty of playtime. The first day of school starts this Monday, and my sister asked for my help to finish redecorating her classroom, because her husband was busy fixing up his own classroom. I had to take my brother for his 5th grade orientation since my parents could not leave the house to entertain our relatives. To be honest, I’m tired of shopping for an outfit or dress that I would only wear for a night. Honestly, I’m broke. And to be more honest, I’d be too tired since I don’t even sleep every night, and it’s that time of the month for me again. Honest to God, I just don’t enjoy the scene anymore. I enjoy myself more when I’m drunk in His presence. I appreciate life more when I’m drunk with His joy. I want more of God when I’m drunk with His passion.

So I’m off the hook. I feel great for once saying “No.” She’s not upset or angry. She’s not let down. She completely understands. I feel at peace for making the right decision. God is good and I’m drunk off His love!!! I think I’m just about ready to pass out. Alright, good night.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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MORE FISH = MORE FOCUS

Leviticus 11:9 “These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat.” 

15 years I was a vegetarian and 15 years I was a vegetable. I was borderline anemic, I had asthma, very bad insomnia, eczema, and especially very bad attention span and memory. Why did I even choose the diet? I thought I was doing myself a favor but it was really just about pride. That’s a whole new story. It just wasn’t for me. I did eat my veggies, but I also ate my junk food. Maybe that’s it. Fortunately, I have a very caring pharmacist for a mother, whom I should have listened to from the very beginning. I started packing on the supplements right out of high school, but I never dared swallow a fish pill, until a few years ago when I went completely blank in the middle of a transaction fail at a Disney Store. Double whammy! The world came crashing down on me as if it were a gigantic snowball that just kept getting bigger and bigger. How could I not do simple math as quickly as I had done when I was a 4th grader? My face and ears turned as red as a drunk Japanese, but God saved my confused, little, flat arse, and my managers didn’t even reprimand me. I was desperate to fix this brain problem I had, and so I knew I would have to let my pride down. I did a lot of research online despite my poor attention, restlessness, anxiety, and irritability, which then led me to a self-diagnosis. I had either ADD or ADHD. As overrated as it sounds, I refused to get a real diagnosis for fear I would be told that I actually had it. I wasn’t going to let it get to me, but I also wasn’t going to be passive about it. My research came down to this…..

adobe-spark-post-13.pngThe Mediterranean Diet is composed of mostly fruits, vegetables, and seafood. The world’s most talented geniuses to make history originated in and around the Mediterranean region of Europe. DING DING DING DING!!!! How about the Asians? No one sets a better example of longevity than the Okinawans. They have their teas daily, munch on their fresh seaweeds and nori wrappers. But Japanese or not, Asians love their fish food. I realized I was the only one who wasn’t in on it, I had a lot of catching up to do, and I’d better start eating like a real Asian. Grandma wasn’t lying when she said “You better eat your fish.” Much respect to her. Here I was having the symptoms of early dementia and there she was reciting the phone numbers of all her grown children, all eleven of them. Whether you’re a vegetarian/vegan or not, if you’re young or old, fish can improve a person’s overall well-being. If you’re allergic, there ain’t nothing you can do. Well, maybe you can introduce it to your system slowly. There are two components of fish oil that can do wonders for you. One is Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and the other is Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). EPA is good for the heart, and DHA is good for the brain. What’s good for the heart is good for the brain, and whatever is good for both is good for the libido. 🙂 DHA is also found in seaweed/algae. Figuratively and literally speaking, I took my own dosage into my own hands and worked my way up to 14 fish oils a day. I lectured my personal and trusted pharmacist, and she began to do the same. In her own words, she said, “If I had only done this when I was in college…” It must have been a month later when, not one, but two light bulbs lit up inside my brain. It was ‘a day of Hallelujahs’ I says! Then I started worrying about the mercury that I was possibly ingesting, and wham!! Enter selenium. It was added to my stack. Selenium chelates mercury and so do nuts and seeds! So I went to my favorite health food store and bagged me a gazillion Brazilans! But it’s okay, I didn’t go nuts with them because there is toxicity if eaten too much in a short period of time.

You see, the human body is always under stress due to chemicals like household cleaners, genetically engineered food, MSG, artificial sweeteners, germs, and even antibiotics. It’s just so hard to avoid them. People are becoming more aware of the benefits of vitamins and supplements. Thank God!!! But if you want to make the best use of your money by not urinating most of it, take into consideration that they work best when your body is alkaline and when you take essential fatty acids along with them. Health is such an investment, but I’d rather help myself than have the doctors and nurses help me out of the pit I put myself in. I’ve never experienced the dread of being inside an emergency room, and I don’t plan on being in one until the day I produce me and my future hubby healthy offspring. Shopping for supplements has become more of a treat for me than shopping for discounted shoes. Hallelujah!

Since no one can prevent the onslaught of toxins to the body, you can do something by helping it fight back. Eat right. Toxins are basically free radicals. They are nervous little brats who start turning onto you by looking for extra electrons to stabilize themselves, and a lot of those electrons come from good and bad fat cells. You need to supply yourself with enough of good fats and those good fats come from FISH! As we breathe in oxygen, they meet with fats, and this is called oxidation. It’s inevitable. Oxidation is a tissue damaging process, which the body experiences as stress. That stress may start out small, but if it’s not taken care of, inflammation occurs as your bigger problem. Anything from frequent brain fog to full blown cancer is inflammation. I believe inflammation can be significantly reduced if we take antioxidants seriously. Antioxidants such as selenium, n acetylcysteine (NAC, a precursor of glutathione), grapeseed extract (resveratrol), vitamin E, astaxsanthin (found in pink/orange/salmon colored seafood) all work to protect essential fatty acids like your fish oil, which overall has anti-aging effects. Flaxseed has good fats in it, but is a poor contributor of DHA. Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder is so overrated especially in the U.S. because the Western Diet does not concern itself enough with the many benefits of seafood/fish/fish oil. If you find yourself getting lost in life (figuratively and literally speaking), misplacing things often, losing your train of thought, feeling the blues, any sign that tells you something is not right in your noggin, then start eating salmon and stocking up on fish oil. We’re becoming fatter and lazier and more forgetful. The U.S. is the fattest country with the highest population of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and blah blah blah. But American or not, we should eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean meat, nuts and seeds, and fish, with as little refined sugar and starch. It should be a ratio of 4:1, but oftentimes we do it the other way around, and so we get what we deserve…flabby stomachs and love handles and so on and so on, but we go on complaining. When I learned that ADD/ADHD is not only a hereditary condition, but that it can also be acquired, three of my light-bulbs turned on, and I overdosed on fish pills, DHA, and ate sardines everyday. One day I am going to be a genius, when I’ll have turned on five more.

The average human body is said to be 60-80% water. The brain is said to be made up of more than 60% fat, making it the fattest organ. Just as the body is made up of mostly water, supplying it with water is what it needs to function at its best. And just as the brain is made up of mostly fat, supplying it with the right type of fat is what it needs to function at its best. We were born with each brain cell/nerve cell covered with myelin sheath. This coating is 75% fat and it helps the relay of messages among the cells. Those with the most damaged myelin sheathes are Alzheimer victims. I don’t necessarily want to live a long life, but I definitely want to live it to the fullest. I don’t take fish oil as religiously as I use to. I still have my “spaced out” moments, however it’s nothing compared to how often I had to deal with then. I take breaks here and there, just as with herbs, minerals, and vitamins for the fact that the body does build a tolerance to supplements at some point, so it’s always a good idea to reintroduce them to the system again. And it’s always a good idea to eat whole foods instead of relying everyday on supplements. This is my two cents for today. 🙂

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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You Are The Potter, I Am The Clay

 

It feels like it’s been forever since the last, last time I took an art class. It was Watercolor 101. I enjoyed almost every bit of it. I remember the last project I had. It greatly determined my overall grade. But with any other project, I was the last to finish. The result was a corner of the paper that looked like another person had finished it for me. I was so meticulous about every stroke that I never realized how much time had passed. The teacher however, was more than happy to grant me an “A” I felt I did not deserve. She gave me her business card and tried with sheer persuasion to prove to me that art was my calling, and she’d love it if I took another class with her the following semester. I received her card as soon as my words instantly closed the door of opportunity. I told her I was going to move to Las Vegas and take up nursing. She was so set on her words like an adamant mother to a child. But I was unyielding as well, and with my strong urge to please my parents, I sensed she knew they had a firm hold on me. I couldn’t let my mom down as she promised and bargained with me that her wage as a pharmacist in Sin City would take care of all my needs. I walked away believing what I had said and done pleased God. I had taken a pottery class prior to this and enjoyed it as well, only because my work was lazy and talking to friends was more interesting.

This year I did myself a favor by taking an art class again. I walked into a room of many students. Ceramics 212. I was told there was no more space. I discovered later on that a smaller class was much more suitable for me. The instructor said to come back in an hour, that I had better chances with a teacher by the name of Stark. I prayed about it and I’m glad she took me in. The first week was a flop. The teacher clearly told us she didn’t want to hear any self-deprecation, but sure enough I’d forget and critique my work the way my own father would if he were the instructor. Despite the discomforted and awkward looks I received, I kept rambling. To their surprise I finished my yapping with a mustard seed of faith. “But next week will be better.” The next four weeks, I had made friends with an ex-marine, a stripper, a horse breeder, an epileptic marijuana user, a very sweet nurse who looked like a China doll, a very quiet, curly-haired boy, a mother who called me “daughter”, a very talkative nursing assistant who vented all her problems to the class psychiatrist, and our very own instructor who intimidated me because of how nicely she treated me no matter how temperamental and deprecating I was. I learned many things I hadn’t when I first took up pottery.

By the second week, I had finally accustomed my ambidexterity and shifted over to the right side for good. I was no longer shifting left to right and right to left. I learned the art of centering my shapeless clay and patiently trusting the speed of motion beneath it. At times I would lose my patience and instead did what I knew best. I imagined this ball of mud as if it were a little boy who needed some straightening out. A picture of my little brother would instantly come to mind. And sooner than later this wedged piece of Nevada desert clay would now be more than willing to compromise. I steadied my breathing as I steadied my fingers, and often times I just couldn’t help but stop breathing altogether. I couldn’t keep to one station. Perhaps it was because I allowed superstition to creep into my mind, that I had better luck with certain wheels. I had judged these wheels on how well they could perform. This mindset began to work against me and I lost my peace on certain days. Some of my pieces were just not ones to show off. A friend threw a large pot just for me, so that later on I could trim it and call it my own. In my excitement, I unintentionally created one side to be thinner and weaker. The only thing to do next was punch it. Funny, no hole or tear was made, just my knuckles leaving an imprint. I never knew a trend would come out of it. It was passed around to be punched and autographed, and even our instructor joined in on the fun. We called it “The Class Punch Bowl”. Each day I worked with a different wheel and each day my pots told a different story. I couldn’t however, go beyond the basic shape of a cylinder. I feared that I would end up with a basic shape of failure. I was afraid to open up my vessels and to raise it up even taller than the size of a meager mug. It frustrated me so to find that four of my pieces were missing. There couldn’t have been any other explanation. Someone had stolen them. Everyday that I came to class was a battle in my mind, but I was determined grow.

Some days I would sit next to the pro of us all. Her name was Jacky and it was a pleasure to sit next to her because not only was she very talkative, and a great potter, she was more than willing to help me and teach me some techniques she learned in her ten years of experience. This was the same girl that would openly vent to our fellow classmate, the psychiatrist. Poor Scotty. She reminded me a lot of myself in the years before I gave my life to Christ. I felt her longing for something more out of this world. The third week came and I made some of the best pieces I had ever made. They were a set of three nesting bowls. The largest would be my most prized. With each wedged clay I centered, a centering of my heart, mind, soul, and body was to follow. Father’s Day was just around the corner and I made a deal with myself that if these pieces turned out exceptional, I wouldn’t keep them for myself, but that I’d present them to my dad. It was a wonderful idea because knowing that I was making them for someone else allowed for my hard work to be clearly seen, from the lip of each bowl down to the delicately, trimmed feet. I couldn’t have been any happier who these bowls were going to be given to. I anticipated the fourth week and learned how not to make it about myself or which wheel I would be using. However, I still maneuvered around for the joy of spending more time with another friend. Then the fifth week came along, but I sure didn’t anticipate it. I knew I would miss this class. We did however make the best out of it with a great potluck that could have well accommodated another class. We exchanged numbers amongst one another. This was no ordinary class. Every class of every week, we were like a family that would spend an entire day on the playground. We had a lot of fun and we had a lot to learn. We learned the basic instructions and lessons. We learned about each other and from each other. We learned things that could not be taught, such as patience and perseverance. As I became a prolific potter, I learned that my experiences in this class had a purpose behind it. God was the Potter and I was the clay. And so therefore, I enjoyed every bit of it.

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Maker Of My Name (2013)

 

Years ago, I looked up the meaning of my name. The best I could find was ‘Sheila’ and it meant “blind”. It’s funny, I look at my life back then and in so many ways I was blind! 🙁 Thank God for new beginnings. This year I looked up my name again and to my surprise I found ‘Sheela’. The definitions are exactly what I am trying to work out in my life. “Modesty”. “Of good character”. “Conduct yourself well”. God really has a sense of humor. The last of the definitions stood out. It was as if I heard His voice in my head command it with so much conviction. I froze and said “Okay, I’m trying.” I hated my name so much. The spelling, everything. The two ‘ee’s were just too awkward for me. I was already awkward enough to deal with and I had to deal with two of this ugly vowel for the rest of my life! But, I never thought the day would come. I love my name. I embrace ‘Sheela’. Now I just have to live up to it.

So, it’s almost the end of Summer. I’m starting a new chapter in my life. I’ve never been so consistent about keeping a journal/diary because I was afraid of being embarrassed. This blogging thing is just amazing! I’ve missed out on so much. I feel like I’ve been living in the dungeon for the past 10 years. Every year my relationship with each family member gets better and better, and this year it’s like ice cream and brownies everyday, but I don’t get tired of it. Speaking of food, I eat meat now. I went back to my art and I’ve finally gained more confidence because I’m realizing my potential. It took so long to arrive here. My dad was never the most encouraging dad. When I became a Christian, it was clear to me that I had a lot of positive self-talk-ing to do. There’s something about this year. I’ve never felt such a feeling so strong, the freedom to express myself! Feeeels goooood! No more bottling them up. I’m done with that! The time has come to clear away the cobwebs and have a renewed mind. I’ve never been more comfortable and confident about myself. I could keep writing about it, but that would just be too self-centered of me. God did lots of chiseling at me and I grew to love those times. I’m just glad I’ve nothing to hide. Las Vegas has grown on me in the past year and I learned it doesn’t matter where I’m at. What matter is that I bring Christ with me everywhere I go. Isn’t GOD SOOOO GOOD? Every year Father, it’s as if I’ve grown another wing. And since You are so good to me, I want to take You more seriously. You know that freedom means a lot to me and every year You surprise me with at least one thing that’s new.

AND SO THIS YEAR, I WANT TO GIVE YOU A NEW ME. But only You can renew me. Every time I am ever so renewed by You, You put new desires in my heart. You’ve put a desire in me to use all that You gave me for Your Kingdom. I’ve suppressed a talent You have given me as if I was ashamed of it because I saw no money in it. Forgive me. I want to use my gifts now. You’ve put a desire in me to be a better communicator, another desire to take my health to the next level, and most of all, a strong desire to share Your goodness. Help me to integrate all these things so that I may be a success in Your eyes. I remember those six months on the mountaintop with You. I was a die-hard Christian and everything seemed so perfect. I don’t remember a day I wasn’t happy. I admit I have not surrendered every single day after that, but I’m glad for those good memories, because You always bring me to the point that I’ve got to step it up again. It’s not the beginning of the year, but I know each day matters to You nonetheless. Every year is different and every year is always better. Five years of being a born-again Christian has been tough, exciting, and eye-opening. If I never surrendered to You, those five years would have been much, much, much tougher, and I would most likely have overlooked the exciting and eye-opening experiences in my life. I would have continued taking life for granted. Those six great months are history. I thank You for giving me the strength not to dwell in them. But I remember I kept a little journal and almost everyday I would write a few notes. THOSE NOTES BROUGHT ME CLOSER TO YOU. I HAD A BETTER VIEW OF MY LIFE IN YOUR HANDS. I HAD A BETTER VIEW OF THE WORLD AROUND ME. SEEKING YOU EVERYDAY GUIDED MY WORDS, MY ACTIONS, MY DECISIONS. I AM NOT A PERFECT CHRISTIAN, BUT TIME AND TIME AGAIN YOU PROVE TO ME YOUR WAY, THE NARROW ROAD LEADS THE WAY TO EVERLASTING LIFE. I have felt the difference of confidence apart from You and whole-heartedly in You. I prefer Your confidence all the way. I’ve come to the conclusion, the end of me, that nothing is better than choosing You. I rededicate my life to You. Daily, I choose You because each day belongs to You. I want to make my tomorrows with You, You, You! I love my name! I love the mighty name of Jesus!!! Hahaha! 😀

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

 

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Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven (My Testimony – published on 2013)

5 years ago, I left my family. A year after moving out of Los Angeles, I just had enough of Las Vegas. It wasn’t because of the partying as I could hardly even leave the house. It wasn’t because of all the worldliness anyone could associate with living in such a city. I was trying to figure out this whole Christian thing. I was struggling because I had a father who just could not comprehend my desire for sharing the Lord with him. Not having many activities to do nor close relatives and friends to confide in made me hate the town even more. My asthma and insomnia got worse. I knew God was my only hope. Every chance I took to be a better daughter to him, he refused to see that I had God as my help. He insisted on believing my “I love yous” were insincere. He insisted on believing that I’d never change my stubborn ways. My attitude, “I couldn’t have learned any better than from the best” wasn’t helping either. But still, I could not understand him and he could not understand me. I didn’t feel whole. I was desperate for a godly father figure. It was clear to me that a better relationship with my dad would make me feel more whole. The more I drew myself closer to him, the more I sensed he did not want me around. I did not understand it and it hurt me deeply, so much more than the bruises he left on head, my arms, and legs. More often than not, I would be back in my room, watching myself cry in the mirror and telling myself, “It’s okay, I still love you.” That would always be the last thing I would tell myself after reasoning for my dad that it’s not his fault, that he had a much rougher upbringing, after arguing with myself for not being good enough, and after reasoning for myself that I was. I wanted a better relationship with my father and I knew that if I really wanted it, I would have to have an even better relationship with my bigger Father. However, Las Vegas didn’t allow for that.

My older sister who was in Oregon at the time for her last year of college weeped and begged me to leave the house, and go back to California. I would never have done it without her persistence over the phone. It was dawn when I quietly snuck out to a taxi cab. The driver had pity written all over his face, but was more relieved that he was able to drop me off to the Greyhound station. I didn’t have to pay a single dime. I was almost molested while trying to fall asleep on the bus. But on the brighter side, in a matter of a few hours, I knew I would be somewhere safe. An aunt took me in and some of my relatives rushed to my care. I lived with her and family for a couple of months. That was 2006 and the first time I left home. Two years later a second time would come around. It was the best decision I had ever made in my life. I slept from couch to couch, but finally settled in with a good friend after one month, and for the next six months, I was living every minute of every hour I was up and about for no one else but the Lord. I felt closer to God than ever before. I found myself a job as a sales associate in a retail clothing store. It was an hour worth of commuting on the bus, journaling and reading the Word of God. I was often put at the front of the shop, greeting customers. I was extremely happy doing the everyday tasks. It was a genuine happiness with nothing to hide. I was relieved to escape from an abusive home, but I was even happier knowing God was watching me and guiding me, and He couldn’t be happier knowing that my joy came from clinging onto Him.

I can’t ever forget. It was six straight months on the mountaintop with God and not a day went by that wasn’t significantly positive. I had a glow about me that people couldn’t understand, but that it made them want in for the ride. I made a couple of friends whom I shared God with. One was my manager who was inspired to start going to church again. Another was a stranger, who became a good friend, and believed with all his heart that I was his angel. He became a big brother to me. There were afternoons and nights I would take to the high school track and field near a friend’s house and I would run for three hours on end, crying because I had never felt a kind of love so high and profound at the same time. God’s love hit me big time and my simple act of joy inspired people everywhere I went. I admit I haven’t surrendered every day since those six months, but I’m glad for the experience because He shows me that I could basically have Heaven on Earth if I truly take Him seriously. My asthma went away but my insomnia remained. I didn’t complain, because the cause of my sleeplessness was a massive overflow of joy, peace, and love. I would talk all night to God, laugh, and smile.

To this day, I don’t know how I’m still alive not sleeping like normal people do. My mom says I have a lot of energy because the Spirit lives in me. I’ll take that. One year of sweet freedom (2009) and I returned home. Any woman in her mid-twenties would have stayed out of the house, but God wanted me to reconcile with my dad, and so I must do what I was told. Our relationship improved by a lot, although nothing was ever perfect. I’ve entertained suicide many times before, but this time it had no hold on me. God reminded me that things will eventually turn out fine if I keep seeking Him. The indescribable joy that would ooze out of me would just be a bonus.

When I left Las Vegas that second time, I promised myself never to forgive him. But the 15 years he had physically and verbally hurt me is nothing compared to all the sins God has pardoned me for. God was gentle with me and taught me how to forgive. I learned that when I forgive anyone even for the smallest wrongdoing against me, wether or not they had intentions of doing it, I was doing myself a favor by letting my heart free thereby creating a better future. The friends or deeper relationships that I would attain had much more worth than shutting myself from the rest of the world. The act of taking care of my heart showed that I cared about what He cared for. I took that and brought it to the next level by offering my heart to God everyday, and when I focus on surrendering to Him, He takes care of everything else. I am indifferent to gossip, judgment, and petty little things that would otherwise bother other people, because it doesn’t compare to the trauma that I dealt with then. When I completely gave my life to God in 2008, I knew that I would have a lot of positive self-talk to do to make up for the discouragement I received from my dad. I admit that many times I have made it about myself more than God, but if I didn’t have that struggle to pray about, I would be a lukewarm Christian today. God’s grace is so good. I didn’t have to beg for it. I just surrendered and instantly, I came to understand it. This is what I try to apply today, everyday. I would not be a strong person today if I never forgave my father. Now in the early mornings, I hear him sing out to God. My parents set aside time just for praying and studying the Bible not once but twice daily, and I join them when I can. In the past three years, I’ve become a daddy’s girl, and I literally feel like the most happiest and healthiest, innocent child any parent could want. He is making up for the first 8 years of my life he was not around…and well, for those 15 years too. I am so proud of him because for the first time in his life, he can pray so confidently and is now receiving that love he’s been looking for all his life. For 20 years my mom prayed for his salvation. The Lord is the greatest Father I know. 🙂

By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)

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