Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “Catholic”

The Other Woman

Time stood still on the day that the other woman died.  I was deeply grieved that day.  I held my husband and cried with him.  I still remember the look on his face as I sat at the kitchen table doing homework with my son.  The look of utter sadness, shock, horror when he silently beckoned for me to meet him in the hallway to say, “she’s gone.”

The other woman I speak of was my blessed, beloved mother-in-law, Marie B. Nadall; otherwise known as Ma.  Everyone called her Ma; everyone loved her and vied for her attention. People who didn’t really know her were drawn to her because she was just so kind, so encouraging.  Those who knew her, knew her to be non-judgmental, loving, accepting and so peaceful.  I got to know her feisty side.  We giggled a lot and I love when she’d pretend to be scandalized whenever I’d say things to shock a reaction out of her.  “Oh Arleeeeeeeene” she’d say and she’d twist her mouth to the side and let out the laugh she couldn’t suppress.  I knew her to be a prayer warrior.  I recall the first time I visited my husband’s family during a 4th of July weekend.  I retreated to my room with a horrendous headache and was going to miss the fireworks.  My husband’s sister checked in on me and asked me if I had gone to Ma for prayer.  I did so hesitantly.  No one had ever prayed for me before.  Ma got her anointing oil, anointed my head, then laid her hands on me as she prayed and I felt the power of God released through her hands.  I stood up ears flaming and ringing with no sign of a headache.  Her response?  “Just Jesus,” as she sat rocking back and forth and smiling.

She didn’t blink when she found out her only begotten son 🙂 was marrying a Catholic girl.  She loved me and showed me the love of God.  When she found out I got born again her response was, “that’s nice.”  She loved me the same!  Her fast days were Wednesday and Saturday and she was faithful.  Her phone would be especially busy on those days with the numerous prayer requests she’d receive.  Everyone knew Ma’s prayers reached heaven!!!

She shared her heart with me and I felt really special those times when she’d ask me to agree with her in prayer.  I was good to her…she was royalty as far as I was concerned.  My husband appreciated our relationship and was so happy that I never made him choose.   I was not jealous of their bond..I encouraged him to visit her whenever he was able to and encouraged him to call as often as he liked.  I loved her, honored her and respected her.  I miss the other woman.

I’ve heard women speak negatively of their mothers-in-law; have heard the jokes, etc.  I’ve always opined that she had him first and perhaps that’s why it worked with us.  I released him to continue being a son and she released him to be a husband.  He was never forced to choose between us…he was free to love us both and that freedom made him a better husband and an amazing son.

I recognize that you reap what you sow; you get what you give.  Because I understand those principles and because I know that one day I will be the other woman, I expect to be loved, honored and respected too!

Moses, a Friend, and a Stranger

I have been walking with the Lord…oftentimes limping…sometimes even being dragged  for 15 years now.  Along the way, there have been people who have imparted such wisdom and have shown me such love, whose witness has impacted me, who have left an indelible imprint on my life.  There have also been people whom the Lord has used to woo me, who never knew the impact they would have on me.  They were simply living their lives (some louder than others) while I was watching and listening…while He was wooing me…drawing me.

I was probably 13 years old when “Moses” became our new neighbor.  I don’t believe I knew his real name.  My brothers named him Moses because he carried a bible constantly.  I never saw him leave the house without it and the only time he ever talked to me was to ask me whether I was saved.  Saved from what?  Naturally, we thought he was a nut.  He was bold and brash, a strict disciplinarian.  I felt sorry for his daughters.  He both intimidated me and sparked a curiosity within me and all these years later, I never forgot ole Moses.

Then there was my co-worker friend, Clare, a bubbly, charismatic, Irish Catholic girl who it seemed left one way on a Friday and came back a totally different person on Monday.  I never quite got the back story of Clare’s conversion because she simply freaked me out.  I secretly judged her while at the same time I was completely taken by her and totally intrigued.  I thought surely she was confused and certainly hell bound having left the Church, but I was so curious about this new Clare.  I wondered what happened to the old Clare.  I could not get over the change and as she spoke I thought “how in the world does she remember all those scriptures and what in the world do they mean?”  I don’t remember Clare ever trying to impose her beliefs on me although she certainly was not shy about what she believed.  She seemed so confident and knowledgeable about this Jesus thing.   We eventually parted ways but the impression she made on me was a forever one.  One thing that was undeniable about Clare…she had been touched and I saw Jesus in her eyes.  I never forgot Clare.

Years later, I was sitting by myself having lunch, in the middle of a pity party in the Plaza, when out of nowhere this young woman approaches me and takes a seat next to me.  She wore a pony tail and a smile and had a soft voice.  She began probing into my life and I wasn’t budging.  I rather enjoyed being pitiful, okay?  She finally got around to inviting me to her church.  I told her I was a Catholic (a non-church going, infertile, depressed, fighting with her husband, Catholic) but hey, I had a church..had no idea how long it had been since I’d visited, but I belonged there!  She persisted, telling me that her church meets in a gym while they are believing for a building.  I totally thought she was a part of a cult.  No thank you.  Every day after that I would duck when I saw her – even pretending to be asleep many times and this girl was relentless. She would pass by me calling my name…”Arlene, is that you…are you sleeping?  Just wanna tell you that Jesus loves you.”  Ugghhh!!!  She annoyed me…Eventually, she moved on and I never saw her again, but I never forgot her.

Three different people over many years in three different states; three memories forever etched in my heart and one big, loving, relentless God in hot pursuit of me.  Know this…someone is always watching your witness, recording your words, being impacted without your even knowing and those times that you are seemingly rejected as you share your faith, recognize that you have planted a seed and He will see to it that that seed gets watered and after the harvest, many, many years later you just might meet up again…if not here, then there for sure.  Oh happy day!!

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1Corinthians 3:6

Don’t Leave Me This Way

I will raise my hand and I’ll stand for You
Give up all of the plans that I planned for You
As I leave my seat and walk the aisle for You
I’m leaving my past behind
As the man of God starts to pray for me
Is that my voice I hear as I fall to my knees
Will I ever change…will the change be complete
Oh God don’t leave me this way
God don’t leave me this way
I’m confused by the things that I’m feeling today
Got me down on my knees can’t keep running away
Oh God don’t leave me this way
I will dedicate my life to You
Give You all that I have, sacrifice for You
Take this hurt, heal my pain, make me whole once again
Hear my cry, don’t leave me this way
God don’t leave me this way
I’m confused by the things that I’m feeling today
I need all that You have can’t keep running way
Oh God don’t leave me this way
Oh God don’t leave me this way
Got me doubting the things that I do and I say
Change my heart, set me free, take this burden from me
Heal me God, don’t leave me this way

I wrote this song in the wee hours as I was reading Keith Green’s biography “No Compromise” penned by his widow Melody.  She wrote about the day Keith said Yes to Christ and how she sat next to him in fear, not wanting to turn her back on her Jewish roots and wondering how he can back away from what he had learned in Christian Science.  She lamented not raising her hand thinking it was too late because the moment had passed and then continued recounting how during the week she asked questions, read the word herself and was convinced that Yeshua was in fact the Messiah and could not wait to get back to church as she said, “hoping that she would be asked to raise her hands again” only to once again be paralyzed with fear when the time came to raise her hand.

I took it a step further imagining what it would look like for that person who was in pain; who was being drawn by Him, but was unsure and afraid to make a commitment for fear that change would not follow her decision leaving her exposed and unchanged.  I admit to having similar doubts about my ability to change or be changed.  Part of me didn’t think there was anything wrong with me.  I wasn’t a bad person..so I cussed and smoked (big deal) and I probably would have been liquored up quite a bit if I enjoyed the taste more.   So I had a quick temper, could hold a grudge real good, “sorry” to me was the cuss word I never said. So?  Those were minor sins which I could deal with when I got around to church and confession.  I hadn’t killed anyone, so I was cool.  Like Melody, I was steeped in religion and the thought of change was something I had rejected.  I went to church every blue moon, was actually scared of God and figured if I left Him alone, He’d leave me alone.  All of that and everything about me changed when I said yes to Him.  Unlike the girl in my song, I said yes to Him all by myself in my bedroom.  People have challenged me asking me how saying a prayer (or reading it in my case – and it was called “The Sinner’s Prayer” which was cause for intimidation for someone who didn’t think she was a sinner…uh, that’s so negative!!) – could make a difference.  I believed what I read and I yielded my broken heart to Him and those beautiful words I read began the process of repairing all that was broken in my life and in me.  Simple words…big impact…big change.  I had a conversation with my younger brother once who accused me of having a boring life.  He said I couldn’t do anything fun…couldn’t drink, smoke or cuss.  I told him I could do all that, have an affair and kill my husband too, but the difference was, that I didn’t want to (not that I ever wanted to kill my husband, mind you)!!  🙂  Change had come…

“Change my heart, set me free take this burden from me, heal me God, don’t leave me this way; take this hurt, heal my pain, make me whole once again, hear my cry, don’t leave me this way.  He did…and He didn’t.  He’s a promise keeper!

“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us.  This is the core of our preaching.  Say the welcoming word to God – “Jesus is my Master” – embracing body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead.  That’s it.  You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you.  That’s salvation.  With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” Romans 10:8-12 The Message Bible

My Name is Arlene Britt and I am a Flag Pole:)

In my effort to become all that the Lord would have me to be, I have sought to uncover who I am. I do so hoping that others can see the power of God at work in the lives of His kids; how He loves us, pursues us and never gives up on us! Today, I share what I used to be in order for you to celebrate with me whom I’ve become in the Lord.

I was born into a loud, funny and fighting family. I am the sixth out of seven children born to a hotheaded Puerto Rican man who loved and served the Lord, who was sweet and generous, compassionate and kind, responsible and committed and to a hotheaded Puerto Rican woman who was hard-headed and strong willed. She was a nurturer, a comforter and an encourager and she was very funny. I believe that I am made up of some of their best qualities, but along with their strengths, came some of their weaknesses, namely the hot temper, the strong will and the hard head. (And I love how the Lord takes our weaknesses and turns them into our strengths. He’s just like that!!)

I was sandwiched between three older brothers and one younger and in order to thrive in this birth order, I had no choice but to be tough. I had to be loud and dramatic so that I’d be noticed. I had to have the last word…always. I learned to run fast to get away from them; to climb a tree in order to hang with them and to fight in order to survive among them. When I couldn’t whip ’em (which was never, although I tried), I was able to get the best of them verbally. Being around the boys all of the time made me tough and so I built a wall around me, refusing to show any weakness. To be vulnerable was to be weak and I wasn’t having that around my brothers or anyone else for that matter.

I was raised Catholic and while I’m grateful that my parents introduced me to the idea of church, commitment and God, I never really knew about the need for establishing and maintaining a relationship with Jesus and I really didn’t know much about my religion either. I went to church because I was forced to and when I was grown up enough to make my own decisions, I went to the occasional midnight mass or Easter service driven by guilt or the need to make an appearance. There was always a softness within me for God, however. Now that I look back on it, I clearly had opportunities to discover Jesus but I guess the timing was never right (my timing, that is). It was like I had the key and knew where the door was and time after time I would try the key, but it wouldn’t turn. I would continue my attempts to use that key because I knew that it would unlock mysteries that I needed to be privy to. And then finally…at my lowest point, when I once again stood at the door with my key something incredible happened. This time when I turned the key, the door opened and instead of having to walk through the door, God’s love rushed out and covered me, meeting me right where I was.

And so our relationship began…

Once, while waiting for someone, I found myself staring at a flag on a flag pole.  I watched as the wind took hold of it and caused it to whip around. I noticed the sound it made and how it stretched out when a strong wind took hold of it and how it drooped and remained still as the wind died down. As I was considering the thing, I heard the Lord say “Arlene, are you a flag or a flag pole?” I thought that was an odd question and naturally I looked at that flag, all pretty and bright and thought, of course I’m a flag, but before I responded I needed to think about what a flag represents and does (not just the way it looks — God is so much deeper than that) and then do the same with the flag pole. Here’s what God showed me…

  • A flag is moved by its circumstances and in doing so changes positions effortlessly and often. It changes with the wind…(Mmmhmm, I’ve been that flag.)
  • A flag demands attention; it’s saying something – always; (That would be me.)
  • A flag is high and proudly lifted up ; (Who has not thought they were all that at one time or all the time? OUCH!!)
  • A flag is raised up and brought down; it’s also folded and put away! (That’s been my experience too!)
  • A flag is easily replaced and can be discarded, is disrespected and sometimes stepped on! (hmmmm, no comment!)

What about a flag pole?

  • A flag pole stands tall;
  • A flag pole is steady and remains so no matter how hot the sun or how strong the storm. Why? Because it’s firmly planted;
  • A flag pole is consistent and reliable – it does its job;
  • A flag pole can go unnoticed by everyone except its maker who knows that the flag is nothing without it and so the flag pole does matter.

I told the Lord that “yes, I’ve been a flag but I choose to be a flag pole.”

I surrendered and started living for Christ in 1996 and at first I believed my “job” was to be good, read the Bible and God would do all the rest. My heart was in the right place, but I went about it all wrong. I read the books, bought the tapes and heard the sermons but I still flagged around quite a bit trying my best and collecting all of this head knowledge along the way. Oddly enough, I wound up filled with blessings from the miracle births of my children to my ability to stay home with them and so much in between because the Word works – but I was still feeling pretty lost. Why? I know now that it was because I was inconsistent. I was pretty movable, allowing circumstances and people to distract me; allowing pride to be an obstacle to my growth. I still possessed elements of that flag.

Eventually I had enough. I couldn’t help but feel that I had accepted Jesus as my personal genie – getting what I could from Him only to put Him back in His bottle and on the shelf time after time. I began to cry out to the Lord and slowly I began to transfer that head knowledge south to my heart and the Word suddenly became alive to me because it is living. I started to walk the Word out.

God is an “if” and “then” God. If we do our part, then He does His. If we draw near to Him, then He draws near to us. If we would just delight in His commands, then He would give us the desires of our heart. How then do we take on the characteristics of a flag pole? How do we stand, remain steady, remain consistent? How do we become confident without being arrogant? How do we stop the tapes that play reminding us of our past and past mistakes; how do we heal from those situations and people who have hurt us (some by mistake; others on purpose)? I had already discovered that it certainly was not by doing it or going it alone. I can tell you for sure that it is not by memorizing scriptures and trying to be good or by hoping time will heal all — because it doesn’t! Time just covers the wound with a bandaid which when pulled off creates a bigger sore!

I did it the old fashioned way. By recommitting to my relationship with Jesus; by falling in love all over again – allowing that transformation to begin by renewing my mind with His Word; by giving myself to Him completely and by the application of the Word to everything in my life. I found that the process of falling in love with Jesus was a choice and it’s no different than falling in love in the natural. I made a commitment to Him and spent time with Him and those past thoughts and ways began to change as I began to be more like Him…walk like Him, talk like Him, think like Him, love (me first) then others like Him.

And so….here I am today standing tall (all 5’2″ of me), steady and consistent, unmovable, unshakeable; confident, but not arrogant; noticed and approved by the One who knows me the best and loves me the most. Yup, Lord, I am that flag pole!!!

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