Armoured Up

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A Word about Joe Paterno….Shhhhh

Daniel in the bible had a sterling reputation.  In Daniel 5:14 Daniel finds himself before the king hearing these words “I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.”  I have made that my personal confession and declare those words to be true for my husband and children.

As we witness Joe Paterno’s memory and legacy take a hit, I’m driven to wonder what the memory will be of my choices, comments, actions, interactions, associations.  How sad that Paterno went to his grave in shame with a host of people shaking their heads and uttering tsk tsk.  He apparently saw and didn’t say and his silence hurt people and devastated him and his legacy.  He compromised his beliefs, most likely…probably not to be a snitch, possibly for professional reasons.  His legacy…all that he built, forgotten in the memory of a secret he kept.  Secrets don’t usually remain a secret.  We have a tendency of sharing our heart (hopefully with someone who will cover, conceal and protect it and guard our secret).  When we share we expose ourselves and take a chance that our secrets may no longer be.  That was not the case with Mr. Paterno.  The secret he should have exposed, exposed him, bit him, hurt him, sent him to the grave probably shaking his head too!  My point is not to throw salt on the wound or judge the situation.  The facts of the case judge him and the participants enough.  I feel for him and his family; for the reputation as a professional he built.  The monument built as a lasting memory of him and his accomplishments will probably be yanked from its foundation…all for a secret.  I especially feel for all of the victims within this secret, for their families and loved ones left with the feelings of “I should have known” “I wish I knew” “If I only knew” and it wouldn’t be fair not to feel for the family and loved ones of the perpetrator.  People tortured, families scarred, reputations ruined, legacies lost…all because of a secret.

Lord, may my reputation, born from the choices that I made, what I stood for, what and who I spoke up for, the company I kept, the decisions I made be so in line with Your Word, Your will, Your plan, Your purpose for me that those who knew me will be able to say without a doubt that, “she lived for Him, with Him and He operated through her”…may it be known and be apparent and may You get every bit of the glory.  May the only secret kept be between us as I share my heart with You and tap into Yours…in Jesus’ name!  I love the Lord…that’s no secret!!

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my (firm, impenetrable) Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10


My Friend Ruth

I was blessed with an opportunity to teach at our church’s school of ministry on the subject of prayer, one of my favorite subjects ever!

Pause for a bunny trail…you know if you ever wonder what your strength is or what your calling is, take a look at your book shelf for a hint.  If you were to take a peek at mine, you’d see mostly books on prayer.  I love prayer…I see my prayers…I see myself in the throne room; I see myself seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  I love prayer…I’ll probably touch that subject another time…back on track now.

Towards the end of the class I was sharing about prayer hindrances, unforgiveness being one such hindrance.  I told a story of a friend who had called me for prayer.  I knew that she and another friend of ours were involved in a scrape of some sort and I listened as she shared her prayer request, noticing that it was something that she had been anguishing over for some time.  I told her to get her bible and turn to Mark 11:23-24 “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”  She was squealing with delight as she read these scriptures aloud and I could hear her highlighter screeching across the page.  I then asked her to read the next verse...”And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  “Hello, hello, are you still there?”  <silence>.  Exactly!!!  I shared with the class that I didn’t know if she ever “got it.”  She claimed she and our friend had settled their differences…I knew they hadn’t at the time.  I encouraged my class to pursue peace, seek forgiveness early…release in order to receive.

After class, there were people who stayed behind for prayer mostly and I noticed a woman in her seat watching me.  She got up from her seat when everyone else had left and asked me if she could speak to me.  She told me her name was Ruth.  She was a petite woman and I towered over her in my heels and my instinct was to remove my heels to come down a little closer to her.  She was crying as she asked me to forgive her.  Huh?  I asked her whether we knew each other.  No, she said, but I have talked about you, I’ve said mean things about you.  I was a bit surprised.  This was a first for me.  “Have we met?  Have I been mean to you?”  She said, “No, you asked me to move over a seat in church.”  I asked her if I was rude and she said I was not and she realized it was her…all her.  I just melted as I listened to her ask for forgiveness as she tried to make sense out of something so senseless.  We embraced and I took her hands and we prayed and of course I released her.  That took some boldness.  Ruth is my hero!!  I have made it a point to look for her at church to squeeze her.  Ruth has become one of my greatest encouragers.  She has no idea, unless she reads this, that the Lord used her in a mighty way to encourage me.  She had grown accustomed to seeing me in a particular seat during a particular service.  She had not seen me and reached out on more than one occasion to encourage me and to reiterate how much she missed seeing me in my normal spot.  She was looking for me…she was missing me.  I’ll not forget that!  Thank you Ruth, mi hermana!!  Te quiero mucho!!! ❤

And when you least expect it, you find yourself forgiving someone for something only they were being tormented over; and when you least expect it, you release and encourage a new friend; and when you least expect it your new friend becomes one of your biggest blessings.


“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” James 5:16 The Message Bible

“Be…quick to forgive an offense.  Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 The Message Bible

Me and my friend and sister, Ruth

Me and my friend and sister, Ruth

I Like Me

I can’t help it…I like me.  I like everything about me.  Everything that is right and wrong about me.  Everything in and out about me.  I just do…and if you got a chance to know me, I think you’d like me too.  I didn’t mean to sound so Dr. Seuss about it all.  I spend time evaluating myself every so often.  Some gals spend time primping and poking, injecting, plucking and painting and all that is great and necessary most times…no judgment — I just tend to look in cause for me if I’m right on the inside, it transfers to the outside…at least that’s the truth for me.

I’ve prayed with and for women who do not feel valued or valuable, validated or viable; who are led astray by their emotions believing whatever lies have been fed to them; women who have not been affirmed; have compared themselves to and competed with the lies shown on the cover and in the pages of magazines; women who have not been what I call loved from the inside out and as a result don’t love themselves; don’t feel worthy of any good and their choices in life sometimes expose their misguided “truths.”  I’ve often wished that I could open these women up somehow and pour into them all that I know about how much He loves them, how He has great plans for them, but none of that would stick, I know, until they learn to like themselves first!!

It’s a wonder that I never fell into any of those traps.  For how supportive and comforting my mother was as I was growing up, I never once recall her encouraging me in any way other than to tell me how pretty she thought I was.  After my first major heartbreak (I was 22) she tried comforting me the best she knew how by telling me to eat because I was too skinny, even though I still was beautiful and would find someone else, of course. I’m not slamming her.  I don’t hold that against her at all.  When you know better, you do better.  She didn’t know any better, having been raised with a stable of beautiful sisters, I’m thinking her mother probably comforted them in that same manner.  In fact I clearly recall, for instance, when my mom would ask one of her siblings how “so and so” was, the response always began with how “so and so” looked, usually followed by some sort of tragedy.  My sisters and I joke about that.  That’s my mommy!  I love her and from her I did learn how to demand respect!!  She was tough!  My mama didn’t play!!

I made a conscious decision when my daughter was a baby that I would minor on the outside and major on the inside, meaning that I wouldn’t focus on her looks…I figured the world would tell her how cute she was in due time.  Instead, I would focus on the real her.  Her spirit, who she really was.  She had to learn to love herself first, to be content with who she was and how God made her.  During one of our recent walks, I spent a great deal of time telling her the amazing young woman I saw her becoming.  I praised her by telling her how kind and generous she was, how thoughtful and encouraging she was, how trustworthy and genuine she was; how creative and talented she was.  I tell you, I thought she would float away by the time I finished encouraging her.  Her head was held high and she was so gonna keep up with me in order to hear every word.

I’m determined to build her up from the inside to the outer…to love herself well enough to eventually like herself… and everything about her..the right and wrong about her; everything in and out her!

“What matters is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition.  Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.” 1Peter 3:3-4 The Message Bible

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 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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