Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Truth

Truth

I am righteous

I am worthy

I am loved

It's my time to play

Jesus wants the best for me

Daddy God is not withholding anything from me

God believes in me.

God delights in me.

God loves me.

I am good. I am a treasure. I have worth.

I am pleasing to Daddy God

©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

Life Lessons in Marriage

Life lessons in my journey of marriage:
1) Don't beat yourself up about not having time for everything.  Lean your heart into God and lean back and love others.  Through His grace, Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom to do the things you need to do. So enjoy the moment and aim your heart at thriving in the season you are in.

2) On a good day, you control you. Tell yourself what to do and do it.  Be honest about your feelings and your expectations (ones you've placed on yourself and on your spouse).  It's important to understand that the goal of communication is not agreement.  The goal of communication is to be heard. Get good at telling your spouse what you need. Give them the tools they need to love you. Don't assume they know what you need. Silence sets you up for injured expectations which leads to discontent and disillusion. Eliminate this with good communication.  Make your heart and your home a safe place where honesty, transparency, and vulnerability can have free reign.

3) Lastly, keep it hot! Let your passion for God create the overflow and outflow of your passion for your mate.  Love deeply. Don't hold back any part of you. Give freely. After all, you are created in the image of a generous Father. Forgive quickly. Always value your connection above being right. Unforgiveness  blocks intimacy and opens the door to torment.

Have fun!

Remember that joy is 1/3 of the Kingdom of God (Romans 5:17).

Laugh a lot.

Play games together.

Get good at loving. Have fun at living.

Let your hair down and enjoy the journey.

©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

The Commissioning

You bid me write
You bid me come
You bid me dream with thee

What shall I say to you
What shall I write for You
What thoughts does Your heart hold

Secrets to share with me
Infinite love released
Mysteries to unfold

I'm searching Your heart today
What's on Your mind today
What part of Yourself
Will You reveal

Partner with Me today
I'll teach you how to pray
How to declare My will

I will provide for you
My grace abounds to you
Oh the depth of how I feel

I willingly died for you
Now I want you to live

Live in My heart today
Be found in Me this way
Extend your hand to heal

©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

Symphony

Symphony
Sound
Syncopation
The waves crashing in, roaring in
Flooding the nation

What's the sound?
Hear the sound?
It's the voice of mighty waters

Peace, I say
Peace, I say
Peace to all your borders

The roar of the land
The roar of the sea
Blending in perfect harmony

There's a unity in the sound
A oneness in the song
The saints are summoned
To sing along

Carry the tune
Pound the drum
Come people of God
Hum hum hum

Roaring
Flowing
Crashing In
A melodious song on the lips of men

Praise Him
Raise Him
Lift Him high

He's the roar of the ocean
The symphonic beat
The Desire of the Nations
The Love we seek

Symphony
Sound
Syncopation
Releasing hope to all generations

Hear the song?
Hear the sound?

Live
Be Free
Go fulfill your destiny

For this cause I've come
For this cause I've came
To redeem you, restore you
Give you my name

Go Live
Go Be
Go fulfill your destiny

Heaven applauds you
The earth awaits you
Will you join with the sound?
©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

Jesus, Our Victor

Shine Your Light
Through the Darkness Come

Shine Your Light
Let the Kingdom Run

Run Swiftly Runner
Tell All Who'll Hear

Jesus Has Come
To Set the Captives Free


Run Swiftly Runner
Shout the Good News
Life for All to Choose

Shine Your Light
For All the World to See
Today is a Day of Liberty

Freedom Has Come
Let Freedom Ring
Hear the Cries of Creation
Hear the Children Sing

Light Through the Darkness
Light Across The Land
Available To All
On the Sacrifice of One Man

Jesus the Lamb
Jesus, Our King
Be Lifted High
Let the Anthem Ring
Jesus Proclaims Your Liberty
Jesus Has Given You Victory

Run On Runner
Drum on Drummer
Run Tell the Good News
Be Swift on Your Feet

Jesus Saves
Jesus Heals
Jesus' Death Frees You
Be filled. Be filled.

God is our Warrior
God is our Victor
God is the Answer
God is the Key
Be free. Be free.

In Him You'll find Wholeness
In Him You'll Be Free
In Him You'll Find Safety
In Him You'll See
In Him You'll Find Access to Your Greatest Needs
In Him You'll Find Freedom
In Him You'll Find Hope
In Him is Every Reason to Get out of the Boat

Get Out and Walk
Jump Out and Run
Grab a Hold of the Victory
That's Yours Through the Son

He's for You
He's With You
He is the Key
He's Your Hope
Your Lamp Stand
Your Victory

Out of the Darkness
The Light Does Shine
It Dances Across the Horizon
Changing the Landscape
Keeping Rhythm in Time

It's for the Brave
It's for the Weak
It's for All
Who Are Willing to Seek

Are You Willing To Seek?
Willing To Trust?

The light of the Lord
Dancing Across the Landscape
The Breath of His Spirit
Blowing On Every Heart
The Smile in His Eyes
Revealing His Love

Out of the Dark, The Light Does Shine
Beckoning His Beloved, Come and Be Mine
Come Let Me Hold You
Be One with Me
Come Share in My Love

This is Our Victory
©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Times Of Grief

In Honor of Henry Reagan (Memorialized on 10/18/2010)
New Life Providence Church, Virginia Beach VA




EverywhereIi look I see You
Even in the midst of pain I feel You
I hear You
I know that You are there
I feel Your arms of comfort
I sense Your warm embrace
I feel the wind of Your Spirit blowing gently on my face


Comfort me with the comfort
With which I shall bring comfort
Love me with the Love
With which I shall give love


Extend Your hand to heal
Let me walk in Your peace
Pour out Your goodness
Let me sit at Your feet


Walk with me
Abide in me
Surround me with Your love

Father let me be known by my heart
Not by what I do
Allow people to see into my soul and
Know me for me

©2010 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

The Blind See 4/28/2011

A Testimony of Healing

Yesterday while visiting with Ella (our newest goddaughter!), a representative of the hospital came in to bless the Miller's and their new baby. She began to share with us that she was a German holocaust survivor from the tribe of Benjamin and a descendant of Paul and that she had received Yeshua as the Messiah, her Saviour. She said the doctors at Emory call her a walking miracle because at night when she takes off her glasses she goes completely blind. She has a seeing eye dog and everything. She said she has to set her alarm to wake up two hours before she needs to be up because she's in so much pain that it takes that long for her eyes to come to a place of orientation where she could see. She also said many of her Jewish relatives have come to Yeshua as a result of the miracle and her own walk with the Lord. As she was talking, I asked Papa what He wanted to do. You could tell this was a DIVINE SET UP. I asked her if we could pray for her and she agreed. We released the power of the Apostle Paul's testimony over her (Paul receiving his sight when someone prayed for him) and declared that she would no longer experience any pain and would be able to see 24/7. After releasing the Kingdom of Heaven into her body, she stayed and talked with us some more. We hugged her, blessed the work she was doing releasing the love and goodness of God at Southern Hospital and she went on her way. Today, she stopped by the Miller's room and told them the first thing she noticed when she woke up this morning was that she could SEE her clock!!! Normally she has to touch it to read the numbers and 'see' what time it is. The second thing she noticed...ABSOLUTELY NO PAIN!!! haha! C'mon God! Jesus is getting what His blood paid for!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Can I Trust You To Love Me

From the little girl in me.  For every person who has ever felt controlled or manipulated by another. For every parent who shadows or suffocates their child's life out of fear of their choices.  For every person who has been set free to love. For every person still searching for that freedom, may you find it in the arms and eyes of the One who gave His life for you - Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Daddy.

Can I trust you to love me

Can I trust you
to hold my hand in your heart
Without laying it down
Or breaking it apart

Can I trust you
to lead me
To guide me with your eye
Without trying to control me
Or make me comply

When I look in your eyes
will I see love
 or disappointment
will you simply berate me
Taunt me

Can you call out my gold
Still love me
when I'm at my worse
Or will you bang your fist
Shake your head
Spew vile words and curse

Can I trust you to empower me
To teach me to think
Will you crush me beneath your power
Cause me to shrink

Back into the wall
Afraid and alone
My voice snuffed out
 beneath your tyranny
My glory no longer shone

You control and define me
Til no longer I know
What it means to be free

You have all the power
Scared to give me any
Fear that my choices
Will make you look silly

Fear of my mistakes
Fear of how I'll make you look
Compels you to keep me
safe on your hook

Push back the bondage
Say no to control
The Father has come with Truth
To make you whole

He's arrived on the scene
Snips the cord on those lies
Hey! Look at me, I'll guide you with My eye

I don't know that I can trust you
But I can trust Him
I'll risk loving you regardless
I'll go out on a limb

I can't change you
I can control me
Can't get you to see
The freedom I walk in
My sweet victories

I no longer have to
Shrink back
I have a voice
I'll choose to risk loving you
Even though you'll want to exert power

I'll receive His grace
To live free
It's sufficient
Every hour

I've learned to be me
The sting of your rejection
Swallowed up in Christ's victory

There's freedom in that
That keeps me from withholding
There's a confidence I gain in Him
That keeps me beholding

His eyes define me
His love it shapes me
Molded by His truth
To break the chains the bind
Tis true they say
Love wins every time

Can I trust you to love me
I'm not sure that you know how
But there is One who loves me truly
Restored my glory
Set me to ruling

There is One who restores
What I lack
The pain of my wounding
Was taken upon His back

In Him my love tank
Is filled to overflowing
In Him my life
Is radiant and glowing

Because of Him
I'll take the risk
Because of Him
I'll love regardless

Who I am
Is not defined by you
I'll love like my Heavenly Father

With passion
With fervor
With commitment
With zeal

With honor
And integrity
I'll let love heal

Can I trust you to love me
I don't know
But I can trust Him
He'll protect my heart
Heal my hurts
So I'll go out on a limb

I can't control you
Or how you do life
But I can control me
So I'll choose right

To be the same me
No matter the situation
Or circumstance
To love every time
Give people a chance

To choose truth over lies
See gold where there's dirt
To live free of fear
To run to Papa with my hurt

Hurt people hurt people
Healed people heal people
Controlled people
become controllers
Or worse
They become victims

It's over
We say no
It's time to end this
senseless rhythm

Maybe I can't trust you
But I can trust Him
And with that knowing
I'll go out on a whim

Love heals.
Love wins.
Love frees.

Father, into Your hands, I commit my spirit.


© Felicia Murrell 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Falls

On a prayer retreat (April 2011) in Moravian Falls, NC, this poem welled up from the depths of my heart as some friends and I were observing a small waterfall.


Rushing towards beauty
Reigning over rocks
Gushing. Bubbling. Springing Forth.

The sound a song
Melodious. Harmonious.
The earth rejoice

What are you saying?
What do you know?
What secrets lie in the rhythm of your flow?

Tell me a story
An age old tale
Tell me the origin
From whence you hail

What message from heaven
Does your waters bring?
What song does your symphony
Sing to our King?

A display of His wonder
Pouring forth from above
Drench the earth with your dew
Fill us with your love

Nourish us
Refresh us
Heal our parched souls
Come living water
Come make us whole
©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

At the Beach

Even at the beach the shells tell a story
Some broken
Some cracked
Some fragmented
Some whole

Fresh from the deep
The shore scattered with shells
The light of the sun shining into my soul

Shells seemingly priceless
Shells deemed worthless
Shells kicked and tossed
Discarded from use

Like the shells on the beach
The souls of men judged
Worthy
Worthless
Treasure
Refuse

Up on the beach
The Saviour comes
The Lover of our soul
Mending the cracks and broken pieces
Restoring the shells to oneness
Making them whole

Like the shells on the beach
The souls of men
Once deemed worthless
In the hands of Jesus
Worth is restored
Once deemed useless
In the hands of Abba
Value and purpose come to the fore

From the depth of the sea that hid me
To the shore where the world
Can brutally judge me
In the arms of a Dad who does nothing but love me

I am safe
I am found
I am loved
©2010 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

For Surely

My child...

For surely I have loved you
Surely my grace has covered you
My eyes are on you
My ears always attuned to your cry

For surely I have loved you
Surely I have pursued you
Drawn you to Myself
Healed you
Cleansed you

For surely I have loved you
Freed you
Saved you
Brought you to Myself
To embrace you
Romance you

For surely I have loved you
With a love everlasting


Abba
©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

In Love With Me


When I was young, I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. Yet one thing stood between me and the realization of my dream, my weight. My family said I couldn’t help the way I was shaped; all the women on both sides were “big boned” and “hippy”.

Over the years, my love for cheerleading hasn’t waned and if I was truthful, neither has my love for food. In middle school, I tried out for the cheering squad. The coach thought I was good but too “thick” for a uniform. In an attempt to shed my “thickness”, I began to skip breakfast and lunch at school.

I tried out for the high school cheerleading team.  I didn’t make it. Though we did not receive feedback on our tryouts, I assumed I didn’t make the squad for the same reason I didn’t make it that first year of middle school…my weight.  I was determined to lose my thickness. The only way I knew to do this was to simply stop eating.  I didn’t realize my decision had a name or was classified as a disorder. I was already not eating breakfast or lunch on a regular basis and so I simply made the choice to not eat dinner as well.  

This decision would soon alarm my mother who began to comment on my dry skin and dull hair.  Every day I was greeted with, “Did you eat lunch today?”  To avoid lying, I started eating a cookie and a cup of fruit punch for lunch.  I was losing weight but the mirror always said I was fat. My mom began forcing me to eat dinner.  I knew enough not to fight with my mother, so I ate what she placed in front of me.  And bulimia became my friend. It would remain with me throughout high school and part of college.

During my first pregnancy, since I was “no longer eating for one”, I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted. I soon found myself fifty pounds overweight. I went to the gym. I ate salads. I did everything I could to lose those fifty pounds. Instead of losing them, I added ten more! At this point, I admitted to my husband that I couldn’t do it alone and went to Jenny Craig. I was hopeful, but we were young and penniless so there was no money for me to participate in the program. 

After baby number three and another thirty additional pounds, I made a decision that something must change. I began to read everything I could about nutrition. Coming from a line of great Southern cooks, how food taste is very important to me. But I knew if I wanted a different result, it was time to do some things differently.  I began exercising with Denise Austin on Fit TV and TaeBo tapes twice a day and changing my eating habits. Within four months from the birth of baby number three, I had lost sixty pounds! I looked great.  I felt great.  With twenty pounds to lose, I hit a plateau.

My plateau turned out to be baby number four! After settling into the routine of life with four, I got into strength training and kickboxing.  I loved it so much; I became a kickboxing instructor at a local YMCA in Hampton Roads.  This helped me maintain my weight.  Later I became involved in direct sales, as my business grew, I stopped teaching kickboxing and working out altogether. Before I knew it, ten years had passed and all of the weight I’d lost had return, plus some.

Last year, in 2010, I weighed in at the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. But two significant things caused me to say, no more. 1) My parents are both overweight and using the stairs has become a challenge for them. To the point that we had to move them from their home into a flat so they would no longer have to worry about climbing stairs. I didn’t want that to be me in twenty to thirty years.  2) On a plane ride to Redding, CA, to visit Bethel Church, I struggled to make enough length in my belt to fit comfortably. I looked around the plane and saw people much larger than I and thought, “If I’m having trouble, wow!” While in Redding, Kris Vallotton preached a message entitled, Living from Eternity.  In this message, Kris said, “People who say they hate being fat rarely become thin. “ It was like an arrow in my heart.  He went on to say, “Vision gives pain a purpose.  We become what we behold.  If we always see ourselves as fat, we’ll be fat forever.”

I decided that day in May 2010 that I would be thin. I would be healthy. I would be fit.  I would do it for me. I would do it the right way. I would reward myself with a trip to Ann Taylor when I reached my goal. On June 1, 2010, with more than just a dissatisfaction with where I was, but a vision of a thinner me, I began the process of losing ninety pounds.  Again, I armed myself with nutritional information and began to exercise at home. 

Along the way, I’ve had to break agreement with the lie that I didn’t have any control over my size because of family genetics, that it was too late for me, that I’d always be this way, that I’d never lose the weight, that my metabolism was dead.  I have chosen to agree with the Holy Spirit and His truth about my body and my diet. Food is no longer my comforter. And yes, there are days when I have to choose will I reach for food to comfort me or will I allow the Holy Spirit to fulfill His role and comfort me. 

I’m excited about the transformation in my body.  I’m learning to love whole foods, organic foods and to make dietary choices that are best for me.  People often say, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I’m not quite sure that I can totally parrot that but I’ve learned to ask myself why are you making this food choice? Is this worth an extra 30 minutes of Jillian Michael’s kicking your butt? Is it worth the extra pound or two it might add to your hips?  Most often the answer is no, but sometimes, I answer yes.

People often ask, “What did you do to lose all that weight?” And I can easily give them a technical answer: I have drastically reduced my simple carbohydrate and refined sugar intake.  I have almost completely eliminated white flour, white sugar, white potatoes and corn (corn based products) from my diet.  I focus on eating grass fed meats, greens, berries, nuts, eggs, and living foods.  I walk three miles a day 4 to 5 times a week and I exercise and strength train for half an hour 5 days a week.” But the real answer is not in the program. The real answer is that I fell in love with me.  Because I love myself, I want to honor my body and the Lord by making the right choices for myself. I’m happy with who I am.  And because of it, I can fulfill the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I’ve found a love that’s greater than life itself. When I look into His eyes, I see acceptance. I see passion. I see love. I see me, the way He sees me.  I am becoming what I am beholding. And that’s the most amazing discovery in my weight loss journey.
©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rise Up Church

Note: I started this article a few months ago with the intent that Doug (my husband) would add to it and we would release the published work together. He never got around to adding to it, but I still thought it was worth sharing with my readers in the form that it's in.

Why Are All The Animals Dying?
Felicia Murrell

Why are all the animals dying? Is it the end of the world? It is a 'sign of the time'? In three short words, I don't know. I could put on my colored lenses of religion and reach into the Old Testament and tell you that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8) and most would be satisfied with that.

Since I understand that Jesus is perfect theology, with permission from Jesus in John 15:15, “ No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” and additional encouragement from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:9, that God has made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself; I started leaning into the heart of God and asking, “Father, what are you doing?”

From my core value that God is in a good mood and that He gives life and life to the full, I know He is not causing these deaths. There is no death or sickness in heaven therefore these phenomena cannot be from Him. Well, is He allowing it? Is He sending a warning? Has judgment began? In three short words, I don't know.

1Peter 4:17 admonishes us that judgment should begin with the house of God, not with the beast of the field, the birds of the air, or the fish of the sea. Honestly, I think the answer is found in Romans 8: 19-22, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”

Jesus is the head. We are His body. He has seated us in heavenly places(Eph. 2:6) so that we can see and grab ahold of the blueprint of heaven and then execute and build heaven on earth. This is the core of Jesus' prayer in Matthew 6:10, “On earth as it is in heaven.” How can we replicate heaven on earth if we don't know what heaven looks like?

In John 14:12 we find ourselves face to face with a bold declaration that we would do greater works than Jesus did. How can this be possible since John 21:25 tells us, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Through His death, burial, resurrection, Jesus became the firstborn among many brethren. Just as our natural body as millions of cells, so the body of Christ is made up of many members. Creation is groaning and laboring in travail for the body to understand with their heart that, “As He is, so are we in this world.”

So the question becomes, How is He? And the answer I believe is found in 1 John 4:8, "For God is love." and in John 8:12, Jesus declares that He is the light of the world. Additionally, in John 5:19 – 21 , “ Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

More than focusing on the why, I think the stage has been set for Sons of God to recognize the hour that is upon us. A new era has come, a new day indeed has dawn. Rise up Sons of God, declare life; declare love. Let your light shine so that men may see your good works and glorify the Father which is in heaven. Instead of being distracted by the sign, fix your eye on Jesus. He alone will reveal what Father is doing. In that, we can partner with the Holy Spirit as Sons of God and loose heaven on earth.

Rise up, Son of God! Rise up, daughter of God! Creating is waiting. We don't have to partner with a victim spirit. We stand in out authority and from our seat in heavenly places, we can grab ahold of heaven and loose it into the earth.

Why are all the animals dying? In three words, I don't know. But what I do know is, "On earth as it is in heaven." There is no death in heaven. With all of heaven backing me up, I boldly declare over the birds of the air, life be. And over the fish of the sea, life be. And of the beast of the field, life be.

In the matchless name of Jesus Christ, let there be life.
©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 
©2011 Douglas Murrell. Jr. YzCounsel Ministries

On Parenting

Heart to Heart: A Mom's Perspective

Ever since the days of my own childhood, I have vacillated between not wanting to have any children to looking forward to being a mother of teenagers. I secretly longed to do all the things I felt my parents didn’t do or should have done with me. Now in that season of parenting four amazing, world changing teens that range in age from 20 to 13, I no longer feel that I know all of the answers or have an upper hand on all of the current parenting methods of the day. Truly, I often find myself praying for strategic wisdom and creativity from the Holy Spirit and receiving the Lord’s grace to parent our children.

One such occasion happened four years ago. Our eldest was then a sophomore in high school. We recognized that in a few short years, she would be on her own attending college somewhere. As Christian parents, Doug and I had heard the all too often told stories of Christian kids leaving home for college and going wild with their new found freedom. This was not our heart for our daughter so after years of sheltering her from the harms of the world, cartoons and movies that may expose her to the demonic, secular music that might corrupt her soul, and anything else that could tempt her away from her Saviour, I began to ask the Lord for wisdom in how to prepare her in two short years for the freedoms she would experience.

As life lessons go, one day as I was zooming down I-264 towards Norfolk at the jolly ole speed of 70, I saw a state trooper and immediately put on my brakes to slow down to a respectable 55 miles per hour. Immediately, the Holy Spirit began to use this experience as a teachable moment. He said to me, “Felicia, why do you speed?” I answered, “Because I like to get where I am going.” He said, “No, you have no value or understanding for the rule and so you choose to break it. When the Enforcer is not there to enforce the rule, you don't follow the law.” Then He asked, “What makes you obey my rules?” I answered, “Because I love you and I wouldn't want to do anything that would hurt You, or Father, or Jesus.” To which the Holy Spirit responded, “If you will deepen and protect the heart to heart connection between you and your children in the same way that you protect our heart to heart relationship, you will not have to live in fear of them falling away from the things you have taught them.”

The sky opened. The music played. I had an aha moment. Eureka! I sped when there was no one to enforce the law. If pulled over, I simply accept the penalty for my wrongdoing and pay whatever fee is assessed or go to court and ask for mercy. I recognized that I had not experienced a consequence severe enough to keep me from speeding. What consequence would be great enough to keep our daughter from exploiting her freedoms and disregarding all that we had invested in her for the last 18 years? There had to be a great value on our relationship. It had to be her choice to love us so much that she wouldn’t want to hurt us; that the things that are important to us would remain important to her. It had to be her choice to take personal responsibility for her part of our relationship and protect our heart.

Armed with this revelation, our first test came when she successfully obtained her Virginia driver’s license. While most of our friends were issuing curfews with their teenager's driver’s license, we chose not to set a curfew right away. We decided to give her the opportunity to manage her freedom and see how she handled it. We celebrated her accomplishment, made her aware of the Virginia law for teen drivers – how many could be in the car, what time they required her to be off the road, etc. Only twice in her final year of high school did she come home later than we would have liked. Both times, she called to make us aware that she would be thirty minutes late and in both instances, she was not personally driving. It was fun to watch her handle her part of our relationship with respect and honor.
The atmosphere in our home is modeled after 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear: because fear involves torment (punishment). He that fears is not made perfect in love.” By choosing to train our children in self-control and protecting our heart to heart connection, we no longer demand obedience or conformity. Is this hard? Yes! Yet, we have decided that it is more fun to raise kids who are personally responsible for their choices, empowered to think for themselves and capable of managing their freedoms.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is Spirit; where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (freedom).” Why were there two trees in the Garden of Eden? I believe it was because love and freedom always requires a choice. It's not freedom if there aren't options. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (self-control).” God gave us all self-control to manage ourselves and handle freedom. When you can't manage you, you are out of control. As parents, when we see our children out of control, more often than not, we begin to operate in a spirit of fear and try to control the situation.When we believe parenting is about obedience and control, we miss the opportunity to partner with God in teaching our children how to clean up their messes. In doing this, we actually sow a lie into the core values of our children that says, we can control others and others can control us. When the truth is found in Galatians 5: 22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is...self-control. Against such there is no law.” Teaching our children to control themselves sets them up for a lifetime of wisdom and freedom. A Murrell mantra in our home, “On a good day, you control you.”

One really funny example of this from the Murrell parenting archives: our boys share a bedroom and at times, it is nothing short of a disaster zone. Honestly, I often just close the door and let them live in it. But as days would have it, the boys found me on a day when I was over the messy room and thus a choice was presented to them. “Boys," I said, "you have 10 minutes to clean your room or you can pay me to clean it for you.” The boys continued playing their gaming system, craftily ignoring my warning. Because they can trust that I do what I say, when 10 minutes passed, I appeared in the door of the game room and said, “What’s your decision? Are you ready to clean your room or would you like to pay me to clean it?” To which my oldest son replied, “We don’t even have any money to pay you with. So how are we going to pay you?" I smiled and said to him, “Sure you do. I will just sell video games until my cleaning fee is paid in full." With a few murmurs under his breath, he continued to play. My response, “No problem.” No problem in our home really means, no problem for me, possible problem for you. With that, I turned and entered their room and began cleaning it. When they saw the trash bag and the vacuum cleaner, the boys started singing the ‘Mom’ song. We’ve all heard it, “Mooooom. Moooom. We were gonna do it.” After cleaning the room, I went to collect my fee. Stepping into the game room, I asked the boys, “Would like to give me the games you want me to sell or should I pick them out myself?” Needless to say, our oldest son was pretty livid that I had followed through to collect payment.

As a parent, part of me managing me is the decision to not allow the character defects of my children to control me. This revelation is significant in maintaining my heart to heart connection with my children as it gives me the freedom to allow my children to work on their lives and their problems while managing me. As a result, my children are confident of two truths: 1) “If you need my help, I'll be over here.” and 2) Even at their worst, they are safe with me.

Since this sounds good in theory, but really is a process of learning to master the art of telling myself what to do and then doing it, I went on with my other tasks without allowing my son's tantrum to pull me into an emotional vortex. Dad, however, was being drawn in at a steady pace and pretty soon, our eldest son had manage to push and ignite his father’s big red button called DISRESPECT! As the night came to a close and Room Time (our kids are asked to retire to their room 30 to 40 minutes before bed to soak, read their bible, or have some quiet reflection time) fell upon the Murrell abode, our eldest son was still a little bent out of shape about having to pay for his clean room. Dad had finally had enough!
From the kitchen, I could hear voices rising. I went to our boys room and saw Dad standing over the bed with hands on hip, “That’s my wife you’re talking about. You’re not going to disrespect my wife.” Looking up from his bed, our lanky teenager responded, “Well, she shouldn’t have taken my games.” I stepped in the door and said, “ I’m sorry. I thought it was room time. Room time means I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to hear you. Why can I hear you all the way downstairs?" Then looking directly at my oldest son I said, “ Son, are you tired? If you’re not tired, I can give you something to do.” His response was simply to stare back at me. With a gentle tug of my husband’s hand, I led him out of the room and closed the boys door. In the privacy of our room, I admitted to my hero that I was ok. Our son had not wounded me with his behavior or his words. With a few pouts, dear hubby puffed and went back to his reading. I returned to the kitchen. After 5 or 10 minutes I heard, “Felicia, I’m gonna hurt him. He won’t be quiet.” Back up the stairs I went. I stepped into the door of my son’s room and said, “Son, put some socks and shoes on.” As he started to dress over his pajamas, I said, “No need to get dressed, just put on your socks and shoes. I’ve something for you to do.” With socks and shoes on, I asked him to come with me. I directed him to our backyard with a rake and said, “the leaves need to be raked into piles. When you get tired, you are welcome to go to bed.” With an incredulous look, he grabbed the rake and went outside. Since the motion light only lit up one area of the backyard, he stayed in that area and raked the leaves. After 10 minutes or so, I walked out back and asked, “Are you ok? Would you like some water?" And then I added,"When you get tired, you can go back to bed. OK?” With a gruff and a nod, he continued to rake. A few more minutes passed, I heard the screen door shut and looked up to see my son coming through the door. I said, “Are you tired?” “Yes,” he replied. I leaned up on my tippy toes to kiss him goodnight and said, “Goodnight, son.” As he shuffled up the stairs, I heard, “G’night, Ma.”

A lot of things happened that night: 1) As parents, we do not always get it right. But thank God that every day in the Kingdom is a do over day. 2) My son knew that he could trust me. I mean what I say. I say what I mean. 3) My words are like $1000 bills. I shouldn't have to use a lot of them to discipline my children. Instruction actually happens better during times of intimacy. When they are angry,their hearts are closed to receiving your pearls of wisdom. 4) I taught my sons that services cost money in the real world. You don’t have to cook, clean, wash your clothes, wash your cars, etc. You have a choice to pay someone to do those things for you. You have to decide if it’s worth the cost or if you would rather do them yourself. 5) I managed me and did not respond to his anger. No one makes you do or say anything. On a good day, you are responsible for you. 6) I was able to give choices in love and administer the consequences of those choices in love. As a result, now when I ask the boys would you like to clean your room or would you rather pay me to clean it, they remember the consequence of loss video games and choose to clean their rooms. And now, when we say room time, they have a full understanding of the consequence that follows not being tired. 7) Our son and his dad both had an amazing opportunity the next day to clean up their mess and restore their connection. Forgiveness ALWAYS restores the standard.

As for our eldest, she is now a sophomore at Yale University and continues to do an amazing job of managing her freedoms and maintaining her heart to heart connection with us.

We've lifted the lid and given our children permission to think. They have permission to fail. They have freedom to make their own choices. They understand that there are consequences to the choices they make. They are secure in our love. It's a high call to raise up world changers who will influence their culture for the Kingdom of God. We have decided that loving on purpose is more important than getting our kids to behave in a certain manner. Yes, it means they are not always perfect. And yes, even we have been known to raise an eyebrow or two at things they say or do. In lieu of punishment, we've created a culture of honor in our home that allows for confrontation. Our standard of discipline is more vision based than behavior modification. We go after the gold that is inside of each of our children and we parent them by constantly loving them and coaching them into becoming whom God has predestined them to be.

Once, our youngest daughter was chatting with several guys via facebook. Doug and I felt that some of it was becoming inappropriate for our young teen. One evening before room time, we called them into our bedroom and began to remind them of our desire that they keep themselves pure for the mate that God is preparing for them and preparing them for. As parents we have always stressed that purity is more than not having sex. It's the protection of your body, soul and spirit. That night, we talked to the boys about being their sisters keeper and protecting her innocence. Again for us, this means protecting what they hear, see, how they are spoken to and treated by others. Then, we turned to our daughter and began to remind of who she was in Christ. That she was our princess. She was valuable. We just began to lavish her with love and a remembrance of her worth. We said to her any guy who will not honor you or speak to you in a manner that honors you is not worth your time. We don't mind you being friends, but remember who you are and be bold in defining your boundaries. That night, I watched as my husband ministered to our baby girl. Her tears fell and her body racked with sobs as she cried in her daddy's arms. It's easy in the world of technology for our children to lose the vision of whom God created them to be. Instead of punishing her or demanding that she close her facebook account, Doug took the time to esteem her, to remind her of her worth. From that day to this, she carries herself like the princess she is and has a good handle on how and when to set boundaries in her friendships.

We are learning as a family that relationships have two parties and each party is 100% responsible for their part of the relationship. Our goal is to create an environment where there is honor, respect, community, and personal responsibility. If I can keep our hearts connected, even in my absence, the deposit I have made in the heart of my children will guide them. I'm no longer interested in their obedience and their compliance. I'm after their heart. If I can capture their heart, I can empower them to live a fearless life of freedom.
©2010 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

Friday, March 4, 2011

God is Love

God is love.

Felicia, I have such a profound love for you. When you have a revelation of my love, you'll learn to live in my love, live from my love and fashion and govern your life according to my love for you.

God is love(1 John 4:8). He manifests Himself as Father, Healer, Provider, Protecter, Friend, Goodness, Comforter, Teacher, Nurturer, Companion, Warrior, Judge,etc. When we commune with Him, He sows the seed of His nature into our hearts(1 John 3:9). When He deposits His sperma (Greek word for seed) in us, we reproduce the fruit of His Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love(Galatians 5:22). The fruit of the Spirit is as multifaceted as the nature of God.

Love manifests itself as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness(strength under control), self control(Galatians 5:22-23).

We don't strive to produce fruit. We don't even have to strive to be righteous. We don't have to strive to be something that we already are. The blood of Jesus makes us righteous(Romans 5:19). Fruitfulness flows from intimacy.

 Just as the fruit is in the seed, so the fruit of love is sown into our hearts when Jesus comes to live there. How does the seed from an apple become an apple tree? Or an acorn a mighty oak?

He spreads his branches outward and upward soaking in sun rays, allowing the heavens to water him and receiving nutrients from the soil. As his roots grow deep, he matures and becomes all that was intended for him to be.

This is the act of grace for the New Testament believer. Grace is the operational power of God to do what we can't do on our own. No amount of striving, work or toil will produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life. No amount of striving to be holy will produce holiness in your life. Simply turn aside like the tree, extend your hands and your heart outward and upward in worship and allow the Son to shine upon you. Receive the nutrients of the Word of God and allow the Presence of Holy Sprit to rain upon you. As you abide, the seed of life, the seed of love will begin to germinate and mature, and that acorn (you) will be transformed into a mighty oak (your destiny).

When Jesus cried out, "It is finished"(John 19:30). He meant it. There remains for you a sabbath rest(Hebrews 4:9). Learn to do the hard work of rest. You no longer are required to do to be. Religion requires. Grace enables. Because God is I AM that I AM(Exodus 3:14) we can be all that He has destined us to be.

There is no law that can prevail over the law of love(Galatians 5:23). Why? Because where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom(2 Corinthians 3:17). Increased levels of His presence equals increased levels of freedom. Is greatness crying out from within you? Maintain a lifestyle of practicing His presence, do the hard work of rest. Soak in the Son and the go out and live in freedom.

Ephesians 1:7 (MSG)
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people---free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!

What would it be like to be free? Truly free. What does freedom look like to the believer? How do you handle My freedom? How do you live in freedom? Love in freedom? Show honor in freedom?

Love allows you to rightly handle your freedom and manage your options well. When we live from love and govern our lives according to Father's love for us, everything in us will make protecting the love that flows between us and God a priority.

Relationships are the most important thing to Father God. He's far more concerned about you connecting with Him and connecting with others than He is about what you can do for Him.

Father has such a deep profound love for you. Learn to live in His love. Learn to live from His love.
©2010 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries