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4 Verses for Overcoming a Challenging Childhood

gunhilln24My childhood was challenging. I grew up in a tough area in the Bronx where survival was more important than education. Running home from school to avoid fights and gunshots was normal. Then, already in a small apartment, my cousins came to live with us after my uncle, a drug dealer was murdered and my aunt was sent to a recovery program for help with her addiction to crack cocaine. Add-in my ailing grandmother who was struggling with Alzheimer’s and it made for some tough times. But the toughest part by far was when my father left us just shy of my sixteenth birthday.


Often times I felt life wasn’t fair. I didn’t choose these circumstances, I was thrust in to childhood_playgroundthem. And as I grew older these tough childhood experiences created feelings of inadequacy as I thought people would judge me because of where I was from or my broken family. But my childhood experiences could not limit God. God had a plan for my life. He would use me anyway despite where I come from and what shortcomings I had.

downloadMaybe you’ve had a challenging childhood and question God’s purpose for your life. You wonder why you’ve been dealt such a tough hand. You may even feel angry that you have not had some of the same opportunities others have had. Do not let your experiences limit what God can do! God has a plan for you. Despite whatever difficulties you have faced in your childhood – rejection, abandonment, loneliness, abuse, sickness – God has a great plan for you too! A plan to make you great. Adapt a new way of thinking about your future by meditating on these 4 verses:

  1. God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10 (GNT)
  2. O Lord, you protect and save me; your care has made me great. – Psalm 18:35 (GNT)
  3. Every child of God can defeat the world, and our faith is what gives us this victory. – 1 John 5:4 (CEV)
  4. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness. – John 10:10 (GNT)

NenaPodbury

Nena Podbury is a project associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she has co-authored children’s curriculum and served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

 

4 Bible Verses for Repairing YourSelf-Image

What happened to her? I can hardly recognize her anymore. Her sweet, pure, child-like
beauty has changed into a done-up mannequin with an awful spray tan. These were myself-image thoughts as I watched one of my favorite shows, notorious for choosing contestants based on talent and not looks. Revolutionary, right….except once you’ve been selected, in come the make-up artists, hairstylists and fashion police. Why? Because IMAGE MATTERS. It matters to the world, it matters to those around you and let’s be honest, it matters to you.

We care about what others think of us. I did! Growing up in New York City, image is everything. Even grandmas have designer handbags and toddlers have “Air Jordans”. To this day, when I visit my mother, I feel like I must look my sharpest to gain the approving nods of the people on the subway and in the bodegas. But, what happens when you do not have the approval of others. When you’ve been rejected because you’re not pretty enough, or skinny enough, or athletic enough. Perhaps you’ve been told you’re not smart enough for that job. Maybe a parent has told you, “Why can’t you be more like your brother.” Your self-image is destroyed and your confidence is shaken.

Self-Talk-Poster-2-15-13I had to learn to tune out those negative voices and thoughts and replace it with the truth of God’s Word. God loves me and thinks the world of me. The Bible says, I am the apple of his eye. If you’re struggling with your self-image, turn to these four verses to see what God says and thinks about you.

1.  Am Created in His Image: So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. Genesis 1:27

2. I Am Not a Mistake: You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there- you saw me before I was born. Psalm 139: 13, 15-16a

3. I Have A Purpose:  God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

4. I Am Loved and Accepted: …I have loved you, so I continue you to show you my constant love. Jeremiah 31:3


NenaPodbury

Nena Podbury is a project associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she has co-authored children’s curriculum and served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

Fresh Out of Give a *bleep*!!

Ever have one of those days? While productive its busy, draining and energy zapping. You giphyget home, put on those comfy lounge pajama pants, climb on the sofa, eat a sleeve of thin mints and wipe the chocolate residue that has built up on your thumb and first finger on your pant leg. Yup, you have reached your limit. Continue reading

9 Seconds! Make a call – Save a Life

42767There was very little conversation being had in church about Domestic Violence. We talked about dating, marriage, tithing, stewardship and spiritual gifts. Pause –if you read the pervious 2 sentences at a normal pace, that was about 9 seconds. As I was saying…There was a ministry for everything from the church van to the community concerns (Candle Night out) but no one was talking about the black eye the Sunday School teacher often had. (9seconds). We were told ‘you are fearfully and wonderfully made’ but our young men and women weren’t reaffirmed in their self esteem in our Sunday School or Youth Group to know what that means. (9 seconds) We sang Jesus loves me, but when it came to it – did we know how that love had different meanings in each home? (9 seconds) Domestic violence comes in many forms (physical, emotional, sexual, financial, elder abuse) and over 10 years ago a 501c3  (9 seconds) organization-Preciouslyfe was formed to boldly have a faith based conversation about it. (9 seconds) Preciouslyfe (Now My Tattered Brim) continues to work, speak, encourage and pray for change, education and awareness of abuse. (9 seconds)

Be aware and have the conversations. The first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released on December 14, 2011, reveals the alarming magnitude of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence in America. In the time it took to read the first paragraph of this post- according the US Justice Department – about 7 people  were victims of domestic violence. Do the math. 7 people a minute. 60 minutes. 420 victims an hour.

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Among states, Pennsylvania tied for 15th place for women, and ranked 25th place for men, in the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner. This is why we need your help.

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This Caused 3 Women to Die Today

octonerMany people don’t know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – even though 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and an average of 3 women die every day at the hands of a current or former intimate partner.  My Tattered Brim (Preciouslyfe) is a 501c3 organization dedicated to supporting survivors of Domestic Violence by  helping to answer the question ‘I’m out of my abusive environment-now what?’. We provide support, education, life skills training and assistance in the navigation of resources of other Domestic Violence agencies we partner with as survivors rebuild their lives. Continue reading

Forgiveness is not a Fluffy Cloud

There was a time that I thought some things were absolutely unforgivable. There was an imaginary scale in my head that weighed the offense and eked out the level of forgiveness 236036486_aa115b80that it was worthy of. I justified my right to own the hatred that I felt for my abusive ex-boyfriend. He had taken enough so I was not willing to give him any more of me, including my forgiveness. My angry mind rationalized that forgiveness would send a message that his actions were OK, even when my reality mind knows that notion isn’t true.

What I have come to grips with is that forgiveness is not an endorsement nor is it a hug wrapped in rainbows, fluffy clouds and harp music. Forgiveness is not a warm fuzzy feeling that puts you in the mindset of running through a field of flowers, smiling with the sun beaming as if you were singing about the hills being alive in the Sound of Music. In spite of how it feels, forgiveness is a choice.

I have heard it said that forgiveness is setting someone free and freedom is not what I wanted for this person. The truth of the matter is that the real prisoner was me.  I was holding myself captive. I stayed bound in my anger where  I was insulated from being in any situation where I could be hurt in anyway. I’ve become supergirl-tv-review-heat-vision-angerhypersensitive, acutely aware and ready to protect my children and me from the slightest external infraction. When looking at life through the lens of this seething anger, you see threats everywhere. A person in a store line accidentally stepping on my daughters foot required quick action to protect her when it was just an accident.

For years I was full of hatred and rage for not only my abuser but also memories of my mothers. I vowed to break the cycle and never have my children, sisters or brothers, nieces or nephews be victims of abuse. Un-forgiveness held me prisoner. The person that I have wished a house to fall on kept on living his life, unaware and probably apathetic to the depth of my hurt, anger and bitterness. To truly be an example, I’ve learned that I need to follow the ultimate example. God himself asks us to forgive those who have wronged us. (Colossians 3:13) Nowhere did I read it was an easy thing to do. As I’ve UnderHerBrim_Blogcommitted to the hard work of forgiveness, releasing my abuser and the dark, ugly pit of anger has made room for the beautiful things like joy, peace, love and gratitude. While forgiveness isn’t always easy it is worth the effort as I reclaim my freedom Under my Tattered Brim.

Time to Let Guilt Go

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First let me thank my ultimate motivator who has no problem calling me out on updating Under Her Brim. What can I say, I’m an organized mess and it still takes a village to nudge me along to keep my mess organized. So to you I say Thanks! – I hear you and appreciate you (and all of the Under Her Brim followers!!) here…. have some Skittles. Continue reading