That Time I Forgot My Name!

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Were you ever asked about your name and suddenly went completely blank – as though you forgot your own name? Well, that kind of happened to me once. After publishing my book, I was hosted on a Christian live TV show. Of course I was having the jitters just thinking about being on live TV where nothing could be edited. That morning, I got to the building where the show was about to take place, and there the receptionist requested that I spell my name for her. I am telling you, the moment she spoke, my brain froze!! I stared back at her as she repeated the question. And I was like, “Mehh… Me..hehe “. I was attempting to spell ” M I C H A L. Thankfully, that moment was not broadcasted live!

Seriously now, our name is the one thing we can count on remembering daily, right? Your name is a big deal; it represents who you are. Names are such a big deal that long ago, when a nation invaded another nation, they would exile the people out of their land and give them NEW names. The purpose behind that was to make them forget who they were. Kind of like wiping their identity in hopes of enforcing loyalty toward the new country and its gods.

One of the best examples in the Bible about this would be Daniel. Daniel was exiled from Israel to Babylon with other young Hebrew men to serve in the courts of the king of Babylon. There they were given new names which reflected subjection to the gods of Babylon. Such a sneaky way to brain wash those Hebrew boys. They were targeting their identities.

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This is very similar to the days we live in.  You see, ever since  sin entered the world; our souls ache to know who we truly are. And every thing around us aims to reshape our identity. We live in a world that defies us at every turn, you hear the words “Discover yourself.. Learn who you are..”. We find ourselves in search for our true worth and significance; at every age, in every thing we do. Our search takes a lot of shapes and forms.

At times we seek people’s affirmation and approval , we jump into relationships in hopes of feeling loved and valued. We work hard to earn high positions and careers that give us status among our peers. We post pictures on Facebook or Instagram in hopes of getting a big dose of affirmation… Several roads we take but the purpose is one. Does any of this sound familiar to you? It does to me …

Growing up I wasn’t exactly a popular girl in school. In fact, I felt invisible and less than ordinary. I remember sitting in my bed one winter night, reading my Bible. And I got to   Psalm 45:13 that says, “In her chamber, the king’s daughter is glorious; her clothing is embroidered with gold thread”. That moment I looked at the teddy bear Pajamas I was wearing, definitely not embroidered with gold thread. I looked around at my messy, tiny, and humble bedroom located in one of the least favorable areas in the country. Despite my modest surroundings, I felt those words were being spoken of me! It was one of those beautiful “God Moments”. I could almost feel God -the King of all the earth- filling my heart with unspeakable joy. He put such certainty in my heart that I am the daughter of the King. That’s what I’ve always been and what I will always be.

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I don’t know what you’re doing right now in search for your identity. But I want to tell you; nothing you do can make you discover yourself, or your true worth. Not money, nor a husband, not even winning the noble prize. Your identity was never lost, you’ve just been looking in the wrong place. Long ago, the Lord has declared “You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you” says God (Isaiah 43:4). If we don’t learn to find ourselves here in these words, in this truth; then we never will.

My challenge for you and me these coming weeks is to stop striving and accept this truth. Live in it. Proclaim it daily on your life. Search your Bible and see what God says about you. Make a list; hang it on the fridge or the dresser. Remind yourself. MY friend, your identity was never lost. Reclaim it, today! The moment you realize your true worth, you can step out and do what you need to do in confidence. Not because you’re trying to find who you are, but because you already know.

 

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For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad.

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ملكة شُجاعة و مُواطِنة مغتربة

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قلبها كان عم يرجف, كل جزء فيها متوتّر و خايف. كانت بتتحضّر حتى تقوم بالمهمة الي انخلقت عشانها. كانت مستعدة تعرِّض حياتها للخطر و بتتسائل بينها و بين نفسها, هل رح يكون هاليوم آخر يوم بعمري؟ … تركت غرفتها الملكية, و توجهت عند الملك (زوجها) الي من زمان ما طلب يشوفها. زوجها, الي كان متعوّد يمشّي الكُل على زوقه. راحت مع إنها بتعرف إنه زيارتها للملِك  بدون دعوة ممكن تكلفها حياتها. مع هيدا كلّه تجرأت تزور الملك زيارة مفاجأة, لأنه شعبها كان بخطرعظيم 

عم بحكي عن الملكة أستير. هالفترة مش عم بقدر شيل هالحادثة من تفكيري. خليني خبرَك ليش. أنا مواطنة أمريكيّة و لكنّي ولدت و اتربيت بلبنان. و بهالوقت البلد الي بحبّو بخطر. الناس الي بحبهم و كبرت بيناتهم عم بعانوا من أزمة كبيرة و بيشكوا من سوء إدارة الحكّام في لبنان. الناس تركت مكان راحتها و نزلت تعتصم في الشوارع من الجنوب للشمال. مدراس مغلقة, المحلات مقفلة, البلد مشلول و عاجز. و أنا بتابع الأحداث و بتذكّر قصة أستير. منظر ملكة مغتربة عم تتقدّم بخوف قدّام زوجها الملِك من بعدما صامت مدة تلات أيام (أستير ٥: ١- ٨) . هدف زيارتها إنه تطلب منّه ينقذ أهل بلدها من مجزرة مخيفة

مثلما أستير طلعت من موقع راحتها عشان تطالب بسلام لشعبها, الله بيتوقع منّي و منَّك نتقدّم عنده و نطلب منّه يتدخّل ببلدنا. حتى لو كُنت ما بتنتمي للبنان بأي صلة, فكري ببلدِك و صلِّي لبلَدَك. صار وقت ننزل على ركبنا قدّام الله. مثل المتظاهرين بساحات و شوارع لبنان, لازم نبدى مُظاهرة روحية. لازم ننتفض ضد الخطية الي عم تقودنا للوضع الى نحنا فيه

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خلينا نتعلّم من التاريخ. بتعرف إنّه بالماضي لمّا كان شعب الله يكسر وصايا الله كان ملك قاسي وأمّة لئيمة تتسلط على الشعب و الناس تصير تإن؟ مكتوب “البرّ يرفع شأن الأُمَّة, و عار الشعوب الخطيَّة” أمثال ١٤: ٣٤. خطيتنا و خطية شعبنا وصلتنا لهون. صرنا منقبل الخطية و منغلفها بإطار جميل حتى ما تبيّن على حقيقتها. انشغلنا بحالنا و شفنا الغلط قدامنا و بدل ما نبكي و نتوب, تجاهلنا الموضوع و كملنا الطريق

لكن الحلو إنه الله عنده الحلّ. ما فات الوقت. من زمان الله وعد و قال, “فإذا تواضع شعبي الذي دعي إسمي عليهم و صلّوا و طلبوا وجهي, و رجعوا عن طرقهم الردية فإنني أسمعُ من السماء و أغفر خطيتهم و أبرئ أرضهم” أخبار الأيام الثاني ٧: ١٤. ما في حل غير هيك. لازم نرجع, ننتفض من جوّا, نرجع للطرق القديمة؛ نبحث عن كلام الله مثل الي بيبحث عن كنز و نرفع بلدنا بالصلاة و ساعتها منشوف إيد الله بتغيّر و بتعمل أمور عظيمة

 

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Cover photo by Sarah Hanna

 

The Final Word

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A couple of weeks ago I was shocked to hear about a distant relative of mine, a 33 year old man, who choked on a piece of food. And he actually died! It is beyond me how something like this could happen! This young man was engaged to be married soon. Which made me wonder how we wake up every morning in a hurry to tackle our to-do lists, yet something so unexpected can totally disrupt our life.

I really don’t mean to get you depressed. But I chose to share that with you because we live in a time where a lot of things could play a huge role in our story. And some of these things we don’t even see coming; like choking on food! Many things could hit us, leaving us speechless asking, “what Just happened”?! From losing a job, to hearing about an accident, going through a divorce, and many other things..

Sometimes it seems as though we have such little control over what happens to us and around us. And that can be true. I don’t know if you’re like me, but that causes me to freak out a little. So if you do find yourself in this situation, hang on a second cause I have some encouragement for you today.

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Let me take you back to Paul’s story. You know Paul the apostle was taken as a prisoner to Rome by sea, so he could stand trial before Caesar. On the way there, he had such a horrific experience at sea and the ship he was on was wrecked. But before it crashed Paul had a word from God telling him Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar!”(Acts 27:24). Therefore, he knew that he and the crew were going to survive and make it to Rome. When they finally made it to the island of Malta, the natives made them a fire to keep them warm, and took very good care of them. And just when you would think that Paul would catch a break after that horrible journey; a poisonous snake came out and bit his hand. The snake was literally hanging from his hand, the Bible says. But Paul, so calmly shook it off into the fire and went on with whatever he was doing.

Now let me tell you, if that had been me, I would’ve gone all dramatic, lost my mind, started weeping and probably said my goodbyes to those around me. I would’ve been like, “Why, Oh Lord, Why.. I just had such a rough time fighting for my life on that ship and now this!!”. Even the natives were watching  Paul expecting him to drop dead at any minute; since they knew what that snake could do to a man. They waited and waited but he was perfectly fine!

You see, Paul had a word from God. He had a promise from heaven that he was going to live. So Paul knew that not even the deadliest snake could change that. After going through all those trials, Paul was confident that when God promises something He delivers.

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I don’t know what’s threatening your peace today. I don’t know what seems to be controlling your life. If you ask me, I am pretty sure that I am NOT in control of my own life. But God is. So I will share what I usually do whenever I feel threatened, nervous, worried, about the million things that could go wrong. I raise up my voice when I’m by myself (cause I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m crazy, although the secret may already be out) and I proclaim to the devil out loud and say: You do NOT have a say in my life, you do NOT control my life, or my family’s life, you don’t get to decide what happens to me. God is in control and He is for me! He has promised me so and so.. And I begin to recite God’s word out loud.

You know why it helps do that? Because we , ourselves, often need to be reminded of the truth. Things may seem out of your control, but they’re not out of His control. He’s got His hands on everything, and if you trust Him with your life, then He’s the one that gets to have the final word.

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad.

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Oops I did it again!

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“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result”. Those were Albert Einstein’s words, and he’s kind of right. I mean, how often do we repeat the same behavior thinking that it’s going to work out the second time around? I know I’ve done that many times, have you?

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The truth is we often don’t realize that we are making the same mistake. Sometimes we get fooled into it. Let me tell you what I mean. For instance, there’s this person I know who is single and hopes to meet the right person, but instead keeps ending up with the same kind of man who talks sweet but never delivers. It’s heartbreaking!

Something else that we tend to fall into repeatedly… How often do we promise to spend time with God daily, and use our time wisely? However, most of us come back home exhausted, and probably position ourselves on our couch, watching TV until it’s too late to do anything else. Little habits, little mistakes that we get stuck in. However, as your friend I want to honestly tell you: When a one-time mistake turns into a pattern of behavior, that calls for action.

Let’s learn from history, shall we? You see, when the people of Israel could NOT conquer the city of Ai because of their disobedience to God, they freaked out. They hunched down and thought that God had left them. But once they repented of their sin and dealt with the problem, God ordered them to go attack the city of Ai again (Joshua 8). They already had a bad experience with that. The wound was still fresh, it hadn’t been that long since they lost men in the war and retreated before the army of Ai. However, God had a plan. God commanded Joshua the leader to approach the City of Ai, and whenever the army of Ai came out to meet them, the people of God were to pretend to flee. This way Ai would think that the Israelites were retreating in fear just like the previous time. In reality, that was an ambush so that the Israelite Army could attack Ai from the back and set the whole city on fire. And that’s exactly what happened. Now why should we care about this story at all?

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You see, God used His people’s past mistake to build a new strategy for success. He used their own bad experience, and got something useful out of it. He was like, ‘remember how you ran in defeat last time? .. Well, pretend to do exactly the same this time …’ and He elaborated on that.

Do we fall in the same potholes from time to time, oh YES! I do.. and I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. The beauty here is that when you turn back from your mistake and acknowledge before God what you did wrong, He will use your failure to make something that actually works better for you!

My challenge for the both of us this week is to use our God given wisdom to discern why we fall into a specific pattern of behavior, so we could learn how to get out of that cycle. Now that you know what you’re NOT supposed to do; build on that and seek God while you’re at it.

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad.

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Help That Needs Help!

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      I threw out my back last week and I was very uncomfortable. That wasn’t my first time hurting my back, so I knew I had to pay my doctor a visit. To my surprise, when the doctor came into the exam room where I had been waiting, he was walking very slow, and appeared to be in excruciating pain as he took a few steps toward me. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he had injured his knee and was in a lot of pain. I felt bad for him and I felt awkward at the same time! What was I supposed to do? Should I leave and come back another day?  Could he help me, even though he was barely able to stand upright?! 

The question I was left with that day and the one I would like for you to think about today is this: What would you do when the one that’s supposed to help you out, seems to be needing help? What do you do when the husband you go to for advice, warmth, and support; is going through a rough patch at work and cannot sympathize with you this time? When your best friend or sister is busy with her own life and has no time for you? I will answer that question in a minute. But first let me remind you of something…

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Remember when Jesus Christ was on earth, how He built such beautiful friendships with His disciples? He went to their houses, healed their relatives and family members, ate with them. He must’ve listened to their stories -the silly and the serious ones. All throughout the 3 years of His ministry, He was always the one they would run to for help. He was their Rock. They saw what He could do. So imagine with me the shock they were in when all of a sudden the person that they thought was the Messiah got arrested before their eyes, was beaten cruelly, and faced death sentence. It seemed as though Jesus was dealing with His own problems that time. Who were they going to run to for help? Who was going to say the right word, or give the right advice? No wonder most of them fled and left Him alone! They had no idea what to do. 

Sometimes we feel the way the disciples felt when it comes to the people in our life. There are times when those who are precious to you have their own issues to conquer. But you know what; these situations allow us to see how dependent we are on others. You probably have someone in mind as you read this. Perhaps you depend on them to cheer you up, give you moral support and pep talk when needed … But it’s good to remember that this person as sweet and helpful as they may be, they CAN NOT be available to us whenever we want. So instead of us getting frustrated or blaming them, it’s good to give them the space they need when they need it, and be there to help them whenever help is required. It’s good to remember that although God has filled our life with wonderful people, they still have their own story, ups and downs. Keeping this in mind will save us a lot of frustration and bring our focus to the ONE who is the best companion for whatever kind of help we need at ANY TIME.

You know, before He got arrested, Jesus had prepared His disciples and shared with them what was going to happen to him. Later on the cross, He looked at John (the youngest disciple and the only one who did not dessert Him), and told John to take care of His mother Mary. It shows that even in His own suffering, Jesus was still concerned about His loved ones and was guiding them even from the cross. He has proven to be the best help, best friend and companion there is, so that whenever you feel overwhelmed by life you know you can count on Him. 

“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad.

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Get Your Feet Wet

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       What do you do when your friend shares with you a problem they’re facing? When they’ve lost their job at a very critical time, when you see them stuck in an unhealthy relationship.. ? What do you do when they make the wrong choices, or when a loved one is sick? I imagine that we probably would sympathize with them, offer help if possible, depending on the situation. Lots of times we tend to say something like: I’m praying for you, or you’re in my prayers. But the thing is that even when we pray for others these days, we don’t really pray like we ought to. Prayer is a fierce, sharp weapon, yet we’ve been dealing with prayer as though it were a piece of nice wall art. We hang it on our walls but never truly put it to action.
Let me share with you a beautiful lesson which God has opened my eyes to the other day. You see, when the people of God had to cross the Jordan River so they could conquer the City of Jericho. God gave them clear instructions on how to do that.
First, the priests had to carry the Ark of the Covenant (which resembled the presence of God) and they were required to step in the middle of the Jordan River before the people and stand firm there. Once the soles of their feet touched the river, the water of the Jordan stood up in a heap until all of the congregation had crossed to the other side (Joshua 3: 15,16). After everyone had crossed over, the priests then crossed along with the Ark and the water fell back.
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Do you know what the Bible says about you and me? The Bible says that Jesus has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve” God. So when you promise to pray for a loved one, a hurting friend, your colleague, your disoriented husband or fiancée, you’re doing the job of a priest. Standing in front of God for them, while they go through the rough torrents of life. As they struggle, you’re standing in the gap pleading for God to intervene, to do something in their situation and bring change. You’re really doing the heavy lifting, although it’s hard to see and it’s tough to feel it. It’s as if you stand in the midst of the River (the problem they’re facing) as though it were you’re own. You keep bringing them before God until they’ve crossed safely. That’s what our prayer life should be like.
So the next time you promise to pray for someone, I hope you remember this image. Get your feet wet! Get there in the middle of the dilemma. Stand there for them, while their world is raging. When it’s hard for them to stand on their own, YOU stand. When it’s hard for them to believe, or even remember God’s goodness, YOU remind them. Stand firm in prayer until they pass through. Wouldn’t you hope someone would do that for you when you’re in need of prayer?
Let us change the way we think about prayer. Prayer does NOT change things, it changes EVERYTHING, starting with the person who prays.
Ps: If there’s something that I can pray for you about, please let me know 🙂

 

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad.

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What’s Your Story?

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It’s amazing how much we’re impacted by what happens around us. Like when you hear bad news about someone you know; a colleague who got laid off from work, or that your best friend’s marriage hit rock bottom.. It makes you think, doesn’t it? Even if you don’t sit quietly analyzing the situation, fear starts to take root inside of you. The kind of fear that screams in your face, “I don’t want that to happen to me! I don’t want to live their story!” Do you know what I’m talking about? You become scared that one day you may face what others have gone through. And fear begins to take over… 

I haven’t met a single person that wasn’t impacted by the negative news around them… Not one. Fear attempts to haunt my life as well – continually, but I fight back and I want to talk to you about that right now. So let me take you back in time to make my point, let’s go back to the time of Noah.

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I’m sure you’ve heard about Noah, the man who built an ark (a humongous ship) because God informed him that He was going to send a flood on the earth. God told Noah that every living thing was going to perish, except for Noah, his family, and the animals that made it to the ark. For forty days and forty nights it rained, and water covered the whole earth even the highest mountains. With this in mind, I want you to think about Noah and his family and what they were probably thinking about while the ark was being tossed around in the flood, going up and down with the raging tide. What were they thinking about when they heard the wind blow so loud, maybe even felt the ark slam against rocks or houses, or even against a mountain? Did they wonder about people, and how everyone they knew outside was dead? Were they scared that they would die too? Did they worry that they would run out of food, or that they may crash and die like the rest of civilization? I’m sure that the noise they heard from outside was petrifying. Perhaps they wondered whether they were going to make it.

Truth is, God had commanded Noah to make an Ark, nevertheless Noah and his entire family still found themselves in the midst of the storm despite the fact that they followed God’s plan. The only guarantee and hope they had; the only thing they could rely on for assurance was God’s word (Genesis 6: 17,18). God’s promise was their only comfort. Everything around them was gone; life as they knew it had ceased to exist. Nonetheless, Noah trusted in God to save him and God’s promise carried him through..

I wonder what you fear when you look around you. Is it death of a loved one? Is it the fear of ending up alone like your aunt, or uncle, or friend..? Is it the fear of never having kids or a family of your own? Perhaps you fear that you may never accomplish any thing great! One thing I want to remind you: This is your story; and God is the author! And I know that a good author never writes the same story twice 🙂

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So stop being afraid of whatever could happen and give God the freedom to truly lead your life, because He is good. Although we may never understand why bad things happen to good people around us, yet I know that God is ready to make a covenant with you. He wants to be the Ark that carries you and saves you through the toughest trials. Jesus is your only hope, if you choose to depend on Him. He is writing your story, and you can trust that it’s going to be an original!

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad.

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