Meaning of Easter

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The three women went to Jesus’ tomb on this blessed day, not knowing how they were going to roll the colossal stone. When they arrived, not only did they see the huge obstacle removed out of their way; but they also saw an angel sitting on it, with a smile, saying, “He is risen.” Their despair simultaneously turned into hope; their sadness into joy.

We too have obstacles we can’t possibly fight on our own unless God moves them out of the way. They can be called weaknesses or insecurities for some; feelings of inferiority or superiority for others. Many of us may even be sick and tired of fighting addictions or patterns that have overwhelmed us throughout life. Fighting a battle we can never win is senseless. Surrendering to God is the bravest thing a true believer can do. 

Friends and loved ones, please understand the meaning of Easter. It shouldn’t be confused with bunnies and egg hunts. It’s far deeper than that. It’s the true meaning of Christianity.

Alis Cerrahyan

Health is Wealth

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I haven’t been feeling well lately. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, because I’ve been blessed with good health; thank God. After spending a whole week with a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and constant uncontrollable coughs, I decided it was time to see a doctor. He told me I had allergies due to our early spring weather. We almost had no winter this year so far. I was happy and confused all at the same time. I have had allergies before; but nothing like this.

As I left the doctor’s office I felt like celebrating our awesome God who sustains us. I also prayed over those with chronic illnesses who don’t get a break from their suffering. May God’s mercy and grace help them through their journey and comfort them. I believe as we praise God for the things He’s blessed us with, we should also pray for those who are less fortunate. That’s the least we can do.

Blessings to all,

Alis Cerrahyan

It’s no longer acceptable🙄

screen-shot-2015-01-07-at-5-16-08-amLife presents all sorts of circumstances, unveiling one another, depending on the choices we make. Some are pleasant and beneficial; while others not so much. All throughout this journey called life, we experience morsels of happiness or in some cases, extreme disappointment. We learn to look the other way, because happiness and joy are few and far in between; so much so that we end up allowing certain unpleasant behaviors, because we don’t want to rock the boat.

What happens each time we look the other way and bite our tongue? What is the underlying message in that? The offender believes his or her action is acceptable; therefore the behavior is allowable. Just because he or she wasn’t corrected at a proper age through proper parenting, we decide it may be too late to address it. And even when it’s affecting us directly, we do nothing about it.

If we choose to remain silent because opening our mouth will or might cost us something, such a decision is based on fear. And anything involving fear leads to confusion and hopelessness. There’s never a victory at the end of that tunnel. The most appropriate way to handle a delicate situation is to speak our peace, tell it as it is, without anger or frustration. We may not know how far he or she is willing to go with that unacceptable behavior; but we know how far we should go allowing it to happen in our lives. We too are decision makers due to our free will. We ought to decide what should or shouldn’t mold our lives, and the time when suffering through someone’s ignorance is no longer acceptable.

Courage is the opposite of fear. And our heavenly Father is the measure of courage we need based on the measure of intimacy we share with Him day in and day out; not just when things get uncomfortable or ugly. Take on the challenge and speak boldly if you know you belong to the most high God. And as you step out on faith, let Him carry the torch of righteousness until victory settles into your heart, and you’ll never have to face the burden of the same offence. God is mighty.

Alis Cerrahyan

Courage

goldfish-leaping-to-new-tankOften courage steps in when we are sick and tired of giving in. It is the knowing that all strength and determination will meet us, once we peel away the fear and the complacency we’ve allowed to hold us down. I understand those all too well; because they put out my hope and aspirations many times in the past. Today, I have unlimited hope and aspirations through God who is limitless himself. And I’m not clinging to Him because He’s limitless. I’m choosing Him over all else, because He first chose me. He died for me way before I knew what sin was. He made a way for me way before I knew I was lost. He loved and cherished me way before I knew what true love was. He chose me way before I knew who He was. He is a God of firsts. And He’ll always lead me into a more meaningful and more fulfilling relationship with Him; until I’m safely tucked in within the palm of His hand.

I grew up being surrounded with bullies. My mother took pleasure in shaming me in front of others, just so she could “nip it in the bud.” So she said. But she never took the time to teach me a better way to be. Then I married someone just like her, and continued the same existence for twenty one years; until it was time to claim my identity through Christ.

Now I’m watching my own daughter walk the path of shame when she absolutely doesn’t have to. She married someone who doesn’t work and doesn’t contribute in any positive way; yet has a mouthful when it comes to socioeconomic or political issues. He talks down on everyone who might intimidate his sensitivity. And he has plenty of those, trust me. She supports the family. He simply takes credit for everything she does.

I tried to speak up in the past. She wouldn’t hear it. I tried to tolerate her husband for my grandson’s sake. But when I realized even that little soul wasn’t inspiring enough for this man to want to be a better person, I couldn’t continue with being the spectator. I told her I was done watching his dysfunctional ways and that I would always be available for her and my grandson, if and when they needed any thing.

I pray God will have mercy on him and heal him. I know He can. And I pray He’ll also heal their little family. I don’t wish divorce on anyone. I’ve been there. But keeping my mouth shut out of fear of losing my relationship with my daughter and my grandson is no longer acceptable. I belong to God. None of my decisions should be based on fear. I will speak the truth. And I will speak it boldly.

I don’t expect God to reward me because I finally spoke up. But I know He honors the courage it took to overcome the fear. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have the kind of peace that keeps me even more connected to Him.

My prayer life is potent. My heart no longer carries the pollutants. If I don’t speak the truth with boldness, and if my mouth and my heart aren’t in sync about the truth, how could I possibly pray over the truth? Confessing the truth doesn’t always happen in front of a clergy or God himself. It has to motivate me to take a chance and leave it with God; knowing full well that He’ll sort out all the details. Blessings to all those who read this post. May you always find the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the cost.

Real Courage Comes From Trusting God

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Desmond Doss’ religion forbade him from carrying a gun or threatening another human life, which was very inconvenient when he was drafted into the Second World War.

So Doss was a conscientious objector, placed as a non-combatant, and was the target of ridicule from the other soldiers. He was serving as a field medic in Okinawa when the Japanese attacked his unit on top of a cliff, cutting down nearly every man. Doss quickly rigged up a stretcher that could be lowered by a series of ropes and pulleys to the ground below. Then, by himself and under fire, he retrieved each soldier in his unit one at a time and lowered them to safety.

President Truman said it was 75 men that Doss pulled to safety when he presented him the Medal of Honor (above), but Doss insists it was closer to 50. That was only one instance of astonishing bravery and self-sacrifice Doss displayed throughout his military service.

Doss’ courage didn’t rely on weapons. He had an open communication with God and his only armor was the Holy Spirit. He surrendered all fear and took on the full protection of faith in God, and decided to serve God.

That’s why God allowed Doss’ legacy to be based on courage. That’s what He does with ordinary people, if and when they trust abd worship Him above all else. He gives them extraordinary victories. Hallelujah to the most high God!

 

Courage Is The Byproduct Of Faith by Beth Guckenberger

Courage is not the opposite of fear. Courage is the byproduct of faith. It’s surrender and forward motion. It’s a release of control and a holy confidence in a plan bigger than the page you are on. It announces to those paying attention, you are a citizen of another place.

I met Carolina and her sister when they were three and one. They were living in an orphanage in Mexico, where my husband and I were serving. We tried to adopt them back then, but never could get the process completed. The girls were taken out of the orphanage and moved to another one (against our wishes.) We lost track of them for years and that season was difficult, not knowing if they were safe and where they were sleeping.

Eventually, we reconnected, finding them at another orphanage in our city. Elated, I was sure God was orchestrating events so we could finally be a family.

However, governments, a difficult aunt and factors I couldn’t ever put my finger on derailed my plan again, and next steps were being written by Someone other than me.

Enter courage.

The girls eventually came to my home full time almost ten years after I had originally hoped. Their journey under my roof has been an adventurous one, with high highs and low lows. It has asked of me more than I am capable of giving on my own. I ran out of patience year one. Forward motion and the Holy Spirit blended together into something akin to courage. I had about one tenth of the wisdom needed to raise two young women from hurt backgrounds. A listening spirit and a step forward kept us another day in the story.

For me, courage started to look like a dip into a holy cup; an answer to my sometimes well-timed-quietime, or a response to a desperate hail-Mary-prayer. It was a filling in where I was lacking and then a faith that I hoped would be there when I needed it most.

UNKNOWN PRAYERS ANSWERED

Finally, a couple of years ago, these young women prayed to receive Christ. I was sure the rapture was imminent (it is finished!) In the summer after that decision, a man came to visit me. He was the adult son of a woman named Barbara Shaw. He asked me if I knew her? I hadn’t ever met her, but knew by reputation, she was an intercessor, the kind of woman people passed on their prayer requests. He was sharing that she had passed away that spring and right before she died, had asked him if he would pick up praying for two children whose names she didn’t know, but whose faces were depicted in a painting someone had gifted her.

A young, talented artist had asked me for pictures of children from our ministry and then had translated them onto canvas. I sent her a stack and knew they had been auctioned off to raise money for Back2Back, but never got to see the final products.

This man shared he had been struggling since her death with his prayers, feeling like he didn’t share his mother’s gifts and had taken a photo of the painting to show me, hoping I could shed light on some specifics needs he could pray.

I looked around at my kids, after church service conversations can be trying on them, but they were all nine hanging on. I called them over to look at the picture, hoping they could help me identify the children (I silently asked God if I could make something up if no one recognized the children from the paintings… tell him some “representative needs”, but he doesn’t ever green light deception, so I looked pleadingly at my children… help me figure out who the children are!)

As soon as Mark handed us the photo, we all looked at each other and gasped, then my 15 and 17 year old foster daughters and I all started talking at once. We recognized it as a picture of them! “Well, first of all, I have a whole list of things you can pray for,” I started. “Do you realize that your mama, whom I never met, and whom never set foot on foreign soil, co-labored with me in the salvation of these lost sheep?”

We went on that afternoon to discuss the timing of her prayers and it’s correspondence to my most difficult seasons. God knew my courage had worn out. He knew my prayers were weak. He knew I needed what Barbara Shaw had in spades… faith. So for a season, he used hers to build mine.

It takes a special kind of focus to let go of our own agenda and fear can easily set in when we perceive our own loss of control, when we can’t manage our expectations.

But Lord I thought it was going to look like this… I thought you were going to allow that… Those conversations left to run rampant in my thoughtlife can snuff out the courage that wants to say, I don’t know how or when or where or really I don’t know any answer to any question, but still I will step forward. I believe the sea will split, I believe the lion won’t bite, I believe the water will hold me, I believe… I will believe with a reckless kind of faith that the limb I am metaphorically crawling out on won’t break, because it’s attached to a tree that has never fallen.

COURAGE MAKES LOVE COME EASY

My girls’ story on earth continues to be messy. I still struggle through all the natural questions parents have when earthly dreams shatter, but I am a citizen of another place. I have courage today’s page isn’t the end of the story. I take a supernatural hit from the Source of love, patience, kindness, goodness, etc… Yesterday I took the oldest shopping for her 19th birthday. I whispered into her ear as we hugged afterwards… “If the seven billion people in the planet lined up in order of how much they loved you, I would be the line leader.” Courage makes love come easy.

And so I hold on, and I trust. Then listen and step. Then cry and run out of what I need, and ask for more filling. Then I feel him respond, and give me what I need (often more than I need) and I know again I am not alone in this pursuit-of-lost-lambs.

Somehow all of that connecting between my Creator and I, translates into a relationship with a holy God who meets me when I need it most. It’s a beautiful invitation into a wildly chaotic world on the arm of the Prince of Peace. There, in that posture, I feel courage well up in me for this adventure and a thousand more.

Beth Guckenberger is the mother of a bunch of biological, adopted and foster children.  She and her husband, Todd, direct Back2Back Ministries.  Beth is the author of several books on the journey of their life abroad.

That’s a no-brainer!

I’ve had an appointment cancel today; which gave me the time to sit and rest a little while. So much to be thankful for! I feel blessed! Being behind the chair for thirty-plus years as a hairdresser, I don’t remember going home with aches and pains. I see that as a privilege; because I hear so many forms of illnesses throughout each day.

In fact, one of my coworkers is leaving the profession at the end of this month; due to health related issues. I am sad; but I know she’s doing the right thing. Most of us hairdressers don’t have a plan B. If and when things don’t work out as planned; we wouldn’t know what else to do. Especially something that could involve and invigorate the creative mind. I pray she’ll manage alright.

I remember breaking my left leg during a bicycle accident and having my entire leg in a cast about eight year ago. I was behind the chair on the third day after the accident; since I couldn’t afford to stay home. My hydraulic chair had been replaced with a stool; just so I could be slightly higher than my customers. My leg remained elevated throughout the day; even though the swelling and the throbbing occasionally became unbearable. But what else is there to do? Life has many lemons. And we, as heaven-bound sojourners, keep making lemonade. God provides. Thankfulness adds. Complaining subtracts. That’s a no-brainer! Blessings to you…

Alis Cerrahyan

Betty Benson I Knew

There have been so many stories written about my dear friend Betty Benson. Her life was tabloid-worthy from childhood on. While she was still a little girl, she got caught between her parents, during a fierce custody battle. Her mother was awarded with Betty’s care; so they moved to Virginia Beach.

Betty was tall, slim, and beautiful. At some point in her life, she started to receive countless offers from a New York modeling agency, until some day, she caught the attention of Sam Spiegel, Hollywood’s most iconic producer. She became his third wife and led the most fantastically surreal life ever possible. Sam’s shark-like personality and Oscars-worthy obnoxiousness redesigned Betty’s attributes. According to her close friend George Hamilton’s autobiography DON’T MIND IF I DO, Betty Benson Spiegel who always liked to be where the action was, in actuality, was too modest to admit the action was wherever she showed up.

After her husband’s death, Mrs. Spiegel moved back to Virginia Beach and married her second husband, Mr. David Resnik. He was the agent to many celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman… just to name a few. Betty and David were the happiest two people I’ve ever known. They were like little kids around one another.

I believe Betty’s only earthly nightmare happened when David died. She was already eighty-two and broken to pieces for the first time as she put it, “I’m too old to get over this Alis.”

I laid next to her as she moved the mahogany box filled with David’s ashes, and rested my head on what would’ve been David’s pillow. Betty was bedridden. She rarely left her bed, only to cruise around in her electric wheelchair. We talked for a long time.

I finally discovered her main torment when she said, “I’ll miss him eternally.” I said, “Honey, God’s grace and mercy will take care of this. Please don’t worry.” That’s when she told me she wasn’t a believer; that she didn’t know God. I said, “Sure you do…and I’ll prove it to you.” She looked at me with this “You must be the craziest person I have ever known…” kind of look. I didn’t let her looks intimidate me. I asked, “Did you love David with all of your heart? Did you do all you could to see him happy?” She answered, “Of course I did.” Then I asked, “Where do you think that love came from? You know God is love…and love is God. Without Him, we could never experience the limitless and unconditional love…” No one had ever told her that, in order to experience one of God’s attributes, we must possess a portion of Him inside of us. She was bewildered, yet hopeful all at the same time. So I offered the prayer of salvation, and told her she didn’t need to repeat after me, so long as she was in agreement with me. At the end of the prayer, I heard her deep sigh, as she said, “Amen.”

Betty Benson Spiegel Resnik was instantly filled with joy and gratefulness. With tears streaming down her sunken cheeks, she said, “God is good.” She continued to call me two three times a week to keep me up to date with all of the awful news about this world, since she knew I didn’t watch TV. And I still don’t. She kept telling me about her constant prayers over those poor innocent people who were struck with the disasters of this fallen world.

I believe Betty noticed them because of the intense darkness she experienced after her husband’s death. And I believe her prayers made a difference. We might shun the shadows of this world; but often, they are necessary elements that lead us to the sunlight. Betty lived another two years after that, and continued to grow as a prayer warrior. I miss her for the time being but never eternally. I know where she is.

Alis Cerrahyan

Healthy Impatience, by Jennifer Baker.

Jennifer Baker, DirectorCareerHQ.org wrote, “I was listening to the Marketplace Report on my local NPR station – one of my favorite ways to occupy my mind during my commute, aside from paying attention to the road, of course. An entrepreneur was being interviewed and the interviewer asked him if he was aware of his reputation for impatience. The entrepreneur responded that he was, but in his case it was a ‘healthy impatience.’

This characterization really struck me because, typically, impatience is not a quality to be proud of. In fact, it’s often associated with being a ‘Type A personality’ and, when chronic, can lead to an increased risk of health problems. Healthy impatience seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

I have since done some digging and found that, in fact, some levels of impatience can actually be good for us. In a 2010 story on the topic, Linton Weeks, National Correspondent for NPR Digital News writes:

Impatience can be a virtue. The country’s Founding Fathers were an impatient lot. In an 1822 letter, John Adams described the writing of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We were all in haste,’ he said of the drafting committee, which included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. ‘Congress was impatient.’

You can also find references to healthy impatience in the world of higher education and in the realm of Parent Teacher organizations, and Bill and Melinda Gates believe in the value of healthy impatience so much they’ve adopted a version of it for their Foundation’s website address – www.impatientoptimists.org.

In all cases, healthy impatience seems to be about having a clear vision and the ability to effectively corral resources to execute on that vision. It also seems be about not taking ‘no’ or ‘it can’t be done’ as the final word. And, most importantly, it seems be about knowing when to temper the eagerness and restlessness of impatience with the calmness of patience so that people and principles don’t get trampled.

This concept of healthy impatience strikes me as particularly useful in the world of associations which can, let’s face it, be a bastion for the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ and the ‘we’ve never done it that way’ mindsets. What if we were all to bring some healthy impatience to the table? Who knows?

•    Perhaps, more of our career centers would be showing up on our associations’ main website pages.

•    Or, maybe, just maybe, we would find a way to get a full page spread for our career centers in our membership and media kits versus just short bullets on pages 13 and 23 respectively.

•    Or what about this, we might raise the profile of our career centers high enough that our colleagues start coming to us to figure out how to more effectively use them as on-ramps to greater engagement with our organizations.

As the pastor of a big church here in my area says as the sign-off to his weekly radio addresses…not a sermon, just a thought.”

Staying home

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This snow storm has devastated the entire Virginia Beach area. I have no problem staying home on the weekends. I kind of look forward to it. And I don’t care to run to the grocery store for this and that. But realizing I can’t leave home, even if I wanted to, makes me a bit uneasy.

So I decided to play a new/old game this morning. I’m going to call it “Who Do I Want To Be.” When I was a little girl, I wished I was given a different name like Monica or Claudia. Alis was short and sounded boring. In fact I wasn’t at all against an entire identity change either. In my room, after having put everything away, as it was mandatory to do so, I assumed different roles such as a queen, a princess, or a professor… I pretended to have a presence that mattered to others. I demanded love and respect; things that didn’t quite come unconditionally in my family unit. Deep down inside, I was trying to make a difference for others, as well as for myself.

This morning, I’d like to make an inventory of my life, and slip my feet into those tiny little pink slippers I used to love, and decide who I’d rather be, in order to see some serious changes. Remember… I am not sixty for the time being. I am very young. In fact I’m so young that I would even shake the portable radio every once in a while, so the poor newscasters and entertainers would fall out, just to prove me right.

First of all, I would eliminate most vegetables from my diet. No more spinach, okra, or btussel sprouts! Oh, but I have already done that. Next, I would indulge in cookies and desserts. Well, I’ve been doing that too. I would quit school and study only what interests me. Check! I would travel and see different parts of the world. Been doing that too. I would treat my kids as adults, instead of telling them not to speak until spoken to. I believe I’ve mastered that one already. They are my equal. They seem not to have any problem, when and if we all need to address an issue. I’d also like to hire a maid, since I still dislike household chores; such as dusting, scrubbing toilets, etc. I haven’t done that!

It’s after the holidays. If all I need is a maid, I guess my life isn’t all that bad. I don’t need a new identity for that. I don’t need a new name either. Alis will do. Wishing you a Happy and a Prosperous New Year. Thank you for reading.

Alis Cerrahyan