Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chapter Six: My Redeemer

Written by: Teresa Criswell
Copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

King Jesus led me by the hand as we walked together. The moon illuminated the dark, starlit sky, yet with a haze of smoke coming forth from the distance, everything around me was intensified. As I heard the leaves rustling together in the wind, I was drawn to this beautiful mountain, when I heard my King Jesus say, “Do you want to see the amazing sight over this hill?” With excitement, I said, “Yes, King Jesus! Wherever you go, I want to go!”

As we ran together, the night wind passed through my hair and at that moment I felt as though the whole world was in slow motion, experiencing peace annihilate every part of my being. When we reached the incredible scene I realized where the smoke was coming from. It was an amazing bonfire. I was surprised to see such a huge fire with only one person. There she stood, a beautiful woman. Jesus drew me near as He whispered, “Watch and see her need be fulfilled.” I watched Him walk to her as I stood off to the distance. My curiosity of what He would do next, drew me closer. As I drew closer I realized it was her; the girl who I saw in my dreams. There she stood before the bonfire emptying the contents of a box that was simply labeled “lies”.

It was amazing as I watched, to know that as she emptied this box of ‘lies’ the One who stood beside her was Truth!

She looked to her side and realized that Jesus her King stood beside her. As tears streamed down her fire lit cheeks, she started to shake as tears welled up within her innermost parts. She slowly handed the box over to Jesus. I watched Him gently grasp one of her hands as He so beautifully accepted the box with His other hand. To hear His gigantic, gorgeous whisper I heard Him say, “You are ready, you can do this, I Am with you.”

Together they emptied the contents of this box into the fire. He did something incredibly amazing. He not only emptied the box but He threw the box itself into the fire. Right before my eyes, I saw the ‘scales’ literally be removed from her eyes. It was not just one layer but it seemed to be layer after layer. As the scales came off, her countenance changed right before my eyes. It was as though I could see the thoughts going through her mind. They seemed to be thoughts of peace and new territories of freedom that she dared even dream existed. She sat down with her legs criss-crossed as she sat on the ground and her arms rested on the side of her knees as she made sure that the contents of the box and the box itself were truly being consumed never to return.

It seemed like an eternity as she stared into the dimming, crackling fire. She finally spoke to Jesus. She said, “How could I have left you Lord? Thank you for Your forgiveness over me for living a life as if to say, there was something better than You.”

With regret in her voice, she said, “Where would I have been if only I had been with you?” As Jesus the King sat with her, He so passionately touched the tip of her chin and softly lifted her head that seemed to hang in shame. He lifted her head, as tears streamed down her face. He said, “If you would have stayed with Me all those years you would be right where you are.”

When I heard those words spoken to her, I was still with awe. I thought, “Wait! So that is what it is! Redemption! It is truly an active experience as the Redeeming power of God came upon her.” He was truly The Redeemer. He turned those ashes into beauty. I believed when He said, “You would be right where you are” I don’t believe He meant in the literal sense of this dimension of time, however I believe He meant her heart’s desire was now for Him, right where it needed to be; where her heart was destined to remain.

I now ask you, “Can you see her?” “Can you see the tiara upon her head?” “Do you see her looking into the eyes of God?” “Can you see her dancing?” “Can you see her smiling?” “Can you finally see her pleased with who she is?” “As you see her, do you see yourself?”

You must know by now that He is holding you with arms of unfailing love! He wants to lavish you with His loving faithfulness which is higher than the highest mountain. His love is deeper than the deepest sea even more than all the bodies of water on this earth put together.

He redeems you from what you could not and cannot become on your own. What is it about Him that can change your perspective of yourself in one life altering moment? The life changing perspective is because of His love. His Love is an “All-Consuming Fire” that burns and disintegrates the lies.

Do you see His loving hands extended out to you? I plead with you! Take His Mighty Hands. “He will lead you to paths of life.” “He will make those crooked paths straight” (Psalm 16:11, Isaiah 42:16).

When adversity comes, why go through it alone? He conquered adversity, which makes you more than a conqueror…you get to go through it with Him knowing what waits for you on the other side…Victory!

Go to the fire with King Jesus and allow Him to burn that cloak of lies that have been deceptively hemmed together with bitterness, unworthiness, unforgiveness, hate and strife. Watch what He does with the ashes of that cloak…be amazed by what only He can do...REDEEM!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chapter Five: Beauty for Ashes

Written by: Teresa Criswell
Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

As I fell asleep, I drifted into a beautiful dream.

I suddenly appeared in the most unforgettable valley with sculpting, cascading mountains all around me. I took notice of the beautiful, breathtaking trees, their height so grand; their green leaves so vibrant with color. The smells, the color and especially the scenery were overwhelmingly real. I watched the rushing, translucent waters brilliantly flowing over rocks bending into streams and rivers. I could hear the sound of a violently rushing, beautiful river to the distance and the picturesque sound of an amazing waterfall crashing upon the waters below.

The beauty was intoxicating for all my senses. The smells and scenery were so crisp with effervescent life.

As I stood in amazement, suddenly the thought of the unforgettable girl came to my mind. I wondered, “Where is she?” I knew I was to find her to see what she had become. As soon as I had the thought of her, I saw a beautiful silhouette of a woman off to the distance. She looked remarkable, she had transformed from a feeble, insecure girl; filled with shame, into an elegant, incredibly beautiful woman.

I noticed she was barefoot and twirling about in the meadow; the grass somewhat high as I saw each twirling step she took and at the same time I could hear the sound of grass crunching beneath her feet. She was humming a joyful sound.

Her long beautiful hair tossed so freely around her face and along her back as she aimlessly sang and danced. The golden highlights pierced through her dark brown hair as the sunlight shone upon her head.

Off to the distance, I saw the beautiful animals from the mountains curiously coming out, watching her in wonder. Their ears perked up as they were still with awe. It was so cute to watch their heads move ever so slightly as if they were puzzled. When I came closer to where she was, I saw what looked like dirt flying out of her hands as she twirled about. She released what looked like ashes into the wind for it seemed she knew something miraculous was about to happen.

As she twirled about, I saw the smile upon her beautiful face, her teeth glistening white as she effortlessly spun around and floated about like a feather. She was stunning to watch. I marveled and I watched her dance to a sound of freedom. It was as if the whole world had disappeared and it was just her and her Father God. Her hair swung about her face, bouncing back and forth upon her shoulders, caressing her back. I loved watching her as she ran with her hands down by her side as they glided along the long blades of grass. She tumbled and rolled onto the ground; giggling with relief. Suddenly still, she laid there on the ground, closing her eyes, basking in the warm sun as she looked up with a smile of contentment at the clear blue sky.

As she opened her mouth to speak it sounded like a song, a beautiful melody of freedom and joy. Her voice so softly and gently spoke to God. She spoke so softly to Him as though He were lying next to her holding her hand. She giggled as a little girl curled up in safety as though she was next to her Daddy. She said in a child like voice, “I love you God.”

I could see the splendor of His Peace come over her as she turned over on her side and curled up into a ball and gracefully with peace fell asleep. She was a woman of beauty.

As she fell asleep…I awoke to reality. I yearned to dance like she did. In my pajamas I eagerly jumped out of bed with excitement as a little girl and began to twirl. As I twirled about, I smiled and looked up, remembering the freedom at that moment from when I was a child. I looked down at the carpeted floor below my feet, twirling some more, and the area that I twirled in seemed to turn into a giant “cinnamon roll”. The joy came over me as I giggled in dizziness. As I twirled, for that moment all the cares and worries literally ‘flew’ away from my consciousness. This expression allowed me to come to God as a little princess knowing, without doubt, who my King was.

I reminisce of the dream and realized that God so passionately took every evil, vile thing that she gave to Him and He dissolved it with His amazing, glorious Love. His presence, His All-Consuming Fire of Love burned it up and caused it to cease from existence in her life. She may have a memory of it but the pain and sting of that memory ceased all together.

I am so enveloped in the recollection of the dream that I became caught up in another vision. Immediately I was startled as I heard what sounded like trumpets sounding from heaven. I spun around quickly as I heard the sound of horse’s hoofs and suddenly I saw the Mighty Man of Valor, The King adorned in Peace who came towards me down from the mountains, it was Jesus!

As I saw Him approaching I just knew that He was coming for her, when to my surprise He stopped right before me and He smiled. Oh his smile melted me in my place as I stared into the most loving eyes I had ever seen. His eyes filled with purity, vast as the sky, so pure and eternal, His unforgettable eyes painting a picture with me in it.

He reached His Arm of Salvation out to me as I grabbed hold of Him. With overwhelming strength He swung me up and around to ride behind Him on His beautiful white stag. There was nothing I could say but hold on to Him as He galloped away with me embracing Him; not wanting to let go of Him. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to let go because of the fear of falling; I didn’t want to let go because of who I was holding onto. The only thing I could do at this moment as my face pressed against His strong back was to embrace Him. I could smell His amazing fragrance. The fragrances were so lovely, the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon. I have smelled many beautiful fragrances but this smell was heavenly, peaceful and strong.

I was captivated by His fragrance and realized with awe that I was getting to ride with none other than the King of kings. It would seem that the blades of grass, the trees, the animals and waters were bowing down to Him as we galloped by. His presence annihilated everything with His love; I thought to myself, “How could I for one moment ever stress about who I am ever again”? “I know who I am because I am starting to know who He truly is.”

When I rode with Him, I knew that I was important; I knew that I was beautiful. As I heard the words come out of His mouth, it would seem as if the whole world stopped to hear this Voice that could never be mimicked. For His voice was of love and compassion accompanied with authority and strength. In awe, I heard Him say, “Do you know how I long for you?” This question not only startled me but it also paralyzed me as I was in awe to hear such words come out of His amazing mouth. This mind blowing thought, “You long for me?” At that moment, I knew the answer was “yes” for the answer was revealed as I was in His glorious presence.

His presence was like a heartbeat that pulsated with unfailing love. Worthiness was what he crowned upon my head and then placed around my neck the jewels of wisdom and understanding. When I felt His hands caress my neck it caused me to want Him even more. The realization of who was with me, I became weak as I became obsessed with Him. I found myself wanting only Him and nothing else and no one else.

No wonder the girl twirled about and lay freely on the ground so sure of who she was. Jesus, The King adorned in peace, rescued her.

I then realized this desperate obsession I had for Him was only a glimpse of how He longs to be in continual fellowship with us. His love for you and for me has consumed and annihilated the shame, regrets, unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and grudges we have embraced long enough and He has replaced it with His glorious beauty of redemption and restoration.

Will you allow His beauty upon your life?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chapter Four: The Eye of the Beholder

Written By: Teresa Criswell
Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

I awoke to a memory.

Just as the little girl in the beginning, so I was. I knew how beautiful I was. Yet, the devastating memorable moment when it all changed, the moment I entered my kindergarten class.

The mirror I looked into was shattered. I looked into the distorted object which reflected the hurtful insults. My peers did not see beauty in me and in turn I allowed them to become the “eye of the beholder” in my life.

I must say, I remembered that day so vividly. The transition was unfair, for I was a princess at home, yet when coming to school for the first time, I was suddenly different. I did not realize how different until that very moment.

I remember the first insult that was hurled at me, as they pointed their fingers, “Ewwwwww, Chinese.” As the kids said it, they pulled their eyes in a slanted position and laughed. I remember just wanting to crawl into a hole.

Almost immediately I allowed that day to mold me into an insecure, resentful young girl. I began resenting my own mother who is Korean and thinking to myself, “I’m made fun of because of her. I wish I was light haired and had light eyes.” I remember wanting to be of no part of my culture whatsoever. I thought to myself, “My mom ruined my life.” Of course, that was a lie, but this is what started forming in my little mind.

I could no longer hear the compliments of the people who loved me and whom I loved, for I did not hear confirmations outside the home; I only heard the opposite. I was focused on the negative insults hurled at me almost daily as a little girl. I fought back with mean words, which did not help my situation or anyone else’s. Of course as a child, this was and is hard to comprehend.

So I interrupt this memory and ask you a question…who is the “eye of the beholder” in your life? Is it you, your peers, your spouse? Or is it Almighty God, the One who created you? If the eye of the beholder is you, then this could be a detriment if what you see is of despair. I believe this issue alone affects our relationships with our family, spouse and sadly enough even our own children.

We need to step back, wake up and pay attention to what we are saying about ourselves; especially when in the presence of our children. We need to listen to ourselves and know that our children observe our self-destructive comments and will most likely turn on the heels of the lie we have spoken over ourselves and believe it for themselves.

Our children are so much more aware of life than we give them credit for. So many times they are aware and sensitive to our feelings, more so than we are. They will often wonder, “Why is mom sad?” “Why is mom upset?” “Did I do something to make mom feel that way”?
The negative words we speak over our lives, we have received as gifts, when they were not intended to be received at all (Proverbs 18:21).

Who knew that the enemy would not have to use his own weaponry…but we could commit self-sabotage on our own lives to demoralize and even defame who God says we are.

Have you ever heard yourself talk about who you are as a person? I have caught myself cut down on many areas of who I am and in turn defame the person in whom God created.

We have actually believed that we have a ‘right’ to say these awful things about ourselves. What and who gave us this right? It is not God, because we are to live our life to glorify Him, not ourselves. How does it glorify God when we say the opposite of what He says about us?

It is evidently clear that this does not glorify God because with our words and actions we say with great ignorance that The King of kings ultimately made a mistake; which we know ~ He cannot lie nor does He have the ability to make mistakes (Numbers 23:19).
As it so eloquently is recorded in Isaiah 29:16 (New Living Translation), "How stupid can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you. You are only the jars he makes! Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “He didn’t make us”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”?”

When I read this scripture I was astounded at the same accusation I unknowingly had towards God. Me, being the clay, judging God, the Potter, as if to say He knows nothing about what I am, when He is, The Great I Am!

Isn’t it amazing how we think we have it all figured out? God is so merciful, no wonder he says, “My mercy is new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). The mercy He has over us is actually for Himself, we become beneficiaries of that mercy as He is so patient over us.

Are you ready to live a life of True Freedom in Christ Jesus? It is readily available. Are we willing to fix our eyes upon the beautifully adorned mirror? If so, God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth is so lovingly, I would presume sighing with relief as The Great I Am says of you, “You have finally believed what I have said of you all along. My beautiful princess, you are adorned in My radiant love over you; for I Am enthralled by your beauty, you have finally looked into the mirror I see you in.”
(Referencing, Psalm 45:10 & 11).

You might even ask, “Why do you keep emphasizing beauty?” I believe it is the core of God’s creation throughout the earth. He is the Author of True Beauty. I keep emphasizing beauty because it is emphasized every day in front of our eyes wherever we go. However the beauty that we have been exposed to has been through the impure, sadistic ways of the world.

Personally, I lived a life of “please approve of me.” I would conform to anything you wanted, sadly, no matter the cost. If it cost my family, okay, as long as you accept me. It was a sad and misconstrued way of living and I lived it.

In fact, I would not even call it living, but existing as a life with absolutely no purpose. I didn’t live on purpose, I lived as though every choice I made was an accident. I lived a life of looking into the mirror and not realizing that there I stared into the eyes of a precious spirit whom God fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).

When your eyes meet your reflection in the mirror, do you catch a glimpse of a precious jewel that the world does not yet know about? As you look into the mirror do you see a glimmer of hope? Do you see a woman who has filled herself up with lies and now realizes that it is about time she knows the truth?

What is the truth? You are a woman of strength and might. Your Father is the King of kings. He with passion and pleasure lets the kingdom know that you are His daughter. He bids you to come so that the world may see what has been violently kidnapped from them. You have something that they never knew they needed until they laid eyes upon you. There is something inside you from the Lord that must get out! Your gift is not to be hoarded, but to be graciously received by others.

God desires to deliver us from living the counterfeit life and delivering you into the life you were meant to live; the authentic life, revealing His majestic, glorious beauty!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chapter Three: The King Adorned In Peace

God Is Enthralled By Your Beauty
Finally Looking Into The Mirror He Sees You In
Written by: Teresa Criswell
Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman where are they?
Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
~ John 8:10-11 (NIV)

I was swept back into this indescribable dream. As I watched her I did not expect what would happen next. Her eyes did not blink as they were fixed to something with amazement! As her eyes were fixed, so mine became fixed upon the indescribable silhouette of a Man standing with great posture and stillness. However, this man was like no other. As He stood, He exuded great strength, He looked familiar and this man was in her room.

Walking closer to her, my eyes slowly gazed from the top of His head and down His amazing face. His head so beautifully graced with dark hair. His amazing eyes filled with love. His chiseled jaw line as if He were carved out of a mountain. His lips so full as if I could see power sitting on the end of them. His neck thick and shoulders broad; defined as if the world sat upon them. His arms sculpted with strength and His hands scarred with gigantic scars, with amazing, indescribable power. His stature so tall, so mighty and becoming, I could not keep my eyes off of Him.

The world I was in seemed to stand still. Yet suddenly interrupted as my eyes were peeled from Him as I turned to look at her; she was frozen with shock.

The silence interrupted by her crackling voice as she softly asked, “Who are you?” He answered her with His powerful, deep, yet gentle, loving voice and said, “It is I, your King, and I am here to rescue you from the lies of bitterness, guilt, shame and unworthiness.”

Hearing His voice caused me to tremble; His mighty voice sounded like many waves crashing against the sea. His voice filled with both authority and intense love. It was as though if He were to speak one more word, I would experience supernatural ecstasy. I longed for Him. I wanted Him like I wanted no other. I pled in secret for her to want Him; allowing Him to carry it all. I desired for her that He would be allowed to carry her out of this tormenting place of secrecy.

Suddenly, I jumped as I saw her jump with fear! She was not in fear of Him, yet she saw something, something I could not see, yet so painful that she actually turned her head from her King as if to say she was not good enough for Him. This thing she saw was none other than one of the enemy’s greatest weapons of warfare; shame.

I saw her body fall to the ground as though she lost all the life left in her. Her limp body lying on the ground, and her face contorted in pain. Violently screaming, she placed her hands on her ears as if to stop the tormenting voices of condemnation only she could hear.

I pled for her to set her eyes upon and reach out to her King! This became intensely frustrating as she could not hear me, nor did she know that I was a groaning spectator, watching her in disbelief. Yet, The King waited patiently.

I watched this man with great intensity. He held her in His arms so ripped with strength, holding her seemingly lifeless body in His arms of indescribable, passionate strength. Her body convulsed violently as though she were being riddled by bullets of guilt. I was overwhelmed with sadness as I noticed that she was unaware that she was being passionately and lovingly held by this Mighty King of kings.

His lips so passionately pressed up against her tear stained cheeks. He wept over her weak body. It seemed hopeless. She believed the lie so deeply that her natural ear could only hear the lies of confusion. She came up off the floor; tearing herself away from this Mighty King and ran with shame, yet again, into ‘The Place of Secrecy”.

All I could do was scream with great pleading, hoping with great expectation that my desperate cries on her behalf would penetrate the invisible wall that separated her and I.

I cried out, “O God why is she so drawn to this place of secrecy?” Like an ariel view, I could see her room like I had not seen it before. I not only saw the distorted glass object that appeared to be a mirror, but I also saw the beautifully adorned mirror. I discovered that all she has to do was turn one hundred eighty degrees. If she chose to do this, I knew her eyes would be able to see clearly. She would once again see herself through the eyes of her Father.

I saw the mighty King standing as He interceded on her behalf. The way He prayed shook the foundations of this place with awesome power and majesty. It was as though the whole world had stopped. Time seemed to stop as I was swept away by His voice that spoke with such awesome authority. I had never heard any man speak with this kind of authority before. He was beyond confident. He was beyond valiant. He was amazing to watch. He was amazing to listen to.

Mesmerized by His amazing voice, I noticed as He walked silently to the door that opened to this place of secrecy. I sensed He was about to speak again, leaning in with great anticipation. He slowly and gently opened the door and I heard Him say in a gentle yet strong whisper, “O my beloved, why do you choose to do this alone?”

What I saw next was nothing short of amazing! I saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes! She looked up to her King and with a sigh of great effort, she started to stand as she so tightly grasped His amazing forearms and leaned into Him placing her head on His chest and with everything she had she desperately fell into Him. He with one hand, caressed her face, lifting her head. She began to cry with what seemed like everything she had. Her whole body quivered as the inner cries poured out.

I was taken by surprise by His loving mercy over her. To hear Him cry over her was so heart wrenching and I realized His passionate love for her. He knew who she was to become. He saw her through eyes of beauty. Watching Him hold her was so pure, yet it took my breath away. His mighty arms so defined; engulfing her whole being.

It was the most powerful scene to watch Him hold her; seeing restoration revealed right before my eyes. The restoration came upon her head, her eyes, and her heart and all the way down to the soles of her feet. The girl I once watched with amazement is literally being restored right before my eyes.

The Kings hands embraced her face as His hands held her blushing cheeks. His loving hands removing the dirt and tears off her beautiful face. He ran His hands so gently through her hair. She looked into His eyes and He looked into hers. As if time had stopped, He brought her close and placed His beautiful lips upon her forehead. Miraculously, this glorious light from His presence engulfed her being and I saw this miraculous transformation.

At the power of this transformation; I heard evil screams come forth. However, the screams were not of her. They were the screams of the voices of guilt, bitterness, shame and unworthiness that had no chance in the presence of the King! King Jesus!

The transformation of this glorious light chases out those lying voices. It is like seeing an empty vessel be filled to overflowing with truth.

I watched with joy as I saw her turn with the King and she finally looked into the beautifully adorned mirror. As she looked she was stunned to see her new image. Her eyes now filled with freedom.

He slowly arose and lovingly reached out His hands to hers. She had a glorious, beaming smile upon her face.

Then, I awoke…

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chapter Two: The Place of Secrecy

Written By: Teresa Criswell
Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

To watch her overwhelmed me with sadness. She stared at the distorted image of herself. Hopelessness annihilated her whole being.

I watched in disbelief as her weak, limp body convulsed like a rag doll as the lies of the enemy came at her like flying bullets. I watched her with painful compassion, as she seemed to be lifeless on the ground.

What I witnessed next was horrifying. Right before my eyes I saw a treacherous leach-like creature, it slithered on the cold ground; about four feet in length and about six inches wide as it slowly crept onto her body. The creature had a name and it was called, ‘Bitterness’.

The manifestation of Bitterness was alarming. It literally changed and disfigured everything about her. The hope of that little girl that she once was, was now gone. It would seem as though there would be no trace of her again.

I painfully watched as this girl once full of life; whimpered with cries of hopeless regret. It seemed from the sounds of her cries that Bitterness was attaching itself to her in unimaginable pain. The eerie sound of her pain was overwhelming to my ears.

In the midst of the painful sounds of her cries, I heard her crying out, “Daddy”! “Daddy”! He immediately answered with a voice so booming and beautiful. Yet, even in His embracing voice, she did something that alarmed me and that was to ask a question that I could never bear to hear again, especially to ask such a question to the Father God. With a bitter tone and her fists clenched in anger, she yelled, “Why did you let this happen?”

The loud cry of bitterness was so painful. She inhaled deeply as if to cry even louder in between her cries and her breath. Then there was an excruciating, indescribable silence. The silence could be described as utter darkness to the ears. My ears had not experienced silence to this degree.

Crawling on the ground, I suddenly felt the ground shake below me, it shook with such power; it was God’s Mighty tears falling to the ground.

Suddenly, I saw these two amazing hands. These hands were so beautiful. Hands so detailed with power. Hands I had never seen before as they tenderly took hold of her. His loving, booming voice said, “O my princess I am not to be judged. I am God and I cannot nor will not forsake any of my children.”

She jumped angrily out of His unforgettable Hands without saying a word. However, her heart and eyes said it all as they filled with hate towards Him.

He stayed by her side as He whispered His promises, choking back loving tears. She drowned out His loving whisper by screaming and running into a room I had not yet seen until that very moment. The name above the door was posted a sign, “The Place of Secrecy”. As she ran into the room, slamming the door behind her I could hear the tormenting screams.

In the midst of the screams, I suddenly heard a loud hammering sound. As I looked away, squinting my eyes afraid of what I might see, I placed my hands over my ears. Slowly opening my eyes, I could see in my peripheral vision the door slowly opening. Suddenly my sense of smell caught an odor that filled the air. The odor was unbearable.. The only way to describe it was that it compared to that of a rotting corpse.

I was saddened to find that this girl that I once watched in amazement; this girl I once envied, I could hardly look upon, as sadness annihilated every part of me.

I realized in that moment that the unbearable odor which was so distinct, was the disturbing odor of what seemed to be unforgiveness. I saw it as an infectious wound that had never been treated, resulting in rottenness.

Curiosity captured me as the dream now placed me in “The Place of Secrecy.” It was unbelievable what my eyes were seeing. Overwhelming fear overtook me as I sat trembling in her closet. Yet in that same moment, my eyes would not allow me to look away for I could not believe what I was seeing.

The images I saw can only be described as photographs. Many photographs sprawled about as they captured the painful moments of betrayal, lies, divorce, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, grudges, unimaginable sins she had committed and sins that had been committed against her.

Within the photographs, I could not see the faces as they had been carved out with what could have been a ‘knife of hate’. These disturbing photographs that I saw before me cannot be articulated. The pictures of herself; they were pictures of self-inflicted wounds due to the overwhelming feeling of unworthiness.

Suddenly, the sense of touch below my feet caught me off guard as I realized I was standing in what I could only describe as warm goop. I slowly looked down with caution not knowing what I would see. As I looked down, I saw that beneath my feet I was standing in none other than her vomit. It was as if my two senses of touch and smell came together as one, causing great nausea.

The odor was unbearable; I would have to assume that when she opened the door to that place of secrecy she was unable to open it alone. She hammered the images into this place of secrecy with her eyes shut. It would seem that if she opened her eyes for a moment the images that were in this place were too much for even her stomach to bear.

Suddenly I disappeared from the scene and awoke in a cold sweat. The nightmare was so real and again so familiar. I asked God, “If it was too painful for her to see the images, why was she hammering those obscene images into this place of secrecy? Was this her way of punishing herself?”

I asked myself, “Are there things in my life that I have hidden that even I cannot bear to see on my own?” It came immediately to my spirit and the answer was, “Yes.”

I found myself praying and pleading to God for this girl. I pled with unimaginable desperation, “Please open the door to the “Place of Secrecy” for her and even for me. This is a place of secrecy that she cannot bear to open herself!”

The pleading led me to ask myself, “Why is it that most daughters of God have chosen to look into this distorted object of what we think is a mirror?” “Why are we unknowingly drawn to ugliness versus beauty?”

I believe there are many issues, but the main natural reason is due to the deep wounds and ugly scars we have dared not look upon. Now why do we try to place those things into a place of secrecy? I believe it is not only survival mode, but also because we tell ourselves it is better to ignore it and act as though it never happened, when in actuality it is as a festering poison in every area of our lives. There are wounds of guilt and unworthiness that must be revealed. Now please know what is revealed should not be the focus, but the focus is to give it to Your Rescuing Savior so that what you give to Him can be replaced with what God has so readily available for us ~ innocence and worthiness.

Our beautiful Father God desires for us to come to Him, no matter what we have done or have not done. He wants to lift us up, not to oppress us or be a victim of condemnation. We are His children. We are His daughters.

We as His daughters will not be able to bear the opening of that door without our Father’s glorious love and grace. We must call upon Him!

I believe we will realize that this is not a bother to Him when we call upon Him. He wants us to call out to Him. He desires for us to know who we are in Him, but more than anything, and most importantly we must know Who He is!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chapter One: What Mirror Are You Looking Into?

Written by: Teresa Criswell
Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Definition of Mirror:
1: A polished or smooth surface
(As of glass) that forms images by reflection
2: A true representation.

“For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].”
I Corinthians 13:12 (Amp.)

I was enamored by the luxurious golden room filled with purity; draped with elegance and beauty.

I secretly watched with delightful awe as this beautiful girl gazed across the room into her beautifully adorned mirror. She ran closer to the mirror with whimsical grace; seeing herself with amazement as the mirror revealed such magnificent beauty!

Awestruck, she gazed into the mirror at her beautiful almond shaped eyes. Her long lashes framing her beautiful piercing, brown eyes; they fluttered gracefully as a butterfly. Stepping back with her fingers on her lips, she tilted her head to the side as if she heard a whisper. She smiled with assurance, and sighed with contentment, knowing who she was. She gracefully closed her eyes as if she could hear the whisper in her ear which spoke of dreams of romance.

The whisper led her in a dance around the room; her dress spread open like a beautiful bell. The dress so perfectly twirled around her as it suspended in the air. Her arms spread open, as her head tilted back; her long hair effortlessly tossed about as she freely danced to a song that I could not hear ~ only her ears could hear what seemed to be a beautiful melody. I found myself watching with envy, as she danced to a song ~ it would seem to be a song that had never graced our ears on earth, this song; only heard in heaven.

She danced so beautifully, an expression of her spirit that took flight as a soaring eagle. I was amazed by her knowing of who she was! She beheld the beauty of God and in seeing this, she was pleased.

I was so taken by the way she stared into the mirror. It was as though she could hear the distinct loving voice of her Father God. The music must have been the symphony of freedom. As I continued to watch in awe, it would seem that she could hear her Daddy accompanying the ‘symphony of freedom’ with His lyrics of beauty.

I realized with great astonishment that this little girl I secretly watched was none other than ~ me. I stood in disarray. I felt as if the ground and my body became one as I began to weep. I asked with a crying scream in disbelief, “Where did I go?” “What happened?”

Upon regaining my composure, I let out a cry of desperation. I found myself screaming for her and the only thing I could do was shout over and over with all that was within me, “Come back!” Yet it seemed my shouting only pushed her further away.

Suddenly! I awoke from what seemed like reality, gasping for air, I finally regained my breath.

Upon this awakening, I pondered the thought of being a child. It moved me as I realized many children seem to perceive the world through the eyes of purity. I must say that the reminiscing thought of being a small child was beyond an awakening, it was overflowing amazement.

The beautiful girl that I watched with envy was truly blessed by her Father God. She saw the world she lived in with the eyes of a pure heart; the indescribable yearning and God given desire, to be free, loving, and to just be ~ His daughter and princess. She possessed a pure, loving heart that wanted to help every hurting person, every creature great and small. It was as though she lived her life looking into His mirror of beauty.

As she danced watching her reflection in the mirror; I could see her imaginations of herself dancing with the most handsome prince. Her dance revealed that without a doubt or question she was the most beautiful princess in all the land.

I then asked myself, “How did she come to this compelling realization that she was beautiful?” That is when I was lovingly reminded of the beautiful scripture in Psalm 139:14, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” I ponder yet again; we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Her display of gratitude and the graceful dance unto God revealed how God so beautifully placed this into our spirit. Daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, friend…you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I realized with joy, that in the life of our once three year-old daughter, Tristin was absolutely in awe of herself. Tristin was mesmerized by who she was. She looked into any mirror with confidence. It was as though I could see through those eyes of purity that she dreamed gigantic dreams. I remember when she would look into the mirror; or I should say, any mirror, she would turn her head slightly, placing her little hands on her hips and then naturally posing. She looked up at me with a serious grin on her face as her beautiful eyes pierced mine, wistfully asking in her small, yet high pitch voice, “What you think, Mom?” We giggled with each other and I had the opportunity to tell her that she was and still is the most beautiful little princess in the whole world.

Naturally she looked up at me with her big, beautiful, brown eyes and said, “Thank you!” She said it with absolute assuredness. Most of all, she was glad that Mom agreed with what she already thought so confidently about herself.

As I drifted back to sleep the same girl was before me in my dream. She was enchanted by this amazing, loving voice. As I looked a little closer I realized, as tears streamed down my face, that as she looked into the beautifully adorned mirror, she was beholding The Eyes of her loving Father God and saw herself the way He saw her ~ with His grace and His beauty.

In an instant, faster than a suddenly moment, I saw something that did not make sense, yet I could not deny what I saw, for it was right before me. There it was; a dark cloud moving in towards and over her. It was moving fast into the room as it finally hovered over her. The cloud produced what would seem to be raindrops, yet, when I leaned into hear the rain fall, what I heard shocked me. I realized the rain fall was disguised with actual voices of the enemy influencing the world, repetitively chanting in an evil whisper, “You are not worthy.” “You are ugly.” “You have no beauty.” “You are not important.” “Shut Up! You have no voice.”
I shouted at the voices, closing my ears not being able to bear one more voice of “death” spoken over her. I watched her as I prayed with great anticipation that she would ignore the deceptive voices. I had not yet seen her so scared until this very moment. She covered her head, shrinking into a position of helplessness.

To my dismay, this is when the unimaginable happened; she took her eyes off the beautifully adorned mirror and as though she was under a ‘spell’, her eyes looked different, her beautiful smile ~ vanished. I grabbed hold of the floor as my nails clenched the ground, gritting my teeth in utter disgust and anger screaming, “They are lying to you! Don’t listen to them! Look into the mirror!”

The voice that was so familiar, the voice of her Daddy, she felt overwhelmed and no longer looking into the mirror of beauty, she could no longer hear Him. As I watched in disbelief, the repetitive voices took over. She walked in unison and to the rhythm of the voices. She unknowingly walked over to the covered, uninviting object; so cold and overwhelmingly possessing utter depression.

She seemed to be in a trance and the eerie, evil voices subtly transformed from a whisper to a faint shout, as I heard, “Uncover it, uncover it…” Her hand slowly reached for the torn, aged fabric; old and tattered. The texture of the fabric was rough and heavy, somewhat comparable to an old, rough potato bag material. I could tell that the fabric had been used many times over. I pled with her, “Please! Listen and follow the voice of your Father God!”

Simultaneously as I pled with her, she slowly reached out her hand and uncovered the object. No! O God, No! What I saw was horrific! The girl that once danced to the song of beauty was now still. She was still with shock, looking into a glass object. This object looked like a mirror, but it was not. Her image, her reflection was distorted. She was so beautiful, yet the glass object revealed no beauty, the revealing object stripped her of what she truly was. She was looking into none other than the object of deception. The object was meant to kill her innocence, steal her purity and destroy her knowing of who she was.

When I saw her image all I could see was what she saw, and that was a girl who was battered, and full of despair. The evidence of life had been stripped from her eyes. The beautiful dress that she had been wearing was now violently replaced with torn and filthy rags.

Not only were my senses of what I saw overwhelming, but now the smell. The only thing I could compare the smell to is the smell of decay, revealing overwhelming sadness. The image was so familiar and then it ‘hit’ me; this is when I believed the lie, versus continuing to believe the truth. To actually see at that very moment the devices and weapons of the enemy was utterly devastating.

Does this scene sound familiar? Is this you? Are you gripping your heart as it aches for this girl who has been deceived? Are you feeling a righteous indignation rise up within you as you realize that the beautifully adorned mirror, were as the loving eyes of God being rejected as she chose to see through the lies of the enemy. She chose the enemy’s lie of bondage over the Truth of Freedom from her Father.

The mirror waits patiently for you to see what God sees. Are you looking into the loving eyes of God, or are you looking into the eyes of the enemy?

Awake, my sister! Awake! Hear the voice of your Father God!

“Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you - rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”
~ Isaiah 60:1, AMP ~

Monday, February 7, 2011

God Is Enthralled By Your Beauty: Introduction

Author: Teresa Criswell
Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
The power of beauty seems to have disappeared and all that remains is the cloud of smoke that has sadly settled with perversion. The world’s definition of beauty mutilates and destroys, as shallowness attempts to replace the true definition of depth.

This is a charge to all women, from the young to the elderly: we must know and realize the power of beauty and purity. The power of purity is not to be confused with timidity or fear; but beauty and purity of the Lord avails powerful strength; revealing who He is. We have tremendous responsibility to stand in our rightful place as daughters of the King. We must break down the walls of seclusion, insecurity, shame and masculinity disguised as feminism. We are not called to be men; we are called to be women of grace, executing righteousness.

Imagine for a moment, looking into the loving eyes of God. Wow! To be overwhelmingly surprised as you begin to see who you truly are! His beautiful princess, His beautiful daughter, adorned in His amazing love, forgiveness, mercy, peace, gentleness and faithfulness as precious jewels adorn the crown upon our heads. Realizing we are clothed in the finest linen the world has ever seen; the linen of His grace. Our eyes filled with purity and gentleness.

Instead, many women look into the deceptive eyes of the enemy; clothed in torn, wrinkled, heavy garments of ugliness. The heavy coat of self-hatred, unforgiveness, judgment, anxiousness and depression is worn as the eyes of many are sadly filled with despair and hopelessness.

My beloved sister I believe that Jesus pleads with each of us and says, “No more my beautiful princess, I have delivered you from the lies of the enemy.” In the Word of God the Lord desires “…To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”—Isaiah 61:3.

When reading this book I believe you will find the journey of falling in love with the little girl you once knew and bring her forth to know her rightful place as a daughter of the King. We must allow other daughters, once and for all to see the destructive and deceptive tactics of the enemy. It is a necessary mandate that they experience the transformation of God who is and reveals restoration and truth.

As you read this book, I pray you will allow Him to rescue you in His mighty arms of love and strength. More so, I pray you will only receive from this book what the Lord would have you to receive.

Finally, my great prayer of hope is that you choose to experience what is readily available to you! God's mighty power and majesty to overwhelm you that you will know without a shadow of doubt that, “God is enthralled by your beauty.”

God Is Enthralled By Your Beauty

Yes! It is accomplished...I have started a blog exclusively for my self-published book:
God Is Enthralled By Your Beauty,
Finally Looking Into the Mirror He Sees You In.

Each chapter will be inserted by individual posts.

I pray that you find this book encouraging. However, I not only want you to go away with the temporal encouragement, but I also pray with great expectancy that this book will bring forth God's transforming power over your life. I pray that you will not only see but also experience the transformation that only God can reveal and give to us through the renewing of our minds by His Holy Spirit and His Truth revealed by the Word of God.

God Is Enthralled By Your Beauty is targeted towards women ages 18 to 35. However, no matter the age, we must know God's transforming love over us. This eternal love that is more vast than vast itself will begin to change how we see ourselves and others. The Love of God, Who Is Love is the Love we must be expressing through us and upon others. We cannot utilize our own perception of love, for it will run out, disappoint and is full of conditions. By the powerful love of God, we must reach for the mandate to celebrate not only ourselves, but also celebrating the gifts of God within one another.

Sister, Daughters, Mothers and Friends, we must enpower one another by building each other up, not only with mere words; but with the powerful Word that does not return void by God's amazing declarations of His purpose and destiny over each of us.

May we remember:
God does not only possess love; He is Love.
God does not only possess beauty; He is Beauty.
God does not only possess faith; He is Faith.
God does not only possess mercy; He is Mercy.
God does not only possess justice; He is Justice.
God does not only possess righteousness; He is Righteousness.
God does not only possess the attribute of Truth; He is Truth.
We could go on for eternity...however, Who He is must be revealed through each of us.

Are we ready to reveal to the world of women who they truly are?
Let's go, let's proclaim and let us see each other set free because of our greatest Hero, Jesus Christ! While we see the crowns of freedom upon each other, the world will experience healing like never imagined, because instead of focusing on self, we have altered our focus to Whom the focus belongs to...Jesus Christ our Rescuing Savior and Lord!