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Entries in Kolleen Lucariello (7)

Thursday
Dec062018

Living Beyond the 'But'

Kolleen Lucariello always makes me think outside the box, spiritually. In this Christmastime, Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she considers two people God used, in His own timing, to help prepare the way for Jesus' first coming.

"I’ve never been a fan of the 'but'," Kolleen says. "Well, that’s not entirely true; I can handle “but then God” moments; however, the 'but' that follows an apology? The one that says, 'I’m sorry I… but you.' No thank you.

'Equally as unappealing is the 'but' that attaches to you, becoming the heartache of your story."

When I (Dawn) think abut the situations in my own life where the word "but" stopped me in my tracks spiritually and in my writing, I know what Kolleen's saying is true. I needed more faith and hope!

Kolleen continues . . .

Luke wrote about a couple who had a "but" attached to their story—Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

It would seem as though they were the couple rocking at life. Zechariah was a Jewish priest serving in the temple, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a direct descendant of Aaron.

“They were both lovers of God, living virtuously and following the commandments of the Lord fully” (Luke 1:5-6, TPT).

They were the couple we look at today and think, Wow. They’ve got it all! Prestige from the family name, and they were solid believers, living righteously before the Lord.

Yet, behind everything they were doing right was one word they couldn’t escape—"but."

The "but" holding them hostage?

But they were childless since Elizabeth was barren, and now they both were quite old” (Luke 1:7, TPT—The Passion Translation—emphasis mine).

I’m fairly certain Elizabeth would’ve given anything to escape the pain of the "but."

In a culture where great significance was placed on motherhood, one word stole that from her.

  • "But" took away her ability to present her husband with a son, and replaced it with shame.
  • "But" also took away Zechariah’s ability to believe the angel, Gabriel, when he appeared to him and gave him the exciting news he was indeed going to be a dad.

The "but" had followed them for so long, doubt took over the prayerful heart that once held hope.

That can happen to anyone who has found but attached to his or her story. "But" has followed a good many faithful prayers of the righteous.

Perhaps you:

  • prayed faithfully for your children, and raised them in a home that honors God, but you’re still waiting for the return of the prodigal.
  • pray faithfully for your marriage to find healing and restoration, but have yet to see any hope of change.
  • fought hard for that job, but lost it anyway.

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth, have prayed for your womb to hold a baby, but the pregnancy test was negative one more time.

The "but" behind our hopes can be a painful word—one we’d like to escape, but can’t—even in our attempts to do everything right.

Like many we think: I’ve prayed. I’ve done everything I knew to do. I’ve tried to live righteously, BUT I don’t see, I don’t feel, and I don’t hear.

Hope can be hard to hold on to when we focus on the "but" of our story.

It’s easy to get lost in disappointment.

However, part of Gabriel’s message to Zechariah was that his son would arrive at the appointed time (Luke 1:20).

Not their time—the appointed time.

Who knows the appointed time? Only God. And until that time comes we must live in the "so it was" like Zechariah and Elizabeth did.

So it was that while he was serving ... his lot fell (to him) to burn incense" (Luke 1:8 NKVJ, emphasis mine).

Even though they dragged a "but" behind them for all these years, they remained faithful to serve the Lord. It was in this particular moment of serving that the angel showed up.

Imagine if Zechariah had missed it, because he decided to give up on God for not answering their prayer—in their time. God knew the plan for John was to prepare the way for Jesus (Matthew 3).

It was all in the timing.   

We upgrade our lives when, regardless of the "but" attached to our story, we live with hope in the "so it was."

  1. So it was—she prayed without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2. So it waseven with the evidence of things not seen, she still had faith in what she hoped for (Hebrews 11:1).
  3. So it was—she refused to lean on her own understanding, and instead trusted in the timing of the Lord (Proverbs 3:5).

What is the "but" attached to you, and how are you managing your faith in the "so it was" moment?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Tuesday
Sep182018

Are You Ready to BE His Fixer Upper?

Kolleen Lucariello's fresh take on the Christian's walk with God is always sure to take us off guard just long enough to help us see the truth. In this Spiritual Living UPGRADE, she encourages us to act on a powerful truth and see a ministry available to each one of us.

"What the disciples weren’t able to accomplish, Jesus did," Kolleen says. "We can spend years believing people are rundown, in disrepair, even beyond the reach of change when actually, what they need is an encounter with Jesus"

I (Dawn) don't know about you, but when I read those words, I instantly thought of two people I've assumed are "beyond the reach of change." How about you?

Kolleen continues . . .

There’s a house in our town that has been sitting abandoned and empty for years. In fact, I don’t remember the last time it was occupied, and we’ve lived here for over 30 years!

Driving by the house, I often imagine the potential within—wondering what remarkable things Chip and Joanna Gaines would do to fix’er up—wishing I had the ability to do the work myself.

One evening, while enjoying a walk through town with my hubby, we were surprised by the sight of a “For Sale” sign in the front yard of the house. It seemed odd after all these years to see the old place was for sale, and within a very short time the sign was gone.

A few weeks after the removal of the sign, new windows were installed in the old, once abandoned, place. In no time at all, every dirty and broken window had been replaced by clean, white, energy-efficient ones.

Another night, we discovered the crew hard at work adhering new siding, which was now slowly rising up from the lower half of the house to cover the oh-so-unsightly, existing layers.    

 Now our walks through town are exciting as we witness the rebirth of what once appeared dead. A lifeless house is being revived and restored.

The house once known as “the abandoned house” will have a new identity because someone saw the potential.

I imagine Jesus’ walks through town must have also been exciting as He began changing the identity of the abandoned ones.

Although, He restored people—not houses.

Jesus met plenty of “fixer uppers” during His ministry years; He saw the potential, and brought life back into every dirty, broken, and abandoned one.

The prostitutes, the lepers, any hiding in the darkest caves because tormenting demons had driven them there.

The father, whose son had been abused and silenced for years, must’ve become undone as he witnessed the restoration of his son after their encounter with Jesus. He’d watched his son suffer torment from childhood because of a demon’s desire to destroy him (Mark 9:21-22).

I envision that dad lost in thought at times as he dreamt of the potential his son had . . . if only.

Helpless, he now stood face-to-face with the One he hoped could restore his boy.

“I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit,” he said (Mark 9:17).

His words held recognition. “I brought You . . . who has . . ."; he understood who bound his son and called the spirit by name.

He was very much aware of what this mute spirit was doing to his son, and it was torture both for the father to watch and the son to endure.

They were victims of the schemer, Satan, who covertly plots as he abuses and silences, leaving people broken and abandoned in shame. He certainly doesn’t want anyone to recognize he is behind the torment or call it by name.

Especially sin. He doesn’t want us to call anything sin.

What do you suppose would happen if we began bringing loved ones to Jesus and called bondage by name?

I brought you . . . who has . . .

  • A Spirit of Offense
  • A Spirit of Lust
  • A Spirit of Hatred
  • A Lying Spirit
  • A Spirit of Jealousy
  • A Spirit of Idolatry
  • A Spirit of Gossip
  • A Spirit of Addiction
  • A Spirit of Depression

The father put his hope in the disciples, but when they couldn’t help him, he took his son straight to Jesus. I’m not sure he expected Jesus to call out their unbelief, but He did.

“Why are you such a faithless people?”

However, I bet he was thrilled when Jesus said, “Now, bring the boy to me(Mark 9:19, TPT).

“Please, if you’re able to do something. . . ” the father continued.

“What do you mean ‘if’?” Jesus asked.

Then, He turned the ‘if’ back to the father. “If you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.”

The father, who had recognized the spirit holding his son hostage, now recognized his own bondage. “I do believe, Lord; help my little faith!” (Mark 9:22-24 TPT)

We all struggle with “little faith” from time to time.

Many in our town had lost faith change would come to the abandoned house. We were wrong—the house is changing, little-by-little, each day.

Suppose we’ve gotten it wrong about people, too?

It’s quite possible the Lord is ready to begin work on the abandoned, but He’s waiting to hear,

I brought You . . . who has . . . .

We upgrade the lives of others when we: 

1. Recognize the bondage and call it by name.  

2. Bring them to Jesus.

3. Pray for the faith to believe all things are possible.

Do you know someone abused and silenced? Abandoned by shame? Pray for the faith to recognize the spirit holding them hostage and then bring them to Jesus.

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am; and as a speaker, she speaks into women's lives "one letter at a time." Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She's a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. For more information about Kolleen, visit her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of LechenieNarkomanii at Pixabay.

Tuesday
May292018

What You Think Upon Grows

The simple messages of truth from Kolleen Lucariello's heart always challenge mine. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she asks us to examine the flow of our thoughts.

"After listening to a powerful message on my ability to overcome," Kolleen says, "I walked out of the Easter Sunday service, and within a matter of a few moments allowed a spirit of offense to overcome me."

Oh, how often I (Dawn) have felt a rush of negative emotions driving my thoughts, growing like weeds on steroids and leading to embarassment and regret. So what's the remedy?

Kolleen continues . . .

Looking back on the day, the offense was silly—and completely unnecessary, but the Lord used it in a powerful way to teach me a valuable lesson: what you think on grows.

Easter Sunday brought several visitors to our already large church, which is always a great thing. However, losing sight of the back of my husband’s head as we shuffled out among the crowd was not.

After he decided to follow our son-in-law to retrieve the grandkids without my knowledge, trying to find him in the midst of the large crowd was also not that great.

I tried to stand patiently and wait for his reappearance—truly, I did—but after several bumps, thumps and shoves in a very short amount of time, I began to feel heat rise from within me as my thoughts took a turn for the worst.

After an attempt to reach him on his phone failed, I wondered if I’d find him at the car; I did not, but what I did find was locked doors on a blustery-cold-snowy-twenty-degree day.

My thoughts began to grow aggravation. Quickly.

Standing outside the car, I called his phone one more time. He finally answered to discover, through a rather terse conversation, he’d best find his way to the car. NOW!

(Amazingly I was able to smile and sweetly greet people as they passed me in the parking lot. It appears all my snarkiness was reserved for Patrick).

When his head came into view, the intensity of my frustration grew; and when he asked, “Where did you go?” the thoughts I’d been holding inside came pouring out like the water shooting over a waterfall.

Where did I go? Where did YOU go is the better question!”

Once we were both safely in the car, the fit was able to find its form in a full-blown tirade.

The takedown was swift, and the outcome embarrassing when, in the midst of my tirade, I suddenly heard, “Hello? Hello? Hello?”

Glancing down I discovered I had somehow called a gas company! The poor lady on the other end was listening to the fruit my thoughts had grown: annoyance and irritation.

And she was able to feast upon them while we were exiting our Easter Sunday church service.

Nice.

After wishing one another a Happy Easter, I decided it was best to apologize and then remain silent.

If we’re not careful, our thoughts can grow quite the outcome—in our lives as well as those around us.

A great example of this is found in 2 Samuel 13 where we find ourselves peering into the lives of Amnon, Tamar and Absalom, and the devastating aftermath uncontrolled thoughts can have.

As King David’s son, Amnon, thought about his fleshly desire for his half-sister, Tamar, lust grew. While his lustful thoughts grew, his cousin helped devise a scheme that planted deceptive thoughts. The result of his deceptive thoughts led to rape. Following her rape, her brother, Absalom, gave in to thoughts of revenge and murder.

Whatever you think on grows.

Paul must have recognized this when he told the Philippians to fix their “thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).

Implanting this into our hearts may save us from embarrassment and heartache.

You upgrade your life when you:

1. Think differently!

Understand that while you “are human, you don’t wage war as humans do” (2 Corinthians 10:3, NLT).

2. Know the truth of God’s Word!

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NLT).

3. Capture your Thoughts!

“We break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, NLT).

May 31 is designated: Whatever You Think Upon Grows Day.

What fruit are you growing? Grow something good!

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to five beautiful grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ – one letter at a time. Find out more about Kolleen at her website.

Graphics adapted, courtesy of Anemone123 and Geralt at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Feb202018

Remove the Ink Stain

Kolleen Lucariello reminds us words wound us, but God doesn't want us to stay hurt. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE she shares a personal story about how the Lord helped her deal with her anger and pain.

“Sometimes,” Kolleen says, “words can leave a stain on a heart—like ink on paper.”

Oh yes. I (Dawn) dealt with horrible, painful words some 30 years ago. I cried for weeks! But I'm glad the Lord taught me the lessons Kolleen shares here.

Kolleen continues…

Within a few months of my wedding day, a letter arrived in our mailbox from a family member who decided my husband Pat needed help with a decision he and I were in the process of making. Of course, even though the letter was addressed to him, I read it.

That was when the words—which had been written in ink on notepaper—left a stain on my heart I was convinced could never be erased away.

Truthfully, for a very long time, I didn’t want it to be. 

The letter held words of criticism and words that hurt, and it also held my heart and mind for many months following its arrival.

I tucked it away in the drawer of our nightstand where it was within easy reach when I needed a reminder of why I was mad. Rereading it helped me remain steadfast in my anger, so I would read it almost every day—sometimes more than once.

Any moment I felt the grip on my anger begin to loosen, I would retreat to the bedroom nightstand, remove the letter, and read it over one more time.

Oh, what fire that little spark could ignite.

Until one day when I was advised to throw the letter away and I didn't want to throw it away. It felt good holding onto it. Or so I thought.

Until I finally threw it away.

I was surprised how much better I felt when it was no longer in my possession. Throwing it away, so it was no longer something I could hold physically and look at, released me from the stabbing pain I felt when I read that letter over and over again.

Why do we inflict pain like this upon ourselves? 

Next, I needed to stop rehearsing it over and over in my mind.

I had read that letter so many times it was memorized.

It was easy to access because it was stored like a file, and at any given moment I could search my memories filing system and retrieve it. I just needed the name of the offender to flow through my mind and boom—just like that—the file was pulled, revealing all misdeeds against the offender.

Then I began to sense it was time to delete the file. I knew this meant I needed to change the direction of my thoughts every time the words of that letter began to enter them.

That was a hard choice.

It was also a constant battle. But, I knew it was one that needed to be done if I were ever to be free from the pain of that letter.

It wasn’t enough to just delete the file and let it go.

I thought it was. I wanted it to be! However, the Lord revealed I would never truly be free until I was able to forgive. Ouch.

Extending forgiveness takes courage when you’ve been wounded.

God would never ask us to offer grace to others if He didn’t know we would benefit from it.

You upgrade your life when you . . .

1. Remove anything you are holding that keeps you tied to anger.

Holding on gives it power over you and the ability to become an idol in your life.

Remember, Jesus said to remove anything causing us to stumble (Matthew 5:29). And God has strong feelings towards idols.

2. Stop rehearsing the conversation or situation over in your mind.

"Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2-3 AMP).

3. Forgive.

The Word is clear that we are called to forgive. When we nurture hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with our relationship with God, well, then our Father will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15, AMP).

Where we set our mind matters.

Has your heart been stained by ugly words, accusations and insults that continually fill up your thoughts? Make today the day you find the courage to remove the ink stain.

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ, one letter at a time. Find out more about Kollen on her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of imelenchon at Morguefile.

Thursday
Sep282017

Your Position in the Family

Kolleen Lucariello is a gifted writer who greatly desires to help Christians understand their identity in Christ. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she encourages us to "live loved."

"When I was seven-years-old my parents adopted a little girl from Korea who bore the name of Park Sun Duk," Kolleen says. "I remember scanning over the pictures of children provided by the adoption agency until the face of a little girl captured our attention. It was love at first sight!"

I (Dawn) always wanted to adopt a child; the Lord didn't have that in His plans for me. But adoption has always been dear to my heart, and I love the picture of God adopting us into His family. So I appreciate this powerful encouragement.

Kolleen continues…

In early April, after months of waiting, our family of five piled into our borrowed grandfather’s car and took off for the eight-hour-trip to the Chicago airport soon to become a family of six.

I only remember bits and pieces of the trip, but one thing I recall is how extremely excited we were to meet our new sister.

When she finally appeared, I could not take my eyes off of her. She was the cutest baby I had ever seen, and boy, did we show her off.

Once she was placed in my mother’s arms, a new name, as well as a new life, awaited her. She was now Kara Louise, a member of the Okerlund family. I loved her instantly.

Of course, like most families—I won’t say all, as there actually may be some families who never experience sibling stuff—but like most, we had our sibling squabbles. As the baby of the family, she could drive me crazy; as cute as she was, she was also just as stubborn. But I loved her. 

Throughout the years, we’ve clashed and had our share of disagreements, but I never stopped loving her. We’ve had moments of contention and seasons of silence, but through every emotion and every moment, I’ve continuously loved her.

The funny thing is, regardless of how loved she was, she never fully believed or accepted the love of her adoptive family.

It didn't matter how much we spoke it, tried to show it, or showered love upon her, she just had a very hard time living life loved by us. Simply because she was adopted.

She had moved in, but continually struggled to fully accept that our parents’ love for her was the same regardless of the origin of her birth.

Because of this struggle, she never completely felt secure in her identity as an Okerlund.

I imagine Father God’s heart breaks for His own adopted children who fail to experience the fullness of His love.

Many move in, but continue to live in doubt, wondering how God could love them. We refuse to accept His perfect love based on our simple understanding of love, not His.

Through faith we've been adopted into His family, yet, for some reason, we struggle to feel secure in our new identity as a believer in Jesus.

What a tragedy to reject this kind of love.

In June my sister slipped from her earthly home into her heavenly one, and I believe her struggle to live loved finally ended.

Now, in the presence of Jesus, she is fully aware of the extent of what real love is.

While my heart always broke for her battle here, it now rejoices for her as she finds rest in the fullness of God’s love.

But, why wait? Trust His love is for you, now.

You UPGRADE your life when you:

1. ACCEPT your new identity in Christ!

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT)!

Your new identity awaits you. Change your name. You are now a child of God!

2. BELIEVE the celebration is for you!

Jesus said there’s great rejoicing in heaven over the lost sinner who returns home (Luke 15:7).

Share in the excitement. Rejoice in your salvation! Let Him show you off!

3. CLAIM your position in the family!

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5, NLT).

It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, when you move in with Christ, you are home.

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29, NKJV).

You’ve captured the attention of God. Now it’s time to move into His plans for your life.

What thinking must you overcome to accept, believe and claim your position in the family of Christ and live loved?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ, one letter at a time. Read more from Kolleen on her website.

Family photos from Kolleen.