A Lot Can Happen in Three Years

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Three years ago when I stepped out of the radio studio I had no real clear goals other than the fact that I wanted to reach the lost with the Gospel, be involved in connecting with people, and help to build God’s Church all over the world. At the time, I knew what He had laid on my heart to do concerning the nations, and I’ve held Africa in the deepest recesses of my heart.

I didn’t know what the next step would involve, but God simply asked if I would trust Him in my next move.  Yes, I said move.  When that word first came to my awareness, I was a bit shocked.  I had been asking God to use me in a bigger way but was thinking (although very limited in my finite mind), I imagined a new plan would come to fruition someday.

I also believed that I would write books someday and several would be published for many to read. I never knew HOW or WHEN these dreams and trips would come to pass, but currently, as I sit here typing this, I see things unfold that I once could not even articulate.

Today on the fresh heels of Thanksgiving and returning from Africa, I am even more grateful and in awe of what has occurred in the past three years.  I have no magic formula, but over the years here is what I have learned:

Give yourself the space to dream again.

Get involved in your local church.

Do wholeheartedly whatever is before you.

Don’t have any agenda, but serve willingly.

Wait for God to open doors.

Submit to leadership.

Trust God because He is always in control when we are not.

There is no wasted experience; God uses everything.

God makes a way where there seems to be no way.

Have faith.

Be courageous.

Stay the course.

Be faithful.

Always remain part of something bigger than you.

Stay teachable.

Surround yourself with wise advisors.

Do nothing from selfish ambition.

Keep stretching and growing.

Continue gratitude.

Rally others to journey with you.

Bloom where God plants you.

Believe God for who He says He is.

Bonus: Obey God, He will not lead you astray.

Now I assume you are thinking, this makes a fancy pants list and all, but why should this work for you?  Or perhaps you have different goals than I.  Both could be true.  When you consider the infinite plans that God has for all of us, it’s easy to think small about what God can do through us.

The biggest truth I have realized over time is we rarely know the details of the journey when we start; like Abraham, we often go forth not knowing where we are going. But when you keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and the covenant promises, He will always take you to your destination.  Whether you come kickin’ and screamin’ or run willingly to Him, either way, God always knows what journey is best for each of us.  He is the only One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has gifted each person the uniqueness that makes us who we are.

He is good at being our Judge, our Father, and but also our Friend.  Some additional thoughts about following God are (and it’s important to remember these things too!)

God’s plans will…

Take longer than you think,

Cost more than you think,

Hurt more than you think,

BUT GOD AND you are…

Braver than you know,

Stronger than you seem,

Smarter than you think,

And loved more than you know.

Recently I was shopping with my husband and he purchased the above saying on a wooden sign. I asked him why he wanted to buy that for me and he said, “I will not always be with you, but I want you to remember these things.” The Lord also encourages believers in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  As if you are the only one, God steps into time, to author your story, and to develop you with a unique plan all your own but He loves it when you partner with Him in the grander scheme of His plans.

When you don’t know what to do, take the next step and trust God. Sometimes it looks like you are going in a different direction than you thought, but obedience is worth it. And when you grab ahold of the Father’s heart for you, then you will realize you are loved more than you know.  His heart will lead you no other way but the right way.  Follow, trust, and take heart.  Oh and hang on, it’s wild out here!

 

Do you need to be held?

rope

My friend reassured me there was no need to worry.  “You’re going to LOVE it!” she promised.  I bought into her zip-lining adventure as an exciting one until my fear of heights rose up into my throat.  In a moment I realized it was too late to back out and it felt my heart was going to beat right out of my chest.  Then I remembered, that day, I had left my big girl pants at home!  I became doubly afraid.  Anxiety had secretly gripped my heart.

Not sure if you have ever experienced zip-lining before but it’s an adventure all on its own level.  Don’t even think about it if you are even a teensy-weensy squeamish about heights.  At least you’ve been warned.

My friend kept saying how much fun it was again and again.  Fear of falling gripped my mind.  Seriously, how could a person survive a 5-second ride tethered by a skimpy harness, and hooked to a thin wire which stretched tight over so many trees?  I gulped hard, and put on a brave face for her.

I stepped up to the platform.  I listened to each word of our guide.  I took in his advice and with all the gumption I could muster, I clenched the cord.  I’m pretty sure my knuckles were white.  I said a quick prayer, “God, hold me tight.”

In the woods, atop the trees, where the monkeys go to hide from humans, is where fear is heard.  Echos of the wild and free ricocheted off of the tree tops.  (It resembled a blood-curdling scream.)  If you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about and I bet you screamed like a 5 year old girl too!

Next, something wonderful happened I didn’t expect.

I was held by the harness, secure and firm, with no threat to my personal security.  I was safe and sound at the next platform.  I did come away with one piece of advice:  “You will love this, it’s more fun than you can imagine.”  Now this makes for a nice girl adventure and all, but there’s more.

God spoke the moment I started to let go of my fear and anxiety with His reassurance, “Trust me to hold you!” 

There are some days you just need to be held.  On those days when you feel insecure, unsteady or just flat out fearful of how things are going to work out or what will happen next, there’s power in praying these simple words, “God, hold me tight.”

Trust in His hold and let go of your fears.  In our spiritual journey, there are many circumstances which bring tons of opportunities to trust God.  Recently faced with the unknown, I asked God to increase my faith but quickly realized I was asking for what I already had.  The situation before me was an opportunity for God to lead me into a new level of trust.

Trust always involves making room for an active faith.  To let the perfecting work of faith complete its action, you must push fears out of your mind.  God’s faithfulness and security holds you close and guards against sneak fear attacks which tend to creep into your mind.

God is on your side, and is giving you daily opportunities to put your faith into action.  He’s got you!  Just like a harness, safe and securely tethered by His heart for you.  His love never fails to hold you when life is uncertain.  When you speak or scream, “God, hold on to me!”, feel His strong arms wrap around you.  Close your eyes to silence your anxiety, release your fears, and the place your trust and dependence in His hands.  He is the only One who says, “I am with you until the very end of the age.”  He never lets go of you!

Fears are overcome by faith alone.  As you let go, you’re held by His mercy, strength, and you are kept safe and secure.  You can trust God to keep you where He leads you!  Are you feeling shaky or fearful, afraid to look down?  LOOK UP to the One who holds you tight!  You can trust His hold on you!

When You Need Rest

It often takes the darkenss of a storm to show us the light of God’s presence. – Tony Evans.

rowing

Rest.  This one word has such a non-productive vibe to it.  It makes me wonder if there’s more to the idea of rest than a fat Sunday afternoon nap.  Who out there is in a stormy situation or in uncertain place of where life has put you?

As it occurs to me, God gives us permission to rest, but personally I find it very hard to do.   In God’s perfect idea of paradise, on the seventh day of creating, God stood back and left a day of margin for rest.  He said, “What is accomplished is good, and I rest from creating.”  God saw everything before Him was good and gave Himself permission to rest.

If God says it’s okay to rest, to not produce, and stand back appreciate what His hands made, then it’s fine for us to do the same.  Did He obsess over it’s perfection?  No, it was already perfect the way it was.  Of course, this is God we are talking about.  The takeaway I get from His kind of rest is the need to let what we create have a time of margin or rest.  Also,it’s okay to celebrate the good, the right, the produced, the gifts of His hands in our lives.

 

I challenged myself with resting God’s way this past week.  Whenever a worry or stress-filled thought came to mind, I just stood back from it and released it to God.  My mind was filled with more peace and trust.  My questions were quieted.  My mind had more understanding about the care of God than ever experienced.  And I didn’t stew or fret over the details.

I had to choose rest over worry and fretting.  It’s easy to loose sight of the margin God wants in our lives.  I find myself desirous of the filling in the gaps in my human understanding or reasoning, and resort in worry or looking for purpose.  God is teaching me a new area of trust, dependence, and awareness of His security and supply.

In Rest, God reminds me I am not alone.

The more I learn about how to rest, the more intentional I’ve become in standing under His hand of rest.  Resting doesn’t mean laziness or doing absolutely nothing.  Rest brings an intentional action of behavior, based on the awareness and stillness, with a silent trust before the Lord.
Rest says God goes first in our daily conversations.  I believe God works in every problem or circumstance released to Him.  Praying in faith includes all of what God wants to do in our particular circumstances.  Faith includes timing, provision, results or fruit, every unknown, and all details unseen.
His rest covers all the problems you haven’t worried over yet!

With every problem, it brings an opportunity for God to attach provision and His promise to it.  As I was reading in Exodus 33:14 and God showed me something I missed in my hurry through Moses’s desert journey,

“The Lord replied, (to Moses) My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Rest in the journey!  Friends, this kind of rest isn’t just a long Sunday afternoon nap, but a spiritual place where you can release anxiety and worry.  Don’t let your mind fret about the things might not happen!  He has seen your days ahead and knows what you need before you live them.  It’s time to believe God thinks about the kind of rest you need too!

Rest in God is a lifesytle born out of intimacy with Him.  The best “Rest” is yet to come!  What have you found to help you rest better?

When you need to make it through

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“Amazing encounters and experiences with God don’t come in ordinary ways.  They often come through adversity and difficulty.” ~ Graham Cooke

When talking about finding your place in this big wide world, it’s often unclear and a challenge to discover your purpose.  Rarely do we receive a holy green light or have all the pieces in place before moving forward unless, perhaps, you are Moses.

Have you ever wondered if Moses knew what he was signing up for?  I recently reread his history in the Bible and discovered something that I have missed many years from reading his story over and over.

Moses spent most of his life in misery.  Read his Exodus story.

As a baby, he was given up by his mom, raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, became a prince in the Pharaoh’s palace, (even though he was a Hebrew), and because he killed he ran away to Midian as an outcast.  Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the Isrealites were enslaved for years and cried out to the Lord for deliverance.  God sent a burning bush (which had to intrigue Moses somewhat) and had a discussion with him.  God said to Moses, “I am sending you to Pharaoh (back to the place where Moses was running from) to bring my people, the Isrealites, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3)

Now here’s where it gets good…Moses stuttered and stammered around about his assignment.  Moses replied, “Who am I, that I should go…?” He responded with the lack of faith and a lot of doubt.  God, the ‘I AM’, only promised that He would be with Moses.  So it was back to misery for Moses.

Although, along the way through those miserable years Moses witnessed miracle after miracle, even with the ten plagues.  Imagine Moses being the bearer of bad news to Pharaoh with killing of the first born in every family in Egypt.  Talk about fear! Yet, Moses conquered his fear and did what the Lord asked him to do with his simple faith and the promise that the Lord would always be with him.

Was there any doubt that the Lord was with Moses?  No.

Was there any doubt that Moses heard the Lord’s voice?  No.

Was there any doubt that the Lord wouldn’t deliver on his promise to Moses?  No.

No, not now that we are looking back.  It’s easy to say that faith worked for Moses.  But what about you?

When faith is activated, it’s the only thing you need to move forward.  Faith triumphs over doubt and conquers the biggest misery.  God has turned my misery into a miracle with losing over 100 + pounds.  I didn’t know that I was signing up for in this, but because I had faith that God wanted this for me, I obeyed and had faith that He was with me and would help me.

You  might say, “Anyone can lose weight!” and yes, that is true when you take in less calories than you expend.  It has taken a lot of miserable years to get to where I am today.  It hasn’t been easy and I’ve sweat like a man, but in this misery I am also maintaining this lifestyle of good health by faith and my relationship in God.  Without a doubt, I won’t slip up and gain every ounce back.

 

I recently made a decision about a big thing in my life.  I didn’t stew over it like I would have years ago, nor did I have any axiety about moving forward.  When the opportunity came to make a commitment, I didn’t hesitate.  I just knew it was the right move and didn’t question it.  In other words I activated my faith to believe that God was in this decision and was granting access to His answer according to what I was praying for.  I was trusting Him for the answer as only He could supply.

My faith had me ready to act instead of react with fear and worry.

I didn’t need a confirmation because it came by faith.  I wasn’t anxious about the result because I trusted God to provide.  I didn’t fret over something that could have caused me great angst.  When you are praying for something that takes more of God to accomplish, by faith I believe He will answer that prayer and my part is to trust in God’s goodness.

All of you are looking to heaven for something.  I believe that.  I also have faith that God wants to bless you.  I believe that God wants to bless all His children and it gives Him great delight to do so.  Often blessing looks like misery.  By receiving the gift of faith it helps us trust God’s character and believe He is with us in the misery as He prepares the miracles ahead.

Faith is a gift and having faith pleases God.  When we believe God for who He is then our faith gives us access to His supernatural ways!  Often, God is working in others to bring your blessing together.  What I love about God’s ways is that He has a plan for us and we only have a small part in His purpose.

Your part is to trust and obey Him.  If having desert years with a simple faith is all it takes to see the miracles, well, you don’t need a bush on fire to tell you that!  Faith will lead you from misery THROUGH to the Promise everytime!

 

 

When you feel stuck

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My head hit the pillow with an extra dose of weariness that day.  There was a part of my mind that just wanted to stop altogether.  “If I could just give myself a break,” I thought.  But yet in the very next breathe I uttered, “Are you sure about that God?”  My mind vacillated between doubt and confusion, weighing the past and present, and was super injected by fear.

This all happened on my search for a focused word for 2016.  God kept speaking the word “remain” over and over to me.  Instead of feeling peace about it and receiving it as an exciting leg of this joy filled journey, I took in the fear of remaining stuck where I currently grew past, which was fueled by insecurity and doubt.  I didn’t want to stay there, in the land of confusion!

Our talks (between me and the Holy Spirit) quickly turned to arguments, or rather, like whining and complaining.  Never a good idea to start your conversation with God by wearing the captain’s hat in the complaint department!  We worked on it for days.  God suggested, I rejected.

“Are you sure about that word for me God?  I’ve changed so much from who I was.”  I said.

God said, “Remain.”

Every time I thought about all the changes from my past, I was worried about the remaining, thinking I would get stuck there.  And then fear came in and I didn’t want to stay stuck in that either.  (Now saying this back to you, I realize this is all irrational thinking!)  The changes that have come due to the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit have brought such healing and freedom in my life.  I can’t imagine being stuck in my own personal prison again.

I didn’t want to remain in that place – bound, burdened, and full of doubt.  I couldn’t stay there…I wouldn’t stay there…I was determined to change God’s mind.  And then something beautiful happened.

As I was talking to my missionary friend Mitch, God sent some encouragement through him.  Next, I cried on the phone to my friend Lori, and she prayed with me and then I went for a run.  While running down the county road, I saw a ditch full of mud and immediately felt the “stuck” feeling creep back into my soul.  But God reminded me to keep my eyes on the end of the road, and I whizzed right past it.  God was, without a shadow of a doubt, in all those conversations, as He helped dry my tears, and gave comfort my mind.  Immediately, the confusion was gone and I had a peace in the receiving of God’s word.

I hit the pillow hard that night with exhaustion from wrestling my will with God’s plan.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day and I’m wide awake, and the Lord visits my bedside and asked, “Are you ready to learn how to remain in Me?”  I went in for my last ditch effort with God.  (Please don’t judge me, but learn from this story!)  I simply said, “If you give me an acronym for the word Remain, I’ll accept it.”  He said, “Go get your pen and pad of paper.” (He meant business!)

With blurry eyes through tears….I started writing immediately.  It came in an instant and the words were just what I needed to hear.  I didn’t stumble over them nor pretend like I was hard of hearing at this point.  God is patient in the ways He deals with us.  We could all learn a lesson from Him about his slowness of anger!  I wrote….

Remain

Remember

Eternity

Matters (so)

Abide

Intentionally

Now.

And there it was….full understanding of why this word was so important to know this year.  As I abide in Him, I will remain in my identity and purpose for my life.  As I abide, remain connected, and am intentionally faithful, and obedient in what He has asked, I will remain in intimate fellowship with the Great Shepherd.

I thought back to the time in the summer of last year where I practically memorized John 15, and couldn’t get past that section of teaching for two months.  I kept reading it over and over and over.  Finally God moved me on to learn more about love, and how to give it without condition. (Those lessons are for a whole another coffee date…or two!)

Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”  We often think about how God supplies our needs and have that promise in Philippians 4:19 for His supply that He has already provided in Christ Jesus.  That is a good promise to stand on.  The Lord won’t call you anything where His grace won’t sustain you.  I sense the writing of David in this Psalm however was in a time of searching for direction.  He had a vision of peace and contentment and I sense he was writing about what he saw regarding his relationship with God.

The Lord not only takes care of your needs before you know them, but He also makes provisions for your wants and desires.  When your desires line up with His desires, it’s for sure those are supplied.  If you are looking to grow in your relationship with God, please accept this journey however it looks.  We all need to grow in our faith, and it’s not a good idea to remain stuck in a place of stubbornness, pleasing self-will and fear coupled with doubt.

Take my word for it, gratitude paves the way to those green pastures of peace that we all want.  And as we enter His rest, we have everything we can ask for or imagine if we just remain in relationship with God and by living intentionally through trusting by faith.  As we are remain anchored by His love, we abide in His grace and mercy.

The journey for today and this year is to have joy in this and to walk in intimate fellowship with Jesus every minute of the day.  Why is this so important to know now?  This is only a foretaste because the best is yet to come!

When you feel insecure

Bible and journal

It’s a known fact that as humans we speak from our insecurities.  Some of you are open about those, most of you like to hide them.  We all have one or two or more of those insecure places.  We all have our stuff.

I have plenty of stuff myself.  It’s the human condition.  Let’s get real, real fast, ok?  We have that “junkie” stuff inside of us and this stuff is the human side of us we like to hide.

To name your stuff or call mine out, that step only helps when you allow God’s truth to change you inspite of your stuff.  And it should only be done and motivated by love.  It IS important to know the way we deal with insecurities can help others.

I was sharing the other night at small group how to share faith without using words.  I started out with “I love how Jesus teaches us…” I noticed the confused look on thier faces and then I related that truth to everyday life.  Jesus didn’t operate on the defense or attack people in thier insecurities.  Jesus was always on the offense side of battle because he knew who he was fighting.  He operated from his secure place of supernatural ability instead of his humanity.

It’s easy to think “Yeah, Jesus did that because he was perfect in everything he did.”  This is true as he was fully divine in his humanity. Jesus lived his live in full submission to the Holy Spirit even though he was human.  He operated from his identity, knowing in his heart, mind, and soul that he was the one and only living Son of God.  There are many stories about liers, cheaters, adulterers, deceivers, and thieves being drawn to Him for healing because of who He was.  In simple ways, lives were changed in so many to bring deliverance through a word, deed, feeding or even storms.  Most times, Jesus healed their hearts, before their physical ailments, insecurity or need in their life.

In other words, their faith (evidence of the unseen) saved them first and foremost over individual woundings.  Each time, Jesus healed or delivered because that is/was his ministry.  This is Jesus, operating from his identity.

Jesus stepped out of Heaven to deliver us from our humanity.

Recently, the Lord has reminded me of my roots.  Not just in my family’s line or hertiage, but what my identity looks like from a heavenly perspective.  Last year, was HUGE in reminding me who I am in Christ.  Daily, and most often, the Holy Spirit aligns my heart and mind with His.  My confession today is that I needed those reminders to overcome a lot of my silly insecurities.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

Daily those reminders have come in at just the needed time and with the exact reminder of who I was in Christ.  This one exchange and action has removed so many insecurities in my heart and mind.  I can’t even begin to list them all here but the reminding of who I am in Christ, we (the Holy Spirit and I) uncovered the “identity stuff” that I wasn’t.

We all need these kind of identity reminders on a daily basis.  “I know who I am, I know who I am, I know who I am, I am Yours, I am Yours.” is a song lyric that hits repeat daily in my head (speaking about God’s ownership).

Last year my word for the year was vision.  God has given a fuller vision of who I am in Him.  To battle the daily “junkie” stuff, I need constant reminders of who I am in Christ to operate from my place of security.

Once you know who you are IN Christ, your indentity is your secure place to operate from.  Now going into 2016, my word REMAIN makes so much more sense.  It’s good to have the right weapons loaded up for battle.  It makes the Enemy not such a big threat and that dumb looming anxiety that is mixed in the unknown is removed.  Plus the bonus is I know how the battle turns out!  There’s no shrinking back, or retreating because of some silly insecurity.  There’s no hiding from the power of God at work within our lives.  There’s no room for those overpowering fears inside to grow more “stuff”.  There’s only the Light that has come.  Light overcomes darkness every time and each insecurity  has no place to hide in a house that is all lit up!

 

When you need a little more confidence

writer girl

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow

For most writers, what our hands produce is an expression for what we feel in our hearts.  Sometimes though it gets a little mixed up in there I’ll admit.  For the most part, if you let a thought simmer long enough it will produce something that can be moving or thought provoking.  For me areas around me have to just about right to get my mind to settle on what to express on any given day. Such as it is all artists, we need things like we like them, handy accessible or within reach at least.

This weekend I spent some quality time in a room where I formulate thoughts and articulate them in a blog.  I was surprised by what I found on my dusty shelf.  A full, actually overloaded basked of blog thoughts, ideas of thought provoking posts and many unfinished blog concepts.  Most of them were only half started and looked like a scribbly mess.  I remember those days when I was a firestorm of ideas.

I still have a lot of ideas for blogs but lately God has been focusing a lot of my efforts on writing a book.  I am making great momentum in that project.  The point of my mentioning a lot of half-scribbled notes about blogs is two ideas:  1.  What did people use before the invention of Post-it’s?  2.  Do you think Paul had a stack of half scribbled notes surrounding him while writing from prison?

When I found the overload of the scraps of paper I had to wonder why I didn’t take time to write some of them out.  I recognized that I have a great ability to start a lot of great and awesome projects around here and my kitchen table is paralyzed right now with about 10 craft projects that I want to pin to a board someday.  I realized “someday” needed to become a bigger priority to actually finish any of the projects.  Was my need to accumulate a lot of stuff by crafting or was I just wanting to cover my table to make it literally unusable for the purpose it was intended for?

I think it’s because we tend to find value in what our hands produce and receive our worth from the false sense of productivity to gain value in our lives.  I’m pretty sure Paul, the writer of over half of the New Testament, didn’t have a craft table or 10 projects laid out on it.  I am pretty sure he didn’t have a basket overloaded with chapter ideas either.  I pretty sure that Paul had a lot of time to articulate his thoughts.  Take a read some of his latest releases called the New Testament Bible.

I am pretty sure that Paul didn’t always have the cleanest of areas to work in.  I’m pretty sure there were days when Paul didn’t see the light of day or get out into nature to inspire him to put pen to paper.  I’m pretty sure that Paul didn’t over analyze his work nor have doubt about what his calling in life was.

Do you think he was disappointed with how his life turned out?  He wrote about contentment a lot.  He wrote about praying a lot.  He wrote a lot and remained focused on truth.  He kept his mind in check and could have let it stray to dark places but he didn’t.  What did Paul have in his life that other writers didn’t?

I think in his “knower” that he knew.  Paul wrote to churches that needed encouragement, teaching and preaching the truth, and showed how to love first and foremost.  Paul wrote about some “hot” topics too.  Paul was known as a passionate person who had been radically changed by an encounter with God along a dusty road.  Paul didn’t question his ability to write, he just knew that it was God who was empowering him to share the Gospel that still inspires us today.

He just knew.  And there was no doubt that was what he was supposed to do.  If there was any lack of faith it didn’t show.  Am I the only one or do you get stuck in the “how” of God’s ways and try to figure things out before we let Him have His way in us?

I have gotten stuck in the “how” details were going to happen, or if my dream would ever happen.  I stacked my little notes on a shelf thinking if I’m better I’ll write that, or if I have time I make that a great post, or if there is no one else out there that will tackle this subject, then I will.  How often I think I have nothing to say about something?

This stack of unwritten blog ideas has changed me a little to think I only need a little more confidence to focus on if I should write it at all.  Focused confidence was what Paul knew as his purpose and it came from the Author Himself.  I often find myself reminding God what I don’t have to do what He has asked me to do.  He has confidence in me, so why can’t I have confidence in me?

All that changed this weekend.  No, I don’t think I can write all those scraps into a post, because it’s not about the quantity number of posts that I write but the confident quantification that I write from.  If God is in your unfinished pile of projects then don’t give up before He has had a chance to add a little confidence to your mind and heart.  It will do you a world of good to throw away a bad idea.  It’s okay, no one knows about those silly ideas anyway.  Focusing and letting God sort your ideas will help you become confident and know which ideas to put effort towards.  Who knows you could be the next Paul creating something for a generation that hasn’t even been born yet!

If whatever creative stroke is consistent in your life then seek God in the middle of it and ask Him to be your confidence.  He will bolster your faith in a way that won’t make you over-productive but will help you produce what He has put inside of you.  God cares about those details too!

Where do you need more confidence in your life?

My unforgettable meet up with Jon Acuff

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One giddy girl with Jon Acuff, yes he was more excited than the picture reflects.

I was giddy like a school girl honestly.  I was in line to see my favorite “author-crush”, the infamous Jon Acuff.   Many of you know his humor from Stuff Christians Like.  And many books later, he has penned yet another best-seller, Do Over.  Through his writings I have had a secret “I want to write like him” obsession for years.

It’s okay to have role models in your dreams.  That’s really who Jon Acuff is to me.  You see, Jon Acuff is a dreamer.  He taught me how to dream.  But more than that he taught me how to see art within myself and he doesn’t even know it.

My husband has taught me to be the same.  Terry was my first fan in this whole writing thing.  But I always believed that he was because being married to me requires him to be.  I but I realized he’s been a supporter of my art since day one.  He has been awesome in his protection of my dream, as well as giving me permission and freedom for it.

I’m just now seeing some of my dream realized in what I have spent years developing on my own.  I have an incredible story that I am sharing in book form of losing 132 lbs. naturally by God’s most awesome help.  Do you know that Satan has been saying “my story isn’t big enough, it doesn’t matter, and isn’t significant?”  Yeah, a triple trifecta lie!  Can I just tell you how hard it is to fight the enemy on your own?

I find it interesting that this very weight loss battle became a battle when I crossed the enemy lines and had to fight my way out.  Now it seems like a battle in my new lifestyle as I’m trying to get my story out.    You see, sharing my story is something I know that I am supposed to do.  While I can’t control the outcome, I can share what God is doing in my life and what He has done for me.  He literally has saved me twice.  The first time was for my salvation need and then the second time, after I surrendered my will to overeat every food group on the face of this planet to Him, then He saved me from a certain path of self-destruction.

I get to share God’s glorious work by doing what God has gifted me to do.  As I trust God for the results of where this little book is going to go, I also trust God to be faithful that the work He is doing on the inside of me completes me as it’s completed.  It’s who I am and how I have been encouraged lately to do one of the things that God has called me to do.

So back to why I was giddy.  Upon meeting Jon, (because we are tight like that now) I didn’t know what I was going to say when I actually met him.  I was just praying that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself in front of him.  Instead he encouraged me with a HUGE way it was heaven sent. What Jon Acuff did for me my husband couldn’t do.

When you listen to a negative voice about dreams it takes a toll on that part of you that does the dreaming.  I wanted what others saw in me and it was if I was challenged to want to fight for it.  God overpowered the enemy’s lies as it took a complete stranger to validate me.  Jon Acuff did that because he’s in the “business of writing and dreaming”, says my husband.

Yes, that’s it!

I held Jon Acuff in a position of authority in my mind about all things dreaming, writing and merging the two worlds together, and after I received it I was able to move forward in my dream fulfill my purpose on this earth.  God delivered it THROUGH Jon Acuff for His purposes because I kept missing it from my husband.  I love how God does that, gets our attention in ways that only mean something special to just us.

As I shared that I was writing a book about my weight loss, Jon Acuff said this:

“Your book is going to help people!”  he said.  I asked him “How do you know you haven’t even read my story?”  Jon replied, “No, I haven’t but I know people.  And because of what YOU have done, they need to know.  But here’s the thing, YOU get to go first.  And it doesn’t have to be perfect.”  

I melted on the inside, one super-foolish girl tear.  Talk about powerful.  Everything he said was like a bar of gold, wisdom of it’s finest quality.  That’s all it took to set this little writer titillating, happy, and back to her little laptop and set up serious shop to crunch out this story.

Guess what my husband said…when I told him this?  Not “I told you so!” or “I’ve told you that so many times.”  No, he continued to support me as he always has.  He considers me a very creative person on her way to doing great and mighty things for God.  Now I may take my liberty in doing this via the “scenic route”, but he still remains of the best supportive fans of what I do.  It’s with God’s freedom and by our trust in God to take this weight loss message where only God can.

My husband leads me in ways that sometimes I can’t lead myself.  With my trust in God, I am validated in my role within my family, my ministry, the works of my hands, and in life.

Thank you Jon Acuff for being a part of this process.  I’ll never forget you.

Don’t let your “mind be mad at you”

lady thinking

I’ve not been shy about what this blog is about.  I will talk about God…a lot.  That’s gotta be okay with you because I’ve got some great stuff to relate to you.  Just the other day, I laughed out loud at the simple truth my four year old grandson, Avery, blurted out at the end of an argument he was having with his momma, my daughter Lindsay.

“My mind is mad at me right now!”

I thought to myself “what in the world?”  They were discussing the opportunity to watch TV, and as his momma she controls the remote therefore she tries to put a limit on his screen time.  She draws the line at an hour tops for the day.

Come on people, it’s summer in Colorado, who wouldn’t want to be outside right now?

The problem Avery was having was that he had “spent” his allotted hour on a show earlier in the day.  He wanted another hour to watch something different.  She reminded him that he had already used up his “TV” time.  Then Avery, bless his little heart, tried to justify his choice.  He stated emphatically that he didn’t really WANT to watch that show previously, but really, really, really wanted to watch another program.  Then he added emphasis to his statement as if that would help.

“Mommy, I didn’t mean to watch that show, my mind is mad at me right now!”

I don’t know about you friends but this just struck me in my funny bone.  How often we realize our bad choices and then try to justify them.  We give every excuse in the book outside of saying “I made a wrong choice.”  We explain it away, and usually blame it away. Don’t we want to have another chance at making a good choice?

More often than not, we choose unwisely again and again and unwise habits soon become comfortable and convenient.  We slip further and further away from good choices, and then it takes an awakening to remind us what a good choice is.

I don’t know about you and how you choose things in life, but I know for a fact that life is full of making them.  God has given you a free will to choose.  Many of you choose wisely and many do not.  Just take a look at Facebook and read some of those bad choices but don’t join into the pity party they are throwing there.

As I was thinking about this funny exchange between son and parent, I couldn’t help but think how we justify our choices to God.  Yup, I told you I’m going to talk about God a lot here.  How often do we mess up on a daily basis?  We all sin but honestly some people just don’t care whether they ever change to be better.  Some do, many do not because they are playing the blame game.  You are too comfortable in your bad habits.  You fear change, and you don’t want to give up something that gives you comfort.  When we are called accountable to what we have caused, messed up or even fell victim to we often try to give blame to a situation, circumstance, bad habit or bad heritage.

I know this all too well.  For years I blamed my parents for my weight issues.  I thought and believed I had inherited my mom’s genes in regards to being overweight.  What I didn’t get from my dad’s side is the gene that keeps you at your high school weight 70 years later.  I often blamed my own physical inability to shed weight.  I made bad food choices time and time again and it took something outside of me to make me change.

I have always wrestled with my weight issue as long as I can remember.  I used to say I was born fat.

There was a day when my mind was mad at me for the wrong choices I had fallen into.  I had to take ownership of my eating disorder.  I had to come to grips with a safe boundary for healthy living.  I had to take hold of my genetic DNA and confess to God that I had really messed up His original design.

Believe me I offered every excuse in the book in the moment of my reckoning.  But through the gentle working of the Holy Spirit, I came to my senses and started to think clearly with the sound mind I was created with.  I realized that I had put food ahead of my love for God and He quickly dismantled my desires.

I call it my miracle, because it took something from outside of me to change my ways, my thinking, my habits, my inner design and caused it to be reset.  It took a wonder-working power of God who didn’t offer me condemnation for my choices, only mercy.  He didn’t beat me up with my excuses but soothed my heart with grace and he didn’t tell me “I told you so!” either.

No, God brought me to His side and said “I’ll be your food guide.  Trust me.”  I had trusted Him for my most important need of salvation so why couldn’t I trust Him for my health needs too?  We can!  If you are thinking today, well that’s all great and fine and that worked for “her”, let me remind you of my miracle.  Today is a great place to start on those half-year resolutions and admitting to God that you messed up is the BEST place to start the rest of your year.

Oh you thought I forgot about those broken promises you made to yourself?  Nope, and neither has God.  But His mind is not mad at you at all.  He’s waiting for you to turn away from what is dragging you down.  He is waiting for you to agree with Him that you can’t do this alone.  He is waiting for you to see Him as your choice in all things.  He is waiting for you to TRUST Him in all your choices.

He is waiting….don’t let your mind be mad at you later.  The last thing you want to deal with is years and years of regret like I did.  That will really tick you off!

Why I can’t give up

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.  I was supposed to write rainbows and fancy swirls.  When I set off to own this, it worked perfectly in my mind.

As easy as the words flowed through my journal.

My fear of being someone who wasn’t heard in words was real and massive.  I grappled but now you finally convinced me that the world needs my story.  Thank you for believing in this cause, I’m so grateful.

From the heart flows the life in which God gives.

Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

I thought this would be different in some odd sense of the word.

When I dreamed of it all, I became paralyzed.  Nothing made sense and I struggled in words that used to flow so freely.

Who doesn’t need help in overcoming barriers that your heart has settled on?  I needed a leg up on some time that would help me over the obstacles.  I need time to learn, to heal, and to peel back another heart layer.

“The story we are telling the world isn’t half as endearing as the one that lives inside of us.”  ~ Donald Miller.

I need more time.

I hate that I have more time and yet can’t assimilate my thoughts into words.  I only need to be still and continue.  There is always time for the things that you want to do.

Instead of writing about this or that idea of writing I should be penning chapter 3.

Instead of just dreaming about doing the dream I just need to let my mind show up and do.

Instead of talking about it constantly, I just need to do what I am talking about.

My life depends on it.  My heart as already aspired to go there, I just need to give permission to it.

The other day, one of my mentors asked if I only had two hours a day, what would I do?

I knew the answer.

If you only you had two hours a week?

If you only you had 30 days to live?

If only I had something to say.

If only, I had the words to wrap around my heart.

If only, I had the words to capture all my thoughts.

If only, then….

Then, I could scale this wall of words.

Then, I could let the words flow out

Then, I could…rest my heart on what I know.

Then, I can share well in words and thoughts.

Then, I must help myself to accomplish what I must do.

I’ve come to far to give up now.

So what now?

Quit Facebook.  Period.

Train for the race.

Have deep discipline.

Delete the distracting apps from my phone.

Watch television only on the weekend.

Turn off notifications and internet access while I create.

Protect my time.

Concentrate on developing the art of words.

Trust God.

Speak my inside voice.

Write compelling words.

Show up every day.

Leap the procrastination barrier.

Draft the impossible.

Create art and resist the enemy.

Stay confident and remain.

Believe still.

Drop perfectionism and stop comparing.

Continue to persevere.

Finish well with excellence.

Commit to the art no matter what.

Do the hustle.

Be authentic.

Grow in the good.

Push forward.

Hope bigger.

If you had only two hours a day, what thing could you not give up?

Never give up.