Lean Into Love

Who is it that I seek to impress anyway? If I say it is the Lord then why do I fear? His Word is clear and repeats, “do not fear,” and then here in 1 John reminding me…there is no fear in love – he is love. If I am truly hidden in him, lost in him, awestruck by him there is no fear only an undying longing to know him, seek him, honor him, obey him, impress only him. 

   
When I shrink back in fear, I must have stepped away from him.

When my mind talk and doubt is louder than my heart talk and faith, I must have wandered onto my own path and out from under his protective covering.

When someone else’s opinion of me and harsh words derail me, I must have taken my identity away from him and placed it in the hands of my foes.

Rather than cower to fear I will use fear as a reminder to lean in closer to the One who drives fear away. 

Suit up in that Armor

Caught up in my own mindtalk this week I approached this morning in desperation for God to heal my preoccupation of self and give me a dose of truth…His truth. I prayed the armor of God but this time from the good old words of  New King James translation and asked God to show me where I was leaving myself open to the enemy’s defeat. 

  
Often a person knowingly allows herself to believe a lie because of fear or self-pity (NKJV)

Okay Lord, must your response so be so blunt?

The heart must be kept pure and righteous because sin gives a foothold to the enemy

Umm…where have I sinned Lord? Show me.

Peace and reconciliation. 

Ugh! I am spreading peace….with those who make it easy to approach. It’s not like I can go thumping people on the head with a Bible! What about those who have a wall up? What about those who spread false accusations? What about those whose main goal is to stay as far away as possible? 

An undaunted sense of mission keeps the believer headed in the right direction. Faith acts as an invisible shield that deflects such false accusations. 

Lord, it’s hard and exhausting. I can only be who I am. What others perceive I can’t control.

Believers musts keep in constant communication with our Leader for direction and encouragement. Our prayers for one another are important and effectual. 

Pray on, dear Friends…I’ll join with you. The battle is real and won on bended knee. Praying circles over you. 

  

Gifts

Have you ever had a moment when you thought, “geez, I just don’t deserve this” and you didn’t even think it in a negative way…you just simply meant, “how on earth could I possibly be this blessed?”.

That’s exactly how I feel right now.

God gave me Him as an eternal Father, but he didn’t stop there. God gave me a set of  wonderful parents. In their strengths and weaknesses along with their hard work and sacrifice I have learned and gained so much, but He didn’t stop there. God gave me a circle of influence and it keeps growing and growing. In the middle of this circle he gave me Billy and Melissa Duker.

These two are an example of a God centered marriage where God can work in miraculous ways simply because the two remain willing to let God stay in the spotlight. On top of that, they pour their love into those around them and even take in  extra kids like me. They teach me so much and they shower me with unconditional love. They support me, encourage me, occasionally save me from myself, but really their greatest gift to me is that they pray for me as though I was one of their own.

If Heaven required recommendations you’d have mine ❤

Lasso Yourself

As I respond in obedience to the Lord I find myself with some extra time on my hands and this is where He has led me to spend it.

I am part of a women’s small group and we have taken a 40 day prayer challenge together as we read Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. Almost two weeks into this challenge and I am having a surreal moment. To explain in words what is happening won’t do it justice.

One must really experience a journey such as this and I hope you will, but what I want to share today is this thought…

God created us so uniquely and so intricately…each detail planned precisely even before we were in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). If One took that much effort to create us, he must also desire so deeply to be included in our daily lives.

As a mom I think about how I carried my babies and had a part to do with them coming to life, but I didn’t create the DNA that formed them, nor did I orchestrate the precise way in which their father and I would meet so each of our kids could have the exact uniqueness that God intended. I didn’t plan them (HA! Infact 2 of the 3 were conceived while on birth control) yet I want my kids to want to spend time with me. I want them to forever include me in their every struggle, every question, every victory!

As their mom it’s my job to guide them, to protect them, to breathe belief back into them when this world breaks them down.

Right now our group is experiencing major hurdles. This isn’t a surprise. We knew that when we banned together in prayer that we were entering into God’s presence and the enemy isn’t going to just stand back and let that happen.

This all sparked an image for me.

I want to be lassoed to the Lord!

James 4:8 says “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you”

If we’re lassoed to Him and life starts pulling at us the lasso just gets tighter!

So Friends, I urge you to lasso yourself to God and cling to Him for the ride.

It will likely be a rough one if you’re on the right road, but a rough road is much easier to endure when you’ve got the right company.

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When God’s vision exceeds mine…

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This whole Seminar year I have been working pretty consistently, but certainly did not expect that come May I would be so close to finishing Court of Sales and earning my first diamond ring. An excitement bubbled from deep within and after praying and consulting a wise friend I decided to pray hard and go for it!

All of May I made a very public display of my goal and enlisted the help of any willing friend and many were willing (thank you so much). I worked incredibly hard within my boundaries of balance and come the last day of the month I was so super close that I couldn’t imagine God NOT wanting this goal finished.

For 4 days I’ve been called to a period of quietness and stillness. In my stubborness I wanted my answer to be “Yes, finish it! Get the ring, walk the stage”, but something remained unsettled in me. So, this morning, after talking with that same wise friend and praying again, I came to the realization that the ring had somewhat clouded my vision and that though God did set the goal on my heart, it was for far greater purpose…for a way bigger vision!

THE VISION EVOLVED

I have been praying for months that God would grow my trust and my faith. He has, I had to trust Him to carry me through the work I would have to do to complete this goal.I had to trust He would bless every single effort I put into it. I had to trust Him even more to release the ring and the recognition so I could see and fulfill His bigger plan.

I always said it was never really about the ring. I wanted mostly to know I could work as hard as I have and reach a goal way beyond me. In my humanness I allowed it to become about the ring for a short period of time wanting to say “I finished it” and walk the Seminar stage, but in God’s eyes I can still finish the goal (His goal) and I will. I might not have the ring, but I have God’s vision. His vision is more beautiful and purposeful than mine had been. See, in God’s vision, I would grow more into the woman he wants me to be…a woman he can use in the lives of others even more…in ways I wasn’t seeing until now.

Through this goal I’ve watched many people become more motivated. I’ve watched people see a greater potential in themselves. I’ve swallowed my own pride just a little bit more and I’ve grown tremendously from it. Even more, God has laid a greater desire on my heart to work and utilize my business in ways I wasn’t.

I’m not letting go of the goal that was laid on my heart…it just looks a bit different. Instead of walking across the stage to receive a ring, I will continue to work towards the finish line and donate 10% of my sales from both May and June (the two months I had committed to finishing the goal) to Compassion’s Water of Life Program. You can read about it here: Compassion Water of Life.

I want to close with this verse that God gave me this morning and then confirmed in me when I sat down to Bible study this morning, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” Proverbs 16:9. In “Draw the Circle” by Mark Batterson he writes, “The Hebrew word kun, translates in Proverbs 16:9 as ‘establishes,’ can also be translated as ‘determines,’ ‘prepares,’ ‘ provides,’ ‘sets in place,’ ‘directs,’ ‘firmly decides,’ ‘makes secure.’ It’s a meticulous word that involves careful planning right down to the smallest detail. It’s a redemptive word that celebrates God’s ability to redeem past experiences and recycle them for future opportunities. It’s a calming word that imparts confidence in the fact that God has everything under control”.

The future has endless opportunities and praise God for having them all under control!

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Just be YOU!

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Reading another GREAT book, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth. 

I’ve been posting all over my facebook page as a result of how this book is touching my heart, but one simple part in my reading today has really caught my attention. 

Holley writes, “You are the only you we have. That means your God-sized dream either happens through you or not at all”. Wait, what?! 

This line reminds me of a saying I hear in my Mary Kay business, “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me”. So much truth in this right? Of course it must also be in God’s will, but if we take no steps towards doing anything then we forfeit the God-sized dream all together. 

So what about those who don’t know what God-sized dreams exist in their life? Does that mean that life is wasted and there is no point? NO! It means that while we seek and discern what God-sized dreams to take part in, God is ready and waiting to use us right where we are and all along the way! 

I posted a question as part of an assignment in my study. Simple question, “what 3 strengths do you see in me?”. In return I responded with 3 strengths I see in them. I am blown away at the response! Honestly, I grew more when I was able to praise God for the 3 strengths they each have that I am blessed by.

I am plain and simple me. Nothing extravagant. I’m not perfect. I can be grumpy, easily overwhelmed. I snap at my children occassionally. I have lazy days. I make many mistakes and God makes sure those humbling mistakes continue to shape me, but when I respond to God’s call right where I am, He uses me.

I’m willing to be transparent. I am willing to admit my faults and correct them so I can be of more use to Him. What people see as strengths in me they see because God uses those strengths to touch the lives of each one of the people who answered my question. He doesn’t use me because I’m only strengths and no weaknesses. He uses me because despite my weaknesses, he’s gifted me strengths to make a difference. He has made me ME and nobody else can fulfill the tasks He has willed for me. Nobody else can fulfill the tasks He has willed for YOU! 

Don’t waste time trying to be something or someone you’re not, but work on being YOU…the you He’s uniquely created you to be and praise him for choosing you right where you are. Ask him to equip you and use you. Praise Him for growing you to fulfill the God-sized dream he has set aside for only you to do and then go for it with all you have in you because nobody else can…nobody else will. 

Endless Possibilities in the Hands of the Creator…

This past Saturday I had the sheer pleasure of being photographed by Amanda Driver of Driver Photo. Today I’ve looked over those captured moments several times. I’m not vain, trust me..it’s hard for me to look at pictures of myself, but with each glance of the pictures I notice the perfect shading of colors all around me. I notice the way the light has hit the lens of the camera and made a unique prism. I noticed how Amanda was able to capture the sunlight in such a way that there is a tremendous glow around me…bouncing off of me.  I noticed the look on my face and in my eyes and reflected back to what I was feeling out there.

While she was photographing me I was at peace, delighted, joyful, content to follow any of her instructions. I was perfectly trusting. I didn’t question anything she asked me to do, even if it seemed outrageous. She was in control because she knew what she was looking for…she was the creator.

Lesson learned: that’s how God wants me to be with Him. Perfectly serene. Trusting. Peaceful to receive His instructions. Confident to just go with it no matter how outrageous it seems.

For two weeks I’ve been a part of an “experimental group”. We’re committed to praying on behalf of one another for 40 days. These prayers are not halfhearted prayers…there are two specific prayer requests from each participant and each day we “pray circles” around one another. It’s truly a beautiful experience that leaves me feeling confident, more empowered, more in awe each time I finish praying.  I don’t know how God will answer our prayers, but I do know that He is listening and with each word that reaches His ear I imagine him smiling and saying, “I’m making something beautiful out of this”.

Already He is opening my eyes to different perspectives. He is giving me joy in all circumstances. He is prying each finger up one by one so that He can do even more with what He has given me. He is certainly making something beautiful and I am so excited to see the masterpiece as he continues to work on it and reveal it to me. One day I’ll look back on my life like I’ve looked back at the photos today and when I do I’ll notice the intricate details and be thankful that I surrendered to the Creator.Image

Sunday Sundaes…Give it a Try!

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As parents, we do our best to teach our kids what is right and what is wrong. We’re blessed to be a part of a church family that values teaching us parents how to implement “faith at home” too.

In 2010 my family and I had endured some major changes and I wanted desperately to find a way to bring faith home in a fun way that my kids might look forward to…something that would keep us grounded in God’s goodness regardless of what was going on around us.  Sunday Sundaes were the result of this desire. For Christmas I bought a journal with “2011 Prayers” imprinted on the front with good intention to fill this journal with our family prayers as we sat down for Sunday sundaes each week.

That first year did not go so well. The intention was good, but the dedication was nonexistent. Through 2012 my kids would often ask me, “Mom, what happened to Sunday sundaes” and I would make some excuse. Each time conviction gnawed at me more and more.

The end of 2012 God had a loving, but stern talking to me. After finishing the Resolution for Women study by Priscilla Shrier it was really time to be a woman resolved and carry out this really important habit that my kids really looked forward to. The last few Sundays of 2012 I took out our pitiful “2011 Prayers” journal and we started up again. Three weeks of doing this and I have witness character changes in my kids along with an eagerness to write their prayers in our journal.

Tonight, I showed my kids our new “2013 Praise & Prayers” journal. They immediately started spouting off their praises and requests for today (and it wasn’t even time for Sunday sundaes!). We ate dinner together and had genuine conversations about areas that God is working in (prompted by my son, Christopher, not by me). They helped me clear the table and I as I went to take care of some other house chores they took it upon themselves to get Sunday Sundaes all set up (working very hard to make it a surprise).

As I walked into the kitchen I witnessed 3 smiling faces ready to spend time with me AND with God (and with ice cream and toppings of course). Their praises and requests were already written in the journal for today and the boys even wrote in Bella’s which she instructed them very carefully on what to write on her behalf. We made sundaes, talked about our praises and requests, and one by one we prayed aloud.

I’m not sharing this to toot my own horn for some brilliant idea because it’s not brilliant (it’s a sundae…and a bribe that worked out like I had hoped) and it took me over a year to resolve to really be committed to this, but here is what I’ve seen God do:

#1 He used my kids to show me something I needed to change

#2 He has created a consistent habit and a potential tradition to pass down for generations

#3 He is created a desire in myself and my children to talk…REALLY talk about IMPORTANT things!

#4 He is showing us how to pray by listening to one another. We’re praying for more than just giving thanks for video games now…we’re praying for the world (Brandon’s request tonight)!

**side note**

Isabella is teaching us that prayer is as simple as sharing what is on our hearts with God. Tonight her prayer was this (paraphrased and shortened as her prayer went on FOREVER)…”Father God, I thank you for loving on me, for my loving on mama, for my loving on grandma, and this is my dog and he eats this play food like this…”

#5 He is showing us that he is real, he does listen, and he does change our hearts, our thoughts, our attitudes, even our desires…my continued prayer is that they see He works for the good of us who love Him even if our prayers aren’t answered like we think they should be.

I’m sure I’ve left things out, but I just wanted to share our Sunday Sundaes with you. It’s powerful! Try it. Share it with your friends.

Our kids might not want to sit and do a devotion everyday, but offer ’em a sundae and introduce them to a real prayerlife and watch God work.

I’m humbled by what I experienced tonight. My heart swells with joy!

Happy Sundae ;D

Business of Confidence Boosting

When I signed my beauty consultant agreement 7 years ago I honestly didn’t think it would become anything other than a way to get the products I wanted at a discount and maybe sell products to a few close friends and family members.

I found myself attending my first meeting and when asked to introduce myself by saying my name, I cried. I cried the rest of the meeting and drove home thinking I was nuts if I thought I’d be able to attend more meetings and turn this into a business. I was a shy lady and registered darn near 0 on the confidence meter. Seven years later I’ve come to see this business as more than a discount or a little extra money. This business has provided the safe place and perfect nurturing to blossom.

I realized today that it’s not the titles, the freedom to move up when I want, the money, the flexibility, the prizes, the tax deductions, the discounts, or even the friendships that keep me independently working with this company: it’s the passion in boosting other’s confidence through praising them and mentoring them that I most enjoy.

As an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay I specialize in confidence boosting. I do this through teaching other’s how to care for their skin and apply make up to enhance their unique beauty. I also boost confidence in others by offering them an opportunity to seek their dreams and achieve great things while praising them and encouraging them.

I am blessed beyond measure with the opportunities I have been given and wait in expectant anticipation for the opportunities still to come.

My Boy

Christopher – “Steadfast in Christ”

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My boys is getting baptized tomorrow at our church’s annual beach baptism. I’m reflective this morning. In 9 short years he’s been molded so much through painful and joyous experiences.

As a mommy my heart sometimes hurts thinking I could have done more to protect him from some hurts and yet he just wouldn’t be who he is without what he’s gone through. That’s the truth for all of us. What I take comfort in is knowing that God already knew all that Christopher would experience and He knows what more is to come. I trust the Lord has Christopher’s best interest at heart and am relieved to see that in just 9 years God has done an incredible job with this boy.

Christopher is smart, compassionate, intuitive, he’s an outside of the box thinker, a nurturer when allowed to nurture. He’s wise beyond his years and yet innocent and a child at the same time.
He is unique for sure and my life was forever changed by this boy.

I am his mom and yet he teaches me so much. Even now in preparation for baptism I have learned so much. My greatest lesson right now – that I just have to love him the best I can and leave the rest in God’s hands. He grows and learns in my unconditional love. I must teach him with love, discipline him with love, lead him in love, and humbly learn from him out of love.

Lord, I am in awe of this boy you are molding. I leave him in your capable hands and will take in every second of watching him grow to be the man you made him to be. I am grateful for the opportunity to be his mom. Thank you for choosing me.