Monthly Archives: October 2014

Your Words Matter

Mother talking to teenaged girl

 “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo F. Buscaglia

 It was a warm fall day. My boys and I participated in a run at the local college. We waited until the end to hear the awards given. My boys, especially my oldest wanted to win 3rd place in his age bracket. He’s in cross-country and he’s been training. He sprinted hard at the end and passed up two other people. I let him know that trophy or no trophy, I was so proud of him for running his own best race. I told both of my boys that. Is it fun to win a trophy? Sure! Why not?! But we don’t run to just win a trophy- we run to push our bodies, to prove we can do more than we give ourselves credit for, and to better ourselves. We make our own personal goals and try to achieve them. And always be proud that you’ve tried! So, no trophies on this morning for my boys, but they had their finisher medal and I reminded them of how proud I was of them for doing their best.

As we crossed the street, what I heard next from a mom to her son broke my heart. “Mom, where’s my trophy?” The young boy was maybe ten. She looked upset. She said, “You didn’t run fast enough. You have to run faster.” With bitterness in her every word and disappointment in her voice, I watched this young man put his head down, completely deflated. I could almost imagine the record going on in his little brain… “You’re not enough… you’re not good enough… you’re not fast enough… if only you were fast enough, then your mom would be proud of you.” And a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach arose. I felt like I was going to explode. As calmly as I was able, I said to the boy, “Hey, you should be proud of yourself, you woke up and ran a race when a lot of the boys your age are still sleeping, so way to go!” And the mom just tried to smile, while probably feeling slightly embarrassed, realizing I overheard her conversation with her son.

I got in the van and wanted to cry. If only she had seen his face and realized the power in her words. Maybe I’m more sensitive to this because of my own memory of words that hurt and discouraged. I was in 9th grade. I was never in any sport, never encouraged to try any sport, and didn’t really have the support at home (financially or physically) to join a sport. I was a troubled teen with a very dysfunctional home life. I don’t remember having a desire to even try a sport. Because of never trying any type of sport, I never got to see my potential. I never got to see what I could really do.

It was just another day in 9th grade, and they made us run for P.E. The running team was also out that day practicing on the field. As I ran by I overheard the coach of the team say to one of the runners, “Go run with her.” Honestly, I don’t remember his exact words, only the runner from the team running beside me, pushing me and encouraging me to go faster. And I did. The coach recognized something in me no one had ever noticed. I could run and I had potential. He asked me to join the running team. No one had ever asked me to join a team before. I remember feeling so proud and excited. “Wow, me, a part of a team?” “He thinks I’m fast.” I remember training with the team. I did long distance. I remember the joy I felt running and how good it felt to be a part of something; to be wanted. It was getting close to competition time. I had some old tennis shoes. I never had to buy anything for a team or a sport. The coach wanted us to all have a pair of good running shoes. I went home that evening and let my mom know we would need to buy a good pair of running shoes. “Why do you need that?” “You’ll probably never finish.” And deflated I walked away, the record played in my head, “You’re right mom, I’ll probably never finish.” The next day was picture day for the team. I didn’t go, so the coach sent someone to look for me. I told him my mom said my grades weren’t good enough, so I couldn’t be on the team. (In truth my grades were terrible, practically failing everything, but this wasn’t the reason I stopped running with the team). And that was it. The quickest sport I ever played growing up, in the matter of a few minutes and a few words… over.

I share this story because I have seen words destroy families, I have seen words crush dreams, I have seen words break hearts, and I have seen words completely shatter self-esteem. It’s taken a lifetime of God’s Word over me to counteract the sharp words spoken over me as a child. And I wonder if we realize the power we have with our words? I wonder if we realize the power we have to lift up or tear down? In Proverbs 3:27 the Bible says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” When is it in our power to help & encourage someone? How about every time we open our mouth?

Proverbs 18:21- Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Ephesians 4:21– Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Proverbs 12:18– There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Matthew 12:36- I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.

As parents, we have the power to bring life or death in the hearts of our children by the words we say. I want my kids to know that no matter what, I am proud of them and that I will support them in trying new things. We are the little voice in their head. When they are older, they’ll hear a record playing from their years of growing up. First and foremost, I pray they’ll have God’s Word in their head (and hearts). And secondly, they’ll have ours. I pray that the words they hear are positive, encouraging, uplifting, truth in love, and that they’ll know that no matter what, we love them, even if they mess up, and that there’s room for failure here. And that when times get tough, they hear the record playing in their head, “You’ve got this… you were made for this… you can do this…we believe in you…greater is He that is in you… you are loved no matter what….”

Lord, help us to never be stingy with words that can build someone up. Help us to freely hand out encouragement to others whenever it is within our power. As we read Your Words, help our words to others flow freely, bringing life- with our spouse, with our kids, with our friends and family members. Help us to take any opportunity to celebrate others and speak into their lives. Lord, forgive for times when we’ve withheld our encouraging words for others because of our own insecurities. Today is a new day. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Here’s a great video to bring home my point by Toby Mac, Speak Life

Brave Retreat/Brave Journal

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“I don’t feel very brave,” was a comment I found myself hearing more and more. I speak. I haven’t spoken a ton, but more and more doors have been opening lately. I feel really blessed. And I also along with the feelings of joy and nervousness meshed together, I feel fear. I use to wonder how can something I absolutely know I’m called to do make me so anxious. And then it clicked. A calling isn’t a feeling. It’s something we know, something that’s been confirmed in our hearts and spirit that we’re supposed to be doing. And honestly, if I waited to feel brave (courageous) before I did anything- well, I wouldn’t do very much. Being brave isn’t a feeling. Let me repeat that in case you’re just waking up… brave isn’t a feeling. Brave is something you do.

I was invited to speak at a church this month in New York. I’ve known about this opportunity for a while and had much time to prepare and pray. I felt ready- yet still not feeling particularly brave. But I know it’s what I’m supposed to do. And I stepped out into the deep waters. I left behind the shallow shores and was obedient. And here’s the thing- I loved it. I really did! But I still get nervous and have to silence the enemy’s voice daily. All the ‘what-ifs’ swirl through my head: “What if I look at my notes too much?”, “What if it’s too serious?”, “What if Gods anointing doesn’t show up?”  And I have to get back into His Word and remind myself of His promises. That song by Bethel is right on, He Makes me Brave. It’s His Word and His presence and His voice inside of me that makes me step out and have courage (bravery).

I am still reveling about the ‘Be Your Best Brave’ Women’s Retreat. God reminded me during that time that my job is to be obedient and step out. That’s it. And He takes over. He’s just looking for a willing and obedient vessel- willing to step out into the deep, regardless of our feelings. Brave is definitely not a feeling.

But even more than just seeing God bring me through and confirm the call, He touched my heart through these women. These women that I was sent to encourage, encouraged me. Leaving that retreat, I was encouraged more than anything to be my best brave in the area of my family- my first ministry. And these aren’t major things here people, but they are important! These are things like making sure I’m available more to my kids, especially the evenings & weekends and being fully present (intentional). Taking care of my house, making it a peaceful home, not a cluttered, chaotic home. Being more of help mate for my husband. Sometimes I’m so focused on encouraging other people, I forget my husband and kids need it most from me. One girl said her husband is in the navy and they just moved (again), and she’s not working and people keep asking her, “So, did you find a job yet.” Or they ask her, “So, what do you do?” God was asking her, “What if your only job was to take care of your home and your husband and be the best (brave) wife that you could be?” In other words, if that was her only ministry at this moment, could God be enough for her in that? I just sat there, totally blown away by her heart.
‘Brave Girls Wait’ really hit home with a lot of the women. Some are feeling restless, wondering what’s next. I talked about what it looked like to wait on the Lord. Waiting isn’t sitting around eating bon-bons while waiting for Jesus to fly in and deliver our next mission. Waiting for us is a verb. It means reading His Word, studying His Word, journaling and writing down what He’s speaking to us, spending time in our prayer closets, turning up the praise & worship and just worshiping Him. That is our Brave Wait. And not feeling guilty about it, you know, about not knowing what’s next. It’s all part of the plan. Allow yourself to wait on the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (or change your desires to line up with His desires).

Last story (there are so many, I could write for days). One sweet girl was a new Christian. She said she realized that she’s been dating guys because she’s attracted to their parents. What I mean is, she has some abandonment issues with her biological parents and if she was dating a guy that maybe wasn’t so good to her, but she loved the parents, she might stick around longer. She craved that parental attention. And as we were all talking, in comes Mrs. P. Mr’s P and I could relate because of something that happened to both of us in our past. I really like Mrs. P. An older woman, very loving and kind and nurturing. She looked at this young girl, who so desperately needed a mother figure in her life and said, “Would you let me love you and be that for you?” Who does that?! Tears fell (from all of us!) and she said, “Will you let me just hug you.” And as they embraced I felt like God was pouring out His healing balm all over this young girls heart. And I later told Mrs.P, “You are my hero.” (and she said she didn’t feel like a hero, because we never do, do we?) Something I told the ladies that weekend was this- “The place of your greatest pain will be the place of your greatest ministry.” Mrs. P lives this out every day.

Thank you ladies for causing my heart to overflow with love, gratitude, and joy!

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This retreat in a few words….

To God be all the glory.

He makes us Brave.

 

 

 

 

Now for my special announcement if you haven’t heard already!!!! Our Be Your Best Brave Journal!!!

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In March, the Lord gave me a theme for this year. I journaled my little heart out, researching brave songs, brave scriptures, brave definitions, and brave quotes. And then I had an idea. We all do things everyday that are brave for us. I wrote my most popular blog ever, ‘Be Your Best Brave‘ (realizing that this topic struck a chord for a lot of us). The Lord was moving me to do things that were brave for me. They might not have necessarily been brave for someone else, but they were brave for me. And I wanted a special place to document my brave, where it wouldn’t just get lost in the lines of my journal. That way, whenever I was feeling especially timid and not very brave, or discouraged, feeling like I should be farther along in my journey, I could go back and see see how the Lord has made me brave and He has me in my journey, right where I need to be. From that place was birthed my Brave Journal. And I have to say- this is me stepping out and being brave. At no point did I feel qualified or that I am the final authority on being brave. It’s me stepping out and being obedient. I could not have done it without my husband (who typed in everything for me and made sure the format was correct and supported me) and my crazy talented graphic designer Jen Wagner who did all the brave graphics throughout this journal and the cover. I was able to finish this journal in time for my Brave Retreat and was so excited to get them in the hands of many ladies. It is my prayer that you would get this journal, and get them into the hands of your friends, daughters, aunts, sisters- and I even made these journals gender neutral for guys too! If you’re local, I am doing a book signing at Starbucks (on Morrison) on Sunday Nov. 2nd from 4-6pm, or I can sign and ship directly to you. Private message me your address and how many you want, or you can just order them directly from Amazon! (Oh, and if you’ve started yours, can you pretty please go to Amazon to leave a review… this really helps a sister out!) Or you can order direct from the publishing company CreateSpace.

My friend just received hers last week and this is what I told her-

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Honesty, when I run, when I speak, when I write and spill my guts, when I clean the house sometimes, I don’t do it because its easy and I just happen to have all this free time. Hahaha… no. I do it because Greater is He that is in me, and the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. And because He makes me brave!!

So go get your Brave on!!! And get your Brave Journals!! If you’re interested in me selling them at an event or a craft fair, doing a signing, or me bringing them and speaking at your group (Mops, church brunch/event, women’s event), just use the contact form on my website.

Let’s all go out and not only be our own best brave, but encourage others to be their own best brave too!!!  And when you share your stories of you doing something brave (stepping out of your comfort zone) please hashtag #BeYourBestBrave on facebook, twitter, or Instagram so I can find you being Brave and we can all encourage each other!

Your Best Brave is on the other side of your fear.

Be Brave. Be Strong. Don’t Give up. Expect God to get here soon.

Psalms 31:24 (MSG)

 

His Love is Deep

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We’ve had the same mini-van for about 11 years. Many great memories in that van, but as we all know, nothing last forever (well, at least here on earth). It finally drove its last few miles this month and had to be towed to the junkyard for scrap metal. So after much searching for something in our squeaky price range, we finally got a new mini-van. Well, not brand new, but new to us! And I felt like everyday I was discovering something new about it. “Oh, look kids, it’s a sunglass holder!” One day I even discovered there was a lock box under the passenger seat…“Oh, this is fancy!” But just yesterday I really appreciated my new van. I did my first major grocery-shopping trip with it. My last van had some room in the back and it was okay. But this van, this van has a huge deep pocket, able to hold all of my grocery bags and more! I thought to myself as I was putting bag after bag into the back, “It’s so deep, I could add bags of groceries for days!”

And the Lord showed me in that moment, that His love is exactly like that. His love is so deep, it could go on and on forever. And the groceries represent His Word. I would have never known how deep my new van storage was unless I started filling it. And unless we start filling ourselves with Gods Word, we will never know just how deep His love truly is for us! Our church is doing a challenge this month to read God’s Word every single day for 30 days and just see what God will do in these 30 days. Would you join us? It’s one thing for everyone to tell me God loves me, but there’s just something powerful that happens when I read it for myself in His Word and realize for myself just how much He loves me.

Praying this week that you would realize how deep and how wide Gods love is for you. There’s nothing that you can do to change that. Nothing will ever separate you from His love.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)- 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 Zeph. 3:17 (NLT)- For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

 

New York, New York

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Will be writing more about what the Lord did during my time at the Women’s Retreat, but I had a 40 minute layover and wanted to share some of my sights & sounds from my little adventure!

The leaves… their red and brown and orange hues are rich and vibrant. I could swim atop their crisp & crunchy colors. The lush, full trees gently reminded me of Gods goodness. My eyes were overjoyed to see the green rolling hills, the apple orchard, the many pumpkin patches, and the postcard picturesque little red barns. He made all of this for our enjoyment. As we walked downtown and I saw the eclectic variety of people, I was reminded that we are all so unique and different and needed.
The little shops were my favorite. I saw a woman making candy, mixing the caramel back and forth with her giant wooden spoon. I listened to the music players on the street strum a delightful jazzy tune. I smelled the fresh, warm bread. And as I entered the local coffee shop, I inhaled the scent of fresh coffee beans as I listened to the upbeat tempo coming from the speakers. Downtown Saratoga, Vermont, and New Hampshire all delivered many pleasant surprises to my senses. All of which I am delighted to say made me a little more thankful to my Heavenly Father that He is the giver of all good gifts.

James 1:17 (NLT)- Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Psalm 107:1 (ESV)- Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!