I’ll also be giving away 1 Reflections Devotional and 1 Brave Journal!!
Click the link below and make sure to tune in today!!
Live Interview with guest host Karla Swanigan!
I’ll also be giving away 1 Reflections Devotional and 1 Brave Journal!!
Click the link below and make sure to tune in today!!
Live Interview with guest host Karla Swanigan!
“God will put you in a community of dreamers: people who support the dream even if it takes a while for it to happen. He will surround you with a unique tribe of God-following, dream-chasing, stargazing, Promised Land dwellers.”
Havilah Cunnington, Eat Pray Hustle; Dream Chasing God’s Way.
I was speaking at a women’s conference in Colorado. We had stepped down from our position as Children’s Pastors almost a year prior at that point. We were trusting God for the impossible. We had a dream- a big dream. I remember not wanting to write part 3 of my talk until right before the women’s retreat because I didn’t want to share my story on dreams until I could wrap it up with a pretty bow- you know, the answered dream part.
But I waited…. And God didn’t answer our prayers….
To read the rest of this article, go to God-Sized Dreams!
“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott
Confession: I used to be a terrible reader. It would take me forever to read a book. I was a great book ‘buyer’, almost a collector of sorts. I was even pretty good at starting books. That was my strong suit. But my attention span was limited, and if it didn’t really pull me in, well then, I was out.
Times have changed. I still feel like I take longer than most to read a book. But the good news is that I actually make myself finish a book before I will reward myself with reading another (unless it’s just completely boring or horrible and then I give myself permission to be out). I’ve noticed the more I read, the better of a reader I become. And the more I read, the more I enjoy the process and journey of learning, growing, and getting lost in a good story. My writing also benefits from reading a lot of books.
Something else I’ve learned is that I can NOT read in bed at night. This is a big no-no for me. I will be asleep in 4 minutes flat. True story. Over the past couple of years I’ve been blessed to be on multiple book launch teams. Sometimes the publishers house will send you the book and other times they send it through a pdf. It’s been so fun reading some incredible books lately, I just had to share a few of my favorites!
Some of my favorite reads from the past year:
All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth
For a long time, Edie thought she had escaped. It started in an Appalachian trailer park, where a young girl dreamed of becoming a doctor. But every day, Edie woke up to her reality:a poverty-stricken world full of alcohol and violence, where getting out seemed impossible. She taught herself to drive a stick shift truck at twelve years oldso she could get her drunk daddy home from the bar. She spent Saturdays at Brushy Mountain prison visiting her incarcerated cousin. She watched adults eat while her stomach gnawed and then there was torching of the family trailer, where she dug through the ashes to try to salvage her most prized possession–her Tammy Wynette album.
And at the center of it all was her charismatic daddy. She never knew when he would show up but when he did he was usually drunk; she learned the hard way that she couldn’t count on him to protect her. So she told herself it didn’t matter. All she wanted was to make him proud. Against all odds, Edie “made doctor,” achieving everything that had once seemed beyond her reach. Only, it was too late, because her Daddy died a year before she graduated medical school. She split the cost of his funeral with her sister.
When her past finally caught up with her, it was all too much so she did what her Daddy would have done–she set it all on fire.
It would take her whole life burning down once again for Edie to be finally able to face the truth about herself, her family, and her relationship with God. Readers of The Glass Castle will treasure this refreshing and raw redemption story, a memoir for anyone who has ever hungered for home, forgiveness, and the safe embrace of a father’s love.
The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna Le Baron (to be released March 21st)
My father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .
This is the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. Ervil’s criminal activity kept Anna and her siblings constantly on the run from the FBI. Often starving, the children lived in a perpetual state of fear―and despite their numbers, Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?
Filled with murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is the harrowing, heart-wrenching story of a fatherless girl and her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home.
The Con-Man’s Daughter by Candace Curry (to be released May 16th)
When Candice Curry was a little girl, she put her hand in her father’s back pocket so that she wouldn’t get lost in large crowds. Little did she know that as she followed him, he was plying his trade: conning people. Her family drove stolen cars, lived in stolen houses, and shopped with stolen credit cards. Drug use was regular, as were visits from strange people who were trying to track her father down. Though she eventually cut ties with her father, Candice could not ignore the scars that were left from her childhood.
This is her story, one steeped in secrets but one that, ultimately, led her to a place of forgiveness and freedom. As she struggles to understand her criminal father, as well as her own imperfect life, Candice comes to realize that we are not defined by our circumstances but rather by how we react to those circumstances. She’s found peace in the knowledge that God doesn’t love us because we’re perfect–but because he is.
Learning to Ride Again by Amanda Stephens
On a lazy Saturday in autumn, a vintage bicycle was rescued from the cobwebs and adopted by an eager young couple with plans of romantic, post-restoration rides and life adventures. Mere months later, tragedy took the life of the husband days after their first anniversary, leaving the bike and anticipated future in pieces. The twenty-seven-year-old newlywed faced the harsh reality of a world without her husband, void of dreams yet still with the promise of hope. From debut author, Amanda Stephens, Learning to Ride Again is a powerfully poetic memoir that explores the painful shock and wondrous awe of learning to live beyond unexpected sorrow. From the night of the tragic call in Texas, to the dreamy hills of California for a cathartic goodbye, this deeply heartfelt story records the intensely personal yet universal experience: A portrait of love, loss and faith.
Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie
We all live with fear. It hangs around, whispering in our ears, reminding us of all we can’t do or will never be. But that’s not the end of the story. We also have a God who draws close to say, Fear not. I am with you. This Spirit transforms us into fear fighters–women breaking free of trepidation to find bold dedication to God’s peace-, purpose- and joy-filled callings.
With remarkable compassion born from personal experience, Kelly Balarie shows women how to
· Cultivate unstoppable faith by harnessing God’s Word and promptings
· Pray panic-, blood pressure- and stress-reducing prayers to usher in lasting peace
· Discover clear and immediate action plans to exchange worry for God’s greatest gifts
· Implement daily bravery decrees to stand armed through the day
· Participate in a 12-week study guide to foster new courageous habits
Kelly pulls back the curtain of fear so you can find the beautiful woman God created you to be.
Love Lives Here by Maria Goff (to be released March 22nd)
There are a lot of second-best options, but we weren’t made to live a second-best life. Finding what we actually need is different than what we are often offered. There are many books full of opinions, steps and programs. This isn’t one of them. This is about craving the things that matter. Things that don’t just work, but last.
In a life that may seem to be all fun and games with an endless supply of balloons, author Maria Goff shows how this life is also lived with intentionality, passionate purpose, and a little planning—all of which make a life rich in legacy. But she had to figure out the help she needed first in order to live the beautiful life God wanted for her and wants for us.
Love Lives Here is a collection of stories that include the ways Maria and her husband, Bob, navigated family their way, without clear instructions or a road map. It’s about what they learned to make their lives meaningful and whimsical and how they created a space for their family to grow together while they reached outward.
Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen
Jennie Allen understands the daily struggle so many of us face with the fear that we are not enough. And she invites us into a different experience, one in which our souls overflow with contentment and joy. In Nothing to Prove she calls us to…
* Find freedom from self-induced pressure by admitting we’re not enough—but Jesus is.
* Admit our greatest needs and watch them be filled by the only One who can meet them.
* Make it our goal to know and love Jesus, then watch what He does in and through us.
As you wade into the refreshing truth of the more-than-enough life Jesus offers, you’ll experience the joyous freedom that comes to those who are determined to discover what God can do through a soul completely in love with Him.
Discover the answer to your soul-deep thirst
Too many of us have bought into the lie that our cravings will be satisfied if we are enough and if we have enough. So we chase image, answers, things, and people—and we wonder all the while, Why am I still thirsty?
My single goal with this book is to lead your thirsty soul to the only source of lasting fulfillment: Jesus. He is the living water, a limitless supply that will not only quench your thirst but will fill you and then come pouring out of you into a thirsty world.
Because of Him, you are loved. You are known. You can take a deep breath.
Because you have nothing to prove.
For Real by Kerrie Oles
In For Real, author and sought-after speaker, Kerrie Oles helps us understand how to navigate through the turbulent seas of this life with great faith, and there was no better story to be the back-drop of her book; than the story of Job. Through her humorous style, and spiritual wisdom, she will lead you through a journey that offers encouragement, and life-transforming insights to how God will reveal His faithfulness and build our faith through each and every trial.
How do we take an age old story, and make it real to us?
Kerrie Oles, does just that. Job’s story is all of our story. We suffer in this life, but inside each of us is an overcomer, that can grow from hurtful experiences, and be equipped and empowered to help others. And, along the way, to our destination, it will build great faith!
Come with us. Get on board, let’s journey to being-For Real.
I Am by Michele Cushatt
Am I enough?
The pressure to do more, be more has never been more intense. Online marketing. Self-help books. Movies, magazines and gym memberships. Even church attendance and social media streams have become a means of comparing ourselves to impossible standards. Am I pretty enough? Hip enough? Spiritual enough?
We fear the answer is “No.”
When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.
With raw personal stories, rock-solid biblical teaching, and radical truths on which to rebuild your life, I Am will help you:
I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.
Happy Reading!!! ♥
**Disclaimer: There are many good books that I have read. This is by no means a comprehensive and exhaustive list! If you are an author and have a book out, please note that I could not list every single book out there, but just picking a few! Thank you so much for understanding!
Allow me to introduce myself. I am originally from Northern California. I was raised in a single-family home with just my brother and myself. The environment around me pretty much crushed any possible dreaming that could have come from a young girl’s heart. I grew up in a toxic home. Perhaps you can relate? My mother was an alcoholic, and although no one ever said dreams are for fools, it was much implied. Life felt heavy, and my goal was to survive and get out of the house. Not sure that classified as a dream.
To read the full article, go to God-Sized Dreams…
I’ve had several requests to share my prayer journal. This is my first year to make a prayer journal like this, but I think I’m going to start this at the beginning of each year. I’ve had many (oh, so many) journals over the past 20 years, and I’ve had a few in those first few years of my young Christian walk that were more organized like this. I love the idea of making a new prayer journal for each year. I’ve included some photos and links of what I’ve done, and at the end I have included a video I made so you can see it! Have a blessed day!
Here’s the video: My prayer Journal
If you have a prayer journal or want to start one, I would love to hear about it!
……..I found myself worried. I thought my writing career could possibly be over. I know, I know … dramatic much?! I will never forget the conversation I had with my husband as we were preparing to leave. I shared my fears and how I had searched online and couldn’t find ANY Christian writers where we were moving to, and there definitely weren’t any Christian writers’ conferences. I asked if maybe we were making a mistake. His words have stuck with me to this day…….
To read this blog in its entirety, go to: Pink Gateway Women
Have you ever watched Oprah’s Favorite Things? Well, let me just say, this is NOT Oprah’s Favorite Things…lol. But, I think this is way more beneficial for you! Many of you have expressed the desire to really grow more in this new year. I am here to share with you some of my personal favorites with links to make them easy for you to find! I am a forever student and love to live life growing- in my craft, in my relationships, and more than anything, in my walk with the Lord. Let’s not waste any time, let’s dive right in!
Elevation Church (Steven Furtick)
Celeste Barnard Be Your Best Brave
The Portfolio Life (Jeff Goins)
This is Your Best Life (Michael Hyatt)
Author Audience (Shelley Hitz)
Restory Show (Mary DeMuth)
Building a Story Brand (Donald Miller)
Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore)
Favorite albums to write to:
(Btw….PLEASE recommend some new worship music in the comments! I’m needing some new stuff!)
**Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and that if I have missed your podcast, or music, or app. PLEASE know that these are just a few of my favorites! I could have spent all day listing all of the apps, music, and podcasts I enjoy!! If you have a favorite go-to app, book, podcast, or worship music, please share the love in the comments!
Every year I get a word that is ‘my word’ for the year. It’s like having a theme-something specific you know the Lord wants you to focus on. It has helped me over the years to have a specific word because my word serves as a guide when life gets overwhelming and I’m struggling to figure out if this thing I ‘could’ do is lining up with my season and what I feel like God wants me to focus on.
Here’s some I found from the past few years:
2014- Authentic Faith
2015- Digging In & Dreaming
And as I prayed about this year’s word I thought it was intimacy, but then after further study and prayer, I have my word for 2017….Drum roll please……
Relationships. That’s right, relationships. That’s the direction I feel like the Lord is leading me for 2017. Growing closer to God, with my spouse, and my kids. Growing in relationships with our Big Red family- so that we feel more like a family. Growing in relationships with my friends so that I learn how to walk out what it looks like to get closer- like being okay with no make-up days, when I’m overwhelmed days, and overall just being more true to who I am with others and not worrying about if I look tired (because maybe I am) or if I look put together or whatever it is. Authentic and transparent. I want that. Sometimes I stay safe and hidden because it feels easier and it’s less work (I said it)- but I crave closeness. I know that’s how God has wired us.
Hebrews 10:24-25- 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Here’s 3 ways I hope to put my word into action for 2017:
I know I’m not going to get it right 100% of the time. I’m going to have my days where I just have to follow through on deadlines and get things done. But I also realize that any steps towards bettering the relationships in my life and making them a priority are far better than no steps at all. And I believe that God will honor that and meet me in that place.
I encourage you this year to invest in others, be intentional in putting others first (especially your time with God), and be the one to initiate some things instead of just waiting for things to happen. There will be no greater joy for me than to get to the end of 2017 and know that I have put first things first. When we get to the end of our lives, we don’t get to take any of our things or accolades with us. The most important things that I believe will last for eternity are our relationship with God and our relationships with each other.
Here’s to a brand New Year!
What about you? What’s your word for 2017? I would love to hear it!
“At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent.” Barbara Bush, Reflections: Life After the White House
……..I remember when I had a newborn and a two-year old. I was sleep deprived and my newborn, baby Noah, was colicky for the first 6 months. I didn’t have any family close by to just give me a couple of hours of respite. My husband worked 6 days a week and had many meetings in the evenings. I felt like I was drowning with no life preserver in sight. I found myself losing my temper more and more frequently……..
To finish reading the full article, go to: RGV Moms Blog
As cooler temps are coming, one of my favorite holidays is also right around the corner, Thanksgiving. There’s something warm and familiar as families all over gather together, surrounded by favorite dishes such as turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, warm rolls, pumpkin pie, and many other delicious eats. The highways are crowded, as many travel from afar to visit loved ones on this special day. And many families, full bellies and all, flock to the couches afterwards, and enjoy the football game together. It is truly a day to be thankful, indeed.
Being thankful is something we can practice and teach our kids all year long.
To read the the full article, go to: Rio Grande Valley Moms Blog
It’s a new school year. For many of our kids, there will be tryouts for either for sports or a certain club: choir, dance, perhaps even the school play. What all of these students have in common is that some will make it in their chosen activity… and some will not.
This is the grueling part of parenting— when our child gets their hopes up about being picked, only to find out they are not one of the “chosen ones.” Talk about learning how to walk your child through heartbreak and rejection!
I remember it like it was yesterday……..
To finish reading the full article, go to: Rio Grande Valley Moms Blog
I’m hungry for Heaven. Yet thrust into this world like a newborn child. The lights are bright, and the noise is deafening. I am called here, yet my heart aches for another place. I am granted momentary pleasures; glimpses of joy. Yet, in the same breath I feel an ache. A pain that can only be explained as shards of glass being placed back together to create a stunning mosaic. This world we live in is beautifully broken. The longer I remain the more I am aware.
And run from it, I wont. I am not called to hide any longer, but to feel. And when I park in the shallow echos of my heart, I am allowing God to piece together the parts of my brokenness to make me more alive and awake to who I’m supposed to be. I don’t even pretend to understand this beauty in the broken places, but I do know that it is worth it. Every morning, every rise, every push, every sunset- this gift called life- it is worth it.
It is worth the fight.
We fight forward, each day pressing closer to Heaven knowing with blessed assurance that this journey, this fight…it is never in vain. Hidden underneath our clothing, we wear our scrapes, our bruises, and our pains. But we press on.
We press on.
We press on for those around us, we press on for those who watch us, we press on for those who will follow after us, and we press on for us. We press on to leave something of greater value.
I don’t for one minute claim to know anything about what it will look like when my journey here is done. I only know I’m not afraid. With each sunrise, I am one day closer to my forever home. And it is with each waking breath that I am more aware that my time here on earth not only matters, but it is also fleeting. It is imperative that I realize my piece of the puzzle, my contribution to this world, no matter how small I find it. My part; my piece- It is important and needed.
….And so I press on.
I dance on.
I dance on. Sometimes my dance is hurried and clumsy, other days it’s slow and reluctant, but it’s my dance nonetheless- the only one I’m accountable for. And as long as I have breath I will stumble my way through the dark, knowing He is my light. He is my steady place. He is my forever home.
It is my prayer that my dance on this earth, as awkward as my dance moves may be, will lead others into accepting their own invitation to fight through each twirl, to get out here on the dance floor with the King of Kings.
Here’s a little advice from a clumsy, fighting dancer:
When you’re not sure what the next step is….
In life, as in dance, grace glides on blistered feet. -Author unknown
1 Timothy 6:12 (NLT)- Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.
Philippians 3:14 (NIV)- I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 3:5- It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.
Webster’s definition of ministry-
the act of ministering;
After an incredible summer full of camps we are faced with some big decisions on how to keep the ranch and this ministry afloat during off season. We discussed birthday parties, although we always said we didn’t think we would do birthday parties because we didn’t want to get distracted from ministry.
I have a friend, Sharon, who owns a farm and they have an incredible barn and do weddings almost every weekend. She is a speaker and travels often but says this is part of her ministry (and the Lord is able to provide through it). You will often find her praying for the bride and groom before each wedding. It’s not just an event- it’s ministry. People come to that property that might never step foot in a church. And she’s been given an open door into their hearts to share God’s love.
Last week on facebook she posted something and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. She said, “God, I’m so busy working our wedding venue, I don’t even have time to do what you called me to do.” He spoke directly to her and said, “Remember who you are.” Then the phone rang. The couple had to cancel their wedding as they had just received devastating news. They were sobbing. Immediately prayer arose from her spirit. At the end of the prayer the man said through his tears that her prayer was exactly what they both needed… Jesus. Wow. Guess what? That right there- that’s ministry.
When you go to work everyday and ask the Lord to give you a ministry, look around. I have a feeling He’s placed some people around you that just might need to know God’s love for them. That’s ministry. When you speak with love and compassion to a child who might have a dysfunctional home environment- that’s ministry. When you are complaining because you don’t feel like cleaning or cooking (which may or may not have happened here) the Lord quickly reminds us, “Hey, that’s ministry.” Many times ministry is not what everyone sees. As a matter of a fact, ministry is often found in those thankless things we do day after day. When my kids come home from school and it feels clean and smells good, they probably won’t say a thing, but I know it feels good. I’ve partaken in this holy offering of bringing a sacrifice for my family. Being there for a friend- my goodness, that’s ministry. When your spouse is struggling and you have to carry more of the load at home- instead of complaining ask the Lord to give you compassion for your spouse. Ask Him to make you faithful in this ministry He has given to you.
I have been reminded this week how much my family still needs me. Yes, my kids are older, but they need me differently now than they did when they were young. There will be a time for even more speaking and writing opportunities, but I really do need to focus on this ministry right here under my roof. My kids will only live under this roof for a designated time and I want to be all here. I want them to know that I’m a safe place and that when the time comes where they need to share something really big or really private that they would feel like I’m a safe place. Your time here on earth as a parent- That’s ministry. (No, I’m not stepping down from anything in particular; I’m just also not in such a hurry to get there either.) It’s that struggle between calling and home; that tension, because both are in fact ministry. I need to keep first things first. You see, ministry flows so much more when I have my priorities in order. God honors that. I’ve seen it time and time again.
Every camp, every birthday party, every field trip, every moms group, every retreat, and/or event that has ever and will ever take place here at Big Red’s Ranch- that’s ministry. I’m reminded that we have been given a great responsibility for anyone who steps on to this property- not just to have fun, although I assure you, that will happen, but also that no matter what the particular event is, it’s ministry. We are called to be a light and to share God’s love wherever we go and whatever we do.
Oh, that we would stop worrying about who does what and who gets the credit. I promise you that some of the people that are most used by God are not those who you will ever read about or those who stand on a stage- It’s those who decided a long time ago to make their life’s work about kingdom living- not worried about what everyone else is (or isn’t) doing, not worried about a title, but it’s those who go about their lives with a kingdom living mindset. They live their lives to bring a smile to someone’s face or to encourage those who are hurting. These are the people who realize that everyday they are given ministry assignments. They’re not caught up in who sees. It’s all ministry.
Do you want to do ministry? Many of you already are and don’t even realize it. Your interaction with others, your classroom, your Bible study, those you work with, those who work in places you frequent, how you treat others, cleaning that house, cooking those meals, mowing that lawn, watching a friend’s kid, making a meal for a new mom, sending someone a card, texting someone an encouraging word, taking someone out to coffee, working with kids, doing homework with your child, picking up your kids day after day (after day), praying over your kids…
Congratulations. That’s ministry.
2 Chronicles 15:7- But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
Galatians 6:9- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up!
I was 26 years young. I had visions of being a stay-at-home mom. I imagined motherhood to be lots of cooing and giggling and love. I imagined I would take my baby to all of the play dates and tumbling classes. My husband would come home from work to a sparkling home and a happy momma with child.
Then reality quickly (and literally) hit home. With my first child I was learning the ropes. Thankfully, I had time to focus on my daughter and try to figure this parenting thing out. But then we had two. And again, I imagined.
I imagined I would have time to…..
To finish reading the full article, go to: Rio Grande Valley Moms Blog
The opinions of others can be a slippery slope. For many of us, I don’t even think we realize how much we care about what others think- until something happens and we’re worried about what others are thinking! Maybe you’re going through something really hard and you are so worried about being judged by others for the choices you’ve made. You can’t live your life based on the opinions of others… you just can’t. Ultimately you are accountable to God and God alone. Seek His Word, seek His face, and pray to Him, and yes, still seek godly counsel. He will give you peace and guide and direct your steps. But don’t act or not act based solely on concern or worry about what others may think. You have to do what you feel God is directing you to do and what is best for your situation- You are the only one walking in your shoes, no one else.
I have lived my life far too long worried about what other people will think. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting. When you’re in ministry it can feel like you’re living in a glass bowl. What if people know my family and I took a little vacation or heaven forbid we went out to eat… because we needed a break with our family. I’ve just decided I can’t worry about what others think anymore. I can’t. It’s a much higher calling and responsibility to know I’m answering to God and God alone, and it’s before Him I desire a clear conscience. We can start living our lives based on fear or worry of how something will look or what others will think, or whatever… but I’m accountable to God. He holds me accountable for my time, for this ministry, for my resources, what I do and don’t do.
It feels so good and so freeing when I make choices and decisions based on what God’s calling me to do and when I take out the middle man (people’s opinions). Because everyone will always have their opinions, their way they would or wouldn’t have done something. That’s okay. But I can’t base my life decisions on their opinions. Again seek the Lord above all, seek out godly counsel based on God’s Word, and then live your life answering to Him.
Lord, you are the One who tests and knows my inner most thoughts. Oh, that I would be faithful in living to serve You and Your people, faithful to answer the call, not worrying about what other people think or say or the opinions of man. Ultimately, I answer to You and to You alone. Amen.
1 Thess. 2:4- but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
Gal.1:10- For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
On April 23rd, 1910 ex-president Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech that continues to impact people to this day. He spoke at the Sorbonne in the Grand Amphitheater at the University of Paris. He had traveled to Paris with his son Kermit to give his Citizenship in Republic speech.
“Roosevelt firmly believed that one learned by doing. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticize those that are “in the arena” he explained. “The poorest way to face life is with a sneer.” It is a sign of weakness. “To judge a man merely by success,” he said, “is an abhorrent wrong.””
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
There comes a point in your life where you will be called to step out. When you step out and begin to put yourself out there, I can assure you, there will always be critics. There will always be someone who either doesn’t agree with you, would have done it differently, or just gets offended by something you did (or didn’t) say. Being in ministry the past 17 years, you hear it said often, “If you don’t have thick skin, maybe being in ministry is not for you.” (Sad, I know, but true).
It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to point fingers from the other side of this computer screen or while sitting from the pew. It’s easy to sit around with your girlfriends and point out everything that’s wrong with the church or that particular ministry or how the speaker was boring or if you were the speaker you would have done this or that. Oh my goodness, we could point these things out in our sleep.
But the true hero is the man in the arena. The true hero is the one who decides to step out when he or she knows that by stepping out that they are putting themselves out there with the possibility of failing (in front of everyone). The one that is brave and decides to step into the arena is the hero of this story. And by this bravery you are unconsciously giving others permission to step out too. I will be the first to tell you, I don’t like confrontation and it’s hard being in front of everyone, risking transparency by not having it all together. But it’s worth it. And over the years I’ve learned to shake it off and silence the critics.
Roosevelt said that we should never judge each other by our success alone. If you have failed, I say to you today, “well done! Bravo!” That means that you’ve actually got off your butt and tried something and that my friends deserves to be applauded. It’s easy to NOT fail or stumble when you’re NOT doing anything! In my writer’s group in Colorado we would have a time at the beginning where we would share if we got a rejection letter and everyone would clap. This might seem strange to you, “Clap for a rejection letter?” But what this showed the rest of the group was that at least these people getting rejection letters were putting their stuff out there. They stepped out and tried to get their work published. They did something! (Thick skin doesn’t hurt in the publishing world either).
So today I ask you- are you the critic or are you the man in the arena? And if you are the man in the arena, may you spend yourself on a worthy cause, may your triumphs be sweet and failures hard earned. That we ourselves wouldn’t be one of those cold and timid souls that neither knows victory nor defeat. Be the hero of your story and not the critic of others. If you find yourself in circles with critics, kindly excuse yourself and run. Or better yet, stay and defend the man in the arena. If there’s something I’ve learned over the years, it’s that it always seems easier to point out everything when I’m not the one doing anything.
Today I will choose to be the man in the arena and celebrate my victories and learn from my failures. May we all do something… anything.
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
1 John 4:4 (NLT)– But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
Maybe it stems from my rocky childhood, or perhaps the lies had been fed to me so much that by the time I became an adult, and somewhere it transferred over as truth. I’m not sure. As I have grown older and grown in my walk with the Lord, I would see it. It looked like doubt, fear, isolation, and sometimes even unaware self -sabotage.
I would see it on social media. I am a part of many groups on social media and love the connection with other women. But sometimes I would feel like I didn’t belong, or that everyone else knew each other and I was watching from the sidelines, or that I needed to say something or post something that was worthy of everyone’s time or attention, like saying, “Hey, look at me!”
We feel we need to achieve some level of success in order to be worthy of everyone’s time and attention. If I could just write that one piece that goes viral or if I could just get so many shares from my article. It almost feels like High School all over again, trying to do something that proves I’m worthy to be seen; worthy of a follow; worthy of sitting with the cool kids at the lunch table.
But I thought this was settled already? As a matter of fact, I know this to be true. 2000 years ago Jesus died on the cross for me. Yes, me. And you. And when He did this, He leveled the playing field. He said we are all important, regardless of our status, our standings, our family history, and our background. We are all worthy, we are all covered and we are all His children. That’s it. No fighting for who’s at what level in this thing, no comparing who does what better. And darn it, no more sitting alone at the lunch table! We are all family! I don’t have to write one more thing to prove I’m worthy of your view, or your like, or your follow. As a matter of fact, we would all do good to focus more on getting people to follow Him, than to follow us.
It’s not really anyone’s fault. No one from any group said or didn’t say something to cause me to feel small or inadequate. If I were to blame anyone I would blame the enemy. He is the one who takes pleasure in getting us to believe these lies. Sometimes we feel this way when we visit a Bible study or new church, go to a moms group, or we’re invited with a group of people we don’t really know that well. The enemy tells us things like, “Your questions are dumb, don’t ask them,” or “these people are so much further in their walk than you, you have nothing to add to the conversation.” Or what about this one, “There’s no one here like you, why do you keep coming?” Lies, all lies.
I want you to know, we are all the cool kids, because we are His kids, and everyone is invited to the table. No one is left behind. Bullying will not be tolerated in the Kingdom, and watch out if you mess with my sisters. We have all been given different gifts, talents, and abilities and ALL are great and needed in the kingdom. You belong. I belong. And we have something to say. It doesn’t matter how known or unknown you are to others, the most beautiful thing that I want you to get a hold of today is that you are known, oh, so intimately known and loved by your Savior. He wants to read your posts, He wants to hear you speak, He wants to see your photography, He wants to see your art, He is delighted by your song. And all are done as a beautiful, fragrant offering up to Him.
And guess what else? He knows when we’re feeling a bit awkward- hello…He made us. I wonder what would happen if we began to embrace our differences in ourselves and in each other, stopped obsessing over the numbers, and instead of comparing, we celebrated our differences? What if instead of comparing our gifts and talents with others, we could learn from others and respect the gift inside of them but also know that our gift is of equal importance- just different.
Please hear me. Please. You absolutely unequivocally belong- with your scars, with your past, new Christian, on the fence, seasoned author, shaky writer, scared mamma, empty nester- we belong. When will we stop this petty drama that has no place in the Kingdom, and stand up for one another and instead of judgment offer grace, instead of competing offer applause, instead of being concerned who’s at what level in this thing, remember the playing field has already been leveled. Sister, we belong. Red, yellow, blue, green, small, big, short, and awkward… let’s have each other’s back. I believe the Lord is beginning to unite us like never before but we’ve got to have each other’s back. And we’ve got to know our place, all of us….
Romans 12:10– Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Romans 12:16- Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
1 Cor. 3:3- Don’t be jealous of each other, stop fighting!
1 Cor.3:7- It doesn’t matter who does what, it’s God who makes the seed grow.
1 Cor.3:8- Work together!
1 Cor.3:9- We are ALL God’s workers, God’s field, and God’s building.
1 Cor. 3:16- TOGETHER we are ALL God’s temple, and the same Holy Spirit that lives in you lives in me.
1 Cor. 3:21-Don’t brag or boast about following a particular speaker or leader. (They too have the exact same Holy Spirit).
1 Cor. 3:23- We ALL belong to Christ!
1 Cor. 3:11- Let us ALL make our goal to make Christ our firm foundation!! He is the ONLY foundation we should ever build our lives on- Christ & Christ alone, not a man. ** respect the person who does great things for God, but don’t worship him.
Today, may we be mature believers and set aside our differences (sometimes we just have to agree to disagree), aim to bring unity in the body of Christ, and for Heaven sakes, instead of being jealous or intimidated by each other’s gifts & talents, CELEBRATE each other’s gifts!! Build one another up and watch Him (not us) be glorified!
Every Wednesday I’ll be sharing little nuggets of truth. Wednesday’s Wisdom will be a quick read of what God is putting on my heart.
Last week I shared this on my facebook and got so much feedback from it, I wanted to share it on my blog as well for those who missed it.
Every single night our peacocks fly up to the top of the tree to sleep- I find this fascinating. I had a revelation while reading about the peacock this morning (we have two of these gorgeous creatures). Here’s what I read: “While the peacock wing seems out of proportion to the size of the bird, it will sustain flight and bear the body to the treetops.”
Sometimes we compare this dream that God has given us in proportion to who ‘we think’ we are. We must stop acting & responding like who we ‘think’ we are, and instead start acting like who He has said we are! If He has called you to something, even if it feels out of proportion to who you ‘think’ you are, remember He knows what He’s doing. Just like He already knew what He was doing when He fashioned & formed the peacock. Although the feathers seem out of proportion compared to his head & body, God made him that way to sustain flight. He has made you to sustain the flight & rise up to the treetops. You are made for so much more…you have no idea. And when you start acting like the person He knows that you are, your life is able to bring Him glory, just by being you!
Isaiah 40:31 (MSG)- But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.
A life not lived for others is not a life.
― Mother Teresa
When we are doing something to serve and to be a blessing to others, we find ourselves being much more blessed in the process than the person or group we came to bless. I’ve seen it throughout my life. Every camp we have done where we want to change lives and bless others, we in return find ourselves overwhelmed by the many blessings we receive. We are often humbled by the lives of these kids that cross our path. They come from hard places, and yet are so open to receiving what God has for them. Their smiles and their joy are contagious. And I realize what an honor and a privilege it is to minister to them because these kids have been hurt in the past by others, and for them to let us in is no small thing.
I have had friends come back from missions’ trips, and they share their stories through tears. Stories of brokenness and beauty all intermingled. But even more than the stories of what they taught the people, they share the stories of what the people taught them. How thankful these families were for small things like books or pots and pans. And how we so easily grumble and complain when things don’t go our way. My friends share the beautiful lessons they were taught when they themselves came to be the teachers.
When you give, and give out of a pure heart, without expecting anything in return, God does something so beautiful with your offering. You come as the teacher and you leave as the student.
Last week I was the one in need. Hope and I were driving along the freeway in the McAllen area. I noticed a lot of cars stopping ahead, and then I noticed many cars pulling off the freeway. I made a quick decision to pull off of the freeway with the others to avoid the traffic ahead. What I didn’t notice was the large curb my minivan would have to drive over. My van is low, very low. So I went really fast so I didn’t get stuck. The good new was that it scraped but I didn’t get stuck; the bad news was that it hit so hard when my van hit the pavement that it popped my tire. I could feel the thump thump from my tire, and pulled off the road quickly. There was an O’Reilly Auto Parts Store about a block up. I walked over to ask if they could help fix my flat, to which they said that they didn’t fix flats. Bummer. I felt about as deflated as that tire. Here I was stranded in the middle of nowhere, Jon was right in the middle of camp, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. (It’s always so much easier to help someone else than to be the one needing help.)
This man overheard my dilemma and said he could help me. Yes! The Lord sent me an angel!! He drove over to where my van was parked. He was a mechanic so he had everything in his truck. He tried to fill up my tire, but it was punctured, so he put the spare tire on. I gave him $15- and thanked him profusely. He saved me!
He then went on to tell me that at that auto store, after buying what he needed, he only had $2.50 left to his name, and he was going to use it to buy himself 2 tacos for lunch. He said he was a Christian and now he had $15 more to his name. He said, “God bless you” and that I helped him. I then felt led to give him whatever else I could find in my purse, because, hello! And here I thought he was sent to help me, and come to find out, God had also wanted to use me to help him. We were both almost in tears, because it was just a really cool God moment.
In those moments that you feel like you are sent to help someone else, keep your heart open to God moments and you will find that the they are also sent to help you. And in the moments where others are sent to help you, don’t let your pride rob them of their blessing- let them help you. And you will see that both, the helper and the helped, the teacher and the student, walk away with an even greater blessing.
Acts 20:35- And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
This is an open letter of encouragement to women everywhere. No matter who you are or where you are, He loves you and has great things planned for you. Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies, and please… Don’t stop doing what you’re doing!
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
2 Chron. 15:7- and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
2 Thess. 3:13- As for you, sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.
Galatians 6:9- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
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We’ve been a little laxed lately with my daughter’s bunny. She usually lets her out at night to roam around the game room and get a little exercise and then in a few hours, back in the cage she goes. But recently we left her out for two days. Not good. What we discovered upon further examination was that she ate through all of Noah’s computer cables to his gaming computer (that he paid for with his own money). The cables and wires were completely chewed through and his gaming keyboard cable was severed in several places and we had to just call that one a loss.
My husband and daughter fenced in our little side yard because we knew bunny’s roaming days in the house were over. The outside will be perfect for her- she can get plenty of exercise and roam in the green grass and hop (and chew) wherever she wants.
They were able to get her out. She looked around and quickly hopped back into the house. At first, it was hard for my daughter, Hope, to get her back out. She’s been contained and indoors for all these years and now we offer her freedom, but she hesitates. Why? She was a bit scared and apprehensive about this big new world. Was this a trap? There was a whole new world out there just waiting to be explored, but she wanted to stay in the house. It took some convincing (and lettuce) but my daughter finally got her outside. And after realizing this wasn’t some sort of trick, she began to slowly explore this new territory. She discovered that she really enjoyed her newfound freedom, even though it was a bit scary at first.
See the house for her represented what was comfortable. It was all that she knew. We opened the door to freedom, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to leave her safe and comfortable environment to see what was on the other side.
I’ve done that. The Lord has shown me a new way, something grand and beautiful, but I wanted to stay in the comfortable, where I thought I was safe. I used to think it was safer if I just kept doing what I always did- consistency, you know? But then when the Lord asked me to step out, and even though it looked vaguely like something I had been praying for, I was still scared to leave the familiar.
I’m no bunny, but I can only imagine some of her fears. “What if I get eaten by something? What if I get lost? What if I get hurt?” They are all good questions. Sometimes when the Lord opens a door, He doesn’t show us every single step we’re supposed to take. He just wants us to take one step, and then another, and then another, one obedient step at a time. See, bunny will probably find a few holes or bumps in the dirt. Does that mean she shouldn’t have gone through the door? No, it means she’s learning, and she’ll remember next time not to go that way. It’s the same for us- we seem to want to avoid every single mistake possible before we go through the next door, but it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes that’s how we have to learn, by stepping out and making mistakes and learning what not to do next time.
It is better to do something than to do nothing at all.
By the way, the bunny’s name is Love. So today, let’s follow Love’s example, and when the Lord shows us a door He’s asking us to go through, may we recognize it for what it is.
One more door to our freedom.
One more step to that thing He’s calling us to do.
He’s got a beautiful place of freedom and joy and it’s got our calling all over it, but we’ve got to stop being afraid to leave our comfort zone. We’ve got to step out into some unfamiliar land, not having all the answers and trusting Him to give us what we need when we need it. We take that first step with shaky knees, imperfect and messy, and He meets us in that place. The more imperfect but necessary steps we take, the more we allow ourselves the chance to step into the freedom and destiny He’s calling us into.