Amazed

amazed

I had the privilege to be on the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies conference call Monday evening with Mandisa. It was so wonderful to hear her speak and share with everyone on the call. I could write an entire series of posts on all the great insights she shared on the call. However, what really stuck with me was from Revelation 12:11, “by the word of their testimony”, we need to share our journey with others. So today, I’m going to reveal a little of my story with you.

If anyone would have told me years ago I would be where I am today, I would have laughed. In my mind, there was no way that God would use me. Those positions were reserved for those with certain looks, specific gifts and certainly no shadows in their past. I determined that the only thing I was qualified for as far as God was concerned was sitting in the back of the church on Sunday and occasionally helping in the nursery.

But God had other plans for me. He used me with my past mistakes and failures in such a mighty way.

Over ten years ago, I thought my world was coming to an end. My husband left our three small children and me. I was blindsided and completely devastated. I didn’t understand why we had to endure this valley. I felt like since my husband didn’t love or want me that God must feel the same way.

But God turned that mess into a message. I have been able to lift up, encourage and walk beside ladies traveling in that same valley.

The desire that God placed in my heart for women, like myself, who struggle with insecurities, doubts and fears, birthed my first book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask.

Those things alone are amazing, but God continues to remind me that He is not done with me.

Last fall, on my birthday, I received news that rocked me to the core – it’s cancer. During the time frame from diagnosis through surgery recovery, I have the privilege of having family, friends and my Online Bible Studies sisters lift me up in prayer. It meant so much to me to know that they were not only praying for me, but also checking in with me to see how things were going. This season planted a seed. Months later, that seed has blossomed into the Online Bible Studies Real Hope Prayer Warrior Team that I am the director of.

God knew even before I took my first breath that He would take that insecure, frightened young woman hiding in the back of the church and use her in a mighty way.

Amazed doesn’t begin to put my feelings into words. I now know that no matter how you see yourself, it is how God sees you that matters (John 16:33). This is not just true for me. God can and will use you. Do not think for a moment that you are too far away for God to reach you. He loves you dear friend – never forget that.

Simply say Yes to Him and follow His leading and be amazed.

Your Turn:

  • How has God amazed you this week?
  • In what area do you need to stop listening to the lies and simply follow God’s leading and see what He can do in and through your life?

Hello…Discerning the Voice You Hear

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I love talking to my family and friends on the phone. It is so much more personal than a text message or email. Last night, I called my oldest daughter, Taylor, who is away for the first time at school. When she answered the phone neither one of us had to ask whom we were talking to. After almost 16 years, I immediately recognize her voice and she recognizes mine.

This phenomenon is the same with any relationship. In order to recognize someone’s voice, we have to spend time getting to know him or her.

I have had people ask me, but what about with God? How can you be certain what you are hearing is actually from God? Since, I have never heard His voice audibly, I have to ask myself a series of questions to see if what I am hearing is from God or not.

The following list of questions is from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. (A special thanks to my dear friend, Kristy Aiken, for making this beautiful picture incorporating the five key questions).

five key questions

By filtering everything through these five questions, I can quickly determine whether something is from God or not. He will never contradict Himself and His Word.

At this point in my life, I do not want to simply push my own agenda. I long to live a life saying Yes to God and therefore, I must make certain it is God’s voice I am following.

The next time you hear a still small voice, I encourage you to examine it to see who is on the other end.

What about you, how do you discern God’s voice? What steps have you taken to make certain you can recognize His voice?

The Girl’s Still Got It – Week 2 Wrap-Up

Wow! I don’t know about you, but I thought Chapter Two was chalked full of so much good stuff. I am going to hit some of the highlights. I would love to hear what stuck out to you in this chapter.

The first thing we all need to remember, that in order to be filled – spiritually, we need to return from our wandering, just like Naomi. I love how Liz ties this to the story of the prodigal son. I just love when connections are made between the Old and New Testament, as well as, life today. We each must come to the realization that “we have no life apart from God” (29). I do not know where you are today or where you have been, sweet sister, but I do know that in order to be strong we have to make the choice to leave our own Moab. Just remember that you are never out of God’s reach. He longs for you to return home and be filled.

Once the decision has been made to return home, the road will not be easy – just like the journey Naomi and the girls chose to make. There will be risks involved. However, Naomi knew that it had to be done. In order for each of us to be obedient to God, sometimes there will be risks involved. I love what Liz says regarding this very point, “Though obedience is seldom an easy road, it helps to know the One leading the way” (31). We need to hold tight to Jesus and let Him lead the way. We just need to take those steps of faith in obedience.

Our journey through life, just like Naomi’s, will not be easy. God does not guarantee smooth sailing, but He does promise to never leave us. He will be beside us every step of the way. There are times in our lives that some of us may face trials and struggles that seem to have no end and like Naomi, we don’t think we will break free from the pain. Just remember, “When we are down to almost nothing, God is up to something bigger than we can ever imagine” (39). That quote from Linda Hollies brings me so much comfort. I know that there have been various situations in my life that I didn’t feel like I was good enough, strong enough, worth enough….the list could go on. However, I came to the realization that although I may not be enough, my God is more than enough to see each one of us through life’s trials and storms.

At one point or another in our lives’ we will each come to a crossroads, just like Naomi, Ruth and Orpah. At this time we have a choice to make, similar to these ladies. The roads go in opposite directions. A decision has to be made. Orpah decides to go back to the familiar, the comfortable. If you were in these ladies’ sandals, what choice would you make? More importantly, what choice are you making in your own life? Are you choosing to stick with the familiar and easy, but will lead to malnourishment or are you going to be obedient and return to God and be filled?

The Girl’s Still Got It – Week 1 Wrap-Up

Before I go into discussing this week’s reading, I would just like to commend this group for stepping out and introducing yourself to the group, as well as, sharing your thoughts and insights as you have been reading. Reading them has been such a blessing to me. If you haven’t had the chance to introduce yourself, be sure and take a few moments and do that today in the comment section. Especially in the online Bible study setting, it becomes more personal when we get to know one another. Also, be sure to share your thoughts, as you are reading, as well as, any questions you might have. I encourage you to share any prayer requests with the group or you can message me personally. I firmly believe in the power of prayer and would love to pray for you. One final note, if you have not signed up for this study and would like to, it is not too late; simply subscribe to my blog posts and you will receive the weekly assignments. We have such an incredible group of women and we welcome you to join us. With all that out of the way, it is time to dive into this week’s reading.

The title of this study is The Girl’s Still Got It. How would you define “it”? Ruth is such a tremendous character and we have so much to learn as we go on this journey together. The exciting thing is we all have a part to play in God’s plan. We don’t need to tire ourselves with coming up with various excuses. God created each one of us for His purpose to fulfill His plan. We must never forget that we “claim a special place in his Big Picture” (pg. 1). We simply need to make the choice to stop sitting on the sidelines and get into the game and start being obedient to His calling. Don’t think about how difficult the task will be, just take it one step of faith at a time. God is beside you as you travel along life’s journey just as He was for Ruth and Naomi.

A major issue in the beginning of this study is trust. How easy or difficult is it for you to completely trust God with every aspect of our lives? Along every part of Ruth’s  journey, God is whispering, “Trust me!” We will see this aspect in more detail in the coming weeks of this study. I pray that each one of us will be challenged to trust God more as the study progresses.

There are so many things that Liz mentioned in general about the characters of Ruth and Naomi, but I just wanted to hit on a couple of them. First of all, I love that these two strong women are working together instead of feeling the need to compete. Far too often, we fall victim to the comparison trap. We need to be working together and help and encourage one another instead of comparing.

The other character trait of these women that stood out for me is the fact that they made things happen instead of sitting and waiting. I agree that there are times that we need to wait for God’s direction, but then we need to get up and get going.

Chapter One starts off with getting the background on Naomi in just a few short verses. Naomi has been through a lot of change, heartaches, stress and disappointment. I am certain that to one degree or another we can identify with Naomi. We, just like Naomi, need to keep in mind, “God really is in charge, and he really does know what he’s doing” (pg. 11). He has a reason and sometimes we don’t understand, but we don’t need to, we just need to trust Him. God can take whatever we go through in life and use it for His purpose. He will be beside us and direct us even when, like Naomi and her family, we turn our back on Him. We will soon discover that God is the only one who can help us, just like Naomi. God continued to love her and will do the same thing for you, dear one.

I would love to hear from you regarding what you learned this first week. What was the most memorable truth you learned from Ruth 1:1-5?