Finding Christmas Admist the Chaos

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Even before the turkey graces the Thanksgiving table, it is an all out sprint to Christmas. The retailers begin lining the shelves with Christmas ornaments, trees and gift-wrap before the Halloween candy has even been passed out. Not to mention, the countless preparations you need to take care of around the house. Continue reading

A Choice to Make and a Path to Take

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Imagine for a moment that you are standing at a crossroads. The path to the left is flat as far as the eye can see, smooth and lined with flowers. The other path is hilly with rocks scattered along the way. Which path are you likely to choose? Before you answer let me add one additional piece of information, God is asking you to go on the hilly, rocky path. Now, which path will you go down?

I love what Lysa TerKeurst says about life in What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, “Life isn’t about being comfortable and taking the easiest route” (pg. 146). This is seen through the life of Joseph in the Old Testament. He was going out to check on his brothers in the field and ended up thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, taken to Egypt and put into prison. Not necessarily that flower-lined path is it? However, during the entire time the Lord was with him. The same is true in our lives. There maybe times when we step out for God, we say yes to Him and things seem to become more difficult instead of easier. However, it is during those times that we can lean on our Savior. He will give us the strength, courage and guidance we need. Like Joseph, we must trust God in the good times and the bad.

Sometimes in the valleys of life we become discouraged and defeated and choose to sit along the sidelines just wishing for the other path. Let’s look at Joseph again to see how he reacted during a low point. When Joseph was put into prison by a false accusation, he could have chose to sit in jail and sulk and ask God why his life wasn’t better. However, Joseph did just the opposite. He chose to allow God to use him and his gifts right where he was. Joseph decided to obey God out of love, not duty. God turned around and used that decision to say yes as Joseph’s ticket out of prison years later. I want the same thing in my own life. I want to be used – in the valley or on the mountaintop – to bring honor and glory to God.

You might think, well that’s all fine and good and if I ever get an opportunity to say Yes to God, I will know what to do. But let me remind you that “we don’t have to seek to create opportunities to say yes to God. God has already gone before us and established them. We simply have to respond” (pg. 149). God has the entire tapestry of your life laid out; you just have to decide whether you will say yes to His pattern and His timing. The majority of our most important opportunities come when we least expect them, just like Joseph. However, if we continue to stay close to God, we will be ready when He calls us to say yes.

It is so hard to believe the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God study is coming to an end. I pray that you do not leave what you have learned locked inside your notes and book to gather dust on the shelf. This is a journey that will not be finished until God calls us home. Therefore, you and I need to continue to apply these principles to our lives as we daily walk in obedience and say Yes to God.

Exchange Baggage for Rest

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Saying yes to God is not something that you do once and simply move on, like an item on a checklist. One yes to God will take you on a journey that will have additional forks in the road where you will have to choose to say yes and follow God’s leading or go your own way.

Many times I have thoughts I knew best. I knew what I should be doing, the goal in mind and exactly the steps I needed to take to get there. However, I didn’t consult God first before setting out. I thought I had it all figured out.

Having traveled this way more times than I care to recall, I can attest to the fact that I was carrying a lot of baggage on my trip. I am not referring to my clothes and cute shoes; no I mean fears, anxiety, doubt and stress. You see, going out on your own we have to carry the load. This generally leads to discouragement, frustration and being overwhelmed.

Through the course of the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God study, I have turned in my excess baggage for peace and rest. This is not to say that my journey is smooth sailing. It just means that I no longer need to let doubts and fears dictate what I will do. By saying yes to God and trusting His leading, I can let go of fears strangling grip and truly find rest in Him.

God has a specific purpose and plan for each one of us. However, we must decide whether we will say yes to His path and leading in our lives.

By giving God command of our lives, we can realize what it feels like to have a heart at rest.

 

What path will you choose? What will you say YES to?

Peace Like A River

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As we continue to journey through the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God study, God is bringing so many things to light in my life. I would love to be able to sit down with you over coffee and share what each of us is learning, however, since that is not possible, this forum will have to suffice.

The word peace just keeps coming up – in this book, devotions this week and messages I’ve heard. When I continue to hear the same thing through various avenues, I know God wants to speak something into my life.

Peace..Peace..Peace

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the phrase, “peace like a river”. In the past, I viewed this as a still or passive phrase, which doesn’t encapsulate my life at all as a wife, mother of 5, writer, volunteer for Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies and active within Maryland Community Church. However, I have found that is not what this phrase means at all.

I invite you to envision a river, not a pond or stream, but a mighty river. Is it flowing or perfectly stagnant? Of course a river is not still; there is movement in a certain path. When you and I choose to say yes we can have peace like a river because we know the direction we are headed and no matter what obstacles or rocks that may come in our path, God will help us keep going.

Peace can also come because of Christ’s unconditional love for us. I adore the reminder Lysa TerKeurst gives in this book, “it is not perfect performance that captures His attention. Rather, it is my complete dependence on Him that He notices” (pg. 89). God doesn’t love us for what we do, but who we are. Don’t let the enemy try and trick you into believing you will never be loved or used by God because of your past or even your present. Dear friends, Christ shed His blood on the cross to wash us white as snow.

You are loved, valued and treasured.

Let God’s truths break the chains of doubt and insecurity. Peace is one of the greatest blessings from saying yes to God. So step out and say yes to God this week. You will find peace in his loving arms and direction for your journey.

 

Your Response:

How is this study going? I’d love to hear what you are learning or how you have said yes to God.

 

Greatest Gifts Disguised

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We play a game with my mom’s side of the family each Christmas called “Sneaky Santa.” Everyone brings a wrapped gift from his/her home. The presentation can be deceiving – the beautifully box with matching ribbon could be a set of shop towels or the huge gift bag could be a votive candle. It is difficult to distinguish what treasure is hidden beneath the wrapping.

The same idea is true in our lives as well. Many times God uses challenging circumstances – ugly wrapping – to bring about some of life’s greatest gifts.

The best example for me would have been my divorce. It was a very dark time for my three kids and me. I couldn’t understand why I was having to go through this, let alone how anything good could come from it. Little did I know that rumpled up, torn time in my life God was going to bring about the most incredible gift – my husband, Mitch.

I, honestly, didn’t think any man would be interested in me with three small children. But God had everything taken care of.

When Mitch volunteered to help us move before ever meeting face-to-face, I know he was something special. It certainly wasn’t the first impression I was hoping to give – loads of boxes, toys and dirt hiding behind and underneath furniture, but I needed the help and he volunteered.

I will never forget the way my heart jumped when he pulled up that day. God brought everything I was looking for and so much more right to my doorstep.

Dear friend, I want you to know that if you are walking in a valley right now, God is right next to you every step of the way. He will work it out for good. Just trust Him and remember that some of the greatest gifts in life come in the most unlikely packages.

What about you, how has God used a challenging time in your life to bring about something good?

Who Needs a Plan B?

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After Jesus was baptized and full of the Holy Spirit, He was let into the wilderness and tempted by the devil for forty days (Luke 4). Jesus was tempted three different ways: physical, emotional and psychological. Satan tries to lure us away from God and His plan for us the same way. So what can we learn from Jesus’ experience in the desert? Jesus’ security in the wilderness came from His identity as a child of God, not His human achievements. His earthly ministry didn’t begin until after His time in the desert, so Jesus’ was able to rest in who He was and whose He was, not what He had done. We need to remember that our identity is tied solely in who God says we are, not anything else. While we are stuck in the desert trying to fight against the enemy’s attacks, he is actually winning because we have become so distracted. This distraction leaves each one of us ineffective for the Kingdom. You and I can become so consumed with the situation we are in that we completely lose sight of God’s plan for our lives. When temptation comes knocking at our door, will we be like Jesus, pausing, reciting Truth and remembering what matters most?

If distraction doesn’t work, then the enemy can get you to question God’s purpose and plan for your life or whether there even is such a thing. So we need to trust completely in God’s plan.

In my Bible readings, I am simply amazed by the numerous people that did not think God would follow through with His plan or they didn’t like the plan and took matters into their own hands. In most instances, it doesn’t take long until they are forced to deal with the consequences of their “plan”.

It is so easy to be an armchair quarterback and point out where they fell short and the mistakes they made. However, if you and I were honest with ourselves, haven’t we done the same thing from time to time? We become impatient for an answer or direction and simply choose to plow ahead only to hit a brick wall and come carrying all the pieces back to God to fix.

It is imperative that we trust God with the plan. I encourage you to turn the wheel over to God – giving Him complete control and see what He has planned for you. I love how Lysa TerKeurst puts it in What Happens When Women Say Yes to God; “you never know how God will use you until you let Him” (72). Stop trying to come up with a Plan B, take God at His word and trust Him completely with the plan He has for you.

Amazed

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In my quiet time this past week there have been several verses that have spoke to me. 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?

 

 

 

 

All About Perspective

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Imagine for a moment that you were to pick up a pebble. Now hold it right in front of your face. It looks so big. Okay, now hold it out in front of you. Not as big, but still noticeable. Finally, toss that pebble to the ground, it appears tiny and insignificant.

Obviously, it all comes down to perspective. When the pebble was up by your face, it was all you could see because it was where your focus was. However, your focus shifted when that same pebble was on the ground. From your elevated perspective you could see the big picture and realize it wasn’t that big after all.

This very same principle can be applied to our lives. For example, you believe God is calling you to step out of your comfort zone and say yes to Him. At this point, you have a choice to make, will you focus on your insecurities and doubts about the task before you or will you focus on God, trusting Him to lead and equip you for what He is asking you to do?

It is a matter of perspective. View this as an opportunity to see God work in and through you.

Dear friend, just like the example of the pebble, God sees the big picture and has a perfect purpose and plan for each of us. Keep your eyes on Him and He will certainly equip you for what He has called you to do.

Step out in boldness, He is right beside you.

Your Turn:

  • How is your perspective? Do you focus on circumstances or your Savior?
  • What is holding you back from following God’s leading in your life?
  • How can I pray for you today?

Hello…Hello…Who is it?

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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. The other 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).

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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?

Just Obey

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I would like to welcome all of you who are participating in Maryland Community Church’s What Happens When Women Say Yes to God study. Whether you are participating in the study at the church, online or just stopping by my blog, I encourage you to read through my Monday and Wednesday posts over the next six weeks as we discover how God will work in and through our lives when we choice to surrender our plans, dreams and desires for what He has in store for us.

As a mother to five incredible children, I find that I am learning so many lessons through them. The most recent example of this was a conversation I had with our youngest son, Quintin (age 6).

Let me set the scene for you. We were all getting ready to leave and Quintin was poking along. I kept trying to encourage him to pick up the pace – getting his shoes on and out to the car. As he reluctantly made his way to grab his shoes by the door, I informed him we were heading to Mamaw’s house and I was certain he wanted to get right over there. He looked up at me with those adorable eyes and said, I didn’t know. Momma, why didn’t you give me all the details? I looked at him and replied, Quintin, you do not need to have all the details, just obey.

As soon as the words left my tongue I felt the conviction in my own heart. You see I have had a similar interchange with my Heavenly Father. I kept praying for God to lay out all the details in front of me and then I would gladly slip on my shoes and follow His leading. But let me ask you, is that really walking in faith and trusting God? Absolutely not.

Since I have decided to really say Yes to God, I have to simply obey with childlike faith, not questioning the details.

What about you, how is your faith walk? What steps will you take today to obediently follow God’s leading instead of standing still asking questions?