propel women.

Several years ago, I had the privilege to attend a Women of Faith event in Houston, Texas. I was inspired and encouraged by all the speakers I heard throughout the weekend: Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Harper, Sheila Walsh and Christine Caine.

I began following each of the ladies’ ministry journeys and learning and growing from the materials they were producing. When Christine Caine created Propel Women, I immediately was drawn to her prophetic vision that had developed into a deep and genuine passion to encourage, empower and equip women to do the Lord’s work in everyday life. Yes! I could not wait to learn more!

Next thing I knew, I was co-leading a Propel Women Chapter at my local church and gathering a group for the conference that would be held in the fall of 2016 right here in Mississippi. [Y’all, NO ONE holds their events in Mississippi! This was HUGE!]

At the conference, I was afforded the opportunity to meet other chapter leaders from the region as well as meet the ladies of Propel Women! A few months later, Propel Women invited me to write an article about my amazing experience at their event.

It is my great privilege to present my first published article: My Story at Propel Women.

I hope you find encouragement in my story and can see that God indeed hears us and has a purpose for our lives. Opportunities exist around us daily to see His hand and to hear His call; our eyes and ears must be open to Him, and we must also be attentive and willing to respond in obedience.

This passage spoke to me often during the time period that I reference in the article. These words sustained me during a seemingly silent and lost time, a season of searching and waiting. In retrospect, I can see that God not only met me right where I was, in the middle of the thick, but He also guided me out to a better place and is still leading me today.

“.. Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all… Always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good… He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14b-21,24, ESV

ESV = English Standard Version

bye. grudges, part 2.

I wrote earlier this year about grudges (see Grudges make smudges. ) and the energy they can deplete from your being. A grudge will hold your joy hostage before you ever knew what happened. Now that I am (one year older. one year wiser.), I have learned even more about the long-term effects these grudging ailments will have on your health. They are not worth your time, only your goodbye!

The day will come, even after you have diligently “spring-cleaned” your heart of any known grudges, that an old grudge will bubble to the surface. It may be older than your grandma, but still feel as fresh as a new baby. DO NOT STRESS! This horrifying, and possibly embarrassing, moment of recollection is NOT a sign of early onset dementia or temporary insanity.

I struggle to identify the revealing source sometimes, but if it is the work of the enemy, I am certain that God can turn that evil to good. He can use the upsetting memory as a way to prune you, to cleanse your mind of hateful thoughts and shameful memories, and ultimately draw you closer to Him. These blasts-from-the-past may be brought to light because they are a barrier between you and God. Ouch! Let it go, sister!

There is a catch. He only heals what we reveal. Anywhere that our hearts have hardened, the LORD can renew and refurbish, but only if we are willing to acknowledge our wrongdoings and repent. God forgives all things. We must just ask Him.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” – Psalm: 103:8-11, ESV

Read these words of assurance again, and again. Know that God loves you and will forgive you. Know that his grace and his mercy extend further than your eye can see and your mind can comprehend. Know also that God only wants His best for His children. He corrects us in love, so that we can grow closer to Him and the perfection He planned for us.

Take heed of this spoiler alert: this is where the enemy enters the scene:

“Be sober-minded: be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8, ESV

What? Ole Pete just put “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” to shame! Total stalker status.

YOUR ADVERSARY (as in someone against you) is prowling around just looking for someone to destroy. In the words of my mother, “Horrors!” He is just watching and waiting for a chance to prance on you, to catch you when you are down and not on your guard. What better opportunity for his attack than when you are pouting about getting scolded?

Although it may feel like God is defining your impurity, He is actually refining your purity.

Hang in there, and remember that trials will come. We will be tempted and tested, and we will stumble and fall. By the grace of God, stand back up and seek His forgiveness. Repent and let it go! His love covers all things, even the dreadful grudges we may hold.

 ESV = English Standard Version Bible

 

 

autopilot.

Do you ever feel like you are on autopilot in life? Perhaps you are going through the motions without much thought to your actions? Maybe this lasts for a day or a week or even an entire season? Regardless of the length of time spent in this auto mode, the awakening results are the same. You realize that you have gotten from point A to point B with little recollection of your journey. What a strange feeling it is.

I have buzzed through many seasons on autopilot and hated the remorse for days past that ensue. This year during Lent, I have aimed to slow life down and focus my attention on Christ. I long to see more than ‘Fish Fridays’ and ’40 days without’ this year, to turn off autopilot and engage fully in the Lenten season. Who knows what all I have missed in years past?

I want to see the events of Holy Week come alive before my eyes and feel the nearness of Jesus along this journey. This season I have chosen to follow an adapted Lenten discipline suggested by my pastor, titled: Once a Day, Once a Week, and Once a Month.

  • Once a Day: take a few moments for prayer and devotion, quiet time spent with God
  • Once a Week: fast from a meal or a pastime and spend the time in the Word of God
  • Once a Month: fast from whatever forms of information or technology distract you from others for a whole day

Two weeks in, and I am loving this discipline so much that I may keep it going after Easter!

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:24, ESV

My “Once a Day” quiet time in the morning has been my favorite part of the day. I have come to crave that quiet and still moment before the day begins to just ‘be’ in God’s presence. Some days I have read an entire passage, some days just a verse. Some days I have journaled, and some days I have not. Most importantly, each day includes some form of prayer with praise and gratitude.

“My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God… Blessed are those who dwell in our house, ever singing your praise!… They go from strength to strength… No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:2,4,11b, ESV

“Once a Week” I have chosen to forego television. Instead of watching a beloved (nonsense) show, I have used the time to open my Bible and read. Honestly, it was strange at first, but not anymore! I have enjoyed the peaceful respite from the busyness of the social world and have found myself wanting to replace evening television with reading more often than once a week. The gospel of Mark has completely captivated my attention this Lenten season. I have seen God’s faithfulness and love light up off the pages, as the apostle’s recount of Jesus’ ministry comes to life right in front of me.

Jesus speaks to his disciples about his purpose and ministry on earth: “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark 4:22-23, ESV

I have learned this Lenten season that God is faithful. God is just. He keeps His Word. He never forgets us. He never loses sight of us. He who loves us can be trusted wholly. 

“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.” – Psalm 111:7, ESV

“He who calls you is faithful…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24, ESV

ESV = English Standard Version Bible

 

one year older. one year wiser.

March 3. One year older. One year wiser.

Today is my 35th birthday. It is peculiar. I do not feel 35, but then again, I don’t know what it should feel like. I questioned the accuracy of my birth year yesterday (just to make sure!), and my mother and the US government agree on 1982. My mama said she “was not only an on-site witness, she was there a day early, waiting on me to arrive!”

So there we have it: I am indeed 35. 

I have been reflecting this week over the last ten years of my life, namely, the lessons I have learned and areas where I have grown. Through intentional rumination and an enlightening session of self-debriefing, I have constructed a list of the top things I wish I had known (or listened to!) when I was younger. I hope this list speaks to all, regardless of age or gender or current season of life.

things i wish i had known 10 years ago….

1. Life does not end at 30! Seriously. Despite popular belief and urban legend, this is simply not true. Some may even argue that life does not begin until 30! So far, I am loving the 3-0 club! Quit thinking you are old. I will tell you like I tell my customers: OLD has three letters and therefore, three numbers!

2. Life comes in seasons, and the grass always looks greener on the other side. All seasons have their ups and downs, joys and heartaches, fears and victories. One is not better than another, just different. You cannot compare apples to oranges, so focus on enjoying your season because it will come to an end.

3. The storm is coming. It is unavoidable and impassable. Build your life on the firm foundation of Christ, the solid rock, and you will be able to weather the storm. Notice the psalmist does not say he will not be shaken at all, rather he will not be shaken greatly.

“He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” – Psalm 62:2

“But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The LORD knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the LORD depart from iniquity.'” – 2 Timothy 2:19

4. Friends come and go. People naturally gravitate towards others in the same life season, as common activities and interests change accordingly. Life is a beautiful blend of various stages of life and different time frames between them. Do not take it personally when a friend moves into another season without you. Do not fear that you have been left behind or left out. It is simply not your time to move into that season.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Be intentional in finding friends. Remember that to have a friend, you must be a friend.

5. Love where you are..right here, right now. God is faithful, and His time is perfect. You cannot fully enjoy anything when you are mostly absent. Embrace your current season of life, and make the most of it. The right here’s are not always pretty, and the right now’s are not always convenient. You never know what purpose God has for you in your current place. Keep God at the center of your life, and He will give you joy and purpose. my plans.

Think of the Queen Esther’s obedience to God’s call. She and her Jewish people throughout Persia and Media were facing imminent death and extinction. The encouraging words of Uncle Mordecai to his niece, the queen: “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14b

6. Time is precious. Spend it wisely. Find what is important to you, what matters to you, and invest your time there. Be respectful and mindful of other people’s time. Do not continue to engage in a relationship for which you see no future, simply for the sake of being in a relationship.

7. There is no vaccine to protect you against heartache. The body develops no immunity to heartbreak. Your heart will get shattered, and you will try your hardest to superglue it back together. Your fix will only be temporary. Let the master designer truly heal your broken heart. His powers far exceed your hot glue gun and duck tape collaboration.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

8. Mistakes are unavoidable. You will make them at work and in your personal life. Learn to recognize your error and make corrections with grace. Regrets will come, often at the worst possible times. Acknowledge and address them, but do not let them linger. Learn your lesson, forgive yourself (and others), and move on.

9. Social media life is not real. What you see on TV and on billboards is fabricated. People post only their best online. Don’t fall into the trap of wishing for their seemingly beautiful lives (see #2). Quit comparing yourself to a photo that has been staged, edited, and filtered. Focus on what is real and true. Heaven’s reward system is not based on jean size.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:2

10. You are complete in Christ. No exceptions. It is uncanny how easy it is to forget this simple truth. Do not condemn yourself when you do. Know that we all lose sight and wander off sometimes. Jesus can find you and heal your blindness. I expect that grasping the fullness of completion in Christ will be a lifelong journey. Fullness = completion

Through the power of the LORD through his disciple Ananias, Saul regained his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was baptized, ate some dinner, and in his newfound strength, started seeking God and preaching on his journey to fullness in Christ (Acts 9).

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend … and to know the love of christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19

11. God speaks. Take time to talk to God. Make prayer part of your daily routine. He is always there to listen and wants to hear from you. The hardest lesson in prayer life I have (am still) learned is being quiet and listening. You will not hear his voice if you are talking the whole time. God has manners and does not often interrupt our chatter. Be still, be humble, be quiet, and seek Him earnestly in prayer. He will speak to you.

All passages are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.

 

never a dull moment.

There are times when I feel that my life is lacking somehow because I am not married, nor do I have children. I imagine we all have these thoughts at times.. that our lives are just not complete somehow. We are blind to the richness of our current situations when we become focused on what we lack, or what we THINK we lack.

It is just too easy to feel less than or inadequate because our lives do not match up to those of our peers. We quickly fall into a tailspin of worry over our external timelines and internal time clocks. My previous posts Standing on an hourglass and my plans. both speak to those worries.

God never fails to remind me that my life is complete, just as it is.. right here, right now. Whenever I start to feel down (please note: not IF I feel down but WHEN I feel down), God always reminds me of my blessed life in the most simple and sometimes humorous ways. I remember that it is He that dictates my completion, my wholeness and my worth. He deems me valuable; therefore, I am.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17, ESV

Just last week, I was having an off morning and feeling that my life was sub par and boring. I feared that I was missing out on the excitement in life that surely comes with a husband and children. Woe is me! Near the peak of my supposed boring day, I hear a splish-splash in my bathroom. I realize with horror that I left the door ajar while I was running a mixture of bleach and detergent through my tub to clean the jets. Oh yes, Annabelle was in the tub playing and drinking the potent cleaning concoction! Just having a grand time! Just a little bleach!

After the initial shock and mild profanity, I got her out of the tub and washed her off and then begin to laugh. I was laughing so hard that I was nearly in tears. I realized that God was showing me that there is never a dull moment in my life! There are no limits with God. He is the author of creativity. He showed this pity party planner. that her life is indeed full through the devious act of a mischievous cocker spaniel. He will do the same for you.

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act… Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” – Psalm 37:5,7, ESV

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is all about perspective. There will always be someone who has more money, a bigger house, a better job, a better wardrobe. Perhaps you envy the family or the doting husband of your friend. Remember that where we are is where God has placed us, and we are to trust completely and wholly in His purpose, even when we cannot see His reason or the road ahead.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction things not seen… And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to [Him] must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:1,6, ESV

So even though we are not where we thought we would be in life, or we are longing for more in our current situations, we just need to have faith? Surely not! I find that talking about having faith and trusting God and seeking Him is far easier than the actions. The words alone are simple; the words in action are daunting and scary.

Trusting my future completely to God is scary at least, and attempting to draw near to Him seems impossible. I am a mere human. How can I possibly please God? Through God’s loving grace.. that’s right, G-R-A-C-E! This grace covers all our human short-comings and doubtful tendencies and allows us to draw near to the Almighty God with eager hearts of trust and open minds of faith.

Let us spend less time worrying about what we have not yet achieved or do not yet possess and spend more time seeking God and strengthening our faith in Him and His promises for us. Take comfort in knowing that you are RIGHT WHERE God wants you to be. You may be in a season that is short but bearable or a season that you never want to end. Either way, know that you are never alone, and that God has great purpose for your life in the right here and right now.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5, ESV

You heard the man! Paul tells us that everything God has made is good. That includes you and your life. What we need is less complaining about our situations and more action to better ourselves. Be thankful. Look at your life with new eyes, and count your blessings, even if running water and coffee is all you can think of! Open your Bible, read His Words of truth, and talk to God! A moment spent with God is never a moment wasted. The same is not true for time spent complaining.

ESV = English Standard Version Bible