I Wanted To Quit…

Last week I was chatting with someone and we were sharing our stories of work experience and what had led us to our current positions. We are both in similar roles at our jobs and I was recounting some experiences I had been through that she is currently walking through. She was calling to pick my brain but I ended up being reminded of a crucial fact that applies in every season.

I was explaining to her that years ago when I was only three months into a new job in ministry, I wanted desperately to give up. I told of her how I felt inadequate, insecure and completely sure God had made a mistake…I wanted to quit! But I didn’t. I pressed in and ended up growing more and experiencing more than I could have ever thought, dreamt or imagined. And then I said to her, “Sometimes when you enter a new season God has to prune some things both in you and the people around you in order for you to fit fully into the place God has you for that season.” What?? Where did that come from? Well I’m certain it was straight from the Lord and not only for her but a reminder for me.

As we enter into new seasons, things look and feel very different. Adjusting to a new normal isn’t easy and the temptation to give up and return to what’s normal looms over us. Like the Israelites who, on their way to the promised land, debated if they would be better off going back to Egypt. Why? Because even though Egypt was terrible, it was comfortable…they had become accustomed to the way they were treated and what to expect. Now, they were having to exercise their faith and be stretched beyond what was comfortable, it was difficult. But, had they returned to Egypt, they would have missed out on the fullness of what God had for them.

In the same way, if we revert to what is comfortable, safe and predictable then we miss out on the growth and expansion God wants to do in our lives. Growing can be painful and requires a level of obedience and surrender that is challenging at best. But, on the other side of it, we come out better, stronger and more equipped to do what God has laid before us to do. Pruning…trimming back things that aren’t fruitful and allowing for new things to be birthed. It has to happen in nature and it has to happen within us in order for healthy growth to occur.

Healthy things grow and as they do, their appearance changes. If we want to be healthy parents, friends, leaders, employees, etc., then we must allow God to do His work within us, pruning the things that need to be and planting seeds to be nurtured. New seasons represent new life, new growth and new experiences…all of which build on the previous seasons to prepare us for what’s ahead. Be encouraged today, even in your difficulties, that God is at work…pruning and shaping you for what He has planned for you.

Have a blessed day!

Love is in the Air…

Over the last year we have attended several weddings, one of which was our son’s! I absolutely love weddings. I love the first glance of a groom seeing his bride. I love the sweet moments of a father and daughter walking down the aisle, while the mother looks on in sheer joy. I love seeing mothers and fathers watch their son proudly enter into manhood pledging himself to his forever love. I love the joy in the air, catching up with old friends, the ceremony, the reception…all of it! I LOVE weddings. But more, I love what it represents…a commitment to God and each other, a covenant not meant to be broken.

Knowing a beautiful wedding doesn’t equal a beautiful marriage, my heart is wrecked when marriages end. This past week, we attended an amazing wedding of some of our dearest friends, but we also heard news of a long-time marriage ending. While we didn’t personally know the couple whose marriage ended, the wife was an author who I greatly respect and admire. I was devastated for her. I tried to put myself in her shoes and I was saddened at the thought of what she may be facing. I couldn’t make sense of it all.

I know God never wastes anything He allows in our lives. He uses the joys, the pains, the highs, the lows, the seasons of plenty and those of lack. Through each season and situation, there is something He is desperately trying to show us to shape us. In my reading, I came across this statement in the commentary of my Life Application Study Bible, “God uses his power to accomplish his purposes through his people. God doesn’t give you power to be all you want to be, but He gives you power to be all He wants you to be.”  See we all want to be happy and not have any problems, but that isn’t a reality nor does it require any level of faith or trust. The reality is things are uncertain, people are fallible and we are all sinners. This world is broken as are the people in it. Apart from God, there isn’t a chance of anything good to come out of our efforts. But with Him, there isn’t anything we can’t navigate through in order to become who He wants us to be.

I celebrate the union of two more dear friends as they embark on this amazing journey of marriage. I also mourn with those, whose beautiful wedding days are now a tearful memory of what was or what could have been…for that, I am deeply sorry. In both situations, God remains constant and ever present. Carrying each to the place He needs them to be. The stories may seem drastically different but are connected through one common denominator, God and His love. He loves so that we can love. We can love when it’s easy and when it seems undeserved and forced.

I love the picture above of the altar at the wedding we attended. It says, “We will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” Isaiah 55:12 I think this verse is a great representation of, not only marriage, but our own walk with Christ. The JOY of the Lord is our strength, not our circumstances, and he will lead us…giving us peace in all that He allows.

Have a great day!

What A Week!!

As I sit and think what to pen on paper, my thoughts are scrambled and I can’t seem to bring order and even process what I’m thinking. Last week, I traveled to central Mexico with Children’s Cup to visit our CarePoints and spend time with our teams there. My heart was wrecked with all that I saw and experienced. While it’s difficult to put into words all that God did on this trip, here are a few things I walked away with:

  • The teams that are on the mission field and front lines with Children’s Cup and other organizations carry a huge weight as they hear and process daily what these precious kids encounter. They are true heros!!
  • Local church IS the hope of the world. Without the support of the local church, we couldn’t do what we do at ‘Cup and people all over the world would never hear the good news of the gospel. I am grateful for my church, Soul Church!
  • These kids we serve are precious…important and valuable with a divine destiny on their life. They are learning about Jesus and beginning to understand that He is always with them and there IS hope!
  • I am so blessed to live the life I’ve been given. I don’t want to waste my life, rather do all that I can to help people know and understand that God is the source of everything we will ever need in this life.
  • Worship truly does change the atmosphere. We watched kids worship and reflect on the power of the Lord. They came up to ask for prayer and sat in worship with hands lifted and hearts surrendered. I know this practice is going to change them and the environments in which they live.
  • I am grateful for leaders in my life (both past and present) who have helped me to see and understand God’s plans, while not always my plans, are the BEST plans.
  • I am thankful for my parents, while not perfect, they loved me, protected and provided for me.
  • I am thankful for my job, that allows me to be constantly reminded that this is a large and broken world that needs the Hope that is in Jesus. I get to play a small part in bringing that hope and showing the love of Jesus to those around me…what an honor!
  • Success does not equal fame and notoriety, but is living a life that is a direct reflection of the God we serve. Those willing to step out in obedience, even when its hard and the outcome is uncertain, are the pacesetters. Success is giving it all for those who can give nothing in return.
  • There is a lot of work yet to be done in this world.
  • I want to live surrendered to His plans. I don’t want to be fearful to go and do what God says to do. This life…my life, it isn’t about me. Here am I….send me.
  • My husband and my children are just about the best gift God has ever given. They are my treasures and I am beyond blessed to get to share this journey with them.
  • The word of God is everything…it refines, reshapes, convicts, corrects, confirms and establishes a foundation on which we can grow and develop in Christ.

These thoughts are choppy and scattered but are a few of the things swirling around in my head as I try to process this last week and this season in my life. It’s new and unfamiliar territory in a lot of ways. But, I know that God is peace in chaos and security in my insecurities. He is the constant in an ever changing world and He is my refuge. He softened my heart and deposited things in my spirit I didn’t even know I needed last week. He is masterful at how He loves and grows us…lean in…don’t resist and seek to find Him in all things. He is always there and always growing, shaping and stretching us into who He created us to be 🙂

Have a great week,

 

 

Stuck…

How is it sometimes you find yourself in a wrestling match with God over things you thought you had gained victory over? Like most of us, I struggle with insecurity and feeling that I’m unqualified for this or that. I have worked to overcome my insecurities and allowed God to use me in ways I never thought I would. But over the last several months, I found myself stuck yet again. Stuck in the mindset of what I could or could not do, arguing with God that I didn’t measure up or feel worthy to do certain things He was urging me to do. How did I get back here?

As I processed my thoughts and reminded God of my deficiencies, I recounted words that had been spoken to me, about me or over me. Some were really encouraging and gave me confidence while others brought tears and heartache. The reality is I know what God’s word says about me and my mind was sure of that, but because I had stepped out in faith and my confidence had been shaken, my heart hadn’t yet caught up with my mind. I was insecure, unsure and certain that I had misheard God. I was stuck…immovable spiritually…confidence shattered…confused. I only recently realized the devastating toll it took on me. I had become apathetic about moving forward.

I knew my thoughts had gripped me and I had to do something. I read and listened to sermon after sermon. One sermon resonated and it clicked! The pastor said, “Just because God moved one way in one season doesn’t mean He’ll move the same way in this season.”  I was expecting things to play out the same way they had in the past. But I wasn’t the same person I was in the past so why wouldn’t God expect more of me now? Why shouldn’t I have to trust at a deeper level…why shouldn’t I get my confidence bumped? If He didn’t allow this, I would stay the same…weak in spirit. He wasn’t allowing disappointment to discourage me but to grow me. I felt tossed aside when actually He was gently scooping me in closer. I saw the difficulty as disapproval when in reality it was simply redirection and refinement.

I’ve been digging my way out of where I let my mind take me and regaining confidence in who God has created me to be. I still feel unqualified, at times, but I trust that whatever it is God puts in front of me, He will fully equip me to handle. I’ve come to expect resistance and have settled into the fact that God decides it all. He chooses who, when, where and how in our lives. He marks our path and gently guides us in this direction or that. He is constantly reshaping, refining and preparing us for what lies ahead.

Today, if you’re facing disappointment or difficulty, be encouraged. On the other side is growth and strength. But you have to go through it to get to it! Keep pressing!!

 

 

I Am Weary…

I absolutely love reading about the prophets in the Old Testament. Reading in Jeremiah, he was having a moment of complaining. I don’t know about you but I can certainly relate. Jeremiah was called by the Lord to warn the people of Judah to turn from their evil ways and turn back to the Lord. Jeremiah worked to teach the Word of the Lord and each time he spoke up he was met with opposition and persecution.

In a moment of weakness after being beaten and locked up in Chapter 20, Jeremiah begins to complain to God. In verses 7-8 Jeremiah says, “O Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long.”

Jeremiah, who had an intimate awareness of God’s presence, was struggling with insecurity in his purpose. I’ve been there. Knowing that God was pushing me out of my comfort zone to do this or say that, I’ve doubted based on my own ability, looking only at my immediate discomfort or uneasiness. I’ve cried out to God to explain the opposition, as if He didn’t already know it. I’ve wanted to shrink back and be passive about sharing  or inviting or whatever God was asking me to do. But ultimately, we are all called by God for a specific purpose and one that is individual to each of us. God wants us to play our part and to do it with confidence, trusting that He will fill the spaces we can’t. But the enemy…he will drudge up every insecurity, make every obstacle bigger than it is and try his best to convince us that we aren’t making a difference and it’s all for nothing.

BUT, I love what Jeremiah says in verse 9, right after seemingly giving up. He says, “But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot. That’s right, he has a moment of self-loathing but quickly realizes saying nothing isn’t an option. The need is too urgent, the potential loss is too great. He HAS to act, he HAS to keep going. He goes on in the chapter to declare the power and faithfulness of the Lord and you see over a few verses how Jeremiah talks himself right out of a pit into a position of power.

Like Jeremiah, we can’t sit back and say nothing. God hasn’t changed our lives just for us, He wants us to share our experiences to help others come to know Him. As Easter approaches and people become more open to the idea of attending church, make sure you aren’t missing a single opportunity to share the good news and extend an invitation. My pastor, Pastor Brad Barbour, shared a challenging message yesterday about not hitting the snooze button as a Christian. Take a listen here.

May it be said of us that “his word is in our hearts like a fire, a fire shut up in our bones. We are weary of holding it in; indeed we cannot!”

If you don’t have a regular church, I’d like to invite you to mine, Soul Church. We have service at 10am every Sunday at Centennial Middle, 1900 Main Campus Drive, Raleigh NC. Have a blessed week and remember, if you begin to feel weary in your purpose, know that God is still there, the same as He has always been, loving you and ever present in every challenge, high and low!!!

Transformation…

For a recent work assignment I was tasked with the challenge of collecting images, graphics or quotes that visually represented transformation. I thought this would be an easy task that I could quickly check off my to-do list. However, as I began searching I struggled to find the image that fully depicted what transformation meant to me.

Transformation, while beautiful, isn’t always attractive. Pinterest was loaded with pins that came close. But they all seemed to lack the difficult, yet necessary, part of any lasting transformation. This is the part of transformation that happens in the quiet of our heart and spirit before a single change is made. It’s the wrestling with God, the resistance, the striving, the tears, the heartache and the pain before reluctantly submitting to the work that God so desperately needs to do within us. No matter what kind of transformation you are going through, it always begins within. Without a full submission to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives our attempts to change become fruitless, frustrated efforts, at best.

Thankfully, we serve a God who is ready and willing to help us become the best version of ourselves we can be, for His glory. If we choose not to lean into what He allows in our lives to change and grow us, we will break by the weight of the storm. But like a tree in the wind, if we bend, even just a little, into what He is doing…our roots will be strengthened in Him and the fruit of our lives will be far greater than if we stiffened to His works.

A simple work assignment served as a reminder of God’s great transforming power and His faithfulness and unending grace in my transformation process. He is forever nudging me to go beyond where I’m comfortable…constantly filling the gaps that seem overwhelming and stretching me beyond where I would go on my own.

Today, I challenge you to think for a few moments on how God has walked with you through transforming times in your life. What did you learn? How did you grow? How would you describe that…could you put it into a picture or graphic? If so, would it be “Pin-Worthy”…lol? While the hard things aren’t always placed on a motivational poster to hang in your office, they leave a lasting impression on your heart that will not soon be forgotten! I am thankful, even in the difficult transformations, that His goodness has far outweighed any trial and I know and trust that will ALWAYS remain true!

Have a great week! XOXO

Can You See It?….

In one of my devotions this morning, this phrase smacked me right upside my head. It has replayed like a movie in my head and heart in the time since I read it. From Christine Caine, “If you can see it, it isn’t faith!” Whaaaattt???

I feel like God has used this phrase to remind, and perhaps shift, what has taken my focus. What we see and focus on in the natural, doesn’t equal His promises. What we see in the natural can seem crushing and limited. But God…well, He has no limits and He decides when, where and how. Disappointment doesn’t equal denial, prosperity doesn’t equal favor and lack doesn’t equal punishment…His ways are clearly not our ways. What we see and try to manipulate to justify His plans for us is sometimes a sloppy attempt to be faith filled. I was reminded that what I see isn’t all there is and when I can’t see, I have to trust.

If we could see what lies ahead, we would likely tuck and run realizing what it would take to get us there…the pain, the stretching, the growth and the sacrifice. There is a reason why God reveals things in His way and in His time. He knows we would likely make a huge mess of things entering into them prematurely.

I can’t see into the future and I refuse to look behind me to the past so being faithful with where God has me right now is all I can do. I can’t see my full potential in my current position at work, but God knows. I can’t see how God will bring lost people to the new church plant we are involved in, but He has a plan. I can’t see my husband and kids’ futures, but God has them laid out perfectly. All I, or any of us, can do is be faithful with where we are and what we have, trusting God with it all.

So, instead of saying, “God, show me your will, your ways.” My prayer will be “God increase my faith and help me be ok with not seeing or knowing what lies ahead.” I don’t want to see everything…I don’t want to miss out on the growth, the stretching or (as crazy as it sounds) the pain, because without it, I wouldn’t become who I need to be to do what God has called me to do! I want His fullness for my life, for my call and for my purpose in His Kingdom!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬