Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 - Your Year to Flourish

The last few years have been a time of just getting by, and when you are in survival mode, you begin to anticipate that things will always be that way. The Lord has been changing the way I think, raising the level of my expectations. Before the year began, I asked the Lord for a word for 2015. I began to see the word "flourish" everywhere I looked. I took that as my word for the year. The word flourish means, "to grow well, to be healthy; to be very successful: to do very well. It also means "a sudden smooth movement that is likely to be noticed." I believe that God is wanting to do a work this year that is beyond anything we have seen. Let's raise the level of our expectancy this year and look for ways that God wants to demonstrate His love.

I am praying that 2015 will be your best year yet. Let hope arise in your heart. No matter what your past has looked like, this is a new season, and God wants to do something fresh in your heart. Change always begins inside, and then you will see your situation change - never the other way around. Many times we are desperate for our circumstances to change, when oftentimes, the way we look at them needs to be adjusted first. 

One of my favorite verses is Romans 12:2 (NLT) "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." This is your year to be a new person! Let your thoughts line up with what God's Word says about you and your situation. Here's to an amazing 2015!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Like First Time Visitors

This Sunday we had one of the most moving services I have ever experienced. While I have been trying to put it into words, my husband actually did. So, here is his rendition.

Hannah walked into our lobby way too early for church. We were still setting up and I wasn't sure if she was an employee of the recreation center we rent or a confused first timer. She nodded yes when I asked if she was here for church. I could tell there was more to the story than a young, single girl out church shopping. When I inquired how she found out about us, Hannah said she saw one of our River Church signs by the road... Followed by a teary eyed, "I need Jesus." "You're in the right place, Hannah," I replied. As I ushered her to the gym we convert into a sanctuary every Sunday. The band was still rehearsing and I had to get ready for my message, so I asked one of our amazing volunteers to sit with her.

We were super busy that Sunday and one week into our "I Like Giving" series based on Brad Formsma's book. In fact, we had purchased enough of his books to hand one to every person in attendance. I was really inspired by this book and wanted to encourage a culture of generosity in our church family. I was so excited to share, but I couldn't stop thinking about Hannah.

During our closing worship time Hannah came forward for prayer. When I asked her what was going on in her life she confessed she felt so despondent that morning that life seemed hopeless. I inquired further and found that Hannah was living in her car. As a father of two girls I couldn't bear the thought of someone's little girl sleeping in a cold vehicle. I didn't know what to do, but I knew I had to act. The service was just closing so I asked Hannah if I could ask the River Church family for help. I got back on stage and took the mic and briefly shared Hannah's story. The response was spontaneous and overwhelming. People began to flood around Hannah with cash and kindness. So much so that an usher had to place a basket nearby to collect it all. Over $1200 dollars went to Hannah that day.

But that's not the best part!

A young couple approached me as I stood near Hannah. They were first time visitors. Alex and Emily had been looking for a church and chose to visit River Church. They had a room in their home that was ready for Hannah. By ready, I mean this room had its own bathroom, new sheets were on the bed and it was stocked with toiletries for a young lady. Alex and Emily had felt some time back that they were to prepare for a house guest not knowing who. They offered it to Hannah while I stood in awe of God's love. I had been searching for "I Like" stories to share with River Church, but this Sunday we became part of one!

I Like first time visitors!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's Time to Hope Again

We are living in a time when things look pretty scary out in the world. Many people have lost hope, some of you may be in situations that look hopeless. Some of you may find yourself looking at your life asking yourself how you got where you are. I know I have been there - a few times. When I am praying, I sense the Holy Spirit saying that it's time to stir up hope. So, I have been on a study of hope, camped out in Romans 4 - such an amazing chapter about Abraham. Abraham hoped against hope. He dared to believe God that he would be the father of many nations when he didn't even have one child. That's some crazy hope right there.

Hope is the joyful anticipation of something good. It is not passive but active. It is not wishy-washy but a strong and confident expectation. Bill Johnson says that it is the atmosphere that attracts the promises of God. When you have a word from God, that inspires hope.

Romans 4:17-18 (MSG) "We call Abraham "father" not because he got God's attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn't that what we've always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, "I set you up as father of many peoples?" Abraham was first named "father" and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, "You're going to have a big family, Abraham!" (emphasis mine)

I want to be one of those who dares to trust God to do what only God can do!! What is it that you are facing that only God can change? Find a Scripture to stand on, to place your hope in and go for it. Our hope can't be in our job, our spouse or our circumstances looking just right. Our hope can only be built on God's Word. When your hope is in the Word of God, and things look scary, you have an anchor that keeps you settled.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Run Into the Storm

This is what the sky looked like last night as I was preparing for my run. I debated on whether or not to venture out that evening, then the thought hit me that I've let fear of storms keep me in my comfort zone for the last few years. It's time for me to run into the storm. I mean, what's the worst that could happen? I would get soaked and HAVE to wash my hair. For those who know me, washing my hair is an issue for me, I schedule my work-outs around my hair washing needs. Yeah, I'm weird, but I own my uniqueness :)

As I was running, I was thinking about how often I have allowed fear to keep me from stepping into the fullness of what God has for me. I had the  Bethel song "You Make Me Brave" playing on repeat while I was out and let it speak to my heart. My favorite line is "You make me brave called me beyond the shore and into the waves. No fear can hinder now the promises You've made." Y'all we've been on the shore for too long.

Step out! Step out into what God is speaking to you. Don't let fear of the storm or all the "what if's" keep you in your comfort zone. This life is not about our comfort. If it was, the moment we received Jesus, we would be taken to heaven. There is a job to do, people to reach. Step out because someone needs what you have on the inside of you.

I finished my run and it began to mist which was actually refreshing. However, when I came inside Kate went into my bathroom and came out with a stick of deodorant because apparently, I didn't smell very refreshing! Thirty minutes after I came inside the skies opened and the rain poured and thunder cracked loudly. I sat inside thankful that I had pushed myself rather than staying in that place of comfort. What is that thing that has been nagging at you to begin but you are fearful that if you step out you may fail? Step out, you have all that you need inside you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My "Valuable" Lie

Okay, so I wasn't completely honest in my last post. While I did take a break from blogging to spend time with my sweet family, there was another issue going on that I now feel the need to address. It seems much easier to share about challenges I have faced in the past, while keeping current struggles hidden. I am opening myself up because I am certain that others have believed the same lie that I began to accept as truth.

From an early age, I've erroneously believed that my thoughts and opinions are unimportant and therefore felt that my voice didn't matter.  At times, I am fine because I realize that it is not about what I have to say, it is about what God wants to say through me.  It really depends on what I am meditating on at the moment.  After starting my blog back up, I would read other women's blogs and find them to be witty, insightful and deep. Whereas, when compared to mine, I would criticize my own writing as simple and goofy. I began thinking that there are hundreds of amazing Christian blogs out there - there really isn't a need for a mediocre one.

I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said "comparison is the thief of joy." Wow, there is so much truth in that. We begin comparing ourselves to one another and never feel like we measure up. That is such a trap from the enemy.

I began to acknowledge what I was feeling, and I sensed the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit saying, "every voice has value." We all have something to say and a realm of influence unlike anyone else. That is part of the beauty of the human experience, and that is what makes each person's voice valuable. I want to encourage you to take the platform God has given you (no matter the size) and speak out the message He has put in your heart. You have something to say that others need to hear. It will look different for each of us, that is why it is so important not to compare. You lose the beauty and originality God has given you when you compare. Speak into the lives of those around you - call out the beauty in those you have influence with. Your voice has value.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Goodbye Summer

Well, I took a blogging break for summer. It wasn't intended to be a full-on summer hiatus; it just morphed into that. I wanted to take this season to enjoy my family and spend time with the Lord. Time for just Him and me. I wanted to sit at my Father's feet to see what was on His heart for my current season, not for just for what I needed to say to a group of people. I hope y'all understand. 

I have realized after 20 years in ministry that family has got to come first! For years, Derek and I would drop whatever we were doing to go counsel or pray for someone. Some of those people are not even a part of our lives any longer. My family will always be there! They are such a enormous part of who I am, so they will get my largest investment. I have determined that they will get my best, not just my leftovers.

This summer was one of the best we have ever had as a family. We spent time with every family member on both sides (with the exception of my brother, who lives in Thailand). We went to the beach, and had late summer nights just hanging out as a family. Carowinds was even part of our summer to-do list, and I even enjoyed it - shocking!

My girls started back to school last week, so our routine has begun. I do enjoy the regularity of our schedule; it does my heart good to have the rhythm of a regular routine. I will be back to posting weekly blogs. Who knows, maybe I'll get a little crazy and post two a week. Due to the fact that I got to have some quality Jesus time, I have a lot to say. I love y'all, and I hope you are enjoying getting back into the swing of the school year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Plans

Summer began for us Memorial Day weekend, and it came in like a whirlwind. We've had a few cookouts, traveled to Kentucky for my nieces graduation and are flying to Tulsa next week.

While it has started off kind-of busy, I am looking forward to it slowing down a bit shortly. I am excited about quality time with my girls. I try to work early in the morning and later in the evening, so I can spend as much time with them as possible.

In maintaining a sense of balance in the summertime, I always try to find a good Bible study to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord. I love following naptime diaries blog, and she has created a beautiful journal, which is an eight week Bible study. For $20 you get the journal and access to much more online, including great printables, teaching videos and other tools.

If you are looking for a great study this summer, I would encourage you to look into ordering the journal. It is based on John 15, all about abiding in Him.

Let's be intentional about how we spend our summer. Let's abide in the vine and let him produce much fruit in us and through us.