Anxiety-When God Works

When God works, I will give Him glory. I will try to be transparent here, but also, it’s important to know that I struggle with the ability to share the work He’s done. To put in to words such miraculous moments and growth is seemingly impossible to me. Then I remember my strength comes from Him and I trust His work will be glorified through me.

A couple of evenings ago, my middle son called out several minutes after going to bed. He was having bad dreams (aka, imagining things that were unpleasant because he wasn’t yet asleep). While he knew in his heart that there was no fire in his room, no scary man coming in, or even his teachers at school and church were not yelling at him, he couldn’t stop thinking these things. He wanted help. So, what is a momma to do? Well, of course extra snuggle time and kisses help, an extra prayer will show him where to turn when we feel this way, but the main thing that changed his peace and calming was to speak truth. To help him change his thinking. Truth that set him free from these thoughts of fear. Once he had this truth to envision, he soon fell asleep so gently, and with the slightest grin.

This was it! The simplification I needed to be able to express in writing what I felt God has been nudging me the past few weeks and working on in me for much, much longer! Speaking truth. Changing our thinking. Relying on HIM! So, a question I want to ask you and continue to ask myself is; Is your mind, right?

 

Heart palpitations. Heaviness.  Short breaths. Deep breaths. Guilt. Anger. Overwhelm. Confusion. Desperation. Sadness. Drowning. Exhausted. Pain. Shame. Tense muscles. Can’t think. Shut down. Failure. 

 

Anxiety. It’s real. It’s real for those far from Christ and those near to Christ. It’s real for working moms and for stay at home moms. It’s real for those who dream to be a mom one day, or those who won’t. It’s real for men. It’s real in our home life and in our workplace. It’s real when we wake, and it’s real when we go to sleep. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s real. And it’s a real pain, too. And it’s real to me.

Being totally honest, I never really “thought” I struggled with anxiety. I felt like some of the emotions I had were unique to me and that maybe I was weird or missing something. I thought that maybe I was an awful person to feel anxious when I was so blessed. I would feel anger and self-pity in some of the highest anxiety moments (and still have those moments). I would hold these feelings in and I would confide in a friend. I was all over the place trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I would increase my quiet time or change what I was reading. I would try to eat better and exercise differently. I would change my supplements. I would read this and that. I would say “today is going to be different” and 5 minutes in I’d already feel anxious. What is the trend here…I. I was trying to overcome something that I needed to surrender to. I was still making it about me, what I could do to fix it. Were these things important, sure maybe, but I was missing the point.

When God works, I will give Him the Glory. I am (and you too) are works in progress. I kept thinking that if I would improve in all these areas, THEN I would not be anxious. I was always looking to the place I wanted to be instead of letting God grow me where I was. Thankfully, He doesn’t give up even if it takes us awhile to “get it”. And thankfully, He continues to grow me and change me and redefine me daily. Even by the minute. I’m giving Him total glory.

I could spend all kinds of time sharing details of this journey, but I don’t think that’s the key point here. What I do want to share is some of the things that have helped (and will continue to help) me break the chain of anxiety controlling me. (Full disclosure-I’m a major work in progress and to be honest, the last 2 days have been extremely trying. I’m thankful for these tools that have really changed the way these feelings are handled.)

One of the first things we must do, is embrace the fact that we are works in progress. I believe God allows us to experience hard situations to grow us. I also believe we are to share these experiences with others as a way of shining His light in our hearts. Not all hard things end up being bad. It’s amazing as I look back, even over the last 5 years, how some of the hardest situations have made me an entirely different person. In the moment, I wasn’t seeing it that way, but as I reflect, I’m able to see His work. I hope you are too in your own life.

Anxiety

I have found a few things to really strengthen my ability to breathe through anxious moments or seasons, and look to eternity instead of focusing on the anxiety.

  1. Read Truth. Read a lot. Read the bible. Read good books. Read. Read. Read truth. Read books that are self-development. Read books that are marriage focused, parent focused, leadership focused, character focused. Whatever roles God has entrusted you with, read about them! I have found such personal growth in studying scripture, applying truth to my life that opposes the anxious thoughts, and allowing God to shape my thoughts. I am filling up with tools and resources that align with what I believe God is doing in my life, and asking that He continue to help me discern His plan. I recently read something so simple; “Right Thinking Leads to Right Living.” Truth is right. So, think truth, and live right. The more we read, the more our thinking changes. (Some of my current reads are in the cover picture!)
  2. Nourish. It’s incredibly important to not only nourish our mind, but to nourish our bodies. Now anyone who knows me knows that this is one of my passions and thankfully also how I get to help support my family. Anyone who knows me also knows our mission at Power Partners is whole health. So, while we talk a lot about spiritual health, we also know the effects of physical health on our brains and anxiety. We know it’s important to eat a good, balanced diet that focuses on building health. Eliminating the junk that is known to increase anxiety, in many cases sugar. (Caffeine can also increase, and I LOVE my coffee…struggle bus here!) I shared in my Be Still and B-Complex post about the value of adding more B Complex to my daily regimen. Game changer. This is helpful in increasing serotonin, which when deficient, can increase anxiety. Magnesium has also been important because it is very calming and soothing. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough in our diet! One of my favorite ways to quickly calm my anxiety, or to help prevent it, is…Stress Relief Complex. When I pair a SRC with a mighty prayer…look out, sister!
  3. Consistency. That’s right, we must be consistent in these things. Perfection? No, consistent. When we are a work in progress, we must feed and fuel that work. We can’t expect God to “fix” everything and not think we must do our part. He gives us valuable truth in His Word. He gives people gifts to share experiences that help us change our thinking and discover resources to put actions in place. He blesses us with ways to nourish not only our minds and souls, but our bodies as well. Do I have all the answers to the “right and wrong” resources, no, but I know that I trust God, and He’s working in me. I do the best that I can, and in my weakness, He gives me strength. I lean on the truth that God fills in the gaps, because He didn’t create me to do this alone. I am a sinner. I fall short of the glory of God. But he redeems me and covers me in Grace. The good news? He does this for you too!

Notice this short list of resources I’m sharing? Read truth, Nourish, and be Consistent. You will be amazed at the goodness of God in His timing, to grow you. We just have to let Him. I get so excited to think about what else He’s going to do not only in my own life, but in that of those around me. It’s amazing to see the heart changes that happen, and the way it truly has a huge ripple effect.

So, while you may or may not have anxiety I’m sure you can relate to needing Christ. Take some of the quiet moments you have (ha-ha, sometimes I ask what’s that!) or maybe some cuddly moments with the little ones, to listen to what God may be saying. And when you can’t “hear” Him, keep seeking Him.

 

For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

“It is our job as Christ-followers to be part of freeing others-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are to go to the ends of this earth, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and proclaiming that in Him is freedom, redemption, and restoration.” Redefined Bible Study (amazing by the way!)

I give God the glory for totally transforming me. I know I am a huge work in progress, and have more work to be done. But I also know that it’s important to reflect and celebrate the goodness and freedom we have because of the blood of Christ. I’m a different person than I was even just 6 months ago, and I know I’ll be different 6 years from now. By Him working in me, and by doing the things I’ve mentioned above, I’ve been able to have open eyes to areas in our lives that don’t align with kingdom purposes. I’ve began to see the need to slow down and simplify, the need to ask God to show me my heart issues that break His, the beauty in teaming up completely with my spouse for eternity, the desire to see my children’s hearts and help mold/guide them toward Him.  I also know that if it weren’t for the simplicity I’ve found in trusting Jesus, that none of this would have seemed as beautiful.

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Just Be

As I was getting my middle son’s bed ready for bedtime, there it was. Words of wisdom from that precious 5-year-old’s mouth. Words that will stick with me in a new way, because they were so simply put. Words that humbled me and reminded me of God’s goodness. Words that we all could say over and over daily, and I’m pretty sure everyone would feel much more peace.

“Mom, you know what I just tell myself all day? I just keep telling myself to ‘just be Kohen’ and that works really good.”

I stopped in my tracks and humbly turned to him and asked him to tell me more.

“Well, you know, I just need to be me. I don’t want to be anybody else, right? I don’t have to worry about what everybody else is doing, or playing, or saying. I can do good by just being Kohen.”

Tears? Oh, you betcha! I just looked at this little innocent boy and hugged him and reminded him that he’s absolutely right. He doesn’t want to be anybody else, because God made Him (and he has a purpose). Now I know that eventually we will be able to have the conversation that we as humans are sinners, and God doesn’t want us to just be ok with that. We will talk about God wanting us to be Christ-like! But for now, at five, it was nice to focus on the fact that he isn’t worried about doing all the things, all the time, for all the people.

It’s amazing how time and time again, God shows himself through our kids. Do you notice that? It’s like when we are praying over something, He is able to speak such gentleness through the gentlest little voices in our lives. That’s exactly how I felt last night when Kohen said such precious words.

I’m sure many of you experience these waves of emotion in your walk with Christ. That hunger for Him that grows, and the way that our wants and desires change, are all part of this journey. Sometimes we get really excited about these waves, and sometimes we may feel confused or even alone.

How many of you have a “perfectionist” personality? As much as I want to say I’ve surrendered my personal desire for perfectionism, I seem to take it back more than I’d like. Anyone else? It’s like I’m having this internal competition or something, and always expect myself to do better and better, to do all the things, all the time, for all the people.

Then that lovely doubt can creep in. Do you know what I’m talking about? Like, if I can’t do these things perfectly, should I even try? Would x, y, z, be better if…

I just recently went to Shaklee’s Global Conference in Atlanta. It’s always a wonderful few days being surrounded by wonderful people. I always have different takeaways and this year one of those takeaways was simply stated, but powerful to the core.

A sweet mom whom I respect was speaking to the crowd about her journey in her business. She spoke of peaks and valleys and about her emotions in that journey. While she explained a few details, she then shared something that her husband said to her. Something that stuck in my mind and I keep reflecting on. When she was having feelings of overwhelm or doubt, her husband said, “Why does it have to be all or nothing?” Powerful. And he is absolutely right.

And last night, it hit me. My prayers over so many things, the words spoken from a sweet mom at conference, my precious son keeping truth simple, conversations with dear friends, who speak wisdom, and of course the nudge from Christ that He’s still all I need.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Why am I tempted to be all or nothing? It’s this silly mindset but He just wants me to follow Him and be Christ-Like. I don’t have to try to do all the things, all the time, for all the people. I don’t have to do any of the things, any of the time, for any of the people; without His strength! He doesn’t ask for perfection and He definitely doesn’t want us to obsess and be prideful. He wants us to do what He has called us to do, and to walk in Faith. And often, that means giving up preconceived ideas of what we think things should look like. Ouch.

So as we may have this “perfectionist” personality flowing through us, we can ask that He use this (could be) gift to glorify Him and to point others to Him. We can also surrender our control of the need of perfectionism. And we can rest, that we don’t have to be all or nothing. His grace is more than enough, and he fills in the gaps. We just need to be who He’s called us to be. Now, isn’t that refreshing?!

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, All Other Ground is Sinking Sand…

Just Be Me

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

 

Be Still…& B-Complex

Be still and know that I am God…many of you who know me well, know that I LOVE this verse and for so many reasons. Meditating on it has gotten me through so many moments and emotions. To know that His word tells us to be still and surrender to Him and find peace is beyond encouraging. But how often do we truly do this?

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What happens when we invite God to work on our heart? It’s not always what we want or expect to experience, but isn’t it exciting to know that He is working? It’s sometimes hard for me to be vulnerable, especially on a blog post, but sometimes I think that my writing is a way for me to really reflect on what God is doing. So, vulnerable it is!

As much as I love Psalm 46:10, I can’t say that I was actually obeying. I felt the power of the verse and I know His promises are true, but I was still getting caught up in the overwhelm of life.

How clean is my house? How much school did we get through today? Am I doing enough in my business? Did we eat healthy enough today? Did I work out yet? Am I letting friends or family down? Am I doing enough with my kids, or too much? Am I really there for my husband? Did I spend enough time with God?

Now, this isn’t to say that I have it all figured out now, please don’t get me wrong! But goodness, I had to LET IT GO! Seriously. None of those thoughts or the actions that followed were being still at all! In fact, I was being the opposite. I was trying to be my own strength and busyness was getting the best of me. But in all honesty, I was just spinning in circles not really accomplishing any of the things I was stressing about! Can we say hot mess! I gave one example in my last post!

Enter the invitation for God to work on my heart. Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God. All day. All night. Every minute. In everything. Be still and know that I am God.

So when the crazy thoughts and constant busyness creeps in. I stop and I am still. He is God. I had to quit trying to be what He is! Because what I was missing was what truly matters.

The unexpected giggles from my boys.

The looks they give when they tell me that story.

The sounds of the birds all through the day.

The way the breeze feels midafternoon.

The joke my husband quietly added to the story.

The way they learn through living.

The moments that calm me.

The moments give me such great joy.

The grace that covers me.

The quiet voice that guides me.

The life He’s given me.

The chance to be a light.

So now what? Now I just tell myself to slow down and everything is ok? No, it’s not what I do, it’s what He’s done! When I look at how I was feeling before, I was being so prideful. Thinking I had to figure it all out. Silly me-always silly me. He is enough. He is our strength. He changes hearts and opens eyes. We just have to trust him. And when we do, everything really does fall into place.

Oh yeah, the B-Complex…why did I say Be Still & B-Complex? Random? I think not. When we invite Christ to work in our hearts and when we are really growing in our faith, we must do all that we can to really heal and grow. I say it often; I work like it depends on me, but I pray because it depends on God. I’m going to work with Him not against Him!

Knowing my anxious tendencies, I incorporate different things. Aside from my quiet time, affirmations, podcasts and conversations with God throughout day, I also started taking loads of B-Complex. Yes, I mean I quadrupled my B-Complex. Not because I don’t think God can handle it, but because I’m thankful for the resources He gives me! And for anyone who has ever felt any of the things I’ve mentioned, then I know the combination of Being Still & B-Complex has totally unwound this momma enough to say that I feel so peaceful.

It’s so cool how God really does guide us. He opens our eyes to things He wants us to see. He reminds us of His beauty. He supplies the things we need. He is working behind the scenes all the time for our good and His glory! Even just the prompting to write this, He’s been nudging me for over a week now!

So, for any of you reading this who may just feel a tad overwhelmed in the busyness of life, or perhaps you feel like a whirlwind more often than not, I hope this brings some encouragement to you today. Let’s encourage one another and enjoy the beauty He gives!

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Making Progress-Letting Go and Letting GOD

I should start with a disclaimer that I don’t have it all together and I don’t want this to convey otherwise. But what I have, is Christ alive in me, and I see glimpses of release and it’s for that, I celebrate! Here’s an example of Letting Go, and Letting God.

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Anyone who can say aloud that they aren’t or have never been a hot mess may not appreciate this blog post. Because if I’m being honest, you’ll think this sounds crazy. But for anyone who ever has or currently feels like a whirlwind inside, and equally spinning on the outside, I hope this brings encouragement and hope!

“Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.” Psalm 66:2

April is a FULL month at our house. We have Easter and then THREE birthday boys to celebrate! Adding that to the normal every day things like life, homeschooling, and running a business, alongside my husband’s crazy work schedule, I have often found myself feeling overwhelmed and defeated. When really it should be some of the best moments of celebration; THEIR LIFE!

As a matter of fact, I started finding myself feeling that way even when it wasn’t April. Have you ever felt conflicted? Like, you want to feel and often do feel one way, but act another? That was (and still is) me. I have such Hope in the life Christ wants for me, and such vision for the peace that overcomes me, but then I take control, and turn things into ONE. HOT. MESS. It’s like I don’t want to worry about worldly “things” and deep down, I don’t, but then for some reason, I find myself getting caught up in “things” that don’t really matter in the big picture!

As my faith grows, I constantly make a decision that I am not going to live so burdened by the “world” anymore. Each and every day I choose Joy and I choose for God to guide my steps. Is it perfect? Absolutely not, BUT in moments of reflecting after our boys’ birthday party last week, for example, I see Christ making such progress in my heart. (More to come in upcoming blogs on some of the action steps I took, and how God fills in the huge gaps!)

I decided this year for our boys’ birthday family celebration that I was going to be present, not pinterest. (This is in no way to knock anyone who thrives and loves pinterest, because you are amazing! I however, am so incredibly overwhelmed by the idea of a pinterest birthday or pinterest anything, that in the past, it’s ruined my Joy in celebrating!)

Can I tell you how much FUN we all had? I mean seriously, FUN! Old me would have been a stress ball, feeling pressure to have everything just right, not really interacting with the kids with the fear that I wasn’t keeping the party going smoothly and food filled just right, focusing on the “look” and the decorations, worried about the perfect spread of food and refreshments, and honestly, making it a much bigger deal (inside) than the kids really even cared about! Oh, silly me.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33

So this year we chose simple. Tacos. I mean who doesn’t love tacos, right? Colors. Each boy chose a color for some simple decorations and supplies. Piñata. Silly string. Outside play. Kroger Cupcakes. One birthday banner. Lots of laughs. Lots of fun. Lots of peace. And I was PRESENT!

So, what changed? I gave up control. It’s exhausting to try to control everything. It’s exhausting to try and be “perfect” (because I will never be perfect!) It’s crazy to get so caught up in the worldly things that I lose sight of Jesus and what He has right in front of me. Family. Love. Happiness.

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10

As I felt completely joyful after the boys’ birthday party, I just had to get it in writing. Because I know I will still try to take control of things and lost sight of what really matters. And really, writing is a great way for me to process and then have answered prayers to refer back to. Even if I forget some of these small things, what I won’t forget, is the feeling of Christ alive in me!

When we let go of ourselves, and accept Him, things just change. An inner peace that I can’t even express is just, there. Even in the hard moments of the day, when maybe the kids are fighting, when school is rough, when hubby hasn’t been around much, when I’m behind in my business, when life is life…I still am able to remember the peace that Christ fills me with, and after a couple of deep breaths, I just feel calmer. (Trust me, even just one year ago; this was so not the case!)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit.” Romans 15:13

So I will keep choosing to Let Go, and Let God! Letting go of what truly doesn’t make or break the day, and continuing to let God change me and my heart.

What is holding you down today? What are you still holding on to and trying to control that is stealing your Joy? For me, it’s myself. My own desires that don’t really fulfill myself or anyone. How about you? Have you given it to Christ? Let’s choose to do this together. Because I know the best is yet to come!

Now I’m going to enjoy the rest of this gorgeous Sunday. I’m going to relax in the sun, and for the first time(s) in my life, I’m feeling ok that the house isn’t perfect inside and I have many things to do, because today, I’m taking a day to rest. And today, I’m celebrating Christ the living Hope! Today, I’m refreshed. Today, I’m celebrating imperfect progress. Today…oh what a glorious day.

Longing to Hear God’s Voice – But Wait He Has ALREADY Spoken

I often take new relationships for granted. I will often forget the imagery I have about how God connects different paths throughout our lives. My own thought is that God is making a beautiful quilt, and each of us have a place in the smaller patches. And within those patches are the things God is doing in each of us, our communities, etc. The patches all come together to make one glorious piece of art that God has been patching together. Now, His plan is even greater than this, but when I begin to take for granted, all the relationships that I am blessed with, I am able to envision this imagery that God has a purpose for each one and for His greater glory. And for that, I am grateful.

One particular relationship is that with one of my very best friends, Brooke Plummer. It’s really neat, because Brooke and I have been in the same “patch” for many years, however we didn’t draw close until it was in God’s timing! And now I see that we are part of a beautiful patch together, and God is working in us and through us to piece together the bigger “quilt” that He is making.

Over the last few years I’ve been blessed to witness God really work in Brooke’s life. I’ve been honored to pray alongside her, cry with her, celebrate with her, and even as God, “why” with her. But the most magnificent moment of them all is seeing God reveal Himself so boldly to her! It’s my honor to share her journey in Faith and God’s Faithfulness, with you, for His glory!

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Longing to Hear God’s Voice – But Wait He Has ALREADY Spoken

By Brooke Plummer

“I sit here contemplating where to begin with this story, my story,

God’s story.

This is my first blog post I’ve ever written, or considered writing, but I felt compelled to share this.

A little bit of background…since the time my husband and I married we have always had a desire to relocate to North Carolina. Although there were many appealing things about NC, I never really understood how that specific location and mutual desire came about.

We talked many times of relocating but once the beautiful gifts of children came along we wanted to be close to family and to have my Mom care for them while I worked. We set the desire of relocating aside and went ahead and built our dream home. We worked hard, saved our money, and put much love into that home. We loved entertaining and hosting family gatherings there. Our favorite place in the entire house was our outdoor fireplace on the veranda.

We had so many good times with people we love cuddled around this source of warmth.

But quickly some things changed. The neighborhood we built our dream home in changed causing my husband to take on additional responsibility to help protect our investment into this dream. This became a source of much stress and many sleepless nights. As our surroundings changed our desire for this to be our forever home changed too.

We started having conversations again about moving to North Carolina. We eventually started taking trips out to investigate areas and on one trip found some land we wanted to purchase. Wow!

This was getting real. We purchased the land with the goal of moving in 3 years. Two years into that timeline we started to put the plan into action. In May of 2016 we put the FOR-SALE sign in the yard. That was an emotional day, but we thought we probably had a year before we would actually be leaving our family and friends and the state of Indiana which we had lived our entire lives in.

Well… there was a different plan.

The next day I received a call from my boss and very good friend that my company was doing a reduction in force and my position was being eliminated.

WHAT??? My position was the one job we knew we could take with us and rely on in North Carolina because I worked remotely and traveled when needed so it didn’t matter where I was located.

The crazy thing is, I felt this overwhelming peace that this is what God wanted and that instead of waiting a year to move, we should move NOW.

God made that happen.

Within 3 weeks, we had our house sold. Which was a “miracle” in itself as there were more than a handful of houses for sale in our neighborhood at the time. We quickly found the perfect rental in NC and relocated so we could come to NC and build our new dream home on that property we purchased.

We started down a similar path… we started dreaming. What did we want in this new house? We worked with a wonderful designer and drafted a beautiful home. Then comes time to see what this dream home will cost. More than we imagined, but within our ability to afford. Since it was more than we wanted we spent several weeks making changes to bring the cost down some.

All the while, I was struggling.

Okay the cost is coming down, but do we really want to invest this much money into a house? Something was urging me to reconsider, but we continued on.

Once you throw something out to the universe, something you want to accomplish, it’s easy to feel inclined that we must follow through. But do dreams and goals change?

That’s when God began to intervene. Well, I should say that’s when I started to recognize a little bit more (wasn’t He there all along?).

Take into your heart all My words which I will speak to you and listen closely.

Ezekiel 3:10

I was part of a women’s Bible study at church and we were studying Ecclesiastes, Wisdom for Living Well. In Ecclesiastes, it is emphasized OVER and OVER that we are

Chasing After the Wind.

In society, we always want more, want better and aren’t afraid to work and work and work for it. But it caused me to think more about what we are sacrificing in order to have those things we chase.

Are those things we are chasing really what makes us happy?

In the same time frame, we were doing a study at church titled Immeasurably More. There is a need at our church to expand and make room for one more person, well this takes financial power to do this. We heard many great sermons at church about financial responsibility and I felt this tugging on my heart to participate and give. But I knew if we moved forward in building this dream house, it was going to be more challenging to give above and beyond our normal tithe.

My husband and I had many conversations about this and we eventually decided let’s wait.

We started to recognize God telling us to be patient.

So, we set down the path of looking for an interim home to buy. Something to hold us over for 2-4 years while we figured things out. This past Saturday we decided to go look at some homes. We went in 3 and I was getting very frustrated; we were not finding anything that fit our needs and wants. We went on to the 4th home…and I had this feeling.

This house was everything we were looking for. It was perfect for us! It has land for the kids to play and a wrap-around porch to entertain on.

Oh, the memories we can create here.

Within 48 hours, pending final paper work and inspection we are able to make that house ours.

So, there are a few details, I purposefully held back. This story is written in the words and ways in which I experienced it. But I was missing the true experience of the Holy Spirit through this story,

GOD’s story.

About a week ago, as I was going through a cabinet, I found a book which I had purchased but not yet read. The book is titled, Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer. A few days after finding it I began to dig in.

Wow had I been missing the message.

I sat down to read this book with the hopes of one day recognizing when God is speaking to me. Well what a wake-up call. I’m not sure if you recognized it in this story, or in your story, but when we are saved and receive the Holy Spirit that “gut feeling” we get is no longer just an instinct it is the Holy Spirit guiding us.

That initial desire? GOD

Giving me a different career path and the urge to move NOW? GOD

The tug on our hearts to wait and be patient? GOD

Wise counsel from my best friend and her ongoing prayers? GOD

My best friend’s insight that maybe God led us to purchase the property as a way to get us to North Carolina, but that wasn’t the final plan? GOD

The Bible Study and the message at Church? GOD

Leading us to this new home? GOD

Feeling “compelled” to share this? GOD

I now recognize that HE has ALWAYS been there, but I wasn’t LISTENING!

I cannot wait to see what He has in store for us moving forward. I want to listen and recognize sooner so I can take His guidance and praise Him throughout the days of my life.

Is God speaking to you?

Is He telling you something? Christian brothers and sisters if you have found salvation in Jesus Christ, don’t keep assuming it’s your “gut”,

it’s HIM!

God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:13″

Thank you, Brooke for not only seeking Him in all you do, but taking the time to reflect, be still, and share your story. You are an amazing woman and I see God working through you each and every day. You inspire me to be all that God has created me to be, and you will continue to reach others by that same encouragement. I’m so blessed by our friendship, and I’m so glad God has us in the same “patch”! God bless you my dear friend!

 

But, Mom…Always a Lesson

“But mom, I didn’t know you were still proud of me…”

Ouch. What did he mean still proud of him? Of course I’m proud of him. He’s my son! My precious, stubborn but sweet, gentle but ornery, amazingly created by Christ himself, son!

You see, earlier that same day, we had a moment. You know those moments when your almost five year old doesn’t want to listen? No. Matter. What. Yeah, one of those moments. So I sternly said I was disappointed in his behavior…(other conversation was had, but that’s the main point for this story!)

The day went on and we all went about out business as usual. Bedtime rolled around and after finishing the boys’ prayers, I told them I loved them and was very proud of them. Insert his comment. Insert my aching heart and tear-filled eyes.

“Why wouldn’t I be proud of you, honey? Of course I am!”

“But mom, remember when you said you were disappointed…”

After they were all peacefully sleeping, I got to have some of my favorite time, reflection time. I was actually burdened by the comment. How many times do I say things or maybe fail to say things that make a huge impact? And, so many times without even thinking about it. I’m proud of you. So easy to say, and so sincere, but do I always listen to the prompting to show love and speak kindness? The answer is no. But, why?

Sometimes, I’m just too “busy”. I may get distracted, sure. But the main problem is fear. Fear stops me. Not as much with my children (I praise them all day), but with other relationships. What will they think if I say… I don’t know enough to say anything… Will I upset them…I don’t want to be “that girl”… They know I’m no better…

This week alone has been an emotional roller coaster. Not really in my own personal environment, but in many of my friends and even some acquaintances’ lives. There were moments of pure celebration and moments of extreme brokenness, and honestly everything in between. And you know what? Even with all the emotions, it was an awesome reminder. A reminder that we must show love. We must speak truth. We must encourage when we have the opportunity. We must extend grace. We must listen to the conviction to pray alongside someone, even when it may be uncomfortable.

Will it be perfect? No. Will we always know what to say? No. Will everyone be receptive? Maybe not. Will people think we are strange? Perhaps. Does it matter? NO. Because someone may be feeling just as my middle son was. Listening to the last comment that left them feeling defeated. The last comment that broke them. The last really bad moment with someone they really love.

And perhaps, God is working through us to ignite that Hope.

But mom

I recently went through a major pruning season. I could quite possibly still be in the midst of it! And one thing I’ve really become aware of is that it’s not about me. None of this is about me. And that’s a relief! God has created me in His image and how He wants me. How HE wants me. And I’m good enough. I’m able to do the work He has planned in me and do it well…with Him!

Will it be perfect? No. Will I always know what to say and do? No! Will everyone be receptive? Probably not. Will people think I am strange? Absolutely. Does it matter? NO! Am I ok with that? I’m getting there. Will it all be ok? Yes!

Because God is working in and through me, and I have Hope.

Whatever your gift is, share it. Whatever love is on your heart, give it. Whatever fear is stopping you, crush it. It’s not about you. It’s about what God is doing in and through you. And, that’s pretty exciting.

Now, who can you go out and bless today with love and service? Who is looking for Hope?

Part of the Plan?

Have you ever had one of those days, where you found yourself tense, in tears, wondering “why”, but not even really able to describe what was really wrong?

No? Me neither…ok, actually, today was one of those days.

So, let me take some initial responsibility for this day. If I could pick three of the things I failed to do, that make a huge impact on my day, these would be them.

  1. I didn’t start my day in my usual way; in God’s word
  2. I went to bed entirely too late last night and woke up entirely too early. (Hence why I didn’t begin with my quiet time, because I was tired-bad excuse)
  3. I didn’t take my Vitamin D early enough (seriously though, this is HUGE, especially this time of the year!)

With those out of the way, I now look back on the day and can see lots of areas where I “failed”. I mean, FAILED. I over-planned and under-prepared. I took a tired toddler to too many places for a mom who didn’t start the day right. I made a dentist appointment at noon with three kids. I allowed myself to stay in my rut of “annoyance of the day” by calling my mom to tell her all about it, texted my husband about how short naps were, and called one of my best friends knowing she’d give some wisdom.  I could go on and on. By the end of the day, I even was crying on the kitchen floor because I ran out of rosemary and thyme and wanted to make a nice meal for a friend. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL.

Child, Be Still. I use all things to shape you, to prepare you. Even moments like this.

Wake up! As I found myself asking why days had to be so challenging sometimes—Why I couldn’t figure out how to “handle” it—Why I get so frustrated when things aren’t perfect—I started to calm down. (I’ll admit, I prayed a ton, I also took a double dose of Stress Relief Complex and my Vitamin D, oh yeah!)

You see, I listened to a sermon this morning about the power of “pre” (If you download the Elevation Church podcast, you’ll see it. Highly recommend it.) While I can’t even try to share all I felt during this sermon, or all that the pastor shared, I will share one thing.

He uses everything right now, for preparation for what is to come.

That is EXACTLY the answer to my entire “why” list of questions. Why is this so hard? Because He is using this hard season for all the great that is to come! The training may not make sense, but I do believe with my heart of hearts that God has a purpose for each and every one of us. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. And while maybe I can’t wrap my head around His greatness; I can wrap my head around the fact that preparation is followed by provision. And I believe in a God who provides! I’m actually quite excited as I reflect on this day, because as I had some toddler tantrums and mommy tantrums, I was also able to apologize to my children for being short-tempered. I was able to stop and pray alongside a friend who was having a very overwhelming day (while you read this, will you say a prayer for her, too?) I was able to pray for each of my family members and friends. I was able to take a meal to a friend. I was able to warm a stranger’s heart at Chipotle and not even know it.

But the most exciting part to all of this…I was able because HE lives in me! Not because of MY strength, but because He uses me to do His work. And He is using each of these moments to grow me and refine me and prepare me for all he has in store. He doesn’t see my weakness as failures, at all! How do I ever forget that?

Hmm, now the day doesn’t seem so bad. (Remind me of that tomorrow.)

But also remind me to…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 10:27

part-of-the-plan