30 days in my Toms® : Day 5 ~ Good Enough

I am small. 
I am young. 
I am shy.
I struggle with fear.
I struggle with self esteem.
I can’t cook. 
I do not have a degree.
I am clumsy. 
I cry too much. 
I laugh too much. 
I daydream.
I like to be alone sometimes.
I am not a morning person.
I am terrified of spiders.
I do not have a great memory.
I am a perfectionist to a fault.
I struggle with forgiving myself.
I struggle with believing in myself. 

But I am me. 

God purposed us for things greater than our capabilities. He expects performance from us greater than our talents. And He calls us to more than we believe we have within us. We will never meet His expectations because we are not good enough …
                                                                     …alone. 

With God..

I can fight giants.
I gain wisdom because I ask for it.
I have been called to love people with God-like love.
I can still walk on water, though I am afraid. 
I am beautiful.
I am not afraid to fail. 
I am successful when I am obedient. 
I am who God created me to be.
I have a heart that breaks for what breaks the heart of God.
I know joy. 
I am learning how to pray. 
I have a God who is jealous for my time.
I am learning discipline. 
I do not have to be afraid. (God is much bigger than the spiders:) 
I have hidden His word in my heart.
I do not settle for good when I am promised great.
I have been forgiven. 
I have a God who believes in me. 
                                    ….and I am never alone. 

God does not call us because we are good enough to serve in His army. He calls us because He loves to make beautiful what’s been broken. He longs to redeem what has been ruined. And He longs to use our weaknesses to display His strength. We are living testimonies of God’s glory because we are not good enough on our own. It is by faith we move mountains, not our own two hands. It is by vision we plant churches, not mere ideas. And it is through forgiveness we have hope, not our own attempts to be good enough. 

When we say yes to Jesus, we sacrifice good enough for eternity. 

You are enough because you are forgiven.
You are enough because you are loved.
You are enough because you are God’s.

You are enough for God because you are you. 

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30 days in my Toms® : Day 4 ~ A Coffee Shop

   I sat in a coffee shop today. An open Bible and my faithful prayer journal alongside a steaming cup of hot cinnamon spice tea. A perfect pause in a fast-paced, exhilarating day. Usually my Jesus dates are accompanied with headphones and worship music to drown out the distraction of the world- but today I chose instead to take in the sounds of those around me-the steady clatter of conversation. And then suddenly a melody. I peered up from my Bible reading to discover..

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A steady rumble from drumming fingers,
As a table of gentlemen burst into song.
An acoustic rendition of some pop tune
that held the attention of others.
A couple from Asia who appeared distraught,
speaking little english, they smiled 
amused. 
A moment of joy during a  trying time.
Perhaps just enough
to sway perspective. 
And yet another table nearby, 
melody untouched,
a large group of students arranged in a  circle
amidst textbooks and laptops,
 arguments and praise.
About time periods, laws and government officials. 
Another table holds two dear friends,
stilled dressed in yoga class attire
laughter and gossip pour from their lips 
as steam rises from their coffee filled cups. 
And then a serious meeting –
Businessmen-  
uninterrupted. 
Graphs and charts, numbers and arrows
The American definition 
of dreams and success.
Nearby, another young couple
dear friends of mine-
who long to have a baby
but infertility has been their obstacle.
Yet they laugh and smile-
still so in love and holding out hope 
for next month’s test.  
And still another table, holding only a girl
Doubled over her Bible.
With Ear buds to block out 
the world around
Her face that of desperation-
yearning for hope
in the pages of answer, promise
and grace. 
The most human desire 
of all. 

So many people. So many stories. My heart was overwhelmed. 
For just a split second, I saw them through His eyes. Precious. Loved. Desired. Purposed.
But did they each know that Jesus loves them? Do they know how treasured they are? 

                       How will they know unless I show them.  

Love does not belong in a sentence,  it belongs on an outstretched hand offering to help, or lips offering a smile, or feet offering to walk alongside so no one has to walk along. Love is a calling, not a sermon. It is a verb, not a noun. Love is a gift, not a reward. And Love is freedom. 

30 days in my Toms® : Day 3 ~ When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

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Several months before I graduated high school, I hopped on board the “what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-my-life” train and declared a career path. My decision was based on success. I was longing for an identity  that I could become. And I knew that I desired a life of success. So I laid out a perfect plan. I was going to go to nursing school, graduate with my BSN and RN, then work as a nurse while living in a downtown apartment with a cat. I didn’t have wishes to ever get married or start a family-both were too risky for my secure, controlled life. I was going to have a checking account with which I would pay for rent, utilities and school loans. My high school graduation purchase- a 2004 Volkswagon Passat, lovingly named Penny, was going to be my trusty ride for 20+ years so I would no longer have car payments and I would also have a savings account in which would pay for a lovely, relaxing vacation to the beach once a year. A vacation  I would take alone, with my cat.

I never grew up with a cat so I do not really know the inspiration behind this loving, loyal pet cat. Well, other than the desire to model my life somewhat after Sandra Bullock’s character, Lucy in the film While You Were Sleeping. If you haven’t seen the movie, she lived alone in an apartment with a cat and devoted her life to her job. Well, until she fell in love but I was certain that wouldn’t happen to me.
But God had other plans for me.

He brought me to LeadHer where I discovered my passions, my calling and my purpose. Which did not include nursing school. And then He brought a guy into my life who swept me off a feet within a week of dating and I’ve been crazy in love ever since (like planning on marriage crazy…) and then God preceded to place me as a director within  LeadHer- a job that I have no degree in, no experience in and no qualifications whatsoever.

My small size 7 feet just did not fit into the large shoes I was called to fill. And beyond that, the shoes were not the comfortable flats that I was accustomed to wearing. My clumsiness and lack of good balance has prevented the wearing of heels for most of my life, and I have just grown so comfortable in my small 5’2″ size that suddenly growing a few inches throws me way out of comfort zone. As I slid into my new role, I felt like I was sliding on a pair of 10 1/2 4″ heels. All I foresaw in my future was failure.

But where we often see failure, God sees success- His success. 

It was not in my qualifications that God saw my worth, but in my willingness and obedience. It’s a theme that fills the pages of the Bible. Our worthy heroes all started out as unworthy dreamers with little feet.

David was a child who had never used a sword. Yet He was called to slay the giant.
Moses was a runaway who couldn’t speak. Yet He was called to deliver the people from Egypt.
Mary was an unwed teenager. Yet she was called to be the mother of Jesus.
Rahab was a prostitute. Yet she was called to protect and help the Israelites take over Jericho.

ImageOur non-qualifications are perfect qualifications for serving in God’s army, because it is not our feet that fill the shoes, but His.

In fact, when Moses heard God through the burning bush- He was not told to slip on Holy shoes. He was told to take off his shoes.

So when the shoe doesn’t fit, take off the shoes and let God fill the shoes like only He can. And then be prepared to be used in a powerful way. Because when you stand shoeless on holy ground, there is no telling where God will lead you, how He will use you, and in what ways His glory will shine through you. You just might be called to Egypt- but take comfort in the fact that you will never go alone.

30 Days in my TomsⓇ : Day 2 ~ Teach me to Fight

ImageDepression has been both an enemy and a close companion of mine since I started high school. I have been told that depression is a disease, a disability and an aggressive attacker of which I am a victim. It is clinical and defined as a very real disorder. But in my opinion, it is nothing more than a state of mind that keeps me from recognizing the joy that is mine. It is a prison. 

In all transparency, depression is still a struggle. But it has become a choice whether I am going to allow it to become me or to fight me. 

Choose to fight.

One of my all time favorite prayers is one of David. 
 
              ” Blessed be the Lord, my rock
               who trains my hands for war,
               and my fingers for battle;
               he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
               my stronghold and my deliverer,
               my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
               who subdues peoples under me.” 
                                   Psalm 144:1-2 (ESV)

Although located towards the end of this book, theologians believe this Psalm was written shortly after David defeated Goliath. In his youth, he took on the Philistine giant with nothing more than a slingshot. And he won. This battle is powerful for two reasons- it was fought by a boy who was willing to say yes, even when failure most likely meant death, and it was a victory that directed all the glory to God. And David recognized this. 

  I love this prayer because it identifies that our battles are not fought alone, nor are they faced entirely unprepared. We enter into every battle already trained because of God’s steadfast love.   I used to pray for deliverance from my depression- I would ask God to do the fighting for me. Although God is entirely able, His glory is better shown in our willingness to fight even when defeat seems the only outcome. It is in that willingness that God’s fighting becomes our strength.

This prayer is also written in present tense. God trains our hands for war. We train however not in a gym or an army base but in our quiet time every morning. That daily drawing near to God is enough to teach us to fight our battles. It empowers us with a renewed strength to say, I will. And it gives God permission to fight for us. God is God. He doesn’t need permission but He longs to be needed just as much as He longs for us to recognize our need for Him. The most powerful prayer you can pray is, God, I need you. 

Lastly, the promises of God are so strong in this passage. When we are willing to fight, God promises to be our fortress, our stronghold and our shield – all of which promise protection, security and safety. He also promises to be our deliverer. With God fighting with us, victory is the only possible outcome. Deliverance, however, may not mean complete freedom. Like all worldly battles, they are daily victories, not eternal victories. Eternal victories are reserved for our glorious entrance into heaven when we no longer have to fight for joy, peace or freedom. Years after David’s victory over Goliath, David had committed a sin in which God punished not only David, but also His people with severe illness that for many resulted in death. As David was building an altar to the Lord, He wrote, 

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“For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.” 

                    Psalm 30:5 (ESV)

Weeping (aka depression) may come in the night, but there is a promise that joy 

will come with the morning. Battles may be our darkness, but joy will be the light that guides us out. 

Each and every one of our battles involves a choice that only we can make. A decision to embrace defeat or to fight. When we choose to fight, we are promised that..

          1. We will never fight alone
          2.God has and will teach us how to fight
          3. God is our security and protection
          4. With God on our side, we will be victorious
          5. And we will experience joy 

So whatever the battle that you are facing. Choose to fight. The victory is worth the struggle because you are worth the fight. 

 

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30 days in my Toms® – Beautiful to Thee

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You know the saying that talks about walking a mile in someone’s shoes? Well I want to invite you on a journey to experience some of the craziness that goes on in my world. I want to invite you to experience some of the the powerful lessons I am learning, the effect those lessons have on my struggles and to get a glimpse into my dreams, visions and big circle prayers. And Toms® are my favorite shoes so it only makes sense! 

Today’s blog has been written for several days now, but my hesitancy to share it stems from a very painful struggle I battle daily. Beauty. My struggle with self esteem has defined me for so long that it has created a wall that separates me from my Creator. As I have begun to pray for deliverance from a very negative perception of myself, I have been given a holy glimpse of beauty through the eyes of the Creator of beauty. If you have ever felt unbeautiful, this message is for you.

Day 1~ Beautiful To Thee

When I was a little girl I was in love with the sky. Clouds were a playground for my imagination, stars carried away my wishes and taught me to dream, and sunsets completely captivated me. As women, we are naturally drawn to beauty. We notice it, we admire it and we model it. Beauty is captivating. And so much of our worth is put into those three simple words, you are beautiful. 

 One definition of beauty is something that is pleasing to the eye. When I am told that I am beautiful, it touches my heart in a way words rarely can. If I, an imperfect person with a life stained with mistakes could be considered beautiful, how much more worthy of this title is our God. 

While worshipping this week, I was reminded that God is a God of power, fairness, justice, omnipotence and love. He is a God of mercy, forgiveness and grace. But He is also a God of beauty. As women, we have a unique understanding of beauty. We respect and long for beauty that is pure, genuine and real- yet we also intimately understand the abuse and obsession that makes beauty an impossible attainment. We have all been touched by beauty and have mourned for it. When I watch something that is beautiful be torn down or destroyed it breaks my heart. So how much more does it break the heart of God?

    Not only is God a God of beauty- He is it’s creator. And beauty is not an achievement, it is a gift that we are born with. Let’s face it, it’s hard to see ourselves as beautiful. We spend much of our lives chasing after that which we have been told to believe will make us beautiful. Expensive clothes, makeup, spankx, photoshop, diets, eating disorders, plastic surgeries. We have all been guilty of a few of these- at the very least we have all wished away fat, compared ourselves to another woman and have created ideas in our minds of how we want to look.  Although we may feel like these details are minor, every second we spend obsessing about how beautiful we are not, we are breaking the heart of God because God sees in us what He created- beauty. 

I am convinced that children hear the whispers of God in a unique and powerful way. They don’t yet question or fight the truth, they simply believe. Every little girl has heard and at one time believed God’s promise that they are beautiful. Just watch little girls as they twirl, dance and play. There is a sparkle in their eye that never disappears regardless of the clothes they are wearing, the state their hair is in or the shape of their bodies. Nothing changes as we get older. God still whispers those words to us, you are beautiful. It is up to us to listen for His voice and then to choose whether or not to believe Him.

ImageWhy does He put so much effort into reminding us of this when we hardly ever listen? Because He is captivated by us. The God of the universe who created the clouds, the stars, and each and every sunset , is captivated by you

“Listen to me, O royal daughter; take to heart what I say. Forget your people and your family far away. For your royal husband delights in your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.” Psalm 45:10-11 NLT

It does not matter what the world sees or thinks. You are beautiful in God’s eyes because He did not create imperfections and flaws. He created man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:27) and then He looked upon his creation and He saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:31). 

Do you believe Him? 

As I write this, I am incredibly convicted. I don’t believe this on a daily basis. It’s a mental battle for me to believe this truth. This past year I have chosen to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight and working out is a struggle because I tend to obsess- not eating enough and working out too much. I make every excuse in the book as to why I did not meet my calorie count for the day- but the bottom line is, I have created a definition of what beauty should look like, and when I fall short of that, I feel everything but beautiful.

God did not intend for me to live life this way. He has purposed me for greater things of which I cannot focus on when I am too busy feeling unbeautiful and never good enough. 

“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

You are good enough. 
You are captivating.
You are beautiful. 

May you begin to listen to His whispers again.

Where there is Love, Fear doesn’t stand a chance

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Fear is a trap. There are so many emotions that keep us from living what is best for us, but fear is by far the most debilitating perpetrator. Fear is so often silent. Unlike anger, jealousy and bitterness-fear is often the unseen predator. And many who struggle with fear don’t even realize the impact it has had on their life.

As a little girl, I always had this fear of the dark. I was terrified of falling asleep without the light from a tiny night light which would act as a shield to drive away the monsters. It’s amazing how comforting a small beam of light  can be to a child. There was still darkness dwelling in the room, but where there was light there was peace.

As the New Year starts, I have spent some time reflecting back to this past year. And let me tell you, 2013 was a crazy year. Here are some highlights…

-I went on my first mission trip- to the DR where I found my calling to bring LeadHer to Pregnancy Centers and also had the amazing opportunity to share a piece of my heart to so many women trapped in a world where the abuse of sex is all they know.
-I met, started dating and fell in love with the man I hope to someday marry
-I took trips to Florida, Alabama and a spontaneous God trip to D.C. with LeadHer
-I became a LeadHer Director, a mentor at my local pregnancy care center, a youth leader at my church and brought a LeadHer chapter to my local PCC.
-I developed some incredible friendships that have changed my life and I have also begun to restore relationships that were damaged
-And I quit nursing school to pursue my calling and my passion to work full time serving girls  through LeadHer- a passion and calling I also discovered in this crazy year

Crazy, huh?

As I was reflecting back to some of these events- I was beyond amazed at the remembrance of all the fear each of these opportunities and life changes have held. Fear that was at times crippling, heartbreaking and potentially goal-stopping. At each intersection my journey led me- I have had to make really tough decisions. And I have soaked each decision in tears and prayer. Yet, the difference between this year and every year before this has been that although fear was consistently a factor, it did not hold me back.

I believe what has set this year apart has been this crazy thing called faith. And the realization that I am so in love with a God whose love for me is even crazier. He longs to spend time with me, to know me and to fulfill His promises to me. He desires my whole heart and promises that I already have His. His love is unconditional, steadfast and perfect-love that paid the ultimate sacrifice so that I could spend eternity loving Him back. Living life in this kind of love is the only force strong enough to drive away fear. As John lovingly reminds us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18 ESV) This is one of my favorite Bible verses because it is a beautiful reminder of how it is not the absence of fear but the presence of love, perfect love that becomes the catalyst for changing for the world. And it is a clear direction for us as well. In a world that is darkened by fear- love is the light that brings peace and hope to a world longing for a change. It is by love that we change the world.

Do you believe in love so powerful that it can drive out fear and change the world? If not, what fear is holding you back from believing that it is through perfect love that you exist? Perfect love that you are saved. And perfect love that qualifies you to act as a world changer for Christ.