Part IV – I’m Listening

Good Monday morning, friends! I woke up this morning with a joy that I can only compare to the feeling you get on your wedding day or on Christmas morning as a six year old. I bet you’re wondering why I’m so excited. Well, one reason is that God is continuing to use me. He’s refining me and stretching me as only The Potter can. That is my prayer for you as well.

Two years ago — almost to the day — the Spirit of God spoke to me with a sense of urgency and nudged me to start this blog. My direction wasn’t clear. I was all over the place. All I knew was that he wanted me to share my faith with believers and non-believers. He urged me to share the love of Christ with anyone who would happen upon this little blog in cyberspace. He’s been speaking to me through music (hence this Music Monday segment), through children, through the beauty of nature, and countless other ways.

My connection is clear — especially when I relent and stop trying to turn up the volume. Who am I to tell the creator of communication how to speak to me? Lol…I believe he laughs at me daily, yet he continues to choose me. So, I bet you’re still wondering why I’m so excited. I’ll tell you, but you have to sit and give me your undivided attention. Are you sitting? Ready? Hey, you’re not sitting. No, I can’t see you, but I’m a lot like you. I’m not always obedient the first time God tells me to do something. Though I just compared myself to God, I surely know that I am not God. I’m simply making a point — that we don’t always act when instructed to do so.

Drum roll, please! I’m excited today because my Father has made it abundantly clear that he wants me to minister to women and girls, so you’ll see a slight shift in my voice. Until a few months ago, I thought this blog and my coaching was for everyone, but the mental calisthenics he afforded me taught me otherwise. He urged me to create a safe space for women to share their faith journeys on Facebook. We have many active members and many more who are still feeling us out and watching from the sidelines. That’s ok because we’re still pouring into them in this closed community. If you’re not part of our Community of Trailblazers, join us here.

We started a seven-day devotional today called Listening to God, and I know that he will speak to us as we journey to know him better. That’s my prayer for you as well.

Before you leave today, take a few minutes to enjoy my Music Monday selection from Kim Walker-Smith entitled “Yield My Heart.” May blessings abound! ❤

Part III — Mixed Messages

From the time you awaken from your slumber ’til you lay your head on that pillow again, you’re bombarded with all kinds of messages from thousands of messengers. They all enter your body and seek to take control of your thoughts. If you entertain them, they become stronger, intuitive, aggressive, and relentless. They’ll feed on your base desires to get rich quick or lavish yourself with precious things. They’ll steal your time and zap your energy as you struggle in vain to achieve that which wasn’t promised.

You might hear You’re not good enough. You’re too skinny. Is that your real hair? You should wear more makeup. Whose car is that? What are you getting with your income tax? What does she have that I don’t have? Girl, I don’t have time to read the bible. That’s irrelevant these day.

Pray

We make time for those things that are a priority in our lives — whether they make us stronger or not. They come in the form of reality shows, social media, or jobs. We sometimes convince ourselves that we watch Reality TV because we don’t have to think too much. We use social media to keep in touch with family and friends. We work two or three jobs to get ahead. Though there may be some truth to those assertions; they’re just half truths. What we should listen to is the voice that asks what is all this costing us. Take a lesson from scripture.

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” ~John 10:1-10 (NIV)

Lean in and listen to the voice you know. If you don’t yet know the Good Shepherd’s voice, come a little closer and sit a spell. May blessings abound!

P.S. Calling all ladies! Join our Community of Trailblazers by clicking here. We’re starting a seven-day devotional Monday on Listening to God. You don’t want to miss this. ❤

 

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

Part II — It’s a Date!

Can you remember your first date? It may have been a movie date, a football game, or the homecoming dance. No matter how long ago it was, you probably still remember the guy or girl you shared that treasured memory with. You put a lot of effort into preparing for that special occasion. You likely got a hair cut or went to the salon. Perhaps you bought a new pair of jeans or a dress especially for that night. Most of us were a little nervous — wondering whether there’d be a second date or if you’d have anything to talk about. All sorts of things may have competed for your attention that day, but nothing was more important than your first date.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. ~Matthew 6:33

God wants your undivided attention too, and he’ll get it eventually. He’s such a loving, patient Father who remains with you until you discover that you need him and that he’s been there all along. All the attention to detail and fretful thoughts associated with your first date only served to make you anxious. The outcome of the date was uncertain, and there was no promise of eternity. With God, you can trust that there will be a second date and a third, provided you make the time for him. He’s not going anywhere and won’t allow anything to take his eyes off you. A date with God never ends if you give him your heart, and his promises are true.

Clear your calendar of all those meaningless appointments, and schedule a standing appointment with the one who means the most. Building a relationship with God is easy; you merely need to use your free will to make the choice to make him first. It’s that simple. If time with God is not your top priority, your life will seem cluttered and unbalanced. You might even feel a sense of despair. Carving out time for him each day, quells your fears and gives you hope. The peace that comes from quiet time with him is priceless. Only Jehovah Shalom can offer you peace that transcends all understanding.

What are you willing to do differently today to insure that your A1 From Day 1 is right where he belongs?

Before you leave today, take a few minutes to enjoy my Music Monday selection from Jimmy Needham entitled “Clear the Stage.” May blessings abound! ❤

NOTE — In case you missed Part I, you can read it here.

 

Hearing God’s Voice – Part I

The Evolution of Communication

Most of us aren’t able to remember our first words. Our parents, however, can regale us with stories of how beautifully we spoke at the age of two – communicating in complete sentences – enunciating at a level far more advanced than our peers. Truth be told, we learn everything from them – our first teachers. Children listen intently and lock their eyes on their parents. They appear to study them in hopes of one day being just like them.

One of my earliest memories of imitating my mom came as the result of sticking very close to her and watching her every move. I’d sit in the mirror to “style” my hair – legs crossed and using her comb, her brush, and lots and lots of bobby pins. Afterward, I’d spray a little “smell good” onto my right wrist and rub it against the left, always taking a second or two to breathe in the scent that now filled the room.

Another practice I learned from my mother was routine prayer time. Each night before bed, she’d get on her knees, and I’d snuggle right next to her – hands clasped together just like hers, eyes closed, and head bowed. We’d say The Lord’s Prayer together each night, and before long, I had it memorized. For years, that was my prayer, and for years, it was enough.

Fast forward 30 or so years, and that prayer is no longer enough. Somewhere on the continuum between then and now, I learned a few other prayers – like the Hail Mary, the Act of Contrition, and the Prayer of Jabez.

10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my 5 territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. ~1 Chronicles 4:10

Like Jabez, we tend to make requests when we go to God in prayer, but how often do we take the time to thank him for being a man of his word, for waking us up, and for granting us peace? That’s a good formula to start out with as we’re learning to pray, but God doesn’t want you to memorize a script. He wants a relationship with you, and that just comes with time – regularly scheduled and unscheduled times to talk. Before too long you’ll find that you talk to God throughout the day. And as you draw close to him, he’ll draw close to you.

NOTECome back tomorrow for part two of this four-part series on Hearing God’s Voice. Also, I’d like to invite you to our Facebook community for ladies. If you’re looking for an online sisterhood that focuses on encouragement and empowerment, you can find it here

Can You Hear Me Now?

Picture this. You are thirteen years old, and your mind is focused on all things related to eighth grade. In the background, your mom is calling your name. Meanwhile, inside your head, you’re thinking about the Back-to-School dance, tryouts, your friends, your first period teacher, P.E., Algebra, and the weekend. Your mom is still calling you, but her voice seems distant — just a little transactional noise that blends in with the rest of it — the TV, your siblings playing video games, and the sound of your dog’s nails scratching the hard wood floors as he runs from the Maine Coon Cat that’s been bullying him for the past week. Then Mom calls you again, and this time you hear her — not because it finally registered that she’s been calling you and might actually need something, but because she touched you on the shoulder and gave you the are you deaf look.

I’m not thirteen years old, but I bet God sees me as his teenage kid sometimes. Many times over the course of my life, he has asked me to do things, and I have refused.I rarely put him first; I was always first. Eventually, he just told me to do it (whatever “it” was) and made it so uncomfortable for me that I had no choice but to move. For a long time, I was angry with myself because it seemed as if I could never finish anything. I started college, left college, joined the Air Force, left the Air Force, went back to school, finally finished school, got accepted into a Master’s program, never started classes, moved to Florida to teach, and then I left Florida. Who does that? As you can see, there’s a pattern of not finishing things. I like to say that I always take the scenic route from here to there. But is that really what’s going on?

Shortly before moving here nearly 10 years ago, the average number of years I had spent anyplace was four years. Imagine my surprise when years five, six, seven, and eight came and I was still here! One thing I can share now is that I never wanted to come here. I loved living there — in Nashville. I had great friends, a wonderful work family, and a lovable church family. I was singing in a Praise & Worship Band that catered to teens and young adults. I was also poised and ready to start a Ph.D. program in Education. All was well with my soul. And then it happened again — the voice in the distance telling me to move (and yet again, I refused). I pretended not to hear God’s voice. I wanted to be first.

So, then it started happening more consistently — the discomfort. I was becoming bored with my work, but I loved the kids I taught, and I loved my friends at work. The “foolishness” associated with any job can be taxing, and teachers deal with a lot of foolishness, but I still wanted to be there. When I was faced with not being there any longer, I wept. Surely I could figure something out that would allow me to stay there. I tried to make a deal with God, but I think he pretended not to hear me like I had done so many times before. There’s no way I was going to put yet another goal on hold. I wanted to have Dr. in front of my name just for the sake of having Dr. in front of my name, and I was going to get it. Remember that pattern of not finishing things that I shared earlier? Well, it reared its ugly head again. I finished the school year and moved from there to here in five short weeks.

What I’ve learned is that the author and finisher decides when something is finished — not me. He will always be first. When he says a season is finished, it’s finished, and the signs are quite clear. Whether it’s falling leaves or a fall from grace, that season is over. Whether it’s a knock on the door or turning in your keys — that season is over. Whether it’s wailing on your knees or jumping for joy — that season is over.

I’m so thankful that I can better hear God when he speaks to me — now that I’m no longer thirteen. It has taken me three score minus twelve years to finally hear his voice and obey his choice to go wherever he leads me. I will no longer allow my limited vision or someone else’s choice for me to interfere with God’s limitless bounty and glorious plan. I hope you’ll join me in putting him first.

Before you leave today, do two things: Share this post and subscribe to this blog via e-mail.Also, if you’re an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things, join my Facebook community of Trailblazers by clicking here. You’ll be blessed by this group of ladies.

NOTE – The term “transactional noise” is not mine. Pastor Bill Hybels used this term to refer to rumblings, chatter, or grumbling.

Here’s my Music Monday selection for your listening pleasure. It’s entitled “First” by Lauren Daigle. May blessings abound! ❤

Note – This post was originally published on 8/12/16.

 

Psalm 139

Watch Him Work

Good morning, friends! Today I have a message of hope for everyone out there, so I encourage you to share this message with everyone you know. Some days it seems like our world is falling apart right before our eyes, and there’s nothing that we can do about it.

These are tumultuous times. There’s unrest in our streets, in our homes, and in our minds. Trouble is affecting everyone — believers and those who do not yet know God our Father. Know this: he is at work in our lives. Psalm 139 reminds us of so many truths.

  1. God knows us and our thoughts.
  2. His hand is upon us.
  3. God is with us always no matter where we go.
  4. Not even darkness can hide us; darkness is light to God.
  5. God knitted you together in your mother’s womb — fearfully and wonderfully made.
  6. God is the author and finisher of our lives.

Take a minute to reflect on the beauty of this Psalm to know just how concerned he is for all of his children. Trust that he is on the move in your life right now! Sometimes, things have to fall apart so that Abba Father can put them back together. Cast your cares on him, and leave them there. He is all-powerful and is in control of everything.

I originally wrote this post on September 26, 2016 — a time when my family was under attack. I was praying fervently throughout the day and night for strength to endure each battle (and there was intense fighting). The Holy Spirit cautioned me to disrobe and suit up — take off my natural defenses and to put on God’s armor.

 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. ~Ephesians 6:11-18

Before you leave, take a few minutes to listen this rousing Music Monday selection from 7eventh Time Down entitled “God Is On The Move.” Each time I hear it on the radio (as I did this weekend), I’m reminded that God is at work. May blessings abound! ❤