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Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Moves

Happy New Year, fam! 

2016 is gone (and I have heard TONS of people say, AMEN!) and 2017 has begun. 

Resolutions are being made.

Goals are being set. 

Regrets are being cast aside and a hope of something new is revived.

For the past three years on this day I have started a daily Bible reading plan through YouVersion to read the Bible through in a year. It's an easy plan and I like it!! Obviously, I have used the same plan for the past three years. Sometimes I sit with my phone/computer/ipad open to the reading plan and follow along with my physical Bible because I have a goal to give each of my children at least one of my Bibles with my highlights and notes in them as they grow. I have a few from my younger days that I need to have rebound for them. I digress...

This past fall I found myself in a rut. I read my Bible every day but it had lost something. I added a couple of leadership devotionals to my routine and enjoyed them very much but it just wasn't grabbing me like I wanted.

I remember being a teenager and having an insatiable hunger for the word of God. I would sit for hours at a time with my notebook and just devour the scriptures and write notes and sermons. I want that back! 

I took Noah to the bookstore one evening to get a new book for a project he had to do for school and while there I found this amazing Bible! It was just what I needed. It's called The Beautiful Word Coloring Bible. While I would love for this Bible to have some commentary or a concordance, I love the coloring and journaling spaces that are provided to help you focus on the word and to make notes.

I was on my way to changing a few things in order to renew my hunger and I was pretty excited about it! Then a couple weeks ago, a friend added me to a group on Facebook that is for women who are going to step-it-up and read the Bible together using the Chronological plan. Okay...I am probably slightly OCD and while most of the time change doesn't frustrate me or rattle me, the thought of NOT doing the same reading plan I have enjoyed for the past three years is...well...rattling :) But in an effort to make adjustments, begin our church's 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, and enter 2017 with a new attitude and hunger, I'm diving in! 



So here's to a new year, new moves and a renewed passion and hunger for the Word of God!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Shepherds Hear From Angels

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 
“Glory to God in highest heaven,

    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

The story of how Jesus entered our world is amazing, miraculous, simple and so profound. There is much for us to learn from each person involved in the circumstances surrounding His birth however, in all honesty, this is one of my most favorite parts of the story of the birth of Jesus.

The first people God chose to tell about the birth of His son, our Savior, were those that society didn't even give a second glance to, the shepherds. The angels came and made a HUGE scene in the skies above them and declared the greatest message to ever come to man! The first to spread the news of His birth and the experience of learning about it and seeing Him were simple people who normally were cast aside and forgotten.

We can not lose the significance of this special point in the birth story...Jesus came for ALL people. Although the Son of God, the King of Kings, He did not come in royal fashion or make His presence immediately known to those in high positions. No, it was to the outcasts and forgotten that His presence in our world was proclaimed to. 

Can you imagine the experience!?! Can you imagine sitting in a big open field surrounded by sleeping sheep, and probably other sleeping shepherds, on a VERY clear night...maybe even looking up at the stars when all of a sudden you hear a choir of voices and begin to see angels filling the sky? I would imagine that was quite a start! Breaking through the silence of the night comes the greatest news that ever was! And it begins with, "Do not be afraid..."

Do not be afraid by what you see...

Do not be afraid by what you hear...

Do not be afraid of this world...

Do not be afraid...

Maybe today you are struggling with feeling like no one cares. Maybe you are lonely. Maybe you're discouraged by your current circumstances. Maybe you have been made to feel like you have nothing to offer and life will never be better than where you are right now. I have good news for you! Good news of great joy that is for ALL PEOPLE, and that includes YOU! While you will most likely not go on a journey to find a baby in a manger today, you will find a Savior who knows what it's like to be tempted, hurt, angry and disappointed, full of grief, scared, broken...but this isn't where His story ends. In fact it continues on today! He also knows VICTORY! He has overcome death and the grave and He welcomes you with open arms into His grace, mercy and forgiveness.
 



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When. . .

When did THE CHURCH become more passionate about surface issues than heart issues? When did THE CHURCH decide to care more about what a person is wearing than the content of their character? When did THE CHURCH decide to see social issues and not heart issues? When did THE CHURCH decide that sinners should act like saints? When did THE CHURCH stop caring that people without Jesus are dying and going to hell?

Every day all over the world there are people searching for anything to fill the need in their lives that only leads them further into brokenness, greater searching, deeper pain and terrible loss but THE CHURCH would rather sit inside the walls of their beautiful buildings and sing their songs and ignore the commands of Jesus to GO and to LOVE. 

Orlando is not an eradication of sin or lifestyle. It was a tragic and terrifying loss of life from the deepest and darkest part of hell. Murders were committed in the name of religion and hatred that cannot come from the true and living God. 

The creator of the universe is just as grieved, if not more, than any of us. 

CHURCH, open your eyes and hearts to see through His and beat like His. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

New Things

April of 2016 will most likely go down in my personal history book as one of the most pivotal times in my life. Between personal conversations with the Lord and those with friends where only God could have directed them to share the things they shared with me, to steps of faith and new opportunities, there is no doubt that God is doing something new.

You see, about a year ago, my spiritual hero, Christine Caine, launched a new ministry to women called Propel Women. I connected immediately and have enjoyed the resources and encouragement that have come from this movement. When they introduced Propel Chapters and were looking for leaders, I decided to check into it but at the time, our church wasn't in the size they were looking for in the process of launching this new movement. No problem, I get it! Flash forward about 9 months and a friend of mine shared with me that she was starting a Propel Group at her church and strongly encouraged me to apply to do the same. So I did...or thought I did. This past March, I went to the Propel website and clicked at the top where it says "Chapters" and applied to be a leader. At first my plan was to just do this little thing in my home or in a coffee shop with some friends. But when I received my approval email, emotions got the better of me and I shared with my pastor that I was starting a Propel Chapter and through a brief discussion, we decided to do this at the church. Propel is all about celebrating the passion, purpose and potential of every woman and to help propel her forward into the leadership she is called to fulfill whether it be in the home, in the boardroom or in ministry.
The next week, my pastor and I had another brief conversation about creating an internship program through the church and that he wanted it to primarily focus on giving women who are called into ministry a place to learn and grown in the practical avenues of ministry, and he wanted me to be the face of the program. While it scared me to death it very much excited my heart and I began to feel a fresh wind in my sails.
Just a couple of days after this conversation, God radically changed my thought process on a prayer I had been praying for 15 years, reminded me of a prayer I prayed when I was 18 years old and then placed me in a room full of women at a retreat where I heard yet another message about the need for women to step up and be better at mentoring one another. It seems I am not escaping a message God had for me!
So I was preparing for the launch of our Propel Chapter and just sort of asked God how all of this would fit with my position as youth pastor...I can't explain why that question and prayer came to me but it did.
The week before our first Propel meeting, I met with the friend who had really encouraged me to do this. Not that it took much encouragement because I already was interested but this was all about timing. As she and I sat in a local coffee shop for more than 3 hours just chatting and sharing things God was doing, she leaned over, tapped my Propel leader guide and said, "When this takes off for you...because it will...do you see yourself transitioning out of youth ministry?" I just laughed! I told her I was already asking God how this would all work and that I was going to be open to whatever God had in store.
THE VERY NEXT DAY at the end of our weekly staff meeting at church, my pastor dismissed the rest of the staff and ask me to stay. What he said next almost knocked me out of my chair. "How do you see Propel and youth mixing? Do you see yourself transitioning from youth to be able to mentor women?"

OKAY, GOD! YOU'VE COMPLETELY GOT MY ATTENTION!!!

Again, I just laughed! I shared with him what had been discussed the day before and immediately plans began to roll. The next day we not only had approval from our board to move forward but my brother and sister-in-law agreed to accept the youth pastor position in my place, freeing me up to move forward in this venture.

There is so much more that I could share about this month and how God has been showing me consistently that I am on a new path...On Sunday, May 1, it was announced at GCFirst that over this month, I will be transitioning from youth pastor to discipleship pastor with the focus being on helping women step into the calling in the fullness God intends. And my heart is overwhelmed with a holy anticipation of what is to come and my nerves are on high-alert and my prayers are audacious. The restlessness I have been feeling for 3 years has begun to shift to excitement and I feel like I have new life and breath in my lungs!

I will miss being directly connected to the students I have served for the past few years but I am so excited to begin a new direction of pouring into the future of ministry and I believe that what is starting now will be a catalyst for greater things to come.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Propel

Last year one of my...heroes (?), Christine Caine launched a new ministry endeavor that captured my attention almost as much as A21 did. Propel Women exists to help build, encourage and empower women to live fully in who God created them to be.

Women and leadership are not words that many like to use in the same sentence but there is a generation of women who are no longer accepting that as ok and are ready to step into their God-given giftings and callings to change the world.

There are many Bible studies and books on being a wife or a mother, a sister or friend, but very few on being the leader. Until Propel!

I am so excited to be partnering with this movement! This month I am starting a Propel Chapter through our church. I am looking forward to building relationships and leaders. I am over-the-moon passionate about helping the daughters of the Living God walk in the purpose, passion and potential they have been created for!

If you're in the area of GCFirst and you would like to join this Chapter or learn more about Propel, you can check out the Propel site, the event registration page or message me!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Nutrish From Influenster

I love that there are companies who want to hear what people think of their products and have come up with creative ways to make that happen. 

Influenster is a unique program I signed up for months ago without knowing much about it. I receive emails, fill out questionnaires and if I qualify, I get a box of FREE products to try or test and review across multiple social media outlets to help remote the items. 

Last week I got the email, answered the questions which were abut dog food and today I got a box with a small bag of Rachael Ray's Nutrish Premium Dog Good! 

Now our pups are already accustomed to this line of dry food but this bag is a new recipe. 
Turkey, brown rice and venison are on the menu for this bag. When we carried the box in, the dogs must have smelled something yummy because they were going bonkers! 

Introducing new food has to be done gradually so to start, I added their current food to their bowl. 
Then I added the new food.
And of course I mixed them together.

Daisy, our female Basset Hound, was all about it! 

Finn just didn't seem too hungry but he hung close to the bowl. 

We'll see how they like it over the next few feedings and let you know! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Peace

Peace: 

Full Definition of PEACE

1
:  a state of tranquillity or quiet: as

a :  freedom from civil disturbance

b :  a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom peace
>
2
:  freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
3
:  harmony in personal relations
4
a :  a state or period of mutual concord between governments

b :  a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity
5
—used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell
— at peace
:  in a state of concord or tranquillity
This word was heavy on my heart today. I just needed peace to wash over my heart and mind. But as I read what Merriam-Webster says the definition of peace is, I have to pause because there are portions of the definition that are bold. The sections 1a, 2, and 4b leave you to believe that the need for peace is because of war, not just a loud room or loud thoughts, war. This should come as no surprise that Jesus is the Prince of Peace because we know that " 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." (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). In other words, we ARE at war and the need for real peace is significant in our lives.

So often we don't look at the struggle with our family, our friends, to find some rest in our busy schedules or time to actually be in the Word of God or in prayer as a "war" but it is! It all is! The enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to make our lives look like chaos, organized chaos or just busyness in order to distract us from the Kingdom work God has created each and every one of us for. We're at war. The amazing thing is, the victory is already ours because of what Jesus did at the Cross. He defeated hell, the grave, sin- the enemy!- when He willingly hung on the cross, died and rose again.
Yeah, we might need to cut back in an area or two of our lives (never should the areas we cut back on be the areas that keep us connected to Him!). Sure we may need to reprioritize our lives and schedules, but the beauty of it all is that we are already overcomers and the war is already won.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/php.4.6-9.nlt