Tuesday, September 6, 2016

When Giving Your All Stings

I am the queen of telling my children and others to give their all in everything they do. Our family's motto is to do everything in excellence... not perfection, but excellence. I preach that we all can and should give 100% no matter what the outcome may be. Auburn University taught me to believe in Work, Hard Work and that's exactly what I want my children to do.

Giving 100% or being "all in" as my family calls it can be daunting especially when it is something we really want. The daunting part isn't the actual work; it's the impending result. If I'm honest there are times I give a little less than 100% in hopes it will hurt less if the outcome is not what I hoped for.

Last week I had to practice what I've been preaching. An opportunity presented itself and I really wanted it to come to fruition. I was met with the option of giving 100% or holding back just a little. I committed to giving 100% and putting it all on the line. I studied, practiced, and answered the questions appropriately. Throughout the process I prayed for God to reveal Himself and show me if I was making the right decision. I promised Him I would trust Him with the result. As I got closer to the impending decision the more focused I became, all the while knowing God could say no or not yet.

The outcome did not end as I hoped and the rejection stung because I had worked so hard. But guess what? I didn't linger in those thoughts because I knew it was nothing more I could have done. I had given all I had... my 100%. Everyone affirmed my work ethic and confidence throughout the process. It wasn't that I didn't give 100%; it was God closing that particular door and I'm grateful for that. I believe He must have something better for me in the future.

There will be times when 100% isn't enough to reach (your) goals. That should not stop you from giving your all because there is so much to learn during the process. When you give your all, you have done everything in your power. Then you can rest in God's power and allow Him to open or close the door. 

Friends, are you giving your all, your 100%? Are you studying your hardest? Are you being the best version of yourself? Even when you are scared, fearful, and uncertain of the outcome, God wants your all. Put it all on the altar and watch Him work in your life. Allow growth to occur by being stretched beyond the limits YOU have placed upon yourself. Give your 100% and watch what God can do to you and through you.

In Christ,

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A New Creation

Overwhelmed by the presence of God is the only way to describe how I felt on Mother's Day.  Watching and listening to testimonies of three women in my Blueprint Church family reminded me of how awesome God truly is in my life and the life of others. Their testimonies were so personal and authentic yet relatable. Each spoke of their struggles with trying to control their own lives leading to the realization they needed a Savior to come rescue them. After testimonies, the women followed in their next step of obedience which was baptism. What a powerful illustration of Christ's work on our behalf! Christ takes all our filthiness and makes us clean; not only clean but spotless. Sin and shame are replaced with redemption and restoration. The underlying theme of hope for all creation always take me before the throne of grace as a means of gratitude.

I, too, was baptized on Mother's Day- six years ago. As I watched the ladies take that step on Sunday, I reminisced on the journey God took me through. Before that point I was so afraid... of what I can't even tell you. As the time approached to join Pastor Bill in the baptism pool at Cascade Hills Church my heart almost pounded out of my chest. Going down in the cold water and springing back up to life -new life- accompanied by the sound of hundreds of people cheering was more than my emotions could take. The internal workings in my heart collided with the external obedience of baptism. I was a new creation in Christ Jesus and was fully surrendered. Baptism did not save me but it did show others what I already believed in my heart. Hearing my brothers and sisters in Christ cheer with me was icing on the cake.

Similar to the three women and myself, God is calling you to take steps of obedience in your life. It may not be baptism but it could be. Remember, God is more focused on your heart than anything else. He is the only one who can truly change you from the inside out. He can and will make you a new creation if you allow Him. Ask God today for your next step of obedience and follow Him forward.

In Christ,

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15 ESV

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Fill Us Up

God, I need you to fill me up. Fill me up with your Spirit. Fill me up with your grace. Fill me up with your confidence. It is easy to think I'm in control of my life. Intellectually I know you are in control but in my day to day interactions I work out of my own power. I'm often exhausted trying to do all things through my own strength. I need you to show me the way. I want your thoughts to be my thoughts. I want your words to be my words. God empty me of myself and give me more of your nature. I need more of you.

If the above paragraph resonates with you then cry out to God. Tell him what you need in this moment. Do you understand that when you cry out to God he actually hears you?  Do you know that He wants a relationship with YOU? Do you realize He is waiting for you to come to Him whether it's the first time or the fiftieth time? Don't interfere with the work He is trying to do in your life. Allow Him to fill you up. 

If you are drowning in your circumstances grab hold of the anchor that is Christ. No matter what you have done or what situation you currently find yourself in, God will bring you out and fill you up. When we receive Christ and walk with Him daily, chains will be broken. Captives will be set free. He will redeem and restore us. Don't go one more day without crying out to God with what you need. He is there and has always been there. He is waiting to fill us up when we surrender to Him.

In Christ, 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 NIV

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade." 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19 NIV

Friday, April 29, 2016

Making the Most of Your Time

One of the most valuable things in life is your time. Time is priceless and you can't get it back no matter how hard you try. Prioritizing our time is essential in today's world because everything is vying for our attention - social media, television, career aspirations just to name a few. These things are not necessarily bad but spending too much time on any one of them can rob us of life's most precious moments.

Seeing how fast my children are growing up has caused me to grasp just how fast time goes by. My oldest will be off to college in 2 years. Wait! What? How did that happen? I now see with more clarity the importance of taking it all in and making sure I'm fully living in the moment. As the saying goes, "the days are long but the years are short". Therefore, making the most of my time is vital.

My son Kolbi

Recently a lovely woman at Target gazed at my family as we prepared to check out. Camden was asking me to buy literally every item in the check out aisle while Brennan was playing with the conveyor belt in the woman's personal space. A.T. and I apologized but she quickly reassured us it was no problem. She went on to explain she has three children off in college so she understands our current situation. I suddenly realized why she had been watching my family. It wasn't because my kids were annoying her.  She was actually reminiscing about her motherhood journey. The look on her face helped me understand the reality that they do grow up, move out, and move on with their lives. I know this is the course of life but it happens more quickly than I realized and I needed that reminder.

I'm learning day by day to appreciate the time I have with my loved ones. I want to be sure I'm not missing the current moments worrying about what's to come. I want to establish, build, and cultivate relationships that have a lasting impact. I want to be able to look back on my life and say I truly lived. I want to make the most of my time.

Friends, continue to make the most of your time. Spend time with family and friends. Build relationships. Don't end up with regrets because you didn't prioritizing time for things that truly matter. Remember, time is priceless and you can't get it back so strive to make every moment count.

In Christ,

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." Ephesians 5:15-17

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mic Check... Colombia Edition!

My husband, son, and I were blessed with the opportunity to travel to Bogota, Colombia for a mission trip a couple weeks ago. I didn't know what to expect but was excited for God to reveal himself on the trip. I still don't have adequate words to describe the people, sights, and events that took place. The relationships formed with the locals and our own team was extraordinary. Our team organized a sports camp, helped with a homeless ministry, visited numerous churches, performed concerts, shared our testimonies at a drug rehab facility, and were regular awestruck tourists during our time there.

Beautiful Bogota, Colombia

One of my favorite moments was when our teammate Aaron, better known by his Christian rap stage name Canon, and one of the young men at the drug rehab facility battle rapped. The gentleman confidently went bar for bar with Canon. The mood was electrifying yet God-honoring. I could tell the young man felt his gifting come alive. Hearing them rap in English and Spanish, respectively, is a memory I will treasure forever.

Witnessing that young man, who has been down in the throws of life and currently seeking redemption, rap about God made my heart feel like it was going to burst out of my chest from happiness and joy. God's sovereignty in allowing Canon to be on our trip and be an inspiration to him was and still is amazing to me. It was not planned for the two of them to rap together. I believe the spontaneity of the moment is probably what made it even more special. I absolutely love how God shows himself in so many different ways and different circumstances.

Outside Drug Rehab Facility

Building relationships with people and helping them find ways to honor God with their lives is my passion. I love seeing people come to the realization that the unique way God made them is enough for God. This moment exemplified perfectly how God can use our unique gifts to bring glory to Him even when it's outside of the norm. It aches my heart when people look down on things outside the norm of western Christianity. Some may even go so far as to demean someone's gift. There are diverse audiences who need something different - something outside the norm. As long as the gospel is central and God is the object of our affection I believe it will be God-glorifying.

Friends, your gift may not look like other people's gift. Your gift may not attract everyone but for the audience God has for you I say go for it with the best of your ability. God wants to use you for His kingdom and for His glory. Sometimes it may take going outside the norm to reach people in your path. Don't be afraid to take risks and use your God-given gifts.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Loving Others Well

Watching the elementary age students in my sons’ school cafeteria on Friday was inspiring. The children were so excited not because of lunch but because of the two gentlemen sitting at the end of the table before they reached the serving line. I witnessed each child, no matter their race or gender, wait in anticipation of reaching the gentlemen. The children and gentlemen exchanged either a high five, fist bump, or their favorite handshake. It was so sweet seeing the children wait in line to be acknowledged with a loving embrace. They had smiles on their faces and appeared to honestly be in the moment.

One would think the gentlemen were special guests or possibly the principal/leadership of the school. Actually, they were the custodians/janitors at the school. I’ve visited the cafeteria on numerous occasions during both of my sons’ lunch periods and noticed the same loving gestures. I can describe those moments in two words: pure joy.

You see many people may look down on these gentlemen because they think the jobs are not important enough or high enough on the success ladder. Children, however, are great at figuring out the authenticity of a person. The children adore these men and quite honestly the men adore them as well. They didn't care about the position the men held. They realize the men care about them and that's all that matters.

Growing up my mom's profession was a janitor/custodian as well. She cleaned her elementary school with excellence. She took pride in making sure the school was in the best shape it could be. The children loved her and still remember her even 20-30 something years later. Mrs. Linda, as they called her, holds a special place in many of the children's hearts until this day. People still tell me stories they remember about my mom and what she did for them while they attended her school. I believe she made an impact on those children and the gentlemen at my sons' school will continue to make an impact on their children as well.

Maybe all of us can learn from these children and not assign dignity or worth to a human being based on WHAT they do. Instead we should love others because of WHO they are. We need to treat everyone with respect because they are worthy of respect. God assigned dignity and worth to all His creation. How dare we as the created try to change what the Creator set in motion. Let's not think too highly of ourselves believing we are better than others. Truly, it doesn't matter your job position as long as you are positioned in right standing with Christ and reflecting His glory in all you do. 

Look to the gentlemen and my mother as an example of loving others well. Strive to make an impact in someone's life no matter our position or theirs. People are looking for authenticity and compassion. Give it to them freely because you know they are worthy of the investment. 

In Christ,

"Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23 HCSB

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." Romans 12:3 NIV

Friday, March 25, 2016

He's Intentional, Are We?

One of my favorite songs right now is Intentional by Travis Greene. By definition, intentional means "done on purpose; deliberate". The song repeats "all things are working for my good, cause He's intentional, never failing". God is never failing and has worked all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. God yearns for all His creation to become His children. He wants us to believe in His son Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again to be with Him. This is the biggest gift God offers us, but it doesn't stop there. He is intentional in our daily lives and working on our behalf for His glory. We don't have to worry or fear our circumstances because God is with us through the Holy Spirit living in us. God's intentionality should give us peace to keep going.

On this Good Friday I ask you to reflect on how God's intentionality has changed your life. Reflect on personal, real life examples of God's working on your behalf. Realize that because of Him sending His son you have hope of a future with Him. Thank Him you do not have to be alone on this journey because you have the Holy Spirit inside you.

Let's take it another step. Are we following God's lead with being intentional to other people in our lives? Do we show others the love and hope we find in Christ? Intentionality can be hard and usually takes us out of our comfort zones. In order to be intentional we need to build relationships not just connections. To me, connections can be surface level only. True relationships require a level of intentionality and have the ability to make you vulnerable.

Think about the people God has put in your life. How can you be intentional about sharing the hope that you have? What relationships can you grow for the glory of God? Find where God is already working and join in. God wants us to be intentional with His message. Will you?

In Christ,

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 NIV

"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15 NIV