As promised (albeit late), I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate my birthday this month! Aren’t you excited? I am and I’ve worked out several different ways to enter.
I figured the easiest way to share some of my favorite things is via gifts cards so I’ve narrowed it down to four places, four different amounts, four chances to win!
- 1st prize is a $20 Target gift card. I personally would buy some cute shoes, but how you choose to spend it is obviously up to you.
- 2nd prize is a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card. I love bookstores (lets hope since I’m an author). And while I prefer smaller, local bookstores, this makes more sense. I may also choose to spend this on something like a new journal.
- 3rd prize is a $10 Starbucks gift card. I’ve said before I run on a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus. Again, same deal on preferring a small local coffee shop, but for practicality sake, Starbucks it is.
- 4th prize is a $5 Chick-fil-a gift card. Because Chick-fil-a is one of my favorite places to eat. My sister likes to insinuate that I have it factored into my weekly budget, which may or may not be true. Either way, it’s delicious and I’m sharing a chicken sandwich (or nuggets) with you.
So be sure to enter and share this to give your friends a chance to enter as well. The entry will be open until the end of the month (it is a full month giveaway after all) but be sure not to wait too long and miss your chance to win! Just select the link below and get your entries!!!
After months of cold and ice (and more cold, and more ice) we are finally experiencing a full-fledged Spring day. The sun is shining in the bright, clear day, though the breeze still carries a bite of chill warding off any early ideas of summer. The birds are happily settling into their newly built nests and the blooms are starting to open to the sun’s gentle warmth. In my estimation, it is a perfect day.
But this perfect day is harshly contrasted with day five of my husband dealing with…well, in all honesty, we don’t exactly know what he’s dealing with, but it’s miserable. It’s that unknown which causes anxiety and worry. Then the added gift of Google is the gift of hypochondria and increased concern.
It’s easy to become consumed in worry. Whether it is due to the sickness with no diagnosis, or the stress that comes from your job, or the never-ending bills that just. keep. coming.
Worry blinds us to the beauty of the promises that should be dictating our lives.
Instead of trusting we worry.
Instead of believing the best, we presume the worst.
Instead of resting, we fret and question.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)
The peace of God is an amazing gift that I feel we often neglect. We think we’re surrendering our problems, when in fact we continue to mull over possible solutions or even worse outcomes. And in doing so, we become our own worst enemy, not allowing the Spirit to offer the peace that is rightfully ours to claim in Christ Jesus.
That’s the beauty of a relationship with God, through Jesus. We have been given a new life, a new purpose apart from the anxiety of everyday life.
The idea of “being born again” is strange to be sure. But it’s used over and over again to describe the process of allowing Jesus to change us from the inside out. We are to lay aside our old selves and take on the new. We are a new creation through Jesus. We have been given a new life.
In the most simple terms, it is a change of heart and a change of mindset. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we don’t continue to wallow in the poor choices we made prior to that decision. We don’t continue to use the same language or exercise the same responses. Sometimes it requires a complete overhaul from the company we keep to the lifestyles we chose to live. But we are assured that not only have we been given a brand new life, but we’ve been given a brand new future–we have something to live for besides ourselves and our own selfish ambitions!
1 Peter says,
Because Jesus has been raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven– and the future starts now! (1 Peter 1:3-4, MSG)
The ESV describes that “new life” as: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.”
Spring is that visual demonstration of something that has died and been made new. Each year, as the seasons change, God demonstrates this process to us in all of its beauty and wonder. Seeds that are planted have to literally die and crack open in order to allow new growth–new life–to come out.
Are you fighting that process today? Are you standing there, withering and essentially dead, but unwilling to fully let go (die to self) and allow God to nurture that new growth? Are you allowing the stress and anxiety of the day-to-day to defile that future that is waiting for you?
As my family and I continue to search for an answer to what is plaguing my husband, the idea of a life that is imperishable and undefiled sounds extremely appealing.
Our hope, our future, is found in an eternity in heaven with God. Our purpose is built in the promises of that future. Our very identity cannot be separated from the truth of our purpose because our identity cannot be separated from our Creator.
Who we are is buried in Whose we are.
Are you allowing your identity in God to change you from the inside out?
I pray that this spring will be a time of renewal for you and this season of your life.
I have the privilege of speaking to a MOPS group in a couple weeks. In all honesty, I never thought they would be my audience. You know…those moms. Ironically, I am one of those moms. You know, the kind who stays home and makes the conscious choice to be around their kids all day.
You see, when I was little I said I wanted to be a mom when I grew up. No joke. I wanted to be a mom and stay at home because I have a pretty awesome mom and that’s what she did. And hey, my sister and I turned out pretty good, so that had to be the right decision for me too.
Of course when I made that decision, I had NO IDEA what I was agreeing to. Honestly, most of the time, I still don’t know what I signed up for.
Initially, my life didn’t really change. Samara, my oldest, was pretty compliant to whatever schedule (or lack thereof) we threw her way. As long as she could sleep, she was content. Added bonus was that she never really experienced separation anxiety so I could pass her off to any momma at church who was looking for a baby fix.
But twenty-two months after I had Samara, I had Aliyah and everything changed.
It was hard and I was pretty sure I was guaranteeing my kids would be in serious need of counseling later in life.
You see, I thought to be a mom, I had to be able to cook wholesome, everyone-loves-their-veggies kind of meals every night. To be a good mom, I had to be able to keep the house clean. I mean, I was home all day after all. I thought to be a good mom, I had to be able to brainstorm awesome activities and crafts that would interest even a one-year-old. And that was not me.
That is still not me.
But through some really dark and miserable moments, I began to learn that being a mom is so much more.
Being a mom means that I will be there unconditionally for my girls.
Being a mom means that I will encourage them to dream big, no matter how fantastical their dream may seem.
Being a mom means that I get bruised knees from the amount of time I lay myself before God on behalf of my girls.
Being a mom means going to bat for them against the monsters they fight–whether they are imaginary or real.
Being a mom takes guts, but delivers no glory.
Being a mom is what I have been called to do. It’s a piece of who God created me to be. I have been called to be a speaker and a writer, but I have also been called to be a mom; and that is one of the most noble and humbling callings I can imagine. It is the most challenging job I have ever had, but when I hear my sweet girls tell me, “I love you mom,” and pummel me in a hug, the reward surpasses any frustration I’ve dealt with.
I’m going to mess up, loose my cool, and sometimes overreact. But more than anything, I am going to continue to grow and learn what it looks like to do this mom-thing. I’m going to love my girls #likeamom, I’m going to encourage my girls #likeamom, I’m going to play with my girls #likeamom, and I’m going to continue to pray over my girls #likeamom.
I am brave #likeamom.
I am strong #likeamom.
and I depend on God #likeamom.
While I never imagined that moms would be my target audience, I am honored to share my heart with them (#likeamom) and hope for more opportunities to share with other amazing moms in the future.
*If you happen to be a part of MOPS of Hillside in Keller, TX…I can’t wait to share this with you in greater detail on March 18th*
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Re:Write 2015, a writing conference unlike any other. Where some conferences focus solely on the nuts and bolts of writing well, finding agents, understanding the publishing world, etc., Re:Write touched on all of that (with sessions led by industry leaders like George Barna, Sandi Krakowski, Ted Dekker, Mark Batterson, Esther Fedorkevich, and so many others), but focused instead on the heart of the writer.
If you are called to write, the WRITE, anything less is disobedience. ~Mark Batterson (@MarkBatterson)
The heart of the writer can be a scary place. If you are not a writer, let me take you on a little journey.
As you walk up to the edge of the forest, you are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the trees that stand guard. They are strong and mighty, sometimes seemingly impenetrable. You see the scars that have been left, some cut deep through the bark, leaving that place vulnerable for a while until it can heal. The guard can seem intimidating and uninviting, but they serve to protect, not to harm.
As you step past those trees, you step into an open valley that was hidden from the outside. It is bright and welcoming, trusting to all who venture in. The flowers dance to the melody of the breeze, innocently opening to the sunshine above. But there are patches of burnt grasses that contrast to the gentility of the rest of the meadow. Where those burnt patches exist, a tree spouts to serve as a protector. That area will not be hurt again.
Venturing deeper, beyond the guardian trees, and the free-spirit meadow, you come to a ravine. The rocks are jagged and unsteady. A single misstep will guarantee a nasty fall. But despite the danger, you press on, finding a bridge that stretches the length of the ravine, guiding you to safety on the other side.
And once you reach the other side, you step into a place that can only be described as an Eden. The trees here are not so intimidating as they are comforting. The flora throughout isn’t blindly innocent, but rather confident in its beauty and identity. There, at the core, is where the magic of writing exists.
You see, the trees serve as protector against past and future naysayers. They guard the heart and can be perceived as abrasive and off-putting. The innocence of the meadow is the natural joy and childlike faith that is to be a part of every creative. We all have it. But when we get burnt, we try to protect ourselves as to not be hurt again. Then there is the ravine. That is the place of all of our fears and doubts. If we have been burnt enough times, that ravine can overtake the innocence of the meadow. But through trust and faith in Jesus, a bridge is built that connects the meadow to the Eden–the point of creativity and magic.
All writers have their world, and each world looks a little different. But what unites us is the irresistible urge to write and write and write. As Ted Dekker said, “Your writing is mostly your own spiritual practice. It is your healing.” It is how we worship God most purely.
I can make endless excuses not to write:
- The kids are distracting
- The house needs to be cleaned
- Dinner needs to be made
- It takes too long to get focused and I only have ten minutes
- I haven’t showered yet and today I have to choose between the two (yes, this was actually a dilemma I have faced and contemplated)
- and on and on and on…
But it comes back to that ever-so-important question that must be answered before anything else:
Has God called you to write?
If the answer is yes, THEN WRITE!
I want to encourage any and all of you who are not writers, but are still dreamers. What has God called you to do? What is etched into your DNA like nothing else and you find yourself in a place of actual worship when you do it? Do that. Don’t worry about the details or the reasons not to do it. Step into the identity of who God has made you and own it!
I would love to hear what that is from you. If you don’t want to simply leave a comment below, feel free to email your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m going to give away a book to someone who answers, so be sure to respond! 🙂
Doubt. Fear. Questioning.
As I sat there holding my new nephew, I was hit with an onslaught of negative emotions causing the tears to fall down my cheeks. In my arms, my nephew sighed contently, blissfully unaware of the turmoil that was suddenly raging through my heart and my mind.
Was I actually good enough to make this my career? I’m not good enough. I’m going to make a fool of myself, embarrass all of those who have stuck their neck out as a reference for me and my work. What was I thinking taking this on?
With each tear that fell, I felt the fear rising up again and again like waves crashing against the security walls surrounding my confidence.
Where this came from is clear enough. Satan hates dreams. His are selfish and solely focused on dominations and destruction, through any means necessary. Dreams that God gives us are in direct conflict with Satan’s schemes. The dreams that come from God are those that don’t serve to uplift that individual, but make tremendous impact on the Kingdom of God. They are selfless and never self-promoting. They focus on God and His wonder and glory. They are a form of worship.
My fears were regarding my dream of being a professional writer and speaker. I found myself scared of being made to look a fool despite my assurance that this desire was given to me by God.
So I did what I do in times like these; I wrote. I wrote my prayer—the cry of my heart. I wrote this post—a processing mechanism to empty my brain from the roller coaster of emotions and thoughts.
This—writing—is my God-given method of processing and worshiping. This is my dream, coming alive with each letter that is typed, each post that is published, each heart that is affected by the sharing of my story.
If the fear of the Lord is my strength, I need not fear anything else.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1 ESV)
I can have this assurance because I know without a shadow of doubt that I am a child of God. I was chosen and created for a specific purpose. The process of refinement can be tedious, but the end result is the culmination of my dream: that God be glorified through my life.
We all have this assurance. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. That love which surpassed even supernatural limitations when God sent His son to live a perfect life and then serve as the intercessory for all of mankind. The penalty has been paid in full and by the blood of Christ Jesus, we have been saved and can now be called children of God.
All that we are, all that we long to be, is by the grace of God alone. Through His love. Through His mercy. Through His sacrifice.
My fear is built on lies from the pit of hell. My self-doubt is Satan’s attempts to sideline me from all that God has called me to do—for the glory of His Kingdom.
- What fears do you find yourself dealing with, and sometimes succumbing to?
- Knowing that your identity is built in Jesus, what confidence can you take to stand strong on the dreams that God has given you?
*sigh* Oh Valentine’s Day…so much pressure and the inflation of prices…
Don’t misunderstand me, I actually like Valentine’s Day per say. I am all for a fantastic dinner out. I love receiving flowers because they make my house feel happy–though despite being the daughter of a farmer, I have a black thumb and regularly kill plants. I love mushy cards and sentimental thoughts.
What I don’t like is a misrepresentation on love.
There are a ton of articles floating around discussing the impending doom that is the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, set to release tomorrow on Valentine’s Day. There is even a petition to boycott the movie (which you can sign here if you fancy.) There are opinions from every range of group that address numerous concerns surrounding the basis of this movie: abusive and domineering relationship being toted as love.
This article did a great job bringing to light the root of the matter (and calling out where that faintly familiar plot line came from. I’ll give you a hint: it was fan fiction for a teen vampire “love” story.)
I did not read Fifty Shades of Grey.
I don’t have any desire to read them and even less desire to see the movie based on them.
Honestly, even when I watched the trailer (because I was ignorant to the appeal and plot line), it made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
I have, however, experienced what it’s like to deal with the emotional toil of an abusive relationship. I know what it’s like to feel like you love someone, convince yourself that they love you, and make excuses for them. It’s a messed-up mind game where no one comes out as a winner.
It’s debilitating and a lie.
Love does not force itself on others. It’s not controlling. In fact, it’s the exact opposite:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18 NIV)
Love is sacrificial. It is putting someone else before yourself. It is serving and considerate.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)
Love is powerful, but true love can never be held over someone’s head. You can’t lose love, because “love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). Where all other things will pass away, love will not. Correction: true love will not.
Valentine’s day may be a ruse by Hallmark and other card companies to make a pretty penny, but the focus is love. Whether single or not, you can experience true love. Whether through a spouse, your children, your parents, or a best friend–true love is not about a physical relationship. True love is so much more.
So I encourage you to look beyond what some would like to promote as romance and love. I encourage you to refocus on what love was created to be. It is a precious gift that God has given to us, shown through the life-death-and resurrection of His Son. It is given to us to share with the world, not just through sex (though that is a wonderful part of marriage and has it’s own place in the sphere of love), but through relationships with others, through serving others, through encouraging others.
Wishing you all a true love-filled Valentine’s Day.