From Point A To Point B And Everything In Between

You know where you are headed. The destination is no secret. You are focused and ready to get where you are going. You don’t have any time to waste. Nothing better get in your way. You have places to be and important things to take care of. The clock is ticking, and time waits for no one. You are in high gear and don’t want anything to stop you.

This all sounds good and well until you realize there is something you are missing in all of this. When you are so focused on the destination, then you are missing the most important part, and that part is the journey. You are missing everything between here and there. This is where life happens. The little moments that get lost when you are only focused on the end result. This is the part where memories are made. Where lessons are learned. Where beauty is discovered. Where time seems to stand still.

You were created to enjoy life. To enjoy the journey. You are a real person, not a robot. It’s not just about going from Point A to Point B, but living life all along the way in between. Learning to stop and smell the roses. Taking time to have that conversation. Savoring the moment. Making the most of every opportunity along the way. It’s the little things that end up being the big things in life.

Life is a precious gift. It’s so easy to forget what’s most important along the way. We exchange things of value for those things that have very little value. We find it difficult to enjoy what’s here and now for failing to only see what’s up ahead in the future. There are no do-overs in life. We only get one opportunity to make the most of the life we’ve been blessed with. Don’t waste any of it. It’s far too valuable.

The next time you are tempted to rush along not paying attention, stop and look around you. Notice what’s going on. Don’t miss the wonder of the moment. These are God’s little miracles that so often go unnoticed. Hide the beauty in your heart. Take it all in. Breathe in the splendor of God’s glory in the small things. The destination is ahead, but first you have many stops along the way. Make the most of this beautiful gift…your life.

A Day In The Life of Humpty Dumpty…

Ever have a day when it feels as if your whole world is crashing down around you? When it feels as if everything is falling apart? When your expectations didn’t become a reality? When you feel like giving up?

Each of us deal with these negative, not so fun parts of life. These places are painful. We are often unable to put into words exactly what we are experiencing. Sometimes all that we are dealing with emotionally feels as if it is taking over every part of our body. We become tired, fatigued, and exhausted. We need rest, but it just won’t come. We need a break, a respite, a time of refreshing.

I can honestly say that I have had my fair share of time spent here. When I come to this place, I feel as if I’m at a loss. It’s as if I want to do something to fix all that isn’t right, but nothing I do will help it get any better. I want to run away, but then my problems would just follow me wherever I went.

It’s at times like these the only thing I know to do is to run straight into the arms of Abba Father. There’s something so beautiful that happens when we spend time in His presence pouring out our heart to Him. Sharing with Him all of our concerns and cares. Sharing with Him all of the things that pain us. Sometimes the only words we have are spoken in the form of tears. Being able to be honest and not having to hide anything we are going through brings us to a place of peace. The freedom of not having to hide anything we are going through is priceless. In His presence is exactly where this happens.

Sometimes we need to just be quiet. Sometimes we need the gift of a song. Sometimes we need to open up The Word and let it speak to us. Sometimes we need all of these when we come into the secret place with The Father. Being open to how God wants to direct this time is crucial. Be sensitive to the leading of The Holy Spirit. He knows exactly what we need to help us in this dark time. So often we don’t even know what we need, but God does. How wonderful it is to know that we are loved that much.

Just to allow God into these messy places in our life gives us great hope. Hope for a brighter future. Hope that knows God is working even when we can’t see Him working. Hope that trusts Him with all of the broken pieces. Hope that gives Him the space to work in our life when we don’t have the strength to go on. When we don’t push Him away, these are just a few of the ways that we can experience this wonderful hope. Even in the difficulty we need to invite Him into that which doesn’t look too pretty. These are the places where He does His greatest work.

Expectation. Anticipation. Even when our world looks anything but what it should, we can still look ahead with God’s promise. Looking beyond where we are now to where we know God is taking us causes our faith to rise up. Trusting Him when it doesn’t make sense. Deciding that allowing Him to take control is one of the best decisions we will ever make. Putting it all in His hands and leaving it there knowing He is taking care of every detail. This is the place He wants us to rise to.

So if you are in a dark and discouraging time, don’t give up. Grab hold of The Father’s hand. Allow Him to pick you up and carry you when you don’t think you can go another step. You weren’t created to travel this journey alone. Allow Him to pour His healing ointment on all of your pain. Every hidden hurt. Every disappointment. He wants it all. For soon your pain will become a fragrant aroma of a healed and whole child of God. That’s what you have to look forward to. Walk in it, child.

The God Who Sees Me

There are seasons in our life we don’t ever want to repeat. Times when things just aren’t going our way. Difficult places. Challenging places. Most often revolving around some type of pain or discomfort. We try as hard as we can to forget about them.

These are the times we begin to question God. Wondering where He is in all of this. Feeling forgotten. Alone. As if no one cares. We ask God why, but all we hear is silence. We’re in the desert. We’re in a wilderness. Where is God in all of this mess? Has He just left us here to die? Will it always be this way? If He loves us, then why do we even have to go through this? Our heart is crushed. The tears flow. Every bit of energy spent. Finding no place to run from our troubles, we just want this all to be over.

El Roi – The God who sees me. This is what we need to hang onto at these low and devastating times in our lives. To take to heart the knowing that God sees us exactly where we are, even if no one else in the whole world does. The comfort of resting in the peace of this place. Our world may be spinning out of control, but we know that not one detail takes God by surprise. He sees us in our hidden season. When no one else is paying attention or even notices the pain that we are carrying, He sees it all.

El Roi – The God who sees me when I’m crying. Who sees me when I’m devastated. Who sees me when I’m discouraged. Who sees me when I’m lonely. Who sees me when I’m afraid. Who sees me when I’m grieving. Who sees me when I’m empty. Who sees me when I have nothing left to give. Who sees me when I’m broken. Who sees me when I’m shattered. Who sees me when my heart is breaking. Who sees me when I’m weak. Who sees me when I’ve had all that I can take. This is El Roi – The God who sees me.

Just the mere fact that He sees me in my darkest moments, lets me know just how much He loves me. I’m not traveling my journey alone or unnoticed. He is paying attention and watching me – not from a distance, but right where I am. He sees me on the long nights when sleep just won’t come. He sees me when I’m all by myself with a million questions wondering where all of this is headed. He sees me when I’m just about ready to give up. Even in all of this, He has His eye on me. Not for a second has He taken His eye off from me. He’s been right there with me this whole time. Never once leaving me to handle any of this on my own. That’s what a picture of love looks like.

The God who sees me from before I was born to the day when I take my final breath – and everyday in between. This is The One who has my heart. This is The One whom I love. This is The One who loves, honors, cherishes, and adores me. El Roi – He is The God who sees me.

On Top Of The World Only To Hit Bottom

I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster here lately. Days I’ve felt better than ever. Then there were those days that felt as if the bottom fell out of everything in my world. Sometimes I’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum in one day, along with many more. It all feels so unstable when I’m toying with the seesaw of emotions. It feels wonderful at the top, but anything far from that at the bottom. Flying high one minute. Then crashing into the ground the very next.

God blessed us with the gift of emotions. In order to experience the good ones, then we will have times that we experience the bad ones. It’s from the ones that we don’t like that we truly are able to enjoy the best of the best. How would we truly know happiness without sometimes experiencing sadness? They are a gauge to keep us in check. If something is off emotionally, then we know that we must look a little bit deeper. Emotions are the symptom of what’s really going on with us. Sometimes there is a bigger problem at stake. No one else may know what’s going on, but we do when we examine the real us.

There are times we must get away in the middle of the chaotic emotions. Spending some time just for us. When the pressure cooker lid is about to blow, then we must take this extremely serious. Much damage to others can come from our unwillingness to pay attention to what is really going on inside. Go for a walk. Spend time at a park. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Read. Laugh. Anything to pour into yourself. Invest in your emotional well being. This is an investment with a great return.

So often we despise these unsteady times. We just want it to be calm and smooth sailing, but that isn’t reality. We don’t live in a vacuum. Life is going to happen to the best of us no matter how hard we try to not let it. In the midst of what seems so uncertain, it’s okay to feel every emotion. In fact, suppressing them only makes it worse later. Feel every bit of the not so good emotions, then let them go. Don’t keep it all bottled up. Share what you are going through with a trusted friend or family member. This is a huge key to your healing and being able to move beyond it all.

So on my not so good days, I made it through. At first, it didn’t feel as if I would, but with God’s help and lots of work I did. It wasn’t always pretty or felt comfortable, but I made it through to the other side. Those negative emotions soon passed and turned into the emotions that made all of the bad ones worth it. To experience happiness again after a small season of sadness made it that much sweeter. It felt like a breath of fresh air.

Then the cycle starts all over again. I’m going to face it, but this time I know how to deal with it all. I’m not blindsided. I’m armed, loaded, and prepared to get through this. The good thing is that I’m not facing any of this on my own. God is helping me through every bit of it. Just knowing that I’m not alone helps to encourage me to get up one more time and try again. I can wade through the darkness of these emotions because He’s pointing me towards the light. He’s staying right with me carrying me when I think I can’t go another step. I’m not traveling alone, and I am so glad.

The emotional battle. We all fight it, but we have the ability to win it. Not because of our ammunition, but because of the spiritual ammunition that we bring into it. The truth. The promises. The comforting presence of The Holy Spirit. That’s what it takes to see a victory. And yes, sweet child, you will see the victory.

Life According To A Spilled Drink

There I was sitting at the drive-thru window. A place I’ve spent lots of time here recently. Nothing really different. The same song and dance. I had my food. Then last but not least, my drink. Not just any size drink. A large drink. As the drink leaves their hand and makes it into mine, something begins to go wrong. I didn’t have a very good grip on the cup. Then it happens. The cup falls out of my hand. Every drop is dumped in the car – in the car on me.

As I sat there shocked for the moment, I began to realize what had just happened. I dumped an enormous amount of liquid all over my clothes. They were nice enough to give me another drink and lots of napkins. I couldn’t believe that I had just lived through this. My wheels were already rolling as to how I was going to clean up this mess. No small project here. This was going to take awhile.

After the shock of the moment, I began to process this whole fiasco. Then I did what any wise person would do. I enjoyed the gift of laughter. Laughing at myself for what I had just lived through.

Normally this wouldn’t have been my reaction. It would have been one where I would have said lots of mean and cruel things to myself. “Natalie, can’t you do any better than that? That was so stupid. Don’t you have anymore sense than to know how to hold a cup? What an idiot!” That would have been my reaction had this happened a few years ago, but not now. I’ve grown so much and learned who I really am.

I’ve learned to love myself no matter what. Things will go wrong in life so I might as well make the best of the situation. It’s okay that I’m not perfect. It gives me something to work on. I am an overcomer. I have the mind of Christ therefore I am continually progressing. I am a masterpiece of my Heavenly Father. I am valuable. I am loved. I am honored. I am cherished. I am a victor. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am free to be who He made me to be…just to name a few.

When I focus on who God says I am, then it changes how I view the world, myself, and even when I dump jumbo sized drinks on me. I saturate myself in the beauty of His truth. I live with it night and day. Regardless of what I think, I make myself concentrate on who He says I am- not on everyone else’s opinion of me. I stay grounded rock-solid in this place. Not wavering to the right or the left, but staying laser focused on these love principles day-in and day-out. That’s what keeps me on track.

I lived through the spilled drink incident. I got my car and clothes cleaned up. After it was all said and done, I had pleasant memories knowing that I gave myself some grace. It wasn’t the end of the world. I survived with a few laughs along the way. Even though I don’t recommend spilling a drink in your car, you can still have a good attitude about the mishaps in life. It’s all about perspective and outlook. Looking at the world through positive lenses instead of negative ones. It’s our choice on how we view it.

The next time you’re in drive-thru and you pick up a drink, make sure you have a firm grip on the cup. Otherwise, you will be in for an exciting adventure that you won’t soon forget. Clean up your car and yourself, but laugh along the way. It’s not everyday that you have your own personal waterfall in your vehicle. You will get through this. Put a smile on your face. Sing a song and know that it’s all gonna be alright. It’s just another exciting day in your life.

Church…It’s More Than Sunday Morning

With all of the chaos and confusion that has been gripping our world, sometimes it’s difficult to process it all. The news keeps changing every hour. Nothing seems stable. We are experiencing life in a way that seems foreign to us. So much of what we’ve known has been stripped away. It all looks so much different from where we’re standing now. It’s difficult to understand just what it was like right before it all began to fall apart. It’s a different world for each of us.

In the midst of it all, I have learned the importance of staying focused. Focused in what I’m listening to. Focused in what I’m reading. Being mindful of what I’m taking in my ears and eyes. I can’t control the events going on around me, but I can control how I am responding to them. That response has resulted in a total immersion in The Word. I have chosen to use all of my free time pursuing this. I’ve always taken my spiritual journey seriously, but now is a critical time for me. If I’m not careful, it would be very easy to slip back into some dark places. So with that being the case, I decided to be proactive. I took responsibility for me and my spiritual deposits.

Being the creative person that I am, I knew that I didn’t want to get in a rut. It’s so easy to read and pray in the same environment each day. I wanted to keep things from growing stagnant so I started being prayerful about my options. It didn’t seem like I had many until I let God lead and guide me in it. That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks about what I could do. The answer was staring me right in the face. It was there all along.

That’s when I discovered First Church of The Car. My car! That’s it. That’s where I learned to enjoy some of my best worship moments. Singing, reading The Bible, listening to podcasts, or just sitting still. It all makes up the perfect worship experience for me. I love to change locations for this church car experience. Sometimes this entails watching the traffic. Other times, it’s just me out away from all of the hustle and bustle. Regardless of where I go, it’s always a peaceful place just being in that environment of worship with just me and The Father.

Sunday morning corporate worship is very important. We need that time to come together in unity with one purpose – to exalt and honor Abba Father. He deserves every bit of it. In all of the beauty, there is something just as special and beautiful when I’m having my own worship celebration at First Church of The Car. No one there except the two of us. No worries about the time. No worship format. No agenda. Only the desire to bring honor and glory to God with the gift of my time. Simple, yet profound. Quiet moments that shape and mold me to be a reflection of Him.

So when I’ve had enough. When it’s been a tough day. When I just need to get away from it all. That’s when I pay a visit to First Church of The Car. God is always ready to meet me there. He’s always ready to share an encouraging word with me. He lets me come to Him just as I am. Happy days. Frustrating days. Days that I just want to be quiet. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about being in the beauty and awesomeness of His presence. That’s where I am changed. That’s where the real, the raw, and the honest meets The Father. No mask. Transparent. Just being me. No cover-up. Nothing to hide. The joy of being His daughter.

May the joy that I find at First Church of The Car follow me everywhere I go. May it pour over onto every person God puts in my path. It’s mobile. It’s on the go. Possibly coming to a location near you. Maybe I’ll see you there soon, but only at your own personal First Church of The Car. It’s big enough for everyone.

Bird Watching 101

There it was. As I was enjoying a leisurely afternoon with some time just for me, I saw it lying injured on the ground. A tiny little bird unable to fly. Unable to move. Everyone around unaware. People passing by in cars not noticing this little creature, but I was paying attention. My heart broke as I watched it struggle.

This little bird might have seemed to go unnoticed to the world, but there was someone who saw everything that led to this painful moment in time. God was paying attention. He cared about this little bird. Matthew 10:29-31 states this sentiment. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Right there in The Bible! God watches over the little birds. They are insignificant to the busy world around them, but not to Him. They are an important part of His creation. He takes care of their every need. They don’t even have to worry about anything.

How many times do I forget that I am just like that little bird? Wounded, hurt, feeling small, with many needs. Life has a way of bringing us down. We wonder how we’re going to make it. Then we’re reminded of precious truths and promises in The Word just like Matthew 10:29-31. If God is able to take care of the birds, then we don’t even have to wonder if He’ll take care of us. We can bank on it. It’s a done deal. He’s got it all under control.

But how many times do I question what I already know to be true? Doubts, fear, and worry all like to creep in and root out the truth. This has been the enemy’s tactic from the very beginning. In fact, he tried this same thing with Adam and Eve. If he can get us to doubt God and believe his lies, then he has succeeded. This is where we must rest on what God says regardless of how we feel. We must build upon the solid rock of truth and not back down. Our faith may be challenged, but we know that we have the victory.

So the next time you feel unnoticed and unaccounted for, just think of the little birds and how God takes care of them. They have a Heavenly Father that is concerned about them, and so do you. He longs to meet your needs. He longs to heal those scars. He longs to make you whole and healed. By the sounds of that, I think it’s fair to say that He loves you. He’s paying attention to you amidst all of the other people in the world. You are the cream of the crop to Him. Walk in the beauty of this love. Soak it all in, little bird.

The Song. The Music. The Masterpiece.

I heard it just outside my window. It was my own personal concert. A melody so pure and unique. Over every other sound, it was the one that captured my attention. I didn’t want to leave. It was a gift to me from God.

The little bird. That’s what it was. One little bird singing a beautiful song. That’s what I just couldn’t get away from. It kept proclaiming the most magnificent tune. It was reflecting the perfection of its Creator. Small, yet so mighty.

No matter what was going on around the bird, it didn’t seem to matter. It still chose to sing regardless. Nothing could stop it. It was determined to share its special gift with the world. It had a song in its heart, and it wanted everyone to know it.

Oh how I want to be just like that little bird. Even though things may not be going right for me, I still want to sing. Even though the world may be utter chaos and confusion around me, I still want to share my song. Just as nothing seemed to faze my new friend, I want to stand strong, confident, and steadfast trusting my Creator no matter what it looks like. If it’s cold and rainy, I want to belt it out as if it were sunny and a comfortable 72 degrees. A song in my heart. A praise on my lips. That’s the portrait I want to paint of myself on the not so good days. Realizing just how blessed I am. Treasuring each moment. Knowing that God is working it all together for my good even when it doesn’t appear that way. These are the things I want to proclaim. Hope. Love. Joy. Peace. That’s the message the world needs to hear. That’s the message I want to broadcast.

I don’t want to lose the song. I want to remember all of the wonderful blessings that God continues to lavish upon me. I want to look back and sing an anthem of rock solid faith. I want to look towards the future and sing a prelude of what’s to come, God’s favor. I want to sing of His mercy and grace. I want to sing with expectancy and anticipation of His exceedingly, abundantly that He’s bringing into my life. I want to sing a song of courage even while the battle is raging. I want to sing a song when my world is falling apart. I want to sing a song for the whole world to hear.

The little bird didn’t have a clue I was even paying attention. It sang just because. The gifts on the inside poured forth to the outside, and the result was a wonderful musical masterpiece. That’s what I want my life to look like. A musical masterpiece. God gives me the song, and I sing it. I don’t hold back. I immerse myself in the beauty that only these moments can bring. A song that never has to end. A song that’s all mine. No one else’s song is quite like this one. It’s arranged just for me.

Little bird, little bird, how you inspire me. Your song. Your persistence. Your brave heart. You are marked with the beauty and music of God.

Life With A Side Of Real

Chaotic. Off kilter. Out of balance. Stressful. Uncertain. That’s just a few of the words I would use to describe my world at this point in time. Nothing seems right. I don’t know what to expect. Everything as I know it keeps changing. Just when I think it’s gone as far as it can go, it moves just a little bit further in a whole different direction. This goes against my “let’s keep a plan together” mindset. In fact, that plan has been totally thrown out the window. That plan was gone a long time ago.

So here I am in the midst of a world I didn’t choose. I didn’t sign up for any of this. Much of my day is dictated by laws and those in authority above me. I don’t get to set the rules. Appointments I need to keep get cancelled. No longer do I get to enjoy the company of others thanks to the lovely social distancing decree. Shopping is no longer something I do for fun, but rather something that consists of only the necessities that quite possibly won’t even be available. Shortages of things we once took for granted have now become the norm. We dare not sneeze or cough in public because those around us automatically think we are nothing more than a warm body of contagions. Don’t stand close to anyone. Give them their 6 feet of space. Patience runs thin. Tempers flare. That pretty much sums it up.

Never before have I lived through something of this caliber. In fact, none of us have. We’re all navigating uncharted territory. That’s what makes it so difficult because there really was no way of preparing for what we didn’t understand. We have questions of which no one has an answer. We listen to the news only to be more confused than we were to begin with. We’re all on edge fighting our own personal battles. It’s affected us all in some way. Some more devastating than others. If we’re honest, we are all hurting. We’re all grieving the loss of something. We’re all wishing we could wake up from this horrible nightmare, but it keeps going on and on. The end is nowhere in sight.

Even though things are nowhere near what they used to be…Even though none of us like the way things are…Even though we remember what life was like before the Rona…Even though we long for life to get back to normal…We all have so much to be thankful for. We must purpose and start our day with a spirit and attitude of gratefulness. We can’t allow what’s not right to steal what we do know is right.

This is a season where we must be rooted and grounded in what we know to be true. Everything as we know it is being shaken. This is no time to be weak in our faith. We better know what we believe or we’ll cave under the pressure that bombards us each day. This is the perfect opportunity to shine for Christ. People are looking for truth. We have exactly what they need. Love people right where they are…even in the midst of their mess. Be a conduit of God’s love, hope, and joy to others whether you think they deserve it or not. The ones you think deserve it the least are the ones who need it the most.

So we trudge on in this battle also known as life. We want to give up, but we can’t do that. We’ve come too far to turn back now. At times we feel as if we’re sinking, but we get up one more time and keep moving. We’re not traveling alone. We’re not standing by ourself. When we don’t think we can take one more step, that’s when God steps in and picks us up. He will carry us through to the finish line of victory. We’re going to make it. We may get some scars along the way, but those scars will tell our story. The story of a warrior. The story of a champion. The story of determination. The story of a winner. That’s who we are. That’s who God says we are, and that’s all that matters.

They Can’t All Be A 10

Some days nothing seems to go right. I lose my phone and keys. The project that was only supposed to take an hour ends up taking the whole day. Traffic isn’t moving and costs me extra time. Dinner gets burnt. I forget to set my alarm clock.

That’s only just a small portion of things that sometimes don’t work out for me. Life has a way of throwing us curve balls. Things that I didn’t see coming. Things that didn’t allow me to prepare for adequately. Things that threw me for a loop. Things that made me want to disappear only to return at a later date.

Our life seldom goes as planned. Often the results are something that we never would have expected. No matter how hard we try to control the situation, it has a tendency to go in a different direction. Then we begin to question it all. We want to get it all back on track, but just aren’t sure how to do that. Confusion and frustration are our unwanted friends in this season. Life feels a bit off for us. If only we could get our feet solid on the ground again, then all would be well in our world.

We are already warned in scripture that there will be trouble that comes for a visit in our life. No matter how hard we try to resist it, there will be times that things just happen. It’s not that we are living with an expectancy of bad things happening. It’s that we are staying on the offense ready to face what life throws us. We may not have a solution, but we are prepared to handle whatever comes our way.

We may not be able to change our situation, but we can change the attitude in which we face it. Facing challenges with a positive attitude doesn’t guarantee a wonderful outcome, but it will allow us to see things in a whole new light. When we view our trials in light of God’s viewpoint, then it allows us to find the good or the possibility of good that He desires to bring out of the situation. This doesn’t mean that our situation is always good. It just allows Him to draw that out of the not so good in our life.

You may not like the place where you are, but there is new wisdom and knowledge here. Things that you would never learn or experience unless you walked this route. Don’t waste this difficulty. Look for insights from God amidst the chaos. He is speaking if only you’ll take the time to listen. He is longing to share His heart with you in all of this.

Don’t miss the beauty in all of the mess. Most of the time we fail to see this because all we focus on is what isn’t right. Take the time to enjoy the day even though it isn’t going as planned. Find something to be thankful for. Be mindful of all of the things that are going right in your life. It’s so easy to focus on the few things that aren’t and fail to see the hundreds of things that are. Smile even though you feel like crying. Encourage someone just as you need to be encouraged. Be determined to keep pushing through.

These little hiccups don’t last forever. You will pass through them. You will get to the other side. You will make it no matter how much it seems that you won’t. Your life may be falling apart, but that’s no reason that you have to be. You are brave and courageous. You are a fighter. You are focused and determined. With God leading the way, there’s no reason to be afraid. Surrender to how He is putting it all together. Breathe. Just breathe. What is that? That’s God’s purpose for you filling those lungs. Purpose for you in this not so good situation. Life is greater than all of this. Walk in that purpose and win.

Deeper Waters

Being mindful. Total immersion. Paying attention. Taking every thought captive. These are just a few of the ways to describe the place God has me in my life at this point. It isn’t anything new for me. In fact, I have been here many times in my life. No matter how many times God draws me back to this place, I learn something new each time. He draws me out a little deeper. Just when I think I’ve experienced all there is to know about God, He shows me something much different. He continues to surprise me with new truth and wisdom.

Today I’m in a whole new place than where I was a day ago, a month ago, or even a year ago. It’s constantly changing. There have been times I felt as if God was a million miles away only to discover that He was closer to me than my next breath. It was only my feelings trying to lie to me. The truth was that He had never left me or forsaken me. Focusing on that one truth helped to put it all into perspective.

Thinking about what I’m thinking about is where I continue to come back to over and over again. I have learned that I am the only one responsible for my thoughts. Something may cross my mind, but I’m the one who decides if it goes or stays. This is a moment-by-moment battle I am engaged in, but God promises me I can have victory in this area of my life. I can’t live passively here. I must be proactive at all times. My go-to truth is Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If my thoughts don’t line up with anything in this scripture, then I throw it out.

Just as my physical diet helps me to live a healthier lifestyle, so does my spiritual diet. What are the things I’m taking in? What am I viewing? What am I listening to? What am I reading? Who am I spending time with? These are all questions I must ask myself each day. I must constantly be doing a heart check to make sure I’m not getting off course. The enemy likes to use the subtle, often overlooked areas to try and trip me up.

Not everyday goes as planned. Sometimes I get off track. I’ve learned not to beat myself up over it. I grow from the situation. I get back up and try again knowing this time I’m a little bit stronger than before. There will be mess-ups, but that’s no excuse for me staying down. The enemy wants to keep me there, but the power of God inside of me won’t let me stay there. Knowing the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me gives me the strength to face another day with new challenges and adventures.

So where do I go from here? How much more will God challenge me? Where will all of this growing and changing take me? Only God knows the answer to these questions. I am a constant work in progress. In fact, I will be until I finally cross the finish line in heaven. It sounds good in theory to always stay the same, but the truth is I wouldn’t really find true joy here. It’s in the constant molding of the clay where God is perfecting a masterpiece. He’s creating a prized possession. Priceless. Beautiful. Unique. A true work of art by The Master. I know who I am in Christ, and I take it all to heart. That’s who I am so that’s what I choose to believe about myself. Not the lies from the enemy, but the truth of My Father. He gave heaven’s best for me. I was worth His greatest sacrifice.

I allow The Father to continue His purifying, cleansing, and reshaping work in my life. I am His, and He is mine. I want Him to make me who He wants me to be, not who I think I should be. As I watch each brushstroke from His hand paint the canvas of my life, I begin to see a work of art appear. The Artist is bringing it all together – one stroke of the brush at a time.

Just What Haven’t I Thought Of?

I didn’t know how it would turn out. A hundred different scenarios running through my mind. If it happens this way, then I already have an idea of my response. If it doesn’t work out that way, then I have a different idea. What if it goes in a different direction than I even planned? Then what will I do? Back to the drawing board. Back to the land of something I didn’t think about. What if I miss a detail I wasn’t planning on? Oh my! My mind is swirling in every direction imaginable.

Have you ever done something like I just described? You keep mulling it over and over in your mind until there’s nothing left. Don’t feel bad. We’ve all done this – probably more than a time or two. We can relate to one another on this one. We’re all in the same boat if we’re really honest. Honesty is where I want to park.

It really is so true. Most of the things we spend the majority of our time focused on (or concerned or worried about) never even pan out. We spend an enormous amount of mental energy brooding over the unknown. It’s good to be a thinker to plan and prepare, but there comes a point where we must stop. We do our absolute very best and leave the results up to God. The part we play in this is taking responsibility for making good choices and decisions. This gives God something to work with where we are concerned.

Looking back on how it all turned out for me, I would have to say it worked out way better than imagined or expected. In fact, the results were quite favorable for me. All the time I spent going over and over about it in my mind ended up being time wasted. After it was over, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing God took care of me once again. Even through my continual chasing the hamster wheel of endless thinking, He still loved me enough to be mindful of that which concerned me. Of course, this is in no way a license to say my initial response of overthinking was the best choice. It’s just the ability to be open, honest, and transparent of who I really am so you realize I struggle with things just like you. See, you aren’t alone in this battle.

As long as we gain wisdom from our experiences, whether good or bad, then nothing has been wasted. We learn valuable lessons to carry us through life. We know what to do better next time. In this case, no more long, drawn out “what are we going to do” sessions. Just a simple sharing of our heart and then allowing God to download His supernatural wisdom in us. One set of facts presented. Then God kicks in with things we never even thought of. That’s how He works when we give Him the space to do this.

The mind is the battlefield, but we don’t have to fight this alone. God has promised us victory over our thinking. Allow Him to come into what seems to be a problem or hopeless situation and turn it into a possibility. Your problem exchanged for God’s possibility. Sounds like a pretty good trade to me.

Peering Into The Looking Glass of Love

Where would I be had it not been for God? I don’t know how to even begin to answer that question. In fact, I really don’t even want to think about it. It’s a rather sobering thought. I dare say that it wouldn’t be anywhere good or pretty.

He’s been with me in the good times, as well as the bad. He’s seen me at my best, as well as my worst. He’s loved me on my happiest days, but He’s also loved me on the days when I didn’t even love myself. He’s been that true and constant friend that never leaves or forsakes me. Someone I can trust. I never have to be concerned if He has time for me. He’s always waiting to share His heart with me, but He’s always ready for me to share my heart with Him. I can count on Him when everyone else walks out. He’s the one to walk back in. I can depend on Him. There’s never a moment that He isn’t thinking of me. I am loved more than I can even comprehend.

Living a life out of the overflow of God’s love is the sweetest place to reside. I make a daily choice to receive this beautiful gift of love. Then out of it, I am able to share it with others. I first must purpose in my heart to be a receiver. Not because of anything I’ve done, but all because of what He’s done for me. There’s nothing I can do to make Him love me anymore, but neither is there anything I can do to make Him love me any less. I am full and complete in His agape love. I am whole and healed. I am a new creature. I am His chosen, cherished, honored, and adored daughter. I am immersed in His abundant life.

I find peace and contentment in this place. I have nothing to prove. I am real. I am honest. I can be myself. I am vulnerable without any fear of rejection. I experience freedom through His love. I stay in His presence, and He continues to lavish His love upon me. This is my place of safety. No fear can stay here. It has to flee. Here I am changing to look more and more like Jesus everyday. A constant work in progress.

It’s quiet and peaceful here. A place of solitude amidst the chaos and confusion of life. No constant striving for the latest and greatest. Just joy – not in what He can do for me, but for loving Him. Spending time with Him. When it’s convenient and when it isn’t. When I just want to be. Not a continual doing. Just being. Enjoying His company and presence. Leaving different than when I entered. Being forever changed and transformed.

I’m not leaving this place, and I don’t have to. He doesn’t want me to. I will linger here just a little while longer enjoying the beauty of the moment. I’m not rushing it. I’m taking it all in. I’m saturating my soul in His love. Living intentionally free from the worries and concerns of the world around me. He is my sole focus here.

God’s love – it’s what has carried me through in the past and what will continue to carry me into the future. Living. Breathing. Consuming love. This is the life I desire to live. Full, free, and overflowing from Thee. Just waiting to be shared with the next one He puts in my path. All because I took the risk and let Him love me. A thousand lifetimes is only the beginning of this awesome wonder. God’s love has now become my love.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

It had been a very long day. I was tired and exhausted from all of the activities that were a part of my life over the past 16 hours. All I wanted to do was to eat a little something for dinner and then head straight to bed. I didn’t care what notifications were on my phone or about the latest news-headlines. I just wanted to forget about all of the tasks left undone by laying my head on the pillow and taking a trip to DreamLand. Beauty sleep was calling my name. I was thrilled about the fact that I was getting in bed at a decent hour. This meant one thing. I was actually going to get my 8+ hours of sleep.

Over the past year, I’ve learned the importance of getting adequate sleep and rest. I’ve struggled with this issue over the years and at times my body has suffered the consequences, but not anymore. This has become a priority to me. I decided to take responsibility for me in this part of my health. I feel like a different person all by making this one small change.

So there I was. I had done everything right to prepare me for sleep. Skin care completed. Teeth brushed. Bible reading accomplished. I was ready to enter the slumber zone. I closed my eyes and waited…and waited…and I waited some more, but it just wasn’t happening. No matter how hard I tried, sleep just wasn’t visiting me. After a short bout with frustration, I decided to take some advice from sleep professionals. I got up and took a few minutes to read and relax. Surely this would work. Then after my short time trying to unwind, it was back to bed for me. I waited again for the second round, but there it was again. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It just wasn’t happening no matter how hard I tried.

At this point, I began to question God. Why was I not able to sleep? The next day was going to be difficult as it was non-stop all over again. I needed to make a sleep deposit. I didn’t need this! I needed my sleep.

There came a turning point in the evening as I decided to focus on things of a spiritual nature. I figured if I couldn’t sleep, then I might as well make the most of it. I took some time to share what was on my heart and mind with God. I talked to Him. I listened. I thought about scripture and things I was thankful for. I listened to music and a sermon. It ended up being a night of encouragement that I truly needed.

Even though the night didn’t turn out the way I intended, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was able to take some much needed time to invest into pouring into God moments that I didn’t realize I needed that badly. He knew what I needed more than me, and apparently that night I needed time with my Abba Father more than I needed sleep.

I wasn’t as tired the next day as I thought I would be. Even with missing several hours of sleep, I still felt rather energized. I experienced an overwhelming peace and contentment from having been obedient to what seemed like a night out of order at first. What I thought was a disaster ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me. At that particular moment in time, I needed every moment of what I had just experienced.

If you ever have a night that sleep isn’t happening, don’t try to fight it. Be sensitive to God’s leading. He may just be trying to get your attention at a time when He has the ability to capture your full attention. There’s no better time for this than when it’s quiet and you have no distractions. No phones. No to-do lists. No texts or emails. Just the peacefulness of uninterrupted time with The Father. Before you know it, this no-sleep zone will turn into a sleep zone as you relax and rest in The Father’s care. There’s something about prayer time that will help you fall asleep – eventually, all in time, as in my case.

Fast forward to the next night. I had no problem falling asleep. I was back to my normal sleep schedule. I was never so grateful for a good night’s sleep until I woke up the following morning. Operation Sleep was finally a success.

The moral of the story: Do what Mama told you in Kindergarten! Get your sleep. Disclaimer: All is null and void when God has a different idea for your sleep. In that case, listen to God. You’ll eventually fall asleep, if only for a few hours. That’s what matters most!

Open Doors & New Opportunities

The title says it all. It explains exactly what I want to say in just a few words. It describes my life quite well at this point in time. Kind of has a nice ring to it. It sounds exciting and adventurous. Even has an element of mystery to it as I don’t give every detail. I give just enough to get your wheels rolling. I know and understand. You’re reading this because you’re curious about what exactly these open doors and new opportunities are that I’m referring to. I don’t mean to disappoint you, but it really isn’t important for you to know all of the juicy details. I have something more important to focus on, and that’s where I want to park.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been some things going on in my life that I can’t help but praise God for. Things that only He could do. Things that have His name written all over them. Things that let me know He is listening to me and honoring the desires of my heart. Things that let me know I am loved abundantly and overwhelmingly. Of these things, I am extremely grateful, but there is so much more than what you can physically see. It actually goes much deeper than that.

Over the past several years, God has had me in training. Not just any kind of training, but an intense overhaul of all that I ever knew. When your world gets turned upside down, this is the perfect place for Him to give you this opportunity. Yes, this training has been a wonderful opportunity for me. It’s been tough and strenuous at times both mentally and emotionally, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for all that He has taught me during this time. Looking back I see a blessing in disguise. A treasure just waiting to be discovered. All for me. All because He loves me that much.

During this time, I have learned an important lesson. A lesson I continue to revisit from time to time for a check-up. A lesson that is all about my words. All about my thoughts. All about the things I say about myself. All about the things I think about myself. All about the things I think and speak over my future. It’s simple in theory, but not so much when put into practice.

You see, I’m the one who is responsible for me. I can’t put that blame on anyone else. I’m the one that must make it a habit to declare God’s promises and blessings over myself. It’s so easy to slip into toxic patterns. That is normally our first response, but I’ve been taught differently. I’ve had to learn to rest in the fact that I am who God says I am. After immersing myself in these truths over and over again everyday, then the seed of God’s truth begins to grow. I know that my identity is rock solid in Him and not any of the traps of this world.

So you’re probably wondering how all of this fits together. Where do the open doors and new opportunities come into play? What exciting things do I have up my sleeve? These are just the questions I’ve been asking myself. Honestly, I don’t have any answers. It’s not about me having all of the answers, but trusting The One who has all of the answers. When I speak of open doors and opportunities, I am doing just that. I am speaking over the new doors and opportunities God has in store for me. I can’t see what all of these are, but I choose to speak life over all that He wants to do in my life. I choose to see a future filled with possibilities that come straight from God. I choose to walk in the abundant life both now and in the future. It’s all about me seeing my future with eyes of faith and not fear. It’s about seeing my future through the lenses of the exceedingly, abundantly that He desires for me. That’s what I’m talking about!

I could have chosen to stay stuck in a pit of depression. To be a victim. To never dream again. To think my life was over when it fell apart, but I didn’t! I knew in my spirit there was way too much life in front of me to give up. So I chose life – not just for then, but for all of the open doors and opportunities God has waiting right up ahead for me. Things I don’t even have a clue about, but I know are going to be beautiful, wonderful, and blessed. How do I know this? How am I so certain? Because I’m trusting my unknown future to The God that knows it all. I’m ready to step on through. How about you?

Silently It Crept

It crept up on me. I didn’t see it coming. Paralyzed. Paralyzed by the fear. Almost breathless. Not able to see beyond the pain of the moment. Unable to see beyond the middle of this. Crushed. Weighed down. Wanting to run, but having no place of refuge. This darkness envelops me. Everywhere I go, there it is. Feeling the isolation swirling all around me. Needing some relief, but finding none in sight.

This is exactly how I felt. I’ve found that the greatest place to live is in complete honesty with myself. I have nothing to hide. What you see is what you get. Not everyday feels like a win. Some days feel as if I’m barely getting by, but even through this, I won’t let it stop me.

I was paralyzed by the moment. I had blinders on what God was doing. All I felt was the pain. I couldn’t see what He had in store for the next day or even the next hour. I was consumed with what wasn’t right in my world. I wasn’t focusing on how God was working. All I knew was that it all seemed hopeless. I was believing a lie that it wouldn’t get better. That nothing would ever change. That this was good as it would ever get. It was a snowball of negative thoughts and emotions. It was spinning out of control, and somehow I needed to get a handle on it.

Tears were my friend. They washed away all the chaos of the moment. They were my safety valve letting off some steam. I knew that God understood each unspoken word behind each tear. Each silent prayer that spoke a language of its own that only God could translate. He was interpreting the beat of my heart. One that longed for Him, yet somehow seemed to question the necessity of this moment.

I battled through the rest of the day. I knew that I wasn’t fighting alone. I had the friend that sticks closer than a brother warring against the negative that came to destroy me. It was okay that I wasn’t okay. It gave me a chance to see God at work up close and personal. I had a front row seat to His faithfulness and love in all that I was facing. I was at peace knowing that somehow it was all going to be okay.

I would love to report that it all instantly fixed itself, but it didn’t. I woke up the next day still dealing with it, but seeing it in a new light. By choosing not to suppress what I was feeling, I wasn’t ignoring the problem. Half of the battle was showing up and not hiding from the problem. Even though this hadn’t been my best day, I knew that it was all going to be okay. Somehow. Someway. I was choosing to see with my spiritual eyes and not my physical eyes. Trusting all of my unknown to The One who knew what my future held. Who knew exactly what was right for me. I chose to rest in this place. I was at home here. I was at peace here. It was all going to be okay.

Dark days will happen. Discouraging times will come our way. We will have trouble in this world, but it’s how we respond that matters. The suffocating lies of the enemy will soon be drowned out by the truth of our Heavenly Father. We might be down for the moment, but we are coming back up for the count. Bruised, bleeding, and weary, but pressing forward into victory. In the end, we are the victor. We are the winner with The Champion on our side. We’re not staying here. We’re just passing through. The finish line is just in sight, and we’ll be rejoicing all along the way.

Who I Am

Layer upon layer it’s all being cut away exposing who I really am. Showing the real me. A person I thought I knew, but who continues to surprise me once again. After several birthdays you think you understand this person, but then you begin to realize you never really understood this person at all.

Negative events that left scars on my heart have been my story. Things beyond my control that I have experienced have taken me to the lowest place of despair ever imaginable. Even through every ounce of pain, I am grateful. If it hadn’t been for these dark places, then I wouldn’t be who I am today. This rebirth and genesis of my persona has been a pleasant reminder of the grace of God taking every broken piece and giving me a new place to stand. It’s given me a new perspective on life. One that is much different than ever before. One that sees the world and others through a new pair of spectacles. The world is now becoming a place of beauty even greater than before. This is a place that I am growing to love even more as the days go by.

Each small part of who I am is important and has a place in The Kingdom. It all matters. The discovery is a sweet place. It keeps me longing for more each day. More into the depth of the woman that God created me to be. More into the complexity of the creature that I am. A creature with dreams, desires, and visions for her future. Even my deepest thoughts of each of these is small in comparison with what God has in store. I envision who I am, but God wants to go even deeper, so I dive into this unknown with great expectancy. It’s frightening at first, but then I immerse myself into the sweetest peace available. The peace of God.

The things that make me tick. The things that make me who I am. The things that I like and enjoy. The things that are becoming more real to me now more than ever before. These are the uncharted waters that I am crossing. Sometimes the waves are tumultuous, but I know that I am safe. God is watching out for me. The maiden voyage is seeing land just in sight. This is the land of endless possibilities and limitless opportunities. That’s where I’m headed. That’s what I have to look forward to.

Each new discovery leads to another. One piece of the puzzle fits into the other. It’s all creating a priceless work of art. A masterpiece not for sale, but simply for the sake of the enjoyment of the moment. This is who I am becoming. In the becoming, God’s plan is being laid out before my very eyes.

I am my own person. I am an individual. I am unique. I am simple, yet complex. I am learning to love myself more and more. I am enjoying this journey into self-discovery. It’s a place that brings me great happiness amidst what very well could be the exact opposite. When you get to the core of who I really am, you will discover this brand new person just like I have. I can’t wait for you to discover this along with me. Each day is full of surprises as I never know what to expect. So often, I surprise myself.

The opera. Strolls through the city. Concerts. Long talks over a cup of coffee. Ice cream from the soda fountain. These are just a few things that now are a part of the new things I have discovered about myself. None of them are a surprise to me, but they each came about by taking the time to invest in and discover who I really am. They are surface level items. Not really important in the grand scheme of things, but they are important to me. If you care about me, then you must know that I don’t fit into your mold. I am not yours to take and shape into the idea of who you think I should be. I walk to the beat of a different drum. The drum beat of God’s heart and love for me. Take me as I am. Nothing is hidden. Love me as I am. That’s all that I ask.

Before You Break…

You sense it. You feel it coming on. You try to sweep it away so you don’t have to think about it, but the more you try to do this the more it keeps showing up unannounced. You keep pushing, but you are just about pushed out. Your life on the hamster wheel is beginning to get a little old. You are at your breaking point. You are ready to throw up your hands and quit.

We’ve all been there. Most of us have been there numerous times in our life. It’s not a fun place to be. In fact, it can be a dangerous place. If the situation isn’t handled properly, then you can find yourself with more issues on your hands than you started out with.

God didn’t create us to work nonstop. He didn’t create us to never take time for ourself. He created us to find the space in our life for pouring back into us. Time to refuel and recharge. Time to make an investment into those things that are important to our emotional and mental wellbeing. Time spent relaxing and having fun.

We live in a culture that embraces a mindset that is opposite to this one. It’s all about working constantly at the expense of everything that is important to us. We’re taught to not pay attention to the warning signs of needing to step away for a breather. Just one more task. One more business deal. One more phone call, text, or email. Then we can take a break, but that break never comes. It turns into the next item of business on the agenda. The work is never done.

No one is going to do this for you. No one is going to take responsibility for your time away except you. If you don’t make the time for this, it won’t ever happen. There will always be something pressing and more important, but at this point you are more important. You are worth every bit of the time spent investing in you.

When you manage to pour into yourself, then you are making deposits into your work time once you head back into that place. Constantly giving out doesn’t allow the space to care for yourself. When you take the necessary time to work on you, then you will be better equipped to handle the challenges that come your way in the other parts of your life.

Love yourself enough to take time for you. God wants you to live an abundant life, and this is one of those ways. Seeing to it that you are taking care of you is vital. You aren’t meant to live a martyr lifestyle sacrificing the last part of who you are. Sometimes you must say no. Sometimes you must step back to be able to move forward. Sometimes you must be a priority. Stop feeling guilty for doing that which God has called you to do – caring for the one who cares for everyone else.

So what are those things that energize you? That refuel you? That allow you to unwind? They are different for each of us as God has created each of us uniquely different. Spend your time doing them so that you are ready to go for your second wind…your third wind…your fourth wind…and so on. You matter to God so that means that you should matter to you.

It’s time to walk away…to come apart…to sit awhile and rest. The investment is you, and the return is a better you. Don’t delay for today is the day.

It’s Different Now…

It’s taken me several years. It’s taken thousands of hours. It’s taken intentional work on my part. It’s taken time spent pouring into healing every part of my broken self to get me where I am today. It’s taken daily surrender to be all that God wants me to be. It’s taken days where I pushed through every negative emotion when all I wanted to do was give up. It’s taken going through a dark pit of depression to know just what a blessing it is to live an abundant life on the other side. It’s taken days where I had to work through life not being fair and realizing that what He has in front of me is greater than anything I ever left behind. It’s taken days spent encouraging myself as I felt all alone on this journey that I’ve been traveling. It’s taken every experience, whether pleasant or painful, to put me where I am today.

I’m in a different place now. I’m a different person. I’m looking back on where I’ve come from. At the time I was going through the worst pain imaginable, I wasn’t able to see with my physical eyes all that I see today. I had to make a choice to look towards my future through eyes of faith, even though it looked quite bleak and dismal at the time. I had to trust God for what I couldn’t see. Looking back is easy, but not when you’re in the thick of things. That’s where the real battle lies.

No one could make the changes I needed to make for me. I had to take responsibility for myself and my future. I chose not to leave God out of this process. This brought on many growing pains, but I survived – and I’ve lived to tell about it. Now I have the joy of sharing this hope that I’ve found with those going through what seems to be hopeless situations in their eyes. Nothing brings me any greater satisfaction that being a conduit of God’s love with hurting people. That is my heart.

Life looks much different for me today. I’ve had to learn a new normal which has been difficult at times, but not anymore. I have learned to love my life right where I am in this season. I’ve learned to enjoy right now and not something far off in the future. I am blessed everyday that I wake up. I’ve been blessed with a family that has loved me through the darkest days of my life. I’ve been blessed with people that have poured God’s love into me when I couldn’t even love myself. I’ve been blessed with the promise of a future and destiny that is bright and right on track for what God desires for me. I’ve been blessed with discovering all over again who I am in Christ. I’ve been blessed with learning to love the woman that God created me to be. I’ve been blessed with learning to love my own company. I’ve been blessed with doing many things afraid. I think you get the picture. I am blessed no matter what my life looks like.

I am still a work in progress. I celebrate where God has brought me, but that’s not the end of my story. That’s just the beginning. I’m still learning and discovering things about myself and God that I never knew. My life is far from perfect, but it’s perfect for me. I owe all of that to God. He is the one that’s been my constant, and He will continue to stay that way. Great things are in store. Will you join me?

I’m Back!

I felt it creeping up on me. Demands and tasks that never seemed to end. Life was taking off which meant that it was getting busy. Many good things were happening, but I began to experience a restlessness in my spirit. I liked where I was headed, but not at the price of my sanity, health, and mental clarity.

This is when it all began to change for me. I ended up back at this place I frequent quite often. In fact, God draws me back to this place over and over. When life gets off balance, He begins to recalibrate those things that are out of alignment. So here I was right back where He wanted me from the beginning. Right back at a place of simplicity.

This is when I knew I had to take a short break in order to get my life back on track. I stepped away from several things. It was the best decision I could have made. It gave me exactly what I needed – healing through the gift of rest. Resting my mind. Resting my body. Resting my emotions. It was a beautiful place beside the quiet and still waters. God did what only He could do at this place. I didn’t rush this time. In fact, I gave God an open invitation to take as long as He needed.

So now I’m back! That season is over, and I’m moving forward into 2020 with excitement and expectancy. In the midst of my downtime, God gave me direction and a new vision for my life and destiny. Some things stayed the same, but most were changed and rearranged as He so often likes to do. There is a peace here as I trust Him with all the pieces of my life – those that make sense and those that don’t. He has me exactly where He wants me – at a place of total dependency upon Him.

I’m looking forward to my future with contentment as I watch Him unfold it all right before my eyes. I continue to learn new lessons in faith each day. Lessons that encourage me and give me a supernatural hope for what lies ahead. With Him walking right beside me, I have nothing to fear. I can be calm whether it’s peaceful or chaotic. I can be happy no matter what my life looks like. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for me.

So here I am revisiting what I already knew. Life – it’s a beautiful and blessed gift!

Hey! I’m Talking To You!

You. Yes, you. I’m talking to you. The same you that you speak to numerous times during the day. The same you that is constantly listening in on those negative conversations in your head. The same you that battles over and over again from the harmful self-talk that is replayed over and over again in your mind. The same you that is afraid to be alone in your own thoughts. That is the you that I want to speak to today. The you that deserves so much more than all of this. This is the person that I want to address.

When will you ever get comfortable just being in your own company? You feel as though you must have someone with you at all times, but that isn’t reality. Being alone is a fearful place to you. You’ve bought into this lie, but now is the time to bring this to a halt. Approach God in this place of healing that you so desperately need. It’s time to start enjoying who you are. It’s time to face things, even if you have to face them alone. Of course, with God you’re never alone, but you have an enemy that doesn’t want you to remember this truth. In the physical it may appear that you are alone, but in the spiritual you are greatly surrounded.

When will you ever stop speaking to yourself in a way that you wouldn’t speak to anyone else? It hurts God’s heart when He hears you say all of those mean things. Things like…I’m stupid, ugly, and such a failure. God created and fashioned you just the way you are, so stop speaking those lies over yourself. None of those hurtful words are true. You are smart, beautiful, and a success. The next time you catch yourself, and yes there will be a next time, shut it down immediately. Remind yourself just what a masterpiece you are. No one deserves to be spoken to in this manner, and no longer will it be you.

When will you ever slow down long enough to take care of you? You’re always doing for others, but not taking any time for yourself. You’re tired, exhausted, and depleted. You don’t have anything else left to give. Your health is beginning to suffer, and all of the extra unnecessary stress is now taking its toll on your mind and body. It’s time to love yourself and others enough to see to it that you are being poured into. The guilt for taking care of you has got to go. God wants you to love yourself and others enough to not push your needs to the back-burner. Begin to realize that you are worth so much more than this overextended lifestyle that you’ve been living.

The time is now. None of this will happen unless you take responsibility for yourself at this point in time. No one will do this for you. God wants nothing but the best for you, but you must first give Him something to work with, and that something to work with is you. When you begin to see just how much you’re worth to God, then you are in the right place to move forward with this new lifestyle. For too long, you’ve played the martyr for God, but this isn’t healthy nor the abundant life that He has called you to live. Take care of yourself – spirit, soul, and body. No more guilt or shame from the enemy for knowing your worth and identity in Christ. It’s time to move forward into the new you. New looks good on you!

Thankful & Blessed

It’s a few simple words. In fact, we say these two descriptives quite frequently. So often that we say them without even thinking about it. We don’t even give it a second thought. It just seems to come as second nature.

But with that thought in mind, are we really being honest? Is this truly who we are or just something to sound good? Are we “churched” just enough to attempt to say this because it’s what’s expected of us? Quite a sobering thought when we attempt to give it some space.

I would dare to mention that this isn’t the reality where most of us live. Life is difficult for all of us. There are seasons that are easier than others, but for the most part, we spend the majority of our lives working through problems, situations, and issues. Our lives aren’t perfect no matter how they appear on social media. We live life unfiltered. It’s raw, real, and often discouraging. Things don’t always go as planned. People hurt and disappoint us. Thus leaving us distraught and disillusioned much of the time. So when this is the case, how are we able to say that we are thankful and blessed without feeling as if we’re lying to ourselves?

I think it’s time that we get honest with ourselves and others. It’s time to stop acting as if everything is okay when we know it isn’t. When our lives are falling apart, but yet we try to hide it to everyone around us. We stay hidden and isolated because of the badge of guilt and shame that we carry; a badge that we put on ourselves because we don’t have the perfect life. We know we shouldn’t feel this way, but it keeps creeping back in day after day. If only we had a magic wand to make this all disappear. If only we could go to sleep and wake up from this nightmare that we call life. Then and only then would we feel like our life is finally on track the way that it should be. Out of sight. Out of mind.

In no way am I implying that we should go around spewing all of our negativity onto others. There is a time and place to open up and share with others the difficulties that we are facing. In this life we will end up with some scratches, bumps, and bruises, but that doesn’t have to determine who we are. These are just events, not the determining factor of who we really are.

We may not feel like we have anything to be thankful and blessed about when we take a look at our life, but that’s where the problem lies. We are only looking at the surface level. This is the place that always captures our attention first. We sense and experience pain in this level; thus the rush to get through this season. Anything to make it all go away.

We must go a little bit deeper to those things that money can’t buy. Things like peace and joy. Love and kindness. Goodness and faithful. You get the picture. These are things that we often forget about because we’re too focused on all that isn’t right in our life. The problems get all of the airplay. When we live opposite of the negative, then we are able to say that we are thankful and blessed no matter our outward circumstances. We pay attention to all that God is doing around us. Then the gratefulness begins to flow out of who we really are. It then becomes our life and identity.

To be able to live this honest with ourself lifestyle, then we must be paying attention at all times. Listening carefully for those thoughts that seek to bring us down. Realizing that we can’t control the majority of things that happen in our life. Making the most of all that God has blessed us with. Doing our absolute best to move forward in life. At this point, it’s all about living intentionally. On task and on target so as to be right in step with God.

So the next time you tell someone that you are thankful and blessed, I pray that it comes from a heart that knows exactly what it means. To know that you don’t need to have it all together to experience an abundant life. To see beyond the not so good to the oh so good that we all have – if we look hard enough. Resting in the goodness of God and knowing that it’s all going to be okay. Breathe in the beauty of this quiet place. This quiet land of thankful and blessed.

Back To Reality

Well there it is. Vacation is officially over. It’s back to the real world for me. It’s hard to believe that it’s already behind me. It passed so fast. It seems as if I was just dreaming of all that this week would hold, and now it’s all a distant memory. It’s said that time flies when you’re having fun, and I can definitely attest to that. Ten days that seem like only a couple now.

With that being the case, I haven’t been in the frame of mind to be in deep thought. I was able to spend the majority of my time resting and doing things that I had been wanting to do for quite some time. It felt wonderful to be able to totally focus on myself for those days.

Vacation week isn’t the time to be doing what you do the other 51 weeks out of the year. Vacation week is a time to take a break from the routine so that you can spend time pouring into yourself. That way when you return from vacation, you are able to get back into the swing of things with a fresh outlook. I can attest to the fact that this pretty much summed up my week. What a blessing it was!

It felt so good to be able to have fun. To be able to not have to think about my usual way of eating over those few days. To laugh and enjoy special memories. To be able to experience new places and things. To be able to to enjoy extensive amounts of play and recreation. There isn’t anything I regret for having invested my time into over this week. Each detail was setup by God from the things that I chose to do to when I chose to do them. Looking back I can see His hand all over it.

It’s difficult to get back into the swing of things when you’ve had such a wonderful week, but time must go on. It can’t be vacation every week or then it wouldn’t be as special. I love the spontaneity of these times, but there must be routine and schedule in our lives to keep us on track. Otherwise we would be living our life flying by the seat of our pants, and that isn’t healthy.

These few days have taught me so much about myself. I was able to see just how far I’ve come in healing. I was able to see how much I love and cherish my life. I was able to see my desire to continue moving forward in my life begin to evolve. I was able to see a new woman emerging with a zest for adventure and new experiences. I was able to continue the discovery of new things about myself. I was able to worship God through the art of recreation and play. Everything about this week had God written all over it. It was all about me and Him this week.

Now it’s back to what seems average and mundane, but that really isn’t how it is. It’s really just the beginning for me. The beginning of a new life and way of thinking. The beginning of a beautiful future and destiny right in front of me. The beginning of all my hopes, dreams, and desires being fulfilled in God’s timing. I’m not the same woman I was before I went on vacation, and I wouldn’t want to be. Each day I’m growing fonder of the unique woman that He created me to be. I’m continuing to learn how to love myself by allowing God to love me. And to think I learned all of this by being on vacation. All by taking some time for myself. The investment into this week will continue to reap a return far into the future. You can’t beat that!

So I’ll set the alarm and get this new life started. I’m ready to join God in this adventure of a lifetime created just for me. I’m not waiting for my next vacation. I’m living my best life now. Want to join me?

Did Someone Say Vacation?

Right now as we speak, I am on vacation. I have been counting down the days to this time. I am desperately in the place where I need to take some extra time just for me. I know when it’s time for a break, and that time is now.

As most of you know, my life is quite busy between all of my work, personal, and ministry responsibilities. Through all of this, God has shown me how to use my time wisely to accomplish the most in the least amount of time. I wouldn’t have it any other way because I am right in the center of God’s will.

I am looking forward to doing some things just for me. Things that have been on my list for quite some time now. Places and things that might not seem like much to others, but they are important to me. Some are things that I did as a little girl, yet find the draw to experience them all over again as an adult. So if you keep up with me on social media, you’ll see me checking in at some of these spots.

I’m at the place in my life where I enjoy getting out and living life. For the past few years, I have lived my life on the side lines as I allowed God the time and space to heal me from all of my brokenness, but now I’m finally ready to really begin to live again. Just like the lyrics from Danny Gokey’s song, I have told my heart to beat again. My past has been a tough one, but I choose not to focus on what I lost. I choose to focus on my future. I look with expectancy to the destiny God has for me. I have had many times that I didn’t think I could move forward, but I made myself get up and put one foot in front of the other regardless of how I was feeling. I am thankful for all of the tough times because they have made me who I am today.

You might be reading this and feel as if your life is over. I understand that sentiment exactly. There was a time that I felt the same way. It’s just a feeling, and that’s all that it is. Feelings will lie to you. That’s why we must replace our feelings with God’s truth. If you could only see just how far I’ve come, then you would understand. If God can go this for me, then He can do this for you. He is no respecter of persons.

So as I close out today, I want you to rejoice along with me. My life is becoming my life all over again. I know who I am in Christ. I am enjoying getting to know who Natalie is all over again. The things that make me tick. My passions and desires. The callings that God has placed on my life. All of the little things I like that somehow got buried along the way.

All kinds of adventures await me this week. I am looking forward to new discoveries ahead. This new found life that I live is awakening this week, but it won’t just stop here. It will continue into my future. I can hardly wait to share it with you. Why? Because I am a living testimony to the faithfulness and love of God. A testimony of a life that He birthed beauty from ashes. A testimony of what we think is the end really isn’t the end, but just the beginning. I am a testimony for God.

Stamped, Etched, & Stuck

Everywhere we go. Everything we touch. We are leaving a fingerprint. Evidence that we’ve been there. Even if we remain anonymous, a part of us is still there. This unique creation only shared by us. No one else able to boast in this certain imprint. A special pattern that no one can lay claim to. The one and only. Only…us.

As God begins to do the job of changing us from the inside out, He begins to leave a fingerprint on our heart. Something to recognize that He’s been there. That He’s been doing something only He can do. Showing up as a beauty that only He could create. The beauty of a surrendered life. Of a life lived so passionately in love with The Creator that nothing can tear us apart – no trial, struggle, or difficulty. The fingerprint of His presence. The fingerprint of His overwhelming love. The fingerprint…of Him.

The fingerprint of our Abba Father doesn’t just stick on our heart. It begins to stick on all of those around us. We don’t mean for this to happen. It just does. All that we’ve experienced begins to pour over onto everyone that He puts in our path. His goodness, love, and joy begin to bubble over as we live a full and running over lifestyle. It was never meant to be kept to ourselves. He never meant for His fingerprint to stop with only our heart. His intention was for His fingerprint to be shared with the whole world. He wants a world filled with His fingerprints.

It all starts with us. It all starts with living a life focused on relationship with God. He pursues after us time and time again, but we must reach a point where our strongest desire becomes pursuing and chasing after the things of God. He is that faithful Father ever watching after us. Ever waiting for our return. Patiently holding on because He loves us. Never giving up. Always there for us. Likewise, in return we give the same back to God. Being faithful to our relationship. Being sold out and committed no matter what. Passionately pursuing The One who has our heart.

That little smudgy fingerprint is a reminder to us. It’s a reminder of the imprint God is making on our life, as well as the imprint He’s making on other people’s lives through us. His fingerprint can’t be wiped off. It is forever tattooed on our heart. It’s there to make a lasting impact on our lives and on the lives of those around us.

May you stamp His fingerprint everywhere you go just as His fingerprint has been stamped on you. The fingerprint of His love. The fingerprint of relationship. The fingerprint of just who He is. Forever etched on your heart. Forever etched on every life you touch. Forever etched in eternity.

Missing, Broken, & Needing God’s Help

It was a tough day. In fact, it’s been a tough couple of days. First, I discovered something missing that I desperately needed to find. Time is of the essence on this one. I looked everywhere, but nothing turned up. Nada. Zilch. Then to top it all off, something I just bought wasn’t working the way that it was supposed to be working. It didn’t matter how I tried to “fix” it, it never worked right. So that meant another trip back to the store and hoping that it would all get taken care of, but that wasn’t going to happen today. The store was already closed. By the end of the day, I was feeling frustrated, a little stressed, and ready to pull out my hair.

Then I realized something. None of this was worth losing my joy over. In the grand scheme of things, it would all turn out alright. In the here and now it’s difficult to see that, but that’s always the way it happens. The best thing that I could do is to pray, turn it all over to God, and trust that He’s going to take care of it. All of my overthinking and frustration are getting me nowhere, that is except in a horrible attitude that keeps snowballing out of control. So I took my own advice and gave it all over to God. I decided that I had enough for one day. God was able to carry the heavy weight of this much better than I was able to. I laid it all at His feet not knowing what would happen, but trusting that He knew exactly what to do.

I laid down to go to sleep that night resting in the fact that I didn’t have to worry about any of this. I was dealing with some inconveniences, but no matter what happened, I was going to be taken care of. My mind kept wanting to run wild, but I let it know who was in charge. God gave me a supernatural peace amongst the chaos of my problems as I sought Him in prayer. I knew that it was all going to be alright. He was watching out for me.

Then onto how it all turned out. The item that was missing turned up somewhere I didn’t expect it to be the very next day. In fact, God led me right to it. I didn’t know where it was, but He did all along. It’s as if I was directed right to it. My non-working item was able to get back in working order after spending a little time with someone who had the ability to analyze the problem and come up with a solution. Now it’s back up and running and back in business as usual.

Even though this was small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, it was anything but small to me. It was pressing, and I needed some help because I couldn’t help myself in this one. I needed God in my corner, and He showed up in a big way. He loved me enough to walk through this frustration with me. In fact, He walked the whole way until the finish line of the answer. He was paying attention to me the whole time. I know that I am loved.

What in your life is weighing you down? What’s bogging you down? What’s causing you to lose sleep? Think about it for a minute, then realize that God wants to handle all of this. Don’t lose your joy over something that isn’t meant for you to carry all by yourself. Bring Him into all of the difficulty, trusting Him each step of the way. It doesn’t matter if the problem is great or small because He’s able to handle them all.

So what’s stopping you? Enter into that place of trust knowing that God is in charge of every detail. He’s even in charge of the details when it seems like mass confusion. Sit back, relax, and watch Him work. Take the first step, show up for participation, then let Him do what He does best – the impossible. He longs to turn your impossibilities into possibilities. You might not can see how it will all happen, but He does. Trust it to The One who understands like no other. Trust it to your Abba Father.

Coffee Isn’t The Only Thing That’s Brewing

You have so much potential brewing on the inside of you that you’ve yet to discover. So many gifts, talents, skills, and abilities just waiting to be brought to light. You might wonder how this can be because you just don’t see any of it. You feel as if you have reached your max on what you have to offer, but there is so much more to you than meets the eye.

God is waiting for the perfect opportunity to draw this out of you, but He won’t force the issue. He created you as a brilliant masterpiece. Everything about you screams handcrafted beauty. Nothing about you was thrown together. It was all created with a unique purpose. There isn’t anything about you that He didn’t take the time to plan for a specific design. He fashioned you for this particular day and hour. This is no small task. Only The Master has the ability to accomplish this depth of a work of art.

So often, this drawing out will be birthed out of difficulty and pain. You wonder how God could take your struggles and make something beautiful out of them, but He does. He’s the expert at all of this, but He won’t force the issue. You must come to the place of surrender for all that He desires to do in your life. He’s the perfect gentleman. He will never make you do anything you don’t want to do. You’re not operating out of control from Him, but out of love.

All of these newfound gifts, talents, skills, and abilities are nothing more than seeds in your hand. You can keep the seeds, which don’t really serve a purpose, or you can sow the seeds and allow God to bring the harvest. Your harvest is about so much more than yourself. It’s about building The Kingdom and sharing God’s love with others. It’s about giving it all back to God so that He can do more with it than you ever dreamed possible. It’s about loving God enough to release it all back to Him because it was all His from the beginning anyways. He just chose to let you have a small part in all of this.

Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to begin this discovery. The time to start is now. Of course, all of this comes in process and can’t be forced, but God sees and knows your heart. He understands your desire to be all that you can be for Him. He understands your longing to bring glory to The Kingdom. He will honor all of this because you are surrendering to His heart and way of doing things. He is pleased with you.

Don’t waste your life on those things that serve no eternal significance or purpose. Spend your time pursuing things that last. Discover your calling. Seek God’s wisdom to bring out all of your gifts, talents, skills, and abilities. He wants you to live a life of constant self-discovery for who He created you to be. This is a journey that you will continue on for the rest of your days. It won’t be over until you finally make it home. May the end of your time on earth not leave you with unfulfilled potential. Use it all for Him now because life has an expiration date.

You’ve Got A Friend In Me

We all want friends. Someone to spend time with. Someone to share special moments. Someone to talk to. Someone to go places with. Someone to laugh with. Someone to do life with.

This all sounds so good. We dream about having that one best friend. It’s what we are wanting. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about it, but there’s one problem. We want all of the benefits of the relationship, but don’t want to invest time or effort into making it be a healthy and thriving relationship.

Friendship isn’t about us. Friendship is about the other person. Of course, I am in no way suggesting that someone should use you for their personal gain with no care or interest in you. That’s no friendship at all. That’s someone taking advantage of you. Stay away from those types of draining relationships.

If only each person were as concerned about the other as himself, then we would have two parties genuinely caring about the other. What is important to you would then become what is important to me. I would pray with as much fervency about your needs as I would mine. I would realize how important the art of listening is rather than being the one who is always carrying the conversation. I would seek to be that shoulder to cry on when times get tough; not soliciting advice, but just being there for the other person. I would seek to shine Christ’s love as a witness to my friend so that they could experience Jesus in the flesh. Actions above words.

We all want the benefits, but we must be willing to put forth the effort. So often, we must be the one to reach out and be the friend. To be proactive in pursuing relationship with others. Most people are waiting on someone else to do this very thing, but we can’t keep living life wishing someone else would be that person. It has to begin with us. It’s time to stop waiting and start being brave. There’s always a risk involved, but you’ll never know unless you take the risk. More times than not, you’ll be so glad that you did.

As you begin investing in relationship with others, you’ll find something unexpected and unexplained begin to happen. As you pour into others, God will begin to pour into you. You don’t set out with the intention of receiving, but it will happen as you share His love with others. You’re simply being the kind of friend that you’ve experienced in Jesus. The blessing is reciprocal.

Be prayerful about who this person is. It may be someone you already know or someone God supernaturally puts in your path. Be a friend to whomever this person is. Friendship is no small matter. It’s vitally important as we all need human interaction no matter our age.

Make that call. Send that text. Find something fun to do and invite someone to join you. Be that friend that they so desperately need. May they be able to say that they have a friend in you. Through thick and thin. Through good and bad. Through happy and sad. They have a friend in you.

Living On The Flip Side

If we look at our circumstances long enough, then each of us has cause to get discouraged and depressed without having to look very far. For some reason, we are always drawn to looking at what is wrong in our life. What isn’t right catches our eye first. It’s as if we thrive on negativity. I don’t think we mean to do this, but it happens far more than we would like to admit.

It does take some work to live life on the flip side. To not look at things as we see them, but to view them as God sees them. We see what needs to change. We see what looks impossible, but that’s not His viewpoint. He sees from a totally different vantage point. He sees the end just as well as the beginning. He does have an advantage here all because He is God, but then we have an advantage, too. When we live in complete trust of all that is at work, then we can trust Him even in the situations that seem lifeless and hopeless. We don’t have to understand every detail. He has that under control. All He asks of us is to do our very small part, and let Him handle the rest.

We have to work on a mind set change if we expect to come out of this dark place. We must grab hold of God’s Word and never let go. He longs for us to immerse ourselves in His Truth. In fact, the more truth of God’s Word that we have in us, the harder it is for Satan to sneak in his crafty, little lies. We are able to see his lies for what they are, nothing but hot air. Our minds are so saturated with The Word that our words are continually pouring forth God’s truth. We’ve been overtaken by God’s Word, and His Word overtakes our situation. This is the place where our power lies.

It’s so easy to make excuses as to why we can’t do any of this. We think it’s too hard. We think we are too weak. We think Satan is too powerful. Excuses are just thoughts to convince us of all of the reasons why it won’t work, but God wants to show us all of the reasons that it will work – all in His timing and His way. We tend to lose heart and patience if it seems to be taking a little longer than expected, but we must be determined to stay in it for the long haul. When we’re ready to give up, God is just getting started.

It’s time to look at our life and do an inventory. What are the majority of our thoughts? Are they based upon The Truth of God’s Word or the lies of the enemy? Are they glorifying God or bringing glory to the problem? Do they seek to build us up or tear us down? It won’t take very long before we begin to see patterns in our thinking and mindsets. We’ll be able to see where we barely cracked open the door in our thoughts and let the enemy slide right in.

Take back the ground that Satan stole from your mind. Purify it with The Word. Stay plugged into those things that seek to build up and not tear down. Don’t let him take another inch. It’s time we run him out of town. He’s had enough airplay in our minds. Now let God’s Word wash over you with the truth. Let The Word bring healing to those wounded places.

One negative thought will lead to another will lead to another will lead to another. One positive thought will lead to another will lead to another will lead to another. Make the decision now to think on those things that are pure, lovely, and true. You can do this with God’s help for nothing is impossible with God. Your impossibility is now His possibility. Walk in it. Walk in the freedom of His Word over your mind. It’s a beautiful place to live.

Looking At Our Destiny From A Distance

This isn’t going as planned. Things were supposed to have been different. This wasn’t on the agenda. Why did it have to turn out this way?

If we are all honest, we have had these very thoughts quite frequently in our lives. None of us are immune from the constant questions and fightings against what we can’t understand. It’s as if we’re pondering things that don’t have an answer from our viewpoint. It feels good to question the unknown, yet it still doesn’t quiet the longing to know even more of why things are the way they are. If we could get the answers to all of our why questions, then maybe it would all make sense.

So often in life we are going to face things that aren’t right, fair, or deserved. We then get discouraged and depressed. We feel as if God is nowhere to be found, and if He was found, then we’d want to know why He was letting this happen. We think that God has forsaken us. That He’s left us alone to fend for ourselves and face these rocky waters all by ourselves, but what if there was more to this than just what we’re seeing on the surface? What if there was something greater at stake here that we almost missed?

We are told in The Bible that we will face trouble in this world. It’s not a question if we’ll face trouble, but when we’ll face trouble. Not exactly the most encouraging news that we’ve ever heard. Certainly not the kind of news that makes us want to stand up and shout, “Praise God.” It’s more like the news that makes us want to run and hide and never come back again.

If we can look past the surface level of our pain and trials, then we’ll see just what God is trying to show us. Amidst all of the horrible things that we go through, we can be certain that God is greater. No matter how low we go in the pit, He has the ability to bring us out. He has the ability to redeem all of the garbage into something we never dreamed was possible. He is able to give us beauty for ashes. He is The One that can take a mess and give us a message and make a testimony out of our test. Nothing is impossible for our God.

What you thought was too broken or beyond repair is just the place that God likes to start. He is longing to create a masterpiece out of all those things that hurt too much to revisit. That crushed your soul. That you gave up on. That you wish would have never happened. This is where He does His best work.

Even though none of these things are good in our eyes, God is able to use it for our good. He is growing us and changing us in the process. He’s creating a new person. He’s strengthening the real you. He’s giving us a confidence knowing that each trial is making us that much stronger. No longer are we the weak people that we used to be. We are soldiers showing up to fight with our spiritual armor on. We aren’t going to take it anymore.

It takes the good and the bad in our life. So often the bad pushes us into the good. The bad things that appear as showing up to harm us are really just launching us into our destiny. We aren’t able to see this at the time, but God does. He knows all about it and could stop it, yet He chooses not to. Our finite minds can’t comprehend the infinite mind of Abba Father in these circumstances. Looking back we’ll see how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but not in the middle of the battle. Not while we’re in the middle of the fight.

One action leads to another action to another action to another action. It’s all a domino effect. Sometimes these actions appear to be going nowhere, but in God’s eyes, they are. They are all moving you closer to the place He desires to bring you to. This beautiful future that you can’t see with your physical eyes, but one that is seen with eyes of faith. Don’t curse the bad times. Praise God for where He’s taking you even in the midst of what’s ugly and doesn’t make sense.

God is bringing life back to these dry bones, these broken dreams, these hopeless situations. Resurrecting what once was dead, but is now experiencing new life. He’s breathing His breath of life back into you. Pushing you on to where you never thought you’d go. It’s tough to keep going, but you are going to make it. Just trust Him.

Living By Faith Is More Than A Song

It seems as if it’s taking forever. Much longer than I anticipated. In fact, it appears that things are getting worse. Praying and trusting, but seeing no change. Experiencing the deafening silence as I wait on God. This isn’t the place I want to be, but this is the place that God has brought me to. It’s difficult to keep hanging on when today is just the same as it was yesterday. Desiring to see God move in my circumstance, but there again, nothing. Nothing but discouragement all around me. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to see the end to all of this. God, are You listening to me, Your daughter?

There are so many things I don’t understand about this place, but yet I continue to hold on. Continuing to press forward into what feels uncomfortable and unknown. Even though my heart feels shattered from the difficulty all around me, I somehow know that it’s all going to be okay. I know that God is working in ways that I can’t see. He understands the desires of my heart because He placed those inside of me. Everything that concerns me concerns Him. Nothing is too difficult or impossible for God. I know that in my head, but often it’s tough to accept that in my heart. Yet I continue to trust in that which I can’t see. Residing in that place of faith that He’s called us to live. Only a small mustard size seed of faith, but that’s all that it takes.

At times like these, emotions run their course. Wanting to see change, but also seeing the reality around me. Reality that only seeks to bring me down. I can’t stay in this place. Out of the pit into a beautiful place of rest. God loves me enough to bring me into this new place. Resting in the care of Abba Father. It’s quiet and peaceful here. Just what my souls craves from the weariness of the journey. Here I am living as the woman that He created me to be even among the fragmented pieces of what once was whole. Slowly but surely it is all coming together. I sense that and know that in my spirit. Broken pieces now being put back together with the healing touch of Abba’s hands.

I don’t see how it’s going to work out, but I don’t need to know. I’ve placed this all into the loving care of The One that has captured my heart. My mind tells me that I need to know every detail, but my spirit says it doesn’t matter. I only grow in faith when I’m placed in circumstances to promote that growth. I’m there right now. Growing my faith as I must trust that which I can’t see. Wanting so much to embrace this new season with nothing but skies of blue. Pushing those gray skies away to make way for the sun’s light. Knowing that at some point in time, He will answer me. Not just answer prayer, but answer me.

Here. Right now. In this place. Not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who holds the future. Looking beyond what isn’t into the land of promise. God’s promise to me. Precious places only traveled through by caravans of inquisitive followers. Followers just wanting to know how it’s all going to come together and that He really does care. Holding on. Breathing deep. Watching it all unfold just like I knew that it would. There’s no place for fear here. Only that of living by faith. Yes, a whole lifetime of faith because living by faith is more than just a song.

My Weapon Is A Melody

There it is. A song I listen to quite frequently. Playing ever so faithfully in rotation on one of my favorite radio stations. I’ve heard this song hundreds of times before, but for some odd reason, today is a little different. One line out of the song stands out to me. I’ve never really paid close attention to the main theme of this song, but today I am. It’s as if God chose to turn the spotlight on these few words. I’m ready to see where this is all going because I know there is a lesson in here somewhere.

My weapon is a melody…So that’s the short line from the song that made me take a second look. In the flesh, it doesn’t really make much sense. How can a song be a weapon? How is music able to fight against the enemy? I really had to think long and hard about this one because it sounds a little too good to be true, but then I’m reminded that there is more here than meets the eye. So with that in mind, I’m ready to hear what God has to say.

I understand back in Bible days, they would send the musicians and worshippers out to the front lines of battle. Being a musician and vocalist myself, I can totally relate to this, but the front lines? I’d be sent to the front lines of the battle? Just not what would seem to be the wisest decision, especially when I would have my life invested in the battle. No guarantees of how this would all turn out, but they knew something of great spiritual significance and value that we often forget. There is power in the praise.

When I make the decision to be a worshipper no matter what I’m going through, then that’s really the only weapon that I need. I don’t need heavy artillery because I’m allowing God the space to work. He’s fighting my battles for me. All He really wants me to do is to show up with a song in my heart and praise on my lips. It certainly does keep down the confusion of knowing how to fight. In fact, this brings me to a peaceful place of rest.

Being a worshipper in the midst of the ordeal doesn’t mean that things are going to magically get better on their own. I have to take the first step to offer my praise to God. Sometimes this is difficult to do when I can’t see Him showing up in my situation. I’m faced with a decision of whether or not to trust. It almost seems as if I’m marching ahead blindly, but I know that is far from the truth. I know before I even go into this battle that He is the victor. I can bank on that.

So what song will I choose for my melody? Maybe it will be my favorite worship song. Maybe it will be a song I create from a familiar passage of scripture. Maybe it will be a prayer that I sing back to God. Whatever I choose doesn’t really matter. It’s all a winning weapon that I carry. There is power in the praise, and I know that in my spirit I have nothing to fear. I can trust God to show up and do that which I can’t do, which is pretty much everything except for the small part that He requires of me. I show up, and God shows out. All glory goes to The Father.

Onward Christian soldiers! We are marching forward into victory. Sing your song of praise, whether you feel like it or not. We’ve got a battle to fight, but we know who wins the war. Victor. Champion. Almighty King. Yes, that’s The One who wins the war.

On The Edge About To Jump Off

Here I am at a place I frequent quite regularly. I’m standing on the edge. I know that I need to take the next step, but fear begins to paralyze me. I know that I need to move forward, but there’s something holding me back. Something that tells me all of the reasons why I just don’t have it in me to do this. Something that tells me all of the reasons why I’m not enough and why I never seem to measure up. I don’t want to believe any of these voices, but it almost seems impossible not to. Their voices are overpowering amidst the chaos that seems to ensue all around. I just need the quiet. The peacefulness that my soul so desperately craves. If only for just a few minutes, then it would all be okay. I would get through this.

Brave. Courageous. Words that don’t seem to describe me at the moment. I thought I was supposed to feel this way, but it’s nowhere near my radar. I want this to be who I am, but it’s not happening no matter what I do or try to say. These two small, power-packed words just aren’t making their abode in me.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks out of nowhere. I have to take the first step. Even if I feel afraid, I must make the first move. I thought God was going to magically make me feel like I could take on the world, but that just didn’t happen. I feel unqualified and out of my comfort zone. I want it to be easy, but God says this isn’t what I need. I need to rely upon His strength to carry me in these unfamiliar places and uncharted waters.

I take the first step. I don’t have a clue of my footing. What if I fall? What if there’s nothing there to catch me? What if I’m nothing more than a fool for having taken this risk? My mind swirls with too many thoughts questioning why this isn’t going to work. I quiet my mind and just listen. I listen to that still, small voice telling me that He’s got me. I don’t have anything to be afraid of. He’ll catch me if I fall. At that moment, I am reminded once again of God’s great love for me, so I know that I can do this no matter how I feel.

After the first step, I see that there isn’t anything to be afraid of. The racing thoughts and fears just all melt away. My way and footing are sure even with all of the unknowns and questions. Pretty soon I know that I am able to press through and relax in the process because I’m not doing any of this on my own. All God asks is that I take the first step. Then He takes care of the rest.

I can’t see where I’m going, but God does. I choose to look on with eyes of faith instead of eyes of doubt, trusting that which I can’t see. The invisible has become my visible. Those things which be not as though they are is where I long to be. Just one step. One tiny little step that unlocks the door to my destiny.

The future is calling. Will you pick up?

Tick Tock Goes The Beating Of The Clock

Life is a precious gift that each of us are blessed with. So often we take that gift for granted. We live as though we will always be here. We forget that as the seconds tick by, so goes the seconds ticking by in our life. Time doesn’t stop. It keeps moving on regardless if we want it to or not. The days turn into months, which turn into years, which turn into decades, which turn into our life. It seems to flash by us at the speed of light. One moment we’re a child and the next moment we blink and we’re an adult. We ask ourselves where time goes just wanting to get a handle on this age-old question, but no one seems to have an answer. We’re all seeking the same thing just wanting it to slow down for a bit, wanting to savor each moment, but time waits for no one.

My whole intent isn’t to be discouraging or depressing, but my intent is to get you to think. It’s time (no pun intended) to make the most of our days. Don’t waste another minute. Live each day to the fullest for we never know when that will be our last. Stop living a life of regrets and get out there and enjoy life. Plan to live an intentional life. One that has purpose, significance, and meaning. One where we hold nothing back and offer all that we are for a cause that is greater than we are. Giving it all that we’ve got. Taking that risk for God and trusting Him for the outcome. Numbering our days so that we make it all count.

May we never forget that God is the one that blesses us with this gift. Life can be difficult at times, but even in the midst of the difficulty, we can see the beauty of life in the trial. Trying times will come, but they don’t last forever. In the midst of what we don’t like, may we be a people that sees our life with eyes of faith and not fear. Eyes that see His goodness all around us. Eyes that value and prize the life that He has blessed us with.

May we never waste another minute. May we never just wait around killing time. Life isn’t meant to be thrown away, but savored for the gift that it is. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyed, but we must be mindful. Just show up, participate, and breathe it all in even if it’s not how you desire it to be. Each day has something that we can be thankful for.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. The clock is ticking away. We are exchanging each second of our life for something. May it be for something of significant value and worth. Loving God and others. Reaching that goal. Never giving up no matter what.

We never know when our last day will be so learn to live each day as if it were your last. It puts things into perspective when we make this our lifestyle. One day our heart will beat for the last time and we will take our final breath. Our life on this earth will be over. Will others be able to see just what a difference we made in this life?

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat as needed. Life is filling you with every breath. Each breath is a gift from God. Take it all in. Linger in this moment. Don’t let it pass for it will soon be over. Life…just waiting to be lived. Just waiting to be discovered.

Stuck Tried Sticking To You

Stuck. Turtle speed. Glue. At a stand still. Not moving forward. If we’re all honest, we have felt this way about ourselves many times in our lives. We’ve felt as if we weren’t going anywhere and don’t even know where to start. We want to live a different way, but we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to change. We lack willpower and determination to see it through because we can’t see beyond today. Life is just that – one big, stuck mess! There has to be something different.

The first thing we must determine is that we are responsible for ourselves. We can’t blame others for what isn’t the way that we want it. It’s easy to project onto others that they are the reason behind all of this, but in the end it all comes back to us. No one can force us to sit still and not go anywhere. We can get up and move just as easy as we can stay where we are. When we’ve decided that we’ve had enough, then that gives us the much needed motivation to put it into gear and drive.

The next thing we must do to keep from feeling stuck is to get a plan in place. God gives us wisdom, but He expects us to put that wisdom into place in our life. Think about what it’s going to take to get from point a to point b, then begin to work that plan. So often we fail to plan. We think that we can cut corners in the initial stages, but it only ends up biting us in the end. We must enter the planning stage with a positive attitude and outlook knowing that we will see this through to the end. We don’t take no for an answer.

Lastly, we must give God the space to work to change us from the inside out. We feel stuck, but that’s not what God sees for us. He sees us moving beyond that difficult spot. We see no way to move forward, but He sees a brief pause launching us toward our destiny. We must allow Him to challenge and push us even when we don’t think we have what it takes. Then we realize that it isn’t what’s in us that’s taking us from this stuck place. It’s God’s power on the inside of us. If it weren’t for His power, then we would be back at square one – back to our “glue” state.

So stop believing the lie that you can’t get up from this place. That’s what Satan would love for you to believe, but that just isn’t true. That’s not what God says. You can do this. Put one foot in front of the other, and keep going. Once the momentum starts, there’s no stopping you. 100 Stuck Lane used to be your address, but now you are going to reside at 100 I’m Not Where I Used To Be Avenue. You don’t have to stay stuck because that’s all in your past.

So what’s stopping you? You can do this!

Just Wait And See!

I don’t have time for this today. I don’t want my plans to change. All of this is going to mess up what I have planned. It’s going to throw off everything and create more stress for me. God, why does this have to be the case today? Can’t we just go back to square one and the original plan? I know that would work much better.

We are all faced with this dilemma time and time again. Something happens that we weren’t expecting. We can’t quite comprehend how we’re going to make it all come together now that life is headed in a different direction. It all feels quite uncomfortable because we aren’t able to see where this is headed. It becomes one endless cycle of stress, anxiety, and worry. We get upset with everyone around us because our world is spinning out of control. We say things that we later regret. We wish that we would have been more patient to those that we came into contact with today. It’s been one of those days.

It’s difficult to see God in all of the details when we’re in the middle of what seems like mass chaos, but He is. If we could only see things from His perspective, and that is where we are limited. We can’t see any of that. We just have to trust Him in the midst of what doesn’t make sense. So often we don’t understand why things had to work out like they did, but it didn’t take Him by surprise when someone got sick, you got stuck in traffic, or that appointment suddenly got cancelled for no apparent reason.

There is beauty in this unknown. In this place of losing control over our calendars and schedules. In this place of having to take it all by blind faith. The beauty is in what God is weaving together from what we don’t see. So often when things don’t go our way, God is setting us up for something greater than we can even think or imagine. We have to go through things that are foreign to us to get us where He is wanting us to be. He is looking at the whole picture. We’re just seeing one tiny dot on the canvas.

So the next time things aren’t going as planned, may your first response be one of trust. Trusting God that this is all going to work out better than you expect. It’s normal to experience an initial feeling of disappointment, but may that go as quickly as it came upon you. Just know that God has your greater good in mind. You may not see the answer today or tomorrow, but there is a purpose in the midst of this mess. All it takes are eyes of faith. Look at all of this with eyes of faith even when you can’t see what He’s doing. He’s putting it all together just the way that it needs to be. Just wait and see.

Time To Go Back To Kindergarten

God, I need You to do this. God, I need You to take care of that need. God, I need You to give me the money for this bill. God, I need You to help me pass this test. God, I need You to give me this. God, I need You to give me that. God, just make me happy. God, give me everything that I want. God, I need a miracle. God, You’re just not working fast enough. God, just make it all go my way.

How many times do we come into our prayer time with God sounding something like this? It’s our laundry list. It’s our marching orders that we’re giving to God. It’s the “give me” mentality. It’s all about us. We go from one sentence to the next without hardly catching our breath, not once giving God a chance to say anything. We speak our minds and then it’s off for the rest of our day. We’ve told God about all of the “important” things in our life, but have failed greatly at the most important part of prayer.

That important part of prayer that we so often leave out isn’t something complex and difficult, but rather it’s something quite simple. So simple that we speed right past it without giving it a second glance. The basic and elementary things often get pushed aside as we think that we have far exceeded them, but in reality we need to go back to Kindergarten in our prayer lives. Going back isn’t a bad thing when we realize that God wants us to come to Him as a little child, so take this gentle rebuke as a positive thing to help challenge and grow you. He wants to see you soar in your pursuit of prayer.

So what exactly is God wanting to show us and help us learn? He wants nothing more than for us to seek His heart and not just His hand. He knows that we each have needs, and He is more than concerned about each of them, but He is more concerned with us connecting with Him. He wants to be so much more than Santa Claus or a magic genie. He wants to be our Lord. When we pursue His heart, it says to Him that we are more interested in a relationship with Him than what He can do for us. The mere joy of His presence is all that we seek and desire. The gifts of His hand aren’t the reason that we seek Him. It’s simply doing life with Him each and everyday that brings meaning and significance into our lives. He is so much more than the gifts.

We must make an intentional effort to guard against this behavior. Our culture teaches that it’s all about us and what we want, but that’s not what Jesus taught. To be drawn closer to this truth, we must make a conscious effort to spend time in His Word. We must also spend time just being still and silent to prepare ourselves for Him. As we pour into these things, then we begin to root out all of the self focus and become more God focused. Then our prayer time truly does become all about Him. We find joy in just being with Him even when no words are spoken.

Seek His heart and not just His hand. Seek The Giver and not just the gifts. Pursue Him passionately with no hidden agenda or manipulation. It’s God that you need and want, not all of the things. Be still and quiet. Listen. Give Him time to talk. Allow Him to share His heart with you. Enjoy these simple moments because these are the ones breathing life into your dry and parched soul. Drink of the water of His presence. Just rest. Rest in the quietness of the moment.

Prayer…it’s so much more than your laundry list. It’s your pipeline into the abundant life. Seek Him. Seek Him now. Wait on Him and be encouraged. He’s speaking at this moment. Do you hear Him?

Be The Gift

Everyone is searching for it. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your income bracket is, where you live, or how old you are, this is universal for all of us. Most of the time we never speak of it, but it is constantly gnawing at the heart of who we are. We’re just trying to fill a void of something that is missing in our life. So often we don’t know what it is, but we are looking to anything to take care of this need. It’s a constant and daily battle.

The one thing that is always vying for our attention is none other than love. We look to other people, things, and activities to make us feel better. We’re all in hopes that this next thing will be “the one” thing to bring it all together for us. It’s a constant guessing game to figure it all out. We live life grasping at straws to take care of this need. Maybe this will be it this time.

We must keep in mind that those that we come into contact with each day that don’t have a relationship with Christ are not going to look at things the way that we do. They are going to make choices and decisions that are opposite of us. We can’t expect them to react like we would. They don’t know what we know. They haven’t experienced the overwhelming and beautiful love of our Abba Father.

It’s our responsibility to share that love with everyone. We must make a conscious decision everyday that we are going to be a conduit of God’s love. As we allow Him to pour His love into us, then in turn we pour that love into others. We should live so full of His love that this is the natural response to every person and situation that we come into contact. Our souls and spirits are so saturated with this love, and overflow is going to be the byproduct.

May you live each day with open eyes and ears to those around you. Be paying attention to every person that comes across your path. So often, God is setting us up as a divine appointment with the ones that we encounter. Plant the seeds of His love. Don’t sow sparingly, but sow generously with this beautiful gift. His love changes others because it changed you. Be the love of Jesus to all of those in need – the wounded, the hurting, the discouraged, and the grieved. You, my friend, are nothing more than Jesus’ love in the flesh for them. Be the gift!

God, Where Are You Now?

You’re moving right along in life. Things are going well. You really don’t have anything to complain about, but something just isn’t the way that it should be. You’re pleased with your Bible study and prayer time, but there’s one small problem. Even though you’ve been obedient in seeking God, He seems as if He’s a million miles away. You pray, but often wonder if He’s even listening. You stop to question what happened. You know that you aren’t alone, but often it feels that way. You don’t like this place and would like for things to go back to where they were before. The many times when you could know and feel God with you. You miss this and don’t understand why it has to be this way. It’s a place where you feel as if you are walking in the dark. You ask yourself where God is in the midst of this unknown.

We all go through times like this on our spiritual journey. The enemy so often wants to make us think that no one else goes through this. His main objective is to discourage us from doing the things that we need to do in our relationship with God. If he can keep us from pursuing God, then little by little we become weaker and weaker. Eventually, we don’t have it in us to get up and fight anymore. Then it’s operation successful for him.

When we experience these times of not sensing God the way that we desire, then we must keep in mind that we are truly walking by faith. Everything that we do to grow in our relationship with Him is causing us to develop deep roots because we aren’t doing this by anything we can see or feel. We are continuing to seek Him out of a deep love that we have for Him. It’s a love not just based on how we feel, but it’s a love based on the truth that we know. We decide that we are going to be steadfast in this relationship no matter what.

We must purpose in our minds and hearts to know that God will never leave us or forsake us. No matter what’s going on around us, we are confident of this truth. Even though we struggle to feel God, we know that in reality He hasn’t went anywhere. This is just a valley that we are in. It will pass and won’t last forever. There will come a time when we will sense God greatly, but until then we just wait. We decide to be patient as we let Him have His way with us. He is The Potter forming and shaping us to be just what He desires.

It can be difficult to be in this place, but none of the trying times are being wasted. They are serving a purpose not just now, but in the future. They are preparing us to be strong men and women of God. If we never went through seasons where it feels as if God is far away, then we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the times that we do sense Him powerfully in our lives. It would be so easy for us to just take this all for granted.

God often allows these times to bring us to a place of contentment with Him. We begin to realize that He is so much more than just a feeling or experience. He is The One that has captured our heart. No longer do we have to go from one experience to another seeking God, but we decide to live in a peaceful place with Him regardless if He feels close to us or not. He is so much more than just what we can gain, but He is the overwhelming baptism of love. He is the love that we experience on a daily basis.

When you find yourself in this place, don’t give up. Keep pressing on and doing those things that you know to do. Keep trusting and being obedient. Keep spending time with Him. Pursue His heart. He understands you better right now than you even understand yourself. There is a purpose for Him allowing this, so don’t throw in the towel. You are learning and growing more now where you are. Keep being thankful and offering up praise to Him. When you get to the other side of this valley, you will be a stronger man or woman of God than you were before. So be grateful for the times that you don’t understand. They are making you into an even more beautiful creation. These times are in His hands.

Take A Walk With Your Goals Into The Future

Regardless if we are aware of it or not, we are constantly setting goals for our future. It could be things that we are wanting to achieve in our personal lives, families, relationships, careers, or our health. We see things that we need to work on, and we decide on just the right time to tackle these new found challenges. We do extensive research to gain much needed knowledge to help us work toward these hopeful accomplishments. Then we begin the process to making it all happen.

Even if we aren’t consciously thinking about a five or ten year plan, we are already doing this for ourselves by failing to look towards our future. A lack of planning is already setting up ourselves for failure. It is vital to keep focused, but not just focused within ourselves. It’s about inviting God into the center of all that we are looking to happen. God is pleased with our desire to look ahead, but we must always give Him the open door to change and rearrange all that we are setting out to do. He is The One that is in control of our future, and not us. He has the final say and authority on all of our goals. We see how His goals for us are even greater than what we had for ourselves. His vision for the days ahead are beyond what we would have ever thought of.

We need God’s wisdom as we seek Him for this goal guidance. Everyday we must be declaring, decreeing, and confessing that we have the mind of Christ. We must live in expectancy that He is going to prove Himself faithful to that which He has promised us. As we pour into His Word and presence, then we are unlocking the door to making this happen. As we keep our minds focused on Him, then we are in the best place to hear from Him on direction for our new found goals. We have a supernatural source that is constantly pouring into us as we pour into Him. It is a vast wealth of information flowing from the well of His wisdom to know just how to make all of this happen.

As we set out on this new adventure to where God wants to take us, we must come to grips with the fact that there will be a great cost involved. We are blind to the truth to think that we can get to where we are headed without having to make some sacrifices along the way. There will be some things that we will have to give up to get where we want to be. There may be some necessary lifestyle changes that need to be made in order to push us closer to our destiny. There may be some things that we will have to say no to in order to bring us to our intended destination. It might be painful in the immediate to make these choices, but when we accomplish that initial goal, then we will be thankful that we were faithful to stay true to what was in front of us. We make up our minds not to get caught up in the here and now. We are able to look with eyes of vision into our future to see something even greater than what we think is great at the moment.

Setting our minds on what God has in store for us as He downloads instruction can be a place of great uncertainty and unknown. It’s not a place of comfort. It’s easy to operate out of fear, but we can’t let that stop us. We must know that the greatness of His power in us will be what launches us ahead with the courage to tackle whatever He has placed in front of us. Our goals may seem too big for us, but not with Him on our side. In fact, His power working in us is limitless as to what He can accomplish through us.

Seek God. Ask questions. Give Him the time and space to speak to you. Don’t get discouraged. Keep working diligently everyday on each goal that He has set for you. Trust Him on the days that it seems that you aren’t making any progress. Pretty soon you will be celebrating a win on what you didn’t give up on. Just hang on. Great things are in store!

Mountains & Red Sea Moments

Impossible. When we hear this word, it brings to mind so many thoughts and emotions. We think about all of the things before us that we can’t even imagine a solution. It doesn’t seem attainable. It isn’t within our reach or grasp. It’s just too difficult to try to comprehend.

Each of us are placed in situations in our life that we consider impossible. Within ourselves, we just don’t have what it takes to make it happen. The task before us appears gigantic. We don’t understand how we’ll ever make it over the mountain that’s in front of us. We’re at a Red Sea moment. If God doesn’t come through, then we are completely sunk. On our own, we are down for the count.

Impossible is just what we will face when we try to do it all on our own. Our flesh loves to be independent. It doesn’t want help from anyone else. It wants to be able to take all of the credit for what it accomplished within its own strength, but when we live this way, then we are doing ourselves a great injustice. We are blinded by this overarching battle within us that we fight on a daily basis.

We weren’t created to face these challenges in life on our own. God created us to include Him in every part of our lives, even those parts that we can’t see a solution. Those parts that are causing us great stress and anxiety. Those parts that are keeping us awake at night. Those parts that seem impossible.

So often we forget that we serve the God of the impossible. He already has the answer before we even cry out to Him. He’s in our future and our past all at the same time. He knows the end from the beginning, so nothing is too difficult for Him. He has the ability and power to do even greater than we can think or imagine. There is not one thing we face that has Him up pacing the floor at night wondering what He can do to take care of it. He’s not losing sleep over anything because He is the God of more than enough.

When we bring God into these trying places, then we are setting up ourselves to a front row seat to a miracle in our lives. We give Him our little. He takes it and blesses it. Then He transforms that little into more than we ever dreamed possible. He takes our impossible and makes it possible, all because we didn’t try to do it on our own. We gave Him the space to work in our lives in ways that we never could accomplish on our own. We didn’t hold Him back from all that He desired to do.

As we live in this place of complete trust in God, we begin to realize that we aren’t the one that is in control. Only God is. We have the beauty of sharing life with Him. We see things from a limited perspective, but He doesn’t. It’s easy to instruct God on how He needs to work in our situation, but that’s where we become discouraged. So often we don’t see the miracle until much farther down the road. We then experience the beauty of seeing how The God of the impossible truly was The God of the impossible in our situation. We didn’t see it then, but now we do. Don’t limit yourself on what you see or don’t see God doing. He’s working even when you don’t see Him working.

Take that step of faith. Reach out towards the dream God has placed in your heart. Work on accomplishing that goal that seems too much for you on your own. The God of the impossible wants to become the God of your possible in all of this. Do your part. Don’t grow weary. Be patient in every moment of the climb. You’re going to make it over, and the view from the top is going to be absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. It will be you and God enjoying this together. You and God make a wonderful team!

He Wanted Me Just As I Am

Discouraging news. All day long, that’s all that I’ve heard. Difficult circumstances that people are going through. I begin to question God as to why these things even have to be. They don’t seem right or fair to those encountering these troubling times. I hurt for these people just wanting to take all of their pain away. My heart breaks as I wrestle with the reality of our broken world and how that affects each of us on a daily basis. This load seems too much for any of us to bear.

As I come to the end of myself and my day, it hits me like a ton of bricks. The emotional exhaustion has taken its toll on me. I don’t have anything left to give. All I want to do is just go to bed and forget that this day even happened. I am beyond tired, spent, and over it. I can’t even begin to think about tomorrow because today has been an overload of a gamut of emotions. I just want to get off from this merry-go-round called life.

Just when I thought that I was done for the day, that’s when God decided to ever so quietly begin to invade my thoughts and spirit. Even when I questioned Him on this, He still loved me enough to bring me to a quiet place of resting in Him that I so desperately needed more than I realized. I needed His overwhelming love and peace. I needed to let Him be the Good Shepherd that wanted nothing more than to care for His little sheep. I needed to experience right now as His beloved daughter.

He drew me back to His Word at a time that I just didn’t think I could process anymore. At first, it didn’t feel right, but the longer that I kept at it, the more that my spirit was revived. Each Word poured just a little bit more life back into me. It was renewing my strength at a time that in my eyes felt like the end of my emotional steam. I was drinking of the abundant life that He was offering to me. I was experiencing a supernatural refreshing that I needed more than I even realized.

Word after Word led to the next thing that God used to push me forward in this dark time. Suddenly, I was able to pour out my heart of all that I had experienced that day. This wasn’t a half-hearted prayer, but it was a time of honesty with God. I was able to get real with Him on all that I so desperately wanted to be different for those that I cared for. He listened to me as the ever patient Father.

Then I listened. I was still and silent. I didn’t say a word. I gave Him the space to do what He needed to do with me. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I knew that He was supernaturally restoring my soul. He was encouraging me. He was giving me the strength to rest in Him at a time that felt anything but peaceful. My parched and dry soul was receiving His life giving water. I was beginning to experience hope at the end of this day just when I felt as if I was ready to shut down.

I knew in those quiet moments alone with Him that He loved me enough to meet me right where I was. Right in the middle of my emotionally exhausting day. Right in the middle of what didn’t add up in my eyes. He was concerned about the things that concerned me.

As I laid down to go to sleep that night, I was at peace. Not because the situations had magically and instantly changed, but that I knew God was in control of what felt so out of control. He was at work even in the midst of some drastically negative situations. He was taking care of things even when I didn’t have the strength to hold on anymore. He was greater than anything that was coming against these precious people. I didn’t see and understand what He was doing, but I didn’t have to. He was Lord before, and He was still Lord in each situation.

Life has a way of bringing things to us out of the blue that we aren’t expecting or are prepared for. Some things are good, and some things are bad. Some things make us happy, and other things make us sad. No matter what any of us face, we must be certain that God is sovereign. There’s nothing that takes Him by surprise so bring your overwhelmed, exhausted, and broken self to Him. He loves you that much. Enough to carry those heavy burdens for you. Let Him pick up the load that you just can’t carry anymore. Trust it all to the arms of The One that has carried the sin of the world on His shoulders. That’s our Good, Good Father!

Potholes On The Journey That Was Supposed To Be A Smooth Ride

You’ve been sensing it for quite awhile now, but it just hasn’t been the right time. You’ve been praying for wisdom and direction as how to proceed forward. You’ve been faithful to wait on God to give you the go ahead for this, and you haven’t been ready…that is, until now. Now you have the green light from God. You know that today is the day to proceed forward. You don’t second guess yourself because you know in your spirit that you have to do this. It’s went from a thought that you had many days ago to a full, whole heart’s desire today. You must follow through on your obedience before you can totally be at peace.

So you set out to accomplish this brave new thing that God is leading you to. The excitement is building as you anticipate all that He has in store for you. Nothing can stop you now. It’s full-steam ahead. You are moving forward and leaving a trail of dust behind you. You and God have got this.

Then something happens. You’re working really hard on seeing this through to completion, but you begin to hit some potholes in the road. Some things aren’t going as planned. You start to get discouraged. All you want is this one thing, but now it’s getting more and more difficult to keep up the pace to get you where you want to be. You have those difficult conversations with God asking Him why it has to be so tough for you. It looks so much easier for everyone else. It’s just not fair.

Then in the quiet and stillness of those evening and nighttime hours, God begins to reveal His heart for you in all of this. He’s seemed so absent at times as you’ve cried out to Him for answers that you just don’t seem to be getting. All you’ve wanted is to understand the craziness behind what just doesn’t seem to be going your way. He speaks something so simple, yet absolutely profound to your thirsty soul. It’s just what your spirit has been craving. He’s been so faithful to give you a heavenly download that you’ve been needing all along.

“Child, I am blessed to see you working so hard on this one thing. Your determination to see it through to the end has warmed this Father’s heart. I know how much you desire to get where you’re going, but I want you to remember that you are on a journey. There will be many twists and turns along the way, but you will get where you are going. There will be times that it feels as if you’re headed in the wrong direction, but really you aren’t. You’ll even question Me as it seems like nothing is going right, but I can assure you that you are headed on just the right path to get you where I want and need you to be. Not a minute early and not a minute late, but just right on time. I am your biggest cheerleader. Can you hear me cheering you on to keep at it another day? You’re gonna make it. On the days that nothing is going right, I want you to remember that I am walking right beside you. In fact when you are just too tired to go another step, then I will reach down, pick you up, and carry you because I love you that much. I love you that much, my precious and beloved child.”

Tears streaming down your face. Overwhelmed with the Father’s love and presence in your life. His care and concern about every single thing that concerns you. There are millions of needs around the world, but He chooses to include Himself in those things that really don’t matter to anyone except you. No one understands your struggle like you do, that is except the Father. In your heart, you know that it’s all going to be okay. He has spoken peace to those very depths of your soul that needed one word of refreshment. He loved you enough to show up in your situation.

Now you know that you will make it another day. Either running full steam ahead or with the Father carrying you across the finish line. You see the end in sight. Your one thing will be accomplished. It’s not just a dream anymore. It is your reality…your destiny…your destination. That’s where the two of you are headed. Receive it. Go for it. Reach it. It’s all waiting for you just up ahead.

Letting Go!

We try so hard to make sure that we have a handle on everything. We want things and situations to go just like we want them to go. We want people to respond the way that we want them to respond. If only things would work out exactly like the scenario in our minds, then all would be well in our world. We have this idea that what we see in all of this would be so much better than what God desires. We think we know best even though deep down we somehow realize that one little word is rearing it’s ugly head in our lives, and that little word is none other than control.

As humans, we have this innate desire to control everyone and everything around us. We want things our way, and when they don’t work out to our exact specification, then we experience hurt, confusion, and disappointment. It’s a rather sobering thought to realize that no matter how hard we try to control it all, in reality we are controlling nothing. We are living with a false sense that we can make others and things do exactly what we want. We are deceiving ourselves with one big, fat lie when we think this can happen. This just isn’t the way that it really is.

We must come to grips that people are free to choose. Sometimes it works out the way that we want, and other times it doesn’t quite go that way. That’s a difficult pill to swallow. There is always great risk here. How are we going to handle this if it doesn’t go our way? How do we process the letdown of what we were trying to hold onto so tightly?

When we feel that we have lost control over every situation in our life, then that’s exactly where God wants us to be. In fact, that is where He wanted us to be all along. We just thought we knew what was right. This puts us in a place of great uncertainty and unknown. It feels so uncomfortable to be here, but this is the place that we learn the greatest truths and lessons. There is a freedom in being able to let go of everything that we’re trying so hard to hold onto. To be able to hand it all over to The One that knows best about everything in our lives. To The One who wants us to experience true rest as He puts it all together.

We are still responsible for doing our part in obedience to God, but in no way are we supposed to manipulate God into what we want. We can try this, but it never works. God sees our heart and realizes the truth of who we really are. Nothing is hidden from Him. Our daily prayer should be for Him to create a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within us. He sees the thoughts and intentions of everything we do, and when He sees our desire to control it all, then that’s when He decides that it’s time to change all of that. We will experience things in our lives that will completely take us out of control. Then we will see who was handling it all in the first place, and it wasn’t us.

We are all going to experience seasons in our lives when nothing makes sense. We will just want to run away and forget that nothing is going our way. If only we could have a handle on it all. If only we could take charge and control the outcome, then all would be well in our world, but this isn’t reality. It’s time to take our hands off from all that we’re trying so hard to hold onto, and let God do what He does best. It’s time to rest in His presence and know that He’s working in ways that we can’t see. It’s time to trust The One who is in control of everything. No more trying to push and make it happen. Just a place of peace where we know that all is well.

The Beauty of Being Honest With God

Empty, broken, hollow, alone. God, as I approach You, I feel as if I have nothing left to give. Depleted, exhausted from the fight, struggling. How much longer do I have to stay in this place? Nothing feels right or makes sense to me. I can’t even see beyond this day. If only I could see how You are putting this all together, then it would all be so much different. Silence. Utter and complete silence is all that I hear. Why do you have to be so quiet? I need You now more than ever, but yet it feels like You are a million miles away from me. I continue to ask why, but once again – no response. Just make this all go away. It’s too uncomfortable and painful here. Just please stop it all. It seems too much to bear.

No matter how difficult this is. No matter how much I want it to be different. No matter if it seems as if You are nowhere to be found, still yet I continue to press forward even in the times it feels as if I can’t. When all seems lost, I choose to hope in You. I choose to stand upon my foundation of faith that is unshakable and immovable. You haven’t forsaken me. You’re still with me no matter how the enemy tries to tell me different. I know that You are working all things together for my good – even in this desert place. Even in the wilderness, still You are there with me. Even in the midst of the unknown and uncertain, You know exactly what You are doing. I choose to trust You with the last bit of strength within me.

I won’t be in this valley forever. I’m just passing through. Each step that I take is leading me to the other side. I’m crossing over to the victory that is staring me right in the face. I can’t go on how it looks because I choose to look on all of this with eyes of faith. All of this is giving me strength that would happen no other way. I must go through it even though it’s nothing I would choose on my own. You have allowed it, and I am at peace with it. I’m coming through as a conqueror because Your resurrection power lives in me. You’ve not failed me yet, and You won’t stop now. I’m making it through because You are carrying me every step of the way. I don’t even have to be strong because You are being strong for me. I don’t even have to fight the battle because You are doing that for me.

I won’t be defeated. I’m not giving up. There’s too much in front of me to do that. I have Your Word as my truth and promise to see me through my darkest days. I surrender it all to You. Take it all. Take all of me. I am Yours. I choose to rest in You as You continue to do Your perfecting work in me. A reflection of You is all that I desire others to see.

So now I leave this time better than when I started. I long to linger in this place of complete honesty and vulnerability with You, my Abba Father, just a little longer as there is no fear here. No guilt or condemnation for who I really am. Just love. Overwhelming love that sinks down into the depths of my heart and spirit. Love so beautiful and captivating. Your love has captured every part of my heart. I am Yours, and You are mine.

The Valley of The Unknown & Uncertain

I don’t particularly care for this place. Everything all feels so uncertain. It’s all that I can do to put one foot in front of the other. I can’t tell where this is all headed. God, I have so many questions, but I feel like You are being so quiet. Why won’t You tell me anything? I just need to know what You have up in front of me, but once again all I hear is silence. Complete silence. Don’t you hear me? Why does it have to be this way? Can’t you just let me in on all that seems like one big secret. I need to know. I need answers. I don’t know how much more of this that I can take!

Ever have a conversation with God like this one? With all complete honesty, I’m sure that you have, but I could be wrong. Maybe I’m the only one that experiences talks with God of this nature. Now I’m letting you in on a few secrets of my times of being myself before my Abba Father. The real me with nothing to hide, so there you have it. I’m sure that we’re more alike than we care to admit, but at least we know that we’re all in the same boat. We’re all full of questions and just wanting some answers.

So much of our life is spent in the unknown. We’re waiting on God to show us the next step. We have concerns about what is up ahead that we just don’t understand. We want to know what to do, but we just don’t feel like we’re getting anywhere. This can be a time of great confusion until we decide to look at it another way.

Through all of my times of uncertainty in life (of which I’ve had quite a few), God has shown me some great truth in dealing with these difficult and trying circumstances. So often no matter how much we beg God, He just isn’t going to give us the answers we are longing for. With God it’s more about the process that He’s taking us through than giving us every single, little detail. He’s wanting us to learn how to trust Him as we take every step in obedience. If He told us how everything was going to work out, then that wouldn’t take any faith. We would continue to live life as weak and anemic Christ followers. We would never grow in our journey. We would never experience the greatness of our God showing up in our situation when we’re just about ready to give up. We would miss all that God is wanting to teach us.

Each morning we make a decision if we are going to be obedient to what God asks of us that day. We decide if we are going to trust Him with all of the details. We decide if we are going to manipulate our situation to work out to our benefit or if we are going to surrender our situation to Him. If we trust Him the way that we say that we do, then we know that He has the power to do anything. He has the power to make what seems impossible to be the possible. He has the ability do the exceedingly, abundantly above anything we could ask or think. There are no limits with Him.

We can face the day with full confidence that He is in control. We can be at rest knowing that He is working all things together for our good as we seek Him first and are desiring to be called according to His purpose. We know that as we delight ourselves in Him, then He will give us the desires of our heart. We don’t have to live worried, stressed out, and anxious about how He’s going to make everything work. We just know that as we do our part, then He will take care of the rest. We have His favor working for us, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. We can experience a supernatural calm that the world wants more than anything. We can walk through these uncertain times with a steadfast and sure faith because He is putting together every piece of the puzzle.

We will experience times of uncertainty and unknown for the rest of our lives. Our life isn’t a tv show where everything is resolved in 30 minutes. Sometimes we are in these seasons for months and years at a time. We set the pace for how we will face them. We are either going to choose a place of peace with God or a place of constant turmoil needing to know the next thing that is going to happen before we can be happy. Decide today to choose joy and determination that you are in it for the long haul with whatever God decides to do for you. Don’t give up now because you’ve come way too far. You can do this. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy this ride also known as the great adventure with God. He’s not failed you yet, and He won’t stop now!

But God, Why Would You Want To Do That For Me?

Time to play it safe. There’s just too much risk here. I’ll say the words, but my heart just isn’t in it. Surely God will understand. I’m too afraid because of what is at stake. I just don’t want to be disappointed again.

How many times do we have this conversation with ourselves? Usually it happens quite frequently. More than we care to think about. This conversation is none other than how we try to talk ourselves out of what we are praying about. Those things that we quietly only share with God. Those things that we are secretly desiring, but feel no open doors to share with anyone. Those things that are too deep and personal to share with anyone else. Those things that only God knows.

So often in life, we limit God. We seem to believe the lie that we’re not good enough and that we don’t deserve any of His blessings or favor coming our way. We aren’t enough. We’re less than. Second class. Washed up and ready to be thrown away like last week’s garbage.

Somehow in the midst of all of this negativity, we have lost the expectation of all that God wants to do for us. It gets lost amongst the mundane life that we live, the responsibilities we carry, and just trying to keep up with all that encompasses our life. We’ve settled for average and mediocre. We’ve even questioned why we should expect Him to show up. It’s always going to turn out the same way. It’s going to just be one, big let down.

We’ve lost our ability to imagine and dream of all that God wants to do in our life. We’ve focused on how life is right now, pushing aside all that He wants and desires to do for us. We’ve somehow handicapped His vision for us because it just seems too good to be true. We’ve wondered why He would even want to use little, ole me.

We don’t just approach our prayer life in this way, but we approach every part of our life this way. We show up to the worship service each week expecting it to be the same as it was last week. We serve half-heartedly, if we even serve at all. We just go through the motions not looking for ways that God wants to wow us or how lives could be changed. There is no expectation for God. In fact, we’ve gotten so good that we don’t even need Him to show up.

It’s time for all of this to change! It has to, unless you want to continue living a less-than life. You have got to live each day with a sense of expectation for all that God wants to do in and through you. Does this mean that life is going to be easy? No! There will be challenges and trials along the way, but we must not lose our sense of expectation amongst all that we are facing. Don’t put a lid on anything that God is wanting to do in your life. Wake up each morning with a renewed mind knowing that God has great things in store for you. Speak it. Say it. Declare and decree it out of your mouth – even if you don’t feel it. Get His Word brewing in your spirit so you know exactly how to come against all of those defeating thoughts. You must be your biggest cheerleader. Don’t wait on others to do this for you. You decide here and now that God’s absolute best is headed your way.

Then as you walk in obedience each day and trust God with every detail, you’ll begin to see Him put together each piece of the puzzle. You’ll see how you decided to go against the status quo Christian life and how you decided to expect even greater from God than you can ask or think. You’ll see that the abundant life that you’ve been desiring decided to show up all because you made up your mind. You made up your mind that you were going to expect God to show up no matter how it looked on the outside. You decided to expect God for the impossible.

So go ahead! Jump in the deep end of God’s great expectations for you. It might feel scary at first and even go against your nature, but it will be one of the best decisions in your life. Living life not holding Him back from anything. Living life knowing that with God nothing is impossible. Just go for it!

Reflections of My Heart

God, as I sit here, I am overwhelmed with Your presence and love in my life. I have no words that I can utter from my lips to even begin to share all that my heart is overflowing with at this moment in time.

I am completely undone in your presence. My heart sings with joy as I see You do so many miraculous things for me. Things just for me. Things that have my name written on them. Things created for me before the foundation of time.

The beauty of this place was chosen for me. Just for me. The quietness of being with You beside the still waters blocks out any noise or voices from the enemy trying to discourage me or keep me from You.

You’ve shown me this place so many times before, but I just was too busy to notice it. Now it is a place that I am drawn to over and over again. I must linger in this place just a little while longer. This isn’t a place for hurry, but a place to be caught up in the beauty of the moment. A moment just waiting to be shared between the two of us.

Here I know that I am loved as the daughter that You created me to be. I am loved just because. Not for anything I can do or bring, but just for being me.

Here I am honored, cherished, and valued beyond anything I have experienced in my time on this earth.

As I am immersed in your sea of forgiveness, mercy, and grace, then I pour out that same forgiveness, mercy, and grace on others. That is my desire – to be a reflection of the beauty that You have brought into my life. A reflection of your blessing to others. I want everyone to know just how awesome and wonderful You are.

As I leave these words on this page, may Your Words forever be laid in my spirit. May Your Words change, encourage, and inspire me to be the woman that You created me to be. May I forever embrace the simplicity and complexity of Your Word as I seek Your presence more and more each day.

I love You, Father!

Come Away With Me Awhile

Come away with me awhile. Can you hear Him calling you? Pursuing you? Wooing you to stop and just enjoy this time. No hidden agenda behind His passion and heart for you. Just the joy of being with Him. He wants you to know His heart. In fact, He wants to share His heart with you. He longs for you to know life, this abundant life, found only in this coming away. It’s not found in the doing, but in the being.

We long for deeper relationship with God, yet so often we don’t think that we have time for it. Life is full of responsibilities and things to accomplish. People are counting on us. It’s hard to say no. If it’s going to get done, then we’re the ones that have to make it happen. It just never stops.

We must realize that our life is all about priority. If God truly is our life, then this drawing away time with Him won’t be something that we have to schedule. It will be something that our spirit craves. We will make it happen because He has consumed and taken up residence in every part of our being. Every fiber of our being screams out His presence and the need to be with Him.

This overwhelming desire boils down to one word, and that word is love. When God has our heart, then we have an open channel into His love. We have a direct line into this beautiful gift. His love is what is drawing and pursuing us. His love is pure and unlike anything else that this world has ever known. His love speaks truth, yet we hang onto His every word. His love draws us into a place where we are free to be who He created us to be without any fear of rejection or abandonment. His love is our greatest joy magnified billions of times.

On earth, we only get to experience just a small part of what awaits us in heaven. When we finally reach home, then we’ll know the full expression of that love. No sin or brokenness to block this gift. His love will surround us, and we’ll finally get to live life the way that He created and intended for us to live. Death won’t stop it for that will all be long passed. Only an eternity spent in the splendor and majesty of this intoxicating love.

So do you hear His still, small voice calling you to come away for awhile? He’s speaking, but maybe you’ve missed it among all the chatter and noise of the day. Listen closely because that’s Him that’s crying out for you to come away. Come away with Him so that He can share His heart with you. Come away with Him so that He can share the love with you that your heart so desires. Come away with Him to just sit awhile and be in His presence. Come away with Him for the wholeness your soul is crying out for. Come away with Him and just be. That’s it. Just be.

It Really Was A Walk To Remember

I just had to go for a walk that day. The weather was perfect, and I was looking forward to soaking up every minute of the sunshine. It was a beautiful day. Just like something out of a picture book. Somehow through all of the beauty, I knew that God had created it all for me to enjoy. He was giving me a precious gift just for me. Just something only He could do simply because He desired to bless His daughter. Just for the sheer desire of giving me something of pleasure to capture my heart. He had my attention.

This walk wasn’t just any walk. It was a time for me to be by myself. A time to enjoy my own company. No hidden agendas for what God could do for me, but a time to pour into myself as God poured into me. No one there to impress. Just the simple joy of living in the beauty of the moment. It was a time to just be me.

I didn’t hear God’s loud, booming voice, but I heard His voice everywhere along the pathway trail. Birds singing praise to God. The flowing water from the creek rippling along as it followed its familiar course. Even the quiet of my surroundings weren’t able to hold back their praise. Even through the stillness, it did nothing less than to project God’s glory all around me. Everywhere I looked, He was there singing His love over not just me, but over all of His creation. I was the recipient of a beautiful symphony all around me.

I experienced all of this not because I was anything special, but all because I took the time to pay attention and listen to everything going on around me. For a moment, I was frozen in time. I breathed in all that God was blessing me with, and I was nothing less than captivated by the beauty of His heart. He loved me enough to share His heart with me, and I knew that this was nothing to be taken lightly. I was witness to His greatness all around me, yet I was an eye witness to His loving care of every small detail of His creation. Oh how great and amazing I knew that my God was in those few simple moments. The joy of just being in His presence in a place that didn’t have a church sign over the door. It was just the cathedral of His creation. No other house of worship was quite as lovely.

I don’t ever want to forget that moment. All too soon, I had to return back to life as I knew it, yet in my mind I could linger there just a little while longer. I knew that I could revisit this memory over and over again whenever I needed to be reminded of just how awesome my God was. When life seemed just a little too hectic for the pace I was keeping. When I needed to be reminded of just how much I am loved. I will choose to draw upon the quiet strength that all transpired from my simple walk on that lovely spring afternoon. No coincidence of the moment. Just the beautiful plan of my loving Abba Father.

Cheaters Never Win

Cheaters…This particular word brings to mind so many negative tones, emotions, and thoughts. We see stories in the news of people making unwise choices with trying to get away with things that didn’t quite turn out too well. They tried to beat the system. At first it might have went unnoticed, but somewhere along the way, the consequences of their actions caught up with them. Most of the time it doesn’t turn out too pretty. Usually it’s never a happy ending because their world comes crashing down around them. They got caught up in what seemed to be going their way, but that all ended way before its time for them. The party is officially over!

I want to bring this a little closer to home. I want us to take an honest look at ourselves. Don’t look at those around you, but look deep into the real you. I want you to do a thorough exam on the inward man or woman that you are because God has something for us all here.

How many times do we cheat on God? He lays out principles and truths for us to live by, but yet we think we know better. Somehow we think that He isn’t paying attention to those little conversations in our minds. Those conversations of us trying to talk ourselves out of doing the right thing. Conversations where we want to do what we want to do. Somehow I think this all starts out very innocent, but as those seeds of doubt begin to creep in, then the harvest of downfall is already headed our way.

We all seem to think that we would never cheat on God, yet we do this everyday. Sometimes without a second thought. To think that we would go astray from the one that loves us more than anyone else. The one that gave heaven’s best for us. The one that is faithful to us when the world walks out on us. Oh how this must break the heart of God!

We’re cheating on God when we are too busy to spend time with Him. We’re cheating on God when we don’t take care of our temples the way that He instructs us to. We’re cheating on God when we don’t take time to rest. We’re cheating on God when we don’t cherish and pour into the sacred gift of home and family. We’re cheating on God when we keep back and spend the first 10% that He instructs us to bring back to the storehouse. We’re cheating on God when we’re too busy to pray. We’re cheating on God when we don’t practice corporate weekly worship with a local church body. We’re cheating on God when we don’t use our gifts, talents, and resources to honor Him. We’re cheating on God when we desire the things of the world more than Him. We’re cheating on God when we don’t give our lives to Him.

Life is all about prioritizing the things that are most important. When we don’t give God first place in every area of our lives, it shows. What we are valuing over God then becomes the mistress. He doesn’t deserve to be treated as someone we only turn to when times get tough. He deserves our full attention and devotion all the days of our lives. He doesn’t deserve to be cheated on, yet we do it without a second thought.

So it’s time to put an end to this. It’s time to make better choices and decisions. It’s time to be fully present in our abiding with God and to consider Him in this matter. Let’s choose to think of Him first before we even think of ourselves. Let’s choose to get rid of the mistress and fully engage in all areas of our lives with Him.

As the old saying goes…cheaters never win!

New Seasons Mean All Kinds Of New

We’ve just recently turned the page to a new season. Each time that we partake of this quarterly ritual, it is always filled with great promise and expectation. We’re looking forward into all that is just up ahead and quickly approaching. Thoughts of all of the possibilities that lie just within reach. So close that we anxiously await all that is to come in this new season. An excitement is brewing in the air. It’s so difficult to contain ourselves because we are more than ready for this. It’s finally here!

New seasons on the calendar give us the opportunity for something new and fresh. Trails not yet explored. Things just waiting to be discovered. These new seasons are like turning over a new leaf. Like writing in a brand new journal with crisp, white pages just waiting to be filled up with thoughts, ideas, and our heart’s desires. There’s something special about all of this newness.

Now what would happen if we would approach new seasons in our lives with all of this enthusiasm? What if we were to get caught up in all that lies ahead instead of all that we left behind in the last season? What if we allowed God the space to come in and speak hope into all that lies ahead? Then we would be headed into new territory with a positive outlook. Everything about our lives would change. All with a simple mindset readjustment. We would no longer be discouraged, but we would be encouraged to know that God is at work with all that is approaching. There would be no stopping us because we would put no limits on God.

With this being the case, then why are we so quick to mourn all that was left behind? Why do we think that God doesn’t have the ability to do even greater in our lives just because some time has passed? We are so quick to jump on the negativity bandwagon. To think that this is as good as it gets. Nothing will ever change. My best days are all behind me.

We have got to stop with all of this destructive thinking. Every time we dwell on a negative thought and then proceed to let it come out of our mouths, then we are only harming ourselves and all that God wants to do in our lives. So many times, we hold Him back because we think we are unimportant to Him. That is so far from the truth. When we abide as a son or daughter of Abba Father, then we have full assurance of the promises and truths of His Word. His Word will never fail, and it will never fail us.

So does that mean that nothing bad will ever happen? Absolutely not. We live in a sin-filled and broken world. We are all going to experience things that just aren’t right and fair in our lives. Things that make us question everything we’ve ever known about God. Things that seem too much to bear, but we can’t let any of that stop us. We cannot allow it to paralyze us with fear so frightened to move forward into our future. When we do that, then we are holding back some of the greatest blessings He has in store for us. We are exchanging God’s ginormous future in front of us for the crippling emotions of the moment that only serve to hold us back.

The time is now. Look at what’s ahead of you with great promise and possibility. See it all through God’s eyes and not your eyes of flesh. Purpose in your heart that you aren’t going to hold Him back from anything that He desires to do in your life. Meditate on it. Think it. Speak it. Declare it. Then watch God bring it to pass. Watch Him bring to pass things that are greater than you can even think or imagine. Your new season isn’t in the future. It’s here right now. Approach it prayerfully with great expectation of all that He has planned for you. It’s going to be one exciting journey!

Fear, Why Did You Have To Show Up Now?

Today I faced my fears and did something even though I was feeling afraid. There really was no reason for me to experience this emotion, but it showed up unannounced. To the rest of the world, it wouldn’t have made any sense to feel this way, but it was real to me. In fact, I had been dealing with this for the week prior to facing my fear. A million thoughts running through my mind of all the reasons I shouldn’t follow through. Every time a negative thought came my way, I had to combat against it with the truth that I knew would work, and that was God’s Word. It was a constant struggle and battle in every moment leading up to this.

Questions kept coming to me. I even began to second guess why I was even going to do this. Then I began to be plagued with thoughts from the enemy attempting to weigh me down with any form of guilt or shame available in the books. Things that weren’t even true. Just lies, but when you’re in that moment, sometimes you don’t even recognize them as such. Why would I even want to try? My past has been too broken and damaged from things I didn’t ask for. How and why would God want to continue to use me when I feel as if there is just too much back there that I don’t even want to remember, let alone be reminded of and brought with me into my future. Such deep pain that there are no words to express exactly what you are feeling. Pain that wants to take your breath away.

Then that’s when God showed up and gave me the words my soul so desperately longed for and needed at that moment.

As He began to speak truth into my spirit, it changed everything for me. It didn’t change the fact that I was afraid, but it changed my thinking and mindset when He revealed this to me. I had to look beyond my past into where I knew God was leading me. I didn’t need to get stuck there, but I needed to move forward into the unknown where God was. All of the horrible thoughts about my past were all washed away when I saw this beautiful place that God was leading me into. It was a place far greater than anything that was stolen from me or anything I ever had to leave behind. To say that God changed my mind would be too small of a statement. He radically changed everything for me in that moment. Then I knew that it was all going to be more than okay. I knew that I was in the process of entering one of the most beautiful seasons of my life. One I never intended, but God just happened to arrange.

So I did it! Afraid and all, but yet experiencing the greatest peace and contentment at the same time. Once I faced this fear, I looked back and was ever so grateful that I chose to do this afraid even though my flesh kept telling me to back down and not follow through. Then I was able to see just how much the lies from the enemy were really lies and how the truth from God really was the truth. God got the glory in all of this because I simply chose to be obedient in the midst of something that was warring against me in my spirit. Satan, you didn’t win! My Abba Father did!

Whenever you are facing a situation where you are experiencing fear, do whatever it is afraid. Do it even if you’re not sure how it’s going to happen or work out. Face it head on even in the midst of the unknown. God has got you covered, but you must step out into this new territory to watch Him work. You can do this because God is on your side. Just step out!

CD Track Number Eight

It had been a very long day. I was tired, and all I wanted to do was go home. Before I opened up my car door to begin this journey, I had just received some news that was rather crushing. It cut to the depths of past wounds. The scab had been torn off leaving emotional pain gaping and exposed once again. I didn’t ask for this, but it found me. It hurt to the core of who I was both now and in the past. The tears began to flow as I questioned God why for the millionth time.

Even though this was a place that should have left me quite uncomfortable, honestly I felt great comfort here, even amidst the despair that so throughly surrounded me. This didn’t just happen by chance or coincidence as to how God stepped in, but it was well thought out ahead of time to let me know that He was thinking of me, even in a time such as this. I love how God shows up in ways that are unusual and out of the norm for us. He goes to great lengths to let us know just how much He loves us, and that He did that very instant.

You must understand a little of the back story here. I had been given a cd with worship music which I was using for a particular project that I was involved in. I had listened to that cd some throughout the day, but didn’t pay much attention to where it had stopped. It wasn’t really any different than what I do on any other day. It seemed like business as usual to me, that is until I got in my car and turned on my cd to get some much needed encouragement.

Then it happened just like that! Song number eight was playing as soon as I turned on my CD player. That’s when that song came alive in my spirit. I had listened to it numerous times before, but this time it took on a whole new meaning. This time The Spirit breathed a rhema Word into it just for me. Every line in that song spoke to exactly where I was in my life and what I was feeling. It ministered healing to every part of me that so desperately needed to know God’s love at that moment. It was just like healing oil being poured onto each of those wounds that seemed to paralyze me just a few minutes before. God let me know in that moment some very personal and intimate Words that I desperately needed to hear. It was a special moment between He and I. I couldn’t even speak a word. I just let Him pour into me His overwhelming love of which He has done numerous times before. It was a moment that I will never and don’t ever want to forget.

That CD could have been on any of those other tracks, but God chose in that split second to be on the one that I needed to hear right in that exact moment. God loved me enough to make sure that I had this specific message to offer me hope and encouragement that I needed right then, not fifteen minutes earlier or not fifteen minutes later. He is always in the moment with us no matter if it’s a good moment or one that is less than desirable. He knows and is concerned with every single detail of our life. That’s the awesome God that we serve.

Don’t ever think that God isn’t paying attention because He is. As His children, He is always waiting there for us with open arms and words of love and encouragement that only He can give. He is always speaking to us, but we miss it so many times because every other noise is drowning out His still and quiet voice. He is there for us desiring only for us to know the beauty of His presence. Of just being with Him. Being with Him in the good or the bad. Being with Him when everything’s going our way or when our world is falling apart. Bring Him your smiles and overflowing heart of joy. Bring Him your despair and tears of grief or sadness. Just bring Him, you. You, that’s what He wants. The polished and pretty you or the bruised, broken, and bleeding you. He just wants you, child. Just you. The Father wants you.

Not Just Another Cute, Christian Phrase

Abiding in Jesus. We’ve heard this phrase over and over many times. We’ve even read it in The Bible. It sounds good, but so often we don’t really take the time to dive into exactly what we’re supposed to be getting out of it. We mean well, but it’s easier to pass it over and go onto the next big thing in the Christian community. Letting God speak truth into our spirits takes time, and we just don’t think we have it in us to do this. But God…He wants us to not just know about this abiding thing. He wants us to experience it with Him.

Abiding in Jesus isn’t about adding another item to our calendar. It’s about rearranging some things to what we’re already doing so that we include Him in every part of our life. So many times we want to compartmentalize our life. We want to be the ones to give Jesus permission to only enter certain rooms in our lives, but when we do this, then we are missing the beautiful discipline of abiding. Yes, abiding is a discipline that transforms into a lifestyle. A lifestyle where Jesus is welcome in every part. A lifestyle where Jesus takes up residence, and we gladly hand over the keys to Him. Abiding then becomes our lifeline as we are desperate creatures.

Another way to describe abiding is none other than the term immersing. All that we do is surrounded by God’s presence. It’s staying plugged into His power source every moment of our lives. Our thoughts are fixed on Jesus. Our minds are captivated by His love. His Word flows out of our conversations. We are drawn into spending our time focused on The One who has stolen our heart. Every heartbeat sings His name. We long to be with Him so we make it happen. Sometimes we’re around others when we’re abiding, but the most intimate and desirous times are when it’s just the two of us. We gain strength from being with Him. Our hearts overflow with nothing but an overwhelming and captivating love of The Father. We just can’t get enough of Him. He has seized every fiber of our being. He has consumed us.

As we practice abiding in Him, supernatural fruit is going to be produced. In fact, this is the way that we produce fruit. We must spend time with Him to see this happen. Each moment spent abiding is just another seed that gets planted. Those seeds will produce a bountiful harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, along with many other spiritual fruits too numerous to count. We don’t make the seeds grow. We just plant and water them. God is the one that’s responsible for making the seeds grow. He’s the one producing the fruit all because we made the choice to abide in Him. What a beautiful exchange. We spend time with Him, and He supplies the harvest.

Take the time. Make the time to abide with Jesus. He wants to change your life as you do life with Him. You can’t stay connected to Him and He not change your life. It’s bound to happen one way or the other as you lovingly give your life away to The One who gave it all for you. Loyalty to The One that traded heaven and earth to make you His child. Pursue His heart as He passionately pursues you. Abide with Him. You’ll never regret it!

Death Of A Dream

Today I passed it by. I’ve seen this particular place many times before without giving it a second thought, but today was different. For some strange reason, a flood of emotions came crashing my way when I saw this place, and in a split second, God began to speak truth to me. I then knew exactly what God was wanting me to unpack and understand about it.

This place that I’m referring to is none other than the cemetery. You’re probably wondering just how God was up to something in this one, but boy was He ever. He can take the oddest things and use them as teaching spots for us.

The cemetery isn’t just home to those that have passed away, but the cemetery also houses other things that have died way before their time. These particular things, still left unnamed, didn’t make it, and when the person didn’t make it, then it was gone, as well.

You see, the cemetery isn’t just a place to house those that have passed away, but it is the burial ground to millions of dreams that have died along with all of the people. How many dreams did people really want to accomplish, but yet felt as if they didn’t have what it took? Precious years wasted pursuing everything else except those dreams that God placed in them. Everything else stood in the way and told them that it just wasn’t possible. So much potential lying wasted there all because of one word…fear.

We make so many excuses as to why our dreams just aren’t possible. We talk ourselves out of them every time because we think that they are just too hard. We then begin to ask ourselves how and why God would choose to use someone like us, and we buy into the lie that He couldn’t and wouldn’t use us because we are just a nobody. Then the dreams begin the dying process, just waiting to be buried when it’s their time to go. These dreams were something that God was birthing, but we just couldn’t see beyond all of our fear and doubts.

But what if our dreams could have a resurrection before we leave this earth? What if those passions and desires that God placed in us long ago that are barely holding on with life support could be brought back to life again? This is exactly what He wants to do with you. He doesn’t want to see you live life with unfulfilled dreams, and He certainly doesn’t want to see them buried in the cemetery. You have too much in you to just let it die. It’s time to let God breathe life into those dreams that you thought were dead and watch Him bring about a beautiful and miraculous resurrection story.

Make the decision today. Don’t let anymore time pass. It’s time to be brave, fight through the fear, and pursue those dreams that God has placed in you. God doesn’t want them to just be dreams. He desires to see you pursue those dreams that He’s given you a heart for. This is the place where you’ll live the most fulfilled. Anything less and life is greatly limited. God has placed so much greatness on the inside of you that’s He’s just waiting to draw out, but you must make the decision to let Him start that process. He will start it, but He wants you to pursue it. Then He’ll breathe life into those dreams and bring about purpose from the potential within you.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t wait for the cemetery with all of those dreams. Get out there and watch God put it all into place. The clock is ticking. Time waits for no one.

God, I Know You Have Me Here, But I Don’t Like It!

We’ve all been there. In fact, most of us are probably there right now. We don’t like this particular season, but it has a way of finding us. We’d rather skip through all of this, but then we’d miss so much on our journey. God has so much that He wants to teach us during this time, but we are the ones setting the pace for that. We decide just what it’s going to be like. We’ll either embrace it for all that it is, or we’ll go through it kicking and screaming.

This season that I’m referring to is none other than a season of waiting. If we were to get really honest, I would be willing to bet that there is something you have prayed about and cried out to God about, but yet He seems so silent on. You haven’t seen Him do anything. It seems as if He doesn’t really care about you. You just wish that He would show you something to let you know that it was all going to be okay. You feel forgotten and pushed aside. If only…if only He would let you know something, then it wouldn’t be so hard to go through this time.

Don’t feel bad if this describes you. We’ve all felt that way at some point in our lives. So many times, we try to act as if our human emotions don’t exist. We feel as if we are horrible people for thinking things of that nature, but that’s not how God sees it. He understands all of your up and down emotions even better than you do. It’s always best to come to Him in complete honesty with all that we are experiencing. He’s big enough to handle every negative thought that you bring to Him. In fact, He loves your honesty because then you aren’t hiding behind anything. You are just being you, and He loves that.

I don’t have a clue what you are waiting on God for at this point in your life. I wish that I had the ability to make it all better for you, but that’s not my job. I would be doing a great disservice to God if I did that. I would be keeping Him from growing you during this waiting season. You would miss so much by not going through this. I know that you aren’t able to see that from your viewpoint right now, but when it’s all said and done, then you will be a much stronger person having gone through this.

So this sounds all good and well, but what do you do in the waiting? How do you face this season without feeling like you’re going to go crazy from just continuing to hold on? How are you supposed to look at this through God’s eyes and perspective?

The first thing you can do in this season is to work on becoming a better version of you. What are some goals that you have set, but have failed to work on? Maybe there’s a hobby that you’ve put off pursuing. Maybe you need to work on finishing that degree, along with hundreds of other suggestions. You are the one that knows exactly what this is that you need to be doing in this season. Don’t waste this time for one day this season will be over and time passed, and you won’t have anything to show for it. This isn’t being selfish, so stop making excuses. God loves it when you care enough about yourself to work on you. In fact, He thought you were important enough to die on the cross for you. Find out just what this thing is that you need to work on, and pursue it passionately. Love yourself enough to do this.

The second thing that you need to be pursuing in this season of waiting is getting to know God better. This is the perfect time to find out more about the character of God. Pursue Him not for the answer on what you’re waiting on Him for, but pursue Him just for pursuing’s sake. Seek His heart and not just His hand. Yes, you are coming to God about something that you need His help on, but there’s so much to be gleaned in this season in your relationship with Him other than just what you’re wanting Him to do. You will experience Him in this season in a way that you would never have experienced Him had you not been exactly where you are. Fall in love with Jesus all over again. Pursue Him passionately.

And lastly but definitely not least, find a way to enjoy your life every single day. So many times when we’re in a season of waiting, we have a tendency to put our lives on hold. Don’t wait for the answer to come before you start living. Each day is a gift that God blesses us with. Even though life may not be ideal for you right now, that doesn’t keep you from making the most of everyday. You may be facing situations that you don’t like, but you are the only one responsible for your attitude in this season. It’s not so much about what we’re facing as it is our decision to go through it in a way that is pleasing to God. God understands that you don’t like this waiting season, but it blesses His heart when you make the most of everyday and enjoy this beautiful gift of life even in spite of not knowing when He is going to come through.

So it’s my prayer that you will embrace this season of waiting for all that God has in store for you. I know that you don’t know how God is going to come through or even when He’s going to come through, but that’s okay. Sometimes waiting can be ever so painful as you have more questions than answers. I don’t know what He has in store for you, but you must know that what He does have is greater than what you can even think or imagine. The sky is the limit with God. Take off the lid and watch Him work. It may not be in your timetable or even the way that you would have chosen to work, but it will be filled with great possibility and hope for your future even if it doesn’t look like it. Be brave and just dive in. The Father is waiting for you.

One More Mile Is Just Too Much

It’s been a really long day. You’ve braved the cold, harsh weather for hours on end. Traffic has been horrible. You’re running low on fuel, but you don’t want to take the time or get out in the nasty weather to pump gas. You really need to stop by the grocery store because your cupboards are bare, but tonight fast food may just have to do because who feels like going into that jungle. There are still so many things to do when you get home. Tasks to complete, housework that needs attention, phone calls to make, texts to return, bills to be paid, along with your never ending to-do list.

You begin to get a bit overwhelmed before you even walk through the door. So many things to do and not enough time to do them. You want to be focused, but then you hear it. It’s calling your name. First, it’s a faint whisper, but then it gets louder and louder. You try to act as if you don’t hear anything, but all of the self-control in the world just isn’t working tonight. You just can’t ignore it any longer, and you give in.

Have I gotten your imagination running wild? That faint whisper turned into an outside screaming voice is none other than your favorite chair in front of that nice, cozy, and inviting fireplace. You’ve went through this numerous times at the end of a long day before. You want to be productive, but then taking the time to relax and unwind is just what you are craving. It’s just what you need after a day of giving it all that you’ve got. A good book along with a nice cup of hot cocoa are speaking your love language. You want to accomplish something, but tonight all that needs to get accomplished is you.

Let’s be truthful and honest about this one. The struggle is very real. We all battle with this everyday when we get home. The battle of what seems to be urgent and pressing versus what is important and valuable to us. So many times we feel unnecessary guilt over something that should produce no guilt at all. Taking care of you isn’t to be apologized for. It should and must be embraced with the most absolute care and concern. You matter!

All of this sounds good, but what if I told you there was something greater to be learned here? What if I told you there is a bounty of truth in this situation that you so often overlook? What if I told you that there is great wisdom to be gained here. Then you might tell me that I just don’t know what I’m talking about. This nugget of gold is right before you, but you keep missing it every time. So with that in mind, let’s dig a little bit deeper.

You just happen to think that you are sitting down and relaxing for you, but that’s not it at all. What if this longing and great desire to just sit and not do much of anything is really a cry from your spirit wanting time to be refreshed and renewed. You think that it’s you making this decision, but it’s really God drawing you away to spend time with Him. Time with just you and Him. He wants to know how your day went and all of the things that are bothering you. After you’ve had some time to get through the preliminaries, then He wants you to be still and quiet and just listen. He wants to share His heart with you and not just His hand. This is the only way that He knew would get your attention. Being tired seemed to be a product of the day, but God used it to create time and space in your schedule to be with you. He was talking to you during the day, but you were just too busy to hear, let alone listen. So now He has a captive audience in what you thought was just you all of the time.

This coming away from the world time. This “It’s been a long day and I don’t have any energy left” time. This “I just can’t take it another minute” time. All of these are entry points for God to interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast for an important message. His message to let you know just how much He loves you. How much He wants to spend time with His beloved son or daughter. Time with only the two of you so that He can pour His truth into you. He can hardly wait to share His heart with you to let you know just what a beautiful creation He thinks that you are. He just wants you to know that you are cherished and adored.

The next time you begin to feel a little overwhelmed from the day, don’t fight it. Just sit down and enjoy some much needed time with Abba Father. You thought it was just one of “those” days, but it was God’s plan all along. Relax and just breathe. Breathe in the overwhelming love of your Heavenly Father as He nourishes you in all that you lack and that was depleted. Just rest, beautiful one. Your Father is waiting for you.

Worship Means More Than Sunday Morning?

Worship. When we think about this word, it conjures up so many thoughts and ideas. Most people think of a Sunday morning worship celebration or a certain style of music, and that’s about as far as it goes. We live with such a limited view of what this word entails. Our definition is stifled by the culture that we’ve grown up in. All we know is worship in American Christianity, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface. There’s so much that we are losing just by going along with what is popular in the world around us.

I want to take a different and unique approach to this word that we know as worship. There’s nothing wrong with a Sunday morning worship celebration or worship music as we know it. In fact, these are two very important parts of our journey with Christ. We need times of corporate worship and equipping as the body of Christ, but it must go much deeper than just the hour that we spend together on Sunday morning. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered on what God wants to reveal to us about this very important word also known as worship.

I want to explore worship in one very important area of our lives that we face hundreds of times a day. In fact, I didn’t even think of this as being an area of worship until God began to reveal truth to me on this subject. After my eyes were opened to this, then I began to allow God the space to mold and shape me in this part of my life. It’s my prayer that He will mold and shape the way that you think about this, as well.

This one area of worship that I am referring to is the act of worship in our thought life. God knows every thought that we’ve ever had. In fact, He knows what we’re thinking about before we even think it. This puts Him in a place in our life that no one else has ever been or will ever be. The God that created the whole world knows our every thought. How do we even begin to comprehend that?

So how do we worship God in our thought life? It’s really quite simple, yet not always easy to do. We must be consciously aware of what we are thinking about. When we have a thought that goes against His Word or that doesn’t bring Him glory, then we must take that thought captive. We aren’t able to keep a thought from popping in our minds, but we are able to do something with it. We were created with the ability to process thoughts in our minds. What we take in through our eyes and ears is being processed in our thoughts whether we realize it or not so we must be extremely careful as to what we are allowing access into this complex computer, also known as our thinking center.

It’s important that we are taking in a steady diet of God’s Word. In fact, this should take precedence in our lives. The more that we meditate on His Word, the more that we are worshipping God in our thought life because we are giving Him first place. Read it, listen to it, and consume it until it consumes you. You’ll find that the more that The Word gets into you, the more that The Word will come out of your mouth in speech and conversation. What’s working on the inside of us has a way of working it’s way to the outside of us every time.

Keeping a constant source of positivity in our minds is another way of worshiping God in our thought life. Kick negative thinking to the curb. Listen to praise and worship music. Download apps on your phone so that you can listen to sermons and Bible teaching all throughout the week. Stay in a constant conversation with God all during the day and night. Begin and end the day with God. Be around people that build you up and encourage you in your walk with God. Make weekly church attendance a part of your life.

Our test for knowing that we are staying on target in our thought life goes back to Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” These are the ways that we must strive to honor God in our thought life.

So the next time you think that it’s just a thought and it doesn’t matter, think again. Every thought has the ability to worship and honor God or the ability to push Him further away. Make the decision today to bring glory to God in your thought life. Remember it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15).

Coming Together Sometimes Feels Like I’m Coming Apart

As I stepped out the door this morning, I just knew it and sensed it. For the first time in a really long time, I was able to see my life slowly coming together again, and I liked it. It felt so good to be able to enjoy doing life once again because I have had my fair share of days that took the absolute breath out of me. Days that cut to the core of who I was and everything I believed in. Days I didn’t even want to get out of bed or live, for that much. I have spent more than enough days in the depths of depression, discouragement, and heartbreak. I have struggled with the overwhelming pain of rejection that hurt worse than any physical pain I have ever endured, but yet here I am. I’m still here. I’m no longer in those lowest of low places, but I’m here moving right along with my life. I’m no longer just surviving. I’m thriving, thanks to God!

Even in the midst of where God has brought me to, sometimes my emotions don’t always catch up with where I am. Everything can be going wonderful when all of a sudden, I have one of those thoughts. One of those thoughts that has the ability to throw me over the edge. One of those thoughts to remind me of my past and all I lost. One of those thoughts that makes me wonder what’s wrong with me and why certain things had to happen. Thoughts that make me want to run away and hide and wish that I could wake up from this horrible nightmare. Thoughts with more questions than answers that just go on and on.

What if I stopped here? What if I got stuck here like an old record? What if I never moved beyond all of these debilitating emotions? Then I would be swimming in a sea of hopelessness where the majority of the world around me lives. I would be ready to go down with the sinking ship. I would be ready to just give up because I can’t do this anymore, but that’s not where I’m choosing to land.

Everyday I make a choice about where I’m going to anchor my life. Keep in mind that just because all is well in my relationship with God, that doesn’t keep negative thoughts and emotions from rearing their ugly head. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I’m more of a target when I’m trying to do things the right way. So I have to realize that there isn’t anything wrong with me when this happens. I just need to be aware of all of the things that are going right.

As soon as I begin to experience these bad thoughts and emotions, then I immediately counteract it with the truth that I do know, and that is the truth of God’s Word. I have to go back to what God says about me in The Bible. I must choose to believe that I am His beloved daughter of whom He will never leave or forsake. I am loved, honored, cherished, and adored. I am who He says I am.

Just because I choose to focus on what God says about me doesn’t mean that everything just magically disappears never to be seen again. In fact, I constantly have to keep His truth close to my heart so as to ward off any approaching attacks from the enemy. I choose to stand ammunition ready for battle with His precious truth and promises ready to watch God work.

So, see there? I’m just like you. I deal with life just you have to deal with life. Life hasn’t always been pretty for either of us, but that’s okay. That just means that we can share the struggle together. Then it won’t be so bad because we have each other. I’ll help you up when you’re down, and you can help me up when I’m down. Together we make a great team – limp and all.

Now That I Have His Attention…

Chocolate chip cookies. A rose. Fresh baked bread. Perfume. Gardenia. Hot cocoa. Fresh cut grass. Rain. Apple pie.

Just thinking about that lovely list of random items conjures up so many thoughts and memories. It isn’t just thinking about how much enjoyment each of them brings to us, but it is the delight and sheer pleasure of pondering on how sweet each of them smells. Our olfactory system is working on overload with the delightful joy of taking in the beauty of each unique scent. Each one is special in and of itself. What a wonderful gift that God has given to us with the sense of smell! He does nothing half way. Just one of the thousands of blessings we receive everyday.

Just like the scent beautiful list, our life is producing a beautiful fragrance everyday. When we are in relationship with God, this happens supernaturally. We are reminded of this in 2 Corinthians 2:15, which reads, “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved.” Take a look at that! Straight from God’s Word, we are told that we are a sweet fragrance to God. Our lives poured out to God are like a lovely incense rising from earth to heaven bringing great delight to our Abba Father. He takes notice, and this gets His attention. Not just any attention. It’s His undivided attention. He can tell that there is something different about us because of the pleasing aroma of a life of surrender that fills His habitation. The life of surrender that is produced from a heart of worship pouring forth endless love and devotion to The One that our heart adores. Oh what joy and delight that we bring to our Abba Father! The purest of all joys and delight.

Just as our lives are producing a sweet fragrance to our Heavenly Father, those around us on a daily basis are experiencing the same thing, as well. As we give of ourselves to others, the fragrance of God’s love is poured forth. When we encourage others, we have the scent of God’s love. When we choose to love others in spite of the love that they don’t give, then the recipients of that love take notice of that beautiful fragrance. The perfume of a life given away to both God and others is the sweetest scent there ever was or ever will be. It’s priceless.

Beloved son or daughter, my prayer for you is that all of heaven will take note of the beautiful savor poured forth from your life of love and sacrifice. As that sweet fragrance rises to the holy place, may God’s fragrance of overwhelming love be the perfume that others experience just by your mere presence. Your presence is only as sweet as the aroma of God’s presence. Stay in His presence. Linger there awhile because the scent of heaven and God’s love is all over you.

When Your Enough Just Isn’t Enough (Better Known As, Do You Think I’m Beautiful?)

When you got up and got ready this morning, were you pleased with the final outcome? Was every hair in place? Did your clothes fit just right? Did your time primping in front of the mirror turn out to be time well invested?

If I were to get really honest with you, then I bet the truth would begin to pour out of you. I would guess that you would share with me just what you didn’t like about the things that didn’t turn out the way that you had hoped after your morning get ready routine. You would share with me how things would be better if you could lose that extra 30 pounds. Then you would have that smoking hot body that the world says is acceptable. If only you had a different hairstyle, better make up, or clothes that looked like they didn’t come out of the 80s, then you would be a more well put together woman. You would be more desirable, more attractive, and more noticeable to those around you because you know those magazine cover people never lie to us.

In no way am I encouraging a “I’m just going to roll out of the bed and head out the door” mentality. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take care of yourself, doing skin care, applying make up, fixing your hair, or enjoying a new outfit. In fact, this says to others that you are going to make the most of all of the beautiful creation that God made you to be. That’s just enjoying some of the fun things about being a woman. Side note & disclaimer: I am my mother’s daughter so I have learned all about these things. She is the queen of taking care of herself. I was blessed with a beautiful mother so I have learned from the best. I’m an official graduate of her beauty school. LOL!

There is a beauty and confidence that comes from the inside that no amount of make up can cover up or enhance. There is a place of inner quietness, strength, and poise that comes from living loved by your Abba Father. This is found in abiding in His presence on a daily basis. You know that your value, worth, and identity come from what He says about you and no one else.

You seek validation and acceptance from others because you want to fit in. You want to meet and marry Mr. Right because of your constant longing and craving for love and attention – a love and attention from a man that only God was intended to fulfill. You try so hard to be everything for everyone because just maybe then they will see your true worth. What a huge mistake when we look to others to be what only God can be for us. God is the only one that truly satisfies and meets our desire of being wanted, needed, or loved.

When we take the time to study and know our identity in Christ, then God begins a supernatural work that can’t be explained away. All the world sees and notices this transformation. When we begin to realize just how much God loves us, then we see that we aren’t second rate citizens in The Kingdom just because we are women. We are leaders, movers, and shakers with a purpose and vision to be used by Him just like a man. We are women that deserve to be valued, loved, and treated like the queens that He created us to be. We aren’t trash and something to be thrown away when something better comes along. We are His priceless and beautiful creation. We are women of God making a difference in this world.

It’s time to stop looking to people and things that are ever so fleeting and begin focusing on the eternal things that build true value, worth, and identity in a woman’s life. For far too long, we have chased the wrong things. Now it’s time to chase after the things that matter. It’s time to chase after the heart of God. You, woman of God, chase after and pursue the purpose, plans, and heart of God. You’ll be so glad that you did!

They’re Everywhere!

Everyday you pass them on the street. You have conversations with them at the office or at the grocery store. You interact with them at the restaurant or the gym. You rub shoulders with them at church. You have contact with them when they repair your vehicle. These people are around you no matter where you go each day. Even though these people are all very different, they all have one thing in common. There is one thing that connects them all no matter what their occupation or income level is. No matter their education, these people all share one similarity. These people, these precious people that you are around everyday are none other than people that are hurting and wounded.

You never know even in a short interaction with others just what people are dealing with. You have no idea what they carry with them everywhere they go. These people are literally dying for someone to love them. They so deeply desire for someone to encourage them and speak life giving words to them. They long for someone to look past their baggage and accept them right where they are without having to pretend to be someone they aren’t. They spend all of their days putting on a mask to hide from all of the emotional and mental pain that they deal with on a moment by moment basis. If only someone really cared about what concerns them, then they wouldn’t have to hide and act as if everything was fine. They cry themselves to sleep at night because they feel so alone and as if no one understands anything that they are going through. They feel isolated, abandoned, and forgotten. They feel stuck and unable to move forward.

We all struggle with our own personal battles. Things aren’t perfect for anyone. Life has a way of bringing us all challenges, but that’s no excuse for not sharing the joy that we possess on the inside. Most of the world lives with no hope, but when God births hope in our spirit, then we just can’t keep from sharing it. As God pours into us, then we are compelled to pour His love into other people’s lives. His love is a fountain flowing from us to everyone around us. We just can’t hold it back. It’s too good to keep to ourselves.

So how do we allow God to use us with all of the hurting people that He puts in our path each day? It’s really quite simple. It doesn’t take much thought or planning, but it is something that we must be strategic about. We make a decision each and every morning to surrender to God’s plan for that day. That day is going to include people that are hurting. You can guarantee that someone is going to fit that category no matter where your day takes you.

Plan to be an encourager. Plan to be a person that speaks words of life and not death. Plan to be patient and kind with people. Plan to show God’s love to others. Plan to be a giver. Plan to be a listener. Plan to be a person of joy. Plan to have a good attitude. Plan to treat others with respect and the way that you want to be treated. Plan to be a person of peace with those that are a little short with you. Plan to be a conduit of all of the beautiful workings in your spirit to those around you whether you think they deserve it or not.

You are the only Bible that some people will ever read. May you be Jesus in the flesh with the people that are struggling in life. May your prayer and heart’s desire be to shine the light of God’s love onto every hurting person that He puts you in contact with. When you ask Him to put you in the right place at the right time, then be expecting Him to set up spiritual appointments with the person that needs what you have. You are on assignment with God with those seeking and searching for something that’s missing in their life.

Be watching. Be paying attention. God is at work all around you and wants you to join Him in it. You are a joy giver. You are a hope giver. You are a love of God giver. Share His beauty with wounded people. They want it and need it. For remember that you once were that hurt and wounded person just like them. Never forget it!

God, You Have The Wrong Person

“God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

I have heard this quote for some years now. In fact when I was doing some research on who actually penned it, it kept listing different people. I’m not sure who I owe the credit to, but I absolutely love it. It speaks such truth. It’s short and to the point, but it reaches exactly where we live as we seek to serve God.

As I look back on my life, I’m reminded of just how much I have lived this out time and time again. Anytime God has called me to do something, I have always felt as if I didn’t have what it took. I didn’t have enough education. I didn’t have enough experience. I lacked everything that was needed for that particular ministry. In fact, I have always felt like the least likely candidate. Surely there is someone else that God would choose besides me. Why would God decide to use me when I felt less than?

Then through all of my self-doubt, God reminded me that I had my focus on all of the wrong things. It wasn’t about all of the things that I could or couldn’t do, it was all about my willingness and desire to be used by God. He was looking at my heart. When He saw my desire to be all that He wanted me to be, then it changed everything. This is where He stepped in and changed every last bit. No longer was it about my credentials (or lack thereof), it became more about allowing God to pour into me those things that only come from Him. When we allow God to do the inside work on us, it changes everything. All of the molding and shaping into the image of our Heavenly Father gives Him the space available to perfect us in those places that we are serving Him.

If we feel secure in what we do, then we no longer rely upon Him to do those things that He’s called us to do. We begin to feel as if we don’t need God. We can do it all ourselves. We can make it happen. No longer do we trust Him to make it happen. We just go through the motions and hope and pray that God blesses it.

So no longer do I have the desire to have it all together in those places that I’m serving. I want to do my best. I want to study and be prepared, but never do I want to get to the point where I’ve worked God out of a job. I desperately need Him to continue challenging me and pushing me to be all that I can be for Him. There is no happier place to be than having to depend on Him to make it all happen. That way it’s no longer about me, but it’s about just how awesome and amazing my Abba Father is. He’s taking me, just a lump of clay, and making something beautiful to bring Him glory. Now that’s my God!

The next time you begin to question if God has the right person for the job, you just remind yourself that you are the right person – all because you don’t have it all perfect and polished. He’s sees your willing heart, and that’s all He asks. Willing hearts and willing vessels. That’s what He loves the most. Then you’ll be the one he calls qualified, beautiful son or daughter.

Time To Start A New Chapter

Well here we are once again! We are on the threshold of a new year. Pretty soon in just a couple of hours it will be 2019. I just got used to writing 2018, and now I’ll have to get used to writing something new. How did we even get to 2019? I still remember approaching the year 2000. Now that’s been 19 years ago. That’s lots of years. How did that happen?

As we close out 2018, I want us to look back at all of the wonderful things that God has done in our lives. Take some time to make a list. If we don’t take inventory of the good, then it will get crowded out by all of the negative things that have happened to us. Be intentional. Make a list of everything whether you think it’s big or small. Keep this handy so that you can review it over and over again in the new year. We need to be reminded of how God brought together every detail in our lives. Celebrate the awesome God He is.

Just as I’ve asked you to remember all of God’s blessings in 2018, I want to challenge you to remember all of those not so pretty places in our lives. Those places that caused great pain and hurt. Now don’t stay here too long because the longer you stay here, the more discouraged and depressed you’ll be. Your pain of 2018 will be the launching pad into the future of 2019. It will show you just how far you’ve come and how much God has done in your life. Celebrate the bad because you made it through. That deserves a big woohoo!

So as we’ve taken some time to look back, it’s also time to look forward into all that 2019 has the potential to be. We are in the process of opening a new chapter in our story. We don’t have a clue what’s in store, but there is one thing that’s certain. If we don’t come into the year with expectancy, then we are already beginning with defeat. God desires you to trust Him with every detail just right ahead. No matter what we’re going to face, when we give it all to God, then He has the ability to take it and make something beautiful out of it.

2019 is staring us right in the face. My prayer for you is that you will have the courage to face what’s ahead. Leave fear behind. Don’t take it with you into this new chapter. There is so much yet to be discovered, so get out there and enjoy all of the marvelous things God has prepared for you. Get ready to make some beautiful memories with loved ones. Step into this year with confidence knowing that God has it all under control.

2019 – The year of God’s blessings and favor.

I Wish You A Merry Christmas

How is this even possible? We’re just a few hours away from Christmas Day! The long awaited day is almost here. It’s so hard to believe that we are in the process of wrapping up 2018. I suppose that time flies when you’re having fun, but I’ve come to realize that time flies regardless of what’s going on around you.

Many of us are right in the midst of lots of fun Christmas festivities. Time with family and friends. Parties. Christmas Eve services. Opening gifts. Reading the Christmas story. Baking cookies. Making memories.

Then there are those of you that are alone. No family or friends to celebrate with. You’re just trying to find a way to skip to December 26th in order to keep from having to think about all of the loss and change that 2018 has brought into your life. It’s been a tough one, but you’ve made it through.

No matter if this is the happiest time for you or the most depressing and discouraging time, my prayer is that you will be overwhelmed with The Father’s love. You need this on the best of days, but you also need it on the worst of days. God’s love is what makes this holiday season special and important.

It’s all about coming back to the heart of Christmas. This season is about so much more than the lights, gifts, and Christmas trees. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying fun things. They have their time and place, but God doesn’t want you to stop there. He wants you to experience Him, not just at Christmas, but every single day. That’s His Christmas gift to you. The gift of Himself. The gift of relationship. He wants to know you more than a couple of hours on Sunday or for a few days at Christmas. He wants to know you every day of your life. That’s right! The God that created the sun, moon, and stars wants to know you. You just can’t get any better than that!

So no matter where this holiday finds you, my prayer for you is that you will experience a special holiday unlike any other Christmas you’ve ever been privileged to. Make the most of every moment, whether pleasant or painful. Whether happy or sad. Whether ideal or not at all what you expected. May you be blessed with a Christmas song in your heart no matter what this season brings your way.

Wishing you and yours a Christmas to remember. One filled with peace for today and hope for tomorrow.

You Aren’t The Only One

This morning, I got up and got ready just like you. I got hungry just like you when I smelled some delicious food that was being prepared. I got impatient just like you when the traffic was a bit congested. I laughed just like you when I heard that funny story. I cried just like you when someone said some really nasty and negative words to me.

Notice any similarities here? It’s not rocket science to figure out this one. All you have to do is look around and see that we all face things just like each other. We deal with difficult people just like each other. We get tired and hungry just like each other. We all experience the same things, but it doesn’t feel that way when we are going through it.

Somehow we seem to believe the lie that no one else is experiencing what we are. This makes us feel all alone and isolated. Yet if we were all honest, we would find that we are more alike than what we think we are. When we keep quiet and don’t share who we really are, then it doesn’t allow others to see the truth. They are only seeing us as a masked person with a false sense of perfection.

Everyday I experience life just like you do. I have good days. I have bad days. I struggle with things and have to ask God for help. Sometimes that extra piece of pie wins out over saying no. Sometimes that extra few minutes of sleep falls prey to my lack of desire to get up and moving. Sometimes running away to the beach appears to be a great idea. There are days that God feels a million miles away from me. There are days that I have to cling to God’s promises because I can’t see or feel Him working in my life. There are days that I ask God lots of questions because I just need to have some answers. Even when He doesn’t say a word, it doesn’t keep me from asking why. There are days that I need to be encouraged because life just feels a bit much.

There’s always a risk when we’re transparent with others. They begin to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of who we really are. Even with knowing just what is at stake, we push forward and allow others a front row seat in the theater production of our life.

So the next time that little voice tries to tell you that you are out on an island all by yourself because surely no one else has passed this way before, then send it a short memo to remind it that this pity party has been cancelled. Jesus showed up and cancelled it. It’s over and done with. You’re moving on! That’s right! You’re moving on, and they’re not welcome anymore. They need to find their own party to go to!

So What’s The Magic Formula?

Life is stressful. Life is hectic. Life is busy. Life is one responsibility after another. Life is tiring. Sometimes life makes you want to run and hide. So many demands and so little time to get them all done. It can push you to your breaking point. Oh, if there were only a magic formula to make it all go away, then someone would be a really rich person. The supply would never be able to keep up with the demand because we are all in the market for this item.

There is no magic formula for this life issue, but what if I told you that there is something that will work. Now it won’t take away all of your problems, but it will help you through them. In fact, it won’t cost you anything. Have I got you curious yet?

This special gift is none other than the gift of laughter. How many times do we forget to laugh each and everyday? We get so focused on so many things that we fail to make this a part of our lives. Life can be down right depressing and discouraging, but we don’t have to live that way. If we don’t plan to laugh, then more than likely it’s not going to happen. We’ll just stay stuck in the pit going through the motions.

When we’re in the dark times of our lives, then laughter is the furthest thing from our minds. It’s no where on our radar. It’s quite ironic that the one thing that we need at times like these is the one thing that we don’t want. In fact, we don’t think we need it, but that’s a lie. That’s the one thing that we do need.

God wants you to enjoy your life – everyday of it. One of those enjoyments comes in the form of laughter. You might not feel like laughing, but it’s the one thing you need at a time like this. Find one thing that’s funny and watch the laughter spread. It’s contagious. By the time you gain your composure, you’ll already begin to feel better. Laughter has a way of encouraging you unlike any other.

Laugh until you cry. Laugh until you can hardly catch your breath. Laugh until you forget about all of those things that are bothering you. Laugh until you bless the heart of God. Laugh like the little girl or boy that you used to be. Laugh as if you don’t have a care in the world because in reality you shouldn’t. Jesus wants to carry that for you. So seize the moment, enjoy, and just laugh. In fact, laugh out loud.

What’s In It For Me?

We’ve all been guilty of it a time or two or three or four. Unfortunately, most are guilty of living life this way everyday. We want to know what’s in it for us. Everything we do has a hidden agenda. We do things that will benefit us. We do whatever we have to do to manipulate the situation to fall in our favor. It’s all about us and what will give us what we want. As long as we get our way, then we’re happy.

Just what would it look like if we decided to live our lives differently? What if we decided to serve others simply for the joy of serving, not expecting anything in return? What if we only displayed the pure desire to pour out and pour into others just because? This is exactly how God wants us to love and serve others.

We have numerous opportunities everyday to display this kindness. Imagine what kind of a friend you would be if you practiced this behavior each day of your life. You wouldn’t be concerned with how your friends could benefit you. You would only be concerned with how you could be the hands and feet of Jesus to those He puts in your path.

Our greatest example for this counter-cultural lifestyle is none other than Jesus. He lived His whole life giving of Himself to others simply for the purpose of loving them. He listened, He healed, and He shared His life with them. He simply loved. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just the beauty of a life poured out for others.

Living this way doesn’t come natural. This is a supernatural work of The Holy Spirit. It takes God pouring His love into us so that His love can flow out of us. We receive His love so that we can give His love to others. It’s a beautiful exchange.

So what is it going to take to be able to live this way? It’s really quite simple. Be focused. Be a blessing. Be a life giver. Invest in others simply because you desire to share God’s love with them. Be a conduit that passes this amazing love on to others. The world is watching. Let them see Jesus.

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

If you’re a product of the 80s, then my title resonated with you. In fact, you’re probably singing the song right now. You can thank me that you have that stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Just make the best of the situation. Get your boom box and your cassette tape, punch play and rewind numerous times, and be transported back to the day when the song was brand new. Well enough of taking a trip down memory lane. Back to the reason for this particular writing.

I don’t want to waste much time here, so I want to cut to the chase. Why do we have such a difficult time having fun? Why do we feel as if we must always be working? Why do we think taking no time for ourselves is the way that we’re supposed to live our life? Why do we feel guilty about being good to ourselves?

For some strange reason, we’ve gotten into unhealthy patterns in our lives. We live in a culture that rewards unhealthy lifestyles. We think it’s normal to work constantly. Putting ourselves last on the list is carried as a badge of honor. We wear ourselves down and are content to do life on empty. This isn’t the way that God wants us to live our lives. This is not the abundant life that He promised.

I must admit, I’ve struggled in the past with these very same issues. I’ve lived the majority of my life that way and thought that was normal. In fact, the busier I was with serving God, the more I thought I was doing for The Kingdom. I didn’t realize how much pressure and stress I was under until God removed me from those situations. It was painful at first, but now I see how He was at work to bring me to a place of peace. A place where there was less activity. A place of simplicity in the day-to-day. A place of true shalom. A place where I had to learn what it was to have fun once again. A place where I had to learn who Natalie was again because that girl got lost a long time ago. She was buried and hidden just waiting to be brought back to life again, and she did just that when God healed her and set her free. Now she is a changed and different person. She’s not the same woman she was 2 years ago. It’s been a beautiful journey of transformation for her. The caterpillar has turned into a butterfly.

I’ve had to learn that it’s healthy to enjoy life. God loves it when we have fun. He loves it when we build margin in our schedule to just sit still awhile. He loves it when we spend time with friends, family, and loved ones. He loves it when we’re good to ourselves and reward ourselves with a job well done. These are all investments that we’re making into ourselves.

So what are some of the things that I’ve discovered over the past 2 years that I enjoy simply because? Sitting at McDonalds with friends talking & sipping on a caramel or mocha frappe as we catch up on our lives. Eating at a Hibachi grill. Reading. Writing. Going back and playing classical music on the piano that I studied when I was younger. Having a manicure. Long drives with my favorite music cranked up. Trying new make-up and skin care. Buying a new outfit. Watching old tv shows, HGTV, & Hallmark Christmas movies. Naps. Dreaming about my future. Speaking. Leading worship. Making encouraging videos. Spending time with people. Sharing my story. Lip gloss. Bath & Body Works.

So I want to encourage you to sit down and do an inventory on your life. What things are working and which ones aren’t? Are you being good to you? Are you working all of the time? What are some ways that you can reward yourself? Be honest. Then put a plan in place to see to it that things change for you. We only get one shot at this life. Make the most of everyday.

Life. Precious. Priceless. Beautiful.

Not Just Another Thanksgiving!

It’s so hard to believe that we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving. It feels as if we just started 2018 two days ago, but yet the holiday is only just a few days away. I don’t have a clue how this happened so fast. Time has a way of blurring it all together. One day quickly fades into another and another and another until we’re looking into the lens of a new year. Time doesn’t stop. It just keeps moving forward.

I am thankful for so many things. If I were to write about all of those, you would be reading for several hours, and that would just scratch the surface. There are so many blessings in our lives that we aren’t even aware of. So many things that God does for us that go unnoticed because we are just too busy or aren’t paying attention to even realize just how blessed we are.

So God has led me to focus on one thing in this writing. Other than my relationship with God and the beautiful gift of friends and family, this one would have to take a close second. This blessing has been in the works for quite some time, and it’s taken many days of prayer, seeking God, and healing to be able to experience it. It’s one that I don’t take lightly or take for granted. It’s been a work in progress day-in and day-out.

What is this beautiful blessing that I’m so thankful for? It goes something like this. I love my life. It’s taken me so long to be able to say this. I’ve faced some really dark, discouraging, and depressing days in my life. I’ve been in a pit so deep that I never thought I would ever get out of. There have been days that I didn’t want to live. There were days that I never thought I would recover from what at the time seemed the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I know what it feels like to hit rock bottom and think that life wouldn’t ever go on. In my eyes, life was over for me, but was I wrong. In fact, my life was just beginning because God was using all of the bad and ugly in my life to shape me into a brand new version of myself that I never knew ever existed. I never had a clue just what a beautiful journey this was going to be. I can say that now, but not on those first days when everything was so raw, open, wounded, and exposed. When everything felt off, wrong, and hopeless, God saw just what He was going to make it all to be. He was hand-crafting a masterpiece with my life.

What do I love about this beautiful life that He’s given me? Sharing this journey in relationship with Abba Father. Special times spent with family and friends sharing stories, laughing together, crying together, & doing life together. Getting up everyday going to a job that I love. Being a part of a church family that truly is my spiritual family. Sharing my music, writings, and encouragement with others.

I can finally say after several years of trying and difficult circumstances, I am so excited about my future. There was a day that I couldn’t say that. I am seeing God do so many things that are greater than I could even ask, think, or imagine, and He’s just getting started. I know that He has so many more wonderful things in store for me. So much changes when we allow God the opportunity to come in, heal us, and set us free from hurt, pain, and heartbreak. The worst thing has now become the best thing because it gave God the open door to do a miracle in my life. Oh the beauty of our valleys, deserts, and wildernesses!

My prayer for you this Thanksgiving season is that you will be able to love your life, too. God wants to do the same thing with you. He wants you to enjoy this beautiful gift of life that He’s given to you. So as you’re enjoying your turkey and dressing with friends and family this holiday season, look around you and see just how much you are blessed. Blessed more than you know!

Father, Take It All Away!

A broken bone. A cut. A cold. I’ve only listed a few because each of these has something in common. Each of these ailments requires something that we want instantly. In fact, we want this as soon as we begin to suffer. That’s none other than healing. There are times that God gives instant healing to our bodies, and then there are other times that the healing comes in a process. When we’re the ones hurting, then it can’t come quick enough. None of us likes any type of physical pain. We do all we can to avoid it. In fact, if there’s something we can do to numb the pain, then we are quick to take it. Pain isn’t our friend, or so we think.

Just like physical pain, we face even greater discomfort and hurt when we deal with emotional pain. This is the difficult places in our lives that make it so uncomfortable and unpleasant to talk about. We would rather act as if doesn’t exist. We hide and mask the pain as if it’s not there because it seems easier not to deal with it, but this doesn’t solve any of the problems that we are dealing with.

Many times when we let God into these places in our lives, the healing doesn’t happen instantly. The healing is a process just like what we go through in our physical bodies. The process is where the most growth happens. It’s a place of molding and shaping. It’s a place of facing those things that we don’t want to in order to move us forward in life. Otherwise, we would stay stuck in life. We want to go from “Point A” to “Point B” without having to travel the path between the two. The path is where you are going to see God at work healing you.

There will be days in the process that you are going to experience a whole range of emotions. Anger, sadness, followed by confusion and just not happy with your life. Rinse and repeat about 500 times with a sprinkle of happiness in there every so often, along with hundreds of other emotions. Feel the pain. Ouch! We don’t like that because it hurts. Don’t suppress it. It only leads to more issues later on. Feel it and move on. This is your emotional healing process…of which probably it was not instant. Not what we want! We want it gone yesterday so we don’t have to feel anything, but God says the healing process is your greatest friend. It’s making you into the even stronger person that He desires you to be.

When you’re in the middle of your healing process, it’s so difficult to see just how far God has brought you and just how much that you’ve healed. You can’t see it right now, but when you look back, then you’ll see just what a wonderful work God has done in your life. You’ll be amazed as you see all of the details fit together to bring you to this place of emotional wholeness. You weren’t aware of how God was putting you back together in the day-to-day, but He was. He used the pain you experienced to become your greatest friend. It got you to a place of nothing missing, nothing broken. A place of shalom.

So if your healing isn’t instant, then don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Face the difficult places in your life and emotions. Let God into what He does best – making all things new, even your emotions. Give Him the opportunity to work and show the world just what an awesome God He is. You are worth it, son. You are worth it, daughter. You are worth it, child of God!

Ministry & Mission In That Place?

God just used someone to bless me! This person didn’t know me or really know that much about me, but they took the time to pray for me and pray over me. They spoke Words of Life and encouragement over me. They cared enough to be Jesus in the flesh for me at just the time that I needed it. I love how God’s timing is always perfect for what we’re going through. He will use any vessel that’s willing and has a desire to be used by Him, and this person definitely surrendered to that call.

God desires to do the same thing with you. He wants to use you to touch other lives. So many times we are waiting on that one big ministry opportunity from God, but what He wants most is for you to follow through in obedience for ministry opportunities in your day-to-day life. Things that you would consider small and insignificant, many of which no one hardly ever sees or notices. If you aren’t faithful to serve in the small things, then it’s difficult for God to trust you with things that you would consider much bigger. Small things matter.

So much ministry happens outside of the couple of hours that we are in the church service each week. That’s where we live the vast majority of our lives. Our lives are lived at our jobs, running errands, spending time with family and friends, at ball games, and out in the market place. This is where we are going to run into people that need hope. People that need to experience God’s love. People that are at the end of their rope and ready to give up. You have something worth sharing, and His name is Jesus.

You must live each day with intentionality, expecting God to guide your steps so that you are in the right place at the right time. It’s amazing when you surrender to His will each morning how He will set up encounters for you everyday with people that need just what you have to share. You just thought that you happened to meet that waitress at the restaurant that needed to be encouraged, but God was in charge of it all. He sent you there on mission to share those words with her that kept her from wanting to give up. You didn’t know that, but God did. Everyday you are a missionary no matter where you go, and you just thought they went thousands of miles away. You are on God’s mission each and every moment. It just takes being mindful of every encounter that you have. Nothing is a coincidence. It’s all God-ordained. It’s all a set-up from God.

So be paying attention to who God puts in your path. Every meeting, every appointment, every errand is an opportunity to be a God encounter with those that need to experience the love of God. He desires to use you to share this beautiful gift with others. Everything matters to God, even those things that seem of no value or worth to you. All He asks is that you surrender to His will, His guidance, and His direction. This changes everything – for you and others that He puts you in touch with throughout your day.

Go out there! Serve God! Share His love! Be His light to those that are only filled with darkness! Be the one to share what true hope looks like. Share Jesus everywhere you go. You are a difference maker. You are a world changer. You are a son or daughter on a mission to bring God’s joy to the world.

First There Was Yesterday…Now There’s Today

Yesterday was a fun day, but a busy day. I enjoyed every moment as I got to do something that I loved with someone very special to me, but today is a different story. Yes, today is a totally different story. I’m a little fatigued, or might I say exhausted. After all of the joy that yesterday brought, today I am feeling tired and a little depleted physically because I was going strong for almost 24 hours. Now this is not the norm for me, but there are times when opportunities arise that are cause for celebration, and this was one of those times. I wouldn’t have changed any of it. It was a beautiful day.

So today is just a regular day. Nothing really special going on, except for one thing. I’m taking a day to rest and not do much of anything. I have learned how important this is to our physical bodies, as well as our mind and spirit. Yesterday had many highs, but today is a day full of lows. Everything seems wrong in my world, but that’s not true. When we are tired, our minds have a way of playing tricks on us. They make us believe lies about things only because our bodies are just needing a break. I’ve learned not to make any important decisions on days like these. It’s amazing how much our physical affects our mental and spiritual. Be cautious on these “low” days. Satan is seeking the perfect opportunity to defeat and discourage us on these days.

It’s so easy on these days to feel so alone. Now once again, that’s not the truth, but that’s how it feels. Yesterday I was surrounded in relationship, but today I am by myself. Actually, this is exactly what I need today as I take this much needed break and just focus on me and God. It’s wonderful to experience time with family and friends, but it’s also nice to have time apart in order to process and recuperate from all that we experience, whether positive or negative. We should never isolate ourselves, but there spaces in our life that we need alone time with just us and God. This is the fuel that’s necessary to function the way that God intended. He is always purposeful about everything that He does.

As I sit here, my mind is already thinking about the next time that I get to enjoy some more fun like I did yesterday. I look forward to these times as it gives me a way to get away from life’s cares and concerns for awhile. It gives me a chance to do something that I enjoy apart from the same mundane things that I do everyday. It gives me a chance to just be me, laugh, and enjoy life. Of course, we must experience a little fun in each day, but there is something so special about planning a special outing with a friend or family member. It gives us something to look forward to, but it also adds space in our life to just “be” without “being” as we are on the other days. God smiles on this because you are taking care of you!

It’s so easy to get caught up in not being honest with ourselves and only being concerned with how things appear in our lives. I’ve chosen to live a transparent life as it brings me great joy to share my heart with you. I want you to see the things that are going well, but also the things that need some improvement in my life. If we’re always silent about our struggles, then others think there is something wrong with them, when in actuality, we are all struggling with the very same battles. They just have different names and faces, thus sharing my struggles with you. Oh how great the freedom and beauty to be able to do that. That’s what brings me great joy!

So if you’re having one of “those days,” then don’t despair or give up. We all experience “those days.” I’m making it through mine with God’s help, and you’ll make it through yours with God’s help just like I have mine. Today is just one page in our life. Life will go on after today so don’t get stuck in today. Tomorrow is just ahead, and it’s so much more beautiful. Yes, my friend, better and brighter days are ahead. We just must keep moving forward. God’s already there!

There Are Peaks…Then There Are Valleys

So how is your relationship with God going? I want you to be honest with yourself. Don’t just look at the outward appearance that others see, but look at the real you. Sometimes this is a painful place to visit because things aren’t exactly as you want them between you and God. Other times you are on the mountaintop just waiting on God to continually pour more of Himself out on you. No matter where you are on this spectrum, it’s always wise to do an evaluation quite frequently. That way if there is an issue, then you can take care of things before they go too far.

Our life is a journey. It’s made up of many types of days, so keep in mind there are going to be peaks and valleys. It’s a crazy mindset to think that we’re always going to be on the mountaintop with God all of the time. That’s just not going to happen. Life has a way of showing up. You’re not going to “feel” God the same way in the valley as you do on the mountaintop, so stop being so hard on yourself. You need to be pursuing Him in relationship and doing those things that help you to continue growing in relationship, such as Bible reading, prayer, etc., but stop beating yourself up if it’s a struggle. Satan wants to make you think that you are a horrible person because of these valley times, but that’s not what God thinks about you. You are His precious and beautiful creation whom He loves more than you’ll ever be able to comprehend.

Be honest with God. Pour out your heart to Him. He understands all that you’re going through better than anyone else. He’s not there to make you feel any shame from being in this place. He wants you to be overwhelmed by His love. Your relationship with God is more than the things that you do for Him. It’s about living in a continual awareness of His presence all day long. It’s about knowing that He loves you on your bad days just as much as He loves you on your good days, so stop condemning yourself. You aren’t a bad person. You are a person that is living true and honest to themself.

Never is there a time that we’re hiding anything from God. It didn’t work in the garden with Adam and Eve, and it won’t work with us now. Every thought and feeling is open and exposed to Him. We live in a raw sense of relationship with Him. We might be able to cover up with others that our relationship with God is top notch, but God knows our heart, so stop living a lie with God. This never works. We’re only fooling ourselves.

So let me encourage you if you are in a valley experience with God. You probably feel all alone and as if God doesn’t really care. You feel as if you aren’t growing in relationship with Him. You just can’t see where He’s going with all of this. This time is confusing to you, but there is hope. There will be mountaintop experiences again. This isn’t your final destination. You just cannot give up. That’s what Satan wants you to do, but it’s just not worth it. This too shall pass, so hold onto those things that are life giving and vital to your relationship with God. Hold on, and don’t let go. You’re going to make it through. God’s not done with you, beautiful child of God!

Pouring Out My Heart

Father. I love the sound of that. Father, as I speak Your name, I am ushered into Your presence. A place for only the two of us. A place that I am loved. A place of no guilt or shame. A place where being me is celebrated. I love this place because it’s where You long for me to be. You want me to be with you even more than I want to be with you. Your love is a love unlike any other. So precious. So costly. So overwhelming and complete.

Even in this place that feels like a dry and barren wilderness, I know You are still there. Even in the place where it feels as if You are far away from me, I know that You are still right beside me. I know that I can’t go on my feelings because they will lie to me. It’s Your truth that I choose to believe. That’s what I run to. Your truth never lies. It just pushes me closer to Your love. Your overwhelming, never-ending love for me. For me! Father, Your love is for me.

As I sit here soaking in Your presence, You keep drawing me back to a place of resting in You. You want me to rest in You out of Your love for me. It’s not about me striving more or working more for You. You are blessed by those things, but when I rest in You, then I must trust in You. It takes me out of the equation. No longer am I trying to make things happen. I am giving You the room and permission to do that which I can’t. So as I rest in You, I wait and watch You put it all together.

Father, thank You for the beautiful gift of communication with You. The gift of prayer. The gift of making myself known and vulnerable to You. You know everything about me and still love me, regardless. You see me not as I am, but for that which I will become. I am a work in progress. A masterpiece in the making. I am so precious and special to You. I know that I am all of these things and more because You’ve shown that to me in Your Word. You’ve spoken that to me in my spirit. All just because You love me that much. I am Your beloved daughter. Created and designed just the way that You purposed me to be.

Thank You for the beautiful gift of friendship that I share with You. I’m never alone. I may feel lonely sometimes, but I am never alone. You said that You would never leave me or forsake me, and that’s a promise and truth I can bank on. I just want to rest in this place. A place where You care about everything that I care and am concerned about. I am so loved by The Creator of the sun, moon, and stars. I am fully known and loved by You, Father. You still love me even in spite of being fully known and loved by you. Thank You for letting me be vulnerable in this place. That means that I don’t ever have to be afraid. There’s no fear in this love.

Father, as I close out this time with You, I know that my time with you continues on as I keep my mind focused on You. I know that You’re as close as the mention of Your name. That beautiful name of Jesus. None other as Yours. Your name sets people free. Your name set me free. I breathe in Your name. I breathe out Your praises. What a wonderful, powerful, and loving name!

I surrender. I am Yours. Have Your way. Do with me as You want. There’s no place I’d rather be.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A Secret That I Just Can’t Keep

I just can’t keep this to myself anymore. I feel as if my body is going to explode or spontaneously combust if I don’t share. I choose to be honest and vulnerable with you. I have nothing to hide, so you are my captive audience. I must be open, so come and take this journey with me.

As I sit here pondering over my life, I am overwhelmed, but not with sadness, grief, or depression. I am overwhelmed with God’s love for me. I am overwhelmed with joy. I am overwhelmed with hope. I am overwhelmed with knowing that God is pouring out His favor and blessings on me. I am overwhelmed with a vision for my future. So many things overwhelming me that I can hardly contain myself.

There were many days in my past when I questioned even if it would be possible for me to move forward, but here I stand today on the brink of so many wonderful things. Things that I don’t even have a clue as to what they are just yet, but even in the unknown, still I sense and know in my spirit that God is up to something…and that something is so awesomely beautiful. More awesomely beautiful than I can even think or imagine.

No one has to convince me of anything. I know God is at work. I’ve been sensing this for quite some time now. It’s not anything that I had to work up in my emotions. It’s a quiet and peaceful spot that brings me to a place of contentment. A place of resting in the knowledge that as I am obedient to Him, then He will bring about the exceedingly, abundantly in my life. I don’t make anything happen. I don’t manipulate anything. I just stay true and faithful to those things that He has called me to, and I watch Him put it all together.

My words do not do this justice to the place that God has me. In fact, most of the time I can’t even verbalize all of these beautiful things that I am experiencing. I try, but then I am forced once again to a place of tears. Not sad tears, but tears of joy. No one knows just what it took to change those tears of sadness to joy, that is no one except God. He has been right with me every single moment. Even those moments that I thought were a life sentence to a place of despair and darkness. He didn’t leave me there. He brought me out into a land flowing with milk and honey. A place of overflow. A place of more than enough. A place of shalom – nothing missing, nothing broken. A place of total healing of all that was damaged in my life. A place of overwhelming beauty.

I am moving forward in my life, but not on my own. It’s only with God’s help that I’ve been able to do this. This hasn’t been an overnight process. Its been far from that. It’s been more like a process of day after day and month after month of allowing God to bring me to this place. Now that I’m here, I love the place that He has brought me to. In fact, I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else. It’s such a sweet and rich place of living in His truth every single day. I love my life. I love everything about it. I love those things that I never thought or saw myself loving. I never dreamed that I would be saying this today. Once again, God surprised me as He so often does.

So as I sit here and continue to make sense of this place that God has me, I know that I won’t be here forever. In fact, I am moving forward even as we speak. Does that make me sad? No, because He continues to bring me to even greater places. Places that I don’t even have the ability to comprehend at this moment. When I get to the new places, then even more will begin to make sense than it does right now. I am a work in progress on a journey in progress with a God that has already traveled that progress. He’s been in my past, but yet He’s already been in my future. I can trust Him because He’s traveled the journey every step with me from what’s already been to what is yet to be. He sees and knows it all. What a comforting thought! I don’t travel any of it alone.

So rejoice with me on my journey. I will rejoice with you on your journey when I see just how far He has brought you. In fact, let’s rejoice together. He likes it better that way. You and I seeing and experiencing just how great our God is and just how much He loves us. Enjoying these places that He has both brought us to. Places that we would have never visited on our own, but places He desired that we visit from the very beginning. Let’s get going!

That Time I Didn’t Fit In

Have you ever been a part of an event or special occasion and felt out of place, or even yet as if you didn’t belong? When you leave, you feel depleted, unloved, unwanted, and that you didn’t exist. We all have been there at one time or another in our life. It’s not a fun place to be and often leaves us feeling wounded and in prime target for our flesh and Satan to have a hay day with our emotions, but there is hope…and I want to offer that to you today.

All that I’m going to share has come out of my own personal experiences, so as to not make you feel as if you’re the only one that’s ever felt this way. I love getting honest and vulnerable with my emotions as it gives me a place to share and pour into others the truth that God has shared with me. So know that we are on this journey together. I don’t have it all figured out, but that’s the beauty of our personal walk with God. He continues to challenge us and grow us when we surrender to Him everyday, and surrendering to God is a daily choice that we make out of which a beautiful life is birthed. So get ready for The Holy Spirit to breathe life once again into God’s truth that He is speaking forth.

Here is my one word of caution when you come away from any experience that has been negative to your mind or emotions. Be on guard! Do not let your mind run wild replaying scenarios of what didn’t go right or what someone should have done differently. This is a breeding ground for Satan to take over and beat you up with lies about yourself. He’ll tell you that there must be something wrong with you. Then you’ll begin to ponder on just what that must be; which will lead to questioning just what God thinks about you because these situations surely couldn’t be wrong about who you are.

Stop it right there! Halt! Do not let this go any further. If you don’t cease in this place, you will allow yourself to sink deeper and deeper into a place of discouragement, despair, and depression. Remind yourself in The Word just what God thinks of you, and let that be your final authority. Even if you don’t feel it, speak it out loud anyway. Your mind will eventually catch up with what your mouth and spirit are declaring, decreeing, and confessing. You are in control here. Don’t let Satan blind you to that truth. Stand on The Word…period.

If Satan can tear you down in what you think of yourself, then you aren’t going to be able to help anyone else. He loves to stop us from encouraging, sharing, and pouring into others. Confuse him really good here. Regardless of how low you are feeling, begin to encourage someone else even out of the negative experience that you just went through. No matter what lies he may have led you to believe, pour God’s truth and love into someone else. This will not only make you feel better, but it will refresh your spirit as you sow into someone else. You’re sowing in one area, but you will reap in another area of love and truth in your own life. You can’t ever go wrong here.

Satan’s tactics are always the same every time, but we so often fall prey to them. Sometimes that’s because we aren’t abiding in The Word and our relationship with God. Other times it’s because it’s easier to just lay down and act as if a problem doesn’t exist which gives him plenty of ground that he has no business taking. We always have to be paying attention to all that’s going on around us. Satan is seeking someone to devour, but that doesn’t have to be us. When we are full in God’s love, then he has a difficult time breaking down that wall because his power is no match for the power of Abba Father on the inside of us. Stay in a passionate pursuit of your relationship with God. It is one of the barriers to keep you from any further damage that Satan is just desiring to bring your way.

Be on guard with any negative experience that comes your way. Don’t believe the lies that Satan tries to fill your head with. You aren’t crazy, stupid, or ugly. You are a beautiful masterpiece of The Great Creator. No one is thinking about you as much as what you think they are. Relax and enjoy life, even if it feels all wrong. It’s one event that is soon just a distant memory. Deal with it, and move on…into the more confident and loved woman or man of God that you are.

You are so loved, and let Satan know that because that’s who the real you is. Loved, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way!

I enjoy sharing my story of how God has taken some really dark days in my life and made something so beautiful out of them. I love to encourage others to know that my story is unique to me, but God’s love and faithfulness is something that each of us are privileged to experience if we give Him the opportunity.

Life has a way of not turning out the way that we had hoped or expected, but God is shaping it all into something greater than we can even imagine. God wasn’t taken by surprise. He already knew before we were born what we were going to face. He doesn’t always stop it from happening, which sometimes is hard to comprehend with our limited human reasoning. He allows it, but we choose how we are going to respond to it. We can either curse it or we can allow God to bless it. Yes, bless the mess that we are in so much that He turns the mess into a miracle.

So what do we do in the mean time between the problem and the promise? Between the pit and the palace? We do that which our flesh hates. We wait. Not just any waiting, but waiting with intention and purpose. It’s not a careless time of non-activity, but it’s a time of seeking God, finding out where He’s working in our lives, and immersing ourselves in the middle of it. Waiting means being patient and letting God call the shots. Waiting means letting God lead. Waiting means He is God, and I’m not. Waiting means loving God enough to let Him do those painful things in my life to get me where He wants me to be. Waiting changes everything – even me!

In the waiting time, it’s important to enjoy life and all of the blessings that God gives us. It’s so easy to get focused on the outcome of what we want that we forget that there is a process in getting from point A to point B. It’s not a pretty package tied up with a big, bright red bow. It looks more like a gift torn open with the wrapping paper thrown all over the floor. It’s like a ball of yarn all tangled up in one big jumbled up mess. The process is very rarely a straight line. It’s more like…over here, over there, then back over here again – repeating this pattern over and over again about a hundred times before we get to our intended end.

We aren’t able to see where God is taking us, but He does. When we surrender to His plans and purposes for us, then it might not turn out the way that we had hoped, but it will turn out even better because it is hand picked for us by The Master. We just can’t get impatient in the process. He is molding us and shaping us into His beautiful and prized creation that He had in mind from the beginning of time. We might have been through some scrapes and scars getting to where He wants to take us, but each scrape and scar tell a story. They tell a story reminding us just how far God has brought us and just how much He loves us. He’s the God of healing those scrapes and scars unseen to others, but not to Him. Scrapes and scars that bring glory to Him. Remember, that’s what it’s all about in the end anyway. Bringing honor and glory to Abba Father, the one who gave it all for us.

So enjoy the journey each and every day, even in the waiting…and remember to take some photos along the way!

Looking Back To Move Forward

My life has changed so much over the past two years. I’ve experienced some things that I thought I wouldn’t make it through, but I did. I’ve been in the darkest valley imaginable to me, but I crossed it. God has become more than someone I visit just a few times a week. He’s become my everything and my reason for living.

Two years ago, I couldn’t see where I would be because my eyes were clouded with discouragement, hopelessness, and depression, but today I stand as a whole, complete, and healed woman. I’m a much different person than I was just 24 months ago, but I now love who God has created me to be. I am comfortable being that woman once again. I know that my worth and value don’t come from anyone or anything. They come from my Abba Father. There is such a peace and completeness that comes from living in this place. It’s a place where I know just how much that I am loved.

Does this mean that everyday is a mountaintop experience for me? No it doesn’t! There are days that I battle and face things that are difficult to walk through, but now I face them in a totally different way. No matter what I go through, I know that I don’t go it alone. God is carrying me through it all. It feels wonderful to face the unknown knowing that God has it all under control. I don’t have to stress or worry about anything. I’ve learned that the joy of the Lord truly is my strength. It’s what has carried me through everyday over the past two years. You don’t understand joy until joy is all that you have to pull you through the darkest of days. Joy has become one of the most beautiful gifts that God has blessed me with. It is priceless!

No matter how much I look back, it will never change my past. There has been much pain, but now the wound is just a scar. It’s a scar to remind me just how far I’ve come and to let me know that I have risen above all of that which I never thought that I would make it through. It’s a reminder to let me know that when I thought God had forsaken me, He really hadn’t. He was walking with me and carrying me through when I thought my world was falling apart. The scar reminds me of just how much He loves me, and that’s all that matters. All other love pales in comparison to His.

What do the next two years hold in store for me? I don’t even have a clue, but I know that God has a beautiful path ahead of me. I know that it’s filled with His favor and blessings. I know that it is greater than I can ask, think, or imagine all because I am His beloved daughter. I choose to see His handwriting all over my future as it continues to write a story of His love, mercy, and grace about a woman that decided to surrender to His will, trust Him, and take Him at His Word. Nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible for my Father, and that’s the place that I choose to reside. Pour it out, Lord! Your daughter is ready!

You Can’t Take It With You

Cars, houses, money, jewelry, degrees, jobs, furniture, clothes, and the list goes on and on. We work so hard for each of these our whole lives. We sweat, we toil, and we even sacrifice time with family and friends to be able to have these things. They seem so important right now because right now is all that we can see. They all look so appealing and enticing. Our flesh craves more and more. We see Mr. We Want To Be Just Like Him down the street who has the latest and greatest, and we just have to have that too. We can’t have him outdo us. No way! We just won’t have that! Our stuff is what makes the world go around.

Unfortunately, this way of life will come to a screeching halt. One day all of those things that seemed so necessary at the time will one day all fade away beyond that final veil. That veil is death. One breath. One heartbeat. That’s how close we all are to it. Closer than we even realize.

So what are we taking with us since there will be no UHauls in eternity? There is something so much sweeter and of lasting impact and value that we will carry with us. It has nothing to do with anything we can buy or acquire. It can’t be hung on a wall or put up on the top shelf. It can’t even be taken out for a spin on a sunny day. It’s so much more beautiful than all of these things. In fact, it’s quite priceless.

Ready for it? Drum roll please! Da da da da. Loud crashing cymbal inserted here. It’s none other than….are you ready? Our relationships and what we have invested into them. Relationships are all that are going ahead of us. We can’t take our cars with us, but we can take others with us.

You see, when I take up permanent residency in heaven, I want to take as many people with me as I can. I can’t make the decision for them, but I sure can plant lots of seeds down here that God will use to speak truth into their lives. Every call, text, card, or word of encouragement is nothing more than a tool that God uses to point others to Him. Every act of kindness. Every time the Gospel is shared. Every time we show love to others. It’s nothing more than a reflection of God’s love being poured out through us. These are the things that will last both now and throughout all of eternity.

Make the decision that you are going to invest in people. You are investing with the end return in mind. That end return is eternity with Jesus. That’s what you want for each person that God strategically places in your path. It seemed like a coincidence, but it was no coincidence with God. It was a divine appointment. It was a set-up so that you could invest just a little bit of Heaven into their life. And to think that He uses us, His beautiful creation, to invest His love and light into others. That’s real beauty and lasting impact right there!

So the next time you’re tempted that you just have to have the next latest and greatest fad, then ask yourself this one question. Will this bring me closer to my purpose of loving others into The Kingdom or will it just cause added stress from having to take care of it, insure it, and maintain it? If it’s the latter, then run! Run away from it just as fast as you can, but if it’s the former, then draw close just as quick as you can. It’s your decision. Which will you choose?

Fashioned By The Potter’s Hands

Life is full of seasons. They are different for each of us. Some seasons we welcome, and others we are glad to see go. Some last for a short while. Then others seem to go on and on. No season lasts forever.

Life is constantly changing. If it didn’t change, then we would never grow. Most of us resist that change, but change is where God does His greatest work in us. It takes us out of our comfort zone and straight onto the Potter’s wheel where God is fashioning us into a beautiful creation. Our nature is to fight against the molding and shaping of The Great Creator. We fight against each pressing, each shaping, and each refining as He quietly forms an unshapely piece of clay into a masterpiece. All we see is the struggle. The Potter envisions something of great value in what the world just wants to throw away. The world sees something ready to be cast away, but God…BUT GOD…He sees great worth in that lifeless clay. He sees purpose. He sees you!

Every difficulty. Every trial. Every hardship. Every heartbreak. Every thing that you wished had never happened. It’s all shaping you when you make one certain decision…surrendering it all to God. When you give it all over to Him, then He takes all of the ugly and makes something so amazing. It is autographed with The Potter’s signature. He’s forming that lump of clay into a piece so unique that only the clay can speak of – your story, but not just any story. Your story of redemption and restoration. All because The Potter saw fit to speak life into what you thought was dead.

Your life may feel dead, but God sees it all dripping with the healing oil of The Holy Spirit. Your spirit feels dry and parched, but God is flowing over those gritty places with His rivers of living water. No more seasons of drought to take away what life you had, but constant showers of God’s amazing grace touching each lifeless piece of clay. His water satisfies and renews what you thought was too far gone. Nothing is ever too far gone for Abba.

Don’t walk away from those changing seasons of your life. Embrace them, even if you are afraid, with confidence knowing that The Potter has everything in place just as He needs it. He’s ready to start forming it into His masterpiece. He’s taking your scraps of clay, your surrendered heart, and making you even more beautiful than before. You are His masterpiece…His priceless beauty…just waiting to be fashioned into something The Potter is patiently waiting to see.

How Great Is Our God

When I stop and think about how awesome and amazing God is, then I begin to get overwhelmed just thinking about this. Who else could create all of the heavens, earth, and galaxies, but yet create all of the minute detail of something so small and complex as a flower or a hummingbird? He not only has the power and ability to create things that are larger than I can even imagine, but yet He pays attention to the smallest detail of a detail. That’s the God I serve!

If that’s not enough to try to comprehend, then try this one on for size. God sees and knows everything about me. He created everything about me exactly as He desired. Everything about me that makes me, me! Of course, I’m not the only “me” there is. There have been billions of other “me’s” that He’s takes the time to fashion and form just like me. We’ve been handcrafted by The Master. Even more detail here than is beyond our human comprehension.

So if God can do all of these things, along with millions more, why do we struggle to think that He just doesn’t care about us? Why do we constantly question if He’s really there? Why do we question if He’s really going to answer us as we cry out to Him?

We forget one key element here, and it has nothing to do with God. We forget that we have an enemy that would love nothing more than to trip us up and cause us to stumble. He loves to fill our minds with doubt. In fact, if he can plant just one small seed of negativity, then we’ll run with countless other discouraging thoughts. He’s good at what he does. He’s perfected it, and we’ve bought into his lies.

So when you’re in a tough spot, I want you to remember just who your Abba Father is. He does love you. He does care for you. He is working even when He seems so silent. If He can create all of what we see just by speaking it into existence, then He is more than able to handle anything that you face. Satan loves to make you forget just how much power and authority God has. He especially loves to make you forget that God lives inside of you, and that means all of His power and authority are inside of you, too. That’s how great our God is.

God is greater than our great. He is bigger than our big. He’s more amazing than our amazing. He’s timeless, yet everlasting. He’s the beginning, yet the end. His presence fills the universe, yet His presence lives in us. He calls each star by name, yet calls us by our name, son or daughter of God. This is our Abba! The One and Only!

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Looks can be deceiving. You may be with someone who appears to have it all together and whose life seems perfect. They may even talk a good game, but that’s not really who they are when they are all by themselves. That same person that you so admire may be crying themselves to sleep each night. They might even be considering suicide. They might be dealing with so much pain, grief, and sorrow that they just can’t make it without drowning out all of the tough places with alcohol or pills. You just have no clue what others are carrying and struggling with. You just never know.

For this very reason, God calls us to be alert and always paying attention. Now just looking with our physical eyes, we will miss it all, but when we allow ourselves to see with God’s eyes, then we’ll be able to catch things that otherwise we would miss on our own. There is this inner prompting of The Holy Spirit that keeps us ever mindful of things always going on around us. We never go wrong being in tune with God.

Have you ever experienced that inner prompting that just won’t go away? It’s telling you to talk to that person that you just met. It’s telling you to send that encouraging text. It’s telling you to make that phone call or send that card. It’s telling you to encourage someone regardless of anything you know going on in that person’s life. You don’t understand why you’re being led to do these things, but you know that God won’t let you rest until you do. You know that your obedience to God in these situations is more important than looking crazy to the other person. Of course, when you’re listening to “that” voice, then it will never lead you in the wrong direction. It will always be right on time.

We must purpose to live this way each and everyday of our lives. There are hurting people all around us – even those that don’t appear to be hurting. Sometimes we have no idea just how much that we’re helping others when we pour out the love that God has poured into us. This doesn’t cost us anything, but it is making a world of difference to the recipient. We grow and are blessed every time that we give of ourselves. God somehow ends up encouraging us, the giver, each time that we share of the joy that God has imparted to us. We’re just being Jesus with skin on.

So the next time that God places someone in your path, be paying attention. Listen to His voice, and then don’t question what He’s asking you to do. You are doing ministry just as much as that pastor that preaches each Sunday, that missionary in a foreign country, or that person leading worship in front of a crowd of 10,000 people. Don’t miss your opportunity to change a life. Yes, that one small act has the possibility of not only affecting that one person’s life, but thousands of people all because you decided to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone.

Be on guard. Watch out. God is bringing people to you even as we speak. Be the one that brings hope to the person who has no hope for tomorrow. You are making a difference. You are changing the world one small act of kindness at a time.

So What Are You Having For Dinner?

We live in a country that is greatly blessed. Not only do we enjoy so many physical blessings, but we live in a country that is blessed with access to Bibles, music, and thousands of books to help us grow spiritually. Even though we have access to all of these things, we live spiritually malnourished lives. That’s like us having access to all of the food that we have in America, but deciding that we don’t want to eat because we’re too busy or too tired to take the time to eat. If I told someone that, then they would tell me that I was crazy, and I would be. Houston, we have a problem!

When we do decide to feed our spirit man, then we have a decision to make. Are we going to seek after those things that glorify God in what we read, listen to, and watch, or are we going to seek after those things that feed our flesh man? It truly does matter what your spiritual diet consists of. Every time that you choose things that honor God, you are planting seeds which will one day produce beautiful fruits of joy, peace, love, and the list goes on. You can’t expect to feed on things of the world for 23 1/2 hours a day and think this will help you to get by. Your spirit in this condition is dying of starvation. You have nothing to draw from. You’ve made no deposits, so your spirit man account is going to be overdrawn.

God loves it when you spend time with Him, so don’t misread what I have written. He is blessed, just as much as you, to have you spend time in His presence, but He desires so much more for you. He wants you to go all in with your relationship with Him. We aren’t ever truly happy until we are seeking Him every moment of the day. We are constantly trying to find things to fill that void, but nothing ever satisfies…that is until you meet Jesus. He is all that you’ve ever wanted and needed.

So many followers of Christ are living down and out, depressed, defeated, and discouraged lives. We’re all going to face these ugly places at some point in our lives, but if we have made deposits into our spirit man, then we have exactly what we need on the inside of us to see us through our trials.

Look at it this way. If we have spent the majority of our day in The Word, listening to positive & uplifting music, listening to sermons, praying, being still and quiet, and spending time in God’s presence, then we have encouraged ourselves to keep on going no matter how our situation looks. People may never see all of the time you spend making deposits, but they don’t need to because they see them in how you act, live, and respond to negativity in your life. You have taken the time to pour Jesus into your life so Jesus is what is going to come out of your life.

So the next time you have a couple of extra minutes of free time to do something, why not fill that time with making those good spiritual deposits? Then keep adding to it until all that you consume are those things that honor and glorify God. You’ll be surprised at just how much you have changed for the better. You’ll be radiating God’s glory all because you’ve taken the time to soak in His presence. You’ll be pouring God’s love onto others all because your vessel is full. You just can’t keep it to yourself because it’s just too good!

The math is pretty simple with this equation. Fill your spirit with the things of God, and you’ll reap beautiful blessings in your spirit. Fill your spirit with things of the world, and you’ll reap all of the negativity that you can handle. God wants you to prosper in your spirit, so make the decision today. Don’t wait! Pour God’s truth into you every moment of your day, and watch yourself soar! Soaring above all of the garbage that Satan is trying to throw at you. Soaring above every difficulty and trial that you face. Soaring above it all right where God wants you. Just soar!

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

So many times when we pray, it’s easy to get caught up on what we want. Now it’s not a bad thing to share our heart’s desire with God, but usually this is where our prayer life ends. Once we’ve spilled out our laundry list of all that we’re wanting and demanding God to do, then we’re ready to move on. Prayer time is over, and it’s time to move onto the next item on our agenda. We’re not taking anytime to listen, let alone just to sit still and be quiet. It’s just been a bunch of endless chatter coming out of our mouths. We can feel good about ourselves because we’ve done our duty. We checked it off the to-do list. We’ve treated God like a genie in a bottle. Surely He must be so happy that we’ve spent this time with Him! I would beg to differ with you there.

What if there was more to your prayer life than treating God like a spiritual Santa Claus? What if there was a bigger picture here in how God wants us to pray. What if there is one key that most of us lack to unlock God’s supernatural favor and blessings in our life? There is! So buckle your seatbelts and get ready to dive in deeper on this.

The one thing that we most lack when we pray is none other than praying Kingdom prayers. When we fail to focus on this, then we tend to pray weak, puny, and anemic prayers. We don’t seek out what God says in His Word about our situation. We pray as if we are constantly questioning His power and authority. We are so quick to forget that there is a whole world outside of our own needs, wants, and desires. As long as God answers us how we want, then all is well in our world.

When we pray with God’s Kingdom in mind, then we are constantly focused on how our situation can bring Him more glory. We pray for opportunities for others to come to a relationship with Him and how He can use us to be a catalyst in this endeavor. We pray with eternity in mind. Our prayers aren’t just focused on our small sphere in the world. They are large enough to touch the whole world. We allow God’s love to pour through us to touch many lives for Him. We don’t put any restrictions or boundaries on our prayers because we know nothing is impossible with God. We realize that God wants to use us to speak forth His truth over anything that we face. God wants to use us. He doesn’t have to, but He loves us enough that He allows us to be a part of the process.

So the next time you pray, take an honest look at how you are praying. Are your prayers narrow focused on your little world or are they all about something bigger? Are you desiring to see how God can use your situation to bring others to Him or are you just concerned about getting your needs met? When you pray, are you seeing things from an eternal perspective or just the here and now? God is well pleased with you when you make prayer about more than just your small part of the globe. There’s a whole world out there that needs what you have! So pray boldly! Pray with God’s power and authority! Pray audaciously! Pray in faith!

When you pray Kingdom prayers, you’re praying the heart of God. May your heart ever be turned towards His as You pray His heart, His Kingdom. May His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

The Beauty of Being Me

Father, I’m at a loss for words. I don’t even know where to begin because there is so much going on inside of me. So many thoughts running through my mind. So many things that just don’t make sense in the midst of my human reasoning. I want to ask you why once again as I’ve done a million times, but You have yet to answer that one burning question. I know that You’re not going to answer that question, but yet I ask it once more hoping that maybe, just maybe, this time You will.

I am quick to say that You are a good Father, but sometimes what You’re doing just doesn’t feel good. It feels anything but that. I know that You aren’t responsible for what people choose. You could stop this all if You wanted to, but this time You chose not to. So here I am once again just trying to make sense of it all. Just trying to see the Good in the Good, Good Father.

I know that You love me. I breathe in the beauty of that promise with every breath that I take. I’m overwhelmed with Your love. Even in the midst of my darkness, Your love illuminates my heart allowing Your light to shine through me to others pained as I once was. Your light brings healing. Your light brings comfort. Your light brings clarity to confusion. Your light is love because You are love.

Father, I embrace my vulnerability and honesty with You. It’s a beautiful gift that You’ve given to me. As You’ve taken on my grief, depression, and despair, You’ve exchanged it to give Your daughter, beauty from these ashes. Joy from the brokenness. Healing from the deepest valley. Your gift to me cost You everything, but You did it all because You loved me. You loved Natalie. Your love is ever revolving around over and over to me because there is no beginning or ending to Your love. I am complete in Your love. I am immersed in Your love.

Father, as I end this time with You, my spirit is still abiding in You. I leave from this moment, but I continue in this moment as I experience you with every moment yet to be. With every fiber of my being, You are there. You’re always there. Just as close as the mention of Your name or even just the thought of Your name. You consume me – all of me until all that’s left is You. You have captured and captivated my heart. My heart is Yours, Lord. All Yours!

Until my next meeting with You in the secret place, I will wait…in expectancy…for You.


Your beloved daughter

I Am His, and He Is Mine

I am quiet. I am still. I sit in silence. I am completely shut away from any outside noise. I am honest with my feelings and emotions. I pour out my heart to God. I hear no audible voice, but I hear Him in my spirit.

I feel discouraged. I feel hurt. I feel confused. I feel lonely. I feel forgotten. Even through the pain, God’s love pours into the deepest parts of my spirit. He visits the places that no one else sees or knows about, hidden from the rest of the world, but not to Him.

I don’t know if I have what it takes to make it another day. I need to be encouraged, but yet He asks me to pour out what He’s given to me. How am I supposed to do that? He says, “Trust Me.” So I make the choice to give out of what He’s blessed me with, and I experience His love pouring out of me. As I give away what He’s given to me, then He gives me just what I didn’t think I had to give away in the first place. He shows me that He is my encouragement that I was needing and craving from the beginning.

What is my purpose? It’s hard to see that through the lense of the here and now. I struggle to see where all of this is going, but yet there He is. There is my Abba Father standing with me cheering me on. He tells me that my life is filled with purpose. It’s to bring Him glory. Then I fall down beneath the weight of my burdens. He picks me up and carries me. He carries me to a peaceful place and lets me rest there awhile. All He wants is just for me to enjoy His presence. All He wants is for me to be His daughter. No expectations here. Just peace. Shalom. Wholeness. Healing.

My spirit craves nothing more than to be held in the arms of the one whose arms hold all of the universe together. He loves me for the woman that He created, not for anything else. His love overwhelms me in this secret place. I abide here with Him cherishing every moment longing to tarry here just a little while longer, not wanting to rush the beauty of this moment. Here, I am…Complete.

So I sit here awhile longer allowing Him access into the real Natalie. Not the Natalie that everyone sees from the outside, but the spirit and soul of who Natalie really is. I have no fear or shame here. Only the beauty of being who He made me to be and being content here. Each intricate detail of me is exposed, open, and raw before Him, and I am okay with that. He knows me and loves me anyway. I am vulnerable and comfortable in this place. I am Natalie, and I am loved.

Does Your Walk Match Your Talk?

Talk is cheap. That saying is old, but still carries so much truth in it. You can say anything you want to, but your words just don’t mean much until they are backed up by your actions. We’ve become a culture where truth is foreign and lies are the norm. Just because someone says something really doesn’t mean anything at all. Anybody can talk, but it takes a person of character and integrity to follow through in their actions.

The same thing rings true in the life that we live before other people. We can talk the talk, but are we walking the walk? If we’re not living out the truth that we know, then all of our words are serving no purpose. No one wants to listen to someone that doesn’t take this serious enough to actually live it out. The daily living it out is where the rubber meets the road. This is the place that tests us, but it’s also the place where we gain the greatest respect for being who we say that we are. It’s easy to hide behind a mask with our words, but when the mask is removed, then we begin to see our true colors.

So if we love others in word only, but no deeds to back it up, then there is so little reason for the world to even take us seriously. When we become saturated in God’s love, then our words and conversations reflect God’s nature, but that isn’t where it ends. In fact, it’s just the beginning. God’s words of truth plus God’s love in action equals someone worth paying attention to.

With that being said, one of our greatest desires should be in allowing our life to be the proof of God’s love. We can say we love God all day long, but until this can be lived out in everyday life, then it really doesn’t mean much. Anybody can say that they love God, but it takes a special person to incorporate truth and integrity into all of the hidden places in their life. Those hidden places then become our honesty quotient.

Pay attention closely to make sure that you are more than just words. Shower God’s love onto others by the way that you treat them. Be kind and compassionate. Treat others the way you want to be treated. May others sense His presence in everything you set your hands to. Your life should be lived in such a way that if you could use no words, then people would still sense God’s love through the actions you are exhibiting. Whether it be a small act of kindness or something large, God’s love is still being demonstrated each and everytime you go above and beyond to shine His light to everyone around you. God sees all of this and is pleased with you.

My prayer for you is that you would be consciously aware of not just using your words, but every action to bring others to Christ. You are a walking billboard for Jesus. Your little light is shining. So keep talking, keep sharing, and keep being a willing vessel. You are the proof of His love.

Do I Have To? I’m Just Not Feeling It!

Today I got up and got ready for my day, but I just didn’t want to. That’s my confession of honesty! I had no desire to do anything that I needed to do. I would have loved nothing more than to stay at home or better yet, just run away. Not sure where I’d run away to, but it would probably include somewhere with white sandy beaches or at least a hammock where I could take a nap all day away from my cell phone and internet. At least a girl can dream!

Sometimes it would be so nice to take a break from adulting, but that just doesn’t happen most days. There are responsibilities to take care of, bills to pay, errands to run, and on and on. The to-do list is a mile long and keeps on growing by the minute. Ahhhhh! This is making me stressed out just thinking about this. Running away is sounding better by the minute!

So what are you supposed to do with all of this? You can’t run away everytime that you face a problem. You can’t stay home just because you’re not having a good day. There has to be something more to this, and there is!

I want to share some things that I do that help me on those days that just need to go away. My prayer is that God will speak to you through this not to condemn you, but to offer you some peace, sanity, and hope as you struggle like I do, but of course maybe you have it all together and have no problems with this like I do. Then if you have it all together, then I need to be listening to you.

One of the most important things I’ve had to learn to do is to be my biggest cheerleader. I don’t wait on others to encourage me. I have learned that I must encourage myself. I do this by speaking those things over myself that God says about me in His Word. Even if I’m just not feeling it, then I still speak them out loud anyway so that I hear truth coming out of my mouth. Our words and thoughts are so important!

Another way that I deal with difficult days is to take some time out for myself. It doesn’t have to be a great deal of time or something that costs lots of money. The idea is to celebrate you in ways that are special and significant to you. What do you enjoy doing? Maybe it’s reading or listening to music. Maybe it’s taking a nap. Maybe it’s sitting on the front porch doing nothing. Maybe it’s drawing or baking. God made you unique, so celebrate that in rewarding you! You are worth it.

Next on my list on how I tackle those less than perfect days is to spend time pouring into others. This will work wonders for you and help your mood and outlook on life. This isn’t about denying your difficulties. It’s about seeing that the world is so much more than just your limited view. There are others out there struggling just like you. As you bring joy into other’s lives, then you are bringing joy into your own life. As I pour into others, God pours into me. This could be done by sending a thinking of you text, calling to check on a friend, writing a letter, running an errand, smiling, or just being a listening ear. There are limitless possibilities on caring for people.

I have saved my most important life saver for yucky days until last. This one always works and has never failed me yet. It’s what keeps me going regardless of how anything turns out, and it is my quiet time alone with just me and God. My quiet time includes one or several of these items: prayer, Bible reading, singing, silence, or journaling. If I fail to connect with God each day, then I am the one that feels the effects of this, as well as those I come into contact with that day. My quiet time doesn’t keep me from having a bad day. It just helps me to deal with it much better. It gives me hope that God is seeing me through all of my mess.

Everyday I must purpose in my heart that I am pressing on regardless of what happens. I keep on keeping on not with my own strength, but with God’s supernatural strength. In my flesh, I lack determination and will power, but in my spirit, God gives me exactly what I need to continue on. God is more than enough to see me through every less than perfect day.

So when you wake up tomorrow morning and think that it would be a good day to throw the covers back over your head and escape reality, then remember that you don’t have what it takes, but God does. You don’t have to be strong. He’ll be that for you. That’s why He’s God, and you’re not. You’re going to make it. You can do it. Just take it one step at a time, and be good to you. You are worth it!

God, Are You Listening to Me?

“Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” Daniel 10:12

I know this might seem like an odd scripture for me to use to talk about something that we all face today, but it is rather fitting. I want us to get honest and real with ourselves today. Forget trying to be super-spiritual, and allow God to speak His truth into your spirit. He wants you to come before Him just as you are so that you can continue to grow and be challenged in your walk with Him. So let’s take a walk with our Savior.

How many times have you prayed about something and then began to wonder where God was in all of it? If I wanted to seem like I had it all together, then I would tell you…NEVER, but that’s not where I live. I live in the difficult day-to-day just like you, so my “real” person answer would be on a daily (and honestly speaking – moment by moment) basis.

There have been so many times in my life where I have prayed about something just hoping that God would answer me instantaneously. I never doubted that He could answer in that fashion, but for some reason I could never figure out, God decided to delay and even change the outcome of how I had prayed. He did things in a totally different time frame and way than I would have worked it out. In the end, God’s way was always the best way for me even though in the waiting it sure didn’t feel that way.

With that being said, my scenario is very similar to the one that we read about in the life of Daniel. God clearly tells Daniel that He heard him the very first time that he prayed, but yet his prayer was blocked for 21 days due to some demonic forces working against Daniel. Now I don’t know the reason why God allowed this to go on for 21 days because He had the power to stop it, but He chose not to. I’m sure that the 21 day period was a faith builder for Daniel. I don’t want to speculate here for too long because there is much more truth that I’m wanting to grasp here.

I begin to wonder just what was running through Daniel’s mind and thoughts as he was waiting on God. Did He get impatient? Did He wonder if God was going to come through? Did He wonder if following Him was all a huge mistake? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but I’m sure that Satan put those thoughts in his mind. Why do I say that? I say that because Daniel was a person living out his calling just like you and I. He battled the same things we do. Now I do believe that Daniel chose to take those negative and discouraging thoughts captive instead of dwelling on them. He allowed his joy and love for God to carry him through on those days when it seemed as if God was silent.

So if you’re in the middle of waiting as you’ve prayed and cried out to God, then don’t give up. It might seem like He is silent and not present in your situation, but He is. He has heard you. He has heard every silent cry that you’ve shouted out to Him as you were patently (and sometimes not so patiently) waiting. He sees and is aware of every time that you wanted to give up, but didn’t. He knows about that longing in your heart for something that you’ve been holding out hope and faith for, but still haven’t seen it come to pass. His timing is not your timing. There is purpose in everything He does. It doesn’t mean that every purpose is going to seem pleasant at the time. In fact, it may break our heart, but God brings beauty out of those painful places in our lives. He is perfecting something so valuable out of these waiting seasons.

Don’t be afraid, my friend! If only you could see where God is going with this! Until He brings you out, praise Him. He knows and is aware of it all. Just relax, breathe, and enjoy your journey all along the way for one day you will look back and realize just how all of this fit together. Each part creating a kaleidoscope of color so brilliant that it does nothing but reflect a vast array of beauty from our loving Heavenly Father. Just rest. You have been heard!

How Does He Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

When I begin to think about just how much God loves me, it becomes quite overwhelming. It’s difficult to even explain or put into words. His love for me is higher than the highest mountain and deeper than the deepest sea. It stretches out even further than the east is from the west. There are no limits to God’s love for me. Just when I try to put a boundary on it, then God moves out just a little further expanding it more than I can even grasp or imagine. There just is no way to measure it. Not at all!

When I think about His love for me on a daily, personal, and intimate level, then that changes the idea of His love for me even more. God knows about every single detail of my life and still loves me anyway. He knows everything about me, and it doesn’t change a thing with Him. Of course He is pleased when I am obedient, but no matter what I do or don’t do, it won’t change His love for me for one second.

There’s not anything I can do to gain His love for me. He loves me – no questions asked. It’s difficult to comprehend how the creator of the sun, moon, stars, and all of the planets, still has time to be concerned with what concerns me. He cares about each frustration, each burden, each irritation, each hurt, and each difficulty that I go through, but He does so much more than just care about me when I face tough times. He demonstrates His love by reaching His hand down to rescue me out of the pit of despair that I have somehow fallen into. God has went to great lengths to let me know just how much that I mean to Him.

There is no one that will ever love me the way that He loves me. In fact, if I don’t receive the beautiful gift of His love, then it makes it almost impossible to even give love to others. I must be content and secure in His love or I will keep spinning in circles trying to get others to love me. Once I realize that I don’t do anything to gain His love for me, then I become confident in loving others. I don’t put any expectations on others for how they love me, and I don’t put any expectations on myself in how I love others. His love gives me freedom to not be afraid to love. I can be myself without being afraid of what others will think. I can give of myself without fear of rejection because my love in God is so strong that every other love fails in comparison to His love for me.

When we love others, there is always a chance that we are going to get hurt. I don’t like that, but that is reality in the sin-filled world that we live in. If I focus my energy on allowing God to love me and in return me loving God, then it makes the heart hurt that we go through not as bad. I would be foolish to say that we aren’t ever going to experience this type of pain because we are all going to experience this many times in our life. God’s love is like a soft pillow in which to land when we experience this pain. His love is always there regardless of what happens. It’s a constant and something to be counted on and relied on.

Just because God loves me doesn’t mean that He is going to give me everything that I want. In fact, many times God’s love doesn’t feel like love at all. That’s only because we can’t see the full picture like He can. When situations don’t turn out in our favor, then we see this as God not loving us. We fail to see how God is protecting us and shaping each detail to bring us into His destiny for the kingdom. We get stuck in the here and now with no way to see beyond tomorrow. His plans and purposes for you are greater than anything you could even think about or imagine. Now that’s what I call love.

So it might seem like I have a monopoly on God’s love and that I’m His favorite, but that’s not true either. The beauty of the love that I’ve just described is just as much available for you as it is me. When you live everyday full and overwhelmed in His love, you will experience a joy and freedom that the world just doesn’t understand. No amount of money can buy it. You get to experience this awesome gift each and everyday when you make the decision to receive His love. Even though there are no favorites in God’s kingdom, He loves you so loud that it feels that you are His favorite. God gave His best gift for you, Jesus. He gave it all so that you could know His love every moment of your life.

So dive in. Don’t be afraid. Allow God’s love to overwhelm you. You will be a reflection of His love to others because His love has overtaken every part of you. You just can’t keep this beautiful gift to yourself. It must be shared with others. Allow God to pour forth His sweet anointing of His love onto every parched, dry, and broken soul just waiting to experience a love that they never knew existed. You are the vessel full and running over with God’s love. Pour it out!

Sharing My Heart…Sharing My Prayer

I want to share something a little bit different with you today. This is a personal prayer and reflection that I’ve written. I want you to see inside Natalie and just a little of my heart. It’s not anything that follows a certain formula, but something that God led me to pray over myself. Over the past year, I have become a lover of written prayers, both for myself and others. When you share written prayers with others, then they are able to read over and over again just how you prayed for them. That can be very encouraging to go back and read when you are having a tough day and feel like giving up. There is a certain risk I take each and everyday by being vulnerable and transparent with others, but I also find great freedom in being able to be me without any fear. I am free to be Natalie, and that feels wonderful. So read and pray this prayer along with me for yourself. May it speak to your spirit and encourage you as you seek Him.

God, share Your heart with me! You have placed this burning desire inside the deepest parts of Natalie. I want to know You, Abba, for who You are and not only for what You can give to me. So many times in my life, I’ve been so guilty of only wanting what You could give me, but now my heart is turned towards Your face. I want to seek Your face and Your heart, and not just Your hand. So many times You feel so silent my life. I know that You are there, but I just can’t see how You are putting all things together in my life. Some of it doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’m at peace with that because I know that I know that I know that You are putting together every piece of my puzzle to make a beautiful masterpiece. Thank You for making me a whole and healed woman! You loved me enough to reach down and do something supernaturally that only You could do. I am forever grateful that you loved me that much. I know that I am Your beloved. Thank You for how You overwhelm me with Your love every single day of my life. Father, thank You for the desires that You have placed in my heart. I know that they are from You, and You will bring them to pass in Your timing. Father, thank You for the honesty that I’m able to share with You. You see everything about me – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and You still love me anyways. Thank You that I am able to experience my true worth and value in You and not anyone else. Father, continue to pour into me so that I can pour into others. Fill my vessel to full and overflowing so that I’m not pouring from something empty. Father, continue to share Your heart with me, just as You’ve desired to do from the beginning of time. I only want Your heart and nothing else. Reveal that to me as only You can do. It’s Your heart or nothing else, Father. Shape it to look like Yours. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

“All” in the Greek Means “All”

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

GIVE thanks in all circumstances. Give THANKS in all circumstances. Give thanks in ALL circumstances. Yes, I did just repeat myself three times, but I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of this truth quite frequently. This is one of those truths that we just wish God would have never included in His Word. Does God really expect that much of us? Why, yes He does, but it’s not something we do on our own. When we walk closely with our Abba Father, He gives us just what we need through The Holy Spirit to help us accomplish this task. It’s like a spiritual booster charge to help us walk in victory in Jesus.

It’s super easy to give thanks when everything is going in our favor, but what about those times that our life isn’t going as planned, when it’s falling apart, or when it just doesn’t seem fair or right? That’s one of those times that we really begin to question God and ask Him if being thankful is really even a possibility. Just how do we really do this successfully? Let’s dive in and tackle this super sensitive topic.

In this passage of scripture, it doesn’t say that we will like or even enjoy our circumstances. In fact, it doesn’t even mention anything about our feelings. What it does say is that we are to be thankful in all of our circumstances. It doesn’t mean that we are always going to be thankful for all of our circumstances, but we’ll be thankful IN all of our circumstances. Big difference!

With that thought line in place, that takes lots of pressure off from us. God knows that we’re not going to like or enjoy everything that happens to us. In fact, we’d be lying to ourselves and God if we tried to argue that we always loved those difficult places in our lives. He doesn’t expect us to love those places, but He does expect us to be thankful in every single circumstance that we face, whether good or bad. In our flesh, we aren’t able to do this, but with God’s power living in us, then we ARE able to do this every time. It’s not about mind over matter. It’s about letting God have full control of everything in our lives, even those places and things that seem to trip us up.

So how do we even get started in this being thankful thing? Well for me, there isn’t a subtle warm-up. There isn’t even a certain feeling that we’re going to experience before we do this. In fact, this is something that we must just dive in and do. This diving in isn’t in the shallow end. It’s in the deepest part of the ocean with no life preserver on. You don’t need a life preserver because Jesus is waiting there for you to grab His hand that is extended out to you to pull you up out of those deep waters. Those deep waters of negativity. Those deep waters of “this is just too hard.” Those deep waters that seem to want to drown you – that want to take you under. Jesus never intended you to do any of this on your own. He is waiting and desiring to give you everything that you need to be thankful in it all.

Speak it. Think it. Declare it. Decree it. You ARE going to be thankful in ALL circumstances regardless of how you feel right now. Trust God with the tough places, and watch Him do something supernatural that can’t be explained. You are going to experience overwhelming joy in spite of your hardship. You are going to watch God work in your life regardless of how it looks all because you chose to do this one simple, yet profound act – giving thanks in it all.

Don’t live one more day in the desert place of complaining and despair. Let God pick you up and bring you to this beautiful garden of thanksgiving. It’s blooming with new life in your spirit. It’s watered from the well of joy, and its fruit is always plentiful. Stay here just a little while longer. In fact, don’t ever leave. This was the place God intended you to live from the beginning. Sit with Abba Father, and experience what living in this garden just really is all about. Shalom!

Take the Risk…Take the Chance

There are so many times in life that it would be so much easier just to do life, and let that be it. Don’t share it with anyone. Don’t open up to anyone. Just do my own thing by myself, but that isn’t the life that God intends for us to live. He doesn’t desire that for me, and He doesn’t desire that for you. There is so much more to be experienced, and it isn’t on our own.

This brings us to a very interesting place. We have a choice to make. Are we going to play it safe and not let anyone in or are we going to be brave, courageous, and take a chance and let someone into our life? The first choice makes us feel protected and safe, but it’s only just a false illusion of safety. When we make the second choice, it can be a little bit scary and even a bit risky, but it’s the place where we’ll enjoy our journey of life just the way that God intended it.

When we let others into our lives, then there is always the chance that we’re going to end up hurt, wounded, and even rejected. That is always a possibility because we are never guaranteed of how someone else is going to respond, but what if…What if we take the risk and it becomes the greatest decision that we ever made in our life?

When we allow others into that place of the “real” us, then that means that we must be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is the ability to be wounded. That’s not usually a place that we want to visit. We keep people at a distance because we are afraid of being wounded, but just as there is a chance of being wounded, there is a chance that we are going to be loved. There is a safety and beauty in being vulnerable because then and only then are we truly the people God created us to be. We are tearing down walls around our heart to let someone else know the good, the bad, and the ugly about us. When there is vulnerability from both parties, then love, just the way that God designed it, happens.

As I have been on my own special journey over the past year and a half, I’ve had to learn how to be this person of letting others in. I know the risk that I take each and every time I let someone into my life, but I also know how much joy this has brought into my life. I’ve been blessed with some very special relationships where I can be me with no shame or fear for being the person God created me to be.

God has shown me just how important this is as I allow Him to use my story to encourage others. There is a certain vulnerability that must happen when we open up and share our struggles with others. Are they going to listen to me as I pour out my heart, or are they just going to shut down and put a wall around their heart causing me to wish that I’d never shared my heart with them? Yes, that is always the risk that I take, but more times than not, God has taken my ability to be free in who I am to speak life and encouragement to those going through the same things that I’ve faced. He takes what I am pouring out and makes something beautiful of it. Others are able to see that I’m just like they are, facing things that don’t seem right or fair, and allowing God to make the most out of an unfortunate and heartbreaking experience that should have shut me down and taken me out. I love how God takes our availability and blesses it just from being a willing vessel.

So are you going to take the risk and let others into your life? Are you going to take a chance on being vulnerable at the risk of being used, unheard, and misunderstood? There’s always that chance that it won’t be reciprocated back, but there is always the chance that it will. You have a story and beauty inside of you that needs to be shared with others. Take the risk, take the chance, and let God love through you.

The Gravel or The Diamond?

If you were given the choice between a gravel or a diamond, which would you choose? Would you have to put much thought into this decision? Would you need to go home and sleep on it? Would you need to phone your five closet friends to get their opinion? Would you need to spend countless hours doing research on which of the two would be the wiser?

I’m sure that by the time you got finished reading my opening paragraph, then you knew exactly what you would do. You were probably wondering how in the world anyone would come up with such a crazy choice. It’s really a no-brainer. You didn’t even have to think about this for five seconds without knowing just which of the two you would choose.

A gravel has little value or worth, but a diamond has great value and worth. A gravel is meant to use for outside purposes, but a diamond is meant to be treasured, protected, and cared for. No one wants to buy gravel jewelry, but everyone wants to buy diamond jewelry. A gravel can be bought for a dime a dozen, but diamonds are priceless. When was the last time that you saw a crown made out of gravels? It just ain’t happening!

Did you know that you are making this exact same choice everyday? You are choosing between gravels and diamonds everyday that you live. Now you aren’t choosing between a literal gravel and a literal diamond, but you are deciding between the two with the choices that you make each and everyday. We don’t think about our choices in this light, but this is exactly what we’re doing.

So many times we trade a beautiful diamond for a worthless gravel with the choices that we make. We may look at the gravel and see potential there, but no matter how much we look at that gravel, it’s always going to be a worthless stone, unlike the diamond which has great worth. So you’re going to choose something that’s only good for throwing outside on the ground over something that’s meant to be guarded and handled with the utmost care? Wow! How did that even become a choice? I’m not sure how, but we trade the gravel for the diamond everyday without ever giving it a second thought. That’s so sad!

I want to encourage you to think about every decision that you make with great wisdom. Don’t throw away things that are valuable and of great worth all because it’s the easiest choice to make. Think it through so that you end up with the diamond and not a measly gravel that no one even wants or cares about. Our flesh wants the gravel, but our spirit desires the diamond. Choose the diamond every time! No questions asked! Just do it!

So today, which will you choose, the gravel or the diamond? The choice is up to you, but you know what you need to do. Don’t waste another minute on that worthless gravel. Go for the priceless diamond every time! You’ll be so glad that you did!

Here’s My Heart, Lord

“Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true.”

This is just one small line from one of my favorite songs. The name of the song is “Here’s My Heart” by Lauren Daigle. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times, but the last time that I listened to it, God began sharing some insight with me. I love it when He shares His heart with me. His truth is priceless.

It doesn’t take much work to have a superficial and shallow relationship with God. This isn’t what He desires for us. He wants to “know” us. I wouldn’t even really call this a relationship because relationships take work, and it’s pretty clear that this one is far from what a relationship looks like. This “relationship” isn’t allowing God any access into our lives. It treats Him as if He’s a million miles away. We’re not really too excited and thrilled with having Him get too close. God is only there for us when we get in a bind. All the other times when life is going well, then we don’t really have a need for Him. He’s just a genie in a bottle to grant our every wish.

But there is a different “relationship” that we can experience. Now this one gets a little bit more intense, but it’s the one that brings the greatest joy. This relationship is one where we seek God with every fiber of our being. We don’t have a problem with being vulnerable with God at this place. We don’t have to be afraid or come to Him in guilt or shame. God knows all about us, and still loves us anyway. He’s always growing us and challenging us to be more like Him. He wants us to be a reflection of Him. He overwhelms us with His love here because He wants us to share it with others. Being in His presence is what we crave and desire. We just can’t get enough of Him. He is our life and breath. He is our everything.

So what does the type of relationship that we have with God have to do with the song lyrics that I referenced to in the beginning? It has everything to do with it! If I am experiencing the first type of relationship with God, then my heart’s desire is far from wanting God to speak truth to me. Then at that, I am definitely not going to want to hand my heart over to God. I want to keep it for me to give to other things that I see as important and more valuable. I feel safe when I hold my heart back from Him. Nothing else brings satisfaction, but I try and try to find that one thing that will. Of course, I will spend a lifetime searching before realizing He’s what I wanted and needed all along.

Oh but what joy and beauty when we experience God in the second relationship that I mentioned. When we give Him full access to all of who we are, then this is the place where He begins to share truth with us. It might be painful, but He only wants His very best for us. When we give Him our heart in this relationship, it brings a fulfillment unlike any other. There is an internal peace, a shalom, a wholeness that only comes from allowing Him into all parts of who we really are. There are no masks here. We can be the “real” us knowing that this brings a priceless freedom that money can’t buy.

This song has become more than a just song to me. It’s become a personal, and might I say, a VERY personal and intimate ongoing conversation that I have with God. It is my prayer between just me and Abba. When I voice these words or even when I just voice them in my spirit, I know that I am making a connection with Him that allows me to be vulnerable with no fear of being wounded. I love this place that I share that’s just between the two of us. No one else resides there. It’s just me and Him. It’s our secret place, just as it talks about in Psalm 91.

So I want to challenge you to listen to this song or just read the lyrics, but don’t just read them. Read them with your spirit. Allow God to share His heart with you. Use it as a prayer. Just something special and sacred between the two of you.

God is speaking. Are you listening?

“Here’s My Heart”

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Speak what is true

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Speak what is true

I am found, I am Yours

I am loved, I’m made pure

I have life, I can breathe

I am healed, I am free

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Speak what is true

‘Cause I am found, I am Yours

I am loved, I’m made pure

I have life, I can breathe

I am healed, I am free

You are strong, You are sure

You are life, You endure

You are good, always true

You are light breaking through

Oh, here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Speak what is true

Here’s my life, Lord

Here’s my life, Lord

Here’s my life, Lord

Speak what is true

Speak what is true

Speak what is true

I am found, I am Yours

I am loved, I’m made pure

I have life, I can breathe

I am healed, I am free

‘Cause You are strong, You are sure

You are life, You endure

You are good, always true

You are light breaking through

You are more than enough

You are here, You are love

You are hope, You are grace

You’re all I have, You’re everything

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Here’s my heart, Lord

Speak what is true

Here’s my life, Lord

Here’s my life, Lord

Here’s my life, Lord

Speak what is true

I Heart Me

We all struggle with this, especially all of my female friends out there. There’s always this longing. A desire to get where we’re going, but not really being happy in the here and now. We look all around us and see everything that’s wrong with us and what’s not right with what we’re going through. If we could just get to the intended end, then it would be so much better for us. Then we could finally start living. If only…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled with those thoughts my whole life…that is until just recently. When God did a supernatural healing in my life, then it all changed for me. He began to breathe truth into those dry and barren places in my emotions that were way off track. For once in my life, now I had healthy emotional balance just the way that God intended it to be for me.

So I want to share God’s truth with you that He shared with me so that He can use it to encourage you, heal you, and set you free. God desires you to be a whole person and not a shattered and broken one. He wants you to be complete in Him.

Truth Flash! God wants you to love yourself right now! That’s right! I said it! God wants you to love yourself right now. Just the way that you are. Not when you have all of your make-up applied just right. Not when you have a good hair day, Not when you lose more weight. Not when you finish that project. Not when you meet Mr. Right. Not when you have a baby. Not when you finish your college degree. Not when you get that job promotion. And a million other “not when” scenarios.

For so long, we’ve believed the lie that we just can’t love ourselves in the here and now, right where we’re at this very minute. It’s almost as if we’re gaining our love from outside circumstances and not from the real person inside of us. We struggle with loving ourselves because we’re the first ones to see all of the flaws and things about ourselves that we don’t like. In fact, most of us don’t truly know how to love ourselves. We’ve been taught that if we do, then we’re just being selfish, but that’s not true. God created a masterpiece in us so He wants us to love ourselves. If Jesus loved us enough to die for us, then that should inspire us to love ourselves.

Over the past year and a half, I had to learn how to love myself for who I was right then. Not for who I wanted to be in the future or for whoever did or didn’t love me. I had the ability within me to make this happen or rather let Jesus make it happen to me. When you are able to love yourself the way that God intended for you, then it will change your life and everything connected to yours. If you don’t love yourself, it makes it difficult to love others. Loving yourself isn’t about having an inflated ego. It’s about knowing that you were valuable enough to give up heaven’s best for. If God can love you that much, then you can love yourself that much too. God is our example for learning how to live loved.

So I want to challenge you to love the beautiful person that God created you to be – right now! Just do it. Don’t wait for perfect opportunities. As God pours His precious love into You then it will fill in all of those places that need some extra TLC. Loving yourself will be one of the greatest gifts you will ever give to yourself.

Love the person in the mirror! Every part, every flaw, every unique way God created you. You are priceless. You are valuable. You are a masterpiece. You are loved!

The Big Reveal

I am amazed at how God is constantly at work in my life. Whether it be something that I consider big or something I consider small, God is ever so faithful to me. He doesn’t just hear me when I cry out to Him, but He responds to my cries. So many times He does things before I even know that there is a need in my life. That is how much my Abba Father loves me!

I have something special that just recently happened to me. It won’t mean much to others, but it means the world to me. It’s just another way that I know that God is always watching out for me. At all times. In all ways.

It was time for me to get my van tires balanced and rotated. I visited my local tire shop on a Saturday morning to get this taken care of. I arrived just a little before closing time, so they weren’t sure that they could work me in. After doing some checking, they assured me that they were able to fit me in that day. I was thankful that I was going to be able to mark this off my to-do list for the day. So I took a seat and waited on them to complete the job.

After a few minutes of sitting and patiently waiting, an employee approached me. She then began to show me what they had found in my tire. It was a screw! They just happened to find that in my tire. I didn’t go in with the intentions of having my tire repaired. I went in with the intention of having my tires balanced and rotated. I didn’t know that this was an issue, but God did.

I was ever so thankful for this find. First of all because I do lots of driving and commuting. Then second of all because I was scheduled to go out of town the very next day for a ministry engagement. I didn’t even have to wonder if God was watching out for me. I knew that He was!

After this special God moment, it made me think about all of the times in my life that God has been watching over me and taking care of me. There isn’t one moment that He’s not aware of everything that’s going on in my life. He is concerned about what concerns me – even down to the very smallest detail in my life. This is the beautiful and overwhelming love of my Abba Father. So awesome that my words don’t even do it justice.

My situation is unique to me, but not to God. Everyday He is working and doing things in your life, whether you are aware of it or not. He wants you to know Him and recognize His presence in your day-to-day, mundane life. He always has you in His thoughts. He desires to favor and bless you just because and not for anything you do or don’t do.

So where is God at work in your life? How has He made Himself evident to you? Be paying close attention because He is going to show up in some of the most surprising ways. Ways that you never even dreamed of. When He does these things for you, then share it with others. It will encourage them in their journey of faith.

God, I’m watching and waiting for Your next big reveal in my life. What will it be? How will it happen? Only You know the answers to those questions, but one thing I am sure of. You are only getting started!

A Super Bad, Horrible, No Good For Nothing Day!

It’s just been one of those days! One of those days when nothing seems to go right. Things just aren’t going your way. You started out this morning ready to conquer the world, but you were ready to go back to bed by 10:00 a.m. because you just kept getting more discouraged from the outcome (or the lack thereof) of every project, task, and issue that you were dealing with. Life just doesn’t seem to be treating you fairly today. Anything that can go wrong seems to keep going wrong. What’s the use? It’s just one headache after another. You would scream and cry, but that would consume the rest of the small amount of energy that you have left, so it’s just not worth it.

We all are there right now, are going there, or just coming from there. We’ve all had our fair share of what seems to be a disaster of a day. If only we lived in a perfect world, then we would never have to face this kind of a day, but we don’t live in the land of perfect, so these days are going to hit us out of nowhere from time to time.

So what are we supposed to do when we face a tough day like this? Well we have a couple of options. We can stick our head in the sand and pretend that it’s not happening. We can overreact and lash out in anger at every person that we come into contact with. We can run away and hide because it’s just too much to deal with or we can run straight to our Heavenly Father.

For some odd reason, we seem to think that we can handle everything on our own. We don’t want to bother God with anything because we think He’s too busy for us. We make all of these assumptions only to be let down once again. We aren’t able to fix any of it, but we think that we’re strong enough to handle it on our own. Yeah, right! That really makes lots of sense! We’re strong enough? When will we ever learn?

There comes a point in all of our useless striving that we realize that running straight to God really is our only option. We’ve tried everything else, but it didn’t work. This becomes our last resort, but our best option. So we do it reluctantly wondering just where all of this will lead.

God wants us to remember that He wants us to run to Him like a little child. He doesn’t want us to carry all of those burdens on our own. If we need to cry, then we cry. There is no shame in this place. This is a place of total trust because we know that our Father is taking care of us. We are free to be who He created us to be here. He understands every emotion that we’re experiencing, every unfair action, and every situation that keeps us awake at night.

So where did we come up with the idea that once we are adults, then we can handle it all on our own? Just because we are all grown up doesn’t mean anything to God. To Him, we are still His little children. We weren’t created to do this on our own. He wants to do life with us, even if it’s bad.

Where does this leave you? My prayer is that you will drop everything and run. Run! Run as fast as you can straight to the Father’s arms. Don’t waste another minute trying to decide what’s best. Just do it! Let God’s overwhelming love wash over you as you surrender everything to Him. Then you’ll begin to realize that all of your bad day items are just a drop in the bucket compared to all of the awesome things that God has in store.

So what are you waiting for? Put on your running shoes and tie those laces because you have a race to run, and the prize is Jesus. Oh what a beautiful life!

A Picture of Perfection

How many times have you been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, and there you see it. It is always before you on social media. You can’t get away from it. The more that you stay on any of these platforms, the more difficult it becomes to not develop some pretty intense feelings. You just wish that you had never seen it. It just makes it worse for you.

So what exactly is it? I’m so glad that you asked. Time to explain myself now.

Let me see if this sounds familiar to you. You are scrolling through Facebook or Instagram minding your own business, and there you see it over and over. That’s none other than all of the perfect photos with perfect families with perfect marriages with perfect hair with perfect clothes with perfect children with perfect homes with perfect vacation photos with perfect everything. Then you begin to assess your life and begin to realize that you don’t have any of these perfect things. Your real life is far from any of these visuals that these photos are portraying. There must be something wrong with you because you don’t have perfect anything. Your life is on the edge of falling apart, and you’re just trying to stay afloat. Your life is so complex and complicated that you need your own reality tv show. There must be something wrong with you because you just know that no one lives the messy and broken life that you live. Your life looks nothing like these photos. So what’s wrong with you?

Now let me clarify myself. In no way am I saying that we should stop posting photos on social media. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I enjoy keeping up with my friends this way, but the problem comes when I take my focus off from what is really important and put it on something that makes me doubt every part of me and my life. The issue is that I have decided to turn all of the focus more inward onto myself and what I don’t have or haven’t accomplished instead of just observing the photo. So don’t stop posting.

We must stop this horrible comparison game. We have to realize that no one’s life is perfect no matter how it appears. We all go through difficult things, even the people in those photos. There isn’t one of these people that haven’t or aren’t facing something that is far from that perfect photo. That photo is one moment in time of the pretty, posed, and polished people that you are looking at. It’s just an extra, extra, super small, mini chapter of the very large book that they are writing with their life. Looks can be so deceiving!

Everyday you make a choice between being thankful for all of your life (even those places you’d rather not revisit) and throwing a pity party about what’s not right in your life. So instead of allowing the ugly monsters of jealousy and envy begin to creep in, nip it in the bud. Your life may not look the way that you want it to, but remember that God’s not done with you yet! You can’t judge your whole life against that one moment in time photo that you just happened to see.

So stop with all of the perfect garbage! No one lives that way, but Satan sure does want you to think so. There are no perfect photos because there are no perfect people. Choose God’s truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made – even in all of your imperfections. Your life is beautiful even if it seems so far from that. Every part is beautiful because it’s just a small piece of the puzzle just waiting to be put together to form a beautiful picture. Your picture isn’t showing perfection, but a beautiful picture of God’s grace and mercy. Now that’s a true picture of perfection in God’s eyes, and that’s the only picture that matters!

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

If I were to ask you what brings you joy in your life, then how would you respond? Would it be your home or car? Would it be that job promotion? Would it be all of the money that you have in the bank? Would it be that big screen tv? Would it be that new purse or pair of shoes? Would it be…and the list goes on and on.

Most of the time we think all of our stuff will bring us joy, but it doesn’t. It’s so fleeting. That home and car then become a burden to keep up and pay for. That job promotion turns into more hours that you are required to work and spend away from your family. All of that money in the bank is just a false sense of security. That new purse or pair of shoes soon become out of style, so you’re ready to buy more. The stuff is nice for a short season, but it doesn’t offer true joy.

After doing some much needed reflection in my life, God has brought me to a place where I am beginning to find joy in the simple things. For so much of my life, I have been too busy to think about or even notice these things. It’s only been in my season of rest that God has chosen to reveal this beautiful truth to me. Only when I have gotten to this place in my life has God begun to heal and restore me through the simplicity of my life. God has put me back together again just by giving Him the space to do it. I never would have dreamed that I would have found exactly what I was looking for in the place that God has me.

So with this being the case, I want to share some of these simple things that God has brought into my life that bring me joy.

  • Flowers out in the yard
  • Hearing the birds singing
  • Looking at clouds
  • Sitting on the front porch eating a popsicle and watching the cars pass by
  • Going for a walk with a friend
  • Telling funny stories and laughing so hard that you cry
  • Singing a song
  • Talking to a friend
  • Watching a butterfly
  • Listening to the rain
  • Going for a long drive with a friend just because
  • Receiving a card, text, or call from someone at just the time that you needed the encouragement
  • Sitting around the dinner table with friends and family
  • Laying down to go to sleep at night and realizing just how much Abba Father loves you
  • Watching lightning bugs just as it begins to get dark outside
  • Taking a nap

Each day is a gift, and God wants you to enjoy it. Life might not be all that you want it to be right now, but then it all changes when you stop and realize just how blessed you are in those things that money can’t buy. Those things, my friend, are what bring true joy. So get out there and enjoy all of the little things in your life that really aren’t that little. You soon realize that they are the big things. Never take anything in your life for granted because it can change at a moment’s notice.

So make your list and…watch God surprise you! He’s pretty good at that!

Greater Than That?

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

The royal wedding. I don’t need to say anything more about this special event that the world just experienced a few weeks ago. News stories. Live coverage. Social media posts. It was one of “the” events of 2018.

I’m sure that when Meghan was growing up that she never dreamed that one day that she would be part of The Royal Family. What are the chances that this would be part of her life story? It’s something that I’m sure she never even thought about…that is until it became part of her reality on Saturday, May 19, 2018.

This whole thought process really got me to thinking about how God works in our lives. According to Ephesians 3:20-21, God has the ability to do the exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to His great and awesome power working in us. Wow!

So many times we limit God with our mindsets. Somehow we forget that God has the power to do more than we can even think about. That means that the greatest thing that I can think about God doing, He is able to do greater than that. His thoughts are not anything like our thoughts. That’s the God that we serve!

I choose to live my life with this beautiful truth. As I trust God with every detail of my life, I am believing God to do even greater things than I can think or imagine. I am living with no limits to how God wants to favor and bless me. For far too long, I’ve lived the opposite way. Somehow I’ve believed the lie from Satan that I’m just not good enough, but I choose to declare that it’s not about how good that I am. It’s all about me being the righteousness of God. I am a new creation in Christ so I don’t have to be good enough to experience this “even greater” lifestyle. I am His beloved daughter, so I have the rights and privileges to it.

I have no idea what this is going to look like in my life, but I do know that I am living in expectancy of all that God is going to do. I’m not holding Him back from anything. Not anymore. I make a choice everyday. I can either choose to believe His Word and promises or believe the lies from the enemy that God’s Word isn’t truth for me. I choose to believe that God has an awesome and beautiful future in front of me, and it’s going to be exceedingly abundantly greater than I can even imagine!

God, I’m ready! Ready to experience all that you long and desire for me to experience. Thank you for loving me that much. Thank you that what I thought was the worst was actually just Your way of setting me up for your exceedingly abundantly that You had in mind for me from the very beginning of time. Nothing has taken You by surprise. You’re just that awesome!

So Who Is This All About?

Have you ever stopped to ask God why you go through some of the things that you go through? We especially seem to ask Him that question when we go through a difficult situation. There are times that we ask that question only to end up with an answer that we really don’t want to hear. We expect God to give us the clarity that we are demanding, but He just doesn’t work that way. He has something greater in mind because His ways are not our ways.

Most of the time when we ask that question we are really only looking out for the greater good of ourselves. It’s difficult to see how God could be working in the midst of something so painful. What if I told you that all of the tough things that we go through aren’t even about us? What if I told you that it was all about someone else? You see, that really is the way that it is when we are followers of Christ. Your pain isn’t about you. Your pain is about someone else, and that someone else is the person going through the same thing that you just went through. God never wastes a hurt.

In my own personal life, I’ve had to make some hard decisions about what I was going to do with all of my pain. I could have decided to become bitter, resentful, live with unforgiveness, and be miserable for the rest of my life, or I could choose to give all of that pain to God and let Him use it for something greater; greater than what I could even see or imagine. With that being the case, I chose the latter.

Now let me just clear this up. Once I made that decision, it didn’t just magically disappear. I had to daily seek God and allow Him to do a greater work on the inside of me. It was too much for me to handle on my own. It was bigger than anything that I had the power to change or control. It was a God-sized task.

God began to change my heart to show me that everything that I had been through in my life was for the other person. The other person that was hurting just like I was. The other person that felt like their situation and life was hopeless. The other person that was struggling just like me to make sense of so many things that didn’t. Everything that I had gone through was about being able to speak life, encouragement, and hope into a person that was going through a rough patch just like I was. If I hadn’t been through some of the things that I had been through, then I would never be able to relate to the other person. Going through my difficult season allowed me the opportunity to speak into the other person’s life.

With all of that being said, God continues to bring me so many opportunities to reach out to hurting and broken people, but it never would have happened had I not made the decision to be vulnerable and transparent in sharing my story. I didn’t want to waste any of my hurt. That pain was too precious to be thrown away. It was meant to be a fountain of God’s love poured into the lives of wounded people just like me. My pain had actually become my greatest blessing. It was truly a blessing in disguise.

So what about you? Are you going to hold onto unnecessary hurt and pain only because you don’t see how God is going to use it to help someone else or are you ready to dive in and give it to God. There are people only you are going to be able to reach, but that’s not going to happen until you decide that this burden is just too heavy to carry on your own. You have a beautiful gift on the inside of you that needs to be shared, and that gift is just what that other person needs. They need you and all that your pain has taught you.

P.S. So Satan, I am putting you on high alert! All of that garbage that you have tried to bring into my life to destroy it is now going to be my greatest launching pad into a life of new and unexpected ministry that I never knew existed on the inside of me. All you did was set me up for my destiny. My Abba Father has taken what you meant for evil and made it into something beautiful and good. You may have knocked me down a few times, but I’m not staying there. I’m getting up, dusting off my feet, and moving forward into the beautiful life that God had planned all along for me from the very beginning.

Just When I Thought I Was Done

God has done so many things in my life over the past year and a half. Sometimes I look back at all the time that has passed and stand amazed at just how far God has brought me. It’s so easy just to stay at that place and celebrate the many victories that God has allowed me to experience, but He has shown me that I can’t stay in that place too long. He wants me to be thankful for the person I am today, but He wants to continue moving me forward even more in my life. He has so much more that He wants me to experience and grow through. This has brought me to a new place in my life once again. God is doing some shifting and changing in my life even as we speak. That shifting and changing is none other than being a better steward of my temple.

Over the past couple of weeks, God began to show me that it’s time. It’s time for me to focus on living a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to do this sooner rather than later, but I haven’t been in the place emotionally to be able to commit to this discipline. Now that I’m the most emotionally healthy that I’ve ever been in my life, God began to show me that it’s time to focus on taking better care of my physical body. I have already been doing lots of research, as well as going back to revisit those things that I did once before that allowed me to make significant changes in my life. It has taken lots of brain power processing through these changes, but I am so excited where all of this is going to take me.

The most important thing about all of these upcoming changes really has nothing to do with me. It all has to do with God. He was the one that convicted me and put a check in my spirit that it was time to change. God has given me the knowledge to be able to put these changes into place. So I won’t be doing all of this by myself. He is going to be walking me through this every step of the way. He’s going to be cheering me on and encouraging me on the days that it just seems like nothing is happening. I know that I must include Him on this journey or it just isn’t going to happen. When I try to make these changes on my own, then I’m setting myself up for failure. When I include Him on every step of this journey, then I am setting myself up for victory every single time.

Let me encourage you to take some time to get away with just you and God. Seek Him about changes that He’s asking you to make. Include Him in on this process. He has specific ways that He wants to bring about change in your life, but you must be willing to be open to hearing Him speak truth into your life. When He begins to share His heart with you, then it will encourage you to move forward with where He wants to take you.

So here’s to the new Natalie that is in store! New possibilities and new goals are going to be tackled and accomplished. Not because of what I’m going to do, but because of God giving me the determination, stamina, and dream to conquer what seems impossible at this moment in time. My dreams and desires for a healthier Natalie are going to be a part of my past because I’m moving forward into the future with God walking every step with me. Won’t you join me on this journey?

Front Porch Therapy

Life can be hard sometimes. We live each day with little margin in our schedule. We run from here to there. We’re constantly on the go. All of this striving leads to one thing, and that is a stressed lifestyle. We wear our busy life as a badge of honor. We seem to think if we have any time to ourselves, then we must be lazy. We’ve grown up in a culture that thrives on this worn-out and frazzled lifestyle, but God wants so much more for us than this way of living.

God has blessed me with a new way of life that I like to call front porch therapy. Now this new concept really isn’t new to me. I grew up living this way, but over the years, I seemed to have lost it. I got very busy with life that I forgot to stop and smell the roses. God has brought this beautiful truth back into my life at a time that I have so desperately needed it. He has allowed me to spend some extra time lying down in those beautiful, green pastures restoring my soul.

Front porch therapy is really fairly simple. You just go sit out on your front porch. You spend time in silence and solitude. You spend time talking with family and friends. You might even enjoy some lemonade or ice cream while you listen to the birds sing. You watch the squirrels jump from branch to branch. You watch the bunnies munching on some clover. You watch the birds soaring in the sky. You watch the cars pass by in front of your house creating your own personal parade procession. You allow God space to speak into your spirit.

There’s something very special and sacred that happens every time I take part in some of this front porch therapy. God somehow uses this time to relax me, speak into my spirit, give me wisdom and peace, as well as giving me time to process my thoughts. There’s something so enlightening about spending time outside. It somehow speaks life into my weary spirit. There is something supernatural that happens that’s difficult to put into words. That’s what makes this such a spiritual experience for me. It allows me to see God in every aspect of my life and not just the hour that I spend in church each week. It gives God the opportunity and invitation to be included in every part of my life and not just Sunday morning.

So let me encourage you to find a front porch so that you can experience some of this front porch therapy for yourself. So what do you do if you don’t have a front porch? You are in luck! Your front porch can be anywhere that allows you to get outside away from all of the demands and difficulties in your life and just recharge your spirit. It might be a local park. It might be in a friend’s back yard. It might even be your favorite walking trail. Just somewhere that allows God the opportunity to pour back into you.

Don’t spend another day running on empty. Take some much needed time just for you. God wants to bless you with this beautiful gift, but you must receive it. He’s not going to force it on you, but He certainly isn’t going to discourage you from it either. So find your front porch and be ready to be refreshed. Then you’ll be prepared to go back out there and face the world with all of its demands. All because of this one small concept, front porch therapy.

So what are you waiting for? Find your front porch and watch God work. You’ll be glad that you did!

They’ve Got Their Eyes On You

People are watching you everyday. Even when you aren’t aware of it, they still are. You are telling a story to others with the way that you live. You are making an impression with every word that they hear you speak and with everything that they see you do. People are paying attention to you regardless if you even recognize it or not.

I was being watched, and I didn’t even recognize it. There were a few mornings here recently that I decided to visit a local restaurant and find a quiet corner booth where I could spend some time reading before I left for work that day. Nothing like the combination of a good chicken biscuit, a mocha frappe, and several good books to start your day. I went in, ate my food, read my books, and left. I had no idea that someone in the restaurant was watching everything I was doing, but they were.

On one of the mornings, I was approached in the restaurant by an individual. They proceeded to tell me that they had been watching me and noticed that I came in every morning with a stack of books and spent time reading. We then struck up a short conversation about all of my books. The conversation ended, and I left for work. My wheels really began to turn, and God began sharing truth with me about this whole incident.

God shared with me that in my life, I am being watched by other people even when I don’t even realize it. I am unaware of so many things that I do and say, but they aren’t. Everything I do is making an impression on people and drawing them closer to Him or further away. Everything!

So there isn’t a moment that I can let my guard down and not care about what I’m saying or doing. People are watching and listening to everything whether I’m aware of it or not. We are never a silent witness for Christ because our lives and the way that we live are screaming out just who we really are serving, loving, and devoted to, and I want that to always be Jesus. I’m preaching a sermon everyday of my life!

Pay attention. Be on guard and know that what you do and say really does matter. People are watching you as you go about your day. May you be a living and breathing testimony of God’s love to everyone around you. So full and overflowing with His love that they just can’t keep from finding out just what makes you different. You are always on mission, and may that mission be for Jesus.

It Wasn’t Small After All

Have you ever looked back on your past and pondered the beginning of something that is significant in your life? It just seems like this “something” has always been there, but then God reminds you that it hasn’t. You can’t imagine your life without it and don’t really want to. Well, God got my attention and let me relive some of my past to remind me just what an important part He played in something that seemed so insignificant at the time. So sit back, relax, and enjoy another chapter of my story.

So there I was. Seven years old at school, but I wasn’t at my school. I was at another school for something else. I was there to attend my cousins’ spring piano recital. I’d never been to anything like that before. I didn’t know what to expect, but once I got there, I really enjoyed hearing everyone play all of their polished pieces. It was such a fun night!

I remember this next part just like it was yesterday. My mom asked me if I’d like to begin taking piano lessons. I didn’t even think twice. I said yes. It didn’t seem like a significant decision at the time. It just felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t have a clue that God was behind all of this, but He was. Oh how His providential hand was guiding every part of my story – even when I didn’t realize it.

I began my lessons and didn’t look back. Hours and hours of practice every week. Recitals. Piano competitions. Playing at my church. Playing for weddings. Playing for my junior high and high school choruses. Playing for another local church as a pipe organist. Receiving a college music scholarship. Traveling in several college music groups while carrying a full semester load of classes for all four years. Teaching piano. Leading worship at different churches. My musical history in a nutshell.

And to think all of this came from one simple question that my mom asked me. I am forever grateful that my parents invested so much into me with all of my musical endeavors. God used them to get me where I am today. So in a sense, my parents were planting seeds in my life before they even realized it.

As I share my gift of music, my greatest desire is for God to use it to share hope, healing, encouragement, and love to everyone – whether they experience it live and in-person or online through my music videos. Every life that is changed isn’t just attributed to God using me, but it’s also attributed to God using my parents many years ago to invest in something that has become so impactful in my life and many others. So when we get to Heaven, God is going to reward some very special people who have invested so much into me and who gave me the chance to try something that I just might enjoy. Those special people are none other than my parents. I owe it all to them, and to think that it all started from one simple question that my mom asked me. One simple question! One simple question that greatly changed my life!

So when you look back on your life, remember all of your small beginnings. Don’t ever forget where it all started. Ponder how God used something so small and seemingly insignificant to change your life and future. You’ll then see that those “small” things weren’t that small after all. Those “small” things were actually the “big” things that God used to bring you to where you are today. Cherish it all!

It Was No Ordinary Day

What were you doing on Saturday, April 28, 2018? It might have been a day to enjoy with friends or family. It might have been a day that you cleaned house or ran errands. That day might not have meant much to you, but to me that day is special, important, and significant. That day wasn’t just any regular and ordinary Saturday. It was my very last counseling appointment. It was session number 39. It was my official discharge day.

When I look back on that day, it brings so many thoughts and emotions to mind. I started back in October 2016, so that means I have invested a year and a half into working on Natalie and allowing God the open door to heal every broken, hurt, and painful part of myself. What if I had been too scared to start this process? What if I hadn’t valued myself enough to work on me? What if I had thought that it was just too tough to deal with? Then that means that I wouldn’t be walking in freedom or be the healed and whole person I am today. That is a difficult one to process.

There were so many times I didn’t want to have to face the reality of my pain. It seemed as if it would have been so much easier just to live my life as I had always lived. Don’t face the music. Just stay as I always was. It would have been easier, but then I would never have grown. I had to realize that I was worth much more than that. God didn’t want me to live the rest of my life stuck in a pit. He wanted me to experience His abundant life. He wanted me to know just how much He loved me, valued me, honored me, and adored me. That truth got on the inside of me. It changed how I thought of myself. It let me know that no matter what was going on in my world, then I could face it because He would never leave or forsake me. It also let me know that God wasn’t finished with me. He still had a purpose for me, and He was going to finish and complete it.

There are times that I look in the mirror, and I see a woman that I don’t recognize. She is so much different now. She loves herself. She is whole and complete in her Savior’s love. She has joy and loves life. She loves walking in her calling. She loves and cares for people with healthy boundaries the way that God created her to function. She is excited about where God is taking her. She sees just what a beautiful masterpiece and creation God has made her to be. She has a passion to live each day with purpose and hope. She is walking her journey not holding anything back from the Lover of her soul. She knows God in a way that she never would have known and experienced had she not been brave enough to face what she didn’t want to face.

So I want to encourage you to love yourself enough to work on you. It’s not being selfish. It’s loving yourself enough to invest in you. You can’t pour from an empty vessel. He wants you to live overflowing with His love. Sometimes it takes a season of rest to give Him the space to work on you. The time will pass, and then you’ll be grateful that you took it. A year and a half passed for me. It would still be April 28, 2018 regardless of what I had done, but now it’s April 28, 2018, and I am living a changed and beautiful life.

You are worth it! Take it from someone that knows!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

From One Generation To The Next

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.” 2 Timothy 1:5

If there ever was a scripture in the Bible that tells my story about my family and how I grew up, then it would have to be this one. Now that I’m older, I’m able to see just how blessed I was to have the precious gift of women pouring the love of God into me. I’m overwhelmed with joy when I realize just what a blessing it was to experience this with close family members and not just friends. Now I realize that not everyone has this honor and privilege, so if you didn’t grow up this way, that’s okay because God will bring other people into your life to take the place of absent or deceased family members. He brings people into our lives so that we can experience the beautiful gift of His love no matter whether they are blood relatives or not. God has the awesome way of providing just who we need in our lives at just the time we need them most.

I want to recognize three women in my life that have poured God’s unconditional love into me. These women were so faithful to plant seeds of love, kindness, peace, and joy in my life whether they were aware of it or not. Those seeds are now a multiplied exponential harvest in my life. I am reaping from seeds that I didn’t plant. How thankful, humbled, and honored I am to be the recipient of all of these blessings. God loves me that much!

The first lady that I want to recognize is someone that I never had the privilege of meeting. She actually passed away long before I was ever born. That lady is none other than my great grandmother, Mary Emmaline Prince Cupp. My mother has told me many stories of what she was like. She was a little woman that deeply loved the Lord. She was on-fire for God and loved to shout. She deeply cherished The Lord’s Prayer and lived that out in her daily life. She saw God answer some pretty serious needs in her life. She didn’t have much as far as earthly wealth, but she possessed a wealth of God’s love that shown through the smile on her face. She was a lover of The Word. She had something special on the inside of her. She was different because she loved God passionately. She didn’t keep His love to herself. She passed it on to all of her friends and family.

The next lady is someone that I had the honor and privilege of knowing very well, and that’s none other than my grandmother, Mae Cupp Wattenbarger. Anyone that met her always said the same thing about her, and that was how much she loved God. She had the most precious smile that was a reflection of His love for us. She shared His love with her family and all of her friends. She was a prayer warrior that knew how to pray through. She loved to read and study The Word. You couldn’t get around her without sensing The Presence of God. She was such a joy and blessing to everyone. She was something special. She was truly a beautiful woman inside and out.

The last lady that I want to honor and recognize is none other than my mother, Carolyn Wattenbarger Norwood. This lady has been a picture of God’s unconditional love to me. She has modeled before me just what a Proverbs 31 woman looks like. She is beautiful, graceful, and always full of God’s joy and love. She has been a source of encouragement to me at the lowest point in my life. She, just like the other two ladies, is a prayer warrior. She reads and studies The Bible more than anyone I know. She is such a strong woman that doesn’t let Satan take any ground in our family. She loves fiercely and passionately. I never have to wonder if my mother loves me. I know she does! That’s just the way that God loves me. What a beautiful reflection of God’s beauty in her.

God revealed to me that I was from a long line of mighty women of God, and I would have to agree. Their might didn’t come from their own strength, but it came from Him. His love poured forth from each of them and continues to pour forth today, whether they are physically on this earth or not. His love has been passed down from one generation to the next. From great grandmother, to grandmother, to mother, and now on to me, daughter. Each seed planted wasn’t in vain because I am now reaping a beautiful harvest. All of those seeds of prayer and words of life and blessing spoken over me are priceless.

There are so many things that money just can’t buy, and to have a family lineage that has loved and served God has made me a very wealthy woman. I never want to take any of these beautiful blessings for granted. I want to cherish all of this in my spirit.

God, continue to use me to pour forth Your love to others. May You be a beautiful aroma in my life. May Your Presence in me change everyone that I meet. May I be a reflection of Your love to others that are hurting and need a friend. Father, consume me, and show me Your heart. May every seed planted in my life from these three precious ladies continue to grow and be planted in other people’s lives today. Thank You for changing my life by their example set before me. Thank You for bringing these special ladies into my life. I know that I am loved!

Speak Your Love Over Me

Do you ever find yourself wondering just what God is thinking about you? I know that I think about this quite frequently. I know what The Bible says about that, but does God really mean that for me? Does He really think that I am that important to Him? Does He really love me that much? Am I really that beautiful, beloved daughter of His? Am I really enough for Him just being Natalie? Oh how our hearts cry out to Him longing to hear His precious truths spoken deep into our spirits. We want to know that His thoughts are always towards us for His favor and blessings, but sometimes it’s just so hard to believe that.

So in the midst of all of my questions here recently, God decided to show up and let me know and experience just how much I mean to Him. I love how He always goes out of His way to let me experience Him just because He loves me that much. Not because of anything that I have done or haven’t done, but simply because He seeks me out pursuing me to know His love. Absolutely beautiful and breathtaking is His love for me! Overwhelming! Unlike any other!

I was in a time of quiet reflection. I was in a group of many people, but it didn’t matter because in my eyes, it was only me and my Abba Father in that moment. The music, prayer, and intimate times of worship were just what my spirit were craving. I was in the center of heaven on earth. Just the atmosphere to be able to hear from The Lover of my soul, and that He did. This particular moment in time wrecked me especially as He began to pour into me beautiful truth about just what He thinks about me. This moment set my spirit free!

He clearly asked me a series of question. I remember this conversation just as clearly today as when He spoke it into my spirit. “Natalie, do you remember all of the complements that people give to you? The complements that people are speaking honestly over you? The ones that they truly mean because that is exactly how they feel about you? The complements that they give to you because they do love you and see something special in you?” Of this I replied that I did remember them. He allowed my mind to be flooded with all of these beautiful words spoken over me by so many special and significant people in my life. “Natalie, who do you think those beautiful words came from? I know that you heard them from special people in your life, but that isn’t exactly who they came from. Natalie, they all came from Me! Natalie, I think all of those beautiful things about you and so much more. My thoughts are always turned towards you. Natalie, I formed you and created you to be a beautiful reflection of Myself in you. I want you to know just how much I love you and how much you mean to me. So let all of My words sink into your spirit and know that you are dearly loved more than you can even fathom. You are My beloved.”

Well let me just tell you that the rest of that evening I was in awe! I was overwhelmed! Overwhelmed with His love for me, but also overwhelmed with the thought that He chose to meet me at this particular moment in time to impart words of love and affirmation into my spirit. He loved me enough to pursue me and experience His awesome love just for Natalie. What a beautiful encounter with my Abba Father!

I want you to know the same thing too! All of those blessings, words of affirmation, and complements that are spoken over you aren’t just from the person imparting them, but they are from your Abba Father! He loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants you to know it, too! He will go to whatever great lengths He has to go-to to let you know His great love for you! He is pursuing you and hunting you down. He wants to know you, His beloved. His most prized and beautiful masterpiece. Just let that sink in! You are priceless!

Beside Quiet Waters

I am loved by God! I am greatly loved by God! Everyday I am overwhelmed with just how much I am loved. It’s more than I can even comprehend or fathom. Even with knowing just how great God’s love is for me, there is nothing like personally experiencing those small touches in my day that let me know that He’s thinking of me. That His heart is connected to mine. That His thoughts are always on me. That I am of great value to Him. That I matter to The One that gave His all for me. I just recently experienced this. God got my attention to let me know just how special I was to Him. That I am not forgotten. That I am loved!

It was a Friday night in April so that put me participating in a special event called Quiet Waters. It’s just as its name states. It’s a time to get away with others who are seeking time to spend with Abba Father beside those still, quiet waters. There is no agenda other than just being with Him and listening for how He is speaking to you.

I remember very specifically what God was speaking into my spirit before I even entered into this beautiful place. He clearly spoke to me that I was going to get a special message from Him that night. He didn’t give me any clue as to how that would happen or what that would look like. All I knew was to be paying close attention that evening.

We were in a very intense time of worship through music. I was so focused and engrossed in the moment that everything and everyone around me just didn’t exist. It was as if God was the only one in the room. It was such a sweet and peaceful time that I was experiencing with my Father. Talk about a time that I truly felt connected to a supernatural, heavenly realm. This was it!

After this sweet time of worship, we all sat down as we prepared to move into the next season of this event. When I sat down, I just happened to look at my Bible. On my Bible was a piece of paper that was folded in half. I then realized that someone had walked over to me during this time of worship and placed this note on my Bible. Of course I had no clue who it was because I was in my worship zone. I still to this day have no clue who this was.

I felt impressed to open the note, and was I ever blown away with what I began to read. I kept reading it over and over as God began to remind me just how much I meant to Him. He loved me enough to place it on someone’s heart to write this special message, and then walk over and hand deliver it to me not knowing if any of this message made any sense to me. Talk about having courage. Whoever this person happened to be was exercising great, Godly supernatural courage. This person was listening to God!

The note reads as follows:

“Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8; “Do not grow weary in doing good for IN DUE SEASON you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9; He sees you! His beloved❤️.

Now that message doesn’t mean much to others, but it does to me because there is a story behind each of those items shared in the note. Each of them is significant to me! That’s how I know that it was from God.

Just prior to this intense time of worship through song, there were two precious ladies that prayed over me on some very specific things that I’ve been processing through. One of the ladies asked if she could pray for my heart, meaning my spiritual heart. She prayed some pretty bold prayers over me that I would have God’s heart. This was the most beautiful prayer that I’ve ever experienced. I was in awe of the purity of this moment. So beautiful! So thus the scripture from Matthew 5:8 in the note spoke directly into my spirit.

About a year and a half ago, a very special person in my life shared Galatians 6:9 with me. This verse has stuck with me all of this time. Every time I hear it, I’m reminded of of just how much this Word has changed my life. I have used it as one of those go-to verses when it seems like nothing is happening. It has brought me great comfort knowing that as I’m planting seeds, one day I will see a harvest. I have purpose, and God is going to bring those purposes to pass in my life.

Now onto the super sweet and highly personal part of the note. It’s the part that calls me His beloved. You must understand something about this word. For the past year and a half, God has brought me to this word time and time again. He has drawn me to it. He has allowed me to experience Him as His beloved. This word meant so much to me during 2017 that I bought a bracelet that had “Beloved” imprinted on it. I wanted to wear it to remind me just how much that I was loved. I didn’t want to forget it. I use this word to describe my relationship with Abba Father. It’s a term of endearment with Him. I don’t use the term loosely, but I also don’t have any inhibitions in using it to describe the beautiful, intimate relationship that I share with Him. This word means everything to me!

So now that you know my story, then you understand just how much this note meant to me. When this person penned this note they didn’t have a clue what any of this meant. I’m sure that they were curious how it all fit together, but that didn’t really matter. What mattered is that they were obedient to do what God asked them to do, and that was to give me this precious note. It was a moment in time that let me know that God was watching over me and that He was listening to me as I cried out to Him. The Almighty creator cared enough to give me this special message at this particular moment. Just think about all of the details that led me up to even participate in this Quiet Waters event. Every event over the past year and a half had to happen to get me to this point in time. Every single one! Every hurtful and painful place. Every piece of my broken heart. Every “I wish that this had never happened moment” led me to this note. God, you are just so awesome!

Give God room to work in your life. Ask Him for ways to let you know that He is not just a casual observer, but a highly involved person in your life. Let Him wow you with His goodness, favor, and blessings. Let Him leave you wondering just how you even deserved to be loved like this. Let Him consume every fiber of your being. Let Him woo you into the limitless depths of His love. Let Him…just let Him be the greatest love of your life.

Beloved. I love the sound of that!

Test Me In This

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure– pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38

Most of the time when we see this scripture, we automatically think about money. I can attest to the faithfulness of God when you do finances according to His plan. I continue to experience that in my life on a daily basis. He continues to surprise me in so many ways when I put Him first with my money, but what if I shared with you that giving includes so much more than just money. He wants you to experience His blessing in giving in every area of your life.

In one of the darkest times in my life, I decided to put God to the test. This was a time of depression, darkness, and despair for me. I didn’t feel like I had anything to give to anyone as I was at the end of my rope, but God showed me different. He proved to me that I did have something to give, and that was the gift of encouragement and hope. He let me know that no matter the situation that someone was facing, I had the key to that person’s hopelessness, and that key was Himself.

He led me to begin a journey of pouring into others with words of hope and encouragement. He showed me people that were struggling that needed to experience His love in what they were facing. I would listen to God and let Him show me just who He wanted to speak words of life into for that day. Some days I had to make myself do this because I didn’t feel that I had it within me to give. God showed me that on those days, He was the one that was giving me the words to say. I was just a conduit. He poured into me, and likewise I poured into others. So many times I would hear over and over from these people that they needed to hear that special message from God at that particular moment in time. Talk about a humbling experience!

Then, He led me to begin sharing quotes on social media of all of the truth that He was pouring into me. I clearly remember asking God if I had the ability to do this because I felt unqualified to share, but He clearly spoke to me that I did have what it took because I had Him and a desire to spread His joy into other’s lives. So I stepped out onto the water in faith with no safety net beneath me except God.

Next, He had me go out a little deeper and gave me the desire to begin recording inspirational videos to spread even more hope to others. I never saw myself doing this because it was far from my nature and definitely out of my comfort zone, but once again, God showed me that my desire to be a willing vessel was all that He wanted. He surprised me once again as He so often does.

Lastly, He gave me the burning desire to begin a blog post. Somewhere along my journey over the past year and a half, God developed in me a love for writing that I never knew existed. I remember being in school and greatly disliking having to write term papers and book reports, but somehow this was different because I got to share my story. He changed my heart! This all began from the simple practice of journaling and pouring out my heart to God on those precious pages. I never dreamed that something so simple as journaling could change my life, desires, and dreams, but it did. I certainly didn’t see that as a tool that God would use to encourage others, but once again He proved Himself faithful.

So where is all of this going with giving? I’m glad that you asked! Through all of the ways that God led me to encourage others, He showed me that I was giving. I was giving the gift of His love, hope, and encouragement. This wasn’t a monetary gift, but a gift to let them know that they weren’t alone, and that they could make it another day. God showed me that as I was giving out of my dark and difficult time, then He was giving back to me. He was encouraging me, healing me, and putting me back together as a whole person all from sowing into others that were hurting just like I was. In my flesh, I didn’t want to do this. I wanted to focus on my hurt and pain, but He showed me that I did not need to do that. I needed to pour into others from the deepest part of my pain – from the ugliest parts of my depression. In turn, God blessed me so much more than I ever gave away. He showed me that I was encouraging myself in Him. That was the greatest gift!

Today I stand before you as a whole and healed woman of God. I am experiencing His true shalom in my life. I learned a great lesson that you can’t ever out-give God no matter what area you test Him in. I’m overwhelmed with joy just thinking about how God used my simple acts of obedience to make me into the woman I am today. I don’t like the journey that I had to walk on, but I wouldn’t change all of the beautiful truths that God has given me the privilege to experience.

So where is God asking you to give? Is it words of encouragement like myself? Is it money to a specific ministry? Is it the gift of time with your friends or family? Whatever He’s asking you to sow into, just make up your mind that you’re going to be obedient. Then you’ll find out that He will bless you even greater than the thing that He ever asked you to give away. Test Him in this. Try Him. You’re going to be greatly surprised at His faithfulness to you!

Playing By The Rules

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

What an encouraging passage of scripture! Just what you wanted to hear today. I know because I was thinking the exact same thing – not! It says that we won’t just have trials and sorrows, but it says that we’ll have many trials and sorrows. This is one of those promises that we don’t run to to declare and decree over our lives. Of course, the result is God’s wonderful gift of shalom, as well as knowing that we have victory in Jesus over each of the difficulties that we face, but we don’t want to have to face the hard times to experience these beautiful gifts. If we choose to look at it through God’s eyes, we are finally able to see those tough times through His perspective and walk through them as a victor, but getting to this place isn’t always a fun journey to take. Often it’s painful. I know because I’ve walked through it just like you, and I want to share that with you.

We have grown up in an American culture that has influenced the way that we think. As we got older, those thought patterns carried over into every part of our lives. It just snowballed from there until we just came to accept this way of thinking as our way of life. Somehow God’s desire for us got crowded out from all of this mess and we chose to live less than what God wanted for us. I’m no exception to this!

You see, I grew up thinking that if I followed all of the rules, then my life would be beautiful and wonderful. It would be a dream come true. So I set out on that path as a very driven young woman. I took great pride in obeying my parents. Whatever I set out to do, I would do with all of my heart. No one had to make me study and make good grades. I wanted to because I knew that this would pay off one day. No one had to make me practice piano and voice. I had the intrinsic desire to excel in both of these gifts that God had given me. I knew that if I tried hard enough and stayed on this path, it would all lead somewhere good. I had many other things that I was highly driven about, but that would take a book to discuss, but you get the picture.

I just knew that if I did the right thing and made all of the right choices, then one day this would all pay off for me. My life would be wonderful just because I was playing by all of the rules. Surely nothing bad could come my way because I was doing it all right, but was I greatly deceived. Just because you do everything right is no guarantee that our life isn’t going to include any troubles. In fact, in John 16:33, it says just the opposite of that. It promises us that we will have trials no matter what – no matter if we play it all by the rules and get it all right. That was a tough pill to swallow.

All of my accomplishments and good things that I did in my life were no preventative against all of the trials and struggles that I’ve faced in my life. I faced hard times just like the next person. I didn’t want to accept this, but it was actually so freeing when God revealed this truth to me. I have the promise of knowing that I’m not messed up just because I’ve faced a few bumps in the road. We all walk that same journey. None of us are exempt. We just choose how we’re going to face them.

I am so thankful that God has walked every step of my journey with me. You don’t realize what a blessing that is until He’s all that you have. You realize He’s all that you need. In this process that He’s brought me through, He’s allowed me to experience His peace, His precious shalom, which is wholeness, not an absence of trouble. See, that’s what He promises in that scripture. Not an absence of trouble, but living life as a whole and healed person facing whatever troubles come your way.

So don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. You aren’t promised a life of ease. None of us are, but we are promised that God will go with us and that we’ll experience His true peace. Don’t fight it. Just rest in it!

Of Divided Highways And Dilemmas

When I started my blog, I began to pray for inspiration on what I needed to write. God has taken me seriously on that request. He keeps allowing all kinds of interesting things to happen to me. Then He prompts me that I need to write about them. So here is another one of those “things” that happened to me that I just can’t get away from.

One night here recently, I was leaving from a part of Knoxville that was unfamiliar to me. I had no idea where I was going, but my phone GPS did. The part that made it worse was the fact that it was dark and difficult to see, but I figured that I would be fine because as you know, the phone GPS never steers you wrong! I was doing well traveling this new path, that is until I didn’t take the road that Ms. Phone GPS suggested. I failed to take the “right” road so she decided to reroute me. She rerouted me to the next red light intersection. Being that I was unfamiliar with this road caused just a slight problem. You see, I didn’t realize that I was turning onto a 4 lane highway! All I could tell was that I was turning onto a 2 lane highway so that put me in a rather interesting dilemma. I was going the wrong way on this highway! It was okay at first because I thought I was traveling the way that I was supposed to until I started noticing a vehicle coming head on towards me. Then I had a moment of sheer panic. After the moment of panic, I was so embarrassed. I began to wonder how in the world this had happened to me. By the absolute grace of God, He gave me split second supernatural wisdom on how to get out of this predicament. I was able to somehow turn around and head back in the correct direction all the while as people at the red light were watching me. All I can say is that I was so glad that it was dark, and no one knew who I was…or so I think, but it doesn’t really matter because now you know!

After having a few moments to recover from what had just happened, God began to pour truth into me. Once again, He thought that this would be a great time for a life lesson. Somehow these “life lessons” keep showing up from crazy things that seem to only happen to Natalie. Once again, God’s sense of humor with me! I am loved!

There are numerous times in our life that we turn onto a path that we think is the right direction. Everything appears to be good. We’re traveling along all good and well until God brings us to a sudden stop and begins to show us that we’re headed in the wrong direction. At this point we have a couple of decisions to make. We can just stop and do nothing, we can keep traveling in the wrong direction, or we can make a sudden shift and begin to travel in the correct direction. It’s all our choice. God is a gentleman and doesn’t force a decision on us. He leaves that up to us. Sometimes we make the wise choice, and other times we don’t. Most times it’s easier to just do nothing or keep traveling the same road. It takes a little bit more maneuvering to change directions, but easier in this case is not the best. Making the wise choice isn’t the easiest thing to face in the beginning, but it is well worth it in the end. There is great fruit that comes from following God in obedience. Usually that fruit comes much later from the time that we sow.

So we have a choice to make every time God brings us to a sudden stop of His truth. How are we going to be obedient to Him in this situation? It does take a moment of thought and not just a sudden action of what your flesh wants to do. Listen, respond, and obey.

P.S. Who is ready to ride with me now? Have I scared you? I’m not that bad…or at least I don’t think I am.

God, I Need You Now!

Prayer. We all approach it in different ways. Sometimes we think that God is only concerned about the big things in our life. We think that the small, insignificant things aren’t important to Him. We can handle those things on our own. We don’t need to bother Him because He has more important things to tend to, but what if I told you that’s just not true. What if you lived your life in such a way that you knew that He cared about all of your needs. Not just the big ticket items, but everything – even those things that serve no eternal value or purpose.

Well, I just experienced this in my life. I had a front row seat to God’s goodness to me in something that was only important to me and wouldn’t change the trajectory of mankind, but it mattered to me. So listen to my story, and let God begin to change your concept of prayer and approaching God in your time of need.

My son and I were just finishing up from our meal at a local restaurant. We had spent the evening enjoying catching up on what was going on in each other’s lives, as well as listening to him share of all of the music that he’d been listening to and all of the concerts and artists that he wanted to one day hear in person. It had been such a fun evening together listening to him share of his hopes and dreams for the future. It was just the perfect mother son time with just the two of us.

Well, here is where it gets rather interesting. I reached down to get my keys out of my purse, and you guessed it. They were no where to be found. I looked all in my purse and everywhere in the restaurant, but they had somehow disappeared. I had an extra key in my purse to my van, so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that all of my other keys on my “Draw Near” Key chain that I had won from Proverbs 31 ministries was gone. They had vanished. So not only were my keys misplaced, I also had misplaced a very special item. I had won this key chain at a time in my life when I greatly needed the encouragement, so this particular item was of sentimental value to me.

I got back out to my van just knowing that I had accidentally locked my keys in my van, but once again they weren’t there. Where could they be? I hadn’t gone that far from the parking lot into the restaurant. So at this point, I’m beginning to get just a “little” concerned. I did what any woman that’s lost her keys would do. I began to tear my van apart just knowing they had to be in there somewhere. I looked under the seats. I looked in every inch of that van. Still no keys. I looked under my van. I looked all around the van. Still no keys. Then I did what I didn’t want to do. I took every single item out of my purse. That is a major undertaking for a female. Let me just say that you will find all kinds of interesting things in your purse that you didn’t know was there. Then after all of that, still no keys.

My son, being the awesome son that he is, decided that he would go back inside the restaurant and look through the trash for his mother. Let me just say that takes a real man to dig through the trash for something that his mother has lost. He is something special. Well after all that digging through nasty restaurant trash cans, still no keys.

At this point, I am really beginning to get frustrated. They have to be somewhere. How do you lose keys between your vehicle and the inside of a restaurant? I don’t know how, but I have successfully accomplished this in my lifetime in case you were wanting to know.

Then after all of my digging through my van, I was prompted to pray. I had looked everywhere, but wasn’t getting anywhere. I was desperate at this point. Nothing was happening. I didn’t even stop to question if God would hear me. I knew that He would and that He would respond. I knew that He was concerned about what concerned me, and my lost keys concerned me. I cried out to Him. I verbally cried out to Him. I didn’t care who heard me.

After a brief discussion, my son and I decided that he would go back in one more time to dig through the trash and talk to the employees (while I’m continuing to ravage my van) to see if he might have overlooked something.

After a few minutes, he made his way back to the van…with my keys! I had to hear from him exactly what had transpired! He did attempt to look through the trash one more time. That is just another proud mama moment, so there you go! Now on to the rest of the story. He talked to some of the employees at the front counter. They had found my keys! I had “accidentally” left them on the front counter when I ordered. I have never done that before, but now I have! A gentleman saw them lying on the counter and turned them in. They had been inside the restaurant at the counter the whole time! Well let me just say that I was a little bit more than happy at this point. This was a “I’m going to praise Jesus” moment for me.

Not being able to find my lost keys wasn’t the end of the world. I still had an extra key to be able to drive my van. No one had been injured or hurt in this incident. No lives lost or starving people. No this wasn’t a matter of life or death, but it was important to me, so it was important to God. He cared enough to hear my heart’s cry as I verbally expressed this to Him. He heard me, and He answered me. Let me say that again. He heard me, and He answered me. He loves me that much. He loved me enough to bring my lost keys back to me. Wow, God! You are awesome!

So the next time you are going through something and you wonder if God is even concerned about what you’re facing, then know that He does! Let my lost keys story be a reminder that He hears you when you cry out to Him. There isn’t one of your heart’s cries that ever goes unnoticed.

Just remember this. God has a sense of humor and likes to surprise you every now and then. He likes to keep things, let me say…interesting. There’s no room for dull & boring when He’s around. Plus it gives you lots of fun stories to share with others. Love, enjoy, and embrace this beautiful journey called life.

Surely He Doesn’t See That

Interstate driving! You just have to love it. I do lots of commuting so I have learned to make it a good friend of mine.

As I was approaching one spot along the interstate today, I began to look and see if that lovely car might be sitting there. That’s none other than the cop car. It’s a popular spot for them to park and watch, so I’ve learned to be extra careful at this particular place as I don’t have any desire to have a visit with one of these authority figures.

There is a fun fact that you must understand about me. You see in all of my many years of driving, I have never gotten a speeding ticket. So I guess you are impressed with my wonderful ability to always obey every traffic law. Yeah right, you say. What you’re really thinking is the fact that I have gone over the speed limit a time or two, but I just haven’t ever gotten caught. Now that’s more like it. I’m going to be transparent and honest, and I must confess, that is the truth. There have been plenty of times that I’m rolling down the interstate, enjoying the beautiful day with my music going. As a musician, there always has to be music involved. Then I happen to look at my speedometer and realize I better slow it down because I don’t think the cop is going to believe me when I blame it on the music. That won’t get me out of a ticket.

I promise I am going somewhere with this. I just like letting you into my world. It’s a fun place to be, so accept my invitation. So get ready for the truth bomb quickly approaching and ready to detonate.

We do the same thing in our own personal lives. How many times do we do things that we know are wrong, but yet we still continue to do them anyway simply because we don’t get caught? We’re not really repentant or sorry for what we’ve done. We’re just glad that no one has found out about it…yet.

There are seasons in our lives that God extends His grace to us in hopes that we will be repentant and turn from what doesn’t please Him. We don’t experience any consequences from our sin so we think He must be okay with it or better yet, we think that we are able to hide it from Him. We think that He will let us off the hook. We’ve not been that bad in our eyes. Thinking in these patterns is the furthest thing from the truth that there is. Nothing is hidden from God. Absolutely nothing!

There will come a time in our lives that God will force us to be honest with ourselves and examine what is breaking our fellowship with Him. Sin breaks that close fellowship with Him. In this season, God, out of His great love for us, allows us to experience consequences. He does this not because He hates us, but because He loves us and doesn’t want anything to come between us and our relationship together. If we never suffered any consequences from our sin, then we would never learn. We would continue living however we wanted to without giving a second thought to us breaking the heart of God. God isn’t punishing us. He’s perfecting us to be a reflection of Himself to the world around us. He does this all because of love. His pure love for us.

So let me offer a challenge to you to examine your life. Are there some changes that you need to make in order to bring things that are displeasing to God out into the open so that you can deal with it, turn from it, and move forward in your life? Don’t wait until you begin to experience consequences. Allow God into those tough places now so that you can begin to move forward in freedom and forgiveness. Yes, it is possible. It might not be fun to deal with now, but it will be worth it in your future.

So when you see a cop, then think of me. And for what it’s worth, remember that you heard it from a little bird to slow it down, and for Pete’s sake, don’t blame it on the music (because you know that isn’t the truth).

Disclaimer: Toby Mac, Mandisa, Matthew West, and Danny Gokey will not help pay your ticket for you no matter how much you love their music. 😊

Cherish The Gift

Everyday that we live, God gives us a gift. Most of the time we’re just so busy that we aren’t paying attention to this beautiful gift. No it’s not money, a house, a car, or anything of that nature. It’s something much more valuable than any material item we could ever acquire or purchase.

God’s gift to us is our life. We live as if we’ll always be here and as if we’ll never die. Most of us don’t want to think about death, but we don’t really begin to live until we are forced to think about our own mortality. We’re here for a short while, and then we’re gone. End of story. We don’t get any do-overs or next chances with it. Life is so precious, and I was enlightened to that fact just recently. So I want to share my story with you.

I headed out to work as I always do each and every morning. Nothing new. Just the same routine, but a different day. I noticed a fire truck in front of me, but I didn’t think much about it. As I quickly approached the interstate, I was brought to a complete halt. The road was blocked, and in front of me was an accident. There were several vehicles involved. One had run off the road and down an embankment. This wasn’t what I wanted to see at this time of the day. My first thought was that I was going to be late for work, and then that’s where it hit me. God began to show me something much deeper here. Much deeper than my own schedule, plan, and purposes for what I thought my day was going to look like.

First, I began to thank God for His protection. You must understand something. I had gotten delayed on a few things that morning which put me leaving a few minutes later than normal. My first reaction before leaving for work was to get all worked up over how my morning wasn’t going exactly as I had planned, but then I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t going to get all stressed out over a few hiccups in my schedule. I was going to enjoy the day regardless. You see, I had no clue that God was delaying me for His protection, but after seeing the accident, then I knew that’s what He had done. That very well could have been me in that accident. Who knows what the outcome would have been for me.

Then, I began to wonder about the people involved in the accident. Why didn’t God protect them? He had the ability to protect me, so why didn’t He protect them? Did God’s power go on the blink for a split second to cause this to happen? God, why did You let this happen?

God, why? The age old question that we demand an answer from Him and of which we rarely get an answer. We try to rationalize things out in our mind because we think it would make us feel better if we could just get an answer. If only we knew, then it would help us to deal better with what’s at hand. If only? God, why? It’s just a senseless circle of emotion-filled, unanswered questions.

I’ll never know the answer as to why God spared me from this accident and why the other people weren’t, but it has caused me to realize how precious my life is. Yes, I’ll go to Heaven when it’s my time, but believe me, I want to live and love every moment that He blesses me with until He says my journey has been completed. I love my final destination, but just let me say that I’m not ready for the next bus load out. I know that He still has work for me to do to share His hope with other hurting people, and when my mission is complete, then I’ll graduate up to the place I’ve been dreaming of my whole life.

Life. Experience and feel it coursing though your veins because it’s quickly fading away before your very eyes. Don’t take another day or even another moment for granted. Live everyday with purpose. Live on mission for God. Love others fiercely and passionately. Love God with every fiber of your being because you just never know when He’ll say game over. Live with eternity in mind.

Just Listen! That’s All You Have To Do.

Have you ever experienced that still, small voice that prompted you to do something, but yet it really made no sense at all to you? Well, I just recently experienced that, and I want to share my story with you. God is looking for your obedience. That’s what He wants from you. The rest is just icing on the cake.

A few weeks ago, I felt that inner prompting of The Holy Spirit to send a very specific and detailed message to a particular lady that He brought to mind. I haven’t spoken to this lady in several years, but I just couldn’t get away from what I felt led to do. I figured that I would rather look crazy and be obedient than just to ignore what I was picking up on. This was one time that I knew I had to do what I had to do. So I proceeded and messaged this lady.

That’s when God really got my attention. This lady messaged me back to let me know that she was going through a difficult situation just that morning and was needing God to intervene. Wow! God is awesome and always right on time. What is the chances of God bringing this particular lady to mind when I haven’t spoken to her in several years and me sending a message to her on just the morning that she was needing to see God move in her life.

Not only did this encourage the lady, but it encouraged me to continue to listen and never dismiss that still, small voice of The Holy Spirit. We have no idea how God will work through us when we are open to follow Him however He leads us. It doesn’t matter if you understand and have every detail from God. What does matter is your availability and openness to listen, respond, and obey.

Let me make one thing clear. I haven’t always been obedient. There have been many times in my life that I have been too busy, too tired, or anything else too much to do what God asked me to do. I haven’t always gotten it right. There is great freedom in being honest, and that I am doing. Our transparency helps others to show that we are real just like you are. So I’m a real person just like you that doesn’t always do the right thing.

Now a few weeks out from this lady’s situation, I am pleased to say that God showed her grace and worked in her favor. Did God have the ability to do this without asking me to send her the message? Absolutely. My message didn’t change anything with God’s outcome in how He chose to take care of it. What it did do though was to give this lady some hope to know that He hadn’t forgotten about her and that He cared about what she was going through.

So the next time you feel that inner nudge to do something for someone, don’t ignore it. It could be a matter of life and death for that person as we never know what people are going through. God wants to use you to help others. It starts with something very simple. Just listening. That’s it! Just listen, and watch God use you greater than you could ever imagine possible.

Gain From Losses

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3:7-8

It’s so easy for each of us to look back on our lives and think about all of the things that we have lost. For some reason, our flesh man loves to dwell here. I suppose it’s because our flesh is naturally drawn to the negative. The longer that we stay in this place, the more discouraged and depressed we become.

I’m just as guilty as you are. I’ve dealt with some pretty harsh blows on loss over the past couple of years. It’s so easy to think about each of those losses and wish that they had never happened. Of course, wishing doesn’t change anything. The past is the past, and those losses are still my reality today. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.

Through my difficult season of loss, God has taught me some wonderful lessons to help me deal with all of these painful thoughts and memories. He’s allowed me to experience a cleansing of my mind in how that I view my circumstances. I make the choice if I’m going to look at it in a negative or a positive manner. Now it doesn’t change the reality of what happened, and in no way am I trying to minimize any pain that I have experienced. It happened, and it hurt, but I make the choice in how I proceed forward today.

God has shown me just how important it is for me to think about what I have gained from all of my losses. Sometimes this can be hard to do because we wonder what good can come out of something bad, but it is possible. When we allow God to speak that truth into us, then that’s when it makes all the difference.

The most impactful truth that I have experienced from all of my loss comes back to one simple principle. That principle is that of my relationship with God. For most of my life, I have been a follower of Christ. I have experienced sweet fellowship with Him since I’ve been a young girl. It’s been wonderful, but all of that changed when I experienced great loss. You see, I thought that my relationship with God was good, but now it’s on a whole new level. I have experienced God as the healer, my comforter, my guide, my teacher, and closest friend that I wouldn’t have ever experienced had I not gone through all of my dark days. He has had to pick me up and carry me when I didn’t think I could go another step. He has had to be my breath when I didn’t think I could take another. He has had to be peace and comfort to me when I didn’t know where the next step would take me. Most of all, He’s given me a deep & intimate love that my soul & spirit so craved and needed. He has truly been my constant – my everything.

On my own, I would not have picked the journey that I’ve had to travel. It wasn’t anywhere on my radar, I don’t think any of us think that we are signing up for difficult days when we begin our relationship with Christ. We want smooth sailing days, but that’s not usually the path that God takes us on. Even in the midst of those tough days, we make a decision. Are we going to let God be God during those dark days so that we can experience Him in a deeper way or are we just going to do it all on our own to deal with it ourselves?

Now I am so glad that I made the decision to let Him into my pain to carry me through each moment. Today I experience a deep and strong bond with Him that would not have happened any other way. So as you go through your difficult time, let God be the one that fights all of your battles for you. You don’t have to be strong. He wants to be strong for you. Let Him be what you need Him to be. Let Him be your everything!

Just Another Life Lesson For Me

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

There are times that our emotions are so real and intense that they are difficult to put into words. I experienced one of those times just going about my regular day-to-day life. It completely hit me out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting it, but it was expecting me. This is one time that I wish that it had found another address, but God had different plans in mind.

I was leaving work as I do every day so nothing out of the ordinary with this event. My van started to overheat so I pulled over at one of my favorite spots to get one of my lovely specialty coffee drinks. I figured this would give me time to put antifreeze in my van and then allow it time to cool down. I followed through and was more than ready to get on the road because I had somewhere important to be. I was also enjoying every minute of my lovely mocha frappe drink, but that’s a story for another day. Yes I could write a blogpost about my love for mocha frappes. They mean that much to me.

Well after pulling back out onto the road, my van temperature gauge began to head back to that naughty H mark. I was not happy about that at all. So I did what I knew that I had to do. I drove about 1/10 of a mile and made another stop. By this time I was beginning to get really frustrated because this was messing up everything about my afternoon. This wasn’t supposed to be happening to me, but that’s where it all began to break down for me.

In that parking lot of my second stop, it hit me out of nowhere. What hit me, you ask? It was the deep, dark emotion of loneliness. I wasn’t prepared for it. It was the kind of loneliness that hurts deep inside your soul. The kind that you just can’t seem to shake. It really didn’t make sense in the natural because I had people to call and ask for help. In fact, I had strangers willing to help me out with my van problems. So it wasn’t that I was without help and completely stranded. It was just the simple fact that I felt as if I was dealing with my problem all on my own. Now that wasn’t true, but that’s the lie that Satan was having me to believe.

Then my mind began to run wild with every thought imaginable. I began to get overwhelmed just thinking about how lonely it can feel sometimes in my new season of life. In these times, Satan loves to bring back hurtful and painful thoughts to my mind. It’s like rubbing salt in a wound. Let me just tell you, this parking lot incident hurt! It was horrible! I felt my heart breaking into a million pieces all over again, but that’s when it all began to change for me. See this is where God came to my rescue. Amidst experiencing this awful emotion of loneliness, God reminded me to stop listening to those lies that Satan was trying to speak over me. God began to remind me just who I was. He reminded me that loneliness was just an emotion, and that I had the authority in Him to change this negative mindset. So I did the wise thing, and I changed my stinking thinking! God reminded me that Satan is a liar so I shouldn’t believe a thing that he says. Actually, the truth is the opposite of what Satan speaks, so I knew that I didn’t have to take it anymore! There will be times in life that I will experience loneliness again. I don’t like it, but that’s just life on planet earth until I get to heaven. I may feel lonely, but with God I am never alone. I’ve made up my mind that the next time that Satan brings this garbage dump thinking to my mind, then I’m just going to remind him that My Abba Father said that He would never leave me or forsake me. That will pretty much shut him down because he can’t compete with my Father on that one. There’s nothing like the power of speaking God’s Word out loud. God’s Word is my weapon, and I know how to use it!

It Was A Really Dark Place

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

There are some dark and painful places in my life that I have walked that hurt to revisit, but even in the midst of those difficult times, God has a way of challenging me with that. He has given me the courage to open up and share some of the struggles that I have faced in my life in order to give hope to those going through the very same thing. Satan wants to make us feel as if we are the only ones going through our tough seasons. That is a lie! Someone else has experienced the same pain that you have walked through. It’s just that most people feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk openly about it. I have decided I don’t want to be that person. There is hope because I have personally experienced it, and I want to share it with you.

One of my dark seasons that I experienced was the demon of depression. Why do I call it a demon, you ask? Well, if you’ve ever experienced it, then you will understand. It’s a place of hopelessness and despair. You can’t ever see your life getting better. You feel so alone, worthless, and beyond help. It’s a pit that you don’t ever feel like you will be able to climb out of. You think that your life is over.

Depression can be experienced for all different reasons. Mine was circumstantial. As my marriage began to fall apart and unravel before my eyes, it pushed me into this awful place. My marriage was on life support and eventually the plug was pulled, thus the death of something that I had invested everything into for over 21 years. That hurt! All that I had ever known was no more. I was at the lowest place I had ever been in my whole life!

I am ever so thankful that God led me to something to help me during this painful season, and that is Christian counseling. I actually started in counseling several months before my world fell apart. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened to me if I hadn’t been open to letting people walk with me through this difficult time. I had to let people into my pain. That was tough for me to do because I thought me and God could fix it all. I had to learn to be vulnerable and let people into my broken world. He showed me that I needed some outside help and that there was nothing wrong with this.

Week after week (and sometimes several times a week), I continued on with my counseling. I worked diligently on myself during this time. I stayed plugged into The Word and let others speak truth into my life. Sometimes the truth was hard for me to hear, but I listened. I realized that they spoke truth to me because they truly loved me and wanted the very best for me. It was an intense season, but one that forced me to deal with myself and overcome many issues that I never knew existed or didn’t want to deal with.

Now I give all praise to God that He has set me free and delivered me from this ugly demon of depression! I am a different person today. I am not the same Natalie that people have known before. I know who I am in Christ, and nothing is going to ever change that. I know that I can be myself and who God created me to be and flourish in that. God has given me beauty from the ashes of a being a broken and beat-down person. Yes, marriage problems, separation, and divorce have a way of doing that to you! Now I am a woman who knows that she is loved, honored, cherished, and adored by The Man that gave His all for me. I am of worth, value, and priceless. I am His beloved!

So here I am launching forward into my future. I don’t have a clue what that looks like, but God does. One thing I do know: I am Natalie, and I am ready for my comeback – and it’s going to be better than ever!

I Can’t Believe What I Just Heard

“Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you.” Proverbs 11:17

I just experienced something that made such an impression on me that I don’t think I will ever forget. In fact, it made so much of a negative impression on me that I don’t think I will ever be the same again. This memory is forever etched in my mind.

I was at a local restaurant sitting at a table just reading and enjoying some much needed quiet time away from my normal day-to-day activities. I was loving every moment of my “me time”…that is until this happened.

My peace and quiet was soon interrupted by some commotion from a young family. This family consisted of a husband, a wife, and two young elementary school-aged girls. The wife politely asked the husband a question regarding his job. Then that’s when it all happened. That’s all it took. One simple question about his job to set off the young husband. He proceeded to holler at his wife, using every degrading and derogatory name he could call her, along with every profanity that he could spew out of his mouth. The lady just sat there humiliated and embarrassed. I was heartbroken, humiliated, and embarrassed for her.

Then my heart sank even lower. There were two young girls listening to their dad speak to a woman in a way that was beyond disrespectful and degrading to any female. I can only imagine what damage has already been done to these two precious young ladies. He is teaching them that it’s okay to treat a woman just however he wants. He is teaching them that a woman is worthless and deserves to be treated like garbage.

There was no reason for him to respond that way. None at all! Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and as a female, especially NO man deserves to treat his wife in this manner. There are NO excuses.

Somewhere along the way, this man’s cruelty is going to destroy him. He is planting seeds with every cruel and degrading word that he is speaking. When you plant negative seeds, then you are going to reap a negative crop. It may not be tomorrow, but it will be sometime in the future. He is destroying his family with his words, but he’s also destroying his lineage with his words.

So I learned some great lessons in this incident. The first is to always be consciously aware of how I speak to other people. I long and desire to speak words of life and encouragement to every person He puts in my path. I want a good crop. My second lesson is to be aware of how people are speaking to me. I will not subject myself anymore to negativity, negative words, or negative people. God has brought me too far to go back to the way my life used to be. I am worth much more than that.

Plant good words and produce a good crop. Plant negative words and produce a negative crop.

Natalie ❤️

Once Upon A Time…

Once upon a time there was a young girl that lived in a beautiful kingdom. She loved her life, but she would dream about her future. She would sit and dream of when she would grow up and what she wanted that to look like. She would sit and ponder about all of the things that she wanted to do with her life. She dreamed of finding her prince, getting married, having a family, and serving in the kingdom. She didn’t just want to serve in any old way in the kingdom. She wanted to do something of great value and significance. She wanted a happily ever after.

Well the young girl grew up and got her happily ever after. She had everything that she ever wanted. She had her prince, her family, and her special job in the kingdom. She was so happy with everything in her life, but there was always someone lurking in the background. You see there was an evil prince that didn’t like all of the good things in this girl’s life. It made him so angry when he saw how happy she was. In fact, he despised her happiness. So he set out on a mission. It was a mission to destroy everything that made her happy. He was cunning and deceptive unlike anyone else in the kingdom. He used whatever means his evil mind could come up with to set out on his path of destruction. Little bit by little bit, he began to chip away at everything that made her happy. It took awhile, but his job was a success. He was able to destroy everything that made this once happy girl now so sad and heartbroken. Everything that she loved was now broken and destroyed. It was all gone. She was devastated.

So much darkness filled this young lady’s life. Her happily ever after was broken. It was gone. Never to be seen again. She was so angry and hurt that this evil prince had seen it as his mission to destroy what was once so precious to her. Her life would never be the same again. She was a broken soul.

This, my friend, is no fairy tale. This is a true story. It’s the story of my life. I have experienced great depths of sorrow, heartbreak, discouragement, and depression on this journey called “Natalie’s life.” There have been times that I didn’t think I would make it another second, but I did. I’ve been through so much in my life that I never dreamed would ever happen to me. It is now my story, and I want to share it. I want to share it because there is hope. I made it through days where it was beyond bearable to live and function.

I’ve already come so far and experienced so much of God’s healing. I truly am a different person today than I was 2 years ago. I am not a victim. I am a victor. I am not trash and garbage. I am a masterpiece. I am not worthless. I am priceless. I am the daughter of The Most High King on a journey to share hope and healing with others. I am Natalie – a woman that is forever changed for God’s glory!

A Fight That You Just Can’t Ever Win

I have learned to ask God to speak to me however He chooses each and everyday. Sometimes He has a sense of humor in how He chooses to speak to me. He has a way of speaking to me through the most unique and unusual ways. I just experienced this. When I think back on this, I can’t help but laugh about the method and means He used to communicate to me. Of course, I think that makes the pill much easier to swallow. So get ready to be humored much like I was.

When I was fixing my hair the other day, I began to get really frustrated for the five hundredth time. You see, I have this one spot in my bangs that just doesn’t want to cooperate no matter what I do. After weeks and weeks of frustration, I decided to talk to God about this. You must understand that I’ve learned to talk to Him about anything that bothers me. I’m His daughter, and nothing is too small or insignificant to talk to Him about. Thus my conversation with God about my hair. I just told Him that this hair disaster just wasn’t cutting it. I needed Him to give me some wisdom on how to resolve this problem. I know you are wondering how this is a problem, but I’m a woman, so this is a problem! So I left it at that.

The next day, the pursuit of “Operation Bangs” ensued. Well, guess what? He showed me exactly what I needed to do to take care of this woman first-world problem. It worked! So needless to say, I was more than thrilled, but the next part not so much. He did at least let me enjoy the moment. It was brief, but still a good moment. Then this is where it gets a little raw and real. Somehow I always know that there is going to be a lesson in the mix, and that He did!

He reminded me of myself in this life lesson. How do you get a life lesson out of this? I don’t know how that happens, but it does! He reminded me that He was like the part of my hair that just didn’t want to fix. I was the person fighting against the hair that in my eyes didn’t want to cooperate. You see, everyday I would try to fight against my hair to make it do something that it just didn’t want to do. When I gave up and decided to work with it, then that’s when it ended up fixing the way that I really wanted it to.

He drew my attention back to me, which is the raw and real part that is painful and hurts to think about and process. He proceeded to ask me how many times in my life that I have been stubborn and tried to fight against what He was doing in my life. The more I tried to fight against it, the worse it got in my internal spiritual struggle. I thought I knew what was best for me and not God. I wanted what I wanted, and nothing else mattered. Then there came a point of surrender when I had to make a decision of what seemed like giving up in my eyes and letting God do with me exactly what He wanted to do or going with what I wanted. Sometimes I’ve passed that test, and other times I haven’t. Sometimes I’ve surrendered, but not without fighting with Him for 500 times. Then there have been times that I have surrendered in the beginning knowing that God was at work in my life no matter how it appeared.

Ouch! That is what I said after God speaking that hard truth to me. I knew that He was right about all of this. It has now made me more aware of making surrender a part of my daily journey. Surrender isn’t a one time event. It happens every morning the moment I wake up. Will I surrender to God’s call on my life that day? Every decision and every choice matter to Him.

So be prepared when you ask God to speak truth to you everyday. He has the awesome way of showing up in some of the strangest places and ways. He’s speaking! Just listen. Then respond and obey – and don’t fight with Him 500 times! I heard someone say one time!

Natalie ❤️

God, Why Did You Pick This One?

“I do not speak because I have need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” Philippians 4:11

So if you read my last blog post, I know what your next question is. Natalie, you shared your word for 2017, but what is your word for 2018? I know that you have lost sleep over this. It has consumed all of your waking moments trying to figure this out. Well guess what! You are in luck today.

Now let me move back into reality because that thought came from far off somewhere in space. I guess it’s just the “Natalie” in me coming out. Side note: for those closest to me, this needs no explanation. Now moving right along.

After much prayer and seeking God, He directed me to my word for 2018. It is “content.” When He drew me to this word, it wasn’t the one that I would have chosen. I would have much rather picked joy, prosperity, blessings, or abundance. You get the picture. Something a little more exciting or fun, but that’s not what He drew me to. So instead He picked a word that sounded like a year of boring, nothing new, and mundane, but boy was I wrong!

As I always do, I searched out the definition of my word. It means to be in a state of peaceful happiness, satisfied, pleased, gratified, fulfilled, happy, cheerful, glad, unworried, untroubled, at ease, at peace, tranquil, and serene. This sounds like the furthest thing from boring and mundane to me. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Then God began to reveal His truth to me about my word for 2018. After a much needed year of emotional healing, God has drawn me to a peaceful place. This place is one of enjoying every day of my life. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing the normal things that we all have to do everyday like going to work, commuting, paying bills, getting the oil changed, or working around the house. I make the choice about how I’m going to approach each of these. Instead of dreading and complaining about work, then I make up my mind that I’m going to be thankful that I have a job to go to each day to be able to provide for my needs and those of the kingdom. I can be thankful that I have a vehicle to be able to get the oil changed in. I think you get the picture. Each of these daily mundane tasks can be an act of worship as I do them unto God.

God also showed me that if I can’t be content in this season of life that I’m in right now, then how can He trust me with anything else? It’s kind of like the children of Israel. I don’t want to be stuck in bondage for 40 years when I could be out in 40 days. We set the pace for how long we stay in our valleys. So I want to be happy, satisfied, and peaceful for every place that God has brought me to. I’m there for a purpose. God hand-picked it for me. I don’t need to know all of the details as to why things are the way they are. I have to trust that God has worked it all out just the way that it needs to be at this particular season of my life.

So when I think about all of this, I like my word. I don’t want to be guilty of not being content in any season of my life. I want to enjoy each of them for in those small, unknown, and obscure seasons, God pours forth truth and a rock solid faith that can’t be birthed any other way. I know that I will look back at 2018 as a time of more growth and a deepening of my spirit that will last into 2019 and every year for the rest of my life. Thank You, Abba, for loving me this much!

Love Your Beloved Daughter,

Natalie ❤️

Judah Changed My Destiny

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

In January 2017, I was challenged. My challenge was to seek God for a “word” for that year. After much thought and prayer, God led me to my word. I didn’t set out for this one, but it found me. My word was Judah. Judah is a Hebrew word that means praised and full of love. After a very challenging year (of which that is an understatement), I began to see God bring this to pass in my life. I was able to praise God through the hardest, most difficult, and heart-breaking thing that I could ever go through. So many times I had to praise God in faith because I just didn’t feel like it nor did I have the physical, emotional, or mental energy to press through this dark time.

I also had to begin to learn how to love others once again, but the most difficult person I had to learn how to love again was myself. Somewhere along the way, my identity got lost amidst serving in ministry positions, serving my family, serving in churches, and a million other things. I had to find out once again who I was in Christ and build my identity upon who He said that I was and not what any other person said, whether good or bad. So many times during 2017, I would hear that booming voice inside of me telling me horrible things about myself. Sometimes it was just Satan telling me what a worthless person I was. Other times it would be painful memories of hurtful and degrading things that people had spoken over me.

I also had to learn how to let God love me as His daughter once again. Somehow that got crushed over the years. There were times that I just had to sit still and quiet because I had no words to utter all that I felt inside. These were the most healing times for me. I had to learn how to just “be” His daughter all over again. He showed me that all of my service to Him over the years meant nothing in comparison to my relationship with Him. He began to teach me what it meant to be a “Mary” and just sit at His feet. See, I was really good at being a “Martha.” He loved Natalie just because – not because of anything I could do, but simply because I was His daughter.

As I learned to let God pour His love into me, then He showed me how to pour His love onto everyone that He put in my path. He showed me that His overwhelming love was meant to be shared with others. You can’t pour from an empty vessel, and my vessel was pretty empty prior to 2017. But that all changed for me when He revealed His truth to me. I am not the same Natalie that I was prior to 2017!

God continues to challenge me with this during 2018. I grew so much last year. I’m a different person today because of everything that I have experienced. There were so many times that I didn’t want to walk that horrible road that I had to walk, but I made it! I have some scars, wounds, and bruises, but today I stand as an overcomer and a victor.

I am Natalie, the daughter of the Most High King. I am loved, honored, cherished, and adored by The One who gave it all for me! I am Judah, full of love and ready to praise. This is who I am!

Natalie Howard ❤️

My Heart’s Cry to My Abba

Have you ever tried to pray and felt like you just didn’t have the words to express all that was going on inside of you? Well don’t feel bad because I feel that way quite often. Sometimes there are just no words to express all that you are going through. I have learned some important lessons in prayer throughout my new season of life. God has shown me that this is okay because He is looking at my heart.

Throughout this new season, God has given me a deep love for written prayers. I’m always looking for books or prayer resources that include these written prayers. There’s nothing like speaking back to God His Word. You know that He is listening when you do that. You have the reassurance to know that you are praying according to His Will.

So I want to share a prayer with you that I crafted with the help and inspiration of The Holy Spirit. This was after a day that I had more questions than answers. Please feel free to use it if God leads you. My prayer for you is that you will experience God’s great and overwhelming love as you speak these words back to your Abba Father. Be blessed!

“Father, You understand and know my heart better than anyone else because You formed me before I even knew that I existed. I don’t even have a clue what is best for me. Please make my desires to be Your desires. I want what You want for me. I know that I won’t be satisfied until I have all that you want for me. Don’t hold anything back.”

A Girl Who is Loved, Honored, Cherished, & Adored By Her Abba,


You Can Begin Again

No matter what your story is…No matter what you may think…God says that you can begin again. We are all broken people, but we decide what we’re going to do with our brokenness. God wants to take your bad broken and make something beautiful of it.