You Need a Plan for Your Life

I just finished a weekend with my first Life Planner. You might wonder why I decided to take the time and money to spend on getting a Life Planner as it’s a lot of what I do in my job. My goal in doing it was to affirm and confirm my current trajectory.

As I battle with consistently feeling inadequate in life, it was just amazing to me to see the way God made me laid out on 19 separate HUGE pages, lined across the walls.

My facilitator was wonderful. She shared my joys and pains as we walked through my life realizing that the first part of my life was used to build my strengths, the second part of my life (so far) was in me using and really owning my strengths, and this latest part of my life is in relying on God’s strengths.

There were a couple of difficult parts for me. They weren’t difficult because they were a surprise, but difficult actually speaking them out loud. I am GREAT at pointing out the amazing ways others are created, but it’s difficult for me to “promote” myself and it was a weekend of doing just that.

If you have the chance, I would HIGHLY suggest either heading to your closest Purpose Driven Church and taking CLASS 301 then meeting with a SHAPE Guide or contacting a Life Planner (I used a facilitator from The Paterson Center) to help you realize who YOU are built to be.

What I learned today… God has me on an intentional path and is giving me the skills to continue to be able to help more and more people realize their value and motivate them to be mobilized in to action!!

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Do you see the light?

My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me. Acts 22:9

What a strong verse. Saul was walking with his companions, who were also non-believers in Christ. All of them saw the light and yet Saul was the only one who understood the voice of Jesus that was speaking.

Sometimes that happens in life, right? We hear God speaking clearing to us, yet those around us either can’t or won’t listen to His direction. At times it’s because they are non-believers and choose not to hear Him. Or because they refuse to listen. Or because they haven’t met Him yet.

There are many reasons we can sometimes hear God clearly and other times we feel like He has left us completely. In both He is at work. Thankfully, Saul turned to Paul, because He listened…and followed direction.

Whether we are seeing the light and listening patiently to His voice. We see someone else reflecting His light and we follow the lead He has given them. We can’t see His light and we look for it in His Word. At all times He is with us. He is shining His light so bright it would burn our faces! Whether we see it or not!

Remember God giving Moses direction through the burning bush? (Exodus 3)

Moses heard God, hid his face and said, there is NO way I could do what you are asking.

 Throughout the chapter we see God saying to Him,

I am God.

I will be with you.

I am sending you.

I who have sent you.

I AM WHO I AM

I know.

I will perform.

I will make.

Boy, Moses was stubborn! (I can relate). God was giving him pretty direct directions and Moses kept pushing back.

Do you do that? I do.

Let’s remember, that in order to shine our light…we need to be firmly planted in His Word and LISTEN to His direction, than follow it.

 Look at it this way…

He is God.

He is with you.

He is sending you.

He has sent you.

He is sovereign.

He knows.

He will perform.

He will make it possible.

May your light shine BRIGHT to all around you this week whether they be a believer or “pre-Christian” (non-believer).

What I learned today…We can only reflect His light if we are looking to Him. Stay connected through the Word.

When You Are Down

So, we know I battle with feelings of inadequacy and go through waves of depression. One of the things I have found that helps me is to save the positive and affirming things that can lift me up. It could be a verse, a picture, a note, any number of things.

As I found a LOT of people battle with insecurity, our team decided to do something about it. First we became the team that encourages. We found that 8 out of 10 people enjoy being encourage and it’s lightens their day. When we have seen their responses, it then cause us to feel joyful.

Next, we all have “Happy Boxes” that we keep near our desks. Whenever someone leaves a quick note, sends a letter, emails a thank you, we put it in our Happy Box. When we are feeling a bit blue or feel like we aren’t making a difference, or not being used, or not effective…I could go on and on…we open our “Happy Box” and remember that God has us right where we are for a reason. We might not see it at the moment, but we have been loved, effective, used, etc…20160224_101933

If you don’t have one, start today. If you don’t feel like you are encouraged much, look harder. Save birthday and holiday cards. Even if the relationship has gone sour, you can remember better times. Save encouraging posts, verses, pictures. If someone says something positive about you on Social Media, copy and paste then print it and add it to your collection.

Most importantly, remember that you are never alone. That you are loved by the Most High. You are His son/daughter who He cherishes.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  ~ Augustine

God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.  ~ Rick Warren

God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.  ~ Jerry Bridges

One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love him is, to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them.  ~ John Wesley

 

Ephesians 3:14-21

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

What I learned today…We all need a little pick me up every now and then. I am so thankful for all the notes left on my desk and encouraging emails. They bring me more joy than the writers will ever know.

Stuck on David: Numero Uno

I am completely stuck in 1 Samuel 17. The whole thing!!

For example, in the first 2 verses –

“Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.” (vs 1-2)

Okay, something hit me. Notice the Philistines gathered their forces for war, while Saul and the Israelites assembled.

If I was a betting person, based on these two sentences, I would’ve bet on the Philistines. However, in life I don’t. When something needs to be done, I generally look for the fastest and the strongest. The ones who can get-it-done.

What these 2 verses remind me of, is that I might be trained to jump on the train of the fastest moving, shiniest, strongest looking, etc.. thing available, and I should be praying for who GOD wants me to lean on or fight for. Not necessarily who I think should be backing. God knows the story of everyone all around us. Those teams, groups, people who might not arrive to a task theand ready. They might be the ones who show up and need time to process the situation. It might even look like there is no way they could ever succeed at the deed…but if God wants them to, they will.

Who is around you that you may be overlooking? Do you consistently go to your “go-to” people rather than giving others a chance?

I am a firm believer in try. Try and succeed, woooo whoooo! Or Try and fail…and learn.

Both are okay.

What I learned today…I need to pray for God to open my eyes more to those around me that I might be overlooking.

Social Media and Jesus

I’ll never forget my first time…the first time I started to act like a Jesus follower on social media. Before that point, my posts generally contained a cuss word or what bordered on being a cuss word. Most pointed to crude humor, alcohol, sex or all three.

It’s who I was. I wanted everyone to see I was fun, edgy, had money, had friends, still looked good, etc…

Then something changed. Me. I started to learn more about the Bible and the way God wants me to behave and slowly but surely, I started to change my behavior.

As I grew in my relationship with God, I started to drink less, party less and read more. I was filling more of my time with people who were on the same spiritual journey with me. During this period, I remember going down to the beach for an all day party/bbq/bonfire.

When it started to get a bit later, and the alcohol started REALLY flowing, I said it was time to leave. We wanted to get to church in time. You would have thought I had said I was going to board a spaceship with my family. The incredulous looks we received were priceless. As we said our goodbyes, it was a bit awkward. Not on our part, but our friends could NOT believe that we were leaving a fun party with THEM to go to CHURCH!!!

As we got in the car, I started laughing with my husband. There was a time, not to long before that point, where we would have made fun of someone leaving a party to head to church. How LAME.

We had changed. Our priorities had changed. We still liked to hang out with our friends, but one of the values we have is to make sure we attend services on the weekends. When we don’t, we can feel the loss throughout our week!

That evening’s service included Luke 12:8-9 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”

After seeing the reactions of my friends at the beach, I realized my social media life wasn’t reflecting the changes going on in my life. They were shocked that I’d stop and go to church, which meant I wasn’t representing the changes going on in my life for all to see.

I wanted to make sure I started publicly acknowledging Jesus. The easiest way for me to do that was on all of my social media channels. It might sound like no big deal to you, but to post something “Christian-y” was BIG for me.

As soon as I did it, I didn’t get disowned by friends. There were a couple of snarky comments (remember, I had changed a LOT by then), but the biggest response was others were excited for me, and thankful to see me standing up for what I believed in.

It has snowballed from there! I have never seen my self as much of an evangelist, but the amount of emails I have gotten since I took that leap of faith and started posting about my walk with Jesus, has been remarkable! Everything from, “I started going to church because of your posts”, to “I never read the Bible before, but the verses you post have made me start” and “I am getting baptized today and I want you to be there because your posts have changed my life”.

WHAT?!?!?!? Me? My posts on Social Media? Have done all that?!?!?! Generally I just post verses that I need to hear in that moment. I post encouragements that I need. I don’t post to impress or sway, I post when I am learning or God speaks to me through something I am reading.

What would it look like for you to post less “crude” and more about your walk with Jesus?

What would it look like to post an encouraging picture instead of one that would make your Grandma blush?

Who do you think you are connected to, that would change knowing you aren’t the perfect picture that you have been sharing on your pages?

Governments change, countries rise and fall…the church remains. Why waste time posting about something that won’t stand the test of time?

Why not spend your time fighting for JESUS? He is ETERNAL!

What would it look like to take over a media outlet with positive, inspiring, Biblical ways to live life?

It. Would. Be. Awesome.

What I learned today…We can all influence others by living our lives authentically. We all have a story, it takes huevos to share them, but if it means helping one more meet Jesus, we need to DO IT!!!!

Don’t “Pray” for Me

Have you ever come across people that say, “I’ll pray for you”, and as soon as they walk away, you have the feeling like that was just a parting Christian term that they say all the time? Me, too.

Are you someone who has said, “I’ll pray for you”, and then TOTALLY forgotten to actually do it? Me, too.

I have found the very best thing to do is –

  1. STOP and pray for them, with them right then and their.
  2. As you walk away, take a moment to pray for them, while you are walking away and it’s fresh in your mind.

With the first suggestion I have found that their is generally enough time to pray for someone. Why? Because that is what God would want us to do, so He extends the time for us! Tell you what, grab a watch with a second hand or a timer and watch 30 seconds go by. It’s actually quite a long period of time! If you wait for each second to pass, you see how a little can go a long way. Pray, even if it’s for 30 seconds, pray.

With the second option, make sure you take a moment and pray for them as you walk away. If people you are walking with start a conversation right up, say, “Hold on for just a second.”. You don’t have to say you are going to pray, or maybe you do.

God still listens to “microwave” prayers. You know, the quick ones that are “Please, God”. The goal is to talk to Him more!

What I learned today…To NOT be someone who just talks about praying for someone, but to consistently PRAY FOR THEM.

Helpful Hint – Wherever you seem to stop and pray for the longest time, or whatever area you look at the most, put up post-its of who you need to pray for. My list around my computer has names I change frequently, as I hear of prayers being answered, and others stay consistent as they are always in my prayers.

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I Am Fat

I am. I get it. Now, some will say, I’m not fat as they are bigger and others will say, yep, you are because they are much thinner.

In the past, I had gained weight with the kiddos and then lost it right away. It was easy as I was a VERY vain person, plus I saw the benefits of feeling healthy after exercising and eating right.

Now, to my “issues” I am working on. Back when I was thin…was before I started working at a church. I have actually gained over 55 lbs in the last 4 years. Why?

What I have been working on is realizing it’s because of my brokenness. In the world, to get ahead you either had to be a “wench” or “loose” to get anywhere. (I am being creative with my wording). I was an absolute wench, and I’d use my sexuality to get what I wanted.

Starting at a church, I thought I didn’t want to be noticed in any way. I started to observe that bigger people are over-looked and under-estimated. It’s true! Kind of like the different ways people treat you when you are driving a new Mercedes vs a 1994 Taurus. I realized recently, that I have been adding the pounds, to hide any part of the old me that could come through. I am now a MUCH nicer person, so no one could say I was succeeding because of my “wenchi-ness”, and with weight on, not to mention working at a church, no one could say I was using sensuality.

This is not an okay way to live! I realized as I looked in the mirror, enough is enough. I don’t even know what I’ll look like with less weight now. It’s been 4 years! Will I have more wrinkles? Probably. Will I be saggy? Probably. (Sorry, TMI). That doesn’t mean I should continue on this unhealthy path.

I am tired. At this point I can’t keep up with my boys. That SUCKS.

What I learned today…I need to start getting back in to a healthier lifestyle. I need to pray about my insecurities and get help. I need to remember, I have a God who loves me unconditionally. A God who is guarding and guiding me. I have a husband that has loved me through thick and thin (get it? BWHAHAHAHAH) and will be with me regardless.

What I learned today is I need to start to get back on track, today. Not next week. Today.

Will it be easy? No. Somehow I feel like I have aged more in the last 4 years than in the last 10 years! I miss looking in the mirror and liking what I see. I have let myself go in so many ways. I can’t wait to see how God can help me with this! I am putting it in to His hands.

 

Chad vs Julie

Okay, so my husband and I are both very competitive. What helps? HUMOR.

Back when I was doing everything I could to work on our relationship, I read a book called The Five Love Languages.

It basically talks about how we all have a different view of what love looks like. Some feel loved by affirmation, some by receiving gifts, physical touch, time spent, and acts of service.

I talked about it with Chad, way back when, and realized, his love language is absolutely physical touch. That mixed with time spent. UGH. Mine are the opposite. I’m more of an affirmation and gifts type of person.

When I realized how different we are, and how I was doing to him what I like, I realized I needed to make a change. I started touching him more. Yes, I did hope that meant he’d start working on showing me he loved me the way I feel it, but that isn’t how it works.

I started touching his back more. Grabbing his hand. Holding his arm. Sitting close. It wasn’t something I was used to doing, it was something I was made aware he needed.

As I started to purposefully touch him more when I was around him…and be around him more, I noticed, he became happier! Isn’t that funny how it works.

He wasn’t even aware I was purposefully doing it, until a funny interaction happened today.

The conversation went like this…

I walked by while he was shaving and I started scratching his back lightly.

He said, “Thank you. I love when you do that.”

I said, “I know. I do it purposefully.  You told me you liked it so I do it.”

He said, “That is so nice!”

I said, “I had to learn to do it…kinda like I was hoping you’d learn to affirm me and give me gifts. Ha Ha”.

He responded with, “Wow. That must mean I’m a much better teacher”.

BWHAHAHAHAH

I couldn’t stuck on what I wasn’t getting, but look at that humor. I love the man. It could’ve gone south, but his response was perfect!

What is something you do for your roommate, sibling, parent, spouse, etc… that you do because you know they like it, not because you get something out of it?

What I learned today…Remember what makes my people happy and do it. The joy I can find in their happiness is priceless. AND continue to remind them what makes me happy. Especially if they aren’t natural inclined to do it.

 

Try vs Trust

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

How can I trust Jesus in a relationship that seems impossible?

We are ALL God’s children. Even the people that hard hard for me to love. Rapest, abusers, killers, etc…they are God’s children, too. I know. VERY hard to love them. What about taking a step out and praying for them as God’s children. My life has been TRANSFORMED in this area. The first step was praying for them. “God, I know you love them because they are your children. I DON’T, but I pray they grow and learn in you as your child, just as you want me to grow and learn in you. I don’t like them, but I LOVE you and I know you still love them. Help me get rid of the hate and bitterness. Amen”

What I learned today…All relationships have a chance for forgiveness.

EPIC Fail At Work

Okay, so yesterday was going great…until I failed in an EPIC way. Now, you might complete disagree with me, but just wait until after you hear it all… I even talked with a couple people about it, as they could tell I was “off” at an evening event…and they didn’t think it was epic…so you might not. BUT, it is to me.

At around noon I was invited to a meeting that started at 2:30pm concerning a project I am help with. I hit “attend” and didn’t think twice. When I arrived, there weren’t many people, and we weren’t waiting for many more per the leaders of the meeting. I thought it strange the leader of the project hadn’t shown up, yet, as he is fairly prompt.

I felt the nudge to call and see where he was.

I ignored it.

The meeting was about to start and I felt the nudge again.

I ignored it.

As they said, okay let’s get started, everyone is here – I felt the nudge…

Guess what?

I ignored it and thought he was probably called in to a meeting with people more important. (That can happen).

So, the meeting got started.

At the end of the meeting I went down to find the project leader and tease him for not being there.

He had not been invited.

UGH. Immediately I felt horrible. No, I wasn’t the one in charge of calling the meeting. No, typically I wouldn’t have looked at the invite list as I assume everyone is on the same page, BUT, it was very difficult to see the upset on his face and in his posture. Righteous frustration. I could understand that and I hurt for him.

Now, people have said, I had no epic failure here. A) I didn’t set it up. B) I wasn’t intentionally doing something wrong. The “miss” wasn’t mine to own.

I disagree.

The Holy Spirit was nudging me, and I ignored Him. I was being given clear instructions, and I wasn’t listening. I kept feeling that nudge and KNOW that 100% of the time, I am better off following through with whatever I’m getting nudged about it. I didn’t so missed an opportunity that hurt someone else.

Yes, my heart hurt for the frustration of the situation for my co-worker. But I felt even worse that I ignored GOD, who was trying to get my co-worker in to that meeting.

I failed.

What I learned today…Follow what the Holy Spirit is nudging me to do regardless of what I think. I am obviously not in the “know” like He is.