Ingredients for inspiration

POD #29: Ingredients for inspiration

  1.  What has worked for you in the past and how can you bring more of that into your life now?
  2. When was the last time you totally lost track of time because you were enjoying yourself so incredibly much?
  3. What is one creative endeavor, ideally one that has nothing to do with your work or your goals, that you’ve always wanted to do and never given yourself the chance to do? Can you do that at least once between now and the November Challenge?
  4. What are you doing, who are you with and/or where are you at when you feel the most
    • Creative (meaning, when you feel the urge and power to create – this doesn’t necessarily have to do with art or writing)
    • Free-flowing, or
    • Engaged and in love with life

There are three ingredients to inspiration in life.  I know that if I can have one of them, I can do good, all three are golden.

  1. Solitude
  2. Music
  3. Collaboration

If I can get alone with my thoughts and really have time to process them fully, I find inspiration.  There is something about solitude that my soul longs for.  Not just moments of quiet, but to be secluded without interruption – no buzzing of the phone, no interruptions from family or friends, no deadlines or expectation.  I need to have time to just allow my thoughts to flow, then formulate, then come into fruition.  I do not get this inspiration often enough. And it often scares me when I start to enter into it, because I know the depths that it can take me.

When I can not get alone with my thoughts at all, music inspires me.  It can be instrumental or  with lyrics, with instruments or without soft or loud.  I prefer classical or Contemporary Christian, but depending on my mood I can also do Heavy Metal, Country, or 90s Rock.  Music helps me drown out the thoughts that race through my head that keep me from focusing on the creative process.   It helps quiet my inner voice so that I can really think.  This is the most readily available place for me to find inspiration.  I can through in my ear buds or crank the radio up and create.

Another place that gets my creative juices flowing in when I can collaborate with like-minded people.  There is something about just brainstorming or bouncing ideas off a few other people who creates inspiration.  I can get lost in discussion when I am with other people in a discussion with purpose.

inspirationA few years ago I had the opportunity to go on a leadership retreat.  I didn’t exactly have the freedom I would have like with my schedule, but I did have quiet time, music, and collaboration.  My mind reeled with ideas as I would talk with the other women.  I wish I could have captured that creative juice and bottled if for use when I need it.  The only danger I had in that is that sometimes the creative juices flowed so freely if someone wasn’t there to capture the idea I shared, I could not recreate it.

It has been a few years since I have really been lost in inspiration.  I had a three-month sabbatical after the loss of a job that proved to be one of the most creative times.  I would get lost in quiet time and spend the entire day just writing about what God was speaking to me.  I crave those days back, but alas like most I need to work.  I can not seem to recreate those moments on my day off as there is just too much else to do.

One creative endeavor that I have always wanted to do is go on a silent retreat or even a spiritual retreat with no outside influences or disturbances.  I have looked at monasteries, lake houses, hotels and cabins.  But I have never actually done it.  I know in a hotel I am much more likely to turn on the television and veg out in front of the television instead of getting alone with God and my thoughts.  I think a deeper level of me is scared to make that commitment, scared of what I might discover or what I might be called to do.  It is much easier to live a life of distraction.

I don’t take the time to let inspiration move me as often as I should.  I now that there is more creativity in me waiting for the opportunity to escape.  I too often put it on the back burner to other things.  Possible that will be my next adventure allowing God to use the trust, discipline and growth that has taken place in my life over the past few years and use what He has entrusted me with to create.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

 

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Growing Faith #Write31days

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  Jude 1:20‭-‬21 NKJV

I like the idea of God taking me from faith to faith.  Faith floating along in life, it takes responsibility for action away from me and places it with Him.  If only it was that easy!  However, this scripture tells me to grow or build my faith, and to encourage others in building their faith.

So how do I grow my faith?  This scripture contains several faith builders.

Praying in the power of the Holy Spirit builds faith.  I know that praying in the alignment with the Holy Spirit is praying God’s will. As I see prayers answered, it builds my faith.  Then I can believe to ask for greater things in His kingdom.  I can help build others’ faith by sharing with them how God is answering prayers and encouraging them to ask and believe also.

Walking in God’s love builds faith.  When I love others through Him, I see His transformative love in action.  God’s love hopes for the best in people.  When I am able to see others’ lives changed by His love, my faith grows.  Other people’s faith grows as He transforms lives and they are able to see the difference He makes.

Waiting on the Lord grows my faith.  I admit I love when the Lord responds immediately.  It is exhilarating.  But when I have to believe when nothing is happening, my faith is tested.  When what I’ve been standing in faith for happens, my faith not only grows but it is strengthened.  I can trust for more impossible things.  As others see the testimony of my stance, their faith can also grow.  Watch others stand through trials and come out victorious is encouraging in the faith.

God’s mercy applied to my life grows my faith.  I know I fail God, and in the natural people tend to walk away or build up walls when we fail them.  God is faithful though.  There are things that He wants of me.  Although I am non-compliant or noncommittal to seeing those things through, He does not walk away or grow distant.  He applies His mercy to me.  This grows my faith. When I walk in God’s grace it can encourage others’ faith as I share the testimony of what God has walked with me through.

Growing faith is the responsibility of every believer.  We are not only charged with growing our faith, we are charged with encouraging others to grow their faith.

 

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

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Growing Questions #Write31Days

There is a mighty hero found in the pages of Judges whose life inspires growth.  He is listed in Hebrews as one of the hero’s of faith, whose story is too long to recount.  A small piece of his story is found in Judges 6-8.

The story starts with young man tending to his family business.  He wasn’t looking for a call on His life, just doing what was before him.  Which really wasn’t much. He is found separating  the grain from the husks and tares in the bottom of a wine-press.   Gideon, along with the other Israelites were starving at the hands of the Midianites.  

Out of no where, comes the voice of the Lord calling his attention to what he was not. Gideon was far from a mighty hero in the natural. Gideon questioned God because he was the smallest in his clan, and his clan was the smallest in the tribe, and the smallest tribe in Israel.  Gideon steps out and destroys the temple idols, but then again questions God asking for a sign through the fleece two separate times.  Gideon again steps out, but God used of the words of the enemy to give Gideon the courage to go into battle.  The story of Gideon ends with the men following him wanting Gideon to rule over them, but he lets them know if is God that will rule them. Gideon lived forty years after fulfilling his purpose before dying.  At every step of the way, Gideon questioned his calling.

QuestionsGod is not deterred by our questions.  Even when we are asking them over and over again.  He knows that His calling usually takes us by surprise, as He calls things that aren’t as though they are. The Lord doesn’t speak to our current circumstances, but to our destiny.  God reminds us, that despite the circumstances surrounding us, He is with us.

God knows that we will have questions about our qualifications to do what He has called us to do.  His plans at so much larger than us, so of course we fill unqualified when He gives us even a small vision of what He wants to do in and through us.

God doesn’t count it against us when we ask for a sign.  He is not put out when we say “please give me a sign, I don’t want to miss it.” and even again when we say “Just to make sure can You give me one more.” It is one of those questions of “Lord, help my unbelief.”  We are saying “I am looking to you.  I am trying to believe.  Show me.”  He can build our faith to match His call.

Sometimes, God will even use others to call out the gifts that we are allowing to lie dormant in our lives.  Many times others have the ability to see what is in us that we are too oblivious to see about ourselves.  We hear Him whispering it to us, but to hear someone else speak it gives us the confidence we need to know it is not just pride and selfish ambition, but really His calling to us.

I admit I question God a lot, which is why I like Gideon so much.  I have a hard time understanding how an all-powerful God would even want to use me.  When I get past the point that it is not because it is me, but despite of myself that He wants to use me then I start to question that validity.

I spent so much of my life being self-seeking and promoting that I don’t want to take a step without knowing that God is the one that is promoting my actions.  I don’t want to think I am hearing God’s voice and really just be chasing selfish ambition.  I also don’t want to jump the gun and try to force my timing on His plans.  When I hear that call I generally put a specific fleece out to God so that I know it is not only His voice, but His timing.

There are times I have allowed the voice of the enemy to deter my calling.  I have let negative voices stop me in my tracks.  My pastor has been reminding us that if the enemy is speaking, it is a lie.   It would be nice to have the enemy speak with the vision of fear like the enemy did for Gideon to overhear, but it won’t always happen.  So when he is speaking out against us, we can be sure that with God we have the ability to do what he is saying we can’t or shouldn’t.

Questions can lead us to the truth that will build up our faith and cause us to walk in the fullness of the destiny that God sees within us.  We have to remember that God sees the end from the beginning.  We have to trust that He will fulfill what He has called us to do if we just trust Him.  It will all be done in and through use to point others to the God that rules over us.  Our questions can help us grow towards Him.

growth button

 

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

 

 

 

 

 

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How do you respond to expectations? 

POD #28: How do you respond to expectations? 
Do you generally resist work deadlines, tax filing due dates, bill payment deadlines and other things people expect of you?
If so, write about one type of external expectation you’ve learned how to meet, consistently. How did you do that? What’s the strategy you’ve used?
Do you generally live up to your expectations of yourself, like when you set goals to do your own projects, food and fitness goals or other expectations of the things it’ll take to build the life you envision?
If you struggle with internal expectations, write about one type of internal expectation you’ve learned how to meet, consistently. How did you do that? What’s the strategy you’ve used?
Has your knowledge of yourself shifted in the course of this Challenge in a way that makes certain expectations easier for you to meet? What have you learned about your capacity? Your inspiration sources? Your identity?
(You can take The Four Tendencies quiz and learn about your type, plus all manner of strategies for managing yourself and finding your personal inspiration, here.)

I wasn’t surprised when I took the quiz and came up with the result of rebel.  I do tend to meet hard deadlines, but I push the envelope a little and usually don’t start until the last moment as I don’t like others dictating the how.

Some things have become engrained, like filing taxes.  When I was a single mother, or just struggling wife with three kids tax day was a good thing, nice check with Earned Income Tax, so I generally filed on the first day we had all our paperwork.  Even though the tides have turned, and Uncle Sam now gets a check from us, I still tend to file months in advance.

deadlinesI have also paid enough late fees in my life to know to pay bills on time.  Direct withdraw is a great friend of mine except when I change cards and need to update all my information.  Financial hits are a great motivator, although it took me much longer to learn the lesson than it should have.

I will also now tend to meet expectations of others.  If there is just a date deadline, it might be 11:59, but I will do it out of respect.  This was also a lesson to learn as I tend to run behind.  I still push it at work, as I don’t want to give more of my time than I need to.  I prefer 8 a.m. to my coworkers 7:30a.m.  But when traffic has issues, this sometimes backfires.  when I am present I give my all, and I am one who will stick around after work if needed to finish projects up on occasion.

Personal goals I find much harder to accept a deadline.  I am good at setting goals, but I find it easier to move my deadlines or ignore them all together. I find I work better to say “I will do ___ this many days.” than putting a hard stop date. My task oriented mind will make sure I meet the goal of the number of days even though I will completely skip the date deadline.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

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How’s the view? 

POD #27: How’s the view? 
Inspired by Warren Berger’s book, A More Beautiful Question, and his consideration of McCullough’s talk, write your answers to these questions on two separate mountains: (a) the mountain you’re most focused on climbing now (could be life, relationships, career, health, artistically, etc.), and (b) the mountain you have identified wanting to climb in this next season, as you spark your bold transition in this Challenge.

  • What is the mountain you’re climbing now?
  • Why are you climbing it in the first place?
  • What are you leaving behind, down below?
  • What is waiting for you at the top?
  • What are you going to do once you get there?
  • Are you enjoying the climb itself? Should you slow down, speed up or otherwise make changes to the process of the climb itself?

For your upcoming climb, describe the mountain you’ve been eyeing to climb next, then answer the rest of the above questions

mountainsRight now I am climbing the mountain of self-discovery.  I recently launched my youngest child out into her own apartment.  I have known this day would come for twenty-five years, but I did not realize how little I know about myself. I have been a parent for longer than I have been an adult, so I was still in the stage of Identity vs. Confusion on Erickson’s Stages of Psychosocial development, I was jumping into Work and Parenthood. I have had little time to think about who I am.

I am forty-one years old and I want to live the last two-thirds of my life to the fullest.  In order to live to the fullest, I need to know who I am, what I want, and where I am headed.  I have been embarking on this journey slowly over the past four years as the last of my children began working and being outside of the home more.  My husband works opposite of me, so I had more down time to explore.

The only thing I am really leaving behind are the parts of me that I picked up to fulfill a role someone else needed or wanted me to fulfill.  Or things that have fulfilled their original purpose but are no longer necessary.  I want to take with me the lessons learned, but leave any pain and regret behind.

I have been enjoying the climb up to self discovery.  It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would.  There have been a lot of rough discoveries and some deep roots that had to be dug out.  It is hard to stare at your past demons in the mirror and stop allowing yourself  to use them as an excuse.

While I believe this journey may last a lifetime,  I believe it will peak and then I will take a brief journey down the other side and begin my next journey up.  I know I will go down first, because I will not be an expert as I face the next mountain.  I will have more learning to do.

The next mountain I face will be using more of the skills, abilities, gifts and talents God has given me with purpose for His kingdom.  I want to climb this mountain because that is what He made me for and why He gave me those tools.  They are all for His glory.  Most of the mountain will be one of refining what He has already placed in me.  My current default mode is to turn to the knowledge and education I have instead of letting Him guide and direct me into greater truths.  One I get there, I am sure that God will reveal the next mountain in my journey.

Life is a series of mountains and valleys.  It is easy to get stuck focused on what looms in front of us, but when we keep our eyes on Him and focus on the next step, great things will come next.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

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Growing Character #Write31days

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3‭-‬5 NLT

One of the things about enduring under problems and trials is that it produces character.  As much as I would love to believe that I am prepared for the fullness of what God has planned for my life, I know I am not. I may not participate in the things that once held me captive, but there are parts of my character that God still has to change.  Things that would hold back the work that He wants to do through me.

Each trial I go through either changes my character or it strengthens it.  I look back over my life and thing about how I have changed.  Some things are gone from my life.  Other things God has taken me from trial to trial and increased my hope.

characterWhen my father died I was so angry at God.  I walked away from God and went down some dark paths for a while.  His death was about the same time as the big “Faith – Name it and claim it” movement.  I had to sort out my faith and determine what I really believed.  I eventually came to terms with the fact that sometimes healing doesn’t happen this side of heaven and there were more factors than just my faith at play when my father died.   When my mother was placed on hospice, I was really concerned about how I would respond with her death.  As I walked through her illness, final days and death I had such a peace that surpassed my understanding.  God had changed my character through those two trials.

Another trial that I have faced several times through the years are when it comes to church.  I quit going to church when I was between twelve and thirteen years old.  I saw such hypocrisy from church goers that I decided I didn’t want any part of it.  I had the Word planted in my life, so God still reminded me of his presence, but I really didn’t want any part of organized religion.

When I got back into church at eighteen, God placed in my life some very genuine believers – not perfect but authentic.  A few walked with me through some really tough things over the next few years.  Then one of the pastors committed adultery with a member of the congregation definitely an hypocritical thing.  It rocked the church.  I realized he was just a man and men are fallen creatures.  I continued attending under the associate pastor until the death of my father.

A few years later, I moved away. I purposed to try church again.  I lived in a college town and the little church I found like the one I had attended didn’t have any children’s programs during the summer, so I never connected.  Instead I learned to get into God’s Word for myself.  I started teaching my children scriptures, praying with them and doing daily devotions and bible reading.  We continued doing almost daily devotions until they reached high school.  I have gotten into the Word for myself since that time.

The summer following our move, we spent with my mother.  We went to church with her under the pastor that had preached my father’s funeral.  My children got used to going to church and so when me went home we found a church and got involved.  II could never have known that I would face the most devastating loss of my best friend at that time.  I was again angry at God.  I didn’t understand, but I also didn’t run.  I sat there and talked to Him in my anger.  God showed up in very tangible ways during that time.  He made me aware of his presence through complete strangers.

We moved two more times and throughout that time I continued in church and I continued in my personal walk with Christ.  I wasn’t consistent with my own quiet time, but daily devotions with the children and preparing for lessons for the children’s ministries where I volunteered.  Then I was faced with yet another hypocritical situation that cut me to the core because it was personal.  It broke my heart, as I know it did God’s.  I just left the church I was attending and started driving an hour one way to church with my children.  I have been under the same pastors since that time.

God took my faith through that journey from hypocrisy to realizing that church is filled with fallen people and that includes pastors.  He developed my character to not look to men for what only He can provide.  He showed me the importance of seeking Him for myself, but also of not forsaking the assembly with other believers.

If we allow Him to, God will walk us through every test and trial.  Some will change the very character of who we are.  Others, He will strengthen us through it.  He will grow our character.  If we will let Him use those tests and trials as opportunities, He will not disappoint us.

growth buttonThis blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.

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How to Systematically Undo Doubt 

POD #26: How to Systematically Undo Doubt 
As you get down to the nitty-gritty of envisioning your next season in detail, do you find yourself stopping the momentum of your dreams before they get started by thinking about all the problems, challenges and obstacles you could encounter?
First, write out your dream in a sentence or two.
Secondly, as fast as you can, without looking for the right answer or what you think someone would tell you to say, write out the problems you regularly anticipate. Get it out. All of them. No word smithing or editing.
Now, go back and reframe or rephrase them as questions.
Pick the top 3 most pressing questions, the ones that most capture your attention. For each, write the following:
1) Do you already know the answer to this question? Write about it.
2) If you don’t already know the answer, what’s the next good step for finding it? Write out that next step
Pro Tip: Once you identify the questions, if you have a sitting or meditation practice, you might find the answers coming to you during your moments of stillness in a bolt of inspiration. Happens to me allll the time.
Finally, what is a go-to activity or topic you can think about when you want to shift your energy out of problem-spotting, dream-deactivating, doubt mode?

My dream is to see the church be the Church, meeting the tangible physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the community they are placed in as the hands and feet of Christ.  I would like to see a database that will connect people who want to volunteer into relationship with those directly in need and a single place for both to connect.  I also see a center where people can go to work on needs like resumes, job training, assistance with applications, again through personal relationships not organizational ones.

doubtThe problems I anticipate / reframe question

  1. Getting churches outside their denominational walls to let their congregations freely share their gifts and talents. What is the best way to help pastors and congregations feel comfortable about sharing their gifts and resources outside thier structured institutions?
  2. Getting Christians outside their comfort zone How do you break down the barriers to engage people to step outside of their comfort zone and make it a priority to invest in strangers in their free time?
  3. Teaching clear boundaries so that those helping don’t hurt or enable and those reaching out don’t take advantage How much training and rules are needed for both participants and recipients to provide safe boundaries for a relationship to develop?
  4. The database to really exist as it does in my mind Who can design, develop and keep updated a secure platform for the electronic needs of my dream?
  5. A central location to house a center where people can come to build relationships and meet needs What is the best location for this to be?
  6. The wisdom and knowledge to put it together, run it, and grow it Who are the people who can help me gain the resources mentally to create this dream?
  7. The resources for running it What would it take to really get this type of service off the ground? Who is best suited to help support this type of program?
  8. Time What can I stop doing to free up time to focus on this dream?
  9. Safety of participants and recipients What types of liabilities, procedures and policies need to be in place to ensure a strong start to finish?

The three questions that I would start to focus on are:

2) How do you break down the barriers to engage people to step outside of their comfort zone and make it a priority to invest in strangers in their free time?  I think part of getting people to step out of their comfort zone is to find what they are passionate about, let them try it with others until they can feel comfortable and connect with the bigger cause.  People become volunteers at the encouragement of their peers.  Most long-term volunteers connect with a  cause.  If they really connect with the cause they will feel compelled to share of their time when they connect individually.  So the key is to start connecting passions to causes until there is a personally connection that drives the volunteer.

 3) How much training is needed for both participants and recipients to provide safe boundaries for a relationship to develop? I like rules.  I like policy.  I like the black and white of things.  However, people are complex and there cannot be a rule in place to cover every scenario that can happen.  I have also volunteered places that required so much training (With good cause) that it becomes burdensome to the volunteer.  I think there needs to be various levels of training and rules.  Some ground rules about what is allowed and isn’t when it is the general engagement stage for all volunteers.  Then some training as people connect with the cause, and then deeper training as they engage with the individual.  Leveled training provides a way to ensure resources are not poured out onto someone who doesn’t plan to stay around.  It also respects the time of the group that is just coming to check things out.  Group boundaries are much easier to enforce than the individual boundary. With recipients letting them know in advance what they can expect from volunteers and what would not be allowed.

 9) What types of liabilities, procedures and policies need to be in place to ensure a strong start to finish?  I am a trained volunteer coordinator.  It would be important to do background checks criminal and abuse/neglect for all volunteers.  Also because I am looking for the church to rise up, getting personal references from pastors and people who know the volunteers well.  Liability coverage and written procedures and policies for each level of commitment.  Overarching policies on how people engage with groups to boundaries when working one on one.  
This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders

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Growing Endurance #Write31Days

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  James 1:2‭-‬4 NLT

I’ll be honest, I like goals.  I like being able to complete things.  I am not really good with endurance.  To me, endurance says, “You will never finish this.” It kinda freaks me out to not be able to check the task off my list.  I realize this is a control issue, a little obsessive compulsive, but it is where I am at.  The definition of endurance is:

the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions;

enduranceWhen I think of endurance, I immediately think  of ‘running.’  I am the girl who refused to run in physical education class. in grade school.  I walked the running part of presidential fitness test, 13+ minute mile.  I decided one time to do a 5K.  I started the couch to 5K program. I didn’t finish the program.  I completed the 5K, I walked it.  Then I stopped walking for fitness the rest of the year.  I have never had an inclination to run, I have no endurance physically because I have never opted to give it the chance to grow.

I am also not good at endurance when it comes to dieting either.  I have been working to lose weight for two decades.  I know the things I should do.   I know the right food groups, combinations, and serving sizes.  I know the right amount of calories for intake to lose weight.   I start with great discipline  and success. I am not good at continuing.  I tire quickly.  I fold under stress. I give up under adversity way too easy.

Yet I still believe that endurance is something that can be grown because my spiritual walk points to that truth.  I look at my life and can see how God grew my faith.  Small trials repeated frequently.  As I changed my response in small trials, the trials grew, but my response started to match.  He has given me the ability to endure through trials I thought would be short-lived.

Twenty years later I am still standing on a Word and vision given to me.  My stand is not always perfect. There are times the thought crossed my mind “is this really with it?” The answer when it comes down to it “in this moment probably not, but eternally absolutely.”

God has been faithful in the smaller trials where my faith has been tested.  And even some pretty big ones for this purpose, to increase my spiritual endurance.  Not just so I can look back and say “I made it.” But so that in standing, my life will bring Him glory and draw others to Him.  I can’t say I count trials joy yet, but I do have the ability to see trials and tests as what they are.  I can see even while going through them, there is a deeper purpose.  Regardless of what the circumstances look like, God has a bigger purpose and in the end it will grow my faith and bring Him glory.  I just have to keep growing in endurance.

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.growth button

 

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Growing roots #Write31Days

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulnessColossians 2:6‭-‬7 NLT

At work, the organization is doing an expansion.  I love to see the crane bringing things up, to see the progress.  I was equally impressed with the depths of the footings that are required for the eight story expansion.  The roots of the building are required to be deep to create a solid foundation and hold up the massive structure.

rootsSo it is with my life. I can only grow to the extent that my roots are grounded in Christ.  I can not build any foundation until I am firmly rooted in Him.

I admit I was blessed to be raised up in a home where I was given roots in Christ.  Most of my early memories, before age eight are tied to learning about God.  I learned scriptures from an early age.  My dad would read me from The Bible Story books so I learned from the faith of the person’s in the Bible as the stories came alive.  I learned praise and worship through songs that I still sing as they come to mind.

When I stepped out of church and walked away from my faith.  it was those roots that kept me from getting too far off track.  Even as I strayed, the truths of God were within me pointing me back to Him. I couldn’t go far without coming into something that would remind me of the seeds that had been planted early in my life.

When I got back into church, He started building the solid foundation I would need to start growing in Him.  He began to show me how the truths that I had learned as a child were truths that could be applied to my life.  He showed me that He is no respecter of person.  The stories I heard as a child, the principles were good for me to.

As I learned that truth, He started growing me.  My roots are deep and because of that I know that God will grow me for His glory and purpose.  I started to move the Truth from stories, to knowledge of what could be, to application in my own life.  Each application adds another story to the growth of my life.  As I grow up towards Him, my roots continue to grow deeper into Him.

I am beyond thankful to how God has become so real in my life.  I know I have so far to go, but I also know that He brought me from.  I know the areas where He has grown my roots in Him through tough experiences.  I know how He has used wisdom gained from His Word and from others to grow me and keep me from other paths that could have deterred my growth.  I know how His grace covers me as I continue to grow in Him.  It is in the journey of growth that I can see how it started with growing roots.

This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on growth.  31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.growth button

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Milagros in your midst

POD #25: Milagros in your midst 
Look around you, in the physical space you are right now. Look at the walls, on the shelves, in the fridge, under the covers. Look in the drawer. Or in your closet.
Look out the window if you need to. In your kid’s room. Maybe even look at your own skin, your own body.
Look in the mirror. Look into your very own eyes.
What evidence do you seeright nowof a miracle? What evidence do you see of the grace that you didn’t deserve, but came your way anyway?
Write out a revelry of appreciation for (a) grace, for (b) a miracle and for (c ) a blessing, little or large.

Miracles, I really do believe that they can be seen in the tiniest of things if we will take time to look.  Each day as I sit at work there is a small knickknacks on my desk that reminds me of one.  I am not one who appreciates knickknacks, they are just dust collectors and I really don’t like to dust.  But I have a few little treasures, and this little figurine is one of them.  It is a white figurine with gold trim of Jesus holding a child.  I remember the moment I got it, and how it really impacted my life.

miracleI was at a women’s Bible study group and one of the ladies said we were going to do “The Holy Spirit game.”  I was very skeptical.  Basically she had went around her home and picked random objects, prayed over them and placed them in this basket.  Then each woman in the group picked an item, not looking out of the basket.  And then we prayed and shared how God spoke to us through this object.  I was probably ten to fifteen women down the line.  I am not one to share a lot of personal information in that type of setting and I really thought “This is nuts.”

Yet God spoke so loudly to me, that by the time it came my turn I couldn’t help but share.  There is no place safer to me than in God’s arms.  When the world is crashing in around me, He is the place that steadies me.  He was calling me there. He wanted me to know I was His child.  He would carry me.  I had been trying to make a decision, and He was calling me to trust Him.

As I look back on that time in my life and all that He carried me through, I see His hand.  I see His grace.  I am reminded of the miracles He worked during that time.  How He blessed me, and my family as I trusted in Him.  I love to hold that little knickknacks and be reminded of all that He has done since that time.

I also need only look at my children to see God’s grace and blessings.  I was a teen parent, with three children before I was twenty-one.  By that time, I was divorced.  I had been homeless. I dealt with alcohol, drugs, physical abuse, depression and anger through the early years of my children’s lives.  And yet, I look at my children and at times am overwhelmed by how God’s grace covered them.  His grace moves me to tears, because my children are definitely not perfect but they are good human beings with big hearts who help others.  They work hard, they love hard, and they are connected to family and friends.  They love God and they are responsible for their actions.  They broke most of the cycles that have plagued our family for generations.  That is a miracle of God’s grace.

I look at my marriage and see God’s grace.  I have shared much about how God has worked in my marriage.  My husband and I met when I was fifteen years old.  We have walked through many things what could have destroyed each of us and our relationship.  We have been divorced once and filed for a second one, and yet God restored us.  I enjoy our relationship more now than I did when we were young and infatuated with each other.

I know that my life is a walking testimony to God’s grace.  He alone is the reason that I have the gifts and abilities that bring me success at work.  He alone is the reason that I have such awesome adult children and grandbabies.  He alone is the reason that my marriage has survived.  Yes, I could choose to focus on the times that things were not good, but ultimately the bad times make me appreciate what I have even more.  I revel in God’s grace, His many blessings and His miraculous ways.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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