Evidence of LIFE

Sometimes the chaos seems to overshadow the calm and gratitude. Doesn’t it? 

In this era, it seems that people are SO BUSY on a daily basis. This kid has to be here, this kid has to be there…. there is this appointment, and that deadline, and a big dinner party to plan for then…it seems never-ending for most!  

On top of all the constant activity, we have to keep our homes, cars, pets and selves tidy and clean! This in itself can be a full time job! 

I personally am not a parent, but most people I know are. However, I have had a little guy and his Mom living with me at my house for two years. He just turned six last month. 

It has been amazing having them live with me, but I must admit this has been quite an adjustment. It was just me and my tiny little dog for years on our own. If I put something away or cleaned something, or left something out – whatever I did – it would stay that same way until I changed it. This is not so when there are other people in the house! Especially little ones! Now I get it!  

Spills. Random stuff on the wall. Finger prints on glass. Crumbs on the floor. Shoes left here and there. Constant clean up.  

Sometimes I get frustrated. Really frustrated. 

Recently, God knew I needed a word. 

The other day I was listening to Christian radio in my car, and a message from Proverbs 31 Women’s ministry played. She talked about how one day she counted 14 pairs of shoes strewn throughout the living room and kitchen area where they were not supposed to be. She admitted to her frustration and said she felt like her kids were not grateful and were disrespectful. HOWEVER, she said that God gently reminded her that is was a joy to have those healthy, vibrant children in her home and in her life, and that these frustrations were trivial. The perceived chaos could be viewed as beauty instead, and gratitude is in order!

In fact, all that mess was EVIDENCE OF LIFE.  

This message really set in with me. Sure, without other people (or even animals) in my house I would have less to clean. It would be quiet. Things would stay as I left them. 

But, I can’t imagine my life going back to that now. The noise, the laughter, the messes, the constant movement…. they are all EVIDENCE OF LIFE.  

I guess I am learning to feel blessed by the mess! It means we are alive and well!  

I imagine God, our Father, looks down from time to time at our messes and could be frustrated with us. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning, and He created us, and He sees our messes as evidence of life and beauty. He is gentle, patient and kind. Though He expects us to continue to learn, grow and improve, He waits on us with great joy and compassion.  

In wisdom He made each one of us, and all creatures. Let us try to have His perspective as we press on through the beautiful mess of life.  

Psalm 104:24 “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” 

1011704_555803211146374_1978700786_n

The Master Artist is Weaving a Beautiful Work

A friend and I were talking the other day about how we can always look back and see how God was working, but when we are in the midst of things we rarely see the tapestry he is weaving from our life events. And then, we started telling the stories until we were laughing at God’s creativity.

Connecting the dots is God’s specialty. He truly does want to work all things together for our good.

How many times have you looked back on a series of events and noticed that what you thought were random connections was actually a calculated step by step route to the end result? I do this often, and I am always amazed.

Try it sometime – start tracing a recent outcome backwards – you will see the finger of God drawing the lines between all the connections for as far as you can see. For example, this week I have the privilege of being the live backstage announcer for a very big conference here in California called The California Women’s Conference. I am overwhelmed to see my name on the speaker’s page for such a big event, because I know the likelihood of an opportunity like this coming to me is so very small. But I also know that none of this happened by chance.

When I trace backwards from this week’s event, it looks something like this:

Exciting 2 days and lots of work being the live announcer for the biggest conference for women business owners in California << Signed contract to be announcer for CWC  << Email sent just a month ago, with my proposal to be the announcer << Again, God told me to send an email to Michelle about this <<Let several months go by, decided I shouldn’t do it << pitched Michelle Patterson my offer to be the announcer, she immediately said yes << felt God whisper to me “tell her you will be the announcer for this conference ” << attended several events for Women Network << volunteered to be on Advisory Board for the conference << introduced to Michelle Patterson (CEO of Women Network) by friend Kristi << Kristi invited me to local Chamber of Commerce events << joined my Chamber of Commerce at the suggestion of new friend Kristi << met a new friend named Kristi at a market party for my Nerium business << became a Nerium brand partner and began attending events to learn more << researched this new idea of starting a business with Nerium << a friend suggested I’d like some of the products he is using & the company he is with << saw something from a new friend on Facebook that made me want to know more << joined a group called Dreamers and Builders & made new friends << answered a call to adventure by an author I follow and admire << Etc. Etc.

Honestly, I can go even further back in this sequence to why I joined Facebook in the first place, and on and on. My huge opportunity to be the announcer at such a big event was not randomly generated. It was woven by God through connections I’ve made in the past several years. In the midst of that was his voice prompting me when to take action. In the future I will look back at other events and be able to trace them back to this very week and the people I will meet as a result of attending and announcing for this conference.

NONE of it is random, although it ALWAYS seems that way at the time. When I look at the hand of God and what He is bringing into my life, I can do this exercise over and over again – always with the same outcome: the realization that GOD IS WORKING ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD.

It’s an exercise in remembering the faithfulness of God.

Even when all the events in a sequence are not happy ones. Yes, even then. Perhaps especially then.

Even when we interrupt the artists hands and try to do it ourselves. Yes, even then. When we are ready to give the tools back to Him, God gently corrects our messy mistakes, although he doesn’t cover them up. They become part of the fabric of our lives. He weaves his colorful threads in between those places to make it beautiful again.

Take some time this week to draft a list of connected events & people you’ve met and I’m sure you’ll be overcome with the same awe and wonder.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful tapestry He is weaving of your life. I hope you will be able to step back from time to time and see it coming together.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NASB)

Are You Honoring Your Body?!

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Cor 6:19-20

Are you taking care of the body God has given you? Are you honoring God with your body?

We have been given a gift and many of us are abusing that gift.

Your body is something you should love and care for and yet we are doing the opposite. Many of us hate how we look and feel. We struggle with body image. We stand in front of the mirror and a rush of negative thoughts come flooding in our minds. We expose too much and do not respect ourselves. We stuff our faces with unhealthy food that makes us feel sick. This is not what God intended when he gave us this gift.

Do you know that God sees you as fearfully and wonderfully made? He calls you beautiful and his child. We need to take a step back and look at ourselves as God does. We need to start loving ourselves and flooding our minds with positive thoughts. Once we love who we are, where we are we can honor God.

How do you honor someone?

Honor means “high respect”

Are you respecting God by treating your body, the gift God gave you which you do not deserve, with respect? Are you feeding it the proper nutrients? Are you exercising and moving to strengthen and support your muscles? Are you drinking water? Are you looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself how beautiful you are?

These are ways you can show God and yourself respect. Start taking ownership of the temple God has given you here on this earth.

I am on my own journey to love and respect my body to honor God. I am learning to love myself the way I am, but to also take action to live a healthy lifestyle so that the body God has given me is in the most optimal condition. If you think about it, when you feel good and look good you tend to be more confident. You tend to step out, take risks, love others and most importantly love yourself. I am not saying you need to be skinny to be happy, you need to love yourself in your own skin and make good decisions based on what you feel God wants you to do.

This journey I am on I am not doing alone. God is with me every step of the way. He continues to tell me how important my health is and it is becoming very important to me as well. God is giving me his eyes to see myself the way he does.

I have had multiple dreams in the past month (and I don’t normally remember my dreams). In each dream I look fit, strong, and healthy. I know in my dreams this represents not only my physical health but also my spiritual and emotional health. I believe God is showing me what it looks like to be at my best. The way He created me to be- strong and confident. And in these dreams I am living out my calling as a life coach.

How are you going to honor God with your body this week?

Let’s be on this journey together!

Nikki'sBirthday-67

To Ponder………..

Do you know what it means to ponder?   I guess it’s an old fashioned word, but according to the two dictionaries I looked at, ponder has a much deeper meaning than just to think about something,

Ponder: to weigh in the mind; consider or examine carefully; to meditate; to reflect seriously; to think upon.

We think about people and circumstances all the time, and that can be beneficial or not. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “stinkin’ thinkin'”. Even the Bible says  “as a man thinks, so is he.” (Psalm 23:7 KJV)

Philippians 4:13 says; whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable….if anything is excellent or praiseworthy….think on these things.  That certainly is a good way to govern our thinking and speaking.

However, to ponder is to go much deeper…..kind of like meditation, which I have written about before.  As a cow chews the cud, swallows it, brings it up again several times before taking it in for total nourishment.  That cow, or other cud chewing animal, is taking in a little bit of nourishment each time she swallows the juice or cud before she completes the “ponder, or meditation” with a swallowing of the whole.

I think we can ponder a subject, even the same one, our entire lives.  And if you have a one on one relationship with you Creator, pondering can be a way of communication or prayer with Him.

Imagine what Mary, the mother of Jesus, was pondering.( Luke 2:19) What an awesome responsibility she had to carry in her womb the Son of God and to nurture Him as a child to adulthood, and to know what He was going to go through to save the world.  That goes beyond my human understanding, and is one of those “God Things” I accept by faith!  There’s no way to figure out how God did that…..but I believe!

All I want you to receive from this writing today is to allow yourself TIME TO PONDER the works of God….not just His creation but also His work in human hearts and lives. It’s OK to sit quietly and look at God’s Creation, or to consider or examine carefully a matter, asking Him for wisdom so you see clearly the way to proceed.

Join me this week in reading the 111th Psalm, and ponder His works!  Ponder what He is doing in your heart and life, or in that of a friend or a family member…….in a situation that seemed impossible, and yet God is turning it around for good, as He promised.  It’s always amazing to me to look back and see why God “did it His way” and not my way!!!

When you ponder the works of God, you will feel like weeping, laughing, shouting, or praising Him.  When you ponder His works, He will speak truth to you!!!

Thy Word

Quitting Too Soon?

We’ve all done it at some point. Given up on something just short of a breakthrough. Is there something difficult, but good and big in your life that you are considering walking away from?

My Pastor made a point in his Resurrection Sunday sermon last weekend that stood out to me. The story was from Luke chapter 24 about Cleopus walking back home on the road to Emmaus. He walked with another, and their heads were hung low in defeat. They had believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but Jesus had died on a cross Friday night, and they were headed back home early on Sunday.

Jesus actually caught up to them and asked them what they were talking about. They told Jesus, whom they did not recognize, that they had seen Jesus die and they were disappointed that he was gone and that all they had believed was not true. HA! Their messiah and their hope was right there beside them, but they didn’t even recognize him!

Jesus had told them all that he would die and that he would resurrect, numerous times. Cleopus still gave up and started walking back home to his old familiar place TOO SOON! Shouldn’t he have waited around on Sunday to see Jesus resurrected as he had promised?

Cleopus gave up just short of the breakthrough and headed back to his comfort zone! Thankfully for him, Jesus pursued him on his wrong path anyway! He ALMOST MISSED the most important moment that could have ever happened to him!

Whatever you are doing in life that is worth doing and biblical – whether it be a challenging job, building and staying with a relationship, getting in shape, eating healthier – that you feel like giving up on because you are not “seeing results,” STICK WITH IT! KEEP GOING! You have been promised the results, and they will come if you keep on. They say 80% of the progress comes in the last 20% of the time spent on a project. Push forward and don’t turn back to your comfort zone and quit! As Dory would say in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming!”

DON’T QUIT TOO SOON OR YOU WILL MISS YOUR BREAKTHROUGH!

runner

Are you Delighted?

delight [dih-lahyt]

1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture: 2. something that gives great pleasure:

When is the last time you were delighted? Reread the definition above and really think about that for a minute. Unfortunately it’s an emotion that may be in short supply lately.  It’s an emotion I truly didn’t enjoy very often until a toddler started calling me grandma.

There is nothing like having a little person in your life who brings joy and wonder. His enthusiasm for EVERYTHING is over the top.

And he DELIGHTS me.

“Watch dis, gramma!” “Gramma, let me show you!” “I wuv you, gramma.”

Such music to my ears.

Every time I find such joy in my little guy, God gently reminds me that he feels the same way about me. And I am amazed.

“For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149:4

“the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Rejoice over you with singing! Oh! Doesn’t that make your heart just sing?

Let’s take it a step further: If we also delight in Him, God says He will give us the desires of our hearts! What?

Just this morning, I was playing with my grandson Luca & things got really silly. Doing something as simple as throwing a ball back and forth had us in giggling fits. We were delighting in each other. And you know what? There is no desire of his heart I would withhold from him when such delight is going on.

“Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

God desires that two-way relationship with us. When we take delight in Him, it makes His heart sing and burst with joy. Remember, He actually rejoices over us with singing! imagine yourself as a child with a daddy who is so in love with you that he delights in every little thing you do!

Father and daughter laughing and bonding

Our lives are so filled with trouble and angst that I know it’s hard to think about taking delight in anything some days. But what if we did? Find the smallest thing to start with, and see it with new eyes. Begin to change your outlook. Take delight in God, and He will take even more delight in you. Don’t miss out on walking in that kind of freedom…

And see what happens to your life.

Broken.

God has a way of breaking you down in unexpected ways.

A few months ago I prayed for more intimacy with God and little did I know I would be stepping into one of the hardest seasons of my life.

I went into a downward spiral. I was exhausted all the time, did not feel like myself, I was unable to give to others what they needed, it was hard for me to pray for others because I felt broken inside. I was depressed.

Going through this was hard, but God was with me through it all. He provided a mentor for me whom poured into me, to help me identify the emotions I was feeling which I had never dealt with or allowed myself to feel before.

God wanted me to share my brokenness with other people and the more I did, the more I was released from the bondage I felt. The more I shared, the more I became relatable to others, the more vulnerable I became the more others opened up to me. I began to realize the more I shared my struggles, pain, and process, there have been many people around me going through the same thing. Crazy how God works in those ways!

I just met up for coffee with a friend who was going through a very similar season. I was able to sit and listen to her journey and encourage her. I spoke to her in a way I would have wanted to be spoken to. Because I had been there, she and I could go deeper and have deeper revelations for what God is doing in both of our lives.

It’s amazing to think we not only need God, but he created us to need each other. I can’t imagine going through all of this alone. I am thankful for my mentor, and the friends who walked with me through this struggle.

God broke me down and is building me back up to be stronger than ever before. In my weakness God is strong and HE makes me strong. And only because of Him I can sing and dance and be all who He has created me to be.

PRAISE HIM!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Cor 12:9-10

IMG_6960

WHAT???

When you cannot hear, clearly, the person who is speaking to you…..what do you do?

I know what I do…..I yell back…. WHAT?

A more respectful way to answer would be to say…..”Excuse me, would you please repeat that?”

I am living in a large home right now with a friend.  We both go about our individual busyness, sometimes speaking information the other person needs to know while one or the other is walking away to another part of the house.  When that happens to me I often yell loudly ” WHAT??? ”

It would be better for me to walk to where she is and ask her nicely to repeat the information or request.  That way we would have a face to face conversation and the information would not be misunderstood….because if that happens the outcome is usually chaotic… for instance…”I told you, blah, blah, blah, remember?”…..”No, I didn’t get that message.”   etc……you know the scenario!!

But, what about the message God is speaking to you?  Do you turn a deaf ear and pretend by your own social rules that you don’t hear Him clearly so that you don’t fully understand what He is saying to you?

Since I have been a follower of Christ since a young child I have learned to hear…not saying I always obey…but that’s another topic.  I know the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict and correct so that I will come to repentance.  Then He teaches and comforts me.

Life in Christ is continual learning.    (I was going to say curve….but there are no curves in God’s way.  He is straight….Absolute!)   Yah, I mess up, but God’s still, small voice through the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding me to check my motives.  He points out those sins that pull me away from wanting to hear Him clearly.

I really want to HEAR HIM CLEARLY…….don’t you?   Because His Word gives me life, and I want life more abundantly while I’m on this Planet.     Do you?

And God does not change.  It seems that society is changing the basic, God-given life rules.   What’s wrong is OK and right,  what’s right is up for individual interpretation.  BUT GOD HAS ABSOLUTES….AND THOSE DO NOT CHANGE, and the consequences of disobedience are painful.

I cry out to God often with a WHAT???    What is it God….what are you saying to me?  I want to HEAR YOU CLEARLY…..with no outside opinions or philosophies.

I WANT TO ALWAYS ” HEAR HIS VOICE BEHIND ME SAYING, THIS IS THE WAY; WALK IN IT.”   Isaiah 30:21

Ear

VALUE and the Loss Of My Friend

What is it that we all want in life? How do we want to feel? What do we want from people, places and things?

Is it Love? Security? Respect? Sure. All of that. But those things can vary in meaning depending on the individual.

In light of the recent sudden and shocking passing of my dearest and deepest friend, I have been evaluating my priorities. My decisions. The way I spend my time. The people with whom I spend my time. My goals, my dreams. The way I treat myself and others. My relationship with God….

You get the picture.

Death somehow focuses us on life. Our mortality, and our immortality. Our legacy. It makes us present and focused on each moment.

When I think about my friendship with Amy, I think of all those things. But, encompassing them all is: VALUE.

I think that may be the word that sums up what we all want out of life.

TO VALUE and TO BE VALUED.

VALUE is both a noun and a verb. It’s a state of being AND a way of being. It is:

  1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. – worth, usefulness, benefit, gain, good, help, merit, importance, significance.
  1. considering someone or something to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of. – think highly of, rate highly, esteem, appreciate, respect, prize,         cherish, treasure.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

My dear Amy was an example of all these perspectives on value in my life. She made sure I felt valued and valuable – both by her and by God. She reminded me all the time. In fact, I know by the stories I’ve heard, that she made everyone she met feel this way. She gave love unconditionally to all, and had enough to go around. What a gift.

Let us all remember the importance of value – in every sense and use of the word. Placing value on ourselves the way God sees us, and treating others as valuable will change our lives. There is no greater charge in this life.

Let’s all do it the way Amy did it.

Don’t let a day pass without knowing YOUR value, and showing the ones you love how much you value them. For you are never promised tomorrow.

Amy 2RIP Amy Mohler Brooks, 8-22-76 ~ 1-18-17

We sure do miss you. <3

Twenty Candles

20 candles.

20 babies.

7 women.

All loved equally by their Abba Father.

I was honored to attend a memorial service for babies who had been lost to abortion, but quite honestly, I was also a bit uneasy about what I was about to witness. As we gathered together in the pastor’s office in love and reverence, I heard their stories.

“I didn’t know it was a baby”

“I thought it was the right thing to do”

“I was forced to do it”

After being together for several weeks in the Post Abortion Support Team (P.A.S.T.) recovery group at Fellowship Monrovia, they have cried together, they have grieved together, and they have loved each other through painful memories. Now these precious women were gathering together one last time to acknowledge their mistake in giving up the life of their child or children for the sake of convenience, and to lay their children to rest in the arms of the Father.

They were sorry. So deeply sorry. Many had not been able to move forward in life, even though it had been years. Some carried the physical scar of not being able to get pregnant after multiple abortions and not knowing exactly why.

The medical community had no answers.

They tortured themselves with whys and what ifs.

Their friends and family said to get over it.

But they couldn’t.

These women are part of the beautiful few who have chosen to come to Jesus with their post abortion pain and accept healing and wholeness. Each one wearing white and lighting a candle for each baby.

Previously unnamed, each child was given a name by their mother. One young mom even brought a box of baby things to lay on the altar of forgiveness and grace.

I heard them, one after one, say “I now know I can still be a woman of God and move forward into my calling even after having an abortion.” And “I’m so comforted to know I will see my baby in heaven.” So profound. So heartbreaking. And so beautiful. As God forgave them, each one had to work through the process to come to a place of forgiving themselves. And that is the hardest thing.

There were tears. Oh yes, there were tears. This night showed me the messy beauty of God’s love. He loves us in our mistakes. He loves us in our mess. And he brings people alongside us to help us out of that mess. Also part of the group that night were women who were many years beyond a similar program of healing. Now they were turning their pain into purpose by leading these women to the very throne of God where they could lay down their past and be renewed in His spirit and His truth to walk in forgiveness and healing.

20 candles.

20 babies who will never be forgotten.

7 women who are now walking forward in wholeness and with hope.

“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 ESV