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

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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

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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

 

DON’T LOSE HEART

Have you ever gotten so discouraged you feel you can’t make it through another day?  I guess if you’re part of the human race you certainly have had moments or even days like that.

As I was watching the Patriots play against the Falcons during the Super Bowl,  I really gave up hope.  I thought there was no way the Patriots could catch up….let alone win the game!

My friend said, “Don’t worry…be a Fan!!!  The Patriots have plenty of time to win this game if they stay calm, play smart, and don’t give up.”

The Patriots were down by 28-3 (25 points!) at half time.  By the 4th quarter the Patriots were scoring!  They tied the game in the last few seconds by scoring a field goal.  The Fans went crazy!  The game went into overtime (first time in Super Bowl history) and the Patriots scored the first touchdown to win!  It was awesome!

I learned a life lesson from that game…..don’t give up hope, keep trying to do your best, and DON’T LOSE HEART.  Because hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).

The Apostle Paul tells us in II Corinthians chapter four of the struggle he and his fellow ministers had in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.

Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!  Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

So….dear friends, DON’T LOSE HEART in your life troubles.  God’s got this!!!  You will come out a winner in the end!!!

Rest

Why do we run ourselves into the ground?

Why don’t we ever stop?

Why don’t we rest?

What is rest?

Rest, I believe, looks different for everyone but there is an element that remains the same, we all need it! It doesn’t matter how you rest as long as you take the time to do it and it refreshes and restores you.

God continues to tell me to slow down. If you know me you know I always have a million things going on. I am involved in so much and I am very active. So slowing down is hard, but I came to the point of complete exhaustion and was running on empty. I was pouring out my energy in all aspects of my life including into other’s lives and in return I depleted myself. I was not myself and did not feel right.

I realized I have never fully taken a Sabbath. A day of complete rest without working. I have taken partial days, a few hours of rest but never a full day.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he RESTED from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he RESTED from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3

It’s biblical! God rested! He rested the whole day. Not part of the day, not half of the day! THE WHOLE DAY! God did this as an example for us. He wants us to rest. He did it so we would follow suit. So why don’t we? Why do we fill our days with work, work, work and feel like there is always more to be done?!

I always have a “to do list.” I think of things that I need to do and let it consume me, even on the day I should be “resting.” I have a trick for that if you are like me…have a note pad with you and when you think of something that you need to do write it down. This way it gets out of your head and you have space for rest. Try it and let me know if it helps you! : )

Let’s all take a Sabbath day. It doesn’t have to be on Sunday. Pick a day, any day of the week!

This week, I chose Sunday because it worked best for me. I slept in for the first time in a very long time with no alarm and got 11 hours of sleep!!!! Obviously my body needed rest. I had been neglecting it for too long. Then I made some coffee and sat with Jesus in my living room, journaling, and reading the Bible. And then He and I decided to go for a prayer walk. I got in the car and started driving towards the coast. I walked along the beach talking with God. It was so rejuvenating! I let go of some things, revelations were revealed to me, and God reminded me how much he loves me. I felt at peace and very calm. I had no distractions. I had my phone off the whole time and WOW! That was freeing!

And now I feel like I can take on the week and pour into those areas important to me. Look what a day of rest can do! 

What are you doing to rest?

We all need it. One day a week. Stop trying to push it aside. You will only make it worse.

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Little Shoes for a Big Purpose

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“What’s the story about your favorite pair of shoes?”

Kind of an unusual question for church, but every week the Question of the Day provokes some interesting getting to know you conversations with those sitting nearby. It’s a tradition at Fellowship Monrovia, where I attend services.

I turned around to chat with the woman behind me, thinking about mentioning the snow boots I bought in college more than 30 years ago and still own.

With a huge smile, she shared her shoe story:

My favorite pair of shoes was my very first pair, when I was 10 years old. I was in an orphanage in Greece during the war, and needed shoes. They traced around my foot on a piece of paper during my birthday in July, and then asked my sponsor in America for the money. That Christmas, I received my first pair of shoes. They were so precious to me! I polished them every night before putting them away in the box. I loved those shoes!

Oh.

Yeah, I had no shoe story after hearing that.

During the rest of the service, I couldn’t stop thinking about that precious Greek lady and her shoe story. I knew I needed to know her.

We met for coffee last week, and through tears she told me of her heart for the Greek orphans, even now. There is no public money available for them. If an orphanage is no longer funded, those little ones are in the street. What she told me is a story repeated countless times in countries around the world.

Meeting someone like this, who has lived a good life because a family cared enough to adopt her is inspiring. Her work now is dedicated to the children in Benjamin House, and she carries on the work that one person inspired in her by providing a pair of shoes.

Small beginnings for very big things. It all started with a pair of shoes for a 10 year old little orphan girl, provided by someone who had never met her.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”   James 1:27

 

Believe the Impossible

Going into the new year I have a been doing some reflecting on the past year.

What have I done?

I have done a lot.

Attended 7 weddings. I was in 2 of them.

Became a life coach.

Hiked the tallest mountain in the lower 48.

Began discipling woman and have been discipled myself.

Experienced inner healing and have been learning how to give myself grace.

Turned 28

Partnered with M2B ministries to help missionaries with re-entry.

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God is doing a lot and I know there is more to come in 2017.

One thing that I desire this year is to have more intimacy with God. I know I need to pursue God and spend time with him. I must pray and sit and be in His presence. This is something I need to be discipled in and practice. I must turn it into a habit, a good habit. I know this will be a habit that will change my life! I want to hear God’s voice and be able to share what he tells me with others to encourage them and hear what he wants to say for my life.

This past year I have also been learning how to dream big and if my dreams don’t scare me, they are not big enough. That’s a scary statement. I think before I would never allow myself to dream so big it scared me because I figured it would never happen. But that’s not the right attitude!!! I must believe in my God to do the impossible. I must believe that he has my best interests in mind and wants the best for me. He can make the imaginable possible and that is what I am hoping for this year! I want things to happen that can only be explained in one word… GOD.

Why don’t we live like that? Why don’t we live life thinking the impossible will happen? Believing the impossible will happen!

It’s a mindset. We need to change our mindset and our focus to be on Jesus. We need to trust him and his ultimate plan for his life.

God gave me a picture many months ago of me and him standing hand in hand on a stone. It was a stone that looked like part of a stone path but all I could see what the stone I was on. As I was hand in hand with him he led me to the next stone. As put my foot out to take the next step the stone appeared.

My interpretation of this vision is that God is with me every step of the way but that he wants me to trust him and to stay present. He wants me to stay focused on where I am and not where I am going or where I have been. He wants me to take the step of faith and trust that he has something there for me even though I cannot see it.

And I believe this is true for you as well. God wants you to stay present but to trust him in the process and to take his hand and let him led you. It’s scary but great things happen when we step out and take risks.

I pray that for us going into this new year. I pray we grab onto God’s hand and allow him to led us to the next stepping stone in our lives even if we cannot see it! I also pray we stay present where we are and enjoy the moment.

Believe the impossible.

Enjoy the moment.

Trust God.

Feeling Insignificant?

I’m just one in a million. Who cares about my point of view? I just plug along day after day like the billions before me, and have nothing original to say.

Do you ever feel this way?

I do. I struggle with the fact that I am literally one of billions of humans in the history of mankind, yet God created me to be unique. This seems contradictory.

You are, literally, just one of billions of other humans that have walked, walk or will walk the earth. However, there is NO ONE else exactly like you. You are genetically made like none other, EVER. You also have a unique Spirit which has been fostered in a unique set of circumstances. This means your perspective is one of a kind.

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You are created in the Image of God, in His Likeness. He is Creative, therefore we all have the capacity to create. Your life itself is art. Art is: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.

I am learning to shut out the critics and negative voices within and without. What I have to say is valuable, first to God my Creator, and then to me. I learn something every time I create. Every time I snap a photo. Every time I write. Every time I interact with a stranger. Beyond that, if someone else appreciates what I say or create, it is just icing on the cake.

I must stop seeking to please others, constantly wondering what “they” will think of my life/art/writing/creation. If God is pleased and I have grown, that is all the purpose it needs. Our society values others’ opinions too highly.

My challenge to myself and to you is to stop giving credence to the “critics” and to listen to what God says about us. His voice is the one that matters most. Sure, we should have checks and balances, and there are healthy ways of achieving this. However, if your life and your art lines up with Scripture, and your unique soul is connected with your Creator as you live your life, then you are on track my friend.

I also challenge us to stop being so critical of others. Allow others to uniquely create as God has inspired them. Encourage and uplift.

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.
Aristotle

Psalm 139: 13-16 says:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Take heart. Know you are special and that your insight into this life is unique and meant to be shared. Be empowered and strengthened by the fact that God your Creator designed you just as you are. The rest of us need to see and hear and feel what you create. Be bold and share it. You were created to do so.

Word.

The Christmas decorations are still up, the cookies and fudge are still in great supply, the trash truck hasn’t hauled away all the spent wrapping paper and boxes yet, and if you’re like me, you haven’t even put away your new socks Santa brought you this year. And here we are, already thinking about what the New Year will bring.

Maybe we should turn that around and think about what will we bring to the new year?

A few years ago, I first heard about the concept of choosing a theme word for the year. I thought it was a good idea, but didn’t really give it much weight. Still, I found choosing a word was much easier said than done. You can read about my process on my blog post by clicking here, but the end result was my word was DEEPER that year. When I think back on that year, deeper doesn’t even begin to describe it. God began a process in me to truly bring me deeper in all areas of my life, and that’s still going on.

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My word in 2016 was INTENTIONAL, and although every aspect of my life didn’t reach a level of intentionality I had anticipated, just having that word ever before me caused me to evaluate my faith, my relationships and my business in light of how intentional I was being to create my best life. Looking back on this year I can see I failed at being intentional so many times.

And that’s okay. Really.

The point to searching your heart and mind and praying for a word to cover your year is growth. Progress, not perfection. Which brings me back to my original thought – what am I bringing to my year in 2017? How can I promote growth in myself to become the best I can be? If I want to bring my best self and gifts to what God is asking of me, I must be willing to learn and grow.

I’m still praying and thinking on what word God wants to use to define my year for 2017, but I am hearing words like Leap and Jump and Increase, so I guess I should anticipate a pretty exciting year!

If you have never chosen a word for your year, I encourage you to try it. Make a list of every word that comes to mind. Then do it again. Notice what words keep showing up. Pray about it & ask God to lead you to the word that describes where HE wants to take you in 2017, and then do your best to keep up.

If you’d like to find a community of people who have chosen your same word, take a look at OneWord365.com

Take the leap!