INVEST IN YOUR TIME & TALENTS FOR THE KINGDOM.

When I use to hear the phrasing “investing in yourself,” I had a very negative connotation added to that phrase. And to be honest, I’m not exactly sure where I got those negative feelings towards that phrase. I have seen this phrase either really taken out of context or highly overused, so maybe that is why. I have also always thought of it to be selfish to invest time and money into myself. While I always wanted to either join a program or whatever it may be to develop my skills and giftings, I never thought of it as a “must or have to.” Honestly, I saw it as a waste of money for a long time. However, recently, within the past eight months, I have noticed a HUGE shift in my thinking and perspective in terms of what it means to invest in myself.

This shift in my thinking is what I want to share with you today.

When I started thinking more along the lines of developing the God-given talents and gifts that I have for His glory and the kingdom, everything changed. It changed the way I view investing in myself – because, in my mind, it takes the focus on ME and puts the emphasis on having a KINGDOM MINDSET.

Also, here is the thing you don’t have to spend a lot of money to invest in developing and enhancing your gifts. It could be as simple as watching leadership development videos on youtube, listening to podcasts, or reading books. These are all EFFECTIVE ways to shape and mold you, and they work all the same as investing in a program. So, hear me, you do NOT have to spend a lot of money if you are not in a position to do so.

However, for myself, I have invested in some fantastic programs that have drastically changed my life in terms of crafting my talents/ gifts. Those programs are: Own It Academy, which is run by Jordan Lee Dooley, COMPEL Training, which is run by Proverbs 31 Ministries, and Brush and Barley’s Procreate Course (procreate is an app that I use for drawing, making graphics and design). ALL of these programs are women-owned and run, which is a HUGE deal that God has used these women to pour into other women who are creatives. These courses have shown me that there is so much more in the world of writing, design, and creativity. AND, they have shown me that I am too talented, gifted, and I should embrace the gifts the Father has ingrained in me.

I never thought I would be able to say that I am apart of communities like this that are Christ-centered, with Spirit-filled leaders who do what they do to expand the Kingdom of God further. I am thankful the Lord has blessed me with the means to do so. If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, creative, writer, literally whatever it may be, invest in yourself. Get a leadership development book, say yes to entering a writing program, do what you need to do to invest in crafting your gifts. We all have natural giftings and talents given to us by the Father, but without time and practice, we will never grow or develop.

Think of an athlete like a golfer. Majority of pro golfers have a natural, God-given talent and ability to hit the ball and succeed. However, it is the best of the best who go into the PGA Tour and play professionally. What makes them the best? The fact that they put in the time and effort to invest in their talent. They practice long hours, have the best clubs, work the clubs, and don’t stop until they have grown and developed their ability. We all have God-given talents and gifts; what are you going to do to grow and steward them for the kingdom of God?

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 & 11

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit  distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone  it is the same God  at work.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit,  and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

HIGHS + LOWS : APRIL – JULY RECAP

WOW! What a crazy, unexpected past few months it has been. Truly, I still cannot believe the events that have all played out these past 7 months from COVID- 19 to all the racial injustice in our country. Just in January, I was in a stadium filled with 65,000 men and women… of all different ages, different colors, different stages of life, all in one place giving praise and glory to Jesus. We were all there with one intention and purpose. Now, it seems like that was so long ago, in a completely different time. Things are just so different now and it’s weird knowing that we have to adjust to this new “normal.” However, ONE thing is for certain, regardless of everything in our world and culture changes (which it will) JESUS remains the same today, tomorrow, and forever.

As always, I want to remind you as you are reading this 4-month recap/life update – I did none of this on my own… ALL of the good, the blessings, even the lows I’ve walked through the past few months, it is all JESUS. He alone deserves all the credit and all the glory.

The past 7 months of 2020 has been a true growing season in listening to what the Lord wants/has for me and being open in going where I am being led. I have had to make decisions that haven’t been comfortable, say no to my flesh and yes to Jesus, and face confrontation (which is not my favorite thing to do… Can anyone relate?). 

Something the Lord has so kindly pressed more onto my heart the past few months has been my singleness. I think for a while I tried to fight it because what girl in her twenties wants to be single? Many of my friends are in serious relationships or engaged or married… so I think I’ve just been wanting to go with the flow.  However, God showed up and made it clear that singleness is a GIFT and during my singleness, I should be pursuing and running after Him rather than other things. Something clicked, a light bulb went off, and the whole idea of dating or being in a relationship was turned off in that moment of being quiet with the Lord. I can’t explain it fully, but I have never been more content with saying “yes Jesus, I will and want to run after you, and only you.”

Truthfully, I have never been happier just being me. I think singleness gets a bad rap… because society puts such emphasis on having someone and that is the only way you can have a purpose – WHICH IS NOT TRUE.

It’s completely counter-cultural to be single AND not talk or hook up with someone. We live in a world where it’s normal to hop around from relationship to relationship, claiming Jesus as Lord, yet doing relationships and sex societies way vs Jesus’ way… (I say this so bluntly because I have lived it and now understand the truth). We live in a hookup, shack up, break up culture… and again, it’s counter-cultural to do relationships and singleness Jesus’ way. I am grateful that God got a hold of my heart exactly where I am at – because now I know what is right in the eyes of the Father and how He does relationships.

So yes, I am completely content and full of joy with where the Lord has me (and I’m not just saying that to say it, I mean it!) At the end of the day, I know who holds my heart and has my best interest in mind. I know who has my story written, therefore I am not worried about what the future holds in terms of a relationship. For anyone who is single OR in a relationship and you want to take advantage of this gift/season – I recommend checking out Relationship Goals  by Mike Todd and Single, Dating, Engaged, Married by Ben Stuart!

Now that I have that out in the open… I have to say, July has been my favorite month this year (next to January)! The Father has been revealing His faithfulness to me as I have been taking steps of obedience in my walk. I have been seeing fruit from ministering to my 7th-grade girls who I lead every week (they have been the best part apart my summer). I had an opportunity to submit a writing challenge for the First 5app (w/ Proverbs 31 Ministries). I applied for bible college, AND GOT ACCEPTED INTO SCHOOL! I never thought I would have the opportunity to pursue ministry in this way, but God has continued to pull me in this direction. It truly is so exciting to know that my story is written and God is just showing up in His faithfulness to me.

What I’d love for you to take away from all of this is to be open to the Lord. This is what I mean by being open to the Lord – be willing to surrender your plans over to Him. My prayer for you as you read this is that you would walk open-handedly with Him and let Him guide your steps, rather than you seeking to take the lead. He is so faithful to us and He wants us to experience His faithfulness. I don’t think I would be where I’m at right now in my life if I had not taken the leap of faith to surrender my plans over to God.

So, here is to the last half of 2020 and walking with the Lord with open hands and an open heart!

WHERE IS GOD IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR STORM?

Today I want to look at two passages found in scripture, one found in the old testament and one found in the new testament. I believe both of these passages show God’s sovereign hand over all things, storms and all. With things still so unsteady in the current state in our world, I think this is the perfect reminder to trust God in ALL circumstances.

All right, let’s dive into a story about a King of Judah found in the old testament. [ 2 Chronicles 33:10-20 ]

A little back story, up until this point, it was hit or miss with the kings of Judah. What do I mean by that? It was hit or miss if they followed the Lord or if they did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Not every king in Judah followed the Lord like King David or King Solomon. A lot of them did evil in the eyes of the Lord, worshiped idols, and this caused the Lord to become angry and He displayed his wrath on his own people when they did not obey, listen, or follow His ways.

One king in particular that I want to study with you today is King Manasseh. Hold onto your bible and be prepared, this story is about to knock your socks off. King Manasseh did evil in the eyes of the Lord, he established alters for false gods, he worshiped these false gods, he sacrificed his children (UM WHAT?), basically this guy was the worst of the worst. He was all sorts of jacked up.

Before I continue, let’s be real for a minute. Don’t we do this too? You may not be sacrificing your children (I hope you don’t even think twice about this), but don’t we put things before the Lord? Don’t we worship idols? Yep, we do. We can be honest here. Money, sex, technology, cars, houses, you name it, we worship worldly things that lead to a never-ending cycle of wanting what does not fully satisfy us.

Back to the story. God spoke to the people of Judah and to Manasseh, and what do you think they did? They ignored Him (with their track record, are you surprised? I’m not) and this is where the story takes a turn…
The Lord had Manasseh taken as a prisoner by the king of Assyria. The Lord without question, allowed him to be captured and taken as a prisoner – think about this (we will talk about this in a moment). Now, they didn’t just take him as a prisoner, but they put a hook in his nose, bound him up with bronze shackles, and took him to Babylon. I think Manasseh was thinking, “I am not longer in control, I do not have the strength on my own to get myself out of this situation. I need help.” Have you ever been backed into a corner like that? Have you ever been caught up in a storm in your life that you realize you cannot by your own strength get yourself out? You aren’t the only one. Look at what happens next with Manasseh…
“In his distress, he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.” [ 2 Chronicles 33: 12-13 ]

There is so much to unpack here, but I will give you my main take away from this story… The Lord allowed Manasseh to be captured, to be caught up in a storm on purpose, SO THAT he would realize that God is the one and only true God.

In God’s sovereignty willingly allowed Manasseh to be taken a prisoner by his enemy, caught up in a storm so that he would be knocked down, so he could then look up and realize that God is in control and He is trustworthy. So, how does this relate to us now present day? God wants us to abide in Him and trust Him fully to carry us, which is why I believe that God sometimes willingly allows us to enter into a storm SO that we realize we need Him.

We can see almost this same theme in the new testament when Jesus calms the storm. [ Mark 4:35-41 ]

Up until this point, Jesus has been teaching and after His teaching when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went on a boat to cross to the other side of the land (side note: notice how Jesus takes time to get away from the crowds to have time to rest and refuel. We should have this same take on our own lives!). When they were on the boat, Jesus rests his eyes and takes a nap. Meanwhile, a storm comes and let’s just put it this way, the disciples were freaking out. I can only imagine what the disciples were thinking and feeling, but it was enough to have them wake up Jesus and ask, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Have you ever felt that way towards God? Maybe you’re in a season now where you’re asking God the same thing, “Father don’t you see I’m close to drowning? I can’t see the end of this storm. God if you love me at all, help me, save me!” I’d be lying if I said I haven’t prayed that prayer before. When my eyes are so fixed on my circumstances, I have a hard time seeing God’s hand over my life. My faith is weary because I see what I am going through here on earth thinking the Lord has abandoned me. However, I know the truth. I know that “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” [ Psalm 9:10 ]

Back to Mark 4… Jesus woke up, with absolute zero fear, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves “Quiet! Be still!” Just by the power of His words, the wind calmed and the waves ceased. Jesus then said to the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Gosh, can’t you just sense the power in these questions Jesus is asking the disciples? The disciples have witnessed Jesus heal people, surely they would have believed that He was in control of all things?

Sadly, we do the exact same thing. We know the truth that is in the Word. We know that God raised Jesus from the dead after He was killed and buried. God is the God of the impossible, it is who He is. That should be enough for us to know and trust that God is whom He says He is, that He alone is in sole control. Yet, when we take our eyes off of Jesus and put our eyes on our present circumstances, our trust goes to the temporary things rather than our Father. Jesus shows His sovereign hand in calming the storm. If we only trust Him, with the outcome of our circumstances He will take care of us in the storm. Where are you placing your trust? In the hands of Jesus or in your circumstances?

All it takes is a mustard seed of faith and that’s all God wants from you. Choose to trust in the one who is sovereign over all things here on earth and above in Heaven. Choose to trust that the storm you are in is producing character and shaping you into who God has created you to be. Choose to trust that God is working all things out for His glory and for our good.

GOD’S NOT WORRIED, SO WHY DO I WORRY?

You guys, we are living in some intense, uncertain times right now. I am not here to simply just talk about the coronavirus and entice you to panic or become fearful. I mean, between all the crazy going on with this coronavirus and our leaders guiding us and figuring out what is best for our country and the world at this time… I just want to encourage YOU today. 

I want to start out by saying, that WE, as believers, are NOT given a spirit of fear… we are not called to be fearful. Fear is of the enemy, NOT of God. As believers, we have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-control ( 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 ). I want to start off by saying this because this truth holds a lot of weight. This is who we are as children of God. We do not have a spirit of fear. SO, let me then say that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but of fear. It is normal to have doubts. It is normal to have those feelings of doubt or questions… but it’s a whole new ball game when you start to label yourself as being fearful and putting a label on something that strikes up fear. You see when you are fearful about a circumstance or situation ( for example, the coronavirus ) you are essentially putting all your weight and faith into the current circumstance. RATHER THAN, putting your faith into the one who is forever in control, which is God. 

So, let me ask you… ( and be honest ) WHERE ARE YOU PUTTING YOUR FAITH? Are you putting your faith in the current circumstance/ situation of your life OR are you putting your faith in God?

Throughout this whole situation that our country and the world have been faced with, I have held tightly to the word and God’s. God’s word is FULLY alive. Jesus is alive. God is in full control over what is going on right now and this is what I mean by that… He knows exactly what is going on right now. He is not surprised one bit about what is going on right now. He has always known. He is in control of the past, present, and future. Think of it this way, the Lord provides for the birds… who don’t hold as much value as us… so if the Lord provides for the birds and honestly, all of the animals, He will surely provide for us ( MATTHEW 6:26 ). In any season of life, God will provide for you. He is so dang faithful to us. I have experienced his faithfulness in my own life so I can confidently say to you that he upholds his word.

I want to leave you with these few points to think about :

  • God will provide for you, but it takes you to have faith in Him. If you’re a small business owner or if you are unable to work right now due to the coronavirus, instead of stressing about what will happen and the things that you need to take care of ( bills, children, food, etc) give that anxiety to the Lord. I know that’s way easier said than done… but please believe me. When you surrender any and all of your control or anxiety to the Lord, you will experience his peace and spirit of comfort.
  • Stay connected with your community. Yes, we should be complying with social distancing protocols BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay connected with your community. Take advantage of social media right now with facetime or apps to stay connected with your friends and family. For me, my disciple group downloaded the HouseParty App to carry on with our usual DG meeting. While yes, this isn’t “ideal” we have to make the most of the situation.
  • Take advantage of this time to dig into God’s word. Personally, I am using this time to spend more quality with the Lord. I’ve been studying the word/ devotionals, following my usual devotional my church has, honestly doing all the things I can right now to make the best use of my time. Currently, my church is doing daily devotionals and we have started online worship gatherings to hear the word and to still praise God.
  • God is in complete and total control over EVERYTHING. So if God’s not worried right now about what the next step is going to be, why should we be worrying? Think of it this way, God is the captain of our team. Since he is the captain, his attitude determines the attitude of his team ( the church ). God is calm, not anxious, and in control… therefore we should follow his leadership in being calm, not letting anxiety, and fear rule us. You may not have control over your circumstances, but you do have control over your actions and how you respond to the circumstances that surround you.

The biggest thing we can be doing right now is following our leaders, being cautious/social distancing AND  ( most importantly ) be praying and leaning into the Lord at this time. He will see us all through this, you can trust him on that.

GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

There have been countless times in my life where I have found myself hesitating to ask God certain questions because I had a feeling his answer was not what I wanted to hear. I know his ways are greater and better than mine, but at the time I don’t think I believed in that promise. You see, there is a huge difference in “knowing something to be true” and “believing something to be true.” We can know everything possible, but it takes believing and having faith in it that determines our mindset and actions.

I have deliberatly turned away from answers that I was searching for because I simply did not like the answer. I thought my way was better and more beneficial for me. Little did I know my own actions hurt me the most. I’ve come to learn (and trust me, I still have a lot of learning to do) that God isn’t going to take away something from you without giving you something bigger and greater in return to you.

I love this picture for so many different reasons and when I saw it for the first time I couldn’t help but think “This is exactly what I have done and who I am.” I am sure many of you can relate to this, not knowing what the future may hold so you want to hold on for dear life onto what you have now. Thinking this is the best I will ever get, which is small minded thinking. Believing in God takes great faith and trust especially when it comes to gifts he will bless you with. The only ones who can hinder the opportunity for God to bless you, is you. If you are holding on so tight to something, but asking God for more, it is up to you to let go and trust in Him to fulfill his promises to you.

THE UNEXPECTED.

What do you do when the unexpected happens.

When you don’t make the team you tried out for. You may fail your exam you needed to pass the class. You loose your job. You find out you are infertile. Your relationship crumbles into pieces….

AND you find yourself stuck in this rut. You find yourself confused and overwhelmed at the fact that you are now stuck in a place of “where do I go from here?”

I’m sure you have been there at least once in your life and if you haven’t, you will. God didn’t promise us an easy, perfect, smooth sailing life. Honestly, you wouldn’t grow as a person if you didn’t walk through those valleys.

John 16:33 –
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I have to remind myself of this verse more often than you’d think. A set back or an interruption in your plan for life may be what you need to reset your mindset. Your life and plan is controlled by God, not you. While yes, your decisions and choices are made by you because we were given free will, but your future and plans are in the palm of his hand. Think of it this way, God knows better than we do. We would be arrogant to think otherwise. God gives us those interruptions in life or set backs to put us in check. When we are faced with this situation, we should be changing our mindset FROM “Why is this happening to me? I know everything and I have my own plans” TO “God is the creator of the universe and I know his plans are greater than my own understanding. Lord your will be done and not my own.”

We aren’t always going to know or understand why things happen whether they are interruptions that throw us off course, but they don’t just happen to happen. It is all apart of a plan that has been designed for us and only for us.

– BE STILL –

He says, “Be still & know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

How many times a day do you think you spend stressing, worrying, accumulating anxiety? Within a week, how many times do you find yourself trying to control every part of your life? My guess is that it is probably more than one time. For me, I can spend minutes which turns into hours of stressing, specifically over my grades and school.

This two weekends ago I went on a trip up to St. Louis from a Thursday to a Sunday. The following Monday I had an anatomy exam. I was dealing with a lot of conflicts during the week. I failed my previous anatomy exam so I was extremely hesitant about going on the trip because I was worried that I was not going to prioritize my studying. Overall, I was very nervous and stressed about the fact I had an exam the day after I came home. I did the best I could with finding a balance between studying and spending time with my family. Still, I found myself very stressed because I was terrified I was going to fail this exam and ultimately fail the class.

I received a box of prayer cards as a gift and I decided that once a week or every other week I will randomly choose a card and hang it on my bathroom mirror (so I would see it every day). The one I picked the night before my exam was Psalm 46:10. even though I “randomly” picked this verse, I know it wasn’t random at all. It goes without saying, God’s timing is perfect. I choose to meditate on this verse, pray it, know it in full.

God showed who he was to me through this verse and for that, am so thankful.

YOU CANNOT BEAT A RIVER INTO SUBMISSION

Written by Jack Pues

Doctor Strange – Surrender

If you haven’t seen the movie, Doctor Strange, I urge you to see it. The movie starts off by showing us the life of Dr. Stephen Strange as a surgeon until he gets in a serious accident, which takes away the use of his hands. He looks for any type of medical help that’ll cure him, but the only help he finds lies within a mystical sanctuary. There he starts to learn about the power of the mystic arts, in order to become powerful enough to heal his hands. The movie goes on to show his journey as a sorcerer, as well as a person. Of course, it has the traditional elements of a comic-book movie, but there’s so much more to it. There is a particular scene where Strange’s teacher, the Ancient One, is trying to teach Strange to let go of all that he knows and accept that this art and power is real, despite whether or not it makes sense. She says to him, “You cannot beat a river into submission. You have to surrender to its current and use its power as your own.” He finally listens to her and embraces his power and all that comes with it. In my opinion, this is the turning point of the movie. After that, Strange excels in the mystic arts. I have thought about that ever since, and I realized something recently: this teaching is one of the most essential parts of faith and our relationship with God.

I was asked in a Bible study recently if I think that I have the power to heal as Jesus did, whether it’s the blind, deaf, sick, etc. I didn’t really know how to answer. It was something I had never considered before. I know Jesus did it, and I have heard miracles such as that happen before with others as well, but I never thought it was something I could do. I thought, “Well, maybe through God’s grace and power, I don’t see why not.” While I was thinking about all of this, the quote from Doctor Strange popped in my head. I immediately tried to relate the two together, and through that, I found my answer. I feel that most Christians, or even people, have prayed for miracles before, and even just for simple things that they desperately want or need. I also feel like so many believers, while praying for God’s intercession, rely more on themselves rather than Him. Many do not fully submit, or “surrender,” to the power of God. God is our river, and His strength, love, and hope are its current. When we try to do it all by ourselves and try to interject our own will into His river, we’re actively fighting against the current. Instead, I urge you all to flow in His embrace. Let Him guide you. Believe that He loves you more than all things. Surrender yourself to Him, and I promise you will see a change in your life. Once you surrender, you will feel his peace and grace. Once you place your WHOLE faith and belief into Him, the Holy Spirit will fill you with the power to do extraordinary things. This was my answer to the question. If we truly believe in God, believe in what he has done, what Jesus’ has done and taught us, and completely surrender ourselves to Him, anything is possible. I think Casting Crowns’ song “Just Be Held” puts it best: “And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control, There’s freedom in surrender, Lay it down and let it go.” You only weaken yourself in your own control, but you are free and strong in Christ when you allow Him to hold you, and float in His current.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6

One of the many things I learned in that bible study was that God is on His knee offering us His love and eternal life always. We have the choice to accept Him or not. I promise that if you accept Him…you will be powerful, free, and satisfied.

 

1 year

Today marks one year since I posted my first blog post on here. Reflecting on my posts on the website and on my Instagram, looking through my old prayers, requests, notes, and thoughts on this blog, I have realized how much I have grown from just sharing my thoughts and the word of God.

I’ve been through several different seasons since I started this blog – each has taught me valuable lessons and you can certainly tell by the blog posts I’ve written. I have also learned a heck of a lot about myself – my interests and my dislikes, who I want to be as a person.

I fall short more times than I can count, yet God still loves me and picks me back up. He knows I’m broken and have a fragile heart, but he still sees me as courageous and he provides me with the strength I need. He says I am worthy and beautiful, which is more than I think of myself, but I am trying to rest in that truth. THE SAME GOES FOR YOU!

I see such a huge future for this blog, whether it’s just me who reads it, 10 people, or 100. Numbers in my mind do not matter. However, I truly only care about the 1. The 1 person needs Jesus or a word of encouragement. That has always been my hope and prayer for this blog, that one person comes to know how loved they are in the eyes of Jesus. If one day this impacts 100 people, praise God. But, truly it is the one that God wants and he wants your heart more than anything.

I am forever thankful for this blog, thank God for his faithfulness! Here is to many more years of Jesus loving encouragement!

READ MY FIRST BLOG POST HERE: Why The Beautiful & Brave

READ MY TESTIMONY HERE: My Story

AN HONEST PRAYER

sitting. watching. admiring. waiting. praying. 

image1 (1).jpeg

God what a sinner I am. How I have fallen short time and time again, yet you still love me. I look out at the sunrise admiring your creation, the strokes of the color you so intricately painted together.

You are so good and holy. I feel unworthy to say I am yours, but the fact is that I am worthy. You, in fact, call me your child. You love me even when I am far gone.

Oh, how I love to watch you paint the sky. Your majesty. Heavenly Father. You are good. So perfect and wonderful. Everything I am not. Yet you still love me and my selfish heart.

His works are wondrous. I am so thankful I was able to watch the sunrise this morning. Spending time admiring this painting of the sky was breathtaking.