Monthly Archives: January 2013

Five Minute Friday – Again

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday. I love this because it is just a commitment of five minutes of unedited writing….we can all do that can’t we?? So if you haven’t started this series yet…today’s the day! :)

Today’s word is AGAIN – ready, set go –

I love the idea that you can start your day over again at any time….

Have you ever considered that? That despite the things that come at you throughout the day…that they don’t have to determine what the remainder of your day will be like?

I am a negative girl by nature. I don’t know why but life has a way of stressing me out. It can be little things like the kids being too crazy in the morning, or feeling rushed as we get ready….it will be 8am and I am feeling overwhelmed.

But my loving husband will will remind me that my mornings don’t have shape what that rest of my day will be like. I have the opportunity to start my day over again.

Such a simple idea, but one that I think we don’t utilize often enough. You see, I have high expectations of myself in all things. When I fail (and let me be clear…usually only I think I have failed) I get frustrated…and frustration turns into being harsh with those I love. #fail.

BUT, by using this simple idea, of starting my day over again, I am given the chance to apologize for my shortcomings, accept the grace that is always offered to me…and start my day, at any time, over again.

Thank God for that gift in my life. So wherever you are today, if it isn’t a good place – remember that it can be. Just choose to start again.

Meet Jenn from Coming Alive Ministries!!

I am so excited for you all to meet a wonderful new friend of mine. We are both part of the “dream team” and are also “buddies”. It has been so much fun getting to know Jenn over the past few weeks and I am in love with her heart for God and others!  I asked her if she would be willing to come and share about herself a little here because I know once you meet her you will all love her like I do! And while you are at it please stop over and “like” her FB page so you can keep updated on new things as they come!

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What an honor to write a guest post for my new friend and cheerleader Kristin.

She offered me the chance to come on over to her beautiful space and share a little bit about me and my ministry. What a joy!

Well I am off the chart extrovert, scoring 100 percent in the extrovert category so I have no problem finding words to share with you. J  Actually though, if you had known me up until after high school, I was quiet and shy.  That was mainly a mixture of some painful insecurities that came from those” mean girls” who gave mean labels. But once Jesus began to show me who I was in Him, slowly building up God-fidence in me, I started to break out of my shy shell.  So let’s pretend like we are sitting in Starbucks having coffee together.

First I want to hear about you and your dreams. How can I dream right along with you?

Then I would love to share with you about how I am living out mine. See I was called into missions and ministry at a young age. I remember forcing my friends to go to Bible club on the playground when I was in elementary school. I would teach them from my little precious moments Bible.  No swinging or kickball for me.

After I went on my first mission trip in 7th grade I also was hooked on this thing called missions. I just knew I wanted to do it.

After college God surprised me and called me to go to grad school (that is a whole other story) After getting a master s in Christian psychological studies God surprised me again.  He called me to give up everything and go live as a missionary in Nepal.  I thought for life.  So I did. I said goodbye to everything and everyone I knew and love to follow a call of a God who I loved more than anything and who gave away everything (HIS OWN SON) to love me!

So I spent two amazing years in Nepal. Away from every comfort possible, learning to live alive in the comfort of the arms of the Lord. It was a mixture of the hardest days and most wonderful days of my life.  While there I truly learned to Come alive.

Then I began feeling God  whispering to my heart I have more Jenn, I have a calling to impact ladies all over the world.  So I had to say yes to God.  Which meant in 2009 saying no to living in Nepal for the rest of my life and returning back to America, unsure of what this new call would look like.

When I returned back to America I noticed something that broke my heart.  In Nepal I was surrounded by people worshipping dead gods all around me. I came back to the Bible belt of the south and saw people who said they knew the One true God, Jesus Christ, and yet were dead and numb inside.

So God birthed a new calling inside of me, that had to start in me.  Live alive every day in Christ.  Continually find what makes you comes alive and do it.  And then encourage and challenge others to come alive in Christ. Provide an invitation for them to come alive Jenn.

So coming alive ministries was birthed.  And I am having a blast living out this calling. It could mean anything from inviting you to come sit in my counseling office in Chattanooga and let me get the sacred honor of hearing you share your heart.  Or it could be a coaching session where I cheer you into where you feel God leading you.  Or it could be taking a coming alive women’s conference to Haiti and loving on the woman and orphans there at an orphanage.  Or it can be when we got to host a missionary conference last year and provide a weekend of pampering for 8 missionaries on furlough from very difficult places.  Or it could be pulling off on a shoestring budget or Bloom conferences which reached over 450 woman last year.

I am having a ball coming alive.  Now what makes you come alive?

See – what did I say…isn’t she awesome?! Thank you Jenn for sharing your heart….and next time you plan a mission trip to Haiti let me know…..I may have to find a way to come along! 🙂

A Different Kind of Cheerleader….

I can still remember those football games….

We were young, 7th and 8th grade I think…. I grew up on a block with several other girls that were all the same age/grade as I was. And with 2 sets of twins. Oh how I always wanted to be a twin…but that is another story!

The twins had an older sister who was a cheerleader. She was beautiful, had long hair, was thin and popular…and she was one of those girls that led the crowd at football games. So even before we were in high school ourselves we started going to games.

I think I have always felt like there was something “more” to life, and somehow I just hadn’t gotten the message on what that was….or how to get it. But this girl…this cheerleader – she had it all together.

So when I started high school I knew that if I was finally going to get the “it” that I was seeking….the best place to start was to be the part. The cheerleader.

I really took the practices serious. I wanted to learn the cheers and do them perfectly. I just knew THIS was what I needed to be popular myself. I prayed about it all the time. God knew how important this was to me and I was sure that because I was praying about it….that He would make my dream come true.

Tryout day came and I did my very best. The jumps, the cheers…I gave it my all. I’ll admit, I wasn’t the best. I have very tight hamstrings which make it very difficult to touch my toes and do the spits etc. Don’t even get me started on the V-sit and reach…that portion of the Presidential Fitness program was a nightmare for me! 🙂  So I knew I had work to do, but I had prayed about it and tried so hard…..so God would reward that wouldn’t He?

Then came the “reveal” day.  We all knew that at the end of the day the varsity cheerleaders would be coming to the classrooms with a balloon and a bear and the girl(s) chosen would be getting one.  I was so nervous, the door opened and I was holding my breath.

But the balloon and the bear weren’t for me. And I was heartbroken. God hadn’t answered my prayers. I struggled with this for a long time….

Fast forward several years. Those few years in high school are long unimportant. The disappointment of my non-popularity is no longer a priority. But interestingly, it seems that once-dream of being a cheerleader is coming true today…

Just not in the way that I ever thought. You see one of my “gifts” is encouragement. I like to find out how others are doing, follow up with them and pray for them….encouraging them along their journeys.

Being a “cheerleader” for others seems to come naturally for me!  As our group of dreamers continues to explore all that God has planned for us, we have paired up with a few other dreamers in the hopes to be an encouragement to them.

None of us need to walk this path alone!

Don’t you love how God works? He doesn’t promise that just because you pray He will “give you what you want”…..but He does hear every prayer….and sometimes He has something more rewarding planned.

I have been paired with 2 beautiful women, Margie and Jenn, and I can’t wait to have you “meet” them…in fact (they don’t know this yet) but I am hoping they would both guest post here later this week and share a little bit about who they are and the beautiful ministries they are both a part of….you will love it I promise!!

Do you have a “buddy”, someone who encourages you as you journey?? Brag about them here!! 🙂

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Five Minute Friday – Cherished

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday. I love this because it is just a commitment of five minutes of unedited writing….we can all do that can’t we?? So if you haven’t started this series yet…today’s the day! :)

Today’s word is CHERISHED – ready, set go –

I forget so often that I am a cherished daughter of the King.

I tend to focus on all of my shortcomings….the impatience I showed to my sweet children, the harsh words/tone I used towards my husband.

So many failures in a day’s time.

But that can’t be my focus. Sure, I am broken….but isn’t that the very reason that God sent His only Son for me…for you?

Because I am broken, sin-filled….yet in spite of me, He cherished me, and so much that He gave the ultimate sacrifice for me.

Humbling isn’t it? But such a gift to be loved like this.

While I am sure that I will continue to make mistakes, continue to act in a way unbecoming of this  gift – it is comforting to know that I can return to the foot of the cross and find forgiveness.

I don’t know where you find yourself this morning. Maybe you feel that the weight of your past is just too much to be forgiven.

Maybe you have given up all hope that God could forgive “someone like you”.

Please hear me friends on this. I have been there. My list of disappointments and failures is long….and for a long time I believed it was those things that were keeping me from God’s love.

But that was so far from the truth. It was my own shame and pride that kept God at arms length from me. He was always there…I just wasn’t always ready to receive His love.

Accept His covering this morning.

Find yourself at the foot of the cross He prepared for you and be free of any failures, and shame….

Know that where you are – right at this moment – you are cherished.

The first small step…..

We all have dreams, plans, ideas that we would like to see grow right?? But it can be intimidating having a dream and then not knowing what to “do” next.

That’s why I am loving Holley’s new e-book right now. “The Do what You Can Plan”. In a very simple, yet guided way Holley is walking us Dreamers through the process. So the idea right now is simple, define the dream and then take a small step towards that dream.

In the past I have become overwhelmed with the “big picture”. I want to get healthy, or workout more, I want to write more….but then the idea of committing to something is often too much and so I stop and don’t do anything.

Sad right?

But how many of us do this?? Or maybe if you are like me you make excuses…..I will follow my dream when……insert perfect scenario. But how often does our perfect scenario come? And maybe we have wasted an opportunity?

When Dominic first moved to MN for a new job, we started talking about the possibility of “someday” (in 5+ years, when our debt was paid down significantly etc, etc) opening his own business. It was a long away, lofty dream…

And then once we have moved our family here – both of our job situations changed and Dominic really felt like THIS was the time….that we had to just jump out, in faith, and trust that this was in the plan for us. It was so scary, and I was terrified of all of the “what-ifs”.

But he took the first step….he started small – giving his dream business a name. And then he filed the documents to make it a legal company, he wrote a business plan and made contacts….the list goes on and on.

Was it intimidating? YOU BET!!

Was there unknown? OF COURSE!

But have we seen the fruits of his trust and faith in God’s plan for him? YES, a thousand times YES!

But none of it would have been possible if he hadn’t been willing to take those first few steps and see what God would do with it.

He is such a wonderful example for me….especially when I am considering what my dream here is…what God might have planned for me.

So I too must start small.  I want this to be a place of encouragement. A place that allows me to develop my writing….where it will go from here – I don’t know.

But you know what – it doesn’t matter at this point. I don’t have to know. I just have to faithfully walk the road God has set out for me. I don’t have to decide today what I am going to write about in a month.

I just have to pray for the words, His words….and be willing to write. Willing to carve out time to develop that dream of mine.

So one of the small steps I am taking is participating in Five Minute Friday. Each Friday Lisa Jo gives us a word….and for five minutes we are to write whatever comes to mind…no editing….

I can commit to that can’t I??

Well we will see…it is my first small step. From there – who knows, but for now I am excited about this first small step.

And how about you….what is going to be your first step? Join us over at Holley’s blog where others are sharing the action they are taking towards their God-Sized Dreams!

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(in) RL 2013 – Register today!!!

(in)RL 2013

So one of my most favorite sites that I read almost every day, is (in)courage. They have writers and guest bloggers share their faith journey through encouraging posts. They also have fun giveaways, and it is where I signed up to review all of the beautiful Dayspring products that I have in my home!

Last year the women behind (in)courage decided to have a conference…..but they wanted to make it accessible to everyone – so they had an “online” conference of sorts. They encouraged women from across the globe to get together on a Saturday and share life.

I hosted last year and it was so much fun. There were only 4 of us – but we really had some great conversation and just enjoyed spending time with other women.

Well the conference was a hit and they are doing it again this year!

Starting today you can register and become a part of a group in your community. The actual day of the conference is April 27, 2013.

So what’s this conference going to be about?? Well in their own words…
“This year we’re taking a closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient.”

Oh and did I mention that it is free this year?! AND if you sign up today you will also get a (in)courage 365 Daybrightenerso don’t wait!! 

Click on the link to watch the video below to learn more…and then register to attend in a community near you!! And if you are in the Marshall area (or want to make a road trip) sign up for the group I have already started!! I would love to host again…but also want to see if it is someone else’s hearts desire to do it first! Either way I will be there and would love to hang with you!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-5axInVxlw&feature=youtu.be

Five Minute Friday – Dive

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday. I love this because it is just a commitment of five minutes of unedited writing….we can all do that can’t we?? So if you haven’t started this series yet…today’s the day! 🙂

Today’s word is DIVE – ready, set go –

I feel like this word describes my life well right now…like I have jumped in to something new and exciting.

I am on this journey of discovering who I am, who God created me to be, as a part of this team of “dreamers”,

It is a little intimidating because these ladies are amazing writers and I feel “less than” at times….but I have to remember that God made mefully unique – and that He has a special plan for this time in my life too.

No need to compare or be worried that I don’t measure up…but instead I need to dive into Him, trusting that He has me here as a part of this group for a reason…and that is enough.

It is enough. Believe that for yourself today…that wherever God has placed you today….it is for a purpose – dive into that in full trust and don’t look back!

To be seen

I was backing out of the parking lot and looked to my side again and saw her there.  Another woman walking up to the store….somehow I had not seen her when I was getting ready to back up. In honesty, I probably wasn’t paying close enough attention to those around me.

But there she was….and she had stopped to wait for me. Once I saw her I stopped the car, rolled down my window, apologized for not seeing her and waved her by.

As I was driving away I couldn’t help but be struck by the thought that in some way or another, we all want to be seen. Do you know what I mean? That feeling of not wanting to be invisible. Of wanting to “matter”.

I know that there have been times in my life that I have felt that way. Now I am not craving undue attention. But there are those moments, when our hearts are heavy, that we feel invisible and yet just want to be seen.

And I wonder what kind of positive impact we could have on those around us, if we just started “seeing” them.

Making eye contact, waving at our neighbors, talking to people we don’t know….they have all become a lost “art”. We are so self-consumed,rushing to and from every place we go, eyes buried in our phones…

Trust me I am guilty of all of the above!

But today, I was reminded again that it takes very little action on my part, and I might just make someone’s day better.

It can be little things, smiling at the Wal-mart greeter and saying hello, letting someone with less items than you go in front of you, being kind and respectful to everyone you come in contact with….even if they don’t repay the same kindness. 🙂

I am going to try and be more intentional as I go about my day….watching for opportunities to pay someone a kindness. To see them, acknowledge them…even if to make just a little difference in their day.

How about you….are you seeing those around you?

The Three Coins

In my last post I shared about one of my darkest times. During the month that I lost my job, my mom happened to be in Greece on a trip with one of her best friends, as a nursing instructor for a group of nursing students, touring Greece and the healthcare system there.

Both of my parents were very worried about me. I wasn’t acting sanely and I was so depressed about everything. At one point my mom shared a story with me about the friend she was traveling with. Her friend had also been through some very difficult personal situations in the past few years. Apparently one day the friend was out on a walk, praying for God’s provision, and asked if He could just please give her a sign that things would be ok for her.

She looked down and on the ground at her feet was a coin. She picked it up and saved it. For her it was a reminder that God was with her. Random, probably….but what that coin represented to her was HOPE.

Over the course of days and months she continued to walk and pray….and she always found a coin of some sort on her walks.

She shared this story with my mom when my mom was telling her about our situation. So on one of the days that my mom was in Greece she was out walking alone and was praying for us. Praying that we wouldn’t have to continue to go through hardship, praying that God would lead us to calmer waters….

And then she asked God to please give her a sign that things for us would be ok.  And she looked down and found three coins.

What was significant to her about these coins was that there was more than one…and the less traveled spot where she was walking, made it unusual to find something like that there.

She picked up the coins and brought them back home with her and gave them to me in this pretty bag.

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I will be honest, at the time I was still feeling quite cynical about God. I didn’t want to believe anything good about Him, because I was too comfortable wallowing in my own self pity.

I didn’t want to believe that these coins were a sign that things would be ok. I mean a couple of coins from Greece were not going to provide us with the financial security I felt we needed. I wanted, I needed, a change in our circumstance….and of course I wanted it right now.

Don’t we all??

I mean who of us willingly raise our hands and say “yes, please, some more hardship”? In fact, I have yet to develop the character in me that finds joy and contentment in the middle of suffering. I am afraid that I will have to continue to “practice” that over the years! 🙂

So here I am a year later, and interestingly enough, my mom and dad are back in Greece together. My mom said that she was excited to be back there and was talking about the three coins.

And what I realized about the coins, at least for me, was that they represented the faithful people that had supported us and lifted us up last year. Well and not just last year….for many years before that too.

My mom is what I would call a prayer warrior. She says she will pray for you…and then she does. She prays at red stop-lights…and keeps praying until the person she is praying about doesn’t need it anymore. (Needless to say we have been at the top of her list for a LONG time – and good thing that there are a lot of traffic lights where they live!) 🙂

And not just my family…but friends prayed for us, followed up with us, celebrated in our joys and carried a portion of our burdens when we struggled. I am amazed at how lucky we are to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of believers.

These three coins remind me that I am supported and prayed for all the time. From family to friends….so many people have lavished us with their prayers….and God has heard every one of them.

Friends, I hope that you also find yourself surrounded by people that encourage you and pray for you. It is a blessing to be prayed for and it would be an honor for me to lift you up if needed.  If you have a prayer request please leave a comment and let me know how I can support you!

May you have a blessed start to your new week!

The Darkest Hour

In 2010 our family experienced numerous changes. I was pregnant with Karlena, Dominic had taken a new (and much prayed over) job in MN and for 8 months, through the worst winter ever, we lived apart during the week.

In May of that year we sold our first home, bought another in a neighboring state and dove head first into what I believed was “the reason God brought us here“.

While things were always (putting it mildly) tough at Dominic’s new job we felt like there was a “reason” he was there. I was allowed to work from home with the Bank I had been employed with for 13 years….it felt like, for the most part, we were finally coming to a stable place.

And then in late 2011 the bottom dropped out. And in a BIG way I might add.

In the matter of a few short months we went from 2 high-paying jobs with wonderful (and cheap) benefits….to both being unemployed, uninsured and facing the real reality that we might have to walk away from our dream home, our dreams here and move into the basement of one of our parents.

Trust me….these were dark times.

Dominic handled it better than I did. He would just keep telling me that everything was going to be ok. He didn’t know how…but he knew that it would. Even if it meant giving up what we thought we “deserved” here.

I on the other hand didn’t handle it well at all. I sunk into a fast, and dark depression. I was convinced that things would not be ok. I believed with my whole heart that we had followed what we thought was God’s path, and it wasn’t, so we were reaping the results of that.

And I didn’t know how, and didn’t want to deal with it.

I was embarrassed about what we were going through and I wanted out. I started thinking that if something “happened” to me…and it was an accident, then Dominic and the kids could collect on my life insurance and everything would be better.

I am not proud of how I dealt with everything, how I allowed myself to believe the lies that “death” was an answer or how much my faith slipped during this time….but I share it here because I want you to understand the depths of my hopelessness.

I couldn’t see how it could possibly turn around. I didn’t want to accept help from others. I was stubborn and prideful and my family suffered and worried because of it.

But God was bigger than my lack of faith. He knew the path we would be walking….and He loved me through my time of anger and questioning.

While things didn’t play out as I thought they should….because of course I know what’s best for my life…. 🙂 Things that have evolved over the past 8 months are MORE than the dreams that we thought we had!

Did you hear that? What I thought was the “dream” for our family….was so small in comparison to what God had planned.

Today my husband is running his own business, a dream we thought wouldn’t be possible for many years. It is so busy that he asked if I would join him and help out around the office. I spent the past 2 days working along side him….and my heart is so full.

I have seen God take my hopelessness, my mistrust and my lack of faith…..and turn it into something that is a blessing to our entire family. He IS good….He always was….I just couldn’t, wouldn’t choose to see it.

Friends, I don’t know where you find yourself today. Maybe you are facing a job loss, a broken marriage, a lost dream. I want you to hear me on this….even when it feels like God isn’t there, in the thick with you, He IS. If you are struggling with this truth right now, please let me know so that I can lift you up in prayer.

While I know that things will never be “perfect” in this lifetime….I do know that God has been faithful and will continue to be faithful to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. Don’t give up friends….don’t give up.

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