“Where am I going?”

For the past several years, when summer rolls around, I have seemed to find myself in a position where I have big decisions to make. Decisions that will alter the course I am on by requiring me to step away from some opportunities to take a hold of others.

For the past few months, I have known that the decision train was fast approaching and I would have some big choices to make, but no matter how many lists I made, minutes hours I spent thinking about it, or the number of prayers I spoke, the decision was not becoming any easier.

Last night, I came to a startling and honestly painful realization – I have lost my vision for where I am headed in life. I began asking myself the questions:  “What am I doing with my life? What am I aiming for? Where am I going?…. Who am I?” Once upon a time, I could see clearly the path I was on. I knew exactly where I was headed, why I was headed there and I had a plan to execute it, but that vision has become blurred.

While trying to answer those questions, I began to see that because my focus has been on my current circumstances, desires and needs.  In the craziness of life, I lost sight of where I was headed.  I began to listen to well intentioned and loving voices, more than seeking out the voice of God. I took great opportunities without weighing whether or not they would help me reach my goals.

When I first started driving I would swerve and not drive in a straight line despite my best effort. I remember my dad telling me not to focus on the road right in front of me but to look down the road to where I was going. When I focused my attention on where I was headed I drove a straight line. I think the same is true in life; when we loose sight of where we are headed, it is easy to get off course without even realizing it and then end up in a place asking “Where am I?”

While I still have decisions to make, because I have the end in mind, I have confidence that the choices I need to make are going to become clear. Although I know some of the decisions I need to make won’t be easy, I know  it will be worth it, and I am willing to make sacrifices and do hard things, in order to fulfil the calling God has placed on my life.

If you are finding yourself with a difficult decision to make, check to see where your focus is. Is your focus on the problem or on God? Are you thinking more about what people expect from you or what God expects from you? Is your focus on your past mistakes believing that you cannot move forward because of them or is your focus on using those experiences motivate you to make better choices?

I have faith that as I shift my focus to God and the calling He has placed on my life, my vision will once again be clear and I will know and be willing to make the right decisions to get me to that place where God is calling me forward to.

 

Pick up the Mirror

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

It can be so easy to look at the condition of our world and point the finger of blame towards our government leaders and the famous celebrities. We can look upon others we consider to be “worldly” and “sinners” and shake our heads in despair.

We want to see breakthrough in our country, and we believe that if those who were in the spotlight would change the message they are sending, and live with integrity that the state of our world would change.

But this scripture does not say if all the sinners, who do not know Me, will pray and turn from their ways that I will heal their land.

NO.

It says – IF MY PEOPLE who are called by MY NAME.

Too many of us find it easy to point out the faults in others while ignoring the issues and sins that are raging in our own lives. We see what needs to change in others, rather than what we need to change in ourselves.

 

It is time to lay down the magnifying glass and pick up the mirror.

 

Do Not Judge

“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?… Matthew 7: 2-4

We, as Christians, as God’s chosen people, need to examine our own lives. We need to take inventory of our own pride, actions, and thoughts.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

We have to humble ourselves. We are better than no one. We are saved by grace, and we are called to show the love of God to others around us, not point our fingers.  Jesus did not come to judge us or condemn us. He came to love and save us.

Something needs to change.

The standards of our culture are sickening. Heartbreaking. But, you and I, we can do something to change it.

We need to rise up, by laying down our pride and humbling ourselves before the Lord. We are promised that if we pray and seek the face of the Lord that He will hear us, that if we will turn away from our sin He will forgive us and heal our Land.

And our land needs to be healed.

Around the Table

Tonight a couple of students came over and we cooked dinner together. Since steaks were on the menu, I decided the best place to eat was around the table.  As I was setting the table, the comment was made: “We are sitting at the table!? That’s cool, my family never sits down at the table!”  A prayer was said before we began to eat, and although the three of us have known each other for a relatively short amount of time, it felt like I was in the presence of family.

There is just something about sitting around a table, praying together, and sharing a meal that can unite hearts.

While dinner was wonderful, what was even more wonderful was the conversation that took place. We talked about our dreams, ideas, and frustrations. Visions and goals were shared followed with encouragement to move forward. I was inspired as I listened to two young men talk about changing the world and overcoming their pasts, naysayers, and obstacles.  I have to say, my heart was very happy.

During the meal, we were not on our phones, and incoming phone calls were put off for later, because we knew the most important thing was to be there in the moment, listening to each other.

I cannot help but wonder, how many opportunities are missed because we don’t take time to sit around the table? To talk. To listen. To share.

There is something powerful about spending quality time with people and getting to know their hearts.  Life is busy. It is fast-paced. Tonight I was reminded how valuable it can be to take time to slow down and enjoy the company of friends.

Think about someone you can invite over. It doesn’t matter if your house is clean or if you have a fancy menu.  What matters is that you take the time to listen and talk about something that matters.

Today, I have heard that a bunch of discussion and attention has been given to a comment that was made on a popular television show, but the conversation that took place around my kitchen table tonight was far more important and worthy of my attention.

I love that I have a place to call home where I can invite people to come and share their hearts, talk about life, and be encouraged. I saw first-hand how important it is to provide an opportunity to unplug from life and gather around the table.

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”

Ephesians 5:15-16

Inspiring People #2

Mark & Rhonda

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Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. Ephesians 5:25-28

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I don’t even know where to begin describing how inspirational this couple has been for me, so I will just jump in…

I love the way Mark loves his wife. He is undeniably crazy about her, and I love it. I cannot wait until I find “my Mark.”

I love that Rhonda is such a strong woman who has started a successful non-profit, is a published author, and an amazing mom. Her commitment and dedication has tangibly changed lives. Mark comes in right along side her and unconditionally supports and changes lives, too.

Mark has a servant’s heart and can single-handedly whip up an amazing dinner for a crowd…and it is tasty too!

They fiercely love their children and grandchildren.

They work hard and take time to play hard.

They have been transformed by the love of God and are not afraid to share their story to inspire others.

I am thankful that I have been blessed with the opportunity to see a glimpse into their relationship. Watching them interact with each other, their community, and their family has inspired me more than words could say.  They have been through the worst of times, but they stand firm on the promises of God and live life on purpose and for a purpose. The encouragement Rhonda has given me and Mark’s joyful spirit have truly impacted my life and gives me something to look forward to. Thanks Mark and Rhonda!

Inspiring People #1

I love people.

When I see people, I see potential. I see possibilities. I see destinies. I see purpose and value.

Today, I have decided that I am going to start blogging about some of the most inspirational people I have ever met. They are not famous nor are they perfect. They are ordinary people like you and me who have an unordinary zeal for life; and, I am blessed to call them my friends.

Today I am going to blog about two young men who quite honestly impress my socks off.

 First up, is Dimitri.

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Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are the people who know the joyful sound [who understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts]; they walk, O Lord, in the light and favor of Your countenance! In Your name they rejoice all the day, and in Your righteousness they are exalted.
Psalm 89:15-16
 

Dimitri lives life with contagious enthusiasm. He makes me happy just by watching him be happy. 

He loves God. He loves people, and it shows.

He prays for people just because they liked one of his Facebook statuses.

He hears from God and is not afraid to share what he has learned.

He listens and obeys the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Dimitri is a role-model for men of all ages.

He is learning what it means to wait on the Lord, and is learning how to wait expectantly for what is coming in his life.

He gets excited about the Word of God and new revelations.

He pursues God with every fiber of his being and out of an overflow of what is in his heart he pursues living a life of purpose, integrity, and lost souls.

Thank you, Dimitri,  for stirring up excitement in my soul.

 Next up, is James.

james

So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
Psalm 78:72
 A cheerful disposition is good for your health…
Proverbs 17:22
 

James has a heart to lead the upcoming generation of young men. He inspires me to be a better leader and can make me laugh until it hurts.

He has a passion to see mentors rise up for young men.

He finds humor in any situation.

He builds people up with his words and helps them see their value.

James challenges himself to grow, and is honest with himself about improvements he needs to make.

He seeks to know God deeper and apply what he learns to his life.

He talks to God with genuine conversation as if he is talking to Him face-to-face.

He is preparing himself to be a godly husband and strives to make decisions today that will protect his future wife’s heart.

Thank you, James, for making me smile and reminding me that my influence in this world is making a difference.

My prayer is for everyone to have a “Dimitri” and a “James” in their life.

Someone who brings them excitement and pure joy, and someone who fills their life with laughter, inspiration, and encouragement.

Get Your Feet Wet

Have you ever needed a miracle? Have you ever waited for something to happen, for a prayer to be answered, and felt as though your prayers have been forgotten?

Sometimes we wait for God to work miracles in our lives and when nothing seems to be happening we often question God. I have been there. Not long ago after praying and hoping for a financial miracle, I began asking God why nothing had come through yet. I had tithed. I am active and use my time to serve others. I was expectantly waiting on God to come through and yet nothing had happened.

As I questioned Him, I looked around my house and I felt God telling me “Sell your stuff. You have the money right in front of you.” Now that was not the answer I was looking for. I love my stuff. I enjoy decorating my house and have put a lot of time and effort in to it.  And perhaps it was wrong, but I loved the compliments I got when others saw what I had done.

At first I thought – okay God I will do this. But the time passed and I didn’t sell a thing. I even began to question if it was really God who told me to sell my things, or if it was another one of my wacky ideas. However, as I began to seek God he made it abundantly clear that He was indeed asking me to take a step of faith and sell my loved belongings. I can’t count how many different messages I heard during this time that taught on this scripture from Luke – “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

I heard the song “Go” by Hillsong United at just the right times and the lyrics pierced my heart: We are sold out to your calling. Everything that we are for Your Glory. Take our hearts now. Have it all now. Let our lives shine like light in the morning. We’re giving it all away, away. We’re giving it all to go your way.

At the end of the day I love God more than I love my stuff and I want to be obedient to what He calls me to do.

Once I took that step of faith and began to sell my stuff God really began showing me that He has big plans for me and that if I will trust Him, even when it is hard and when it does not make sense, He will provide. God began to show me that if I will focus on fulfilling my calling – the burning passion in my heart to speak in to the lives of girls and women that He will take care of the rest.

God wanted me to partner with Him. He wanted to know that I was willing to go the distance. He knew I valued my home and the “stuff” I had collected. But, He wanted to know that I valued Him more. God wanted to see if I would partner with Him. To see if I would take a step of faith and be willing to sacrifice in order to obey Him and receive the financial help that I need.

God wants us to be active in our faith; after all, faith without works is dead. God wants to know that we will go with Him no matter the cost.

I read this Facebook post this morning and loved it:

God commanded the priests (while they were approaching the Promised Land) to take a few steps into the river when they arrived at the Jordan river. They had to get their feet wet before the miracle came and they entered the Promised Land. Sometimes we need to take a step of faith and not just wait for God to work first.

Time to get your feet wet!

As I get my feet wet and put my hope in the Lord, I am excited to see what miracles He is going to work out in my life. I am excited to show off to the world HOW GOOD MY GOD IS!

Be Fruitful

I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that will last…

John 15:16

After God created the first man and woman, the first command He gave to mankind was to be fruitful. God created us to bring value to the world.

This weekend at our High School Graduation the commencement message was on the importance of living a fruitful life. I love what the speaker said. “In order to have a fruitful life, put yourself in a situation where you have to trust in Him.”

Although this sounds simple, in reality it is often a difficult thing to do. We like to be comfortable. We like safety-nets. We like to know that we have things in order and taken care of. But what happens when God calls us beyond our comfort zone? When He calls us to trust fully in Him and not in ourselves?

I love the story of Abraham. It inspires me and reminds me that when God calls us to step out in faith He often does not show us the whole picture, but if we trust in Him – He will prove himself faithful.

Hebrews 11:8­9 (NIV) By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Sometimes God calls us to obey Him in areas where He doesn’t give all of the details but he expects us to trust him. God stripped Abraham of his security. He said leave your country, your people, and your father’s household. Not only did God ask Abraham to leave what was familiar, He also did not give him the details of where he was going or how he would get there. God was putting Abraham in a position of complete reliance on Him.

When we choose to trust in God and step out in faith that does not mean life will be a bed of roses. Abraham made mistakes and faced trials along the way, but just because we face trials it does not mean that we are not in God’s will for lives.

In scripture James reminds us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Abraham chose to obey God and he persevered through the trials; as a result, God delivered His promise and Abraham’s descendants became as many as the sands on the beach. Not only did God bless Abraham by giving him many offspring, He also blessed Abraham by pronouncing him righteous and giving him salvation.

God sometimes requires that we obey Him regardless of how illogical it seems. That way, we can show that we really trust Him. When we are called into a situation where we must rely on God – He will bless us to make HIS name known.

Be Fruitful

Know your strengths: God created each of us with something to offer this world so that we can live a fruitful life

Know the needs: There are many hurts and needs in this world. How can you use your strengths to meet those needs?

Make a plan: That doesn’t mean you will have all the details, “But don’t begin until you count the cost” – Luke 14:28

Step out in Faith: “Nothing is impossible with God” – Luke 1:37