Dove’s Nest

Today I would like to post a letter of encouragement for those participating in a wonderful organization called Dove’s Nest from Charlotte, NC. It is a place of hope and encouragement for those who feel hopeless and discouraged. Through Proverbs 31 Ministries, I was blessed to learn about such a great organization and I have decided to write a letter that I pray God will place in the hands of someone who will be touched by His words through me.

You are loved. You are beautiful. You are worthy.

This is what God feels about you.  God loves you regardless of the hard times that you have endured.  He can take all of the mess and whatever the world has beaten down and make something beautiful from the ashes.  When a woman turns to Christ regardless of where she is at in her life or where she came from, heaven rejoices. Heaven rejoices at the beauty God has brought out of something that seemed unbeautiful.  Each one of us who turns to Christ has a testimony, a declaration of what Christ has done for us. In some of us, God allows us to have a testimony like that of Mary Magdalene who suffered 7 demons before Christ drove them away from her. The Bible is unclear what those demons were but I can only imagine the struggle and burden she carried those years before Christ. Christ drove them away and immediately she began to follow Christ. I don’t know where you are at today, I don’t know if you struggled with things that seemed to grip you, but if you have, there is hope. Christ is your hope.  If you have turned to Him, Heaven is rejoicing! Keep your hope fixed on Him, and hold on to that hope unswervingly, regardless of the things that come before you, regardless of what is behind.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  Our hope is in Christ who is making all things new.

Father, I thank you for the wonderful ladies at Dove’s Nest. I thank you for what the staff is doing, for the hope they are helping to bring to these ladies who have turned to the hope that Christ offers. I pray that these ladies would feel Your peace and they would feel Your presence. That when each soul walks through those doors, they would see the declaration that You make all things new, and that this would be the hope she holds to unswervingly. For each of us who has needed that hope, and searched for that glimmer of hope in the dark, we see Your light of hope and when we focus on it, hold on to it, it becomes brighter and brighter. I pray that each one would feel You, and draw near to You in the times when they need it the most. If she is too weary to draw near to You, I ask that you would hold her even closer. I ask all this in Christ’s name, Amen.

I can almost feel the hand of God reaching for my face to wipe the tears away, and say,
‘It’s time to make everything new.
Make it all new.’ This is our hope. This is the promise. That it would take our breath away to see the beauty that’s been made out of the ashes. Out of these ashes beauty will rise, and then we’ll dance among the ruins. We will see Him with our own eyes. Out of this darkness new life will shine and we’ll know the joy that is coming in the morning.” –Beauty Will Rise by Steven Curtis Chapman

“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”  Isaiah 61:3

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Life, Interrupted

So things are still in upheaval with adjusting to going back to school, we are one week in, and so far it’s going very well for both of my kiddos. We celebrated my son’s birthday and my husband’s sister just gave birth to twins so we were having visits with them celebrating their new little ones. My husband started a new job on Tuesday and he is adjusting to that. So there are a lot of changes and life happenings going on right now. I am trying very hard to keep on track with my commitment to the bible study and the “Yes” to God book. I am fighting the temptation to just let it slide by because I am slightly behind. I need to just keep moving forward and fight those thoughts of “Oh I already missed a few things, and I’m behind now so I might as well give up the hope of finishing strong.” I will refuse and rebuke those thoughts because I know this is exactly where God wants me. This is all for a purpose and I will keep moving forward in even the small things.

There was a time in my life several years ago, when I knew I was exactly where God wanted me. I was the closest to God I had ever been. I looked forward to spending time with him, I couldn’t wait to fall down on my knees and praise Him again. I prayed daily to be so entangled in Him that wherever He went I went too. I was so at peace and felt so loved daily. I recognized His blessings and praised Him often. You might say this was when my life was “good.” Though, life was not “good,” at least not by typical standards. Oh a few months before then, I would say that life was good, I was married, had an adorable curly red-haired toddler and another little one on the way. My marriage at that time wasn’t great but it was doing much better, he was joining me in reading his bible and things really seemed to be making headway. I had a nice job working with little ones, and we just moved into a cute little apartment. Life really was looking up for me.

Then God interrupted. He interrupted the plans I had for myself, for my marriage, and for my children. Having my son 16 weeks early was certainly not in my plans. The first man I ever gave my heart and 8 years of my life to, telling me he was leaving me for someone else, was definitely not in the plans. Having no income, and a toddler desperately trying to adjust going from two parents to a single mom with a special needs infant, which manifested into having terrible power struggles with me, was no where near what I wanted for myself, or for my family. This was not a “good” life at all. But it was what God wanted. I knew with all my heart this is what God wanted. I clung to Him and gave Him my entire self willingly. I had absolutely nothing to offer Him but tears and heartache.

He was with me every step of the way, even in the small things. I remember calling to adjust the information on my apartment after my ex moved out, we just moved there 2 months prior, so the landlady was rude. She told me if I broke my lease that I would have to pay, and asked where I was supposed to get the money since I wasn’t working. I said, “I know God will provide for me.” She laughed and said “yeah, right.” In spite of it I felt God with me, and I ended the call feeling completely at peace knowing it was going to be alright. I didn’t break my lease and actually lived in that apartment for 4 more years with God providing amazingly for me. In the end the landlady who was rude came around to liking us as a family and was sad to see us go. God had worked in her heart, but that was just a minor thing among everything else; my son celebrated his 6th birthday yesterday. He was 1lb 6oz. at birth with an estimated 50% survival rate of just making it out of the delivery room alive. I lived life as a single mom for 4 years and went to school got a degree, and met my now husband who is an amazing, godly husband and father. We celebrated our third baby being born a year ago, and she is as sweet as can be. My toddler grew into a beautiful vibrant young lady who loves life and her family. Sure it wasn’t what I had planned originally, but wow the experience of knowing God personally as my comforter,  my protector, and my helper, is something I wouldn’t trade for my carefully laid out plans. Thank God, He interrupted my life.

Wholly Committed

I have to admit, my desire to be committed to the journey of saying yes to God is beginning to wane. I decided to be fully committed to doing my online bible study about two weeks ago when it began. I was getting involved and participating. But, desire is starting to taper off, the newness and excitement is fading.  I became distracted with small stresses having two young ones going back to school. I was able to divvy up the walk-thrus with my husband, which were at the same time but in two different schools in opposite directions. He took our son and I took our girls. One had a supply kit so that was taken care of and for the other, we (I mean my husband) had to fight the other moms and dads for the last remaining supplies in Wal-mart. I am sure there are a few last minute shoppers who can relate to sending your son to school with a princess folder because it was the only 3 holed two pocket folder left. You just secretly hope there will be a fellow last minute shopper with a poor girl lugging a teenage mutant ninja turtles folder to trade with your son. Thankfully everyone survived with appropriate themed folders and made it through the first day yesterday. Now, it is just settling into the routine and getting caught up on the household tasks, and enjoying the free time.

I had some free time while my 1 year old was napping and I decided to take a look at the bible study blog and see what the post was for today. I saw it was the blog hop for today.  I thought “Oh right, it’s blog hop Thursday.” To be honest, I did cringe a little inwardly. I love sharing my heart, and reading the other blogs of my fellow sisters in Christ. But at that moment it seemed like a huge task to think about after all the busyness of the past couple days and I had already missed the facebook party.  So I thought to myself, “Well, maybe I won’t do it but I’ll look at the topics to share and think about it inwardly.” Then there in bold print it said “Wholly Committed.” Right there was truly a message from God to me! I really felt like it was just for me! It’s true! I committed to doing this, I committed to saying “yes”. That means being wholly committed, then the note under that said “is God calling you to a deeper level of  commitment?” I wanted to shout “Yes!” because right then I knew it was God speaking to me as I was reading those very words. He was reminding me to keep pressing forward and to not let that desire to do what He wants, fade. So here I am, saying “yes” to God and pressing through to being truly and wholly committed.

Radical Obedience

So now it is week two of the OBS. We all had the assignment to read chapter 2 and 3 which focuses on not only discerning what God is saying to us, but also obeying it. There were so many gems in those chapters. However my favorite is actually one that was noted by another member of the bible study, I probably would have completely missed it if I didn’t read this member’s posting. Thank God I am doing this with so many wonderful ladies that God uses to help to bring a different perspective and fresh insight to what I’ve read. This quote from the book is one of my favorites so far:

“Look on every fear not as a weakness on your part… but as a very real temptation to be attacked and overthrown.” (pg. 37)

A question for us to consider in the study was “Is there something God might be leading you to give up?” I considered it and thought there wasn’t really anything. He had already worked with me on several other things, I no longer listened to secular music, and I don’t drink, and I generally avoid all the “bad” things.  Just when I was about to set my mind that there wasn’t a single thing.  Just when my pride was about puff out just a smidgen more, God reminded me that there was something. In fact the night before, I felt a prompting to not do this thing. Just a tiny  prompting  that I waved away as if swatting a pesky gnat. I didn’t think twice of it until this moment when God reminded me. Not only that, but He wanted me to share it is well.  God has an amazing way of keeping us humble doesn’t He?  And for good reason. So, I shared it. Right there in a comment on a post yesterday, I figured that was good, anyone scrolling through the messages will probably see it.  Nope,  He wants me to share it for this week’s blog hop.  So here I am sharing my “thing” that God is asking for.

This blog was jump-started with the OBS, and “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” so while it was based upon that, what God is really working on, well He is actually working on a huge list of things that I can’t possibly list them all today. Really, really amazing, just truly amazing, things. When God asks for our will He floods us more than we can contain. God is an amazing, awesome, astounding God. In fact if you are reading this with me, let’s take a moment to be in awe in all He is.

“Oh Lord my God, when I, in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art.”

Amen! So onto my “thing.” It’s actually a humbling moment right now for God to have me share. I am thankful He is still molding me to glorify Him, so here it is…. I check my pulse daily.  Several times a day.  I have become so skilled in it that I can check it and no one will be aware that I am doing it. You could be carrying on a conversation with me and I would be silently checking my pulse.  Why do I do it? Well about a year ago when my anxiety was full blown, One night my heart started racing and flopping I thought for sure I was having a heart attack. Went to the ER, the doctors said everything was fine and ran various tests that came back clear and sent me home.  I wasn’t convinced. My heart raced all night incredibly fast, I refused to look at the heart monitor when I was at the hospital because I didn’t want to know how fast it was really going. I could tell by their faces that they were surprised and the alarm had to continually be muted.  So after the tests came clear, I was sent home, my heart still pounding. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was so terrified, it was 4am slept not even a single minute and my heart was still pounding. I texted my sister who is an early riser. I knew she would be up. I told her I was so fearful and asked for prayers, I have never experienced fear like that night.  She replied with my favorite Psalm, Psalm 27.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear, though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord….” 

After I got to gazing upon the beauty of the Lord, I felt so overwhelmed with His love. I lifted my hands and praised Him right there in the bed with my husband next to me fast asleep and my little one in the bassinet next to the bed. Right then the pounding of my heart stopped, I praised God again and went to sleep.

When I woke I still had the fear. I doubted what happened a few hours before, did God really stop my heart pounding, or was it just the act of lifting my hands over my head that reset the rhythm and stopped it? In any case I was determined to never have that heart pounding episode happen again, so I started keeping track of my pulse.  Logically, I know that I have little physical control over my heart but fear isn’t logical. I did all the right things, I started eating healthier and stopped drinking  caffeinated drinks. I started a fish oil supplement, which I never though i would take. At that time, I was able to justify it because I was breastfeeding a two month old. I said to myself that the baby needed the omega 3’s. Anyway, to make a long story.. less long.. I started taking my pulse that day.  Next week will be a year ago since I started, in fact.  I believe God wants me to give it to him because if I say yes to God to have all of my fears, but yet I still check my heart rate out of fear; am I really saying yes to God?  So this is what God wants me to give up, the notion that I have any sort of control over my heart or any aspect of my life, because it is really He who controls my pulse, and my heart and every aspect of my life.  And thank GOD for that.

With All My Heart

Hello, thanks for visiting! This is my first attempt at a blog ever, so bear with me! I started a wonderful online Bible study(OBS) hosted by Melissa Taylor, based on the book by Lysa TerKeurst; “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God.” There are many great tools to get involved and connected along with the thousands of other women who joined the study. One of the events is a blog hop. This was my first time hearing the term or what it entails. I knew that In order to participate in the blog hop I needed a blog… I did not have one and to be honest I had no intention to create one….

However.. I said YES to God. 

I said Yes to God about this OBS, then He met me in a huge way after reading Chapter 1 of the book. Then I said “Yes” and fully  committed  to Him and what He says to do. That means pressing forward even if it destroys my comfort zone. What keeps me in my comfort zone? Without a doubt the answer is FEAR.  I struggle with fear. It became a revelation to me over these past few days. I knew that I was a worrier and anxious sort of person, but until I sat down and began to dig deep within myself and in God’s Word I realized fear has plagued my entire life, from the first traumatic event in my early childhood to the fearful prayer I whispered just last night to please, please, protect my children while they slept. Now, I clearly see the task of pressing through this fear is much greater than I first thought. It isn’t just anxious feelings or nervous butterflies, it is my way of life; it is my story. So how can I change what is so rooted within my soul? I’m not sure, though I know the place to start. Yesterday God reminded me that “perfect love drives out fear.” Love, the greatest of all things is the perfect place to begin. Which brings me to the OBS memory verse for this week:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:5

It is a classic verse and the greatest commandment.  When I love the Lord my God with all my HEART, with all my SOUL and all my STRENGTH, there is no room for fear.  Fear is cast out. driven away.

We are not perfect, but we are perfectly equipped.

A phrase from the book that spoke to me from page 13 is: we are not perfect, but we are perfectly equipped. I am paraphrasing slightly from Lysa’s words… So while I am not able on my own to Love with all my heart soul and strength perfectly, I am perfectly equipped to because the One who is Love resides in me.  Wow.. God is moving in the hearts of thousands of women and I feel blessed to also be one that said yes, and commit myself to loving God with all my heart my soul and my strength.