Tuesday, December 31, 2013

14/14 CHALLENGE


My husband and I recently led a marriage small group at our church.  We had a blast!  We shared from the wealth of our twenty years experience being married.  Our method of teaching was very entertaining to say the least.  Al is more spontaneous and unpredictable, while I have everything laid out in an organized fashion.  I think our expressions to each other in the middle of our discussing topics said it all. 



During the small group semester we gave the group several challenges to help them take what they were learning and put it into practice.

Cherish Challenge:
For the next 30 days do not say anything NEGATIVE about your spouse.
(To him or her or to anyone else about them)


The Six-Second Kiss Challenge:
How you say goodbye as you and your spouse begin your day can help you build a lifelong romance.

Before you go out to face your day, find each other, wrap up in a warm embrace, and begin your day with an intimate, very married, six-second kiss.

Go ahead. Try it! Your young children will grow up feeling secure in the love between their parents. They will blush and groan hoping their friends don’t see you, but you will be building a life-long romance between you.


15 minute challenge:
Find just 15 minutes each day to be a couple instead of parents, employees, or whatever other roles you play.  It’s just 15 min. each day (1% of the time you have available each day).  YOU can do this and it will change your marriage!!!!


Many in the group took the challenges we gave them.  It was kind of fun to try new things.  I will have to say that Al really liked doing the “Six-Second Kiss Challenge”.  He felt we needed to be faithful every day to be examples for the group.

The Challenge…
I was thinking recently.  If taking time out to be together and communicate is vital for our marriages, wouldn’t it be just as essential for our relationship with God?  

How could spending 15 minutes a day with God change things?  Maybe that is too much for you.  I’m sure you are busy.  That is a lot of time to carve out in a day with 24 hours.  I know the couples in our class had to get creative to find their special time together.  How about 14 minutes?  I challenge you to spend 14 minutes a day with God in 2014.  It’s the “14/14 Challenge.”  

What would it look like to spend 14 minutes a day with God? 

For those who know God…
I’m talking about 14 minutes of personal time set aside for you and God each day.  It’s a date with Him.  It’s not about clocking time at church, listening to Christian music or radio, watching preachers on TV, or sitting in on a Bible class at a Christian school or church.  It’s personal and private alone time with the God of the universe.  This kind of 14 minutes carved out of each day in 2014 could definitely change things!

For those who don’t know God…
You may be reading this and thinking… “What on earth are you talking about?  That sounds a little creepy… reading a book, talking to yourself, and listening for what?”  I know, I know.  It may sound weird, but I challenge you to try it and see what happens.  Don’t just read any book; read God’s love letter to you…The Bible.  Don’t just talk to yourself; tell God what’s going on in your life… the good, the bad, and the ugly.  What are you concerned with?  What are you excited about?  Let Him know.  Then just sit and wait… listen.  Sometimes it is in these moments He brings peace, wraps us in His love, or we feel His presence near.  I dare you to try it and see what happens.  2014 may never be the same for you.  God just might rock your world!

I’m in, now what?
Okay, so I roped you in… now what?  What could 14 minutes a day look like?  

Here are some ideas for you
Break it up or keep it all together.  It’s up to you.  My suggestion is…
5 minutes reading your Bible and 9 minutes talking & listening to God.


Take 5 plan…
Let’s just keep it simple.  I found a Bible reading plan that takes just 5 minutes a day.  I’m committing myself to do this for 2014.  If it’s not enough, read it and more.  Nothing is holding you back, but YOU.  You can find the Bible reading link here.  Just print it out, fold it up, and put it in your Bible.  If you prefer reading online or on your phone, I love this website for online reading.  It’s www.biblegateway.com.  My favorite versions of the Bible are:  New Living, New Century Version, or the Message.  It helps in reading if we can understand it.  Sometimes reading in different versions can bring things out more to us that we may have missed otherwise in reading.  Try it!

Another way to help you get more out of your reading is to write things down.  Here is a suggestion for you.  As you read… S.O.A.P.

Which stands for…
S- Scripture (write down the verse or phrase that stands out to you)
O- Observation (write down what you think this verse means)
A- Application (write down how it affects you or applies to your life)
P- Prayer (write down any prayer needs you may want to remember for the day)

Take time 5 minutes a day to read God’s love letter to you and it will be life-changing!  The Bible reading plan I provided only covers 5 days a week.  So… what should you do on the off days?  You could read other scriptures of your choice or you could talk to God longer that day.  It’s totally up to YOU!

Say what?
Okay… I know you might be thinking.  I get the Bible reading thing, but what
on earth am I supposed to talk to God about for 9 minutes?  That’s a LONG time!  We are talking about an awkward silence.  Don’t worry.  God isn’t worried.  He just wants to spend time with YOU.  Tell Him out loud or in your head what you are learning as you read, what might be bothering you, or what you are excited about that day.  Just talk and then sit in the silence and give God a chance to respond in His way.  That may be with giving you a sense of peace, filling you with hope, overwhelming you with His love, or bringing something to light that you had no idea about.  He is faithful to respond.

Where do I do this?
Find a quiet place where you can be alone with God and interruptions will be limited.  Maybe it’s a special chair to read in, a special room you like, or at the kitchen table.  For prayer it may be in the shower, driving to work or school, on a walk or run, or in your room.  Do what works best for you.  It’s okay if it isn’t the same place every day or the same time.  You might have to be creative to carve out time with God, but I guarantee it will be worth it!

I want to hear the results…
I am taking this challenge with you and I want to hear your results.  Who is joining me and how you are growing?  Is it really making a difference?  Is God showing up when you listen to Him?  How are you getting creative at carving out time to be with Him?  Don’t leave me hanging.  I want to hear it all!  Here is to growing closer to God in 2014!  Are you with me?

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Keep it Simple

Have you ever gotten consumed with the commercial side of Christmas?  I went to a store recently and was surprised as a lady in front of me pulled out a STACK of credit cards to pay for her purchase.  Her items might have totaled $50, most of which was food, but she scanned several cards to pay and even asked her husband to try some of his to complete the sale.  

The commercial side of Christmas draws our focus on pleasing others… the neighbors with our d├ęcor, the family with our selection of gifts, and our friends with our festive parties.  There is no price we won’t pay to celebrate the holiday season in style.

The hustle and the bustle bring with it LOTS of expectations… not to mention stress and pressure to deliver the holiday goods.  Those participating in this kind of Christmas must… decorate their houses inside and out extravagantly (preferably Thanksgiving weekend), stockings should be hung for each family member with names attached, Christmas cards and pictures should be sent (by a reasonable date), and presents should be wrapped in similar colors full of ribbons and bows, organized under the tree in a fashion pleasing to the eye.  Don’t forget visits with Santa, cookies of all varieties made and shared with others, and wardrobe colored red for the holidays.  Mark your calendars for kids Christmas programs, plays, and candlelight services.  Oh, and there are the holiday movies you can’t miss.  Are you stressed out yet?  I am just thinking about it.

Bits and pieces of this may describe some of your Christmases, but I hope the heart of it is very different.  I hope it’s not all about out doing yourself each year.   Our Christmas shouldn’t drip with excess.  We shouldn’t have to spend more than we have to please everyone.  I decided a long time ago to avoid the commercial side of Christmas and go the simple route.  My goal is to keep Christ in the center of our season while focusing on quality time with family.   We can still celebrate our family traditions without going over board, right?



We have several family traditions we have celebrated for years and some new ones we have added recently.  It’s never too late to start a new tradition.  Everyone has their own special traditions.  These are a few of ours…

~we decorate our tree together and watch a Christmas movie afterwards
~we come up with a creative Christmas card to send out to family & friends
~we make Christmas cookies to give out to our neighbors to share God’s love
~we drive around looking at Christmas lights
~we read a special book about the Christmas story Christmas Eve
~we open one gift Christmas Eve (or should I say the boys do)
~we read the Christmas story Christmas day
~we make a special family dish only served at Christmas time
 (a meat pie that only the men can make)
~we also go to the movies together Christmas afternoon each year
~we make a birthday cake for Jesus to celebrate Christmas night

New tradition this year…
~we started doing an advent type reading and lighting candles each Sunday before Christmas
~we made Gingerbread houses with grandma from a kit
(I’m not sure if this will carry on to next year. It proved to be more difficult than expected)


 The commercial side of Christmas seems more focused on RECEIVING than GIVING.  I find it interesting that we spend Thanksgiving being thankful and the very NEXT day (black Friday) being selfish.  People literally fight over bargains to get their loved ones for Christmas.  They are rude, violent, they push, shove, and all for another special gift to put under the tree for Christmas.  Not to say everyone is that way, but so many get caught up in the holiday hullabaloo. 

Our focus for Christmas is centered on giving not receiving.  We want to be purposeful with our boys teaching them to be generous not greedy.  Our holiday season is full of quality family time, special memory making moments, opportunities to serve others, and a consistent focus on the true meaning of Christmas… Jesus. 


We also try to keep the gifts simple.  Excess brings selfishness.  We want to focus more on giving and less on receiving.  We are still working on this one.  I have heard several great ideas on this that I need to check out later.  One I heard was about just giving THREE gifts to each child representing the gifts from the wise men given to Jesus.  Another one I like is only giving four gifts:  something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  I like this idea… sounds good and practical to me.

I have also been focusing this year on “random acts of kindness.”  I like the idea of blessing people randomly and teaching my boys to have generous hearts all year long.  I would love to some day start a “blessings account” to save up money to bless people randomly as God leads our family.  Hopefully this is coming soon.


Our goal during the holiday season is to keep things simple and the focus where it needs to be… on JESUS and spending quality time with our family.  Some times that includes a variety of our traditions and some times we just can’t fit it all in.  In those cases we re-prioritize and choose what we feel is MOST important for us at that time.  The key is to avoid allowing the busyness of the season to push Jesus out.  Keep Him in the center and your season is guaranteed to be amazing.

Luke 2:9-14 says...Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (NLT)

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Living to leave a legacy,

Julie

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Top 10!!!!


It’s hard to believe that I have been writing on this blog for FOUR YEARS!!!!  Wow!  It all started following a really bad flare-up from my autoimmune disease.  I determined to not allow any of my down time sick to end up wasted.  I wanted to give it to God.  This blog is my attempt to redeem it all for Him.  Check out my very first post below.  It still rings true in my heart…

Legacy… leaving the gift of yourself, your life in a nutshell with all of it’s wisdom from the past, purpose for the present, and dreams of greatness for the future to the next generation. It’s planting a piece of yourself into others… it’s leaving a trail of a life well-lived behind to lead others to a better future. It’s being purposeful about what you say and what you do in order to make an investment into the hearts of others.

I see it like this… our hearts are gardens and God is the great gardener. He knows what we need to grow. We need to make sure that the soil in our hearts is soft, watered, and ready for the seeds God wants to plant inside of us. The minute the soil of our hearts becomes hard, we will no longer be able to receive fresh seed from God to grow. We must always remain teachable, open, and ready to learn and grow from God and others. My philosophy is that there is always someone ahead to learn from and behind to teach. Take the seeds God has planted inside of you and scatter them around to the gardens of people’s hearts around you. Spread God’s love, spread his patience and understanding. Water their hearts with His word. Listen, Love, and Live out what you believe and others will see the difference and be drawn to you.

Everything you do has an impact on others. This is my attempt to pour the wisdom God has given me into the next generation. May these principles of truth bless you as you endeavour to be all God has called you to be.

“The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time God has given us each day.”  Billy Graham

Choose today with your actions and your words to leave a legacy behind that will last a lifetime!
Living to leave a legacy!
Julie

I surveyed the last four years and found the “Top 10” Blog Posts based on the stats.  You can check them out below.  Be sure to click the link underneath the title to read more.  I hope you are encouraged as you read.  Enjoy!  Which one is your top pick?  

(I am listing them in order of highest number of views to lowest)

#1 God’s Waiting Room (Part One)….. 1/5/2011


#2 God’s Waiting Room (Part Two)…. 1/9/2011


#3 Is God blessing me or punishing me? ...... 12/6/2011


#4 Move! …. 6/22/2013


#5Surviving Life’s Mud Puddles” ….2/2/2012


#6 Can I have a band-aid… Life hurts?”……. 10/11/2010


#7 Life, Lemonade, and Burnt Biscuits …. 7/31/2010


#8 Me… It may not be pretty! …. 11/25/2012

#9 simply me…   11/13/2013


#10 God knows your address …. 8/22/2010


Thank you for joining me on this journey!  This has been a growing process for me.  I am excited to see what God may have in store for the future.  I am taking “faith baby steps” all the way!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

simply me...

Can I just be real with you?  It’s not about the number for me.  Most women find their self-esteem and worth in a number.  That “perfect” body weight and shape.  My hopes and dreams were crushed after having 2 kids sixteen months apart… that original “perfect” figure as a young adult did NOT come back to me!


Finally ....
Then “IT” happened… I got sick (autoimmune disease) and the weight fell off.  The only problem was that I wasn’t well enough to enjoy it.  Yes, I was the “perfect” weight, but I was skin and bones, pale, and sickly looking.  Not the idea of the “picture perfect” dream I had in mind.

When I was sick
My weight went up and down over the years following my initial diagnosis.  With side-effects from medication and flare ups of symptoms (that randomly popped back up on me), I had no special number when it came to weight and size.  My garage has been consistently filled with totes of a variety of sizes for each season.  It was a surprise to see what I would actually be able to wear from year to year.

Okay with ME
I had to settle on the fact that I would rather be healthy and heavy than sick and skinny.  It’s what is on the INSIDE that matters.  I needed to become comfortable in my own skin.  I learned something about myself over the years.  True beauty lies within.  It is not the reflection of my IMAGE in the mirror that I need to be concerned about, but the reflection of my HEART.

1 Samuel 16:7 says…
“…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NLT)

Whose definition am I living by?
It is SO hard to get past the image before us.  When it doesn’t measure up to the world’s standards of beauty, it feels like we have missed the mark.  But, if we think about it, the world and God have very different definitions of beauty.

The world measures beauty by appearances.  It’s all about the “perfect” size, body, shape, hair texture, skin color, etc… Even when you think they have found the “perfect” specimen for the ideal woman, they still touch up pictures to erase any imperfections.  What the world hasn’t realized yet is that NOBODY is perfect.

I may NEVER be that “ideal” size or weight, but I have to be okay with that.  I have to learn to simply be me….ME with God on the inside… molding me and shaping me to look more like HIS image each day.  I am not suggesting a license to be lazy.  By all means if you CAN, get out there and exercise and eat right.  Healthy is the goal.  My healthy may not be the same as others.  Sometimes exercising can make me worse… drains me of my energy, but I do what I can.

Who cares?
Do you know what else I have learned about myself?  I CARE too much about what people think.  I don’t want any record (pictures) of when I was too big or too small.  I guess I have wanted to avoid any reminder of my “ugly” days… nobody can see them, because why?  I haven’t figured that one out yet.  Maybe they would think LESS of me.  But I guess those who know me love me no matter what size I am.  Now that I think about it, maybe it’s an image problem.  I am too focused on MY image and less on HIS image shining through me. 

What does God see when HE looks at me?  Not what I see when I look in the mirror.  He sees greatness.  He sees potential.  He sees royalty.  God sees deep within underneath all of my insecurities to my heart.  


I’m SO glad God doesn’t judge us by our appearances, but by our hearts otherwise we may never measure up.  Beauty is NOT found in a number unless you are looking at…

Proverbs 31:30 which says…
“Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears, but a woman who honors the Lord should be praised.” (GNT)

True Beauty radiates from the heart…  Take another look in the mirror and try to see what God sees.  YOU are beautiful my friend!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Redeem YOUR Storm!!!

I had the impression that those in their forties had it all together.  Those I saw when I was younger seemed so calm and calculated about life.  Now that I am in my forties myself, I have come to realize that this is SO far from the truth.  I am not at ALL together!  My life is messy.  My house is messy.  My intended schedule for the day is always messed up.  My attitude is not always the best.  My hair isn’t always in place… in fact MOST days it rebels against me with frizziness.  My life is not a pretty picture.

Regardless of what my life looks like on the outside, on the inside I am on a daily pursuit to become more like Jesus.  He is molding me and shaping me to become a better reflection of Him.  Some days the reflection is clear and you can see Him while other days the picture is blurry.  But I keep pressing forward in my pursuit to become “Jesus with skin on” for the world to see.

Recently I was sharing with a group of people about the storms of life and God spoke to me in a fresh way on the subject.  I shared how “storms” are those times in our lives where we face seemingly impossible or overwhelming circumstances.  Several things come to mind to note when thinking about storms.  Storms are unavoidable, unpredictable, and unforgettable.

Storms are unavoidable…  They come whether we want them to or not.  Do you know anywhere in the world where there are NO storms?  I don’t.  We can’t avoid them!  All the rain gear we can buy can’t keep the storms from coming!  Life’s storms are the same way.  They are unavoidable… they happen!

John 16:33 says…
“… In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”
 (NIV)

What do these life storms look like?  Financial hardship, chronic illness, miscarriage, addiction, unfaithfulness of a spouse, job loss, divorce, a rebellious child, family problems, the loss of a loved one, the list could go on…

When the storms of life hit us we can OVERCOME or BE OVERCOME… we can face them in FEAR or with FAITH.  The choice is up to us.  We can’t begin to dig a storm shelter in the middle of a tornado that is about to hit!  We have to prepare ahead of time for storms…   When it comes to the storms of life, we need to prepare NOW for what may be ahead so we can face them with faith.

Storms are unpredictable… They come when we least expect it and aren’t ready for them.  The sirens start going off as dinner is on the stove and where are those candles and flashlights?  Do we have batteries?  Uh, oh… we may be sitting in the dark for awhile.  Storms catch us off guard.  Life’s storms are the same way.  It is in these moments where we really need our friends and family to pray with us and for us.

Unpredictable storms can leave us shocked and unaware of HOW to respond.  Unexpected tragedies, natural disasters, car accidents, chronic illnesses that creep up quickly, and the like can surprise us and paralyze our ability to move forward.  We would hope when life catches us off guard that our first reaction would be to respond in faith, but fear is right there waiting to overtake our hearts. 

Don’t ever be afraid to ask people to lift you up in prayer when you feel your faith is WEAK.  That is what the family of God is all about.  We need to be investing spiritually for the storms ahead.  We have NO idea what will hit next so we need to be growing our faith stronger each day.  Pray, read, find a church to help you grow in your faith and go, and surround yourself with people who love God and YOU!

“Often in trials and storms we focus on the impossibility 
of our circumstances instead of the GREATNESS of our God.”


Storms are unforgettable…  Those who have lived through a tornado, hurricane, or massive storm will NEVER forget it!  It is life-changing!  The pictures stay with you.  The stories are forever etched in your mind.  For me facing life’s storms changed ME!  Trivial things didn’t matter as much.  I became more thankful for the little things and my priorities changed drastically. 

Sometimes we allow the storms we face in life to define us.  God’s desire is to help us reflect Him better as we face each storm in faith trusting Him.  

"It is in the messy moments of life that people are drawn to 
Christ in us the most."  

I decided after facing my seemingly insurmountable storm of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that I WOULD NOT allow my storms to be wasted time.  I want to redeem each storm and use them as a tool to reach others. 

Whatever I face… I want God to heal it, fix it, or change whatever necessary to get me where I need to be quickly.  My desire is to turn around and use that storm to inspire others for God.  My husband said recently on this subject… “Turn that terrible time into a terrific testimony.”  God wants to redeem your storms!  Cash them in to Him and in return He will give you an inspiring story to share with others of how in faith you made it through and they can too.

Storms will come… they are unavoidable. Some will be unpredictable and life altering, but if you prepare now by growing strong roots of faith you will make it through.  Many storms are unforgettable.  Those moments where you meet the storm head on in fear, enlist friends to pray, and God shows up increasing your faith are unforgettable!  Give each storm to God.  He can turn the bad around for good to inspire others to believe God in faith for THEIR storms.  Let God be your “storm shelter” as you take on the winds, rain, and all of the elements this life may throw at you.  He will see you through!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fear NOT!


I have mixed feelings when it comes to fall.  I love celebrating the season with visiting the pumpkin patch, getting apple slushies & watching the leaves change colors.  I love making pumpkin baked goods and lighting fall candles.  I love watching my boys become obsessed with their favorite sport of the season… football.  They watch it on TV, they monitor their fantasy football leagues online, and they play it.  I LOVE fall!


What I struggle with is Halloween.  I am all about my neighborhood coming to my door so I can meet them all in ONE night.  BUT, I am not about the blood, gore, horror movies, and haunted houses.  I am not about filling my life or the lives of my family with FEAR.

I feel my job as a parent is to protect my boys’ hearts and minds until they are old enough to do it on their own.  A part of protecting them is preventing negative or harmful seeds from being planted into their hearts and lives. One seed I guard against is FEAR.  Halloween seems to be a holiday somewhat centered on the concept of fear.  It is Satan’s sneaky attempt to make FEAR fun!  What we do not realize is that the seeds planted during this season can damage the hearts of our kids for years to come.

When I was little I viewed the movie “Carrie” while hiding behind a chair at a family event.  The images I saw on that night stuck with me.  Scenes from the movie haunted me replaying in my mind well into my high school years.  The impact was a life filled with fear.  It consumed me and trickled into every area of my life.  Needless to say… I am not happy about the current remake of this movie. 

Fear was a daily struggle for me.  At times it was paralyzing.  Every decision I made was filtered through a fear-filled lens.  It was only with God’s help that I was able to truly be free.  I do not wish this struggle on anyone.  If you are a parent, do not be fooled by the sly attempts the devil creates to make fear appealing.  It is deadly to the spiritual life of your child.  Be on guard!

We celebrate fall not fear in my home.  So bring on the pumpkin pie, apple cider, and hay bales.  Happy fall my friend!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Celebrate the Wins!


My life is a series of ups and downs.  I am sure it is not unlike others.  My roller coaster just looks a little different.  The twists and turns, ups and downs, low dips and high climbs just have different names to describe them. One such name is Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease. 

My thorn in the flesh, constant frustration, and energy drainer is this disease.  For you it could be an unstable marriage, a wayward child, a debilitated family member you have to care for, financial hardship, abusive relationships, an addiction, the list could go on…

For me each day is different and unpredictable.  I give myself to God one day at a time and trust Him with the outcome.  Many people ask how I am doing health-wise, am I getting better? etc…and that is a tough question.  Am I better compared to what?  When I was bedridden for three months?  When I had a year long flare-up that made all of my symptoms come back like a hurricane?  When I had pain for four months until they figured out it was my gallbladder and removed it?  And so on and so on and so on…

Without God, this life could become overwhelming.  I could dwell on what I can’t do or what I have missed out on, but instead I choose to focus on the “Daily Wins.”  What have I been able to do today that I couldn’t do before?  What can I be thankful for today?  When I focus more on celebrating the “wins,” it keeps my eyes off of the worries of this world and it places them on the Prince of Peace.  Jesus is in control and I trust Him!

I love how Matthew 6:33-34 describes what we should do with worry.  Worry comes if we don’t put our trust in God.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)

This past year has been a whirlwind… This month marks a year that I completed special IV treatments at IU Medical Hospital.  It was an attempt by my neurologist to throw this disease into remission.  I went one day a week for four weeks of treatments.  It was a somewhat risky treatment, but I felt like I needed to do it. 

The infusion center where I went was full of cancer patients.  It was sad to see them all around me.  They were walking weakly, skin & bones, hair thinning, but still fighting to live.  In those moments you see how valuable life really is.  Every day I am alive I know it is for a reason.  I want my life to “count” for something.  I want to be a tool in the hands of God to touch and impact lives for Him.

When I think about my daily struggles… side-effects of medication, fatigue, lack of energy, etc… they are frustrating, but pale in comparison to the joy I receive in the gift of another day. I am living on purpose with a purpose to shine brightly for God.  He has given me this life to live so I want to live it being intentional for Him.

This past year has been another roller coaster of symptoms screaming out for attention, BUT the disease has not flared up.  In other times it would have… it should have, but it hasn’t!  I am thankful for that.  I believe I have been moving into remission even in the midst of other health conditions surfacing as a result of on-going medication.  Side-effects, but things I can live with. 

God is good and is a daily reminder to me of why I am still alive and kicking.  He continues to place people in my life to reach out and love for Him.  My messy life seems to in some way inspire others.  I am glad.  I want only good to come from this, otherwise I feel my time has been wasted being sick all of these years.

Today I celebrate the wins!  I count my blessings and I am thankful.  I am thankful for another day to be alive on planet earth. I am thankful for family and friends.  I am thankful for each person I cross paths with… Each opportunity I have to share wisdom and life lessons to help others experience God in a real way pushes me forward.

I did something new this year.  I decided to collect my thanks and put them on paper.  I even enlisted my family to do the same.  We have a jar that we are using to collect all of the moments this year that we are thankful for.  God has blessed us in amazing ways and I don’t ever want to forget it.  On New Years Eve we will empty out the jar and read each one aloud to vocalize a year of thanks to God.  I expect there will not be a dry eye in the room.  Thank you God… for the celebration of “daily wins” and a year of being truly thankful…  I am not the same.

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Friday, September 20, 2013

The God of SUDDENLY


This is part two of “Out of Sorts but in God’s Plan”… last time I shared how I have grown and continue to do so through seasons of transition.   As I was writing the post last time, I realized it really needed to be a two part thing.  SO… enjoy part two “The God of SUDDENLY.”
Yes, No, or God’s waiting room
We have experienced a lot of transition in our lives.  I’m sure not unlike others.  Some may ask… How did we arrive to where we are today?  We pray for God’s direction and He opens doors, closes them, or says nothing.  When we are pursuing His will for an area of urgency to us and hear nothing, we simply wait and do what He told us last until He says otherwise.  I will not say this is easy… in fact it is down right tortuous at times, but we don’t want anything, but God’s best!  Our very best plan in strategizing our future doesn’t even come close to what God could do with a heart and life radically committed to Him!

Many times we have sat in God’s waiting room, doing that last thing He told us to do faithfully, but frustrated.  It is in those moments that God shows up when we least expect it and SUDDENLY He throws us a game changer.  Sometimes it feels like a good thing while other times it feels like a bad thing.  Just to name a few of ours… I get sick and can’t work full-time anymore, the car breaks down, the house we are renting sells while we are in it (two different houses two different times), jobs open up or close, and the list goes on.  In those moments of SUDDENLY we need to go straight to God.  It is a faith-growing moment.  Trust is built as God sets us up for the next chapter He has ahead.

The Great Adventure
Living for God is definitely an adventure.  I don’t know how anybody can just “go through the motions” when it comes to God.  When we take the time to draw closer to God, really listen, and yield to His promptings… amazing things can happen!  It’s called radical obedience!  Sometimes it plain doesn’t make sense until you follow through… and sometimes it is awhile later before all the pieces come together.  BUT… when we learn to hear God, sense His promptings, and trust Him by radically obeying, the adventure begins. 

God has done some awesome things as I have learned to obey Him radically.  You don’t have to be outgoing or even radical to obey God.  He is just looking for someone who is WILLING to be used by Him.  He uses all personalities to touch and impact lives.  YOU qualify my friend.  I think possibly it is in the acts of radical obedience that may bring about those SUDDENLY’S in our lives.

Radical obedience grows fearless faith in our lives to believe God for the impossible’s life may throw at us.  Many times those mountains that seem to consume us are actually just little mole hills that the devil has magnified.  Feed your faith and wait for the SUDDENLY.  It is coming.
  
Suddenly What?
God moves suddenly.  He moves unexpectedly. He'll move when you are unaware that He is moving, and then it's happened.

Suddenly, you'll get saved. Suddenly, you'll get healed. Suddenly, you'll get delivered. Suddenly, God will provide what you needed when you needed it. Suddenly, you'll be called by God, because suddenly is how God moves.  He moves instantly, He moves unexpectedly.  We see it all over the Bible...

Instantly her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed from her disease.” Mark 5:29 (NCV)

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.   Matthew 8:3 (NLT)



Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!  The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself.  But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Acts 16:26-30 (NLT)



Immediately the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench.  All the people saw it happen and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, “God is the true God! God is the true God!” 1 Kings 18:38-39 (MSG)

SUDDENLY lives were changed!  Healed, delivered, set free, and amazed by God’s presence showing up and showing off… suddenly.

Suddenly good or suddenly bad?
All of God’s suddenly’s may not seem good to us.  Consider a story found in Luke.  It tells of a time where some typical, every day believers in God faced what seemed to be an overwhelming storm in their lives.  Let’s look at what they did…


Luke 8:22-25 says…
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.  As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.  Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” (NLT)

Some times our SUDDENLY might be an unwanted storm in our lives or circumstances that hit beyond our control.  Life is unpredictable and storms will come!  Some things jumped out to me as I read this scripture…
~God’s “suddenly” could be a storm that blows into our lives unexpectedly.
~FEAR was the first reaction of the everyday believer at this church event (they stated “we’re going to drown!”)
~They went to Jesus LAST after they exhausted all other options (the boat was FILLING with water)
~The storm didn’t rattle Jesus… He says…“Where is your faith?”
~His very words brought peace to the storm

My Suddenly
All of this makes me ask myself some important questions.  When I face the storms of life, am I rattled?  Do these circumstances that hit my life out of no where fill me with fear? Do they paralyze my faith?  Do they keep me from going to Jesus except as a LAST resort?  Jesus is the ultimate “Storm Chaser.”  The storm “HIT” in the story above… life is unpredictable.  Will I continue to live for God even when storms HIT in my life?  Jesus knows how to calm the storms of my life and those in my heart.  Sometimes this kind of “Suddenly” can change us on the INSIDE as well as the outside!!!

The SUDDENLY of Jesus changes things…
SUDDENLY Jesus can heal YOU!  Grief can be turned to JOY!  SUDDENLY all can be calm!  SUDDENLY you can be promoted.  SUDDENLY God can bring your special someone to share a life time with…. He can make a way where there seems to be NO way!  He can deliver, reconcile, restore, and provide above and beyond what you could ever imagine.
One touch of God and SUDDENLY there is supernatural breakthrough for YOU… your MARRIAGE, or your FAMILY!  Are you in need of a SUDDENLY in your life?  Winds of change are blowing….
Prepare for YOUR “suddenly” or moment of change.   Draw closer to God.  Learn to recognize His voice and promptings.  Obey radically when He asks you to move outside of your comfort zone.  Be open, available, and ready for whatever God has NEXT for YOU.  It will be worth the wait!
Living to leave a legacy,
Julie