Friday, December 30, 2016

RE: Start (My 2017 Plan)

Can you believe 2016 is almost over?  A new year will begin soon.  New… a fresh page, a brand new start, a do-over if you will… a chance to make things right, finish what you started, and become intentional about all of those things you’ve been putting off.  It’s our own personal restart.

I challenge you to do something crazy in 2017… become intentional.   Do something!  Make a list, set a goal, and make it your own personal aim to do SOMETHING this year.  Even if it’s just ONE thing… start and finish it.

I know, I know… New Year’s resolutions can get old.  We always set these lofty goals and then fail.  I’m just saying set a ton of goals if you want, but let your aim be to just complete ONE.  If you do that, then you have made one step forward in 2017 toward where you wanted to be.  Hey if you knock out more than one, then way to go, you crazy overachiever!

 
Just so it’s out there and I have something to shoot for, here are some of My personal goals
(Note:  Set goals that fit where YOU are and where you want to be by the end of the year.  Not everyone’s goals will look the same.  Pray and ask God to help you set your own God-sized goals to reach for.)

My word is … “Intentional”
Each year I try to choose a word or phrase to focus on throughout the year to keep me pushing forward toward my goals.  Last year it was “Baby Steps”… My health kept holding me back from doing what I really wanted to do, but I determined to just do what I could one step at a time with God’s help.  The year before my word was “Thrive”.  I wanted to go beyond just surviving in all areas of my life to Thriving.

Next year I want to become INTENTIONAL… do things on purpose.  I want to take time and make time for people… especially “My People”. 

My boys will be graduating before I know it so I want to savor the moments I have with them.  Life is busy, but I still want to continue to build my relationship with my husband too.  After 23 years of marriage, I want to continue to date my boyfriend for life.


I want to take time to invest in others.  I want to leave a legacy behind of someone who loved God and loved others.  I want to encourage, equip, and share my life with those around me… the good, bad, and ugly.

For that reason I have determined to mentor three women this year in their walk with God.  Not that I think I have everything figured out or feel I have reached perfection.  Ummm… not even close.  I just want a chance to share my imperfect life with others in hopes that maybe just maybe they might grow from what I’ve learned.

I want my life to catch fire for God… I want to be re-ignited this year!  I want to hunger for MORE of Him.  I want to devour His word and soak in His presence.  I want to hear His voice more clearly and act on His promptings radically.  

Specifically, I want to begin studying the Old Testament this year.  I’ve read the New Testament a million times, but I really want to dig deeper into the old this year. 

I also want to make a prayer wall… a place to collect specific needs I can be praying for concerning others. 

I want to get out of my comfort zone.  I want to find places where I can surround myself with lost people (who don’t know God) and shine God’s light to be a bold witness for Him.

On a lighter note I want to get in shape and lose weight.  My health condition hinders this element of my New Year’s resolutions or goals quite a bit, but I want to try.

I also want to read books for fun this year (at least ONE a month).

As far as writing goes, I want to finish my book.  I don’t know why I haven’t.  It could be all the moves we have made, my random health struggles, the busyness of life, etc… whatever the reasoning for the delay who knows.  I’m just ready to complete what I started… finally!



I also want to submit several articles to various places for publication and write a 30 day e-book devotional.

These are just a few of my random goals.  If I take my own advice and just complete ONE thing this year, I will be one step closer to where I wanted to be at the start of the year. 

What if that one thing is mentoring someone in their walk with God or losing weight or finishing my book (Yes, please!!!) or making a prayer wall…  That ONE thing that I start and finish could make all the difference in my year!


Let’s start 2017 with our eyes focused on finishing SOMETHING.  I’m excited to see what that ONE thing will be for me and for you!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, November 20, 2016

An Open Letter to Key Influencers (in my boys’ lives)

Being a parent is hard… well harder than I thought.  I’m not sure what I was thinking parenting would look like, but this isn’t it. 

I remember when the boys were little holding them tight vowing to protect them from EVERYTHING.  My job as a mom was to keep them safe… right?  It’s really easy to keep them safe INSIDE your house.  It’s when you step outside into the real world that it really gets hard.

It’s a full time job… this keeping our kids safe thing.  Safe from what you might ask?  Well, when I signed up to be a mom I committed to do something.  I didn’t just want to raise good little boys; I wanted to raise strong, godly men.  This whole raising “men” thing takes a lot of time, commitment, and hard work.  It isn’t easy, but it is well worth it! 

My husband and I determined when the boys were little that it was
 “Our job” to protect their hearts and minds until they were
old enough to do it for their selves.

That would mean we would need to be their filter for what they watched, listened to, who they hung around, and where they would go.  We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we were determined to take “our job” seriously. 

In the process of being their filter, we decided in addition to share with them the “Why’s” of our decisions.  Hearing how we came to our decisions, would help them learn how to process things for themselves in the future.

I’m not an overprotective parent as some may think, I just CARE a lot!  My boys are precious to me.  I want to hold them close and keep them safe... forever!  I don’t want them to be hurt in any way ever if I can help it. 

I remember when my youngest went to Kindergarten.  My oldest was just in first grade.  Against my better judgment, the boys rode the bus to school.  They actually begged to do so. 

We lived in a small town so elementary through high school rode the same bus.  I remember that first day of school.  My husband and I walked our boys to the bus stop and waited… a ball of raging emotions bursting inside of us.  Tears threatened to run free, fear started to bubble, and peace was evaporating at a rapid speed as the bus pulled up.

As they loaded the bus and found their seats, my heart sunk deep into my chest.   It was painful.  I had flashbacks from "MY" many years on the school bus (Which were horrible!) and I wondered…Will the bus driver drive safely? Will the other kids be nice to my baby boys?  Will the older kids bully them?  How could I keep them safe when they weren’t with ME?  It was scary.  I had to trust God and pray.  They were out of my hands now and into His. 

“I was in a scary place of surrender and I didn’t like it.”

Have you ever been there friend?  In that place where you have to trust others with your kids or you have to trust your kids to make right decisions on their own with out YOU?  It’s scary…. and painful.  I do NOT like it... probably mostly because it’s all out of my control.  I can’t protect them the way my heart longs to do so.

For some reason it seems as my boys have grown older, I have had to trust God and others MORE with their care…Teachers, Administration, Coaches, Other Parents, Youth leaders, Church Members, Neighbors, Employers, and Family Members.


Will they love and protect their hearts and minds like we do?  Will they build them up, encourage them, and help them feel safe? Will they see potential, speak life, and give courage?

Since I can’t keep them babies forever, this is my open letter to all key influencers in my boys’ lives.  Please, please, hear my heart on the matter…

There are a few things I would LOVE for you to do concerning my boys.


1.  TAKE NOTICE

Please see them individually for the incredible, awesome young men they are.  Don’t lump them in a crowd or expect them to be like everyone else.  They aren’t.  Don’t ignore them, acknowledge them.

Wherever they are, they draw a crowd… their peers take notice, will YOU?




Trey is my baby, but he has acted like my first born since he could talk.  At one point he wanted to be the oldest so bad that he stole his brother’s birthday.  When I would ask him when his birthday was he would always say… “June 24th”.  He memorized his brother’s birthday at 3 years old thinking just saying it would make him older!  When he learned he wouldn’t get any presents if he didn’t know his own birthday, things changed quickly.  LOL.

Trey is a quiet, passionate boy… He is loud in small groups, yet quiet in crowds.  He loves deeply and cares more than he lets on.  He is competitive and aggressive when it comes to sports and life.  He is funny, creative, an amazing artist, and a deep thinker.  He has a strong will, yet a tender heart.  He is a ball full of energy… hiding secretly inside a quiet young man.  He is passionate about God and sports.  He has great influence, yet chooses to lead in a quiet way.  He loves the Colts, Pacers, and all things basketball.  He is an amazing young man of God.

Gavyn is my first born.  He is my fearless, bold, radical!  He is passionate about everything… especially God.  He loves to worship Him in song.  I remember when the boys were in elementary school waiting for them to come home from school.  No matter what I was doing, I could hear them coming a block away…Gavyn loved to serenade the neighborhood loudly on his walk home.

Gavyn is tenderhearted, giving, sensitive to the needs of others, encouraging, and a natural born leader.  He loves deeply and gives everything his all.  He has strong convictions and solid character.   He is creative, humble, and has a servant’s heart.
He has a care-free spirit and easy going kind of personality.  He loves to read, go backpacking, fish, play football, and basketball.   He is an amazing young man of God.

When you take time to NOTICE them, you see there is more than meets the eye. They may blend in with the crowd at times, but they stand out with me.  I am blessed to be their momma!


2.  BUILD THEM UP

Even though they “look” like MEN, my boys are still impressionable.  They are young men in the making.  Their self-esteems are being shaped and formed by those around them… one of those people being YOU. 

Will you…

Be positive
They hear enough bad stuff all around them…Whether it’s from the news, people saying negative comments or from their own inner thoughts.  Will you look for the good in them and share it?  Even if they have done a million things “wrong”, will you find that one good thing they did “right” to encourage them with?

“Negativity deflates the spirit, life giving words ignite it.”

Will you speak life-giving words to my boys? 

Will you make an effort to help BUILD their self-esteem (along with me) instead of tear it down?  It’s fragile, delicate, a work in progress.

Give courage
The world is full of nay-sayers… coming up with all kinds of reasons why we CAN’T do things.  I want my boys to dream big and be confident that with God all things are possible. 

Please don’t squash their dreams.  Help give their dreams wings enabling my boys to believe God for impossible things trusting Him with the outcome.

Will you give them courage?   Will you build them up and help them dream big?


3.  LEAD WELL

As a key influencer in my boys’ lives, please set a good example and lead well.  They are watching, listening, and learning from your leadership.

They are following you… as a leader.  
I Corinthians 11:1 says… “Follow me as I follow Christ” 

If they are following you, I have a question for you.  Where are you leading them?    I hope to become more like Christ… in words, attitude, and behavior.



Whether we like it or not… when it comes to being a good example things are “caught” more than “taught”.  Meaning… those watching our example follow more what we “do” rather than what we “say”.  They should both be the same, right?  But many of us say one thing and do another. 

With that in mind, please model a godly life to my boys.  Be a person of character, be honest, have integrity, be respectful, unselfish, and giving.  Give grace, speak life giving words, forgive others, and have self-control. 

I’m not asking for perfection, just hearts in pursuit of God.  As we strive to know Him more each day, He will help us become a better reflection of Himself to others.

A Special Note to…

Sports Coaches- Please teach my boys that winning isn’t everything!  In life, they won’t always win.  It’s how they respond when they lose that makes all the difference.  Teach them to have the right attitude either way.  Help them understand the power of working together as a team… being a family and caring for each other.  We are better together!  Please look for the good they are doing (and compliment them) MORE than pointing out the bad.  They are motivated MORE by encouraging words than discouraging.

Teachers- Please help my boys love your class and the subject you teach.  Make it fun and memorable.  Get to know my boys personally and they will respond better to your leading.  Don’t just teach them information, help them experience it.  Help them love to learn.

Church Leaders – Please be people of integrity.  Do what you say you will do and be who you say that you are.  My boys and others are watching.  Model a godly life for them.  Chase after Jesus and help my boys catch the fire of God from you.  Create opportunities for my boys not to just learn ABOUT God, but to experience Him personally.  Pray for them, speak wisdom into their lives, and be Jesus with skin on for them to see.

These are simple words from a mom’s heart.  They are motivated and inspired from my desire to not just raise good boys; but godly young men.  Will you help me?

For other parents reading this and “amen-ing” everything...  WE are key influencers as well.  People are watching, listening, and learning as we live our lives before them.  May we be the kind of people that take notice, build up, and lead well.

With God’s help, this parenting thing is possible and oh, so rewarding!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Monday, September 19, 2016

“The UPside when you face the DOWNside of life…”


Some times life is unpredictable.  Some times it just plain stinks!  Things don’t always turn out the way we would have hoped, planned, or expected.  This year definitely did NOT turn out as I would have expected… that’s for sure.  It’s been a year of struggle for me. 

I know… I’ve had lots of those since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.  But, this year has seemed like I have faced an onslaught of non-stop sickness.  If it wasn’t one thing, it was another….Kidney stones, upper respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, and on and on.  Currently I am getting over having pneumonia.  At a point, it wears you out and runs you down.  The frustration of wanting to have a healthy day… just ONE overwhelms you.  

I think I am there.

Lately, I have been facing the DOWNside of life… the struggle.  BUT…there is an Upside.  There is hope and I hold on to that tightly when the winds of hopelessness threaten to overtake me.

I know I’m not the only one overwhelmed lately.  I have several friends who are really struggling right now… health problems, heartache, brokenness, grief, and hopelessness. 

Some of them even have friends or family members who have been given a “death sentence” by their doctors.  I can’t even imagine.  I was really sick at a point with my autoimmune disease and felt near death, but I was never given an expiration date.

All I can say is that God is the one who numbers the days of our life not man.  I choose to focus on His report and hope of healing.

Psalm 139:15-16 says…

“You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body.  When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed.  All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.”  (NCV)


God knows the numbers of our day’s friends.  If you have committed your life to Him, you have the promise of

1.   His peace to see you through the struggles of the present with the hope of healing for the future.

And…

2.   The Ultimate Healing:  no more pain or sickness and eternity with Him forever. 


Either way… God promises to be with us.  There is hope and healing.  We can have peace.  If we seek Him in the midst of our struggles, His peace will consume us.

Sometimes when we are facing the DOWNside of life, everything can begin to feel hopeless and we can start to feel helpless.

I’ve been there friend… struggling to keep my head up, stuck in a rut, feeling forgotten, overlooked, or neglected by God. 

John 13:7 says…
“Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” (NLT)

Even though I may not “feel” Him at times, I know He is there.  I know He cares and I know He is at work behind the scenes of my life (working things out for my good).


BUT… when the circumstances of life become overwhelming and things don’t 
come together as quickly as I would like, I can become discouraged.

Discouragement that takes root in our hearts can lead us in a downward
spiral that can eventually cause us to doubt God and potentially sink
into a sea of hopelessness (depression) if we aren’t careful. 


What can we do to steer clear of this danger zone and focus on “The Upside when facing the DOWNside of life”…  Here are a few ideas that have helped me…

Run TO God no matter what happens…
Never give up on God.  He has never given up on YOU!  When bad things happen and we don’t understand why, it’s a natural tendency for us to blame God.  I want to challenge you to do something crazy next time you are caught off guard by life.  Run TO Him instead of away.  Pour your heart out to Him.  Ask for His help and rest in His peace. 

You will never regret a heart surrendered completely to Him during all of life’s storms.  His peace is overwhelming and His presence is a constant source of strength.

Guard your “Grouchy”
I don’t know about you, but when I don’t feel well sometimes I get a little “grouchy”.  My grouchy whether I like it or not affects my family.  “When mama ain’t happy nobody is happy!”  I try to prepare for the fact that I may be grouchy while I’m sick.  Consequently I try to be more sensitive to “how” I say things and “what” I say.  When I fail, which happens often, I try to compensate the grouchiness by saying “I love you” regularly to my family.  I want them to know and feel that this “grouchy” thing is only temporary.   Regardless of what comes out of my mouth unexpectedly I want them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I really do love them… which I do!  Do what you must to guard your grouchy! 

Feed your spirit
Have you ever seen the “Snickers” commercials before?  I love them!  The latest one I have seen has a guy dressed up giving a photographer a lot of grief.  Finally someone walks over to him and says… “Miss Monroe, here have a Snickers.  You aren’t yourself when you’re hungry.”  Then the man takes a bite of the candy bar and immediately turns into a gorgeous, knockout model.  Tada!

This whole scenario makes me think of me on a bad day.  Sometimes when I don’t MAKE time for God when I am struggling, my grouchy side comes out just like that commercial.  I’m not really “ME” when I don’t spend time with God… and you aren’t really YOU when you don’t either.

Time with God changes things… our perspective, our hearts, our minds, our direction, our attitude, and the like.  When we choose to tackle the day WITHOUT God… things don’t flow as well and many times everyone in our little world suffers as a result.

Just like we take time each day to feed our bodies, we need to make it a priority to feed our spirits.  Our spirits need the strength of God’s word inside of us to prepare us for what is ahead.  Our spirits need communion with Him.  As we read God’s word daily and spend time in His presence talking to Him as well as listening, our spirits get stronger.   The stronger we are on the inside, the MORE prepared we are for what may surprise us unexpectedly.

Whether you read a verse, a paragraph, or a chapter, get God’s word inside of you.  Read it in a real-life Bible, underline and highlight verses that stand out to you.  Listen to it on your phone or online.   Get a Bible App. to remind you, etc…

Talk to God daily (just like you would your best friend)… before you get out of bed, in the shower, driving in the car, on your walks, waiting in the pick up line for your kids, picking weeds in your garden, etc…  The point is… Do what it takes to keep your heart centered on God.

Call on the recruits (Prayer support & help)
Sometimes when we are struggling all we can do is throw up 911 prayers to God and hope the answer comes quickly.  In these moments, we need to call in the recruits.  Discouragement may be setting in and we need help!  Ask your friends and family members closest to you to lift you up in prayer.  If you feel uncomfortable giving any details, just tell them you are struggling and you need them to intercede for you.  In most cases, they will be glad you asked and quickly dedicated to the cause. 

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to everyday tasks.  At times it can be overwhelming to even do the little things when life hits you hard.  Others can help beyond prayer too and it’s just as spiritual.  Your job is to ASK for help… when you need it.  God’s job is to PROVIDE the people you need to help you.

When our pride keeps us from asking for help, we steal the blessings from others who love to serve.  Don’t be stingy… reach out and give others the opportunity to “do life” with you.  Many would be happy to help if only they were aware of the need.

Keep moving forward

Focus on the good…
No matter how bad things are, find something good in the midst of it all to focus on… “At least…  I have a job, car that works, healthy kids, a roof over my head, a supportive church family, etc…”  There is always someone out there worse off than us.  Be thankful for what you CAN do.

Change your perspective…
It’s really hard to move forward when our heads are constantly focused downward.   It’s hard to see the good, when we are SO focused on the bad all the time. 

This whole thought makes me think of the old storybook series called “Winnie the Pooh”.  In the story, Pooh has a friend named Eeyore (a donkey), who always appears depressed, gloomy, and negative no matter what is going on in the story.  Pooh attempts to do whatever he can to change his perspective, but Eeyore will NOT be moved from his disposition.

Some times we are like that old donkey!  We will NOT be moved!  We whine, sulk, and sink our heads in defeat at the deck of cards life has dealt us.  We are SO focused on how bad our life is that we rarely see the good happening all around us… and there IS good happening!

Years ago I started something totally new that has helped me change my perspective.  It keeps me moving forward even on the toughest of days.  It may sound silly, but I made a “Thank You Jar”

Well, it’s more of an old mason jar I frilled up with my crafty expertise.  I placed it in a basket with index cards and a pen beside it so I am ready at a moment’s notice to record my findings.

As a family, we write down each GOOD thing that happens to us over the course of a year that we are thankful for and we put it in our jar.  I think we have done it for three years now. 

On New Years Day, we make it a point to pull out all of our papers from the jar we collected over the year and read them.  It is SO powerful to hear how God has provided above and beyond all of our needs.  When we think back over the tough times we faced throughout the year we are overwhelmed.  God was there all along!  He walked with us, provided, and saw us through.  It was all recorded in testimonies on our papers whether we recognized it at the time or not.  Needless to say… tears are plentiful each time we do this.

I don’t know what you are facing today friend, but I know God is faithful.   You may feel like life has knocked you down so hard that you don’t know if you can ever get up.  Believe me you can… with God’s help.  Run TO Him today.  Tell Him how you feel, He cares for you.  Don’t do life alone.  Invite some friends to help you carry the burden.  There is an UPside to this DOWNside you are facing.  Hold onto Jesus and He will see you through. 


I’m praying today that your heart will be filled with HOPE and that regardless of your circumstances you will see GOOD all around you.  I pray your life will overflow with so many blessings (big and small) that you have to grab a jar to collect them all.  May the rest of this year be full of God’s peace and presence as you pursue Him boldly no matter what life throws your way! 

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Choices, Choices, Choices...

Have you ever met someone who was super indecisive?  Every single decision they made was overwhelming for them.  I mean I, myself, struggle with the big decisions, but when it comes to simple things like where to eat or what kind of ice cream flavor I want… it’s really no big deal!

Making decisions can be hard at times.  I get it!  There’s really no special training when it comes to decision making in life.  We learn as we go on the spot from our own bad choices or from those of others.  It’s a live and learn kind of process. 

When I was little, I remember learning quickly that touching a hot pan on the stove top hurts a lot and guess what?  I didn’t do it again after that.  Well… not intentionally.   I also learned that walking barefoot through a bunch of dandelions in the yard could open up the possibility of me stepping on a bee… which hurts too.  Hmmm… it seems like a lot of my life lessons have been gleaned from moments of pain.  Interesting?
 
The decisions we make on a daily basis really do matter!  As a matter of fact, sometimes our bad choices (if we aren’t careful) can turn in to life-long consequences that we have to live with forever! 

 The decisions we make today can affect our future tomorrow!

As believers, we should live differently when it comes to decision making.  We should want God to be smack dab in the center of our lives… at the core of who we are and everything we do.  That includes asking Him to help guide us to make “right” decisions.

Many times we rush ahead making decisions about things on the spot never even considering what God might think about it all!  Friend, I don’t know if you realize it or not, but God wants to be involved in our decision making process. 

I know, for many it seems a little crazy to ask God’s opinion about our decisions.  I mean how can we really know what He is thinking?  How can we hear His voice or even expect to know His will for our lives?  Is there a “Learning to hear God’s voice” book for dummies anywhere I can buy? 

I hear you friend.  I’ve been there too, but believe it or not God really can actually speak to us personally.  He’s done it for me time and time again.  Rarely is it ever in an audible voice, but there are lots of other ways God can speak to us and help direct our steps in the right direction. 


The first thing we need to do if we really want God’s help in making better decisions is we need to get to know Him better.   We need to recognize His voice above others.  I can say confidently after twenty three years of marriage that I can recognize my husband’s voice in a crowded room.  It is a unique sound to me.  We have talked often and I have listened intently to Him…. So I am familiar his voice.  (It helps that he is really loud and outgoing making his voice all the more undeniable!)

Connecting with God and growing a stronger relationship with Him takes time and effort.  If you aren’t spending time with Him, I will guarantee you that you won’t hear His voice or sense His leading when it comes to the choices you make.  “Come close to God, and God will come close to you...”  (James 4:8)

As we draw closer to Him by reading His word (The Bible), praying (talking to Him like we would a friend), and going to church (surrounding ourselves with others who love God), we will begin to discern His nudges, sense His promptings, and follow His leading in making right choices.

God speaks in many ways.  Here are a few He has used with me….

The Bible:  God uses His word to speak truth to our hearts for our everyday lives as we read it.   I like to read the book of Proverbs several times a year (one chapter a day over a month).  It’s a book of wisdom.  God’s words placed deep inside of us help us make wise decisions.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11). 


Memorizing scripture helps us make wise decisions as well.  Whenever I have been struggling in the past, old scriptures I have memorized have always come back to my mind to encourage me. 


Prayer:  Whatever decision we are seeking guidance on, we need to involve God in the process.  Ask His opinion.  Pray over all of the details involved for an extended period of time.  For major decisions I might pray a week or a month before deciding.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Don’t allow your emotions to lead you.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.  “…when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13a).

The goal at the end of your focused prayer time should be a sense of God’s peace when you think about your decision.  If you feel uneasiness it may be God directing you AWAY from that particular decision. 
 
“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17).
 

Other People:  God uses other people as instruments to encourage us, speak wisdom into our lives, and tell us the truth in love.  It is always good to have two or three people in our lives that we trust (that are godly examples to us) to confide in and confer with when we need wisdom. Plans fail without good advice, but they succeed with the advice of many others.” (Proverbs 15:22).

As we are seeking God’s direction in a particular area of our lives, we need to be open to asking those closest to us for wisdom and direction.  Don't just tell them what you are thinking about doing and ask them to pray.  Ask them the following question(s)…
1.  As a friend or mentor in my life, do you feel any hesitation or reservation in me doing this particular thing?  If so, why?
2.  What wisdom do you have to offer me in this particular situation? 
3.  What are your thoughts about this area of my life?

Ask them to be completely honest with you. Be ready to receive, open to correction/godly wisdom, and prepared to love them no matter what they say.

In major decisions involving transition, our goal should be 100% positive responses.  If you get a variety of responses that aren't all positive, then you need to go back to your prayer room and seek God's face. A sense of peace should be the outcome in the end.

Wisdom from others should only confirm to us what God has already been directing us to do.  God’s direction should be our primary goal.


Circumstances:  Sometimes circumstances can help lead us to right decisions.  Let me give you an example….

Years ago my husband and I were serving at a church as youth leaders while in college.  We were heavily involved… practically the unpaid assistant youth pastors.  Before we graduated we were offered a job as just that, but part-time. The only stipulation was that we would have to work as janitors for the church as well.  They weren’t at a place to be able to hire us full-time.


It was an awesome church and we were up for the challenge, but we wanted God’s will.  We decided to pray for a week seeking God intently concerning all of this.  We knew even though it looked like an awesome opportunity, the right thing at the wrong time was still the wrong thing. 

We prayed separately and determined to share our thoughts with one another on Sunday night.  That morning at church as we glanced down at the sermon title for the evening message, we were shocked at what it said…   “When God says GO!” 

With that message, plus our prayers, and the wisdom of others, God was beyond clear in His direction for us.  Even though it didn’t make sense to us at the time in the natural, we were committed to follow God’s leading. 

As I look back today, I can see His hand guiding us specifically to each place we went after that and all the people we encountered.   I am overwhelmed at God’s faithfulness.

Circumstances…  I guess God likes to use this one a lot for me.  Maybe it’s because many times I’m too busy DOING things for Him that I don’t take time enough to really LISTEN. 

Lots of instances come to mind of where circumstances were brought into play to get my attention.  You can check them out at the links below…

Trusting God with the details when the future looks unclear:

Waiting on God’s direction can be scary at times:

Facing difficulty head on in faith:

 “… when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…” (James 1:2-3)
  
The decisions we make today can affect our future tomorrow!  I have had Christian friends who have made some horrible decisions. Their bad choices landed them in jail, led them into affairs (that have destroyed their families), and gotten them wrapped up into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol.  In the end, they discovered (after all of the consequences of their actions) that it’s not where they really wanted to be.  When I think about it all, it baffles my mind. 

How did they get to that place when at one point they seemed so close to God?  It’s not something that happens overnight, friend!  It’s a slow process of us deafening our ears to God day by day.  It begins with us choosing to allow other things to come before Him or replace Him in our lives.  The end result is our hearts far from God and our lives centered on ourselves.  That’s a dangerous place to be!

I challenge you to draw close to God.  Invite Him into every area of your lives (nothing off limits).  Make the decision to keep Him first place in your lives today.  Ask for His help to make “right” decisions.  The decisions we make really do matter!  Do you trust Him with the details of your life?  I dare you to try a new way of living… “Making decisions with God in mind”.  That is one decision you will never regret!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie

Friday, June 17, 2016

Spare Tire Check

“Is God your spare tire or your steering wheel?” I heard this quote recently and it has stuck with me ever since. Do we use God as a back up plan to run to when things go wrong, or are we allowing Him to lead and guide us daily? Who is in control? Who is holding the steering wheel of our lives? We can survive with out a spare tire, but if the steering wheel of our vehicle goes bad, the whole thing is worthless. We need God to be in the driver’s seat of our lives in good times and in bad.

When I was in
Bible College years ago I took a class called “The Minister’s Wife.” It was taught by the president’s wife of the college. It was awesome and oh so practical. I learned a lot! She gave us the realities of true ministry and what to expect. She promised good times and bad and equipped us to be prepared for both. 

One thing she did in particular still sticks with me today. Before she started each class she had us sing a song. She said she wanted this song to be cemented into our spirits so that some day when we needed it, it would be tucked inside of us. It goes something like this (from what I remember)…

The Lord knows the way through the wilderness and all I have to do is follow
The Lord knows the way through the wilderness and all I have to do is follow
Strength for today is mine all the way and all that I need for tomorrow
The Lord knows the way through the wilderness and all I have to do it follow


I remember singing this several times over the course of my life. Sometimes it was at the kitchen sink doing dishes feeling distraught and overwhelmed by life, other times it was driving in my car crying over invisible wounds inflicted by others, in the shower, on a long walk… wherever I sang it, God showed up and brought His peace to calm the storms of my life and heart.

God doesn’t promise that when we give our lives to Him that our life will immediately become easier. He does however promise to walk with us through all of life’s journey. No matter what you are facing today, God is faithful!

Living to leave a legacy,
Julie