The Gift

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Spring break is here and I’ve had the opportunity (thanks God!) to go to the beach for a few days. I need to escape from all the events going on 450 miles away. My plan is to rest, relax, spend time with God, and take in as many sun rays as my skin will allow.

I am currently reading “Cold Tangerines” by Shauna Niequist. There is nothing more perfect than having a good book to read while listening to the waves crash onto the shore. Shauna, the author, wants a life that sizzles, pops, and makes her laugh out loud. She wants to make God belly laugh and glad that He gave life to someone who loves it. I want the very same thing plus more! I’m pretty sure that God would chime in right now and say that I am not demonstrating that kind of love towards life. I seem to only appreciate life when the good times are rolling, but haven’t figured out how to embrace and love the bad times.

My friend left me a message. One that said, “Write it down, roll it up, place it in a bottle, and toss it out into the ocean. Come back fully restored of sound mind, spirit, and heart.” What a perfect road map to follow. I am hoping that this trip will completely restore me and put me back on God’s path fully equipped to finish the journey. I know there will be road bumps along the way, but I don’t want that to be all that I hang on to. I want the good times to override the bad. I want to seize every moment and not be so bogged down with disappointment that I miss the daily gift that God has for me. How much do you love this life (gift) that God has given you? Can you hear God belly laughing?

Love in Christ,
Nichole

From here to exile…

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I went to Church on Wednesday night and the Pastor’s sermon was based on the hit movie “Slum dog Millionaire”. To be honest, I have had no desire to see this movie. The only advertisement I have seen is a big group dancing in what appears to be a subway platform. Again, I may not have a clue what I am talking about. The pastor described the main character as growing up in the slums of India only to win the jackpot. He related this story to the one of Joseph. Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison which he remained for two years. He was thrown into a pit of despair and had to wait (patiently) for God. Eventually, he reached his destiny…his jackpot!

Very much do I feel like Joseph! Mistreated by people who have no remorse or compassion for human error. People keep telling me to “shake it off” and remember that God has my back, but my broken heart over powers their words. I recognize their words are the truth, but I feel stuck, weighted down, and abandoned.

Someone once said that when you are down to nothing, God is up to something. I fight with so much intensity to believe those words and be consumed by them. I have to also remember that every event of my life has been ordained by God and will lead me to my own jackpot. Jeremiah 29:14 says, “I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the Lord. I will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” I pray that one day redemption will be added to my testimony. If you feel that you are falsely imprisoned, take hope that your God is up to something good!

Love in Christ,
Nichole

When Two Become One

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God has been dealing with me lately on my heart and how to walk in love. I have discovered that God’s expectations of us are to trust Him with what little we have and grow in loving people in the way the He loves us. He sent me this word (s) yesterday….Ephesians 3:16-19 (in a nutshell) says, “I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. You will be rooted in love and have the ability to grasp how wide, deep, long, and high is His love and to know His love surpasses all knowledge.” It’s a simple concept; with such a profound impact!

My life continues to be in uncertainty only because I let it. I can say this, because I finally realized that I do not trust God 100% in my life. If I did trust Him, then peace would reside in me and it currently does not. My flesh constantly worries about the stability of my job, what action to take (fight or not fight), and what to believe and not believe. My spirit (holy spirit) knows that I should pray and wait on God. There is nothing more to it. If my flesh would merge with God’s holy spirit and love would become my foundation, then I would be unmoved and withstand the storms in my life.

2 Timothy says, “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” The road map has been presented to me and all I need to do is follow it. The question is, “Will I walk divided or stand as one?”

Love in Christ,
Nichole

Table for Six Please!

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Last night, I was invited over to a friend’s house for some “patio” time. I was a bit hesitant about going. My wounds were still fresh and I was afraid someone may want to talk about it. That could possibly send me right back into the pit I have been desperately trying to climb out of. Something told me to go. Patio time consists of good girlfriends (5 including me), food, beverages of choice, and conversation that solely consists of men and the workplace. This time was different. We had an unexpected visitor; one to whom I will refer to as “Papa”. I have been reading the book “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young. Papa is the name that the main character’s wife gives to God. Papa has such a warm and inviting tone…don’t you think??

Much to my surprise our conversations quickly became about Papa and our relationship with Him. I am a couple of miles ahead of this journey than my friends and always love to share and be a witness. Papa had other plans though. He told me to just sit back and listen. He wanted it to be an opportunity for them to open up without fear. It is truly amazing to see the changes in my friends. In the past, some might be afraid to talk about Papa and hold back on any questions they may have had. As a result of all the talk, we have decided to participate in Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible study. I will be facilitating the study and I am so excited to see what Papa has in store for all of us!

How many times have you invited Papa to join you at the table? He already knows your thoughts, words, and actions. He would be delighted to spend some time with you!

Love in Christ,
Nichole

I’ll Praise You in This Storm….

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and I will lift my hands. For You are who You are, no matter where I am. These are powerful lyrics sung by Casting Crowns. I never realized until now how important this is! It has been a little over a week, since my life/integrity has come under attack…yet I still stand! God speaks to me and guides my steps everyday either through someone or scripture. Thursday’s message talked about how you will never be able to speak victory over some one’s life, until you have victory of your own. My entire life, I have always surrendered and allowed defeat. People have always said, “I admire you for your strength and courage. You are so strong!” On the outside, I may appear this way, but the inside of me screams something totally different. Now, with God’s strength, I am standing up and fighting for what I believe…ME! People are quick to paint a dark picture of me, but God knows my heart. In reading my daily devotion on Friday, the message was titled “No One is Useless to God”. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says, “God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong.” I am proud to say that I am weak in my own strength, but the mighty power of God that lives in me will arise and claim victory! No matter what storms come your way, find the strength to praise God. He has already gone before you and completely has your back.

Love in Christ,
Nichole

To Err is to be Human

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It saddens me to know that we live in a very judgemental and unforgiving society. People are so quick to point the finger and make a judgement of someone without giving any thought or time to process what they have seen or experienced. I find myself standing in the line of judgement. A simple mistake that has turned into a full fledged attack of my character. I am thankful that I know without a doubt that God knows my heart. Without Him I would have already surrendered and been defeated. I am human. I am not perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be. The great news is that God does not expect us to be perfect. If we were perfect, then we would not need Him. However, God does want us to be more like Him and to walk in love. He will bring us to the fire from time to time in order to mold and shape us into the person He wants us to be. I know that I am not where I need to be in that regard, but I am thankful that I’m not where I use to be!

I have learned first hand what it feels like to be judged unfairly. I do not wish this pain on anyone. Romans 2:1 says, “Therefore, you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things. Take the time to reflect on who you have judged unfairly and ask God to forgive you of this wrong doing.

Love in Christ,

Nichole

The Favor of God

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I heard a sermon once where the Pastor talked about the weather being foggy. I really did not know where he was going with this as it was a perfectly sunny day. He used the acronym F.O.G. to stand for the Favor of God. It just stuck with me. To have favor with God and man is to have unexpected surprises (blessings) just show up at your door for no particular reason. For instance, a friend and I were at Starbucks and the guy behind the counter offered us a free drink. Just recently, I was having a random conversation with a co-worker and we were talking about how spring break was coming up soon. I mentioned that I wanted to go to the beach and she mentioned that her father lived in Florida. Within 5 minutes, we had planned a trip. One word…FOG!


God is good and He is amazing! Although I have never given birth to children, I do have 25 that are very special and dear to my heart. I absolutely love doing nice things for them. This is just how God works. He loves blessing His children. As I am writing and bragging about my Father, I can see a big ol’ smile across His face and I cannot wait for what He has in store next!


If you have never read the “Prayer of Jabez”, you should. Jabez called on God saying, “Oh that thou would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory.” Jabez was not afraid of asking for blessings and expected favor from God and neither should we. Pray daily for God’s favor and that He will give you favor from man. You have no idea what is on the horizon.


Love in Christ,

Nichole

Sandpaper

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At the beginning of school, the teachers were assigned to teams for team building activities. There was one particular person who immediately caught my attention. I tried my best to avoid her. She made me uncomfortable because she was so direct. Her voice could be heard from anywhere and she could easily draw attention to herself or those around her. I have always done my best to stay away from any type of spotlight. I would like to refer to her as sandpaper. Her words, when applied, are rough and painful, but the end result is a smooth and seamless product.

Later, I found out that we have things in common, for instance, our love of Joyce Meyer. We both attended the Relentless Women’s Conference in October of 2008. Out of 20,000 women in attendance, I ran into her. Now tell me that is not divine connection! That was the turning point of our relationship. She began sharing her Joyce Meyer teaching tapes with me. I would listen to them during my two hour commute to work. The tapes have changed me for the better and I have grown to rely on my friendship with her. Every morning before the kids arrive, she always pops in to say hello. She motivates me and reminds me that God is with me at all times.


Even though I was not too keen on the idea of spending time with her, God knew better. Sometimes the things that we resent, avoid the most, end up being the best thing that could have ever happened to us. Do you have any sandpaper relationships? If so, are you getting the result you need?

Let go and let God!

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Let go and let God sounds pretty simple right? I don’t know about you, but this has been one of the hardest obstacles for me to overcome. Letting go simply means to not worry about the situation or person, pray over it, and turn it over to God for Him to work out. If you are constantly worrying or fretting over the situation, God’s hands are tied and He cannot work. We are always thinking that we can change someone and make them better. God is the only one that can change their heart.


I woke up Friday morning and it just hit me. “I got it…I got it!” I kept saying to God. I truly understand what it means to let go. In the past, I’ve always associated letting go with loss, abandonment, and rejection. Letting go was so painful for me. I think it is because when I meet people and I whole heartily believe in them, I cannot give up on them. Only God knows where I would have ended up had I not had people rooting in my corner. I pray everyday that my friend will get up and get back in the race of life! I had been “carrying” my friend and all it did was slow me down. I did not have enough strength for my own race. I know now that I will benefit my friend the most by remaining on the sidelines praying! I am believing that when I cross the finish line, my friend will be right there with me.


If you are wondering if you have truly let go, here is a simple formula for you to use: frustration = works of the flesh. Peace and joy come from above. Everything is subject to change if you pray!

Belief in the Unseen

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I have recently decided to list my house in this upside down market. Believing that my home will sell in this economy takes enormous faith! Faith cannot act alone. I must believe it with all my heart and have no doubt. I have to live as if my house is in the process of being sold. I have to imagine life on the other side of this mountain.

The Lord gave me this verse today. Mark 11:20-24 says, “Have faith in God. Whoever says to the mountain to be taken and cast to the sea, does not doubt in his heart, and believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted to him. All things in which you ask, believe that you receive them, and they shall be granted.”

I have to remind myself everyday that God is bigger than this economy. He can sell my house without a for sale sign. He has overcome the world and there are no limits on what He can do! 1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. ” Worrying changes nothing but prayer changes everything! Prayer opens the door for God to work. Have you opened the door for God yet?